Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gathering Storm, Light Drizzle To Follow : GW2

February tends towards the dismal; the cold, wet stub of winter, with neither January's crisp bite nor March's fresh clarity. It's just the time when you feel the need for something filling, substantial.

Why, look! What's this? It's the February update for Guild Wars 2. Think that'll do the job? Set the fires roaring? Drive out the damp?

Well, hardly.


First off, there's a bit missing. A big bit. The WvW revamp fell off. Along with the wheels, some might say. J3w3l at Healing the Masses has an entertaining rant on that. At least we get some sketchy details in the "look what you could have won" section of Colin Johanson's unapologetic announcement.

All pile on the Lord!
The gist appears to be that WvW is being re-tooled to suit Achiever subtypes with short attention spans. Not really my demographic but it's becoming apparent to me that there are really only two ways that Realm vs Realm combat (as we seem to have gone back to calling it since the reappearance of Mark Jacobs under his Camelot banner) can be made to work and that's one of them.

For Realm-based pvp to hold an audience's attention long-term, something has to matter and the choice comes down to what you own or who you are. The Camelot Unchained model is claiming the former - everything is made by the sweat of your fingertips, from each arrow you fire to the very bricks of the city your guild built. Losing hurts. A lot. It's a model for masochists and gaming's not short of those.

Guild Wars 2, on the other hand, much though in its extreme youth it flirted with the hedonic and courted the lotus-eaters, is fast morphing into an Achiever hive. There's nothing that could be done for the pleasure of doing it that couldn't be improved by giving you a badge when you're done. It's the Baden-Powell school of gaming.

Achievements are all over PvE in GW2 and come the end of February March they'll be all over WvW, too. It's not what I wanted but heaven knows we do need some kind of medium term purpose for being there day after day after day, so I'm willing to give it a shot.

If this is Tuesday it must be Hills
I'm much more firmly on board with the addition of more short-term objectives. I love jumping Sentries and killing Yaks and taking supply camps has yet to stale. It's the long-drawn-out Keep sieges that I'm losing patience with, or rather the repeated taking and re-taking of the same ones. Having a wider range of ad hoc targets sounds good in principle, at least.

This weekend should have seen WvW's Year Zero, of course, the full points reset that would have seen Sorrow's Furnace rise from the depths of T8 to first place in T1. I was quite looking forward to watching it play out, in the morbid way someone lacking empathy might look forward to a natural disaster. The WvW ranking table may well be as full of design flaws as a Dreamliner, but only a heartless theoretician could imagine the way to fix them would be to turn off the engines in mid-flight.

So, it's probably just as well that ANet made a U-Turn instead and flew the good ship WvW back to the safety of the old rankings. As any politician will tell you, though, U-Turns always make you look weak and that's certainly how I read this one. Hearing that they can't get the maths right to improve things so they're just going to leave them as they are hardly inspires confidence, either.

The Gathering Storm

Ominous, isn't it?
Moving on from WvW to what's actually in the February update, we come to the next installment of Flame and Frost. I second The Egg Baron. Someone hold a mirror to the mouth of the "Living Story", I think it might have died. A slow build-up of tension is all very well but this is like watching a glacier. Has anything changed at all in the last week?

Honey, is this yesterday's paper?
For this to work there need to be incremental changes at least every couple of days - I'd say daily. Instead we get the same inane, incoherent, logically inconsistent, unconvincing refugee mummer's play day in, day out, with the prospect in almost three weeks' time of this:

"more refugees hobble down from the Shiverpeaks. The storm there gains momentum, but the forces of good are beginning to rally".

Anyone know why we're here?
Oh goodie. More refugees and our side is "beginning" to think about doing something about it. I can hardly contain my excitement. I really hope this is ANet taking my earlier advice and under-promising. I'll be happy to eat my words and apologize for doubting them when they come through with the second half of that package and over-deliver.

And so on to 

The Rest:

A new PvP map. 

Since I have yet to set foot on a PvP map at all, I scarcely tremble at the prospect of a new one. Still, more maps are always welcome, I guess.

Two Team Rated Play in PvP

Otherwise known as Fair Fights. This might tempt me into PvP, although fear of getting pwned isn't what's stopping me now - that would be lack of interest.

Guild missions 

Mmm, maybe. If they are what The Egg Baron fears, events started by guilds that anyone can hop on to, then that's good. If they are exclusive to guild members, that takes GW2 further down the road I came to it to avoid. More information required. (What I want for guilds are more options of what to do with Guild Influence. There are only three of us in our guild and one of those hardly ever plays and yet we have 23k influence banked. Once we buy the Deep Cave there's nothing left we want).

Choose Your Own Daily Achievements

Not unwelcome, although since I like all the dailies I wasn't exactly clamoring for a change. No, it's the Monthly I have a problem with, not the Daily. Let's get some choice in there so I don't have to go in dungeons and dungeoneers don't have to do WvW.

And that's yer lot. Thin gruel, isn't it? 


  1. Great article! I see we have differing opinions on the Guild Events. I will be really interested to see where they go with those.

    I love WvW and have had the most fun in my GW2 playing time in WvW. I have also had the worst times. To say I am disappointed by the WvW updates not coming is a huge understatement, but at the same time I do not want to bash Anet for delaying it. I would much rather they continue to give us info in advance and I would also like to see it done right. None of this half assed crap we see in other areas of the game.

    But there are times when I just have to *face palm* and pretend Anet is that guy I don't know.

    1. WvW is like all player-driven content - unpredictable. The great thing about NPCs is they never decide they'd rather go out for a beer with the guys or finish the essay they should have done Tuesday. I'm fully expecting the new Achievement content to revolve around NPcs or Structures, not player-opponents.

      I don't think ANet are actually doing any *worse* at managing the immensely challenging task of operating a major MMO in a live environment than, say, SOE, Turbine, Trion or whoever you care to pick. The problem they have is that they talked such a good game for the five years up to launch everyone expected they'd do it *better*.

      Still a fantastic MMO and the only reason we all carp and complain is that we care. If we didn't we'd all be playing and writing about something else :P


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