The Problem with GW2’s Questing

[Update: Please note the missing link photo]

Reading some of the positive comments about Guild Wars 2’s “Explorer-friendly” questing, I cannot help but feel… confused. I understand that there are people out there that do not like traditional questing. That is fine. The problem presents itself when ArenaNet decides to go through the motions and try and placate those of us who like our themeparks to have, you know, themes. And let’s not kid ourselves: Guild Wars 2 is a themepark. Maybe one with a few sandbox rides, but a themepark all the same.

Rather than attempt to explain the problem again, and why it is a problem how ArenaNet is handling it, I am going to simply show you. My apologies to those with 16.6k baud modems.

Step 1, Start doing the Personal Story.

Step 2, decide you want to help farmers for a while.

Step 3, Get a little ahead of the curve.

Step 4, Start getting worried.

_________________________

[Edit: The following picture was accidentally left out of the series, and provides some much needed context for the remainder]

Step Missing Link, I have done all that you asked.

If the above is not immediately clear, I was looking at my map to see if there were Renown Heart quests undone in my endeavor to finish level 7 and start the next step in the Personal Story quest. The only available quests were set for level 8 characters, although I never saw what was down in the South-West. While it is possible to quest above your level, GW2 makes it abundantly clear that it takes levels very seriously – as evidenced enough by the fact the game will de-level you down to the “appropriate” level for questing to be challenging. [end-edit]

_______________________

Step 5, Just do it.

Step 6, Back to doing what you want to do.

Step 7, Have some fun.

Step 8, Go play another game.

To be clear, I have nothing against an Explorer-based leveling game, or one that allows you to reach max level solely by PvP or chain-running Events or even grinding mobs. Hell, I do not have anything against strict sandboxes either, even if I do not play them all that much.

The problem here is one of coherency. The Personal Story thus far is perfectly serviceable, all the way up to the point where you choose to attend a dinner party and discover you need to go play outside for an hour for an entirely arbitrary reason, e.g. you haven’t leveled enough. As Keidot pointed out in the comments yesterday, it does make a certain amount of theoretical sense to structure the game this way. If you can level solely by the instanced Personal Story quests, what is the point of the outside world? Grouping them up better (instead of spacing each quest out by 2 levels) could potentially leave you performing nation-defining epic actions by level 10, diminishing the weight of your future exploits. Clustering them sounds good, e.g. 1-10 and then 15-25 (etc), until you realize that there had better be 5+ levels of interesting grinding/Event activities to participate in.

I do not have an easy solution to this problem. And believe me, it is a problem. It is one thing to be given a vague motivation to go out and do random Renown (aka Heart) quests, and be satisfied. It is quite another to be following a storyline and then be constantly interrupted to complete tasks that have nothing at all to do with the storyline itself. People talk about joys of not having to read quest text anymore, and maybe they even believe that, but this sort of textual background radiation is what differentiates the character and tone of one MMO against another.

And nevermind what this suggests more generally about the designers’ (future) abilities to pace their own content.

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Posted on June 12, 2012, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. The screenshot where your toon looks at the other toon’s crotch cracked me up.

  2. Mighty Viking Hamster

    Wonderful post. At least I am not the only one who has a beef with the way GW2 works. In fact it made me realize why this beta weekend I just could not kill a mob in my next quest. Guess he was some 4 levels above me which made me! At the time I thought it was a bug and gave up playing the beta altogether.

    • May I ask on what map you were? I keep hearing this mostly from players in Queensdale. it’s likely not all areas are similarly streamlined yet, obviously many of us made totally different experiences. leveling in Norn side felt pretty smooth – I did repeat some events though.

    • Queensdale human here too. It says on the quest log (top right) the lvl the quest is for, and if its red it may be hard. This is same as in other MMOs. You also can see on your map if you hover over an area the target level (target audience).

      I don’t understand how someone who is familiar with MMOs can have a problem with this. WoW and SWTOR work exactly like this. Yeah, you may have to a walk or explore a bit till you find quest for you. But there’s even tons of checkpoints you can go to, w/o CD. Only costs a bit of virtual money. The amount of traveling I had to do in games like WoW and SWTOR is far, far worse.

  3. I take it that by “traditional questing” you mean the type of system that WoW established for the genre and hammered into the heads of players for years. I don’t claim that GW2 is open world, but that it features more of a “find your own adventure” feeling which I prefer. there are limitations obviously and always will be in a programmed medium. but ANet have done a good job to make the environment feel less static and added diversity by stages of scenarios happening around you. That is not to say that longer questlines that send you off to other zones wouldn’t also be nice here and there, to add variety and make more complex storytelling possible.

    From my experience of the personal storyline: that one is just particularly badly balanced and paced. It’s where I died most until I resorted to share the quests with my partner. Once you are clearly too low though, it will tell you to better come back later. I get that this feels disjointed – but then, where did you get the idea that you could only level by personal quests smoothly? It is similar to how AoC handles the personal quests that open new chapters every 10 levels. I do also not recall that WoW questlines would always let you proceed: there were level gaps and often group requirements later on. You would have to go somewhere else and level up before returning. I get the feeling some players are wearing super-pink WoW glasses at the moment and are happy to ignore facts like that.

    Either way, it’s actually what I’d call normal for the classic MMO/RPG – you are not able to just beat everything always. ;) there’s a progression and sometimes you need to repeat quests or grind a little. where I DO see issues is within the level-appropriate personal quests, but here I am certain they will adjust and re-balance due to so much feedback. control/difficulty in general is dodgy here and there. as I mentioned before, there is also a general issue that GW2 initially sold a wrong impression imo: level adaption only works downwards. you cannot really attempt to take on challenges way above your level, certainly not solo. but maybe there too, players need to get more active and cooperate rather than asking quests do lay it all out for them. I would not like to see ANet nerf difficulty too much.

    p.s. pacing and coherence are always aspects that get adjusted and tampered with late into game development. it is natural for this stage of the game to still require polish in these areas where active player feedback also has most weight.

    • I get that this feels disjointed – but then, where did you get the idea that you could only level by personal quests smoothly?

      I do not even have the idea that I can level up from Personal Quests smoothly.

      The idea that I have is that narratives should not abruptly and arbitrarily end. There is no flow between telling the captain you will go to the party to gather evidence, and then helping farmers for an hour before going to said party. If there was continuity present, it would be different. Something like the captain saying “the party won’t be for a while yet, but in the meantime Queensdale burns. If you will excuse me, I need to look for volunteers.”

      That is my problem with GW2 questing, at least in the Queensdale region. I have a Norn and Charr, but I haven’t been following those stories all that closely.

      To use an analogy, questing feels like reading a newspaper, front-to-back. The headline story continues on page A7, but you end up having to read all the other random stories in page order simply because. It’s fine if that is the overall design, but if so, they need to make sure that each step stands on its own instead of ending mid-sentence, as it were.

      • I see. I guess the personal storyline could be integrated better into the rest of the world and other events, yes. narrative is also harder to achieve without longer and connected questlines. I could imagine though that this kind of stuff comes at higher levels. Am also interested to see how/if the dungeons will be embedded in a certain narrative.

        what I did not experience or at least never noticed is being unable to finish a quest until I hadn’t completed others..? not sure what you meant there below.

  4. This sounds just like the LoTRO and SWTOR gameplay experience also. If you concentrate too much on the main storyline (Epic quests in LoTRO or class missions in SWTOR) you will hit a difficulty wall quickly enough. The idea being that you get distracted from said story often enough by other quests / damsels in distress / lazy villagers that you level a bit in-between story chunks.

    • If that is the goal, and I imagine it is, they need to integrate the story a lot better with the outside world IMO. Maybe the ties were there and I simply didn’t see them, but it felt like 2 or 3 separate, independent worlds going on – one with centaurs, one with bandits, and a third with political intrigue. Perhaps it will end up being that the politician is spurring the centaurs to attack to give cover to the bandits so they can seize the crown or something.

      Incidentally, it is kinda difficult to get distracted when most of the Story quests take place within instances inside the city.

  5. Grinding? Logoff? Did you even try? The logical step at Step 8 is to try the quest for level 10 at level 9 because you like to be challenged. You absolutely don’t _have_ to farm till level 10 to do the quest. It is a _choice_. The quest text has a color which indicates the difficulty based on your level (it is that way in WoW, SWTOR; not sure how it exactly works in GW2).

    If you fail, you either improve or you go do a quest for your level (one you did already or new one). Or even under your level if same level is too hard. You can find these quests by looking on your map or exploring.

    I’ve done this “challenging” (if not, it is complete faceroll IMO) in games like SWTOR up to the point I could not hit mobs anymore because they were too high level (but otherwise they were dead) and I have done this in GW2 although here it was more challenging.

    The problem with people who complain about “farming” and “lvling takes too long” is we get nonsense like heirlooms which make the lvling faster and (too) easy. Which again makes a big difference between a regular player and a newbie/reroller (“where are your heirlooms?”) and in a game like WoW you then get level 85 who know jack and squat about their class. Remember, in GW2 the lvling is the game.

    Either way if this is a problem for people to grasp there’s a simple solution: only allow the personal story line to continue once the person has reached high enough level. With the dynamic questing in a game like this (more advanced than WoW) that shouldn’t be a problem. I would prefer as-is though since I prefer to decide to take a challenge; not the game for me. But I am OK with some kind of “newbie mode” like that as long as I can put it off.

    The only thing I don’t like about taking these challenges is the bloody repair bills. They’re like the rent: too damn high.

    • I have seen what a level or two difference does to Thief combat (and melee in general), and I would not suggest that what occurs is especially “challenging.” If I wanted to try and kite a dozen mobs around while desperately avoiding getting one-shot, I would still be playing Diablo 3.

      Again, this has nothing to do with leveling speed. I am saying that spacing out a quest line that was apparently written to be played in sequence, is/feels dumb. And if ArenaNet’s intention was for the Personal Story to not be played in sequence, well, they have done a poor job at that too. At least in Queensdale.

      • What do you think I have to do on my mesmer? 2-shot all mobs and faceroll it? Are melee forbidden to kite? I remember I did it in WoW, but not much because content was too easy. Though GW2 isn’t WoW. With abilities like slows and stuns, kiting makes a lot of sense. Since GW2 is about lvling, you need to start _playing_ the game at early level. Never was the kiting -for me- remotely as hard as Diablo 3 Inferno where -if you fail- you get oneshot.

        My take is you’re simply used to WoW and other MMOs which are too easy to play, especially during leveling. Improve your gameplay or play it more safe, and feel free to provide ANet feedback about the difficulty. I did, and my feedback was quite consistent with difficulty almost always 3/5 (average) with one or two times 4/5. Note that just dying once doesn’t increase the difficulty or decrease the fun; it increases my awareness and forces me to think how to improve. Besides, I’ve also died during AFK, distraction, ninja pulling, etc.

        Now, the accent in games like WoW, SWTOR, RIFT is put on grinding end content so you keep subscribed. For me, that won’t work anymore. The main thing which keeps me in WoW is my friends and the exciting new talent trees. If they make the lvling too easy in GW2 there is no challenge left whatsoever during lvling and that is a bad thing. In fact, I prefer challenging content from level 2-3+. I don’t want to play Diablo 3 on normal in order to play it on nightmare. Too easy, waste of my time, doesn’t feel like an achievement. In GW2 I admit I sometimes did not want to learn the lore because I was too focussed on performing.

        It also makes a lot of sense to me that a personal quest is harder than a random lvling quest. That way, it’d feel more like an achievement. To be fair though, I cannot comment on the difficulty of your quest line. I have not tested it (tho mine was in Queensdale as well). It is entirely possible it was overtuned.

  6. The problem isn’t the explorer style leveling. It’s in how you’re seeing it.

    The idea is that the Personal Story will follow you throughout your journey to 80. It’s not designed to be your primary leveling tool, just one that helps you along your way through the zones.

    Nor should you ever have to “grind mobs” to level to an appropriate level for your next Story Quest. If you’re grinding mobs, you’re probably doing it wrong.

    1. Do your story quest at the level listed. Your effective level will always be at-or-below the listed level in your log.

    2. Find the scouts on the map and do your Heart Quests. If you’re not doing them all, then you’re likely going to be behind the curve.

    3. Do Dynamic Events when they happen nearby. Not only are the stories pretty cool, the events are fun and worth a decent amount of XP.

    4. Find the points of interest, skill challenges and waypoints.

    5. If you’re bored with one area, you can always go do another. As of this weekend’s beta, you could change where you were leveling to any of the other starting zones.

    6. Finally, you can craft. One craft skill from 0-400 = 10 levels. Easy stuff there.

    Doing those 6 things in every zone should net you easily enough XP for the next zone. If you’re having trouble with XP, you’re likely missing something in the above list.

    • The only two things that I did not do in your list was go out of my way to get all the Waypoints within the city, and spend a lot of time crafting (mainly because of the materials). It is entirely possible that I would have been level 8 at the appropriate time if I had done all the Divinity’s Reach Waypoints.

      • So you’re telling me there were no more Dynamic Events for you to do? I leveled a human all the way through the human starting zone. I was not at all at a loss for XP. If you were missing XP, it’s likely because you didn’t do enough events or didn’t actually find all your heart quests. My guess is your “zone completion” wasn’t even close to being done.

        Also, to talk about your “disjointed” experience with questing, I’m unsure how you can think it’s any worse than the “quest hub” style of questing from WoW.

        You’ve just defeated the Lich King! You are the HERO OF AZEROTH! A few months later, a new threat is on the horizon. How do you answer the call? You go forth to get stronger. And how might you do this? By going to the forest and picking 10 flowers for a night elf who is too lazy to do it for himself.

        That’s not at all disjointed? That doesn’t feel incredibly anticlimatic? At least in GW2, your personal story from one event to the next feels epic. Like you’re catching a glimpse of something bigger to come. In WoW and games like it (sans SWTOR) your story isn’t about you, it about the canon NPCs who you just happen to be near when epic things happen.

        Try to view questing and personal story as two separate things. You’re questing to enjoy the world and explore this lovely environment with lots of places to see and interesting NPCs to interact with (and yes, many of them are very interesting, just stick around after a dynamic event and see what happens). Then enjoy the personal story as something where you get to some fun events surrounding your character.

        Honestly, it seems like from all of your posts that you’re a fairly cynical person who doesn’t like most things. So I am going to assume I wrote this wall of text with little reason other than to see myself type it out. But you never know. Maybe something might get through.

      • So you’re telling me there were no more Dynamic Events for you to do?

        As I showed in the very next picture, I was able to wander aimlessly until I found an Event to do. At no point during my playtime did I skip any Event, nor did I have empty Renown Hearts of the appropriate level. Whether I was simply unlucky in my timing, e.g. Event just finished by the time I walked up or started 1 minute after I left the area, I cannot say.

        That’s not at all disjointed? That doesn’t feel incredibly anticlimatic?

        No. Disjointed questing is when the Night Elf asks you to pick flowers, and then does not offer the follow-up quest until you complete the Draenei’s quest to kill 10 boars – with there being no connection whatsoever between the two tasks. Indeed, quest hubs are the opposite of disjointed, generally speaking, as they feature chains of quests towards a common purpose. Once they are completed, you have typically experienced all the narrative the zone has to offer, and can move on.

        Incidentally, the very separateness of the Personal Story and questing is exactly my criticism. By design, it appears they are supposed to be ran in tandem, the very act of which diminishes the coherency of the Personal Story narrative. “Before I attend the dinner party, I need to kill some centaurs.” If it were structured such that you completed an actual arc before heading out, even if it were a small arc, that would be one thing.

        Honestly, it seems like from all of your posts that you’re a fairly cynical person who doesn’t like most things.

        Welcome to In An Age. Feel free to browse the other fine Reviews on tap. I think you will find that I actually do enjoy many (most?) things.

        As for futility, I am actually quite open to compelling arguments. For example, it did not occur to me that this whole issue could have simply been a problem with the Queensdale zone. I even have a level 8 Norn Ranger, and did not think to recall whether or not I experienced the same issue described here. You can be sure that I will be paying closer attention to the non-human zones when the 3rd beta weekend rolls around.

  7. As Conwoly wrote above, if you are grinding mobs to level at GW2, you certainly is doing something wrong.

    Go fill hearts, but just remember hearts are not the main game, the hearts are something players try while look for events. And you don’t need kill mobs for fill hearts, you can ever water the plants or play snowball war with the children…

    • I have just added a missing photo to illustrate that all level-appropriate questing had been completed prior to Step 5.

      • That area to the east was your next location. There was level 7 and level 8 quests over that way. You were level appropriate for your story quest. Which would have put you well over into level 9 which would have made the eastern part of the map right around your level.

        But, I’ll be fair, the human area needs some more XP. It is a little tight if you don’t do every event you come across. But, you still need to do events.

        Lastly, you’re not “Wandering around aimlessly” You had a clear purpose of finding events and killing mobs. To me it just seems you were looking for something more to complain about.

      • Has it occurred to you the area where you wrote “maybe down here” is actually connected to BOTH the other 2 areas? There is even a road going from the 2nd area you did towards that area.

        Let me explain. If you notice the mountain where you wrote “dy compl” on the top left of screenshot there is an event on the north for level ~5. There is also a cave into the mountain with an event. If you go around the mountain you get level ~8 quests including a group event which one can activate themselves (the one with the troll). If you go around the mountain from the left you need to enter a small passage with mobs. You can also just go around the mountain from the south-east. There are many events there. If you follow the road where you wrote “maybe down here” you find a city once you go over the bridge. Before you get there, there is an event there too, also for your level. You could also certainly _try_ the level 8 quest in the east at level 7. Heck, maybe there is a level 8 who is already doing the quest, and he can help you a bit. Nothing wrong with that in this game.

        From this picture, my impression is you did not explore or try hard enough. Could very well be problem with game, but I think its cruft from games like WoW where the whole questing area is for “level X” instead of one area for 1-17. Just because GW2 has it set up more liberal does not mean that way is inherently wrong.

      • joao_carlos_baptista@hotmail.com

        Azuriel, sorry, but your the missing photo and the comment to the missing photo just prove that point: “you certainly is doing something wrong”:

        “If the above is not immediately clear, I was looking at my map to see if there were Renown Heart quests undone in my endeavor to finish level 7 and start the next step in the Personal Story quest. The only available quests were set for level 8 characters, although I never saw what was down in the South-West.”

        That missing photo just show you never talked to scouts (the NPC with a spygrass). when you talk to scouts they show to you where are the Hearts in the area . The missing photo don’t have the Hearts marked, so you never talked to scouts (and that area at map have at least 5 hearts…but no one at the photo). I fear that you problably are looking for NPCs with a big “!” over the head that give quests and get lost in game when saw no one…

        You need change yous ways, GW2 will make you advance level mostly with events. Hearts are there only for move players from one point to other (they added them because players were completelly lost when first tested the game), players will complete hearts while looking for events. The main dish are the events. You need wander out for find them. Talk to a scout, them move to hearts from your level, look for events there, when any event happen, run to it.

        The story quests are there only for the story, not for advancement. You can skip the story quests if you want, a lot of people just skip them.

        Azuriel, sincerelly, the problem is not the game, it is you… you a looking for a WoW clone where there is no one…

      • That missing photo just show you never talked to scouts (the NPC with a spygrass). when you talk to scouts they show to you where are the Hearts in the area . The missing photo don’t have the Hearts marked, so you never talked to scouts

        If you did not see the Hearts on the map, perhaps you need to click on the picture. Or simply realize I put a giant red X on each (higher level) empty Heart, which I would only have been informed of by speaking to the scouts you claim I haven’t. Unless you suggesting there were missing hearts in the center area, in which case I can only take your word for it seeing as how the beta weekend is over.

        You need change yous ways, GW2 will make you advance level mostly with events. [..] The main dish are the events. You need wander out for find them. Talk to a scout, them move to hearts from your level, look for events there, when any event happen, run to it.

        And I did so, as I have explained before. In fact, I seem to recall making that very statement in Step 5. Let me check… yes, yes I did. There was never a level-appropriate Event that I skipped when I saw it on the map, and when I needed to level I sought them out and grinded mobs old-school style while I waited for these “dynamic” events to respawn.

        Incidentally, if the “main dish” are the Events, I fear most of the people buying into the GW2 meal are going to go home hungry.

        The story quests are there only for the story, not for advancement. You can skip the story quests if you want, a lot of people just skip them.

        And what a ringing endorsement that becomes, yes?

        For the final time, I could not give two squirts of piss about using the story quests for advancement, or level advancement at all. That has never been what this or the other posts on this subject are about. It is about ArenaNet bizarrely believing that a narrative loses nothing when each step is pared off into two-level increments. I am saying they are wrong.

        If there were no Personal Stories, I would have accepted the “stay in the fields” exploration-type experience for what it was and we would not be having this conversation at all. Unfortunately for everyone involved, we are.

      • Azuriel, we are not able to even see the completed hearts on your screenshot for some reason. You have acted like a pawn who was able to go forward, able to attempt to kill a piece on the right (“one level above mine, screw this”) yet neglected to even look if able to kill the piece of the left (the unexplored area on the bottom which is connected in 2 ways to the 2 areas you have cleared). Instead, you decided the options were not viable and ragequit.

        The question I asked myself is: is this your fault? It is entirely possible the game could’ve (and maybe should’ve) helped you further by pointing you in the right way. It is entirely possible you spoke to all scouts. I don’t know where they exactly were positioned, and what exactly they shown on map. I also don’t remember how the scout mechanism was introduced to the player. I do know I found out about them rather late, IIRC in day 2 of beta. The developers however surely would know, and if you made a bug report and others did as well and it was indeed a design mistake this would be fixed in the final product. Remember you are playing a beta. Beta products contain bugs. Some final products don’t even work as intended (error 37, working as intended). You’re encouraged to report bugs.

        To answer my own question, the mere fact this game asks more of the player in terms of exploration and deciding where to travel to (yet providing many instant teleports for convenience) instead of the baby sitting like WoW and SWTOR seems to have clashed with the fact you failed or flat out refused to explore the mentioned region.

        The fact you believe it is inconceivable to kill mobs 1 or 2 levels above your level. And after reading your complaints about kiting as melee in Diablo 3 perhaps the fact you believe it is _wrong_ gameplay for a melee to kite. What _else_ should a melee do, 2shot everything?

        Have you ever played a rogue? Have you seriously never kited in any role in PvP/PvE WoW? What classes did you play? I thought you were an intelligent, experienced gamer. That is how you seem to position yourself on your blog. How would you solve the melee problem? Are melee weaker in this game than in WoW and SWTOR?

        “It is about ArenaNet bizarrely believing that a narrative loses nothing when each step is pared off into two-level increments. I am saying they are wrong.”

        And I say you are wrong. If the experience in the personal story are memorable it does not matter they are not chronological in gameplay. The player will simply pick up where they left their storyline wether that is immediately, 1 hour later, 1 day later, next week, next month. People never finish their personal story in one day, it is impossible. The personal story goes from level 1 to 80, supposedly 120 hours to level. Assuming a player plays every evening 2 hrs (not even that casual IMO) that means 60 days; 2 months. In this time, they’re getting “back” into their story the whole time.

        What you’re simply saying is that the experience wasn’t memorable enough, “not epic enough”. The question is if more (potential) customers agree and that is a problem with the storyline, or if that is just one opinion of a (perhaps grumpy) player. That is up to the designers to decide, and I do not know for sure if they appreciate feedback in this manner. I think so, because after you finish each step you can provide feedback e.g. how “fun” the experience was, including the ability to comment. Of course, that system has the potential problem your opinion gets lost like tears in the rain.

      • The fact you believe it is inconceivable to kill mobs 1 or 2 levels above your level. And after reading your complaints about kiting as melee in Diablo 3 perhaps the fact you believe it is _wrong_ gameplay for a melee to kite. What _else_ should a melee do, 2shot everything?

        There is nothing particularly conceivable about killing higher level mobs as melee, particularly as a Thief. I have experienced this first-hand, on multiple occasions, when participating in Events that featured “too many” players – the Event mobs are auto-leveled higher to compensate, which leads to melee getting slaughtered. Considering, as I said before, how higher-level characters are leveled downward to match the level of the mobs in a questing area, it seems pretty clear that the challenge is designed around being of a specific level.

        As for my expectations for melee, it is for melee to be able to attack from melee range. It is a false dichotomy between kiting and 2-shotting everything – there is a whole middle ground of, you know, trading blows/cooldowns in melee range. If melee was intended to kite in order to survive, then by definition they are weaker characters than ranged when ranged do the same with a fraction of the risk.

        Have you ever played a rogue? Have you seriously never kited in any role in PvP/PvE WoW? What classes did you play? I thought you were an intelligent, experienced gamer. That is how you seem to position yourself on your blog. How would you solve the melee problem? Are melee weaker in this game than in WoW and SWTOR?

        I have indeed played a rogue in WoW, and never once have I kited anything in a PvE scenario, with the possible exception of overpulls while Vanish was almost coming off cooldown. I think most players would look at you funny to suggest that rogues kite while doing PVE content at all. In the vast majority of cases, mobs die within a Cheap Shot or a fews seconds later. Indeed, with the introduction of Recuperate in Cataclysm, even going into Stealth was rendered mostly superfluous aside from reseting that one buff from Assassination.

        I also played my namesake paladin from TBC onward, never kiting. Nor on the warrior. Nor on the warlock, although DoTing might not “count” even though I simply tanked the melee damage while waiting for them to die.

        If the experience in the personal story are memorable it does not matter they are not chronological in gameplay. The player will simply pick up where they left their storyline wether that is immediately, 1 hour later, 1 day later, next week, next month.

        It is not a matter of “memorial enough,” it is a matter of not actually having coherent stopping points. I have specifically mentioned this several times, including giving an example of how it could be better handled by the NPC dialog.

      • Sorry, but you are very wrong that a melee character cannot kite in World of Warcraft, Star Wars The Old Republic and Diablo 3 although I cannot comment about Guild Wars 2 or specifically the thief profession because of lack of experience with that profession and melee in general in Guild Wars 2. From my experience with the other 3 games it’d very much surprise me though.

        While I’d agree that in all of these games kiting is more meant for ranged I happen to know a fair bit about especially WoW classes including first hand experience. A DK can kite perfectly. What did we use for Magmaw? One tank and a frost DK with chillbains. It was the preferred way even for PuGs (my DK has done it). I’ve even kited with that build in SFK when tank died. While for frost this is talent + 1 button, unholy has various slows as well, and DoTs. Our warrior tank kites all the time on P3 Spine HC, and he is good at it. He even sometimes kites on Madness as well. The idea of tanks who kite is nothing new, yet they’re melee. I don’t think skilled rogues would laugh at my comment at all. For example assassination with FoK can do a 70% slow. If you are skilled you can do AoE dmg while kiting melee mobs for hours barring enrage. Usually that isn’t very efficient though yet the required skill is akin to DK frost kiting on Magmaw (not very high). It is low risk, low reward. That appears to be the main complaint from melee but it requires extensive research to make valid compares with _equal_ ranged builds who have the necessary talents for kiting. As melee, of course you cannot kite well against ranged. Either you nuke those first, CC them, use CD, or you don’t kite / soak / die. Btw, skilled sub rogues use stealth all the time. Stealth is only near irrelevant for combat rogue, but I never understood the point of that spec precisely because of that reason. Mutil is inbetween those 2.

        On my warlock I kited quite a bit. She was my first horde char, and did not have any heirlooms, so I could not zerg. I used spells like fear, shadowfury, shadowflame, CoEx, howling terror, demonic circle, and I have ran around including overpulling and then running away. As demonology you have hand of gul’dan, inferno, demon leap.

        Monks in D3, a family member of mine happens to play one, and he downed inferno Diablo long ago. He also farmed quite a bit. His favorite? The pony level on inferno. I have joined him a few times while he was kiting there so I have seen with my own eyes how well he can kite. Or should I say how well a melee monk can kite? A totally different style than on my wizard. Both classes do need some kind of build to kite effectively though. Also, kiting is simply much more important in a game like Diablo 3. If you hate kiting, don’t play Diablo 3. You will hate the game.

        I can’t comment on your thief experience because my thief was only level ~4 but I remember using ‘v’. You are basically telling me I cannot do quests 1 level above my level on my thief, and that a thief cannot kite. I might’ve already even done that w/o noticing; I certainly did on my other 2 characters, yes even world events. I have even soloed a world event 1 level above mine (was for 20 instead of 19) but that was with a rally after every wave and with clever play partly due to experience. I have also ran away past mobs (I like to just run through mobs if I don’t have destination there, a habit from WoW/SWTOR) but that is not kiting. I cannot wait for the next BWE to level up my thief further and prove you wrong.

        “As for my expectations for melee, it is for melee to be able to attack from melee range. It is a false dichotomy between kiting and 2-shotting everything – there is a whole middle ground of, you know, trading blows/cooldowns in melee range. If melee was intended to kite in order to survive, then by definition they are weaker characters than ranged when ranged do the same with a fraction of the risk.”

        Trading blows is default play as melee. You canot compare that with kiting since it involves no skill. It is simple button mashing, standard rotation. Defensive CDs is valid; GW2 has this (keybind 6-0 and possibly in your spec). That is also how a monk in D3 can be invulnerable with tons of their abilities. I don’t know if it has occurred to you but ranged in games like WoW and Diablo 3 have far less armor than melee. The only exception to that in WoW is the 2 leather classes. But one can vanish, and the other one can pop bear form. Both also have tons of CDs. The hunter is the best kiter and solo spec by a long shot, popular for lvling, and also the clear winner of the ironman challenge.

        Maybe a thief doesn’t have adequate CDs. I’ll certainly play one, since I’ve always enjoyed stealth classes like the concealment operative and the sub rogue. Oh and yeah I have kited on my concealment ops. I’ve also LoSed on my concealment ops (end boss of act I especially).

        “It is not a matter of “memorial enough,” it is a matter of not actually having coherent stopping points. I have specifically mentioned this several times, including giving an example of how it could be better handled by the NPC dialog.”

        I don’t see the problem. You stop with it and continue later on. What I described is a normal reaction in gaming. You cannot beat something, you quit and go do something else. You return later after you took a refreshing shower, after you came home from work, after you dinged, after you gemmed your gear, after you looked up the tactics because you don’t want to figure them out yourselves, after you played an alt, after you got laid, after …

        You know every time you fail at something you seem to blame the game. I do this too with friends to vent the frustration, and it is possible we’re right but I know inside it is probably me and I must improve or (temporarily) give up. I must first search within my own options. I don’t find it very mature to immediately blame the game for what could very well be your own fault.

      • Sorry, but you are very wrong that a melee character cannot kite in World of Warcraft, Star Wars The Old Republic and Diablo 3 although I cannot comment about Guild Wars 2 or specifically the thief profession because of lack of experience with that profession and melee in general in Guild Wars 2. From my experience with the other 3 games it’d very much surprise me though.

        Where did I say WoW melee characters cannot kite? Where did I even mention SWTOR? And considering you just admitted to arguing a point about which you know nothing about (i.e. melee in GW2), I am not even sure why you continue posting.

        When you play your Thief next beta weekend to “prove me wrong,” go fight two mobs 1 level above you, or one mob 2 levels above you. Or participate in any Event with many players around that has ranged mobs.

        A DK can kite perfectly. What did we use for Magmaw? One tank and a frost DK with chillbains.

        And we used a Hunter with Ice trap, or occasionally a Boomkin with those Mushroom things + Typhoon. Congratulations?

        I am not even sure why we are on this subject, especially when you bring up tank-kiting and raid scenarios. This was about designing a game where melee is apparently supposed to be kiting while questing. Not only is that out of the ordinary, it is bad design when ranged is asked to do the same thing but accomplishes it much easier with less risk. Melee can kite in GW2, but I see zero reason why they should.

        I don’t see the problem. You stop with it and continue later on.

        /facepalm

        Next time you read a book, stop in the middle of a paragraph, and don’t pick it up again for a week. Or go read a newspaper front-to-back, in page order.

      • I admitted I don’t know anything about it from personal experience. One can read, yes?

        There isn’t really a thing like melee and ranged in GW2. Once you leveled up weapons every melee class has many ranged options available, and vice versa. Think feral druid/moonkin or enhance/ele shaman.

        There’s a more plausible answer to your problem: you are stuck in your melee/ranged dogma from other games and you could not find the weapon to do ranged attacks on your thief (tip: shortbow, pistol) or you just don’t like kiting even if you do have those weapons.

      • There’s a more plausible answer to your problem: you are stuck in your melee/ranged dogma from other games and you could not find the weapon to do ranged attacks on your thief (tip: shortbow, pistol) or you just don’t like kiting even if you do have those weapons.

        It is not dogma from other games – this is basic inductive reasoning.

        If kiting as melee is intended, why play melee? Ranged are better at it in every possible way. I talked about this dichotomy during my first GW2 impression: Rangers had 3+ snares and strong ranged AoE from their very first weapon onward. Why play melee when ranged have more time to react to abilities that need to be Dodged, when ranged are less vulnerable to auto-leveled mobs in Events, when the principal gameplay mechanic (i.e. kiting) is intuitively linked to distanced attacking?

        There is no reason for melee to exist under such a paradigm. Yes, a Thief can have dual pistols and a shortbow for their 2nd weapon. Is that a “thief?” Is there a whole lot of differentiation between such a ranged Thief vs Ranger or Engineer or, hell, a warrior with a longbow + rifle? No and no.

        As for the final part: I never had a 2nd pistol to see how dual-pistols worked out (and main-handing a pistol seemed superfluous when you “lost” 2/5 of your abilities), but I routinely used the Shortbow as my second weapon. Do you know the attacks it had? Auto-attack, a poison gas AoE, a snare, an explosive AoE, and a shoot + teleport into melee range. Not exactly the best of kiting toolboxes.

      • Kiting in Melee is intended. It’s standard strategy for melee in all MMO games. Despite if you like to do it or not. This game has a strong emphasis on strategy. You have to think about how to engage your target. Ranged have to consider how to slow, knock back, etc as well. The trade off from melee and ranged? Melee hits harder and ranged has more time to spend hitting a target before it gets to them.

        You sure like to make up excuses for your poor playstyle, don’t you?

      • Azuriel, you got it backwards.

        You are taking short range -which is something many melee character have in games- completely out of equation.

        In WoW, all melee have ranged abilities (howling blast, fan of knives) and vice versa (cone of cold, shadowflame). In SWTOR, same. However the classes stay “melee with some ranged abilities” or vice versa.

        GW2 goes further. Capiche? It is not the same. GW2 allows you as melee (as in, you started melee at level 1) to spec as full-blown ranged with the blink of putting a ranged weapon equiped. In GW2 you can respec in battle with they key ` which allows one to, for example, switch between melee and ranged. This means we are much more hybrid than in previous MMOs.

        On my mesmer around level 16 I started to play with two 1H swords, making me a full blown melee. I enjoyed it so much (and it was viable) that I stayed playing with it. In fact, I equiped a ranged weapon in my other spec and pulled with that. How did it work? First of all, each 1H gave me 1 block ability (total of 2) which creates illusions which I usually blow up or give me ability to dodge an attack. Second, when all those abilities were on CD I’d indeed kite. Sometimes this was not viable because at times I wasn’t playing well enough. I mean, you can’t just pull half the world and then block everything. Doesn’t work.

        You can easily buy a 1H pistol from any weaponsmith. I know I did (none had dropped for mesmer around level 7 and I wanted to train the weapon skill).

        “If kiting as melee is intended, why play melee? Ranged are better at it in every possible way.”

        Depends.

        In our example of Magmaw the hunter has very little room to kite (only over his frost trap which has a CD). The DK has far more room. Also, IIRC, the backpeddle was exactly the right speed to move away from the worms. It was also one button mashing for the DK (with D&D for if they spawned far away), while the hunter needs to do many more abilities to also do some damage. Hunter is a class made for kiting, but not every hunter plays their class well. By the way I’ve kited them too, as fire mage, DK, and probably more.

        I already gave an example of monk kiting.

        Aside from that, a melee won’t get one-shot when he fails kiting. Talk to a demon hunter what happens when they fail kiting.

        To the reader who is considering playing thief, don’t let yourself be discouraged. I’ve read about countless of thieves who play the class succesfully. Please take a minute to read http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Thief including the special skill types and weapons section. You will find out there are legio options to kite and survive such as stealth, venoms, teleport, traps, AoE.

      • @Conwolv
        Kiting in Melee is intended. It’s standard strategy for melee in all MMO games. Despite if you like to do it or not.

        Not in WoW. Not in Warhammer (from what I played). In PvP, sure, it has uses. As a “standard strategy” for PvE and especially questing? No.

        This game has a strong emphasis on strategy. You have to think about how to engage your target. Ranged have to consider how to slow, knock back, etc as well. The trade off from melee and ranged? Melee hits harder and ranged has more time to spend hitting a target before it gets to them.

        Except melee doesn’t hit noticibly harder, and even if they did, they are more vulnerable to attacks which need to be Dodged (e.g. have less time to react). So as I have said before, there is zero incentive to play melee. This is the same design hole Blizzard fell into during Cataclysm wherein they had to buff melee by 10% across the board to even get raid leaders to take melee with them.

        @Fn0
        You are taking short range -which is something many melee character have in games- completely out of equation.

        Short-range attacks have nothing to do with anything. I am and have been very specifically referring to the necessity of kiting as a melee character. Getting some early damage/bleeds/poisons on a mob via the shortbow before engaging with daggers is one thing. Same for general AoE abilities. Attempting to keep a mob at range the entire time, or running away for lack of the ability to withstand the counter-attack as a matter of course, is something else altogether.

        You are free to make the argument that ArenaNet is hybridizing not just the tank/DPS/healer roles, but the the melee/ranged roles as well. And maybe that is exactly what they are doing.

        To which I say: good luck with that. I think what ArenaNet is going to find out extremely quickly after release, is that there will be quite a number of people to whom Thieves = Rogues, Warriors = Warriors, Guardians = Paladins, and Melee Hybrids = Melee.

    • “If you did not see the Hearts on the map, perhaps you need to click on the picture. Or simply realize I put a giant red X on each (higher level) empty Heart, which I would only have been informed of by speaking to the scouts you claim I haven’t. Unless you suggesting there were missing hearts in the center area, in which case I can only take your word for it seeing as how the beta weekend is over.”

      I open your map and I cannot see some hearts I know that exist at that places. Sorry, but you don’t talked to at least two scouts I know that are close to the area you explored. There is a scout just north-east the first fortress and other scout to south the second fortress (that one at small island), just near the road to south. That second scout just show a heart at a village with crafting stations and that is an easy heart to complete. Near that second scout there is a guard camp that sometimes is attacked by centaurs (event), just before that bridge before the road at teh middle of the forest that goes to to the village.

      Normally there is a caravan event that goes from second fortress to that village, and near the village there is a cow farm that have an event. Both the caravan and the farm events are easy to do if you are lower level than mobs, because a lot of players come from the places near for that events. North the cow farm there are a cave complex with at least 2 events (giant troll and grubs), South to the farm there is a lake with at least 2 events (bear attacking honey bees and giant fish).

      Looking your map I can say you just need to go south, crossing the second fortress and following the road, for find events and hearts closer to your level.

  8. There’s a simple answer to this “problem”. I sent it in about half a dozen bug reports this weekend (using a fairly free interpretation of the concept of “bug”, I grant you).

    The simple answer is “Get rid of the Personal Story”.

    That’s the bit that jars. It doesn’t fit with anything else ArenaNet is trying to do. It’s coercive, linear and directive rather than invitational, free-form and liberating, which is the entire thrust of the rest of the gameplay is striving for.

    Other than that error of judgment, I do feel ArenaNet have an underlying problem which was heavily in evidence in Map chat on Yak’s Bend this weekend, namely people reacting much as you suggest above. Asking “I’m 14th, where do I go to level?” and “I did all the hearts in the first zone but I’m still not high enough for the next one – what do I do?”. Worse still, getting answers telling them where to go and what to kill to get the requisite levels.

    I kept suggesting that zones scale, that events vary and change in the same zone, that there are many options (even without two racelands being available) if you travel, which is easy to do but a body of opinion clearly wanted a clear progression path to follow.

    My hope is that GW2 will boil these players off in the first three months and will settle down to serve to a large playerbase that doesn’t want to be spoonfed. The alternative is that ArenaNet panic and retro-fit their game to meet the prejudices and expectations of players habituated to and unwilling to diverge from gameplay patterns learned in older MMOs. I don’t get the impression ArenaNet is the kind of company that panics, though.

    • I actually agree with you… although I would suggest that the problem isn’t players “habituated to and unwilling to diverge from gameplay patterns learned in older MMOs,” but rather ArenaNet using the exact same cues from said older MMOs and not following through. You cannot start off with structured, instanced storytelling and then act surprised when someone asks when they can get to the next step. Either the breaks need to be intuitive and apparent, or they shouldn’t exist at all.

      To be honest, I am not sure what levels add to Guild Wars 2 at all. They could simply do without them altogether and use Skill Challenges and the like to meter out progression.

  9. So what you are showing us is that for your personal story you needed to talk to someone at level 6, then talk more at level 8 and finally talk some more at level 10, all in the city?

    In that case, that quest line is bad paced, I would agree. If your in game level and abilities do not influence the outcome of the quest, there is no reason one should not be able to do some talky talky at lower level and be done with it for the next part that requires entering a higher level area.
    Then again, did you being level 6 prevent you from continuing the personal story? If it was only a guideline of what would be appropriate, then only that number is wrong and this initial startup to your personal adventure, that probably accompanies you till level 80, if it involves only talking and running around in a city, could/should be labelled 1-10 to show that being underlevel is not a problem.

    • If there is no combat involved then the intended lvl does not really matter but may be set due to different reasons. For example, the target location requires the player to get past certain level of mobs and quests.

      Personally, I don’t see it as a huge problem. Even if it is, that is why it is a beta, duh. Hence bug report instead of dramatic post.

      It is a far bigger problem if a quest with combat intended for level 12 is undoable at level 15, or if a quest with combat at level 9 is doable at level 5. But if you think it is a problem indeed a bug report is the way to go, as bhagpuss asserted.

  10. It’s like this in every MMO with a long ‘personal story” I have ever played. They all have stories that require you to do side quests or grind or what ever else is needed to stay up with them.

    Show me one even-half-way decent MMO with a long story that doesn’t require some kind of side work to keep you leveled? I know LOTRO doesn’t. I know STO doesn’t. Fallen Earth didn’t. DCUO didn’t. EQ2 didn’t. I played TSW beta over the weekend and it didn’t. SWTOR doesn’t.

    And yet you’re calling out GW2? For something no other MMO does because you (drum roll please) can’t do that in an MMO unless you completely cripple all other elements and make it an on-line massively single player game.

    • Every MMO has a “personal story” that is paced in 2-level increments? Kill bandits in cave, rescue prisoners –> quest elsewhere –> talk with guard captain, say you want to crash party –> quest elsewhere –> crash party –> quest elsewhere –> go to the trial –> etc?

      I’m not expecting the whole story right away. I’m expecting the story to be structured in complete sentences. Or there being some connection between the side missions and the main one. Or, if both are impossible, at least some concession made towards time passing, e.g. “The party won’t start for a while yet, and Queensdale still burns.”

      I mean, it almost sounds as though you are dismissing the mere possibility that GW2’s personal story could be badly paced. If you think the pacing was fine, say so. Saying “LOTRO does it too!” neither addresses the argument nor provides evidence against it. Could be LOTRO does the same thing but is paced better, in which case we’re right back at my argument.

      As for my “calling out” GW2, well, that is kind of the point of beta weekend impression posts. And aside from SWTOR’s beta weekend, I haven’t played those other games. If I ever do, and they leave me with the same feeling, I will call them out as well.

    • Funny how in TSW when you first play the game the tip on loading screen informs the player they shouldn’t play through the class story line only but do side quests and then pick up the main story line.

      I wonder if that tip during loading screen would make sense for GW2.

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