How Guild Wars 2 Excels Where Other MMOs Fail

Posted by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

With the hype around Guild Wars 2 finally settling down and people finally digging into the world of Tyria, there have been many forms of analysis on the internet as to whether Guild Wars 2 has what it takes to make the long haul and continue remaining worthwhile beyond the initial level 80 grind. In rebuttal to that statement, I say "the first game is still going strong, so why wouldn't the second one?" Why is that? The reason is simple: Guild Wars 2 does what most MMOs won't or don't, and because of this, it has excelled beyond many of them.

That's not to say that Guild Wars 2 is a perfect game by any stretch. Then again, I wouldn't peg any other MMO as a perfect game. Instead, I would say that Guild Wars 2 takes a "road less traveled" approach to its general design aesthetic. One of the first places you can notice this would be in how it handles travel around the world. Rather than offer up flight paths that transport you from city to city, they offer waypoints that you can find throughout the world and use as a form of fast travel. Some will complain that the loading screens can cause the world to feel disjointed, but the upside is that the loading screens are generally much shorter of a wait time than a flight path can be. There are not enough fingers and toes on my body to count how many times I've heard people complain about waiting on a flight path to get them where they need to be. While part of an MMO is to immerse yourself in this giant world that has been created, gamers also have a general displeasure towards waiting to achieve a goal. Therefore, this waypoint system gets me where I need to be as quickly as possible so I can get back to adventuring, not watching the world pass by underneath me as I wait...and wait...and wait.

These waypoints are also used as your "graveyard". Once you die, you can resurrect back at a waypoint. There is no corpse run. While some games like Vanguard and Everquest made corpse running an integral and immersible part of their worlds, corpse running in general can be annoying as hell when it isn't necessary. Moreover, each zone in Guild Wars 2 is so massive that it would cause people to travel for quite a while. Again, looking at the design aesthetic of the game, it's about getting you back into the adventure as quickly as possible. They want you to spend your time PLAYING THE GAME, not corpse running and flight pathing. It's a breath of fresh air. Are they the first to do these? Not necessarily, but they handle them incredibly well.

Here's another brilliant piece of design: overflow servers. Most MMOs will have you wait in a login queue, watching what feels like an arbitrary number tick down over time while you wait to get into your virtual world. Guild Wars 2 instead uses the game world itself as the login queue. If the number of people on your server has caused it to be "full", you are put into this overflow server with multiple other servers' worth of people. The benefit? It's the common theme that we see with the previous two features I've mentioned: they want you to play the damn game! You can still do world events, dungeons, event quests, kill mobs, craft...EVERYTHING that you can do on your own regular server. The only issues with the overflow server is that there are multiple overflows. Therefore, if you want to be partied with a friend who is on a separate overflow, it can get a little dicey. Generally, waiting until you are both on the actual server is the best bet there.

Even then, Guild Wars 2 is an MMO where you might not even find yourself partying up very often. This is because of the general structure of questing and leveling up. Instead of the general "exclamation point above someone's head" scenario to designate that there is a quest to pick up, all questing is handled through three methods: story quests (which are instanced and focus on your own character's story), public events (which are the same as public quests, but they are your primary form of quests), and world events (which randomly show up and can either succeed or fail to unlock additional world events afterwards). The stories that unfold through your story quests are generally pretty unique amongst characters, and the voice acting is pretty top notch. The system of public events works incredibly well for general questing and leveling. Yes, there will be quests where you'll do arbitrary things like "put on a cow disguise and do these random things" or "hey, take this water bucket around and fill up some water troughs". If you have no investment in the world, this stuff will seem menial and dull. If you like a little bit of crazy variety in your questing and take in the reasons for doing these different tasks, they fit well within the world. Generally, the events that make the most sense are "go and kill these guys for us". However, it's not an instance of "talk to some random guy who is too lazy to do this shit himself". Instead, you actively see NPC characters participating in these events as well. It helps to make it feel less like the laziness example and more like a world that is alive and aware of its necessities for survival.

The world events is where the game shines, however. When you enter specific areas, a world event can pop up. Many times, it will tell you something like "defend this area" or "kill the shit out of these muthafuckers for us". Again, NPCs will usually fight alongside you. As you complete that world event through success or failure, it can lead to another event happening. The thing is that failing an event can have some negative repercussions. For instance, you can completely lose access to a town until the next time that world event pops back up. A primary example of this would be in the Town of Nageling, as it will be taken over and the gates will be shut down when it gets invaded. You'll have to kill an onslaught on enemies, followed by a particularly nasty boss monster at the end of all the defending and/or assaulting. If you fail or don't complete it, Nageling is generally shut off from the public. It's not always a CRUCIAL thing when one of these failures happens, but it's generally disheartening for the player. When you've become invested in the world, you don't want to see something fail. You want to see triumph. Some of these world events can actually lead to specific boss fights that you otherwise couldn't easily reach, and they generally feel both dynamic and like a grand adventure. You feel like a hero when you participate in most of them.

Speaking of grand adventures, another feature where Guild Wars 2 succeeds is in rewarding the player for generally exploring the world. Within every zone, you will find multiple different "collectibles": Waypoints (your fast travel places), Vistas (think of the spinny camera highpoints of Assassin's Creed), Points of Interest (areas of lore within the world of Tyria), Skill Point Challenges (they allow you to unlock additional skill points for your skill tree), and Tasks (these are your public events). Finding any of these is worth a good chunk of XP, and they generally give the player incentive to scour every last inch of a map before moving on to the next zone. It gets you familiar with the world around you, but it also helps build the initiative within the player to look at this game differently: it's not about grinding, but rather about exploring and adventuring. Sure, there is a level cap to hit...at some point. However, there has been a tireless amount of time put into creating this gorgeous world, and they WANT you to find everything. Moreover, getting every "collectible" in a zone will unlock a chest for you which generally contains goodies like uncommon or rare loot, boosts for things like XP/Karma/Magic Find/Speed, things of that nature. Therefore, ArenaNet does something that other games don't: offer incentive to immerse yourself into their world. Mind you, this could feel like a cheap ploy to make you explore the world, but it rarely feels that way. There's a general excitement upon entering a new area or uncovering a new portion of your map, as the world design is just jaw-dropping with how much detail the developer put into each design decision.

Throughout all of this adventuring, there are other things that you may take for granted at first but will eventually feel refreshing. Just look at your inventory bag. There are two options available within the bag: "Deposit All Collectibles" and "Compact". These should become industry standards. The first will automatically send all crafting materials or gems in your inventory to your bank, while the latter will pull everything you have into closer empty spaces, making the search through your inventory less of a hassle. Even then, if you really want to find something in your massive inventory, there is a search bar in your backpack to find exactly what you want. Ingenious all around!

There is also no "trade" window. Essentially, when you want to trade, you will instead use the mail system. Mail arrives instantly no matter what is being sent, and it's also how you'll end up collecting the money you get from either trades or your public event rewards upon completing them. This is something that could be abused: what is the protocol for trading in this kind of scenario? Generally, the community in Guild Wars 2 is a good group of honest guys, but there's always going to be that bad apple that spoils the whole bunch. Luckily, reaching customer support to report something of this nature isn't much of a hassle, and they are generally decent about replying to these types of things in a timely fashion. Moreover, the economy of the game is so low (having 5 gold pieces essentially makes you a god to most people) that losing out on a couple of silver for a day or two isn't going to cause much sting in your pocketbook, but your confidence in community may waver a bit.

Another nice feature is that anyone can gather anything when it comes to ore, plants, leather, and other types of crafting materials. This helps in two distinct ways: it means that everyone can have a way to make money and thusly keeps the economy of these commodities relatively locked down in terms of its pricing for private sale, and it means you can always use these materials for bartering with other characters when money isn't much of an option. Moreover, those gathering nodes are not a "first come first serve" type of system, so you will always be able to gather from an ungathered node, even if someone else is collecting from it. There is the potential for abuse on this from gold farmers and such. However, with the economy being so low and having the option to buy gold with real money through the game's microtransaction store for a rather reasonable price, it seems like gold farming is all but dead weight in the game.

"WHOA WHOA WHOA, MICROTRANSACTIONS?! YOU CAN BUY GOLD IN THE STORE?! THIS IS PAY 2 WIN!"

Calm your jets, Kimosabi. Guild Wars 2 is not a "Pay 2 Win" just the same as it is not technically a "Free 2 Play" game. It's a Buy 2 Play with a vanity store of microtransactions. If buying a baseball cap or some aviator sunglasses is going to all of a sudden make someone down a giant dragon quicker, then you can start exclaiming that shit. Yes, you CAN buy gold by spending real money to buy "gems", then use those gems to collect gold. However, it also goes the other way: you can spend your in-game gold to acquire gems. In turn, ArenaNet has offered a way for the game to be completely self-sufficient without needing to spend a dime beyond the initial $60 game purchase. If someone wants to give them more money, then that is their own personal prerogative. That doesn't mean they are "winning" any more than you. They will just look cooler than you.

As a matter of fact, they don't even really allow higher level players to automatically win in lower-level areas! Thanks to a smart level scaling system, high level characters will be scaled down to the level of an area. Therefore, if you are level 70 and go into a level 20 area, you'll be scaled down to level 20. Now, as far as we've noticed, it seems that this scaling only applies to your personal character stats and not the gear that you have equipped. Therefore, you still get a slight edge over an actual level 20 and feel that power in your character, but it generally evens out pretty well. What makes this level scaling even more interesting is how future updates and expansions could work. Since your character gets scaled down, it means that ArenaNet doesn't have to solely make new zones catering only to level 80. They can make a level 30 zone and it works because you will get scaled down, meaning the content can still present a general challenge.

Because of this level scaling, it also makes dungeons hard as hell. It's a whole new ballgame in learning how to approach something like a dungeon, specifically since there is no dedicated healing class. There is a lot of crowd control necessity followed hand-in-hand with knowing your class, your weapons, how to evade attacks properly, and generally using your environment to your advantage. This means that you not only use the terrain within fights, but also what the terrain has available in terms of items. Upon first fighting Vassar and Ralena (the twins boss fight) in Ascalonian Catacombs, you'll find that you die pretty damn easy. However, once you realize that it's because you don't have one person being dedicated to throwing boulders at Ralena while you beat the shit out of her lover, the light bulb clicks in your head: these fights are about more than beating the shit out of someone. Some of them are pure tank 'n' spank, but the majority of dungeon fights require some thought and knowledge. It's a nice change of pace from the rather simplistic mindset of other MMOs when it comes to dungeon design.

Last but not least, there is the shining gem of Guild Wars 2, the reason you want to play the game: WvWvW. That incredibly awkward-looking anagram stands for "world versus world versus world", which is the main PvP mode in Guild Wars 2. The general idea is similar to what some other games have attempted (like Warhammer Online): have one server face off against another in objective-based battles on huge battlefields and the winning side will gain benefits for dominating. Luckily, Guild Wars 2 actually makes it work. There's something incredible and visceral about seeing forty people from one server turtling in a garrison to fire off ballistas and drop burning oil on top of the invaders at the gate, all the while the opposing force is building catapults and battering rams in the hopes to breach the enemy walls, storm the garrison and lay waste to everything inside, then claim the territory as their own until it again becomes contested. The whole experience is visceral and exciting. A flow of giddy violent joy sweeps over you when the gates come crashing down. Granted, Yak's Bend happens to fucking WRECK SHOP in WvWvW (seriously, we are almost completely uncontested in our awesomeness). Nonetheless, it's still exciting as hell to play.

Overall, there is no "revolutionary" thing about Guild Wars 2. It's been stated by multiple people, and I can reiterate it. Some have called it "iterative", and I don't think that can necessarily be contested either. Personally, I like to think of it more along the lines of these two words: "refined" and "different". When playing the game, it's the two words that constantly pop into my mind.

Hopefully this has helped you understand why there is such a fervor around the game in general. There are those who won't enjoy it, and that's more than okay. However, that doesn't mean that ArenaNet hasn't crafted something unique, enduring, and entertaining. Many things in this game should quickly become genre standards, while other things should just remain within the confines of Guild Wars as a whole.

Until next time...piece.

#1 Posted by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

With the hype around Guild Wars 2 finally settling down and people finally digging into the world of Tyria, there have been many forms of analysis on the internet as to whether Guild Wars 2 has what it takes to make the long haul and continue remaining worthwhile beyond the initial level 80 grind. In rebuttal to that statement, I say "the first game is still going strong, so why wouldn't the second one?" Why is that? The reason is simple: Guild Wars 2 does what most MMOs won't or don't, and because of this, it has excelled beyond many of them.

That's not to say that Guild Wars 2 is a perfect game by any stretch. Then again, I wouldn't peg any other MMO as a perfect game. Instead, I would say that Guild Wars 2 takes a "road less traveled" approach to its general design aesthetic. One of the first places you can notice this would be in how it handles travel around the world. Rather than offer up flight paths that transport you from city to city, they offer waypoints that you can find throughout the world and use as a form of fast travel. Some will complain that the loading screens can cause the world to feel disjointed, but the upside is that the loading screens are generally much shorter of a wait time than a flight path can be. There are not enough fingers and toes on my body to count how many times I've heard people complain about waiting on a flight path to get them where they need to be. While part of an MMO is to immerse yourself in this giant world that has been created, gamers also have a general displeasure towards waiting to achieve a goal. Therefore, this waypoint system gets me where I need to be as quickly as possible so I can get back to adventuring, not watching the world pass by underneath me as I wait...and wait...and wait.

These waypoints are also used as your "graveyard". Once you die, you can resurrect back at a waypoint. There is no corpse run. While some games like Vanguard and Everquest made corpse running an integral and immersible part of their worlds, corpse running in general can be annoying as hell when it isn't necessary. Moreover, each zone in Guild Wars 2 is so massive that it would cause people to travel for quite a while. Again, looking at the design aesthetic of the game, it's about getting you back into the adventure as quickly as possible. They want you to spend your time PLAYING THE GAME, not corpse running and flight pathing. It's a breath of fresh air. Are they the first to do these? Not necessarily, but they handle them incredibly well.

Here's another brilliant piece of design: overflow servers. Most MMOs will have you wait in a login queue, watching what feels like an arbitrary number tick down over time while you wait to get into your virtual world. Guild Wars 2 instead uses the game world itself as the login queue. If the number of people on your server has caused it to be "full", you are put into this overflow server with multiple other servers' worth of people. The benefit? It's the common theme that we see with the previous two features I've mentioned: they want you to play the damn game! You can still do world events, dungeons, event quests, kill mobs, craft...EVERYTHING that you can do on your own regular server. The only issues with the overflow server is that there are multiple overflows. Therefore, if you want to be partied with a friend who is on a separate overflow, it can get a little dicey. Generally, waiting until you are both on the actual server is the best bet there.

Even then, Guild Wars 2 is an MMO where you might not even find yourself partying up very often. This is because of the general structure of questing and leveling up. Instead of the general "exclamation point above someone's head" scenario to designate that there is a quest to pick up, all questing is handled through three methods: story quests (which are instanced and focus on your own character's story), public events (which are the same as public quests, but they are your primary form of quests), and world events (which randomly show up and can either succeed or fail to unlock additional world events afterwards). The stories that unfold through your story quests are generally pretty unique amongst characters, and the voice acting is pretty top notch. The system of public events works incredibly well for general questing and leveling. Yes, there will be quests where you'll do arbitrary things like "put on a cow disguise and do these random things" or "hey, take this water bucket around and fill up some water troughs". If you have no investment in the world, this stuff will seem menial and dull. If you like a little bit of crazy variety in your questing and take in the reasons for doing these different tasks, they fit well within the world. Generally, the events that make the most sense are "go and kill these guys for us". However, it's not an instance of "talk to some random guy who is too lazy to do this shit himself". Instead, you actively see NPC characters participating in these events as well. It helps to make it feel less like the laziness example and more like a world that is alive and aware of its necessities for survival.

The world events is where the game shines, however. When you enter specific areas, a world event can pop up. Many times, it will tell you something like "defend this area" or "kill the shit out of these muthafuckers for us". Again, NPCs will usually fight alongside you. As you complete that world event through success or failure, it can lead to another event happening. The thing is that failing an event can have some negative repercussions. For instance, you can completely lose access to a town until the next time that world event pops back up. A primary example of this would be in the Town of Nageling, as it will be taken over and the gates will be shut down when it gets invaded. You'll have to kill an onslaught on enemies, followed by a particularly nasty boss monster at the end of all the defending and/or assaulting. If you fail or don't complete it, Nageling is generally shut off from the public. It's not always a CRUCIAL thing when one of these failures happens, but it's generally disheartening for the player. When you've become invested in the world, you don't want to see something fail. You want to see triumph. Some of these world events can actually lead to specific boss fights that you otherwise couldn't easily reach, and they generally feel both dynamic and like a grand adventure. You feel like a hero when you participate in most of them.

Speaking of grand adventures, another feature where Guild Wars 2 succeeds is in rewarding the player for generally exploring the world. Within every zone, you will find multiple different "collectibles": Waypoints (your fast travel places), Vistas (think of the spinny camera highpoints of Assassin's Creed), Points of Interest (areas of lore within the world of Tyria), Skill Point Challenges (they allow you to unlock additional skill points for your skill tree), and Tasks (these are your public events). Finding any of these is worth a good chunk of XP, and they generally give the player incentive to scour every last inch of a map before moving on to the next zone. It gets you familiar with the world around you, but it also helps build the initiative within the player to look at this game differently: it's not about grinding, but rather about exploring and adventuring. Sure, there is a level cap to hit...at some point. However, there has been a tireless amount of time put into creating this gorgeous world, and they WANT you to find everything. Moreover, getting every "collectible" in a zone will unlock a chest for you which generally contains goodies like uncommon or rare loot, boosts for things like XP/Karma/Magic Find/Speed, things of that nature. Therefore, ArenaNet does something that other games don't: offer incentive to immerse yourself into their world. Mind you, this could feel like a cheap ploy to make you explore the world, but it rarely feels that way. There's a general excitement upon entering a new area or uncovering a new portion of your map, as the world design is just jaw-dropping with how much detail the developer put into each design decision.

Throughout all of this adventuring, there are other things that you may take for granted at first but will eventually feel refreshing. Just look at your inventory bag. There are two options available within the bag: "Deposit All Collectibles" and "Compact". These should become industry standards. The first will automatically send all crafting materials or gems in your inventory to your bank, while the latter will pull everything you have into closer empty spaces, making the search through your inventory less of a hassle. Even then, if you really want to find something in your massive inventory, there is a search bar in your backpack to find exactly what you want. Ingenious all around!

There is also no "trade" window. Essentially, when you want to trade, you will instead use the mail system. Mail arrives instantly no matter what is being sent, and it's also how you'll end up collecting the money you get from either trades or your public event rewards upon completing them. This is something that could be abused: what is the protocol for trading in this kind of scenario? Generally, the community in Guild Wars 2 is a good group of honest guys, but there's always going to be that bad apple that spoils the whole bunch. Luckily, reaching customer support to report something of this nature isn't much of a hassle, and they are generally decent about replying to these types of things in a timely fashion. Moreover, the economy of the game is so low (having 5 gold pieces essentially makes you a god to most people) that losing out on a couple of silver for a day or two isn't going to cause much sting in your pocketbook, but your confidence in community may waver a bit.

Another nice feature is that anyone can gather anything when it comes to ore, plants, leather, and other types of crafting materials. This helps in two distinct ways: it means that everyone can have a way to make money and thusly keeps the economy of these commodities relatively locked down in terms of its pricing for private sale, and it means you can always use these materials for bartering with other characters when money isn't much of an option. Moreover, those gathering nodes are not a "first come first serve" type of system, so you will always be able to gather from an ungathered node, even if someone else is collecting from it. There is the potential for abuse on this from gold farmers and such. However, with the economy being so low and having the option to buy gold with real money through the game's microtransaction store for a rather reasonable price, it seems like gold farming is all but dead weight in the game.

"WHOA WHOA WHOA, MICROTRANSACTIONS?! YOU CAN BUY GOLD IN THE STORE?! THIS IS PAY 2 WIN!"

Calm your jets, Kimosabi. Guild Wars 2 is not a "Pay 2 Win" just the same as it is not technically a "Free 2 Play" game. It's a Buy 2 Play with a vanity store of microtransactions. If buying a baseball cap or some aviator sunglasses is going to all of a sudden make someone down a giant dragon quicker, then you can start exclaiming that shit. Yes, you CAN buy gold by spending real money to buy "gems", then use those gems to collect gold. However, it also goes the other way: you can spend your in-game gold to acquire gems. In turn, ArenaNet has offered a way for the game to be completely self-sufficient without needing to spend a dime beyond the initial $60 game purchase. If someone wants to give them more money, then that is their own personal prerogative. That doesn't mean they are "winning" any more than you. They will just look cooler than you.

As a matter of fact, they don't even really allow higher level players to automatically win in lower-level areas! Thanks to a smart level scaling system, high level characters will be scaled down to the level of an area. Therefore, if you are level 70 and go into a level 20 area, you'll be scaled down to level 20. Now, as far as we've noticed, it seems that this scaling only applies to your personal character stats and not the gear that you have equipped. Therefore, you still get a slight edge over an actual level 20 and feel that power in your character, but it generally evens out pretty well. What makes this level scaling even more interesting is how future updates and expansions could work. Since your character gets scaled down, it means that ArenaNet doesn't have to solely make new zones catering only to level 80. They can make a level 30 zone and it works because you will get scaled down, meaning the content can still present a general challenge.

Because of this level scaling, it also makes dungeons hard as hell. It's a whole new ballgame in learning how to approach something like a dungeon, specifically since there is no dedicated healing class. There is a lot of crowd control necessity followed hand-in-hand with knowing your class, your weapons, how to evade attacks properly, and generally using your environment to your advantage. This means that you not only use the terrain within fights, but also what the terrain has available in terms of items. Upon first fighting Vassar and Ralena (the twins boss fight) in Ascalonian Catacombs, you'll find that you die pretty damn easy. However, once you realize that it's because you don't have one person being dedicated to throwing boulders at Ralena while you beat the shit out of her lover, the light bulb clicks in your head: these fights are about more than beating the shit out of someone. Some of them are pure tank 'n' spank, but the majority of dungeon fights require some thought and knowledge. It's a nice change of pace from the rather simplistic mindset of other MMOs when it comes to dungeon design.

Last but not least, there is the shining gem of Guild Wars 2, the reason you want to play the game: WvWvW. That incredibly awkward-looking anagram stands for "world versus world versus world", which is the main PvP mode in Guild Wars 2. The general idea is similar to what some other games have attempted (like Warhammer Online): have one server face off against another in objective-based battles on huge battlefields and the winning side will gain benefits for dominating. Luckily, Guild Wars 2 actually makes it work. There's something incredible and visceral about seeing forty people from one server turtling in a garrison to fire off ballistas and drop burning oil on top of the invaders at the gate, all the while the opposing force is building catapults and battering rams in the hopes to breach the enemy walls, storm the garrison and lay waste to everything inside, then claim the territory as their own until it again becomes contested. The whole experience is visceral and exciting. A flow of giddy violent joy sweeps over you when the gates come crashing down. Granted, Yak's Bend happens to fucking WRECK SHOP in WvWvW (seriously, we are almost completely uncontested in our awesomeness). Nonetheless, it's still exciting as hell to play.

Overall, there is no "revolutionary" thing about Guild Wars 2. It's been stated by multiple people, and I can reiterate it. Some have called it "iterative", and I don't think that can necessarily be contested either. Personally, I like to think of it more along the lines of these two words: "refined" and "different". When playing the game, it's the two words that constantly pop into my mind.

Hopefully this has helped you understand why there is such a fervor around the game in general. There are those who won't enjoy it, and that's more than okay. However, that doesn't mean that ArenaNet hasn't crafted something unique, enduring, and entertaining. Many things in this game should quickly become genre standards, while other things should just remain within the confines of Guild Wars as a whole.

Until next time...piece.

#2 Posted by StrikeALight (1114 posts) -

@jakob187 said:

Until next time...piece.

You had me, up until this.

#3 Edited by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

@StrikeALight said:

@jakob187 said:

Until next time...piece.

You had me, up until this.

LOL. That's my sign-off for every blog. I came to the conclusion many years ago that most people would rather have "a piece" than "peace". = /

#4 Posted by mrpandaman (864 posts) -

@StrikeALight said:

@jakob187 said:

Until next time...piece.

You had me, up until this.

Yep same here... lol

Anyways, with this, you have convinced me to get Guild Wars 2 when I have the chance. It may not be a revolutionary and a genre redefining MMO, but you and others have said it improved enough on the design to make it worthwhile and different from all the other MMOs.

Until next time... peace.

#5 Posted by Bollard (5255 posts) -

Fantastic, fantastic write up. Could very well be a review (as much as an MMO review doesn't make sense), I approve.

#6 Edited by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

@Chavtheworld said:

Fantastic, fantastic write up. Could very well be a review (as much as an MMO review doesn't make sense), I approve.

The reason I don't call it a review is because it's more just me breaking down what all the systems and features of the game are and why they are better than the majority of MMOs out there. I didn't touch on the crafting because I really haven't dug into it at all, but the general consensus I've seen is that it's expensive as hell, deep and complex, and generally not something you are going to get into until much higher levels. Even at level 51 right now, I don't have any intentions to dig into it yet.

A review to me is a different thing all together. It's a culmination of exploring everything possible to give a recommendation or not. This isn't necessarily a recommendation, as it's more of a "this is what the game is for all those people who keep asking what this game is" and breaking down why it goes against the norm in a lot of ways while also enhancing and improving on where the genre has been for the last ten years.

Part of the other reason I wanted to write this was because...well, to be honest...I was severely bugged by the general talk on the last Bombcast about Guild Wars 2 and the relatively dower tone that Jeff and Ryan had about the game. I understand that they aren't necessarily MMO guys, but nonetheless, to say that this game isn't doing a lot of stuff right and instead saying "it's just another MMO" felt like a bit of a slap in the face. I know it's all opinion, but there's substantial stuff in here that is high quality beyond what most MMOs do as well as enough refinement and uniqueness to make it something special and unique. In general, I think that it's that dower tone and the general attitude towards the game that has not only made me care a little less about what the guys have to say about the game or any other game in general.

I just wanted there to be another side to this, devil's advocate if you will. I mean, during the Quick Look, I can't even count how many times I heard the words "I don't know" come from Jeff's mouth when Vinny and Brad asked him questions about the game. Sure, it's a Quick Look...but Jeff had played this a bit already. He was in a (I believe) 15+ zone. The game doesn't explain stuff very well at the start, but it's pretty easy to pick up on all of it. A little research even goes a long way. It seemed like none of that effort was done. Just "let's pop it on and I'll be generally dismissive of the thing on the whole because I don't really do MMOs unless it's Phantasy Star Online 2". Am I wrong in that general feeling?

#7 Posted by Bollard (5255 posts) -

@jakob187 said:

@Chavtheworld said:

Fantastic, fantastic write up. Could very well be a review (as much as an MMO review doesn't make sense), I approve.

The reason I don't call it a review is because it's more just me breaking down what all the systems and features of the game are and why they are better than the majority of MMOs out there. I didn't touch on the crafting because I really haven't dug into it at all, but the general consensus I've seen is that it's expensive as hell, deep and complex, and generally not something you are going to get into until much higher levels. Even at level 51 right now, I don't have any intentions to dig into it yet.

A review to me is a different thing all together. It's a culmination of exploring everything possible to give a recommendation or not. This isn't necessarily a recommendation, as it's more of a "this is what the game is for all those people who keep asking what this game is" and breaking down why it goes against the norm in a lot of ways while also enhancing and improving on where the genre has been for the last ten years.

Part of the other reason I wanted to write this was because...well, to be honest...I was severely bugged by the general talk on the last Bombcast about Guild Wars 2 and the relatively dower tone that Jeff and Ryan had about the game. I understand that they aren't necessarily MMO guys, but nonetheless, to say that this game isn't doing a lot of stuff right and instead saying "it's just another MMO" felt like a bit of a slap in the face. I know it's all opinion, but there's substantial stuff in here that is high quality beyond what most MMOs do as well as enough refinement and uniqueness to make it something special and unique.

No I agree, it isn't really a review but it could basically serve as one. Also yes, I too was bugged by that stuff and this piece (see what I did there) is defintiely a much fairer impression of the game.

#8 Posted by Klei (1768 posts) -

Nice blog. I don't know if I'm getting fed up of MMO's, but while I absolutely love my time in-game, I have no urge to rush back to it when I log out. Is it the absence of monthly fees? Maybe. Might also be that I have tons of other games to play. Like Dark Souls : Prepare to get Urinated edition.

#9 Edited by Heltom92 (704 posts) -

I only have a level 7 and a level 12 so I don't really have a fully formed opinion of this game yet, but I'm not really enjoying it at all.

For starters, I think the combat just isn't very good. Combat in world events is a complete mess, because there are so many people participating in the same event it's hard to tell whats really going on a lot of the time and combat just devolves into spamming attacks. Then when I go to do a story quest I find it swings the other way and it's pretty hard. As an example, I just fought a boss in the Norn quest line. Even though I was a level above the recommended level I still died a couple of times and I had no idea what I was doing wrong, the only reason I could complete was thanks to the generous check pointing, which popped me right back up where I was with the boss at the same health as when I died. I'm not really sure what I could of done better and the game offers you little advice.

I'm also finding the world to be really boring and generic.

I agree with what you said about it not being revolutionary though. The new way of questing is interesting but ultimately doesn't change much.

I don't know what it is, maybe I'm just past MMOs now but I had a hell of a lot more fun in WoW back when I used to play.

#10 Posted by NickL (2246 posts) -

when i teamed up with someone on a different overflow it was really easy to meet up. i just right clicked his image in the party and clicked join and it loaded me to his overflow. is this not the normal experience?

#11 Edited by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

@NickL said:

when i teamed up with someone on a different overflow it was really easy to meet up. i just right clicked his image in the party and clicked join and it loaded me to his overflow. is this not the normal experience?

I have yet to try partying between overflows. Thanks for this piece of information, though. It seems like a nice solution to a potential issue.

@Heltom92: I'm sorry to hear you aren't enjoying the game. I will say that the events can get a little confusing when so many people are doing it, but I've found that it has generally thinned out a bit as people have leveled. In the first couple days of the game's launch, it was definitely full of elementalist particle effects and me saying "WTF IS GOING ON?!". There was a kind of visceral craziness to it all. I haven't found myself "spamming" attacks necessarily. Once you spend some time with your weapon, you'll know what you need to do as an outright five-move combo regardless of whether you can see what the hell is happening or not. That's what I've generally seen between my friends and I at least. I would definitely give it a few more levels.

Honestly, the game really doesn't open up until level 30. Everything before that seems like a big "get used to how everything works" thing. It's not a tutorial. It's more of a Dark Souls kind of approach: throw you into this world, start playing around with stuff, and learn what to do as you go along.

My one main gripe is that they don't explain very well upfront what "condition damage" is. It's the one question I've had people asking me over and over: "what is condition damage?". It is any form of bleeds, DoTs, and things of that nature. "What is a boon?" is the second question (the answer is "buffs").

As for the story missions, I'm level 51...and I'm still sitting on a level 14 story quest. I've been taken by the massive world and its inhabitants so much that I can't be bothered to go back to the story missions yet. I might clear them up whenever I'm closer to 80. LOL I will say that they ARE hard. However, you CAN have your party come in with them, so there is that option. Personally, I'm glad that they won't spoonfeed you anything in this game. However, I would ask you this question: are you using everything at your disposal? Weapon swaps, CC, signets/boons/utility skills, dodge/evade, etc? Honestly, those are things that a player NEEDS to start getting under control because it plays a big part in the combat later in the game, especially in dungeons and large world events.

I had some big problems with one story mission, particularly involving some fire imps and such. They were a pain in the ass, and I died multiple times. Luckily, the checkpoint system IS forgiving.

I hope you can give it about ten more levels or so. I will say that it's hard to really compete against the vanilla and BC days of WoW. They were great times with some really intelligent dungeon and raid design.

@BraveToaster said:

Would you recommend GW2 to someone with a little experience in MMO's?

I would say that Guild Wars 2 is a good starting point for people with no MMO experience due to its low fee of entry. If you are looking for a more traditional MMO experience, I would suggest SWTOR when it goes free-to-play for the basic bread-and-butter "spoonfed" MMO. WoW is essentially the archetypal MMO that covers all the bases. Guild Wars 2 is very much the place that either breaks conventions or tries to improve on them in intelligent design manners.

#12 Posted by Heltom92 (704 posts) -

@jakob187: I was only level 7 when I did that quest so I didn't have a huge amount of skills at my disposal but I did try to use everything I had, including dodging. It wasn't really hard but it was just a disconnect from the easiness of the world events and heart quests. That fact that the checkpoint just put me exactly where I was makes me think that Anet knew players were gonna encounter this spike in difficulty and just put the checkpoint there so people could get through it.

It is a very impressive game for what it is though and I will try to play some more before I call it.

I just remember the days of first getting WoW and not being able to play any other game because it seemed to amazing. I think it might be that my life has changed a lot since then and it might just be that I no longer have the time or patience to invest the hours that a game like this requires.

#13 Posted by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

@Heltom92: I can understand what you mean. I quit WoW a month or two after Wrath came out. It just didn't appeal to me anymore, and my life just couldn't warrant paying the subscription anymore. I had all the free time possible while I played it, but eventually, I got a promotion and the free time became less and less. I ended up reworking my schedule to allow more time, but at that point, I just didn't really care about anything as much as I did waiting for Guild Wars 2 (maybe waiting for Diablo III is the only equivalent).

Even if you don't end up sinking into it, there is the benefit of no subscription fee. Therefore, it will always be there waiting for you when you want to kill some time. = D

#14 Posted by Dunchad (471 posts) -

In reference to the topic, it seems to me that there is a very basic difference in design when it comes to GW2 vs. other MMOs.

Because they don't really need you to stick around so they can milk you for subscriptions, there seems to be more fun and less grind. For example, I loved SWTOR for the stories, but where it failed for me was the story content vs. grind ratio. I had to quit around lvl30ish because I couldn't make myself do all those side quests just so I could get to the story bit at the end.

You notice this in things like the waypoints, which make travel so much faster. The crafting system that speeds up the more items you craft at once. The fact that there is really no leveling curve and that everything you do gives you experience fairly generously. You don't need as many visits to the cities since you can deposit your crafting materials to your bank from the field. The speed at which you unlock new weapon skills. The list goes on... they just don't want you to feel like you're wasting your time. That you're grinding.

It's still possible to feel like you're grinding, if you play the game like a normal MMO. That is, if you look at your map for the heart events and then methodically do each of them in order. But I feel like that is completely the wrong way of playing Guild Wars 2. If I could give one tip to new players, it would be to ignore the map as much as possible and just run towards things that look interesting. Check the minimap for possible resource nodes and questing area outlines, but don't let the game dictate where you go - just run around and look at interesting things. When you run into an event or a heart-area, do that. When you notice a skillpoint or a vista, go figure it out. Go check out the other starting areas - no need to stick to your own for the whole time.

This really is a game for explorers. Just yesterday I spent hours getting 100% in Lion's Arch. There are some really crazy hidden places in that area - the little hidden garden bit with the troll was where I gave up and looked up the starting point from internet. I have no idea how anybody ever found that route.

#15 Edited by ProfessorEss (7281 posts) -
#16 Posted by jakob187 (21642 posts) -

@Dunchad: Have you been in the back caves of Lion's Arch yet? That shit is INSANE! If you think finding the garden was crazy, that cave is just nuts! Kudos to whoever found that place at all, especially the path through the room with literally no light and pitch black darkness.

#17 Posted by Gizmo (5389 posts) -

I was playing with a friend earlier and couldn't believe how much fun I was having with a fantasy mmo. At no point in the 3 hours we played did I find myself bored, or with a lack of interesting content to dive into.

#18 Edited by Etnos (245 posts) -

Good writing. However, I respectfully disagree, after 10 hours I don't want to keep playing it, really seems like a WoW clone with some minor tweaks.

No subscription is cool, but whatever. I prefer the old Guild Wars structure. I'm with Jeff on this one, I feel the same way about GW2.

#19 Posted by Brodehouse (9588 posts) -
@Etnos I respectfully agree with you. GW2 has felt like a massive grind without meaningful rewards.
#20 Posted by Dunchad (471 posts) -

@jakob187 said:

@Dunchad: Have you been in the back caves of Lion's Arch yet? That shit is INSANE! If you think finding the garden was crazy, that cave is just nuts! Kudos to whoever found that place at all, especially the path through the room with literally no light and pitch black darkness.

Yeah, but I finding that area was fairly easy for me anyway - my biggest issue was trying to fall down the maw without dying (took like few dozen attempts). And since I'm playing Necro, I just used staff skills to show me where the ledges were in the pitch black room.

I saw the garden and the chest easily, but I probably spent an hour or longer trying to find out ways to get to them. Who the hell would think to fall into the sewer hole from up top? To me it didn't even look like anything that I could fall into.

#21 Posted by connerthekewlkid (1803 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

@Etnos I respectfully agree with you. GW2 has felt like a massive grind without meaningful rewards.

it would be fine to grind if there was something to do in between but the story just isnt compelling enough

#22 Posted by CornBREDX (4813 posts) -

I agree. It's a good game that tries to be different. It has some flaws that I nit pick (big one, for instance, the PvE is mainly just one big grind), but at the end of the day it has no monthly fee, it is actually an MMO this time, and fun to play. 
 
I think it will last mainly because it's F2P, but it has enough appeal to keep playing that will help as well. 
 
My big tip, for anyone that needs it, is to not settle on just one character. If you're not having fun, try another one and try different weapons. It took me a few characters/weapons combinations before I found one I enjoy playing.

#23 Posted by geirr (2476 posts) -

I think most of the points you praise Guild Wars 2 for are reasons me and my friends find the game kinda boring. But like the Wii, someone had to try something different and it seems to stick with some people, so good on them.

#24 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7613 posts) -

@Brodehouse: What is there that's grind? It seems this has become a term that people apply to any form of gameplay, which just doesn't work. The game offers a pretty vast world to explore and gives you many things to do. If you don't like exploring, just look for dynamic events to increase your level. Don't like PVE, WvW and sPVP give you experience to progress and even reward you with loot. Even crafting gives you a significant chunk of experience, to the point where many people are leveling solely by doing that.

Some of the heart quests feel pretty grindy, there's a few in-particularly that are awful, but the key thing to remember is that they're by no means mandatory and almost always offer multiple objectives, so you're never forced to constantly repeat the same task (aka, avoiding grind!). I'd still say the most satisfying aspect of the game is just exploring the world and talking to the NPC's though, which is something almost everyone seems to ignore.

I'll agree that once you hit level 80, finish the story content, dungeons and are just aiming for max tier gear, then actually saving up to afford the cultural armour, re-running dungeons for tokens or looking for crafting materials is pretty grindy, but that's a ridiculous amount of content you have right there and I'm pretty sure they'll tweak a lot of the problems, especially the dungeon rewards, before long.

It's definitely not a game for everyone, but that's something I've been saying since before it was released.

#25 Posted by Marino (4598 posts) -

@jakob187: Nice write up. It's on the front page of site in the community section now.

Staff
#26 Posted by jozzy (2041 posts) -

I really enjoy the game, but there is one thing that could ruin the game long term for me. The world feels really artificial and segmented. It's the spawn-points everywhere, it's the automatic quests, it's the portals between zones, it's the clearly marked out objectives in every zone. GW2 takes the theme parc mmo formule to the extreme, even way further than WoW. The world in WoW is actually very cleverly designed, it somehow feels like it fits together in a way that makes sense. It makes it all feel a little soulless.

I actually like a little travel in my mmo, they took convencience too far.

The WvWvW is the thing that is going to decide long term success for me though.

#27 Edited by Dark_Lord_Spam (3157 posts) -

@Dunchad said:

It's still possible to feel like you're grinding, if you play the game like a normal MMO. That is, if you look at your map for the heart events and then methodically do each of them in order. But I feel like that is completely the wrong way of playing Guild Wars 2. If I could give one tip to new players, it would be to ignore the map as much as possible and just run towards things that look interesting. Check the minimap for possible resource nodes and questing area outlines, but don't let the game dictate where you go - just run around and look at interesting things. When you run into an event or a heart-area, do that. When you notice a skillpoint or a vista, go figure it out. Go check out the other starting areas - no need to stick to your own for the whole time.

Being higher level really helps in this respect. My 50-some charr has access to about seven or eight zones that I've haven't even visited yet, and because the down-scaling is automatic I can basically run all over those areas following interesting events instead of the structured leveling path determined by hearts.

@jozzy said:

I really enjoy the game, but there is one thing that could ruin the game long term for me. The world feels really artificial and segmented. It's the spawn-points everywhere, it's the automatic quests, it's the portals between zones, it's the clearly marked out objectives in every zone. GW2 takes the theme parc mmo formule to the extreme, even way further than WoW. The world in WoW is actually very cleverly designed, it somehow feels like it fits together in a way that makes sense. It makes it all feel a little soulless.

I actually like a little travel in my mmo, they took convencience too far.

The WvWvW is the thing that is going to decide long term success for me though.

All it does is provide the breadth of opportunity for people (like myself) who want to play using these features. It's perfectly acceptable for you to traverse the entire map when travelling, or speak to a renown NPC for their "quest dialogue" before filling the associated heart. As is said: "to each their own."

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