Five things I want to find out in any beta

I’m not going back on the “mostly I avoid beta” stance, but I’ve been thinking about betas more lately, especially with the recent flap about WildStar’s patch notes being unofficially and then officially leaked.  I guess the one thing that peeves me about beta testing and not being in it is that others have access to more information about the game than I do.  I love having the full scoop and being behind the scenes rather than out in the audience.

So if I do go into a beta, almost always these are the five things I want to find out:

(1) How different is the actual game from the impressions the previews/dev hype/my own imagination?  Above all else, I want my expectations to get ‘n sync with reality.

(2) A full rundown of all races and classes, along with any talent trees or whatnot.

(3) How combat functions and feels.  One or two fights is usually enough to suss this out.

(4) The ins and outs of the UI.  What standard features are there?  What new or missing ones are there?

(5) The full map of the world.  I really dislike learning about new MMOs one zone at a time through drips and drabs of official press releases.  Let me see how many zones there are all at once and how they’re connected.

If I get all five of those down, my curiosity is usually more than sated.

5 thoughts on “Five things I want to find out in any beta

  1. Does the game function? Are a high number of quests broken? Does combat feel natural? Does the game crash constantly? Does chat work? If connected to a known IP is the game world a decent representation of the IP? Do the developers interact with players on the game forums and do they fix the most glaring problems? If the game is within six months from release it should play as a finished product that just needs tweaks, is the game in that state?

  2. #4 UI is very important. For example, Neverwinter is always in mouselook mode when you’re moving around. Mouselook makes me nauseous, so there’s no point in playing it.

  3. Do I find myself wanting to test this beta more than I want to play my current MMO of choice? This happens surprisingly often and it doesn’t mean that I will, for certain, play at launch. If I can’t answer “Yes” to this one, though, there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance I’ll be playing when the game goes Live because betas are almost ALWAYS more fun than the initial Live experience.

    I can think of MMOs that got better, sometimes a LOT better, months or even years after launch but I can’t think of any MMO I ever beta-tested that was better at launch than it was in beta and I could give a long list of those that were worse. One of the main reasons I like to get into betas is to see the games at what will most likely be the best they’ll be, if not for ever than for some considerable time as the heavy hammer of commercial reality smashes the life out of them immediately post-launch.

    The only real downside is the lack of permanence to the characters, especially in real betas that have a number of character wipes. Other than that, beta is where the fun is.

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