Relentless Gamers

Gamers without Remorse

Category Archives: Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars Endgame Woes

As many of you know from reading this blog, I love Guild Wars 2. The game is beautiful and well designed. However, there was some concern about endgame in it. It seems that those concerns aren’t without merit.

When the game launched, the massive Dynamic Events on Orr and other zones were supposed to be the X to Y replacement for raiding. The ability to experience group content without the exclusivity of raiding. While these were amazing to experience, the events started to feel stale and missing the challenge of raiding.

ArenaNet wanted to bring a new type of endgame to the playing field. Allowing the whole world to be accessible and challenging at max level. Exploring new areas, discovering new vistas and solving jumping puzzles. They didn’t want raids because they were a treadmill of doing content to get gear, to do more content.

After playing for a few months, I find myself growing bored with the endgame they propose. I can only level so many characters (not an altaholic like some) and I can only do so many dungeons or fractals before I miss raid nights.

So why doesn’t ArenaNet want raids? As I mentioned above, they didn’t want a treadmill. But I have to ask, with the design of the 5 man content being that you do Explorables to get tokens to buy good looking gear. You need to run a single dungeon many times to get a full set. That’s a Treadmill. You run Fractals to get to harder content so you can get better (Ascended) gear. So you can do harder content. That’s a treadmill. So why not larger group content?

I believe that if done correctly, it could work well in their game. ArenaNet has designed content to be mostly Horizontal. Gear gained from doing content isn’t any better than any other gear pieces of the same quality earned elsewhere. So crafted gear is just as good as a Dungeon Set. The same idea could apply to Raid content. Skins or tokens would be earned for doing raids, nothing outside of the power level already established elsewhere.

What horizontal progression does for PVE content is make it all relevant. Gaining new gear doesn’t make old content any easier. Only the skill of the group you’re with. So raids that came out months or years ago are still fun and challenging content as the newer content.

So what content should be in raids if GW2 was to include them? Personally, I think side stories should be raid content and major events (say, fighting Jormag himself) would be a world Dynamic Event. Say before the event, Anet released a 10 man raid where a group of heroes uncover the location of Jormag from one of his minions. Because of this, the kingdoms of Tyria have started to move on Jormag in his lair, which is where the world events kick off.

Additionally, I think the fractal design could be a good 10 man setting. Constantly working towards higher and higher level fractals with a larger group of players. This is the very definition of progression, which many of us want in Guild Wars 2.

Will ArenaNet ever include Raids? Possibly. I think they’ve been fairly good at addressing gaps in gameplay that are missing. But they do seem to have a rather distaste for the concept of raiding. Hopefully they would reconsider their position and address it in the GW2 style and change it to fit their game. Without it, many players from other games wont make the move to GW2. Raiders might make a minority of players, ignoring them would be a bad move on ArenaNet’s part.

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The Hype Train – SWTOR vs. GW2’s Hype!

There’s a lot of people out there comparing the hype behind SWTOR and GW2. While they both had a lot of attention placed on them before launch and a lot of people really got excited for both, I’ll just tell you now.. the two hype machines were completely different.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: 

Bioware, known for it’s amazing narrative in their single player RPGs such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age and of course Knights of the Old Republic. People were excited about SWTOR for a number of reasons. Mostly because the idea of an KoTOR MMO really sounded amazing. Mostly people had built up the idea of what the game would be like in their head. EA/Bioware did a good job of telling people about their grand ideas throughout the development process. People really couldn’t wait to see this amazing new MMO that promised a true story and choices for your character.

However, here’s where things started to go wrong. EA with it’s massive budget, really pushed the game around launch time. It’s widely thought that they pushed for the game to get released early, and using media to try to get as many buy-ins as possible. Here, they spent millions on advertising for the game. They created a level of hype well above the expectations of those who knew better. So far, at this point, most everyone in the world hadn’t gotten their hands on the game for more than a few hours during one of the few beta weekends.

So we have lots of talk from the Developers about what makes the game great. The beta testers were largely under lock and key from NDAs. So by law, they couldn’t tell people what flaws they saw. By the time the game launched, the media hype had blow so big that people were declaring the game “Game of the Year” (Gamespy) and singing it’s praises.

 

Guild Wars 2

7 years in the making, ArenaNet had been researching and developing this game. They spent some time talking about their design philosophies and ideas, but mostly they were just working on the game. In fact, there were a few times that the press had to ask “Are you guys still working on Guild Wars 2?”

It wasn’t until late last year that press screenshots and interviews started to happen. Some gameplay footage here and there, but mostly nothing to really call home about. It wasn’t until the press betas that things really started to take off for ArenaNet. When the press got ahold of the game and started playing it, they started talking about it. Showing gameplay videos, telling people about the experience, etc. This got people interested and excited.

It’s important to note this here: ArenaNet didn’t give a press release, scripted reply or otherwise tell the press what they should say. They simply let the game tell the story. Good experiences bred good reviews.

Players got excited about the prospect of a game that has so much promise that they signed up for beta and hoped to be one of the lucky who’ll get to play the game. Once pre-purchase beta weekends went live, people started talking about the game a lot. Again, the press only reported on what their experiences were and players were only talking to others about their experiences. Word of mouth spread fast.

As you can see, there’s a big difference in how GW2 was hyped over SWTOR. SWTOR relied on a media blitz backed by millions of dollars of advertising budgets. Guild Wars 2 didn’t have to do that. They simply allowed people to talk about the game and how great it was. So far, Rift was the only other game that came close, but they too also had a media blitz campaign with their “Not in Azeroth anymore” ads.

Guild Wars 2 Launch Date Announced!

In a surprise post after yesterday’s stress test, ArenaNet announced today that Guild Wars 2 would launch on 8-28-12.

This is sooner than I expected by about a month. The results of the last beta weekend and yesterday’s stress test must have been better than I had thought. With just one more beta weekend before launch, August is a welcome date for many of us waiting for this game. Now we’re just counting down the days until our game goes live!

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend #2 Review

Like thousands of players around the internet, I engulfed myself into the second beta weekend of Guild Wars 2. This time, I was accompanied by some more friends and my wife. They’ve heard me talking about GW2 for months and heard me raving about the game since the first event. Naturally, they wanted me to shut up, so they decided to try it in order to see what I’m talking about. They all loved it.

I started the weekend playing my Norn Guardian. I ported over to Lion’s Arch and took some time to take in the sights. I ended my Tour of LA by taking a dive off the Skydive.

I went to the Charr area and helped my Wife quest in her zone. I was quite happy with the ability to quest in lower level zones with friends and get decent XP. I was 15 and gained 3 levels before moving on. Not great, but certainly not worthless.

I spent some time on an Elementalist. The feel of the Profession is similar to other “Mages” from other games, but being able to switch to different elements put a nice twist on things. You can literally cast a spell that goes on cooldown, swap elements and hit them with something that synergies with the last spell, etc.

I played a Warrior until 14, and I think I’m in love. I love a good melee class, but the ability to have a viable (and powerful) ranged build was there as well. I was able to kill mobs quickly and effectively, allowing me to level quite fast. I’ll probably be playing this in the next BWE and live.

Some things that still need some love with the game:

  • Gathering: Having to purchase stacks of one-time use tools isn’t a very elegant design. Having them break on you with no warning isn’t a good design. I’d rather spend some coin on a single tool that will last me until the next one is needed.
  • World vs. World: While I loved the battles and the strategy behind it, having a single waypoint to respawn at makes things very boring if you die someplace where it’s hard for others to revive you. Alternatively, I think they could put in Way points that teams can capture that would make for a fun twist on the strategy.

All in all, I had a blast. I really can’t see this game launching any earlier than September. We have at least one more beta weekend for bug testing, then I’d think at least a stress test to ensure those bugs were fixed. Give it about a month between and some time to go to press and get boxes to retailers and that puts this somewhere around September.

My only problem now is.. what do I do until then? Play TERA? I could, but as great as the game has been, it just feels like a poor substitute for GW2. And Diablo 3 gets old fast. Guess I’ll figure it out.

Guild Wars 2 release date leaked?

Yesterday, reports around the net exploded with a potential release date of the much anticipated Guild Wars 2. According to the Fry’s retail advertisement, the game would be released by June 28th.

But how accurate is this information? If you ask me, it seems a little soon. While the game play and the environments seem polished from the Betas I have played personally, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done with the game engine. As of yesterday, the game engine was still not fully optimized. It still primarily ran on one core of your CPU for both game play and rendering and only a little on the GPU. Crossfire/SLI also not yet available.

These are not small fixes and will likely take more betas before we start to see real improvement. At the rate in which ArenaNet is going with their Beta Weekends, we should have one over Memorial Day Weekend (hopefully an extended weekend) and another just before the supposed release date. This leaves us with only two betas, maybe three if they squeeze one in right before the date (like TERA did with Open Beta). Hardly enough time to flesh out all the content and engine issues.

We have seen what releasing a game before it’s ready can do to a game with so much potential. A good example of this would be Age of Conan. The game was dubbed by Funcom and their fans, “The best MMO Ever created.” It released a whole 8 months ahead of schedule due to demand from it’s fans and criticism that it took too long on development. Within 2 months, the subscription numbers dropped to half, and PVP was largely the only thing that carried that game.

Even if I’m wary of the date, I can’t help but get excited about the prospect of playing this game every day in just over a month.

End Game without Raids

It’s been a recent trend for new AAA MMOs to launch without End Game raiding like that found in games such as World of Warcraft, Rift, Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Being that my roots in MMO communities are in guilds that Raid, I can say I’m fairly concerned about this trend. Part of being part of a guild for me is the ability to make a larger team of guild players and take on difficult content. To me, this is the pinnacle of being in a guild.

Many veteran players of games like Guild Wars and other games without End Game raiding will tell me that there’s no need for it in the modern day MMO. Personally I’ve not yet been sold on this opinion. En Masse/Bluehole Studios used to take this stance with TERA, but have since opened up to the idea of Raiding, experimenting with it using the Nexus mechanics. But still, this is not guild organized raiding.

Playing through the Guild Wars 2 beta this last weekend, I was impressed with the level of gameplay and polish put into this MMO. The Dynamic events seem fun and very much “Raid Like” in some cases (such as the Shadow Behemoth event). However, there aren’t going to be any raids in this game. This seems like a complete shame, as the game lends itself very well to a raiding environment.

If there’s no raiding in the end game of MMOs like Guild Wars 2, what will they provide us to occupy our time at Max Level? I’ve heard people say PVP and Doing 5 man dungeons. But this seems a bit short sighted to me. With a game title such as “Guild Wars” I imagine doing more with our guild as a team.

I ask you, do you think End Game Raiding is necessary?

If not, what would you do for guilds wanting End Game content that the guild can do together in games like Guild Wars 2.

Please avoid telling me to play something else, etc. Let’s brain storm together.

Guild Wars 2 BWE impressions

The Guild Wars 2 beta was everything I had hoped it would be. I played around with the Thief, Engineer, Guardian, Warrior and Ranger. So far, I am really liking my Guardian and Ranger.

The game plays like a traditional MMO (unlike GW1 which was only an MMO when in cities). The questing system was fun and felt dynamic. There were static quests for you to go and do on the map. Just walk within the quest range and the quest activates with instructions. Then there’s the dynamic events that happen from time to time.

The game is free to play after you buy the game. To fund the games servers and development there’s a Cash Shop. They offer things like costumes, the ability to keep the stats from one item and the look of another. There’s also some XP bonus items that provide XP bonuses from killing monsters. This SOUNDS like a big bonus, but when you see how little XP you get from killing things, it’s not a huge deal. You can also trade in gems for gold. This wasn’t active yet, so I don’t know the exchange rate, so this could be game breaking or it could be really expensive. With as much thought as ArenaNet put into the other parts of the game, I imagine they will experiment on this and find a nice balance.

Didn’t get to PVP much (too engrossed in the beginning areas for the 3 races available at start). Leveling was slow for me, but I also spent a lot of time trying out the different classes to see what I want to spend time playing next time around.

All in all, I’m very impressed with the game and I’m torn on where my time will be spent. But without end game raids I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when I hit 80.