Saturday, September 29, 2012

Legendary or Leisurely? : GW2

In my first post on GW2 in the excitement of the first Beta Weekend I wrote "what I've seen is an excellent implementation of traditional, standard and familiar MMO tropes. Guild Wars 2 looks to be a really first-class AAA theme-park MMO. If that's what you want then you're going to be very happy".

In my defence I qualified that view: "Caveat being that any comments are based on just a few hours gameplay that have taken me only as far as level 6". Oh really? Well let's all just sit here at your feet in awe shall we, Master?

Anyway, how wrong I was. About the "happy" part, obviously.

Here we are a month and change into Live and there's much disturbance in the sphere. Talk of one month or three. All done and over already. Heading back home or on to the Next Big Thing. Maybe just giving up.

Mrs Bhagpuss pointed out something to me yesterday that I had not noticed. On the Character Select screen for Guild Wars 2, over there on the right-hand side, hang your Account Medals. Well, yes of course I'd noticed them. I just hadn't ever moused over them to see what they were for.

What are they for?
The top one is for Map Completion, which has nothing to do with how much of the world you have seen, only how many of those little markers on the maps you have made to light up. With a single character. Not the whole account. Mine's at 47%.

The three below are Badges marking initiation into the three Orders of the Pact. Running from left to right, Durmand Priory, Vigil and Order of Whispers. The orders are exclusive. Each character can join only one. I'm in Whispers.

The last row, running again from left to right, are PvP Rank, Realm Avenger and Legendary Treasures. Only my WvW has begun to darken.

What does this suggest? First of all it suggests I'm not very interested in Achievements or in goals set for me by other people. After more than a month of looking at that screen several times a day I hadn't even thought about what those symbols were for, let alone made the small hand-movement that would have let me find out.

More meaningfully to anyone who is not me, the presence of those particular badges of achievement and their specific requirements would seem to suggest a set of expectations. Perhaps they represent what the development team expected the normative player would want to achieve during the lifetime of the game; more likely a benchmark showing the most a player could aspire to; most worryingly, what the development team expected a player to achieve.

Whichever or whichever combination of those, clearly it can't be done with just one character and equally clearly at least one character must reach maximum level. As a player, no part of the game can be skipped. To fill those badges you must defend your realm, you must compete in team PvP, you must do at least some of your Personal Story on no fewer than three characters, you must explore the world.

Ah, but what about crafting? What about Dungeons? I can skip those, can't I? Well, no. Take a look at this list of what's required to complete a Legendary Weapon that I borrowed from Stargrace:

Each legendary weapon requires at least the following:
In addition to the above, the player must also gamble the following materials to obtain Mystic Clovers. One success results in a single Mystic Clover and 77 clovers are needed. The chances of success are currently unknown, therefore depending on the final chances, the recipe could require anywhere from 77 to 1,000 attempts.
 You'll notice somewhere in that frankly insane shopping list mention of 500 Dungeon Tokens and two craft skills at 400. Be thankful they didn't make you do all eight.

You want me to do what ?!

Which brings me back to the beginning. Why anyone would want to do all of this in one lifetime is a mystery to me, but it seems apparent that the people who spent five years building this world thought they were catering for people who would. Either that or they were just so full of themselves over all the marvelous work they'd done they absolutely did not want anyone to miss out on any least part of it.

GW2 is a weird game. In some ways it's the simplest, easiest, most casual knockabout fun; in others it's a truly demented grindfest of the most hardcore proportions. The bone of contention, one of the bones anyway, is in how this all divvies up. The traditional Western MMO grindcore, ready and willing to break raids over weeks then farm them for months to get gear good enough just in time to do it all over again come next expansion are taking predictably badly to being asked to put in similar effort for a flashy weapon skin.

It's not working for them but it's working for me. I don't want to "achieve" anything or"progress". I'm happy to be. Tyria's a great place to hang out and what's more it mellows. I'm enjoying GW2 more now than I was two weeks ago because I'm doing less. My goals are smaller, I'm pottering more and all is good.

One month, three months, five years, a lifetime. Come and go. Visit or stay. Your choice. Play the game. Don't let the game play you.


  1. I have no interest in Legendaries; aside from looks they are not 'make or break' gear and not required for Exploration mode dungeons or anything else.

    Perhaps the requirements will get nerfed eventually, but since they're suppose to be elite 'showoff' items perhaps not. Either way it's not something I'm concerned over. People who are upset over the 'required grind' for them may still be under the impression that these items are more important than they really are? There is no 'required' grind in GW2.

    1. "The traditional Western MMO grindcore, ready and willing to break raids over weeks then farm them for months to get gear good enough just in time to do it all over again come next expansion are taking predictably badly to being asked to put in similar effort for a flashy weapon skin."

      And this is why I never believed the 'hardcore' raiders in WoW who claimed it was 'all about the challenge'. Not sure what it really IS about, actually, if hard-to-get cool looking armor as a reward for farming hard content doesn't make it worthwhile to them either.

    2. The usual line is that it's about the camaraderie or the teamwork I think. To me it seemed to be mostly about the standing around waiting, but presumably most of the people who speak up for it were the leaders not the grunts and it probably is much more involving if you're the one giving the orders and picking the tactics.

      Stargrace's full post from which I stole the tabulation of the requirements for legendaries is very interesting. She comments that her intention to get her legendaries sets her apart from her guild, where no-one else seems to have any interest in them at all.

      I think it will be, and perhaps is intended to be, a minority interest. GW1 had achievements like that. People still did them, though. Putting it right there on the character select screen, indeed putting all those Medals there, does strongly suggest a directive push by ArenaNet on what they think we *should* be doing, though. Otherwise, why give those paricular achievements such prominence?

      I plan on ignoring them, needless to say.

    3. There's also only one or two people in my guild who seem to care about them.

      Personally, I hate the medals banner because as a Charr it covers part of my character so I can't take a clear screenshot. =P

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  3. You know its just crazy these people finished playing after a month or declaring GW2 a 3-monther. WoW technically was a failure in its first couple months, but had a strong enough actual game to pull through all the technical failings it had at release. In GW2, i am 80 and still havrnt finished my personal story or even done 1/2 the dungeons. Also I am not even close to being tired of logging in - in fact every time I do I either get sucked into WvW for a few hrs or just wandering around from event to event, and i am completely happy at that! As for the login screen, i am also Order of Whispers (great story line by the way) and about 1/5th from earning the Realm Avenger completion from WvW. Havent touched sPvP although I totally enjoyed it in the beta. Also jave only played a human so far (Engineer is the best class
    Ever imo), so have 3 other racial areas to explore. And my 2 human characters have had such different story lines that I see 100's of hiurs of gameplay still to come. So...yeah - speaking from a guy who has a lot of free time on his hands - GW2 is full of value. I am wondering if Anet made a mistake not making this a sub game. I for one am still holding onto my $20 initial gem ourchase (bought one bankslot) so have nothing but extreme value for dollar in GW2 so far, and really looking firward to future content releases.

    1. They need to start cranking out cool armor skins and townclothes in the cash shop, imo, because I think they could make a ton just off that sort of stuff.

      Also, a makeover/rename item would probably sell well too. If they can keep the cash shop items fresh and interesting, they won't need to worry about revenue.

    2. Well a big money win for them would be personal housing on the cash shop. I hate the avatar makeover options available in other games, as changing skins seems totally cash shopy, vs adding content which doesnt remove you from the game environment like total plastic surgery makover does.

    3. It would be wonderful if they added proper housing but I'd be amazed if they did. Of course we do already have both the Hall of Monuments and that odd personal sector of your home city that I really don't understand. A lot could be done with those in terms of allowing us to personalize and decorate.

      As for the Gem Shop, one of the big surprises to me has been how little there is i it. There's quite literally nothing there that I've considered buying other than the obvious account expansions (character slots and storage space) and even those I just dealt with by getting a second account. It's like the Gem shop is an afterthought that they haven't really gotten around to yet.

    4. I think the personal instance thing is still totally unfinished, going by how they were talking during beta about it being customizable and yet as of now it really isn't and there's nothing really there worth visiting.

      They need to steal wholesale Rift's instanced housing idea and apply it to the neighborhood instance -- that would be amazing.

  4. Finally somebody points it out, thank you :) I have a rather long post on this sitting in my inbox currently.
    GW2 is not the casual game some make it out to be - it has some very hardcore features that make even fans of the grindiest grind dizzy. it has money scarcity and difficult dungeons that are a hell to pug. this is not casual at all.
    on the other hand, GW2 can be played without the usual partying up hubbub, obviously it's all 5man and there is no classic endgame or progression. so here, it's the progression kids complaining.

    GW2 is in between the themepark and the sandbox, and it is in between the casual and the hardcore. casual players will find a lot more accessibility and overall blingbling and variety of easy fun in WoW. and hardcore kids don't get the same chances on progressive content and server pride than in WoW, either. funny if you think about it. that of course bears asking what GW2 is 'good for' then or for 'whom' - seems it's people like you and me. I am still trying to narrow down that demography.

    1. Pottering! That what I call it. One of these days when I have time on my hands I want to do a Guide to Pottering in MMOs that examines the ones I know and rates them for pottering value. GW2 would be very near the top.

  5. I have no interest in the Legendary grind. Just happy to play and enjoy the game world like Bhagpuss. But at least the option is there for those that like a long term goal. The essence of GW2 is choice - give players the choice to do whatever they want. :)


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