GW2 Checkpoint: Month 1

One of the best 1-month reviews I have read is Julian’s over on KTR. Not so much for the content of the review, but rather for evoking that sort of hollow feeling that I find Guild Wars 2 gives off.

Guild Wars 2 is like bungee-jumping without the cord. It is all fun and excitement on the way down, but there isn’t anything that snaps back and keeps you in the experience.

A lot of the reviews I have been reading (save one) do not do much in the way of differenciating between the game and the MMO aspect. From a game aspect, sure, it will give you more than a 2:1 return on hour of entertainment per dollar. If you are looking for a one-month stand, so to speak, by all means GW2 is your girl. In fact, with all the dynamic events and no-strings attached spontaneous grouping, it is practically a swinger’s paradise.

If instead you are looking for an MMO you can develop a relationship with, one that both allows investment and a perceived return for time spent, you are still basically stuck with pandas or space trolls.¹

But let me zero in on a couple of areas, including the ones I called out pre-launch.

Hearts/Questing

A lot of people talk about the freedom aspect of GW2 questing, of spontaneity. And it is true. But it is a freedom derived from walking around not giving a shit.

It still boggles my mind how little press the complete elimination of quest text has gotten. I have talked about this before, but a month in, these Hearts feel worse than the most banal of WoW’s daily quests. I do not care if you never read quest text anyway, the point is that a writer/designer still had to at least go through the motions. Where are the motions here?

Have you even tried talking to these Renown Heart guys? The dialog interface is awful, and outside of Gravedigger Dumpy, it all feels like it was written by an accountant. Has anyone actually encountered a coherant narrative in the Renown Hearts? I haven’t. And what I mean is have you actually been interested in what is going on beyond the strict gameplay elements introduced? Do you remember any of the NPC names?

This is not about “location-based” questing, this is about questing without context. And if you have filled one meter, you have filled them all.

I have not reached the conclusion of the Story quests, so I shall reserve final judgment on them. But to be honest, most of what I have seen has been phoned in. Story mission difficulty oscillates between trivial and broken, the tone of the narrative is all over the place (one minute everyone is Lawful Good Looney Toons villains, and the next we torture/kill in cold blood), and I have seen no indication that this story is any different than every “dragon terrorizes the land” story ever made. Including and especially the one presented in Cataclysm, which I suppose is unfortunate timing on ArenaNet’s part.

Dynamic Events

As I said last time around:

If anyone in-game talks about Events a month after launch, it will solely be in the context of “Where do I level now?” and “Where are all the Events?” and “I’ve been waiting for X Event to spawn for six minutes now!” and “Lame, the Waypoint I wanted to use is contested.” Events are not Guild Wars 2′s killer app. Events are fun the first time, promote spontaneous grouping in the immediate area, and technically have branching paths, I guess.

Events also scale horribly with a lot of people (melee in particular get hammered by dozens of instantly spawned +2 level mobs), are boring the 2nd/3rd/nth time around, interfere with normal questing/exploring in the area (yay, 20 kobolds just spawned in this cave again), are not easy to find or fun to wait around for, and become just plain tedious when completed alone. Regardless of how successful or not GW2 does sales-wise, it will not take but a few weeks for the playerbase to diffuse across the leveling/zone spectrum, making the outdoor-raid-esque feel of beta Events turn into the Warhammer’s “Forever Alone” Public Quest ghost towns.

At a minimum, I try to complete the Daily Achievement during my play session, which requires 5 Events. For every day of the prior week, I have had to cheese the achievement by logging onto an alt and flailing about in the rapidly reseting starting zone Events because I simply did not encounter five working Events in 2 hours of level 50-60 gameplay. When non-bugged Events do spawn, a handful of people usually appear out of the ether, but the mood is more akin of starving dogs swarming over table-scraps than “oh, hey, here’s another one of those things which the leveling system is supposedly built around.”

Which is just as well in the scheme of things, because the majority of Events are worse than the Renown Hearts under close scrutiny. Kill X waves of Y monster. Pick up Z items and return. Aaaaaaaaand that’s it. Maybe I am doing the wrong Events? If so, go ahead and tell me where I can find these good “Dynamic” Events and how long I would have to wait in that general area to trigger them.

WvWvWvWvWpppfffft

Is there anyone who is playing GW2 who feels like WvW was designed/executed properly? Anyone?

What I will grant is there are a lot more Waypoints than there was in the beta, making the graveyard slog not as bad. And it is nice that they are dropping the bags of loot from dead players at your feet now instead of asking you to drop down from the castle walls to collect your tokens. Then again… why are you asking players to furiously press F as they dodge and strafe in the press of the zerg, with people dying left and right? Is it a cynical design ploy to help throttle the volume of items generated in these encounters, since X% of legitimately earned items inadvertently go unclaimed?

Dungeons

Ho boy. I have completed two thus far, and… I am going to save my descriptions of them (and hopefully the others) for a future post.

By the way, I spent 45 minutes trying to get a party together for Twilight Arbor story-mode two days ago. As in, I was apparently incapable of getting four other random people grouped together. Is the lack of a LFG tool really a boneheaded mistake that every game designer is going to have to make from now on? Because let me tell you, limiting your LFG “tool” to self-flagged people only in that map is bullshit design that should have been laughed out of the office in 2012. Dungeons were already going to be a niche activity no matter what ArenaNet did, but to further drain the available pool down to “someone with an hour to kill, who hasn’t done the Story mode yet, who happens to be on a level 30/40/50+ character in a level 1-15 zone for some goddamn reason, who specifically replies to map chat requests” is beyond asinine.

With free server transfers, cross-server guilds, multiple guilds, and anonymous grouping, “saving the server community” is not even remotely a legitimate concern.

MMO Aspects Aside…

As a single-player game, it is probably worth your $60. Combat is nowhere near as responsive as WoW, character progression basically ends at level 30, and of course there is no endgame. But what Guild Wars 2 does succeed at is simulating an MMO without all that messy commitment. Which is kind of a shame considering how it succeeds in providing incentives for cooperation that most real MMOs curiously lack altogether, or feel necessary to induce via the threat of pain and loss.

In any case, we will just have to check in two months from now and see where things are heading into the holiday season. I am asking Santa for an actual LFG tool in GW2 and for Blizzard to tweak/remove the rather archaic-seeming mob tagging mechanic, myself.

¹ Yeah, yeah, or Tolkein, or rift chasing, or whatever else you are playing long-term.

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Posted on September 28, 2012, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Mabye its different playstyle, maybe different taste but bugs aside I cant really agree to much of this.

    Heartquests/Dynamic Events
    So I played a lot of Lotro and SWTOR before and they had all this story (one text, one VO) and guess what…it was completely meaningless for the most part just the same.
    Im not going to say that events have as huge an effect on the world as advertising tries to make you beleive but at least there are occasional changes, be it only ownership of some random camp.

    WvW
    My biggest issue with this one is mostly that its very hard to get into it as a group, unless you are on a somewhat empty server. For us, usually the first already had enough of it when the last is able to join (>queue) 1-2 hours later…otherwise its fun if a bit chaotic and random.

    Dungeons
    They are buggy and thats annoying though lots of issues have been fixed already. Did the first 4 multiple times and so far its been fun regardless.
    LFG tool I never found important since I usually play in a guild and so far if we really were missing 1-2 people, a simply shout into the map fixed it shortly.

    Like I started…if we just have different tastes than there is little to be done but wait and see. As for playstyle, I highly recommend an active guild with enough players so you don’t have to solo (ideally, ever).

    Just my that many cents.
    Aly

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  2. I agree with most of your overview, Azuriel.

    GW2 has some of the flattest “quest” text I’ve ever seen, which ties in very neatly with the almost affectless delivery of much of the voice-work. The actual “quests” themselves are generally no better nor worse than actual quests in most other MMOs. They certainly aren’t anything remotely new or different.

    Dynamic Events are about as dynamic as hearing your number called at the Post Office. You turn up where they are, you wait the required time, the event starts, it either succeeds or fails and there is either another event as a result or a pause until the cycle begins again. If anyone could be bothered to write one up there could be schedule.

    WvW is utterly pointless. It’s Valhalla, basically: wake up, fight all day, go to sleep, wake up and do it all again. Nothing changes, nothing will change, nothing can change, nothing matters.

    Dungeons – haven’t done one, don’t plan on doing one.

    Where I part company isn’t in the analysis but in what it means. I don’t care about quests. I never liked them to begin with, I wish MMOs didn’t have them and mostly I ignore them. Getting the benefit of the xp and the loot without needing to know anything about the mind-numbingly tedious problems of NPCs works for me. As far as the quality of the writing goes, I really don’t come to video games for the prose style (although as it happens I’ve long had a thing for flat, affectless prose styles as exemplified by Brett Easton Ellis, so I’m actually quite intrigued by just how flattened ArenaNet are prepared to take it).

    I also don’t care to have truly dynamic events. Imagine how irritating that would get. I’m more than happy to have them appear fairly predictably. That way I can decide if I want to do them based on whether they’re fun, and I do find a lot of them fun. I’m easily pleased like that.

    On the utter pointlessness of WvW, since all I want out of it is the chance for a quick dust-up when I’m three glasses into a bottle of red, it’s doing the job fine for me. Mrs Bhagpuss spent seven continuous hours defending keeps last night (I’d had enough after 90 minutes). Utterly pointless strategically but enormous fun for as long as one continues to find it fun. Obviously a lot of people did because it was very busy.

    This morning she was leveling up a Mesmer before she went to work because a Mesmer gets a skill that lets them prang people into the air and she likes knocking people off walls. Lots of ways to amuse yourself.

    I think a lot of people who write about MMOs are expecting an awful lot more out of them than an awful lot of the people who play them. Could they be better? Absolutely! When there are better ones, I’ll be very happy to play those instead. In the meantime, as I said at the end of my own review, I reckon this as good as we’re going to get for a while and it’ll do til something better comes along.

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  3. “Combat is nowhere near as responsive as WoW, character progression basically ends at level 30”. If you only had put that at the beginning, I would have known this was a trolling post and I wouldn’t have wasted 3 minutes of my life reading it through.

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    • What do you get after 30 that you did not have before that changes how you play the game?

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      • I you want to knitpick, you unlock more skills that you can use, depending on situation. Not sure 100% but my lvl 70 char does not have all of them unlocked so far…not to mention that your stats keep raising all the way to level 80 (traits)

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    • I cant really say for wow (never even vaguely interested me) but I for sure find GW2 combat MUCH more responsive than say Lotro and SWTOR..and for those people usually claimed combat is just like WoW.
      Progression, well…yeah but for one, i was never a friend of raid-till-you-hurl for 2% more damage so you can hurl-while-you-raid the next one. Also, it was to be expected somewhat since GW1 was about the same (except that lvl cap was 20 so..)

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    • There is no trolling taking place, although I admit I could have been more specific.

      In terms of responsiveness, I was thinking about the delay between pressing a button and seeing the result. Some attacks are instant, most have a “cast time,” some have a cast time while you can move, some have a cast time when you cannot (and no indication which is which). It is true that you stay more mobile than in other games, but I do not consider that “responsiveness.” And nevermind how janky that movement feels once you start facing the Risen enemies that move at 500% speed.

      In terms of character progression, I have not meaningfully changed my Skill loadout since 30 and have nothing to look forward to; none of the new skills I unlock seem better than my original choice. I upgrade my gear every 5 levels, but the numbers don’t go up all that much. Traits are the one thing I should have addressed, so I guess you have a legitimate grievance there. But again, I do not have any Traits I am eagerly anticipating the same way I would, say, a new skill/talent in other MMOs.

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  4. I basically disagree with almost all of your post but you’ve made an effort to articulate what you do not like about the game so that definitely earns my respect. It’s clear that overall you do not like the gameplay aspects of Guild Wars 2 and would probably prefer a traditional MMO rather than something like GW2 which redefines the genre. My overall feeling about your review though is that you really need to find a decent guild in GW2.

    Now on to the meat of your text.

    “It still boggles my mind how little press the complete elimination of quest text has gotten. I have talked about this before, but a month in, these Hearts feel worse than the most banal of WoW’s daily quests. I do not care if you never read quest text anyway, the point is that a writer/designer still had to at least go through the motions. Where are the motions here?”

    The heart quests all have a storylines. What people tend not to do is follow the chains and actually read the incidental text that NPC’s display between events. Everything ties together.

    “it all feels like it was written by an accountant. Has anyone actually encountered a coherant narrative in the Renown Hearts? I haven’t. And what I mean is have you actually been interested in what is going on beyond the strict gameplay elements introduced? Do you remember any of the NPC names?

    The quest and heart narratives were written by Jeff Grubb and his writing team at ArenaNet. Given his pedigree of producing high quality novels, his work on producing AD&D, Forgotten Realms, and many other fantasy settings I’ve found some of the narratives to be the best I have experienced in an MMO. But if you are just skipping all over the place to do heart and event quests then really all you are seeing are unrelated parts of narrative. There is no way the designers were going to put in multi-page text quests. You might like this but the ADHD players definitely wouldn’t. Better to put in short narratives which tie in well together when you follow each story arc.

    “When non-bugged Events do spawn, a handful of people usually appear out of the ether, but the mood is more akin of starving dogs swarming over table-scraps than “oh, hey, here’s another one of those things which the leveling system is supposedly built around.”

    That’s your perception. Our guild does not see events as an annoyance. Rather it is an opportunity to engage in interesting battles that don’t always result in a win situation. It is even better now that the server population has thinned out and the mega-zerg’s have left the server. The dynamic events also give a chance for the role players in our guild to engage in some interesting stories over TeamSpeak.

    “Is there anyone who is playing GW2 who feels like WvW was designed/executed properly? Anyone?”

    Yes but they can be improved. But WvW works best when you group with a dedicated PvP team. The main annoyance for our guild is the queue system so which makes it hard for our guild to all join at the same time. The mechanics of WvW are great. Siege battles are excellent and we also really like the keep system.

    “Ho boy. I have completed two thus far, and… I am going to save my descriptions of them (and hopefully the others) for a future post.”

    Initially our guild found dungeons very difficult but once we got used to the tempo of combat and accepted that many of the bosses require death runs to kill it was no longer a problem. As for getting groups not an issue. I run with guild only and we run 5-man’s every night. The dungeons in GW2 are not designed for PUG groups at all. The sooner people accept this the better.

    “Combat is nowhere near as responsive as WoW”

    As a former WoW/LOTRO/SWTOR raider I was amazed and almost spat my coffee when I read this comment. Are you basically not understanding how the combat system in GW2 works? You really want to go back to a WoW targetting system which has been designed for the lowest common denominator player? GW2 has directional combat, optional tagging, dodge, and a mark target system. WoW’s combat is rigidly inflexible by comparison and derived from a bygone era of MMO design.

    My overall feeling at reading the many blog’s on GW2 and MMO’s in general is that of a tired community looking to rekindle the original feeling of playing their first MMO. Times are changing and MMO design is moving on. People need to embrace this or accept they do not like the MMO genre anymore and move on. For years MMO players have been complaining about the same old MMO designs and when they do finally get something new and different moving the genre forward they reject it.

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    • The heart quests all have a storylines. What people tend not to do is follow the chains and actually read the incidental text that NPC’s display between events. Everything ties together.

      Ties together to what? Zhaitan? Centaurs? Inquest? The Norn bad guys? Ghosts? Nightmare Court? When I complete two Hearts on the same map, even two Hearts close to one another, each feels like its own island. The non-linearity was refreshing at first, but it started to occur to me that their complete independence meant you never really get attached to any location or narrative.

      […] I’ve found some of the narratives to be the best I have experienced in an MMO.

      Can you tell me which ones? I am not trying to be snarky here. Once the sheen of a game’s gameplay wears off, I often fall back on narrative to maintain interest.

      The dungeons in GW2 are not designed for PUG groups at all. The sooner people accept this the better.

      Ah, of course, now it makes sense.

      No wait, that sounds like idiotic game design. I can understand maybe Exploration mode being the PUGless Challenge Mode equivalent, but I cannot imagine a more hostile grouping design in 2012 than what I see here. They have said in interviews that Story mode is designed for random PUGs, but then they failed to implement any sort of rational PUGing feature. This is an issue that can only get worse in time.

      As a former WoW/LOTRO/SWTOR raider I was amazed and almost spat my coffee when I read this comment. Are you basically not understanding how the combat system in GW2 works? You really want to go back to a WoW targetting system which has been designed for the lowest common denominator player? GW2 has directional combat, optional tagging, dodge, and a mark target system. WoW’s combat is rigidly inflexible by comparison and derived from a bygone era of MMO design.

      I’m honestly confused as to why you included any more words other than “dodge” in that last sentence, given how everything else is in WoW.

      It was my fault for not giving more explanation to the word choice there, though. By “responsive” I mean “when I push the button, something happens.” I consider GW2 more… spongy than anything else. Click the button, an attack might happen instantly, it might happen 0.5-1.0 seconds later, it might let you move while you cast it, moving might interrupt the cast, and so on. While GW2 will let you waste an attack while out of range or with invalid targets, it is still largely target-based combat even with auto-target turned off (bullets still magically track you, for example).

      I am moving a lot more in questing combat, of course. Then again, sometimes I’m not. I do not consider kiting to be particularly skillful or compelling gameplay, personally. Indeed, I consider it more skillful to kite while still being able to get off casts that require you to be stationary, or maintaining a debuff/rotation.

      There was one boss in AC Story where I stood in the same place the entire time and just cycled through my spells. It was boring, and I realized that it would still be boring when I have to run around doing that exact same thing because I get no feedback that I am doing anything with a level of mastery. Did I save my teammate’s life? I have no idea, because my “heal” ticked once for like 500 before he ran out of the circle. Do my “combos” mean anything? Do my teammates even know they are getting flaming bolts, or where that extra stack of Might came from? Am I even giving them stacks of Might?

      No, I “get” GW2’s combat system. I am just not at all impressed.

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      • “Click the button, an attack might happen instantly, it might happen 0.5-1.0 seconds later, it might let you move while you cast it, moving might interrupt the cast, and so on.”

        I am puzzled this is happening for you. My attacks have been instant. There were issues in one of the early betas with combat responsiveness but I and many other beta testers reported this and ArenaNet made some changes to the combat engine. I am wondering if this is an internet lag issue you are experiencing. As for your comment about targetting you do not have to target a mob to hit it. You can even turn off target selection in the options.

        Reading the rest of your response I fear you are just nit-picking now because of your dislike of the game. Any game will have annoyances if you go looking for it. GW2 is not a perfect game or MMO. But the same can be said for every other game release. Designing a game is hard work and I think ArenaNet has done an admirable job with Guild Wars 2. Certainly better than the paint-by-numbers effort of Bioware and Blizzard.

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      • Hmm as an aside, I think for combat the differences become especially apparent in PvP (small group) rather than PvE – that’s where GW2’s more active approach really shines in my opinion. due to more opportunities at reactiveness, the pace is greatly increased. I like that.

        it’s true that there are issues right now with triggering CDs; I get this for out of range but also for willfully interrupting a channel. whether that’s intended though…I hope it gets patched sometime.
        as for pve/grouping and dungeons – I agree with Azuriel that this needs looking into. synergies and combos are neither apparent nor important enough, and overall rating performances seems difficult. these things could be reconciled with their general approach to grouping (no roles) or combat though; I just don’t think it’s realized very well right now. there is also the novelty factor still – my own noobishness right now that prevents me from knowing whats good/bad play in dungeons, what other classes can do or howt o be setup combos.

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  5. This is the sort of thing that I made a conscious decision to avoid because I want to enjoy the game in a bubble and not worry about the perceptions of others but I just had to say something because so many of your criticisms were so eyebrow raising.

    Hearts were added to help provide guidance players used to conventional MMOs desired, and as such have been a double-edged sword to ANet. They are a less tedious and more streamlined approach to tasks (I can’t even call them quests because you aren’t sent elsewhere to complete them) that provides some options. They are also best when completed in conjunction with events, which actually are the meat and potatoes. I do remember a lot of the NPCs. Miss Mipp is one that comes to mind. There’s a very complete storyline at the mansion in G Fields. Of course, you actually have to pay attention to the NPCs rather than having everything spoon-fed to you via a wall of text. I like reading, don’t get me wrong, but I expect developers to take advantage of the audiovisual medium they work with and use other resources for telling the story. The depth is there, you just have to be aware and observant.

    In any case, I don’t know why the NPCs would be seen as any more or less memorable than quest givers in other games. Also, I don’t see how they are any more or less random than quest hubs in other MMOs. In WoW, one hub may have you doing quests pertaining to furbolgs or w/e they were called, the next blood elves. They’re largely self-contained as well. The meta stories in GW2 zones are more interwoven. Both the game play and narrative have layers.

    Just out of curiosity, did you know that dialogue and heart directions in Metrica is different for players who roll races other than asura?

    My asura gets technobabble, my human gets layman’s terms. Most players wouldn’t notice, but the writers and designers bothered to differentiate them. That’s not what I call going through the motions.

    You may not enjoy the stories, but they were not phoned in. If they were, we’d have nothing but functional dialogue to further to story without any attention to character development and nobody would have shed a tear over a particular NPC of the Order of Whispers. Some stories or performances are stronger than others, and some are more or less enjoyable depending on personal preferences but not for lack of effort on the part of the writers and performers.

    As for WvW, I laughed when I saw bags now dropped at our feet. There’s a lot of archaic aspects of gameplay I disliked about MMOs, but I never raised my eyebrows at having to loot corpses. Unless things have changed since I play WoW, I remember having to face certain death to loot corpses, assuming I even got to them first, since loot was a free for all. They already drop the loot at at our feet, and you’re complaining that it doesn’t just materialize in our inventory unless we hit the F key, and going so far as to refer to an innocent mechanic as a cynical ploy? That’s silly and verging on tinfoil hat speak.

    I also find the combat more responsive precisely because I have more mobility, but that’s not a criticism against WoW. Its age is simply showing. Comparing the mechanics is as (un)fair as comparing the graphics. The art style is another matter.

    Also, I don’t consider anything about shot rotations skillful of all. I was consistently topping DPS meters around the time I left WoW, not because of skill but because I had good gear, an I win button for trash mobs and the ability to type and repeat keystrokes in the right sequence. At the end of the day, it’s all just typing. The less I have to type and the more I can watch and engage, the happier I am. As for GW2, I can also tell if I’m contributing to my group’s success by whether or not we have success. Was your teammate’s life in danger? Their health bars are still visible so you can see if that 500 heal was needed and made a difference.

    Character progression does not end at 30. You’re not even into second tier traits yet. Also, end game in an MMORPG is such a silly, oxymornic concept to begin with. For starters, in other MMOs, “end game” is when the game actually begins. You grind dungeons to get gear for raids. Then you grind raids. Then an expansion drops. You grind out more levels, dungeons, raids. Technically you can do all that in GW2, except the raids are open and take place in the persistent world. You can even grind for legendaries, and that’s going to take more than a month. Instead “end game” is what you make of it. For me, it’s about immersing myself in a world I enjoy and have since the original with people I like to play with, and choosing what goals to pursue for myself. End game is an illusion. A game is a game, and either it’s fun or it isn’t.

    You also say it’s a shame that GW2 doesn’t require more of a commitment because of the social aspects, but the fact that this game promotes cooperation contributes to long term playability. More than anything, it was the toxicity the WoW’s “end game” that spoiled it for me. Even before I quit, it turned the game from an escape to a chore. Yeah, it kept me playing for another year or two but for the wrong reasons. GW2 keeps me playing for the right reasons. I may or may not pursue a legendary one day, but because I want to, not because I need to in order to be competitive.

    Also, it’s not just an MMO, it’s an MMORPG. I’m not an RPer but to complain that others don’t review it as an MMO, yet overlook it as an RPG seems hypocritical. Again, it may not be a world you feel immersed in, but others do. That’s what keeps them playing.

    Ultimately the players make or break an MMORPG.

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    • They are also best when completed in conjunction with events, which actually are the meat and potatoes.

      Since about level 35, actually finding five Events per play session has been a serious issue.

      Of course, you actually have to pay attention to the NPCs rather than having everything spoon-fed to you via a wall of text.

      I find that viewpoint fascinating considering that, by default, the Heart quests spoon-feed you the tasks without any context as to what or why you are supposed to be doing any of it. Get close enough, a meter appears, do any of those itemized tasks, done. There is never any followup or continuity between one Heart to the other.

      Unless things have changed since I play WoW, I remember having to face certain death to loot corpses, assuming I even got to them first, since loot was a free for all. They already drop the loot at at our feet, and you’re complaining that it doesn’t just materialize in our inventory unless we hit the F key, and going so far as to refer to an innocent mechanic as a cynical ploy? That’s silly and verging on tinfoil hat speak.

      When did you ever loot corpses in PvP? I mean, technically you take “insignias” in WoW to prevent someone in a BG from ghosting back to their corpse, but considering you resurrect every 30 seconds, it is quite moot.

      “Innocent mechanic?” Do you think it is good game design in WvW to have a two-step confirmation process for the reward the game believes you’ve earned? Kill 10 people but die yourself, and oops, forgot to spam the F key before I died so you get nothing. What is the point of that in the middle of a heated battle? No seriously, justify it. Why does it exist? You either earned those WvW tokens (coin, items, etc) or you don’t.

      As for GW2, I can also tell if I’m contributing to my group’s success by whether or not we have success.

      What a fanciful notion. Good to know that if I just auto-followed someone around, I contributed to their success as long as they can 4-man the place. But really, this isn’t the point. The point is that I have no feedback from which I can use to improve my own gameplay. Am I doing as much damage as I could be doing? Am I doing better than I was a week ago? Should I stop using X ability altogether? Who knows?

      Character progression does not end at 30. You’re not even into second tier traits yet.

      How many of those Traits changed your gameplay? I am still using the same Utility Skill setup at 30 as I am at 60, and Traits have not changed any of that. And even if I agreed that Traits “count,” going 5-10 levels between anything interesting happening simply feels dumb. Why do we have 80 levels again?

      Also, end game in an MMORPG is such a silly, oxymornic concept to begin with. For starters, in other MMOs, “end game” is when the game actually begins. You grind dungeons to get gear for raids. Then you grind raids. Then an expansion drops. You grind out more levels, dungeons, raids. Technically you can do all that in GW2, except the raids are open and take place in the persistent world.

      No, it is not oxymoronic at all. The traditional endgame is an extenuation of what occurred at every moment of the preceding leveling up process, e.g. a simulation of character progression. While you are leveling up, you get new abilities, better gear, and make progress towards a logical goal in measured increments that results in a stronger character than you had yesterday.

      You also say it’s a shame that GW2 doesn’t require more of a commitment because of the social aspects, but the fact that this game promotes cooperation contributes to long term playability. More than anything, it was the toxicity the WoW’s “end game” that spoiled it for me. Even before I quit, it turned the game from an escape to a chore. Yeah, it kept me playing for another year or two but for the wrong reasons.

      Cooperation to do what, exactly?

      You suggest that WoW’s endgame was toxic, but by your own admission it kept you in the game for another 1-2 years. Which, let us be honest here, is a truly astounding amount of time. And more to the point, it kept you logging in on a regular basis, which made long-term relationships (more) possible. That structure and stickiness is precisely what I am saying GW2 lacks. If I do not feel compelled to play, I won’t. And while that may be good for me, it is bad for my friend who is now playing alone, or vice versa.

      These MMO worlds are only alive when there are people in them. Do you imagine yourself playing GW2 continuously for the next two years? Or the next six months for that matter?

      Also, it’s not just an MMO, it’s an MMORPG. I’m not an RPer but to complain that others don’t review it as an MMO, yet overlook it as an RPG seems hypocritical. Again, it may not be a world you feel immersed in, but others do. That’s what keeps them playing.

      I am overlooking nothing – RPing has not had much to do with RPGs for the last 30 years. What makes a videogame an RPG are things like XP, character progression, story/narrative, quests, dialog choices, and so on. People can RP in these games, obviously, but there is a reason why special servers/communities have to be carved out of the rest of the population: because hardly anyone else cares.

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      • ” If I do not feel compelled to play, I won’t. And while that may be good for me, it is bad for my friend who is now playing alone, or vice versa.”

        while I get that and was expecting it to come up for GW2, it’s important to note that what compels many players to log in regularly is not necessarily the same that compels you or more progression oriented players. there’s a large group of MMO players today that basically shun games that force them to log on out of guild obligations or peer pressure. being able to turn on GW2 whenever they like to, maybe sticking to solo play or their very own small circle (or partner) is what they prefer – plus GW2 adds the option of easy grouping up with strangers without need for agendas. ‘massively’ does not have to mean ‘your guild’.

        I have logged on due to peer pressure in wow for years. sure, half the time I wanted to and it ended in enjoyable situations, but half the time I felt like a slave of the grind too. anyone who has raided hardcore in wow and who is completely honest will admit to the same. but in hindsight we usually ignore the bad in favor of the good. blizzard designed wow and every aspect therein so that players want to pay subscriptions; there should never be a doubt about that. they’ve installed all the inter-dependencies and incentives in a way that does not only hook you to wow but literally pushes you to log in when you’d rather do other things. I’m not saying that’s more or less manipulative than other MMOs, but I am done with this – I am done with a game installing its subtle hooks of obligation into my head just so I feel I am progressing. screw linear progress.

        it’s bizarrely inconsistent how the same critics calling GW2 a ‘game’ rather than MMO, are also those lamenting the lack of endgame. one popular aspect of MMOs is that they make you want to ‘live there’ rather than ‘play through’. and by that definition GW2 IS more MMO than all the more progressive MMOs out there which are constantly under pressure to deliver new content just so their progression- and linearity ridden playerbase stays hooked. in a way I am glad GW2 is such a disappointment to all these players right away, making it very clear already at low level that things wont change from here. that way you don’t ‘waste’ so much time before moving on or back to wow.

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      • @Syl

        “being able to turn on GW2 whenever they like to”

        Right, but if you do that, how do you consistently get to know people? I am blessed with neither hordes of IRL friends who all play the same games as me, nor a multi-game guild that I cherish being a part of (I could make an effort to find one, but I don’t fancy spending a month getting to know people only to realise I don’t really enjoy their company.) If people are playing GW2 as a single player game whatever, good for them, but then GW2 is hardly a world or an MMO. Besides, I’d have to question why anyone would subject themselves to the subpar story, gameplay and graphics (compared to equivalent single player games) alongside a tedious and often buggy grind rather than playing a single player game.

        “not only hook you to wow but literally pushes you to log in when you’d rather do other things”

        This is very much tinfoil hat stuff. Blizzard doesn’t push you to do anything, all they do is catalyse your own brain to push you towards something. Besides, everything that wants you to spend money will do this to some degree; the most successful will do it very well (that’s why their successful). Just because a sub is being replaced with “moar gems pl0x” doesn’t change the fact that ANet either want you to log in and spend money (which I assume they do) but, for a fair portion of their playerbase, have failed to justify why logging in would actually make any difference to my experience of the game, since it will not fundamentally change from a certain point onwards.

        “and by that definition GW2 IS more MMO than all the more progressive MMOs”

        I could apply arbitrary definitions all day to justify my dislike of GW2, but even with your one I can’t see why anyone wants to live in Tyria. The PC is very much presented as little more than a big fat sledgehammer of anti-disorder rolling through hearts and events, being congratulated (oh, gee, the NPCs remember my name! I’m touched!) and then sodding off to the next minor bad and helping people there for coins and karma. Living in Tyria? Hardly. You work in Tyria, and you work for very little of value.

        “progression- and linearity ridden playerbase stays hooked”

        GW2 has all of these. Being able to move back and forth along a line doesn’t change the fact that the line is straight. Legendary weapons and all the other cosmetic, banal achievement crap is still progression, it’s just less interesting because you gain absolutely nothing from it (be it a virtual carrot, a sense of accomplishment or a greater understanding of the world). Removing a feature of the genre does not actually improve the genre, it just means that people who were willing to progress for a reason are now not playing your game, and there isn’t a group to replace them.

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      • Hmmno. GW2 does it not the same way WoW does; because it does not need to sell a sub every month. ;) there are not the same hooks in GW2 and its overall a lot more positively incentivized – which pretty much everyone by now agrees is one of its major achievements. but I’ve talked about this plenty of times already, so sorry if I won’t do that here.
        if GW2 does not invoke the same bonds, it means that it’s also not adding the same pressures. you don’t have to like that, because both are valid ways to play and both have a downside. I don’t play GW2 to engage in a lot of guild stuff anymore and I have a trusted small circle I play with. I also quite enjoy chance encounters where people support each other and leave again. it’s not like I ever interacted more with strangers in other MMOs than I do now in GW2.

        there’s hardly any ‘work’ in Tyria for an explorer; I level up fast than I’d like to and it never feels like a linear grind the way it usually does in MMOs. granted, the grind starts with dungeon tokens and exotic sets but luckily there are several ways to get gear if you want to. and ANet have just patched the token numbers required and probably will continue to do so.
        what you say about ‘value’ or ‘banal crap’ is pretty futile and empty; value can only be defined for the individual player, your value is not my value – just like your gamer profile might not be my gamer profile. also all games are in essence about ‘banal crap’ and not life altering issues.
        I don’t think GW2 needs to appeal to everybody, nor does every MMO need to attempt to cater to all groups. when it comes to progression players that is a very small loss, anyway – for much potential gain in return. if you belong to that group alas, even Blizzard starts implementing more casual, small and on-the-fly group content these days than they used to and this trend is likely going to continue in the future.

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    • “Of course, you actually have to pay attention to the NPCs rather than having everything spoon-fed to you via a wall of text. ”

      When I enter a heart area, I simply kill mobs and click on everything clickable. I often don’t even know where the NPC with the floating hearh is.
      I finish everything in 5 minutes and leave the outpost without knowing its name or what I did to help the NPC.

      “Character progression does not end at 30”

      No, if your class Epics aren’t good, it ends even before 30.

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  6. I think some people have tears in their eyes when they talk about WoW circa 2004. Guild Wars is not going to bring back that feeling.

    I think GW2 stands on its own just fine. The streamlining that has taken place is a definite improvement. Of course, when you add teleportation or click-questing, you diminish the immersion but the same people that cry wolf with regard to immersion are creating chars with dirty names and exhibit 0 roleplay.

    So you have to respect the game creators with their choices and if you don’t like it, move on. There’s no need to feature-compare games. It’s either fun or it’s not (anymore).

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