A Month of Guild Wars 2

It’s been a month since I started playing Guild Wars 2, and normally this the make or break time for an MMO – it’s when the first subscription is due. It’s the point at which I decide if the game is worth me dropping another $15 on. The difference here is that Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have a subscription, so does it mean I’ll keep playing it? At this point, I’m not too sure…

Guild Wars 2 is a game that does a lot of new things, a lot of good things, but it’s failed to grab the attention of my old guildies, and I’m starting to see a lot of burn out, and here is a few reasons I think why.

It blows its load too early

I’m normally an alt-aholic, taking a few characters through the starting areas before I settle on a class. Guild Wars 2 makes it very easy to find out if I like a class early on for a couple of reasons. The first is that you unlock all of your weapon skills by about level 8, second is that you can jump into PvP with everything unlocked, free to play with it all. The issue I have here is that I get everything right away, so there is very little to look forward to. Yes, you get utility skills, and there are a good number of them, but they only really tweak your play style, not offer anything much new. End result is that you’ve played with the majority of a classes abilities after a few hours, and there isn’t that much else to look forward to. My highest level character is a level 40 necromancer, and I’ve been doing the same thing for a while now. The classes get stale very quickly, apart from the occasionally tweak you find to make things a little more efficient. I got excited when I heard that Guild Wars 2 would tie abilities to weapons because I thought you’d be constantly be getting new toys to play with throughout the game, but in practice it’s a subset of skills you unlock fairly quickly, and never really get much else to experiment with.

Uninteresting and poorly told quests

Before Guild Wars 2 I was playing The Secret World, and unfortunately it set the story-telling bar pretty high for the fantasy game – in The Secret World I felt like there were things to discover, and a real sense of dark events in motion. In Guild Wars 2 I’m told I’m meant to kill a Dragon, but never why it’s bad, and then end up just helping farmers kill grubs. There is no sense of weight or importance in the events around me. While the personal story in Guild Wars 2 is fine, even if a little dry and often poorly written, the vast majority of world content doesn’t give me the story context I need and it ends up feeling abstracted to the point of just filling bars. Every now and then you’ll hit an interesting world quest, but most of the time it’s a bar appearing on your screen because an event is going on, then killing things/picking things up until the bar is full, or empty. Most of the quests feel the same without a good reason to do them.

I know there is some narrative I can discover from talking to NPCs, but do I really care about why I need to kill 50 mosquitoes?

You never feel like the hero

This is an interesting one, and is a result of the games attempt to make everything social. Most every quest in the world is something you do with other people, unfortunately it means you never really feel like you’re doing anything awesome. The part you play is never that obvious, apart from a ranking once the event is over. It’s fairly easy to get the highest ranking, as long as you’re there from the start, and I’m pretty sure everyone else is getting that too. The game tries to make you feel epic by giving you a fairly impressive boss fight early on, but because there are so many other people running around with you, it doesn’t really feel like I earned it. My Norn Necromancer is constantly referred to as the “Slayer” because I killed a big ice wyrm. But it wasn’t just me, there were 10 other people there, and I’m not sure I really did that much. I feel like a fake – a pretender – I’m pretty sure I’m not as great as they make me out to be.

There are no roles, it’s every man for himself

Guild Wars 2 decided to get rid of the holy trinity “Tank/Healer/DPS” and make people more responsible for themselves. While this makes grouping easier, you lose your sense of contribution and teamwork. I’m not playing with people, I’m playing near people. I love the combo field/combo finisher system in Guild Wars 2, but most of the time it’s just a case of throwing the field down on a group of people and hoping for the best. I never feel like I’ve been a critical member of a team taking on a challenge, and that’s something that’s quite satisfying. While I don’t think we always need to stick with the Tank/Healer/DPS mechanic, it should have been replaced with something. Instead I just feel like I’m soloing with other people around me.

Structured PvP has no drive to win, as a result is just a mess

What disappointed me the most in Guild Wars 2 has been the PvP. There is the World vs World PvP, but that’s not exactly a drop-in and play mechanic. There is 5v5 tournament PvP, but that needs at least 4 other people that want to play. The most practical pvp is Structured PvP, which is two teams of random people competing on a variety of different maps – unfortunately it just flat out sucks. Matches mostly involve zerging from point to point, and there is little-to-no communication. Even in the story-focused The Old Republic I managed to see a good amount of team work and cooperation between players. I never see that in structure PvP in Guild Wars 2. I think it may be because there is no real incentive to win, there are very few rewards for playing. There is cosmetic gear to aim for, but that’s about it, and nothing much that will support your PvE experience.

I don’t want it to sound like I hate Guild Wars 2, it does a lot of good stuff, but it’s missing… something… that I think will keep me, and my guildies, in the game. I feel like they’ve tried to change how we play an MMO, but some things have been changes for change sake. Was there anything really wrong with Tank/Healer/DPS? Why not keep those roles but let each character do them all? Why not have more skills to discover? Guild Wars 1 let you choose a deck from literally hundreds of skills. I’m unsure how much I’ll keep playing it, I’m still enjoying my Mesmer, but with fewer people I know loading it up, no real sense of progression, and an uninteresting world, I’m not sure how likely that is.

Those Pandas are looking pretty tempting…