Still, idle speculation is a hard habit to break and in any case I'm not sure I'd want to try. I'd rather indulge, frankly. So let's away.
I gave it just a passing mention earlier but one of the many undiscussed details is what will happen to Achievements. I suppose you could argue there's no particular reason to think anything's going to happen to them, of course. You could very well take the total silence on the subject for an indication that the status quo will roll on as before and maybe it will.
Achievements and the associated points and rewards have, however, been a very large part of GW2's core gameplay for almost the entire three-year life of the game. There's even a whole leaderboard dedicated to achievement-based epeen-waving, for heaven's sake. Given the attention, indeed prominence, previously allocated to the mechanic you might very well have expected it to feature heavily in the promotional build-up yet as far as I can tell it hasn't gleaned a single mention.
In game it's possible to look 2,000 points ahead so I can see as far as the 17,500 milestone. The current board leader sits at just under 30k AP. Does the breadcrumb trail lead on forever? Whether or no, the supply of points dries up eventually beyond the trickle from dailies and the like.
If HoT comes with the traditional full fat AP for map exploration and new content completed built in then a lot of people are going to get a huge leg-up the ladder. Since most of the rewards add meaningful percentage increases to basic account functions like rate of xp, gold and karma gain, could someone have spotted a potential problem with turning on a firehose of new achievements and decided it would be better instead to turn off the flow altogether?
Apart from forming something not far short of the spine of the game itself, Achievements were one of the lynchpins of the Living Story. The way they were used was tweaked between Season One and Season Two to add a supposed level of replayability to the packaged, instanced content we got second time around.
But then, the Living Story itself is another of those previously indispensable core features that's gone mysteriously missing. Since Season Two ended there has been not a word about any further episodes. Instead, all the attention has passed to the continuation of the Personal Story which, together with the narrative woven throughout the rest of the expansion, appears set to carry the storyline on to its conclusion.
My feeling is that the Living Story experiment is over and ANet are hoping that if no-one mentions it the players will forget it ever happened, what with the excitement of an expansion and a raft of massive and disruptive structural changes to keep them occupied. Instead we'll get some kind of nebulous, ongoing Living World (not that they're calling it that, as far as I know). In other words the same thing every other MMORPG has been doing for years.
It was while I was researching these absences that I came across the following direct quote from Colin Johanson embedded in this Eurogamer interview from January.
"We will never add more levels to the game, we will never add more tiers of gear to the game. The tiers and levels we have today will be the tiers and levels we have for the rest of the life of Guild Wars 2."
version of the game but I had been unaware the policy was being flagged up with such absolutist zealotry. Reading the quote I had two thoughts, one after the other:
- That sounds like the death-knell for my long term interest, then. If I can never level up again and never improve my gear I'm all the more likely to end up wandering off to somewhere where doing either or both of those is still a thing.
- Oh, maybe it doesn't mean quite what it looks like it means. Maybe it really means they don't plan on keeping GW2 running for very much longer. If they already have another project or a sequel in mind then naturally they wouldn't need to plan for the progression of their old game.
And even if they have no intentions of making another Guild Wars game, GW2 has taken three years and then some to get to its first expansion. If it takes as long again to get to the second then it'll have lasted longer than its predecessor. Maybe it will be about ready to be pensioned off by then even if there's nothing coming up to replace it and at such a glacially development pace I guess there wouldn't be much point planning for new levels or gear tiers.
It's more likely they're planning on running one of those MMOs that never ends, like Lineage or EverQuest but I wonder if that's a realistic option for post-WoW MMOs? Does that level of franchise loyalty still exist in the genre? And if they are thinking along those lines then maybe they should have stuck with the original. MMO sequels, especially sequels with the numeral "2" appended, don't seem to have that great a commercial track record, after all.
Oh well, just some idle speculation and conspiracy theorizing for a wet Wednesday afternoon. The week before the expansion comes is always a bit of a silly season. Because the rest of the time we're all always so frighteningly rational, aren't we?