Let's hope not, anyway. It would seem like an awful lot of fuss about nothing if, as I suspect might happen, the world just goes on turning in much the same old way. With game historians of the future in mind let's have a quick flip through the program and scribble down some notes while the orchestra's still tuning up.
Traits - A big change, for sure and, now I've had time to mull it around for a bit, one that I quite like, on paper at least. Hunting for traits in the wild sounds disturbingly like New Content, while being able to buy our way out of playing through parts of the game that we don't care for seems like a sound compromise. Being able to change trait builds free and on the fly is intriguing. Chances are I'll never remember to do it but so long as it remains "may" not "must" then I'll go along for the ride.
Runes and Sigils - Can't see any downside to this. A ridiculous amount of worthless runes and sigils rain down every day as I salvage the equally ridiculous downpour of worthless armor and weaponry. Probably three-quarters of them could vanish overnight and no-one would notice. Anything that streamlines the system has to be welcome although I don't see much in the blurb to suggest we'll see the back of all the +10% vs Dredge space-wasters and their pointless ilk.
|Famous last words|
Critical Damage - Nerf! Nerf! After a year of resisting the 'Zerker Meta I find I'm absolutely loving my Full Berserker Elementalist build, especially in WvW, where the supposed "Glass Cannon" factor rarely seems to come into play. Somehow, very few people seem to pay any attention to the Norn woman in dark blue lurking at the back even though she's raining continual fiery destruction on their heads and when the Commander yells "Push!" my main problem seems to be trying not to impersonate Sky Saxon. The number of times I've found myself behind the opposing zerg all on my own after two dodges and a Mist Form - and still they don't notice me, even as I pump fireballs into their backs!
I console myself with the thought that it's only supposed to be a 10% nerf and my DPS went up about 300% when I went berserk, so it shouldn't hurt too much. Of course, if a nerf doesn't feel like a nerf it probably won't shake the Meta up much either, assuming that was the intention.
Wardrobe - Replace a cumbersome system with a slightly less cumbersome one, so net gain, I guess. I'd peg this as one of the many income-driving changes, where the secondary, if not the primary, function is to drive more traffic to the Gem Store. Since I very rarely change the looks of my characters once I've got them how I like them (hard enough to remember who I'm playing as it is without having them confuse me by looking different) I don't see this affecting me greatly one way or the other. For a change that's long been demanded, though, forum response has been more mixed than you might expect. I wouldn't be surprised to see more tweaks to this as the months wear on.
|And put a sweater on, too!|
Dyes - Changes things to the way most players probably thought the system should have worked from the get-go. I'll be in a tiny minority in preferring it the way it was but it's hardly a major issue - give up a small degree of character individualization and a self-created mini-game (who gets which dye) in favor of undoubted convenience. The really annoying (and entirely player-unfriendly) aspect is the removal of dropped dyes, another change blatantly intended to increase ANet's income stream, albeit with the rather happier side-effect of allowing crafters a rare opportunity to make a little silver on the back of it.
Social Play Improvements - I had to re-read this one just to remind myself what these "improvements" were. Meh. And that's over-egging it.
Account Bound Changes - At last! The long-trailed move to account-based ranks for WvW is finally (almost) here. Again, another anti-character move but that ship sailed so long ago and there were so many planks missing it must have sunk even faster than this metaphor. I'm just going to go with it from now on - The Account is the Prime Directive - All hail The Account. Now just give me my furshlugginer points already!
As for account-bound ascended gear, that does make it slightly more likely I might one day get around to getting some. Legendaries? I should coco.
|Somehow the new champ bags didn't seem quite so exciting as the old ones...|
Repairs and Champion Loot - I think I learned the expression "Indian Giver" from a Superboy comic in about 1966. I was never entirely sure what it meant. and by now it's probably one of those turns of phrase that can no longer be uttered in polite society but I'm pretty sure it applies to ANet here. How the removal of the minuscule cost of repairing your armor, somewhere around 8 silver if you turn up at the repair shop in your underwear at level 80, is supposed to compensate for what might be a heavy nerf to cash income from Champion bags, any one of which can theoretically provide enough silver to pay your repair costs for the whole day, beats me and everyone else.
Mystic Forge - ANet buried that in the same announcement but I've pulled it out. It seems to have passed almost unnoticed. Hardly surprising because there's precious little information there. It's more just putting us on notice that big changes to the money pit often unfondly referred to as the Mystic Toilet are on the way. Could be good, could be terrible, except that the Forge is so terrible already any change almost has to be good.
|As opposed to all those other proverbially trustworthy genies?|
PvP Stuff - Pass. Oh, wait, no...that's just what these changes are supposed to stop me doing, aren't they? This whole everyone-must-play-all-parts-of-the-game trope that ANet desperately hope might catch on. Nope, sorry. Not playing. Next.
Megaserver - The Big One. Literally. Didn't see this coming. Don't much want it, either. I thought I'd again be in a tiny minority not getting out the flags and bunting for this but although first reaction was predictably positive, the sprawling threads all over the forums suggest that, given time to consider the implications, quite a few players could see the holes in the Emperor's New Clothes (yes, I know...).
|Can't have a Themepark without a Schedule|
A million increasingly angry questions and so far precious little in the way of answers. Oh, and that "all waypoints are now contested" thing? Why didn't you just schedule that for it's own Reveal and call it "Huge New Gold Sink"?
Guilds and the Future - And out we go with a whimper. I don't like guilds and I don't much care what happens to them in any game just so long as I can go on ignoring them. Plenty of bad feeling about this one from small guild players who do care, though. At least WvW is "safe" ... for now.
When ANet came up with the idea of rolling a whole lot of structural changes into one big "Feature Pack" and plonking it down in the gaping content hole between the end of Living Story Season One and the start of Living Story Season Two, some dev I can't be bothered to look up and link made the cardinal error of likening it to the amount of content you'd expect from an expansion. Cue frenzied forum speculation on the Coming of the Tengu, Dragons, Housing, Mounts and the Moon on a Stick.
|Happens to the best of us|
The Official Wet (Safety) Blanket was deployed to dampen down ardor and enthusiasm and someone probably got a right ticking off but in essence the comparison wasn't unwarranted. The Feature Pack does contain about as much in the way of structural and systemic change as the average MMO expansion. It just comes unsweetened by any actual content.
I'm sanguine. I no longer feel emotionally connected to Guild Wars in all its forms the way I am to, say, the Everquest franchise (as it now appears officially to be known). It's become no more nor less than a rather amusing, entertaining game that I play, not a virtual world in which I imagine I am living. On that basis I'm willing to entertain any changes that might make it more amusing or entertaining. Whether these are those changes only time will tell.
Oh, and there's one more similarity between the Feature Pack and a real expansion. I bet lots of these changes won't work properly for a good while and we'll be patching well into May before things settle down. Fun times ahead!