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[personal profile] tanithryudo
First of all, disclaimer: I'm really casual where it comes to STO, playing only a single character and not having paid much attention to the meta discussions on reddit, so I can't claim to be all that authoritative on it. With GW2 I think I can speak better toward it, since I've played all classes pretty far and I've read a lot on the high tiers of play (raids/high fractals) so I am familiar with what goes on there.

1. Character balance

GW2 has 9 straightforward professions with clearly (pffft!) delineated purpose. The devs have tried their best to make each class distinct from one another, with a distinct mechanic that's usually the driving force of why you want to pick that class to play. The race doesn't really play into things other than a few usually non-meta skills. While the profession also locks you into armor class and gear.

STO in comparison has 3 factions and 3 professions. The factions sorta lock you into what kind of ships you can use, but as far as I can tell, most of the ships of the same...tier/type are basically reskins/rewords of each other, with only a few things that are unique. Actual gear that gets slotted on the ship and your person are universal. The profession determines one's captain skills. Available traits are the same for all characters, however much you want to spec into each line.

Basically, the race/faction on both sides don't really factor into the actual gameplay all that much, and is much more for flavor/RP purpose. STO is less distinct about its professions due to universal trait setup and the fact that captain skills are only like 1/4 of your total skill options during gameplay. It's...probably easier to balance that way too, since there's no really unique mechanism in any of the classes that has the potential to to mess things up.

Personally, in terms of gameplay mechanics, I prefer the GW2 professions. They're more distinct and they each have an unique ability or mechanism (or two, with specializations).

With STO, it's more about the lore than the mechanics of the profession. There's less of an impact in the way you play (honestly your ship is a bigger determinate of your gameplay role) and it's more about if you wanna be Spock or Data or Sisko.

2. Gear

GW2 has basically one meta...well two: zerker and viper. Everything else is incredibly niche. You basically can find a place in meta with those two stats. And speaking of stats, the most complicated stat it has is probably condi duration and getting the 100% cap for it. All other stats are easy to understand and you can see the total values of your stats right there on the hero page. Then once you have your basic gear, you have the option to add more exotic and potentially conditional buffs with runes/sigils/food.

STO on the other hand is a million separate bits of stuff all mixed and mushed together. Each piece of gear has a mix of stats on it with no real logical pattern (from easy ones like +dmg/+crit to other stuff like +exotic dmg X or +skill type Y). There's a bunch of damage types (and hybrid damage types), and a bunch of weapon types of each damage type... Oh yes, and they love sets. And also unique set/gear that come from cash shop ships (which can then be mixed and matched onto other non-shop ships of the same type). Even with a wiki it's hard for me to keep up with it all, much less crunch the calcs for all the potential combos to determine what's the best. It's like... if every piece of exotic/ascended gear + trinkets in GW2 also came with an inseparable rune/sigil.

It also makes things a nightmare to balance, IMO, b/c somewhere in the mess of set bonuses and unique gear pieces and skills/traits, there's always going to be some interaction that's going to be more OP than intended. Or just broken as in not working.

Personally, I prefer the GW2 gear system, just because it's so much easier to understand. When I swap out one piece of gear for another there, I can pretty much predict how that might affect my performance. When I swap out a piece of gear in STO, I actually have no idea how that actually affects my performance, because I can't be bothered to calculate all the interactions with the 100 different other factors that interact with that gear.

2b. Complexity / Gameplay

Player skill aside, in GW2 the performance of your character depends on the following -- gear, skills/class skills, traits, bonuses (runes/sigils), consumables, masteries.

In STO you have -- ship (+ship specific bonus and skills), gear (+set bonuses), captain skills/traits/bonuses, boff NPC skills/traits, doff NPC permanent/temporary buffs, reputation buffs/skills, consumables. It much more of a headache.

GW2 has more gameplay options and modes... there's story missions, open world events/bosses for almost every map, meta events/bosses for every post-SW map, dungeons, fractals, raids, WvW, PvP, guild stuff.

STO has missions, PvE battlezones (just a handful of these, the equivalent of meta maps I guess), PvE queues (the equivalent of dungeons I guess), PvP...and micromanaging your NPCs as a valid non-combat gameplay (it's oddly addicting, and I get the majority of my money/XP doing this).

So...there's that.

2c. Power creep

There's some of this in both games; I don't think it's easily avoidable. GW2 is a bit better in that there's only been one introduction of power creep with the introduction of HoT and its specializations/4-attribute stats.

With STO you run the risk of this happening every time they turn out a new reputation track/mission gear set, fleet(guild) reputation track, or cash shop ship. That happens much more often.

3. PvP/WvW

I...don't really play PvP (seriously) in either game. So not touching this.

4. The casual experience

Honestly, for all of my bitching about either game, you don't really need to be meta or even close to meta to do the majority of casual PvE content.

In GW2 you can do everything outside of high fractals and raids in rares or random exotics (like full soldiers or whatever).

In STO, you can probably do all the PvE missions in random gear, and it's not like there's a death penalty.

Which is good since...

5. Price tag

GW2 has you pay up front for the game, and then the cash shop is mainly for cosmetics/conveniences.

STO doesn't charge you up front, but its cash shop actually has stuff that impacts gameplay - mainly, ships (and the associated unique gear/skill that come with them). Also, playable unlocks, and items that are required to get buffed up fleet versions of good ships. Sure, some of this stuff can also be sold through the auction house, but still...

I ended up buying the $200 lifetime subscription package for STO. Which is higher than what I paid for one account of GW2, but still lower than the total amount of cash spend on GW2, I think.

Outside of the cash shop, getting max level gear is...hm... I think it's actually better in GW2. Exotics are pretty much equivalent to Mk.IV purple gear, and those generally take about the same range of time to get. But the highest tier of gear - ascended vs gold/epic. Well, ascended can be crafted, eventually. Gold/epic gear in STO is purely dependent on RNG (because no one sells that stuff), so yeah. Still obtainable - I've seen these people on youtube, but mainly for the hardcore.

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