Closer Look at MMOs: East and West (Part 1)
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), Onrpg Journalist
For years people have argued over which is better. Mindless elitism and random nitpickings would usually flock the net addressing each and every advantage that one could ever gain over the other. Since it was quite bothersome to listen to random nitpickings, I went forth to learn about the pros and cons of each. I will be starting with the first most obvious differences.
What is your basis? It’s all about preferences
There’s actually nothing to compare directly as both MMOs focus on a different aspect of gaming. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Asian or Eastern MMOs bring nothing but grind-fests, but yes, Eastern MMOs focus on the hardcore side of gaming while Western ones focus on experience. Progressing in Eastern MMOs may be quite tricky since dungeon whoring and simple questing won’t be enough. This is different in the Western games, which are MOSTLY gear related. Players of these Western MMOs will find that upgrading your armor or simply tuning your character to perfection may take a long time to achieve. Eastern MMOs aren’t too forgiving when it comes to those factors.
Grinding in Silkroad
Work work work
Some would even call it “work disguised as a game”, but regardless of these factors, these things rely on the player’s preferences. I remember playing RF Online back then (great game by the way). At first I was so happy about getting to play as a mech (a gundam looking one for that matter), exploring the land while trying to level up at the same time.
By the time I reached level 31 (my first class change), I had to remake my character since I didn’t know that I had to grind for PT points in order to wear stronger armor sets. It also depends on which armor you’d like to wear as well, because the Melee armor set may have stronger defense but the range armors lets you run faster. I had to grind both PTs in order to make my character work (which took twice the grinding time). Hardcore yes? Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the game even if it was basically party grinding.
World Experience in Warhammer: Age of Reckoning
Western MMORPGs would normally revolve around the adventure factor instead of random hardcore fighting. When I played games like World of Warcraft, Everquest and Warhammer online, everything went down to questing and me immersing myself into their respective storylines. I wouldn’t say that questing is an exclusive feature for Western MMOs since other Eastern games such Lineage II also offer this type of game play.
Still, Western MMOs have a lot to brag about when it comes to their games’ heritage. Games like World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, and Warhammer already established their markets before MMOs were even born, giving players a lore and storyline (along with their respective characters) which fans and players are, by now, quite familiar with. Western MMOs seem to have more features than Eastern ones, although the subscription fees are quite steep for some. Gold, or similar in-game currencies, is also easier to acquire in most Western MMOs. I don’t know if that’s a good thing but it definitely beats killing a lot of monsters just to get rich.
Fashion: Combat in Style
Another thing that makes these MMOs different from one another would be their presentation or fashion sense. Let’s take a closer look!
Exemplary Fashion in Korean MMO Blade & Soul
Style is everything in MMOs! Epic Gear is Epic.
Perhaps you noticed that Eastern MMO characters tend to be all styled up and not geared up for battle. Their line of clothing (or some of them) consists of skimpy clothes that compliment certain parts of the body. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome (especially when it comes to a player’s libido factor *grin*). Some of them are also overly accessorized which is quite funny, since moving around while weapons or gear larger than oneself ought to be rather troublesome.
Highly Detailed Visual Kei Fashion
Some of them also use the Visual Kei fashion trend which makes characters look sexier instead of tougher (yes, both male and female). Although this may seem offensive to some players, this type of get-up appeals to most ‘eastern-mmo-oriented’ people. You’ll often mistake ‘highbies’ for ‘lowbies’ when not familiar with the game’s respective armor sets, since some high level armors expose more body parts than regular ones. I guess you could say that the higher they are, the more stylish they become.
If you think that’s all, some Eastern MMOs also use the anime style which consists of cute big-eyed characters that tend to over-accessorize as well. Since anime is quite trendy nowadays, there’s no doubt that anime styled characters would appeal to most gamers out there. With their expressive ‘chibi’ looks, who could ever resist these cutesy characters?
OMG You’re Showing Skin!
Western MMOs, aside from the chest area for females, tend to cover a lot of skin. Western MMOs tend to focus on the armor’s beauty and not the character’s. It’s really okay since this removes the insanity of cloning, and may even act as a trophy on certain occasions (e.g: raid armors or armors that require massive gold).
Covered Up Western MMO Gear (World of Warcraft tier10)
The Western MMO style is rather serious compared to Eastern ones. It’s rare for these characters to look cute, and they don’t wear skimpy clothes. Western MMO characters are usually wrapped up in stylish armors, exposing certain features but not to the point wherein it gets vulgar.
Aside from style, it’s pretty easy to distinguish these characters through actions alone. Western MMOs perform moves (depending on the character) with less grace and would really count as a combat move. Slashes shouldn’t be performed with elegance but rather with extensive skull-breaking force. Some of them also tend to overly accessorize, but in a more feasible way. This means that there are no hanging belts on their shoulders or heavy frying pans on their forehead. You could say that western ones are more conservative and wouldn’t show off too much skin in battle.
Both have their own respective game play and mustn’t be dismissed easily. They are both enjoyable and carry a lot of good features. It’s all about preferences, even when it comes to style. To others, WoW may look like “Shrek Online” (LOL) just as other may dismiss Ragnarok online as a kiddie-looking game. Regardless of these random nitpickings and harsh criticisms, each game is special in its own way, and in the end, only the players decide how good a game is.
They both have different systems and different ways to enjoy. Eastern MMOs tend to be grindy at times, but like I said: It greatly depends on a gamer’s preferences