Monday, August 4, 2014

Double The Fun : GW2

One aspect of my GW2 metagame that I don't mention as often as I might is the fact that I play two accounts. I don't multi-box, even though it is allowed under the rules, as this official ruling on the forums comprehensively clarifies. That's not why I got two accounts in the first place.

It was less than a month after launch that I decided I needed more character slots than the five that came with the box. I could have paid to add more to my existing account as and when needed but it was obvious that if I did that I would end up paying more than the cost of buying another copy of the game. So I bought another copy of the game.

As the direction and emphasis of GW2's development has twisted and turned that decision has lost little of its luster. ANet's controversial decision to add a new tier of equipment, Ascended, appeared initially to pose a potential problem, but I dealt with that very effectively by simply not bothering to get any.

The addition of a separate pool of experience and purchased abilities for World vs World was a little more awkward. At first, when WXP and ranks were tallied on a by-character basis, having two accounts felt like an advantage. After all, every character was in direct competition with every other for those points so having one designated WvW character on each account allowed me to play two classes in the Mists without feeling I was undercutting the progress of either. With all WvW functionality now converted to an account basis, though, I do occasionally find myself totaling all my ranks across two accounts and thinking how many extra abilities I'd be able to buy if they were all on the same team.

Here's a clue: it looks nothing like a wolf

On balance, though, after two years I am still very pleased that I have two accounts. Not only does it mean I have double the bank slots and the extremely useful ability to mail things to myself (seriously, why is that not just allowed on a single account like it is in every other MMO?) it also means I get to do everything twice.

I love doing my dailies in GW2. I really enjoy it. Unless I'm away on holiday I do them every single day. Not because I want anything they give as the 1300 or so unspent Laurels across the two accounts amply demonstrates. No, I just like doing them and being able to do them twice every day adds enormous value to the game.

Even better than double dailies are double helpings of the Living Story. For the whole of Season One I did just about every single stage all the way through, twice, including all of the meta-achievements. Better yet, it meant that I was always able to play through the whole of each episode for the first time without worrying about missing anything. Then, when I'd had my spoiler-free, immersive experience I was able to go back and do it all again, knowing what to expect.

Being able to repeat all the steps allowed me to judge my initial, unprepared reactions against my later, informed ones. Very useful indeed when it comes to writing blog posts and taking the necessary screenshots. After all, if I was writing a review of a book, I wouldn't expect to do so without at least re-reading certain passages if not the entire text.

Told you.
 And now here we are in Living Story Season Two. Suddenly all the LS content is repeatable. Has that reduced the value or attraction of maintaining two accounts? Well, it might have if it wasn't for the change to how Living Story Achievements work.

The main motivation for repeating the instanced content has been placed squarely on these "challenging" tasks and as the screenshot of my LS2 Achievement Panel shows, it really hasn't clicked with me. I don't like the new type of achievements. Not at all. And if I don't like content in MMOs I don't do it.

You could argue that all achievements are artificial but these feel a lot more bogus than most simply because they require such premeditated intent. It's one thing for an achievement to pop up because you just killed your one-thousandth Woozle but it's another thing entirely to buy a Woozle farm, breed a thousand Woozles and then kill them. Or something.  It just feels wrong, alright?

I also don't like how nit-pickingly precise they are. They have no margin for error. They require you, for example, never to let a certain kind of attack hit you or not to allow any of a particular kind of NPC to die. I don't like negative achievements of that stripe. I much prefer positive ones that require me to kill or collect all the things, achievements where the limiting factor is my patience and determination not my manual dexterity or good fortune, the kind of achievements that can fill themselves in organically as I go about my regular business of, say, killing and skinning Woozles.

And likely to stay that way.
And another thing! It's a bit like the first thing, I'll grant you, but subtly different. I don't like the underlying concept of repeating instanced, narrative-based content specifically to gain achievements. It feels cheesy. I don't even feel comfortable dying and respawning in a story-based instance because it feels too computer-gamey so going back in to replay sequences for personal gain was never going to sit well.

Fortunately, so far in three episodes I've made it all the way through without dying each time on my initial run. Okay, Rox had to revive me more than once on Duke Barradin's Statue but hey, she's my team-mate. That's allowed! Twice through each instance has been plenty though. I shudder at the thought of doing them much more than that. As the Season rolls on I can't say that I won't cherry-pick the odd, quick or easy achievement here or replay a particularly enjoyable section on several characters there. I'm neither a saint nor a sanctified roleplayer after all. But on the whole having just two bites at this particular cherry feels about right.

As ArenaNet modify and morph their game into something further and further away from what it was back at launch the day may come when having two accounts feels like a burden rather than a bonus but that day's not here yet nor even on the horizon as far as I can see. Should it ever come then maybe one team will have to retire gracefully. Sure. Like that's going to happen...


  1. How the heck did we manage to time a post about GW2's latest run of Living Story achievements so closely, while coming from two entirely different perspectives altogether? :)

    1. Heh! I actually sat down to bounce off Ravious's post and say why I thought this episode was weaker than the first two but I got sidetracked. I had no intention of even mentioning achievements when started writing.


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