Guild Wars 2: Tossing out the old

Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

What Guild Wars 2 tosses out the window...

I was sort of offended by Jeff's comments on the most recent Bombcast. It was almost as if he dismissed Guild Wars 2 as being yet another MMORPG. Granted, he played very little of it, but I'd argue that dismissing the game as being too traditional and mostly irrelevant by today's standards is wholly unfounded.

The MMORPG genre is known for relying on conventions a little too strictly. Developers aren't taking a lot of chances, and when they do, they fail miserably. I thought I'd take the time to outline the conventions that Guild Wars 2 dismisses entirely (or, at least, almost entirely). If you care about Guild Wars 2, you'll probably already know all this stuff; if you don't, well you'd better sit down and pay attention: these are the reasons why people are so goddamn interested in this game.

So without further ado, here is what Guild Wars 2 throws out the window...

Questing

In its traditional form, questing is gone. To give you a little purpose for killing mobs, there are four alternatives to the traditional questing model in Guild Wars 2:

Dynamic and meta-events make zone structure a nightmare to design, I imagine.
      1. Dynamic Events - Dynamic events are area-specific quests that spontaneously pop up around the world, often having several objectives that contribute to their completion. You’re awarded gold, karma, and experience based proportionately on your contribution to the event. Dynamic events can chain together, leading to other dynamic events based on the successes and failures of previous events. Example: you’re walking by a harbor, and a dynamic event springs into your interface; as it turns out, you must defend a submarine from being attacked by an underwater enemy faction. If destroyed, a new event may require you to repair the submarine.
      2. Meta Events - Meta events are a string of related dynamic events that affect the world in a meaningful way. Each zone has several meta events that fundamentally change each section of a zone. Some meta events lead to massive world bosses, others create or destroy NPC hubs. Example: a centaur force ravages the northern area of a zone. At one end of the meta event chain, centaurs have captured all NPC hubs, at the other, they’re pushed back into their stronghold and are ultimately defeated.
      3. Hearts - Hearts are NPC vendors scattered around the world and displayed on the map (if you talk to a scout). These are social NPC hubs where vendors open up shop for your karma currency if they like you enough. Each hub has many activities to engage in, from drinking games at a tavern to milking cows. They exist to guide you around the world, as traditional questing hub progression ceases to exist in a ‘dynamic’ world. Here's a video of Totalbiscuit starting off by doing some Heart tasks (which he believes to be a dynamic event), but quickly stumbles into a event, followed by a meta-event chain. It does a solid job showcasing the natural flow of content exploration and how the three main open world questing types interact.
      4. Personal Story - You have a unique, instanced personal story similar to the first Guild Wars. Initially based on your race, your story develops and changes based on the decisions you make throughout your adventure, and when you create your character. Each time you begin a personal story quest, you’ll be brought into your own singleplayer adventure and participate in heavily-scripted, story-driven encounters. If you like, you can invite friends to play through your story cooperatively. Think of this as a more moldable version of The Old Republic's class quests, without the awkwardly limiting instanced doorways. On a related note, you also have a home district in your race's home city; this is an instanced place that evolves and changes based on your progress and decisions. In this video, you'll see a player navigating Divinity's Reach, heading into their home instance, and engaging in a personal story quest from within that instance. Shows off how varied ArenaNet's personal story encounters are, and how effectively they link encounters with narrative in a filler-free system.

      Holy trinity

      You've probably heard this one a fair bit, and I'm sure you're quite a skeptic. From a design standpoint, ArenaNet effectively removes the ability to specialize into traditional combat roles in a variety of ways:

      No more needing to wait around for a specific role? Yes please.
      • There is no traditional aggro mechanic, no taunting
      • There are no direct/targeted heals other than self-heals
      • The strongest heals in the game are self-heals
      • Heavy use of the cooldown forces players to not become reliant on a single skill/set of skills; this encourages players to interchangeably fulfill roles relative to their cooldowns
      • Dodging and control skills give everyone the ability to mitigate damage, regardless of resilience
      • Distance-as-aggro mechanic allows all players to quickly gain enemy attention, and swap with other players
      • Every class has the ability to heal, every class has the ability to mitigate damage
      • Skills can be swapped around out of combat, allowing players to swap in and out of various strategies and compositions out of combat
      There is next to no penalty for playing with other players.

      Solo play

      You can still play by yourself. But everything from loot to crafting resource nodes is instanced and generated specifically for you. If you’re on an adventure and find a vein of ore with another person, there is no rush: you can both mine it, and the rewards will be instanced for the both of you. There is no mob tagging, experience is given out fully so long as you contribute enough to the kill. Following other players, even out of a group, leads to a cooperative, enjoyable adventure as opposed to a headache. The only real benefit that group gives you is the UI addition to track their health more easily and the private group chat.

      Loot rolls

      If you and your higher leveled friend kill a level 14 mob, you’ll get gear and money appropriate to your level, and he’ll get gear and money appropriate for his level. When a mob dies, each player loots unique gear for a kill, scaled to your level. No more rolling, no more ninjas, no more walking away from a boss kill without getting something.

      Leveling

      You’re probably thinking: well, there’s nothing stopping a level 80 from one-shotting level 2 mobs and walking away with handfuls of level 80 gear with this before-mentioned system. Actually, there is. You scale downward to the content that you’re doing. If you walk into a level 14 area, you’ll be scaled down in power to match that zone. Sounds like a bummer, but all the loot and gear is scaled up to match your level. What this means is that a level 79 player can quest in any zone across the whole map, even with his level 2 friend and still have a fun, productive time. Levels only exist to gate you from higher level content, but even then, you can freely sidekick up to match a buddy’s level (and all that gear will be level-appropriate scaled downward as well).

      It wouldn't be an RPG without leveling. But the downscaling and the lack of an exponential leveling curve means that your level feels a lot less obstructive and limiting to your gameplay experience.

      Gear-grind

      There is no traditional gear grind. Simple as that. Instead, ArenaNet’s end-game is a little more varied: collectibles everywhere, exploration, achievements, titles, PvP, community stuff, and many other things. Gear is entirely absent from PVP matches, and only plays a minor role in World vs. World.

      Raiding

      Paired with the above, there is no traditional raiding. You’ve got 5-man dungeons that all have “hard modes.” And of course, you have absolutely massive meta-events across the entire world to engage in. Some of the larger world events and bosses require at least 50 players to tackle--so sure, there’s still raiding. It’s just a bit more dynamic, and much larger in scale. I, personally, think this is the right way to approach world bosses. They're complex encounters that you could directly compare to traditional MMO raid encounters... just a bit, well, bigger.

      Subscription fees

      ArenaNet funds their content through box sales and harmless cash shops. They believe the subscription fee is simply something that stands in the way of new players, and forces players to squeeze every hour out of their monthly fee as possible. More than that, a lack of a subscription fee means they don’t have to artificially drag players along a treadmill (like gear-grinding).

      Rotations and Priorities

      You only have a set number of abilities on your bar at a time (sort of like a deck of cards), most of those abilities have a cooldown and a variety of tactical uses. What does this translate to? Combat is reactive and dynamic instead of practiced. You could equip yourself with an ability that throws down a massive wall of fire, powering up allies with buffs, and setting enemies ablaze when they walk through. More than that, powers interact. If a ranger shoots an arrow through your wall of fire, it’ll light up and deliver burning on anything he hits.

      In essence, ArenaNet condenses down your traditional rotation into a single damage button (which some loadouts don't even have--like the Mesmer's staff set), and a variety of situation-specific abilities that should be used at opportune times, rather than used as frequently as possible. What does this do? Well, it forces your eyes off your action bar, and back up onto the battlefield.

      Shards

      By shards, I'm talking about the traditional MMORPG server model. You log into a server, create a character, and generally have to pay to switch servers. It's a problem when it comes to playing with friends, but not a problem in Guild Wars 2. Basically, you choose a home server, and this will act as your semi-permanent server for all your characters. This will be the home team that you will represent in World vs. World gameplay. At any point, you can freely 'visit' any of the other servers to play with friends, or do as you like. Quest up, do some organized PVP, whatever you like. At the end of the day, you come back to your home server while retaining any of the progress you had made with your friend. The only limitation with this system is that you can't engage in World vs. World PVP while visiting another server. And they've stated that you'll be able to reallocate home servers with microtransactions if you want to.

      Where do you want to go exploring?

      Obsolete Content

      The game has one faction, scaled loot, and scaled player level. What does this mean? There is no obsolete content in the game. At any level, you can travel to any zone, play with any player, and still have an experience that is completely relevant to you. Scaling down won't be worth entirely the same experience as non-scaled content, but it'll certainly be rewarding enough to not discourage you from exploring lower leveled areas. If there's a massive world boss in the Sylvari 1-10 area, a level 80 Charr can travel to that region, take on that boss, have a hell of a time killing it, and walk away with some 75-80 gear as a reward. Add to this the fact that ArenaNet doesn't need to split their content available to you in half with a second faction, and you end up with a ton of content available to you at any level.

      Quest Rewards

      The game has a karma currency system. As you participate in events and do stuff around the world, you accrue karma. By fulfilling hearts around the world, you open up unique vendors that sell you karma goods. They effectively open up a large window of karma goods, and allow you to spend your karma on whatever cool gear you want. You're never forced to choose between two options that you couldn't care less for. You only spend karma when you want to. Personal story tasks still give you traditional quest rewards, but they aren't the primary form of questing... so it doesn't really count, right?

      Server Queues

      A neat little feature, won't spend too much time on it. But there are no server queues. When you try to log into a full server, you'll be pushed into an overflow server. You can do events, kill stuff, and whatever you like. When it's your time to join into the game, a dialogue box will pop up and ask you as to whether or not you'd like to start playing with the main server population. Simple as that.

      PVE / PVP Server Distinctions (+open world griefing)

      In traditional MMORPGs, you generally have server rule-sets. Some are PVP, some are PVE. This distinction typically divides communities with debates (an issue our very own Kessler Run and Good Luck Have Bothans had to deal with). In Guild Wars 2, there is one server type. All PVP content is accessed via a queuing system, and PVE is player-grief-free. Without multiple factions, it is rather difficult to have open world PVP after all. Obviously the brilliant inclusion of World vs. World content was created to offset this design challenge. I mean, ArenaNet knows that if players don't get to stab others outside of a controlled environment, people are going to rage.

      Fashion Disasters

      I love this skittle Trooper.

      Okay. Well, there are still going to be fashion disasters. But the dye system in Guild Wars 2 allows you to set a colour scheme, change it at any time, and all your armor will match that colour. This isn't really a new thing, DC Universe Online had a similar system. But it's a welcome addition that we often don't see. Beyond the colour schemes, you have the ability to apply any gear's stats to any other gear's cosmetic look. It also gives players another delicious collectible to obsess over: dyes! Basically, dyes are account-bound when acquired. So building up a dye inventory will drive OCD types bananas!

      Honourable Mentions

      • Homing ranged attacks
      • Elevation being combat-irrelevant
      • Linear skill acquisition
      • Talent trees
      • Commitment to particular crafting specializations
      • Resource mechanics (save Thief's initiative)
      • Single-objective tasks
      • Targeting

      --

      So there you have it. They clearly give no fucks about tradition, and personally, I think they should be applauded for that. Questions, thoughts, corrections? Go for it.

      #1 Edited by project343 (2827 posts) -

      What Guild Wars 2 tosses out the window...

      I was sort of offended by Jeff's comments on the most recent Bombcast. It was almost as if he dismissed Guild Wars 2 as being yet another MMORPG. Granted, he played very little of it, but I'd argue that dismissing the game as being too traditional and mostly irrelevant by today's standards is wholly unfounded.

      The MMORPG genre is known for relying on conventions a little too strictly. Developers aren't taking a lot of chances, and when they do, they fail miserably. I thought I'd take the time to outline the conventions that Guild Wars 2 dismisses entirely (or, at least, almost entirely). If you care about Guild Wars 2, you'll probably already know all this stuff; if you don't, well you'd better sit down and pay attention: these are the reasons why people are so goddamn interested in this game.

      So without further ado, here is what Guild Wars 2 throws out the window...

      Questing

      In its traditional form, questing is gone. To give you a little purpose for killing mobs, there are four alternatives to the traditional questing model in Guild Wars 2:

      Dynamic and meta-events make zone structure a nightmare to design, I imagine.
          1. Dynamic Events - Dynamic events are area-specific quests that spontaneously pop up around the world, often having several objectives that contribute to their completion. You’re awarded gold, karma, and experience based proportionately on your contribution to the event. Dynamic events can chain together, leading to other dynamic events based on the successes and failures of previous events. Example: you’re walking by a harbor, and a dynamic event springs into your interface; as it turns out, you must defend a submarine from being attacked by an underwater enemy faction. If destroyed, a new event may require you to repair the submarine.
          2. Meta Events - Meta events are a string of related dynamic events that affect the world in a meaningful way. Each zone has several meta events that fundamentally change each section of a zone. Some meta events lead to massive world bosses, others create or destroy NPC hubs. Example: a centaur force ravages the northern area of a zone. At one end of the meta event chain, centaurs have captured all NPC hubs, at the other, they’re pushed back into their stronghold and are ultimately defeated.
          3. Hearts - Hearts are NPC vendors scattered around the world and displayed on the map (if you talk to a scout). These are social NPC hubs where vendors open up shop for your karma currency if they like you enough. Each hub has many activities to engage in, from drinking games at a tavern to milking cows. They exist to guide you around the world, as traditional questing hub progression ceases to exist in a ‘dynamic’ world. Here's a video of Totalbiscuit starting off by doing some Heart tasks (which he believes to be a dynamic event), but quickly stumbles into a event, followed by a meta-event chain. It does a solid job showcasing the natural flow of content exploration and how the three main open world questing types interact.
          4. Personal Story - You have a unique, instanced personal story similar to the first Guild Wars. Initially based on your race, your story develops and changes based on the decisions you make throughout your adventure, and when you create your character. Each time you begin a personal story quest, you’ll be brought into your own singleplayer adventure and participate in heavily-scripted, story-driven encounters. If you like, you can invite friends to play through your story cooperatively. Think of this as a more moldable version of The Old Republic's class quests, without the awkwardly limiting instanced doorways. On a related note, you also have a home district in your race's home city; this is an instanced place that evolves and changes based on your progress and decisions. In this video, you'll see a player navigating Divinity's Reach, heading into their home instance, and engaging in a personal story quest from within that instance. Shows off how varied ArenaNet's personal story encounters are, and how effectively they link encounters with narrative in a filler-free system.

          Holy trinity

          You've probably heard this one a fair bit, and I'm sure you're quite a skeptic. From a design standpoint, ArenaNet effectively removes the ability to specialize into traditional combat roles in a variety of ways:

          No more needing to wait around for a specific role? Yes please.
          • There is no traditional aggro mechanic, no taunting
          • There are no direct/targeted heals other than self-heals
          • The strongest heals in the game are self-heals
          • Heavy use of the cooldown forces players to not become reliant on a single skill/set of skills; this encourages players to interchangeably fulfill roles relative to their cooldowns
          • Dodging and control skills give everyone the ability to mitigate damage, regardless of resilience
          • Distance-as-aggro mechanic allows all players to quickly gain enemy attention, and swap with other players
          • Every class has the ability to heal, every class has the ability to mitigate damage
          • Skills can be swapped around out of combat, allowing players to swap in and out of various strategies and compositions out of combat
          There is next to no penalty for playing with other players.

          Solo play

          You can still play by yourself. But everything from loot to crafting resource nodes is instanced and generated specifically for you. If you’re on an adventure and find a vein of ore with another person, there is no rush: you can both mine it, and the rewards will be instanced for the both of you. There is no mob tagging, experience is given out fully so long as you contribute enough to the kill. Following other players, even out of a group, leads to a cooperative, enjoyable adventure as opposed to a headache. The only real benefit that group gives you is the UI addition to track their health more easily and the private group chat.

          Loot rolls

          If you and your higher leveled friend kill a level 14 mob, you’ll get gear and money appropriate to your level, and he’ll get gear and money appropriate for his level. When a mob dies, each player loots unique gear for a kill, scaled to your level. No more rolling, no more ninjas, no more walking away from a boss kill without getting something.

          Leveling

          You’re probably thinking: well, there’s nothing stopping a level 80 from one-shotting level 2 mobs and walking away with handfuls of level 80 gear with this before-mentioned system. Actually, there is. You scale downward to the content that you’re doing. If you walk into a level 14 area, you’ll be scaled down in power to match that zone. Sounds like a bummer, but all the loot and gear is scaled up to match your level. What this means is that a level 79 player can quest in any zone across the whole map, even with his level 2 friend and still have a fun, productive time. Levels only exist to gate you from higher level content, but even then, you can freely sidekick up to match a buddy’s level (and all that gear will be level-appropriate scaled downward as well).

          It wouldn't be an RPG without leveling. But the downscaling and the lack of an exponential leveling curve means that your level feels a lot less obstructive and limiting to your gameplay experience.

          Gear-grind

          There is no traditional gear grind. Simple as that. Instead, ArenaNet’s end-game is a little more varied: collectibles everywhere, exploration, achievements, titles, PvP, community stuff, and many other things. Gear is entirely absent from PVP matches, and only plays a minor role in World vs. World.

          Raiding

          Paired with the above, there is no traditional raiding. You’ve got 5-man dungeons that all have “hard modes.” And of course, you have absolutely massive meta-events across the entire world to engage in. Some of the larger world events and bosses require at least 50 players to tackle--so sure, there’s still raiding. It’s just a bit more dynamic, and much larger in scale. I, personally, think this is the right way to approach world bosses. They're complex encounters that you could directly compare to traditional MMO raid encounters... just a bit, well, bigger.

          Subscription fees

          ArenaNet funds their content through box sales and harmless cash shops. They believe the subscription fee is simply something that stands in the way of new players, and forces players to squeeze every hour out of their monthly fee as possible. More than that, a lack of a subscription fee means they don’t have to artificially drag players along a treadmill (like gear-grinding).

          Rotations and Priorities

          You only have a set number of abilities on your bar at a time (sort of like a deck of cards), most of those abilities have a cooldown and a variety of tactical uses. What does this translate to? Combat is reactive and dynamic instead of practiced. You could equip yourself with an ability that throws down a massive wall of fire, powering up allies with buffs, and setting enemies ablaze when they walk through. More than that, powers interact. If a ranger shoots an arrow through your wall of fire, it’ll light up and deliver burning on anything he hits.

          In essence, ArenaNet condenses down your traditional rotation into a single damage button (which some loadouts don't even have--like the Mesmer's staff set), and a variety of situation-specific abilities that should be used at opportune times, rather than used as frequently as possible. What does this do? Well, it forces your eyes off your action bar, and back up onto the battlefield.

          Shards

          By shards, I'm talking about the traditional MMORPG server model. You log into a server, create a character, and generally have to pay to switch servers. It's a problem when it comes to playing with friends, but not a problem in Guild Wars 2. Basically, you choose a home server, and this will act as your semi-permanent server for all your characters. This will be the home team that you will represent in World vs. World gameplay. At any point, you can freely 'visit' any of the other servers to play with friends, or do as you like. Quest up, do some organized PVP, whatever you like. At the end of the day, you come back to your home server while retaining any of the progress you had made with your friend. The only limitation with this system is that you can't engage in World vs. World PVP while visiting another server. And they've stated that you'll be able to reallocate home servers with microtransactions if you want to.

          Where do you want to go exploring?

          Obsolete Content

          The game has one faction, scaled loot, and scaled player level. What does this mean? There is no obsolete content in the game. At any level, you can travel to any zone, play with any player, and still have an experience that is completely relevant to you. Scaling down won't be worth entirely the same experience as non-scaled content, but it'll certainly be rewarding enough to not discourage you from exploring lower leveled areas. If there's a massive world boss in the Sylvari 1-10 area, a level 80 Charr can travel to that region, take on that boss, have a hell of a time killing it, and walk away with some 75-80 gear as a reward. Add to this the fact that ArenaNet doesn't need to split their content available to you in half with a second faction, and you end up with a ton of content available to you at any level.

          Quest Rewards

          The game has a karma currency system. As you participate in events and do stuff around the world, you accrue karma. By fulfilling hearts around the world, you open up unique vendors that sell you karma goods. They effectively open up a large window of karma goods, and allow you to spend your karma on whatever cool gear you want. You're never forced to choose between two options that you couldn't care less for. You only spend karma when you want to. Personal story tasks still give you traditional quest rewards, but they aren't the primary form of questing... so it doesn't really count, right?

          Server Queues

          A neat little feature, won't spend too much time on it. But there are no server queues. When you try to log into a full server, you'll be pushed into an overflow server. You can do events, kill stuff, and whatever you like. When it's your time to join into the game, a dialogue box will pop up and ask you as to whether or not you'd like to start playing with the main server population. Simple as that.

          PVE / PVP Server Distinctions (+open world griefing)

          In traditional MMORPGs, you generally have server rule-sets. Some are PVP, some are PVE. This distinction typically divides communities with debates (an issue our very own Kessler Run and Good Luck Have Bothans had to deal with). In Guild Wars 2, there is one server type. All PVP content is accessed via a queuing system, and PVE is player-grief-free. Without multiple factions, it is rather difficult to have open world PVP after all. Obviously the brilliant inclusion of World vs. World content was created to offset this design challenge. I mean, ArenaNet knows that if players don't get to stab others outside of a controlled environment, people are going to rage.

          Fashion Disasters

          I love this skittle Trooper.

          Okay. Well, there are still going to be fashion disasters. But the dye system in Guild Wars 2 allows you to set a colour scheme, change it at any time, and all your armor will match that colour. This isn't really a new thing, DC Universe Online had a similar system. But it's a welcome addition that we often don't see. Beyond the colour schemes, you have the ability to apply any gear's stats to any other gear's cosmetic look. It also gives players another delicious collectible to obsess over: dyes! Basically, dyes are account-bound when acquired. So building up a dye inventory will drive OCD types bananas!

          Honourable Mentions

          • Homing ranged attacks
          • Elevation being combat-irrelevant
          • Linear skill acquisition
          • Talent trees
          • Commitment to particular crafting specializations
          • Resource mechanics (save Thief's initiative)
          • Single-objective tasks
          • Targeting

          --

          So there you have it. They clearly give no fucks about tradition, and personally, I think they should be applauded for that. Questions, thoughts, corrections? Go for it.

          #2 Posted by Benny (1953 posts) -

          They're also going for an E-sports focus from the ground up with tournaments and stuff being easy to join and have fun too. The 10 slot ability bar is cool too, it should hopefully make for more players that have a better grasp of how their characters play.

          Nice, clear post.

          #3 Edited by Dark_Lord_Spam (3308 posts) -

          Awesome write-up, man. A couple of nit-picks, because that's who I am:

          • the maximum "suggested minimum" number of players for any of the elite events will be around 10-15 (if I'm recalling correctly)
          • Overflow Servers aren't truly instanced; you'll still see other players who are in a queue for their own server running around with you
          • your Personal Story quests will provide you with a more traditional reward choice after completion
          • you can pay some sort of fee (they haven't decided between in-game or real money) to change your home server if you, say, want to WvW with a friend
          • YOU FORGOT TO MENTION THE 30 MINI-GAMES! :P
          #4 Posted by SirPsychoSexy (1329 posts) -

          I was really excited going into this beta, but I am a little bit with Jeff here, it wasn't as revolutionary as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong I will probably play the crap out of it, but it didn't quite match the fun I had the first time I played wow, maybe I was expecting too much trying to rekindle that experience. The main thing for me was the combat got really boring really fast. Every fight I would try to dodge attacks and stuff like that, but what I found myself doing with almost every class and weapon setup was just spamming 1 and using the other abilities as they came off cool down. This made fighting mobs pretty boring, I could see with the weapon swapping and stuff maybe it would be really fun in pvp, but I'm not sure. I really need to play more of it and higher level content before I can really judge the combat, but I must say the beta was a little underwhelming.

          #5 Edited by UssjTrunks (534 posts) -

          @SirPsychoSexy said:

          I was really excited going into this beta, but I am a little bit with Jeff here, it wasn't as revolutionary as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong I will probably play the crap out of it, but it didn't quite match the fun I had the first time I played wow, maybe I was expecting too much trying to rekindle that experience. The main thing for me was the combat got really boring really fast. Every fight I would try to dodge attacks and stuff like that, but what I found myself doing with almost every class and weapon setup was just spamming 1 and using the other abilities as they came off cool down. This made fighting mobs pretty boring, I could see with the weapon swapping and stuff maybe it would be really fun in pvp, but I'm not sure. I really need to play more of it and higher level content before I can really judge the combat, but I must say the beta was a little underwhelming.

          General PvE is supposed to be easy enough so that anyone can solo it. The dungeons, PvP, and WvW are where you will be challenged.

          #6 Edited by project343 (2827 posts) -

          @Dark_Lord_Spam: Updated! :)

          @SirPsychoSexy: Completely valid thoughts. There are certainly some who agree with you, but there are also a ton of beta testers who argue against this stance fairly aggressively. Couple points: 1) ArenaNet designed the early stuff to be super easy, as per usual for most MMORPGs, 2) because there's no linear quest progression, there's nothing stopping you from venturing into higher leveled areas and doing stuff there--it's what a lot of hardcore players suggest (going +3 on the content).

          I know a lot of people have been saying that whack-a-mole with the cooldowns is the exact wrong way to play, as most of those abilities do nothing for your DPS, and often render those abilities unavailable for when you'd need them most. I think the point that these beta testers is saying is that whack-a-mole is an MMO playing logic that people have carried over from other games in this genre, and wrongfully applied them to this system, thinking it was the optimal way to play. I can't argue either for or against, as I haven't played the game myself. But I'd recommend reading this article; it's a bit blunt and offensive, but it summarizes a lot of the key points that people are defending the system with.

          #7 Posted by Gizmo (5389 posts) -

          Are you an Arenanet employee?

          #8 Posted by Subjugation (4720 posts) -

          Great job. Unfortunately Jeff will most likely never read it. It's still a good summary to highlight what GW2 is trying to differently though, so hopefully others can read it and form their own opinions.

          #9 Posted by Skogen (430 posts) -

          I've been really disappointed with everything Guild Wars 2 related thus far. ArenaNet is too busy trying to get MMO money to realize that the people who played GW for years liked it because it wasn't MMO.

          I honestly think the new team is incapable of making a game that will live up to the original. With fundamental guys like Jeff Strain, Pattrick Wyatt, and James Phinney gone, I have little hope for the game. The pedigree that made the studio what it was is essentially gone.

          #10 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -

          Just a question... If your power scales according to the area, why do you need better equipment?

          #11 Edited by Dark_Lord_Spam (3308 posts) -
          @Skogen said:

          the people who played GW for years liked it because it wasn't MMO.

          Maybe it's just me, but I loved that game because it was Guild Wars, with all of the positives and negatives that entails. Not some exclusionary philosophy.
           
          @MikeGosot: Your base stats change, but your gear's stat buffs won't change, which loses you a large amount of your full potential.
          #12 Edited by Garfield518 (404 posts) -

          @MikeGosot said:

          Just a question... If your power scales according to the area, why do you need better equipment?

          It scales down, not up. And that's only by level.

          #13 Posted by Adamsons (877 posts) -

          @project343 said:

          I know a lot of people have been saying that whack-a-mole with the cooldowns is the exact wrong way to play, as most of those abilities do nothing for your DPS, and often render those abilities unavailable for when you'd need them most. I think the point that these beta testers is saying is that whack-a-mole is an MMO playing logic that people have carried over from other games in this genre, and wrongfully applied them to this system, thinking it was the optimal way to play. I can't argue either for or against, as I haven't played the game myself. But I'd recommend reading this article; it's a bit blunt and offensive, but it summarizes a lot of the key points that people are defending the system with.

          This is coming up a lot and I am really curious.

          If playing 'whack-a-mole' with cooldowns is wrong, then what are you supposed to be doing when you dont need utility, just damage? Auto attacking?

          #14 Posted by Codeacious (960 posts) -

          @Adamsons said:

          @project343 said:

          I know a lot of people have been saying that whack-a-mole with the cooldowns is the exact wrong way to play, as most of those abilities do nothing for your DPS, and often render those abilities unavailable for when you'd need them most. I think the point that these beta testers is saying is that whack-a-mole is an MMO playing logic that people have carried over from other games in this genre, and wrongfully applied them to this system, thinking it was the optimal way to play. I can't argue either for or against, as I haven't played the game myself. But I'd recommend reading this article; it's a bit blunt and offensive, but it summarizes a lot of the key points that people are defending the system with.

          This is coming up a lot and I am really curious.

          If playing 'whack-a-mole' with cooldowns is wrong, then what are you supposed to be doing when you dont need utility, just damage? Auto attacking?

          I'm guessing so. He says that it's better to auto-attack then use a skill wrong, and this was sometimes the case in GW1 PvP as well. If you just busted out, for example, a Necromancer skill that debuffed every enemy near the enemy that you targeted (including the target itself), and if you only hit one person with it (the person you targeted in the first place), it wasn't worth the 10-15 energy you spent on the skill.

          #15 Posted by Pinworm45 (4088 posts) -

          Oh man, all of that sounded good until the "no pvp servers" part. petri dish pvp is just not something I'm interested in anymore, no world pvp is a deal breaker. That sucks.

          #16 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -
          @Dark_Lord_Spam: @Garfield518: I see! Thank you guys.
          #17 Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

          @Gizmo: No. But I probably should be. I'm sort of obsessed with this game.

          @MikeGosot: Gear doesn't scale. But it sounds like it has a fairly minor impact on your damage, preventing it from being a deal-breaker in WvW.

          @Adamsons: Positioning is a massive factor in this game. Because there is no homing ranged attacks, you can actually strafe-dodge arrows if you're far enough. Height also has an impact. Arrows only go so far, and using escalation to your advantage can completely change a ranged battle. The auto-attack for a lot of situations is your main damage output. The rest of your attention is on movement, strategy, dodging, and using those utility skills to the best of your ability.

          @Pinworm45: I know where you're coming from, but this video does a good job showcasing some intense WvW gameplay (plus, it's Yogscast, I mean why not watch it?).

          #18 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -
          @project343: ...What's World vs World? Oh c'mon, i hate MMOs and i'm interested in this because it seems to be breaing the "rules", so...
          #19 Edited by project343 (2827 posts) -
          Here's the WvW map; I'll throw the super high-res one below

          @MikeGosot: It wasn't something I really wanted to explain in my initial post. Honestly, I figure it would bore people because most people know all about it. Quick point form with pictures and videos:

          • Massive set of four connected open world maps
          • Currently there's a cap of 300 players per map (total of 1200 across all 4 maps)
          • Puts 3 servers in World vs. World vs. World combat for two weeks; server with most points after 2 weeks wins
          • Castles, keeps, supply points, PVE content, siege warfare
          • Holding each gains points every so often. Supply points send out caravans that give building currency to nearby locations that you own. You can literally cut off a keep's supply lines and starve them of wall/door supply. You can also do PVE events to hire nearby factions (like bandits) to attack other player keeps.
          • You can join the battle at level 2, and stay in that world for your entire character life; you level up via kills and find loot via kills; you're scaled up to level 80

          Here's a video of the Yogscast duders playing it. The whole video takes place in a small castle. Bit of siege stuff. No war golems unfortunately. Here's the super high-res map for you.

          #20 Posted by Adamsons (877 posts) -

          I hope Anet take the beta feedback into consideration, having auto attack being a primary damage output seems really horrible, I suppose with that in mind I can empathize with people who didn't enjoy the beta combat. Best to reserve judgment until I get to play it though I suppose.

          #21 Posted by Subjugation (4720 posts) -

          @Adamsons said:

          I hope Anet take the beta feedback into consideration, having auto attack being a primary damage output seems really horrible, I suppose with that in mind I can empathize with people who didn't enjoy the beta combat. Best to reserve judgment until I get to play it though I suppose.

          Are you saying auto-attack is a thing, or are you saying if it were to be a thing? I was under the impression that auto-attack didn't exist in GW2 and everything I've watched/read seems to back that up.

          #22 Edited by Adamsons (877 posts) -

          @Subjugation said:

          @Adamsons said:

          I hope Anet take the beta feedback into consideration, having auto attack being a primary damage output seems really horrible, I suppose with that in mind I can empathize with people who didn't enjoy the beta combat. Best to reserve judgment until I get to play it though I suppose.

          Are you saying auto-attack is a thing, or are you saying if it were to be a thing? I was under the impression that auto-attack didn't exist in GW2 and everything I've watched/read seems to back that up.

          Some skills can be set to auto attack, I dont know what the constraints are to this but most instances of it are people setting 1 as attack and just letting it fly.

          The complaints from beta seem to be that this is not only a pretty valid source of damage, but an optimal one in some cases. I hope Anet are taking the feedback on board.

          Edit, if you watch any GW2 videos, look at the skill icons, anything with a gold trim with two arrows is set to auto attack.

          #23 Edited by project343 (2827 posts) -

          @Adamsons: They had a beta event a couple weeks ago and have already changed a ton of stuff between these two weekends. That said, I highly doubt that they'd change their minds on such a fundamental design decision.

          I'll try to relieve you of some of that concern. The auto-attack/1 key as the only damage output it isn't necessarily the case for all classes. The Thief in particular has a fair number of attacks that are more frequently ideal uses. I'll give you an example of a set that has it's uses without directly affecting DPS output in a traditional manner: dual swords Warrior.

          1. Three hit combo that bleeds the enemy
          2. Lunge attack (8 seconds)
          3. Cripple for 6 seconds (12 seconds)
          4. Sword throw that causes bleeding (20 seconds)
          5. Riposte; blocks next attack and causes bleed (15 seconds)

          If you use all those abilities on cooldown, you're probably not going to be doing any more meaningful damage. But if you time your riposte for major attack counters, close distance with sword throws and lunges, and keep 'em from running with cripples, you're going to dominate people. Obviously there's also the utility skills, the dodging, and the Warrior-specific mechanic to layer into this, but this setup has a fair bit of nuance and strategy to it.

          Watching this player go toe-to-toe with a mob significantly higher level than she is is, in my opinion, eye-opening. It's not something that you could have done in other MMORPGs. While I don't think that it showcases the variety and use of the skillset, I think it does show off the other more nuanced importance of positioning that other games in this genre lack. In other games, you stand still and play piano with your fingers; in Guild Wars 2, you move, dodge, dance, and use those utilities at their perfect strategical moments. Direct comparisons are almost entirely invalid.

          Ultimately, I think condensing a traditional rotation into a single key is simplifying the matter and leaving more time to focus on other things. Tell me: what is the value in knowing that I have to hit the keys in the following order: 1, 3, 6, 2, 4, 4, 5? It literally serves no gameplay function other than giving players a false sense of that they're actively doing something and have control over their character's actions. I think this is very much a conscious design decision when you break it down.

          #24 Posted by Adamsons (877 posts) -

          The issue isn't that its simplified an optimal dps rotation into a single key, it has simplified it into auto attack.

          In that example for a dual swords warrior, when you want to do damage to something you are going to be auto attacking, exclusively, save for your adrenaline spender.

          The only skill that looks remotely interesting in that lineup is riposte, because of the damage negation, but the only offensive action it causes is bleed, which your auto attack applies automatically. If riposte did a non-trivial amount of damage after blocking a melee attack and (example) the sword throw did an extra, non-trivial amount of damage against crippled targets you would have the start of a dynamic skillset.

          I don't want to give the impression that i'm doomsaying anyway, It's probably going to be a day 1 buy, just like GW1 was. Concerned though.

          #25 Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam (3308 posts) -
          @Adamsons: I'd imagine the idea is that your 1 skill will be forcing some amount of contribution while you're managing dodges, boons, conditions, interrupts, self-heals, utilities, and those other four weapon skills.
          #26 Edited by UssjTrunks (534 posts) -

          @Adamsons said:

          @Subjugation said:

          @Adamsons said:

          I hope Anet take the beta feedback into consideration, having auto attack being a primary damage output seems really horrible, I suppose with that in mind I can empathize with people who didn't enjoy the beta combat. Best to reserve judgment until I get to play it though I suppose.

          Are you saying auto-attack is a thing, or are you saying if it were to be a thing? I was under the impression that auto-attack didn't exist in GW2 and everything I've watched/read seems to back that up.

          Some skills can be set to auto attack, I dont know what the constraints are to this but most instances of it are people setting 1 as attack and just letting it fly.

          The complaints from beta seem to be that this is not only a pretty valid source of damage, but an optimal one in some cases. I hope Anet are taking the feedback on board.

          Edit, if you watch any GW2 videos, look at the skill icons, anything with a gold trim with two arrows is set to auto attack.

          This video by TB explains why this why the auto-attack complaints are nonsense.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=i-UZFu7yZEw

          Starting at about 11 minutes.

          #27 Posted by UssjTrunks (534 posts) -

          @Pinworm45 said:

          Oh man, all of that sounded good until the "no pvp servers" part. petri dish pvp is just not something I'm interested in anymore, no world pvp is a deal breaker. That sucks.

          Am I missing something here?

          Last time I checked, the game had separate PvP servers.

          #28 Posted by Deusx (1905 posts) -

          I loved reading this. I've seen A LOT of this game and I know it's not just another MMO. Can't wait to play it and yeah, I agree that Jeff shouldn't have dismissed the game after playing just one hour BUT, I think he'll come around once he starts noticing why people feel this is one of the most expected releases of the year.

          #29 Edited by Dark_Lord_Spam (3308 posts) -
          @UssjTrunks said:

          @Pinworm45 said:

          Oh man, all of that sounded good until the "no pvp servers" part. petri dish pvp is just not something I'm interested in anymore, no world pvp is a deal breaker. That sucks.

          Am I missing something here?

          Last time I checked, the game had separate PvP servers.

          There are no separate servers for in-world PvE. The potential for griefing isn't something ArenaNet wanted in the game, and that itch is meant to be scratched by World vs. World combat anyway. You'll find all the ganking you can handle in the Mists.
           
          EDIT: Here's an article for people concerned about the combat's complexity that's similar to the one 343 posted but more coherent and less insulting.
          #30 Posted by selbie (1903 posts) -

          I can't wait to play this game. Everything i see about it is making me more and more confident that it will be a long term mmo for me.

          #31 Posted by Benny (1953 posts) -

          Anyone that's played WoW knows that there are plenty of classes that sit spamming 3 buttons (or less) in PvE, yet plenty of these people act like removing that element entirely by having one auto-attack and 9 situational skills and putting a greater emphasis on movement and positioning is 'limited.'

          #32 Edited by project343 (2827 posts) -

          @Adamsons: I still think that you're applying all of this theory to a traditional MMORPG system. Positioning and movement are paramount to the combat in Guild Wars 2. Enemies have hitboxes, you can freely swing your sword whenever you like (hitting anything within that arc), and a dodging doesn't simply amount to the gameplay mechanic: you can literally walk out of the way of an ogre's swing, you can sidestep out of an incoming arrow's way. In World of Warcraft, movement and positioning only had a meaningful influence on combat in PVP and in 'staying out of the fire' (they got a little better with their Cataclysm boss encounters in this respect, but it still amounted to a mechanic that could simply be overcome with rehearsed movements around a field).

          Also, quick addition: four of the seven (remember: three hit combo) abilities have bleed effects; when stacked, bleed is a condition that increases dramatically in intensity.

          I'm curious as to what your opinions are on some weapon/profession sets that have no/little damage output? This set and this set come to mind. It seems like removing damage (and replace it with pure utility/situational) complicates your proposal that auto-attacks as primary damage sources lead to a stale combat system; it just seems like you're disregarding how engaging utility/situational skills can be. It reminds me a lot of the first Guild Wars: every skill was complex and had it's place, almost like a deck of carefully managed cards.

          #33 Posted by Benny (1953 posts) -

          @project343: Yes! I've been trying to think of something analogous to the preset 10 skills and this hits the nail on the head.

          It reminds me a lot of the first Guild Wars: every skill was complex and had it's place, almost like a deck of carefully managed cards.

          These are my feelings exactly and where the variety comes from even among players playing the same profession.

          Though because of this, they'll have an insane task ahead of them in trying to stop everyone using the same 'Flavor of the Month' build and keeping everything viable. Of this task, I am definitely not envious.

          #34 Posted by Adamsons (877 posts) -

          @project343 said:

          @Adamsons: I'm curious as to what your opinions are on some weapon/profession sets that have no/little damage output? This set and this set come to mind. It seems like removing damage (and replace it with pure utility/situational) complicates your proposal that auto-attacks as primary damage sources lead to a stale combat system; it just seems like you're disregarding how engaging utility/situational skills can be. It reminds me a lot of the first Guild Wars: every skill was complex and had it's place, almost like a deck of carefully managed cards.

          The mesmer staff set doesn't look especially interesting to me, the player input is essentially going to be summoning clones on cooldown and hitting chaos storm on groups of enemies / allies. The profession abilities makes it a little more dynamic though. Also IIRC, that set is outdated now, winds of chaos is the auto attack.

          I think the guardian staff set is more interesting though, something as simple as orb of light (low cooldown, fire/detonate) is a really fun mechanic, line of warding could be fun at clutch times too. As I've mentioned earlier in the thread though, I'm reserving judgment until I actually get to play the game, these are just my current thoughts.

          @UssjTrunks said:

          This video by TB explains why this why the auto-attack complaints are nonsense.

          He mentions that the combat not being challenging is nonsense, something I have not insinuated. What I am saying is that doing optimal damage with your auto attack is boring.

          #35 Posted by Benny (1953 posts) -

          @Adamsons: I don't think the fights are so much about doing optimal damage though. Seems at the minute that surviving is the focus.

          #36 Edited by UssjTrunks (534 posts) -

          @Adamsons said:

          He mentions that the combat not being challenging is nonsense, something I have not insinuated. What I am saying is that doing optimal damage with your auto attack is boring.

          It isn't the optimal damage skill though. The only reason you see it being used so much is because all the other skills have a cooldown. The auto-attack is really only used in between cooldowns for other skills. It was exactly the same in GW1.

          If you look at the thief for example, he spams his other skills much more often than the first skill, that is because thieves don't have weapon skill cooldowns.

          #37 Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam (3308 posts) -
          @Adamsons said:

          What I am saying is that doing optimal damage with your auto attack is boring.

          But you won't be doing optimal damage. The only way you can do optimal damage is by using all of your skills intelligently. The 1 skill is there so that you're doing something in between those others.
          #38 Posted by RobbieMac (535 posts) -
          @UssjTrunks: @Dark_Lord_Spam:  Exactly.  People need to realize the 1 skill is essentially the auto-attack that was in GW1 for all the different weapons.
          #39 Posted by Codeacious (960 posts) -

          @Benny said:

          @project343: Yes! I've been trying to think of something analogous to the preset 10 skills and this hits the nail on the head.

          It reminds me a lot of the first Guild Wars: every skill was complex and had it's place, almost like a deck of carefully managed cards.

          These are my feelings exactly and where the variety comes from even among players playing the same profession.

          Though because of this, they'll have an insane task ahead of them in trying to stop everyone using the same 'Flavor of the Month' build and keeping everything viable. Of this task, I am definitely not envious.

          It's almost like it's a sequel or something.

          I'm kind of surprised people are just seeing this now; it's been apparent to me for a long time that the skills were in the same vein of GW1, with the auto-attack just being replace onto the 1 key. Hell, you can set it to auto-cast if you want, too.

          #40 Posted by august (3846 posts) -

          @project343 said:

          I love this skittle Trooper.

          It was the 70s!

          #41 Posted by Subjugation (4720 posts) -

          I think this video of the Shadow Behemoth encounter is a good example of what to expect from PvE. Your time isn't spent trying to pump out some maximum dps rotation. There is so much more of an emphasis of positioning and survival rather than optimal damage output compared to other MMOs. Plus Shadow Behemoth is just cool, so I was going to find a way to share the video eventually. And to think this is level 15 content ...

          #42 Posted by kindgineer (2728 posts) -

          I just hope people don't over hype this like what is happening right now. Guildwars 2 is going to be an amazing game, but not revolutionary like many want to believe. It's a step-forward in the industry in terms of moving MMO's to a better place, but when we are talking about revolutionary, I just can't say it will hit that mark; At least not in the first year or two.

          #43 Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

          @Subjugation: That looks pretty damn amazing. I initially skipped that video out of fear of spoiling it for me. I really like that they specify [Group Event] to tell you that this event doesn't scale down to a single player.

          #44 Edited by UssjTrunks (534 posts) -

          @Subjugation said:

          And to think this is level 15 content ...

          Doesn't each race fight some giant boss right away in the starting area? I remember during the last beta footage that humans had to fight some giant earth golem and charr some giant statue right near the beginning.

          Anyway, all the giant boss fights are awesome.

          #45 Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam (3308 posts) -
          @UssjTrunks: Every race (that we've seen) has a huge boss at the culmination of their tutorial, yeah. A lot of the meta events chain into massive fights too - that's how the Shadow Behemoth, Shatterer, and Tequatl battles are triggered.
          #46 Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

          @UssjTrunks: Well, those giant bosses are a tad different from the ones found in the explorable world. They're essentially just a climactic way to end the tutorial--like the recent overhaul to City of Heroes's tutorial end.

          #47 Edited by Rawson (136 posts) -

          The fact that Guild Wars 2 does away with the banality of healing classes, quests, and a billion god damn useless buttons that all do the same thing (because WoW characters really need more hotkeys than an entire race in StarCraft 2) is enough to pique my interest. It's questioning what the entire genre takes as a given, even if said things are the absolute antithesis of fun, like DPS rotations, formal grouping in lieu of just showing up and participating, and raids that require set groups of people who all happen to share the same free time. All of these elements are designed to waste my time, and all of them bore the shit out of me.

          And if you'd like to see videos of people playing who genuinely know what they're doing, check this out. It looks like if you as a player have enough skill and knowledge, you can totally run off and fight things higher level than you. In this case, towards the middle, a level 8 player goes off to fight a level 11 group event mob, by herself, and does really well. The only time someone takes damage is when another player comes in and tries to tank it like every other MMO out there.

          #48 Posted by Funkydupe (3320 posts) -

          Fuck. I'm not convinced I'll like Guild Wars 2. Its like a big monkey sitting with a top-hat in the room that everyone else can see and I don't.

          #49 Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

          @Funkydupe: Different people are excited for wholly different reasons. And some are even made uncomfortable for some of those reasons.

          For me, the notion of a subscription fee-free online RPG without a rigid PVE questing structure is sort of the deal-maker. I've never liked raiding. I've never liked open world PVP. But I love exploring a vast world with friends, and Guild Wars 2 takes some meaningful steps forward in allowing me to enjoy what I love to a greater degree.

          Others enjoy the combat changes--the action focus, the streamlined tactical abilities, the lack of combat roles, the profession gameplay distinctions. Some enjoy the notion of a massive siege warfare map that they can get lost in from level 1 to 80.

          Ultimately, the genre is growing stale, and Guild Wars 2 is looking to be one of the first successful pushes in an admirable direction forward. Sure, some games can mix up the setting (The Secret World), some games mix up the structure (Rift), some games can mix up the combat (TERA), but I think Guild Wars 2 stands so firmly as a definitive genre-pusher because it does so in such a compelling, unrelenting way. It isn't afraid to abandon the tried-and-true at hopes of grasping for something a little more original.

          I'm probably hyping the game more than I should. But I love the MMORPG genre as much as I hate it. I want to see it aspire to be something more than a mindless grind (gear) that follows a mindless grind (leveling). I want games, not work. I want a world, not a structure.

          #50 Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

          I feel like this topic is more relevant with the release of the game and, obviously, Giantbomb's mislabeling of Guild Wars 2 as 'another generic MMO.' This game departs fairly drastically from the MMO formula in so many meaningful ways that it's easily the most applaudable step forward for the genre since 2004.

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