Wednesday, January 13, 2021

We Appreciate Power /s

Believe it or not, when I sat down to write yesterday's post I had no thought or intention even to mention Louise Wener or Sleeper. The whole point of the opening paragraph was to set a scene wherein I came home, sat down in front of the computer screen, spotted a new video for the next chapter of Guild Wars 2's Icebrood Saga, watched it and wondered why I even bother.

Only what happened was that in just a few keystrokes I was away on a journey so much more interesting, which, after all, was kind of the point. The thing about that promotional video for Power... No, hang on, let's have it so we know what we're talking about...


So, yeah, the thing about is this: I don't have a clue what any of this stuff they're promoting is. 

I play GW2 every day. Really, every day. On two accounts. Yesterday I played on three. I probably rack up thirty to forty-five minutes even on days when all I do is dailies. Most days I play two or three hours. I've been playing since launch. Eight years. Nearly nine years if you count the beta weekends.

I've played all of the Living Story episodes at least far enough to know what's going on. I'm curious about that part. I'd like to see what's happening in Ebonhawke. I want to know what Jormag's up to and what Primordius is planning.  

Problem is, I know that's going to be less than one per cent of the update. A lot less. Vanishingly small, in fact. The narrative exists only as a framing device for activities I neither understand nor care about.


What are "Dragon Response Missions"? I'm guessing they're some kind of repeatable, instanced content. I think it's those things they've taken to embedding in the storyline, where you take some confusing option from a menu on a portal and run around not having much clue what's happening until stuff updates and you can leave. Yeah, it must be those.

Then there are the "Allied Factions". Say what, now? And that's Skritt, is it? Is this any different from back in the original personal story, when we all had to decide which NPC races got to join the Pact? Because I chose Skritt then. Aren't they already our allies? Did they defect or something?

Sorry, it's starting to sound as if I care and I really don't. I know this is just some new grind designed to give achievers things to do until the expansion arrives. There's no good reason to get sucked in to that.

Ok, how about "New Upgrades and Faction Rewards"? Upgrades to what, exactly? Gear? We don't have a gear ladder, do we? I thought that was the point. I made my Ascended armor years ago and it's as good now as it was then. Since I never change my build I don't need Legendary, because all it does is let you swap easily between the same power levels you have at Ascended. Is there some other grade I missed? (No, there isn't).


As for those faction rewards, I guess those are the things I looked at on a vendor last time and couldn't see any reason to buy. Only now there are more of them. Whoop-di-do.

Are there people out there doing all this stuff? Why? What are they doing it for? If they get these upgrades, what are they using them for? Is there content that requires them? Am I missing something? Like the game, maybe?

Here's what I do in GW2. World vs World and World Bosses. Holiday events. Three hours of Living World story every couple of months. Once in a great while some map completion or a fragment of personal story. Most of it content that was in the game when it started. Oh, and sometimes I do some Heart of Thorns stuff for fun. Because I like it. 

The great thing about GW2 is that, after eight and a half years, pretty much all of the original content is still populated, active, meaningful and even busy. Same with a lot of the stuff that's been added since. If you feel like doing Dragon's Stand, the two-hour long epic finale from the expansion before last, which hasn't been current endgame content for years, you can. There are squads doing it every day. You can find them in LFG. 

Only last night a guild was recruiting in open chat for people to come join them for Triple Trouble, content introduced in 2014. It takes organization, co-operation and a lot of people and it still gets done. Every day. 

Even in the minor leagues content persists. Two days ago I logged in to Metrica Province and got swept up in an organized attempt to beat back the invading hordes sent by Joko as part of his failed invasion.  Joko got eaten by Aurene the Magic Dragon long ago. He's not invading anywhere any more only no-one told his armies. The events go on and people still do them as though it mattered. 

I don't know any other mmorpg that's managed to keep so much content so relevant for so long. Almost everything that's ever been added is still being done and not just by the inevitable one or two oddballs. It's being done by groups and squads and teams and because of the way the game was originally conceived passers-by are being sucked in and they're doing it too.

And there you have the nub of it. All of that content is out in the open world, not locked away in instances. If the upcoming invasion of Ebonhawke happens in the real Ebonhawke I'll eat these words. But I'm betting it won't. It will be hived away in an instance as a "Dragon Response Mission", meaning it can be packaged and sold in the Gem store when this chapter of the Saga is replaced by the next.

Which is why I'll probably never see it again after I do it the one time required by the story. And why I really can't bring myself to care any more. Only, for all the same reasons I just gave, I'll still go on playing. I'll still keep logging in, every day.

So I don't imagine Anet care that I don't care. Why would they?


  1. GW2 is so odd. The fact that levels and gear never progress is something I love in almost equal measure to how much I hate. It's great being able to come back after (sometimes) literally years away and still have 'current' gear.

    It's fantastic that I can walk into an end-game zone from any era of the game and find it populated and *worth* visiting, as you've called out in this post.

    I don't think any game in this genre ever has quite achieved that feat. An achievement down to I think the dual impacts of the never-changing gear and the free to play base game.

    But I only ever delve into GW2 every so often to actually play. I'll login to 'collect' the living story rather than having to buy it later and I'll jump back for new expansions etc -- but at least with how I approach MMOs, after that story content is done there is just nothing left for me.

    I'm very much not a fan of dailies. In GW2 I'd often get them done incidentally while playing (which in my view, are the best kinds of dailies) but I have no compelling incentive to otherwise go out of my way for them.

    I miss the chase for improvement through gear though. I miss the chance to then put that gear to use through challenge-modes in dungeons and the like. I understand that GW2 added raids some time back (although I have no idea if this was an area that ever received continued development past the first two, or whether it was left to languish like dungeons more generally were).

    For all that though, I suppose the conclusion is similar. If I'm still going to buy into the expansion anyway (which is likely) then ANet really has no compelling reason to care about what I care about.

    1. I feel exactly the same way and it kind of gets worse (or better) the longer the game goes on. For the first few years it was relatively easy to convince yourself there was some kind of progression. It was quite difficult (or expensive) for a casual-minded player to get a full set of Ascended, for example. As time goes on, though, even those benchmarks become trivial and the ones above are just matters of how much time you care to spend grinding gold.

      The big change over the years for me has been how I think of World vs World. In the first 18 months I rarely visited the Mists. Mrs Bhagpuss got heavily into it long before I did, though, and that drew me in until eventually it became the main part of the game for both of us. Eventually that tailed off as ANet made poor decision after poor decision on how to handle the mode but of late it's really picked up again and now for both of us GW2 pretty much *is* WvW. That kind of open-world PvP with scores and objectives has the longevity and resilience of a team sport and of course it benefits hugely from not having any kind of gear ladder.

      I think on balance I like it that GW2 is how it is but I sure wouldn't want a lot of other games to copy it. One or two like this is plenty.

  2. I so rarely recognize the musical references in your titles it's a rare treat when I do.

    Fun fact: I listened to this song heavily for inspiration when writing my TSW D&D campaign.

    1. Grimes is one of those artists I'm always aware of but never really pay close attention to. After I watched the video for this one yesterday, though, I had it in my head all day. I'm going to have to take some time to get to know her better.


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