Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Promised Guild Wars 2 Explanation

So, I've retreated from Guild Wars 2.  It's not a bad game, I just don't really have the drive to play it.

The first reason I stopped playing GW2 is simple: My computer is old and doesn't run it very well.  I'd like to actually be able to enjoy the game, and this includes being able to get more than one frame every few seconds when a lot of stuff is happening on screen.

The second reason is a group of reasons under the same header: Things it does that I disagree with.
  • GW2 was billed as a Guild Wars MMO.  But it plays more like an MMO set in the Guild Wars universe.  Basically, they put too much standard MMO stuff in GW2 for my tastes.
  • ArenaNet was trying to change the MMORPG for the better with GW2, and I respect that desire.  The most notable change is the lack of a dedicated healing profession.  That alone sets it apart from pretty much every role-playing game ever.  I have kind of a love-hate relationship with this, because I like that they were bold enough to try it, but the self-healing skills they gave all the classes can only mitigate your health loss, they can never result in net health gain during a battle.  There are skills that can be used to heal allies (Elementalist Water Magic, basically), but they're much of the same.
  • There is a lot of grind in the game, and this is unusual given how ArenaNet was specifically trying to reduce the amount of grind associated with MMORPGs.  Experience grinding they eliminated pretty well, simply by giving you experience for literally everything you do, even non-combat things like simply exploring the map.  But there are many other sources of grind in the game, and I can't overlook them.
  • The crafting professions.  They're unnecessary.  Get rid of them and go back to the GW1 method of crafting items: Get materials, give materials to crafting NPC along with some money, get crafted item.  It was a perfect system and never needed changing.  The crafting professions add a lot of grind to the game.
  • Related to the crafting professions, the method of gathering the materials required to progress them.  You have to buy not one, not two, but three separate tools to gather all the resources, and those tools have a limited number of uses.  Furthermore, some things require a tool to be made from a specific material in order to be gathered.  Also, the resource nodes move around periodically.
  • The level curve of a bunch of the lower-level areas never felt right.  I always found myself trying to fight things several levels higher than me just because I wanted to explore and was tired of fighting on the same few patches of land.  In the betas I noticed that the Charr 1-15 area was pretty good level curve-wise, and used that area for all of my characters thereafter, regardless of race.
  • The "sidekick" system, or perhaps better referred to as "the downlevelling system".  I have a love-hate relationship with this.  On one side, in GW1 it was always annoying to play with low level characters (perhaps your friends who have just gotten the game) because they never felt the full challenge since you were able to one-hit everything in the areas you were helping them go through with your max-level, max-armor, max-gear, awesome skill set character.  In that regard, automatically downlevelling the player to the area they're in allows all players around them to feel the proper level of challenge.  But in doing so, you forfeit any kind of noticeable strength gain or sense of achievement.  It's impossible to utilize your character's full potential because in the areas designed for your level, you'll have a lot of challenge, and if you go somewhere else to try to gain the satisfaction of killing something in fewer hits than you used to, surprise, you get downlevelled and it still takes the same number of hits as it always did.  Make the system check for other characters within a specific range of you and downlevel everyone in the area to the average level of all players in the area, rather than making hours upon hours of gameplay time useless.  I'm sorry, it's embarrassing to die in a level 1 area as a level 42 character.
  • Speaking of death, an armor breaking/repair system?  Really?  Get that shit off my waffle.  GW1 did just fine without it, there's no reason to add it here.  Especially when you said that, and I quote, "death is the penalty".  The repair system basically adds a monetary penalty to each death.
  • The dye system needs work.  I love the range of dye colors, and I understand that they wanted some dye colors to be harder to obtain than others.  That was in GW1.  But what wasn't in GW1: having the availability of dye colors be character-specific.  Why did someone think this was a good idea?
  • They got rid of the compass showing you enemies and your aggro radius.  Why?  It was so useful.  Coupled with names on anything being occluded by terrain features, and you'll constantly be accidentally running into more than you can handle, and then when retreating you'll get patrolled up on.
  • Underwater combat is incredibly lacking.  The handful of available underwater skills are awkward to use at best.  Also, when you decide to surface, the camera gets hung up on the surface of the water and won't go above it until you reach the surface.
  • I like what they did with having half your skill bar be dependent on the type of weapons you're using, but they could have taken it further.  Once you settle on a weapon combo that works for your play style, your first five skill slots will be the same old boring skills all throughout the game.  Why not let suitably rare weapons have different skills?  It would reward the player for going through the effort required to get the item and give them a sense of achievement.
  • Melee combat is awkward because the melee range skills don't move you into melee range of your target when you use them.
  • Three tiers of "max" items?  Really?  That's so WoW.  What was so wrong with the GW1 method of having max gear be simple and easy to obtain?
  • I love the sheer versatility of the GW2 Elementalist.  I think in all my posts about GW2 I've made this point blatantly clear.  So explain to me then, why do all of the Elementalist's traits force you onto just one or two elements?  And why can't I weapon swap between a staff and dual daggers without first having to leave combat?  I know the reason why Elementalists didn't get weapon swapping is because they have attunement swapping to change their first five skill slots, but the Elementalists' traits make players less likely to attunement swap.  Also, Engineers got shafted on the weapon swap front as well.  Do all the different kits and turrets and whatnot really warrant artificial removal of versatility?
  • Also, regarding traits: Severe monetary cost to re-spec your traits?  Seriously?  Bring back the ease of re-adjusting attribute levels when in town like in GW1.  Except, make that "when out of combat" instead.
  • Elite skills saw a huge change in GW2.  They're no longer the skill you lean on, use the most often, and no longer the keystone of your build.  Rather, they're the exact opposite now, they're the skill you keep as your "ace in the sleeve", to whip out when your normal approach is useless.  They work quite well for that purpose, but the recharge times.  Holy fuck, those recharge times.  They're ridiculous.  Trim them down a bit and Elite skills might become a bit more useful.  By the way, I've only seen a few of the Elementalist Elite skills, and of the ones I have, Summon Fiery Greatsword is by far my favorite.  Nothing keeps a group of enemies guessing like an Elementalist running into melee to beat their asses with a huge fucking greatsword that's on fire.  Well, I lied.  Nothing keeps a group of enemies guessing like an Elementalist and that Elementalist's buddy both running into melee to beat their asses with huge fucking greatswords that are on fire.  Since you get two when you use the skill, one for yourself and one on the ground for an ally to pick up.
Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that somewhere along the line of developing their Guild Wars MMO, ArenaNet let way too much of the MMO creep into Guild Wars.  Despite all of this, I still want to play the game, but now I know what I'm really playing.  In the meantime, you can find me in GW1.

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