Guild Wars 2's Biggest Flaw

There's been a lot of feature-demand on the part of Guild Wars 2's more hardcore player base recently: stuff like fleshing out the structured PvP mode with an observer mode and ladder system, making World vs. World more tangibly rewarding for participants, and revamping big PvE encounters both in dungeons and the open world. These are all sensible requests, and more importantly ArenaNet has already stated this is all coming in the first half of 2013. But I feel like the gun has been jumped, here. There's one dire aspect of GW2 that just bewilders me whenever I consider it. One missing piece that seems to cull more potential customers from the game within a shorter time-frame than anything else (yes, even precursor drop rates, you crazy person).

Recently, I had the good fortune of coming across a YouTube video recommendation that didn't immediately induce vomiting and seizures at the prospect of a viewing. It was, in fact, posted by Athene, a gaming personality I have no more than a peripheral awareness of beyond some relation to the term "e-sports." Regardless, it's a video that got right to the heart of what I've come to remember upon watching parts of a few Let's Plays of GW2 (yeah, I'm looking at other people play a game I have a shortcut to on my taskbar because I'm a wierdo).

Subtle splash image, I know. Anyway...

GUILD WARS 2 HAS NO TUTORIALS. Okay, sure, it does technically have a bunch of pop-up tutorial bubbles. But the average person takes about half a second to close pop-ups, and they're never going to go looking for those things in the menus. This problem is compounded exponentially if they have some prior experience with an MMO. Take what has become known to the lay-folk as The Gerstmann-Wars Quick Look Incident of 2012 (I don't think anyone really calls it that). Jeff Gerstmann, an eminently reasonable passably coherent man who I'm still convinced would appreciate this game ifhejustputsometimeinandohgodnodontshattermyperceptions, both in the game's quick look and the week's podcast, uses the words "I guess" in response to the rest of the crew's concerns again and again. Not because he didn't put some decent time into the game. Not because Giant Bomb is really just a cover organization for the global conspiracy to topple your favorite part of the games industry. It was because he had no idea what the game wanted him to be doing. He, like many others, approached it as something that at surface-level resembles World of Warcraft and tried to play it as such. And nothing benefits from that: not the journalists' coverage, not the majority-viewer's understanding, not the tolerance of us who have played a fair amount, and certainly not ArenaNet's bottom line.

That's the largest problem with the meager tutorials presented to the player. They only ever tell you about what's occurring on-screen, frequently at inopportune times. Never does GW2 suggest one of pieces of content pie you haven't yet sampled. Nor does it clarify any piece of its intricate design to try and string you along with new experiences. Most unfortunately, though, it doesn't expand upon what I consider to be the sagest of advice for players new to the game: "just go do fuckin' whatever, man, and you'll end up where you didn't even know you wanted to be."