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Well, I do believe the game plays differently than many MMOs. For one, you can take the missions in any order you like, and because you are using a cell phone to turn in, there's no need to "return to the hub." The story for each mission is strong enough that it certainly doesn't feel like a grind. For the investigation missions especially, you can spend a bit of time just thinking about the answer without fighting anything at all (depending on whether you resist the walkthru sites). When you get a Kill X quest, there's usually a strong enough story behind it that it doesn't feel like a typical kill X quest, and even those tend to have a little puzzle to be figured out as well.
Oh, you can certainly grind monsters if you want, but XP rewards are better for simply completing missions or running dungeons.
There is a linear path for the main storyline, and the zones follow the path of the story. I'd argue that the zones are more tailored to the story than any particular skill level. There are high difficulty areas in each of the zones (the farming areas and the lairs) so returning to a zone to do other stuff is possible and likely -- you can even "gear down" to run starter content with more challenge (base health doesn't change much without gear). In fact, there are even story threads that provide a reason to return (Tyler Freeborn and Last Train to Cairo). Finally, you can choose to do lairs, hunt lore, do pvp, run dungeons instead of pure grinding.
No it's not a sandbox, and yes there is progression, but I don't think it's a level grind in the typical sense. The only time I have repeated content was to group with friends who were just starting out in the game. Now endgame is another story -- those who want to complete the wheel, or equip all 10.5 purples will probably be spending a lot of time in the raids and the nightmare dungeons. Most content is doable in 10.1-10.2 though, so the choice to grind endgame is usually more about having the best gear possible than a requirement to get through any particular content.
EDIT: There is no requirement to be at a particular skill level to advance a storyline or zone. There is a story requirement that must be completed in order to move on though.
Originally posted by lizardbones I'm sure this is a minority opinion, but I think TSW is a little too open with the whole points and gear thing when they shouldn't be. If you really need QL2 and QL3 gear to run around the Savage Coast, why is it optional to not put points into the SP categories for the gear levels when it's time to move on? It's not a choice, you must put the points there and you must get the gear. A lot of the game being linear is obviously not a problem for the people playing, because TSW gets high points from players as being "fun", so why throw an arbitrary hook at the player? Meh. Maybe I've played too much Silent Hill and the like.
It's called "freedom". You are perfectly free to mess yourself up by ignoring what the world around you calls for. Then you have the choice of rage-quitting because the world doesn't accommodate itself to you, or getting some better gear in order to fit in better... You don't have to have QL3 gear to be in Savage Coast. If you want, you can turn right at the cowboy and run to the tunnel instead of left to the police station. Then go all the way around the island and take the mission for the protective suit and move from Blue Mountain back to Kingsmouth. Not easy, but it can be done with a bit of care and attention.
Originally posted by CasualMaker Originally posted by lizardbones I'm sure this is a minority opinion, but I think TSW is a little too open with the whole points and gear thing when they shouldn't be. If you really need QL2 and QL3 gear to run around the Savage Coast, why is it optional to not put points into the SP categories for the gear levels when it's time to move on? It's not a choice, you must put the points there and you must get the gear. A lot of the game being linear is obviously not a problem for the people playing, because TSW gets high points from players as being "fun", so why throw an arbitrary hook at the player? Meh. Maybe I've played too much Silent Hill and the like.
I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.
Originally posted by lizardbones
If you want to follow the storyline, as presented by the game, then getting QL2 and QL3 gear to progress through the Savage Coast isn't optional. The progress through the zone after that, you'll need QL4 & QL5 gear. And so on. The developers have setup a system where progressive is mapped out, and a requirement, but have left players the option of messing it up, costing them additional play time to grind SP to make up the gap. It's not freedom if it's a requirement.
You are free to play the game however you like. Banging your head into a wall is a legitimate choice. So is ignoring all opportunities to improve your character and freeloading off the abilities of whoever you can get to group with you. It may not the most survivable or enjoyable choice, but you are free to try it. Some choices work out better than others; that's life. And so what if you take a bit longer than others? It's not as if you're running a race here. You are not even wasting your own subscription time and money unless you want to: subscription is optional.