A Horizontal Handicap in GW2

Yep, I’m back once more to get all critical on exactly what Guild Wars 2 is doing wrong in my usual over exaggerated ranting style. Everything is a bit too positive right now with the recent blog enticing us with future plans and I thought why not counterbalance.

Today dear Anet I will be tearing apart your attempts at horizontal progression since, in my opinion you got it so very very wrong. Sorry but as I travel down your narrow path and look at your horizon I see a barren wasteland, oh and those trees I found turned out to be cardboard cut outs. I have played your average vertical progression theme park and been more excited with the fluff pieces than I am here.

I admit I was excited to hear way back that GW2 was forsaking the the usual forced vertical progression grind in favour of a more horizontal approach. I have never really enjoyed banging my head against the raid wall, I have done it and even enjoyed it if there was something at the end I want. I think I would have been 30+ runs of Chalmers Cauldera in Rift just so I could pilfer Caelia’s storm touched dress. But if there is nothing there for me and no advantage to be gained I really can’t be bothered.

So being done with that was a blessing and I was looking forward to a game that was more about the various other methods of progression that don’t just include gear. But my question dear Guild Wars is where is this fabled horizontal progression. I have looked and I see glimmers here and there, I have a few souvenirs to prove it but it is hardly what I would deem adequate. And that one extremely bright shiny on the horizon is too far off for me to worry about.

Pretty Pixels

I see a complex web of mechanics revolving around getting better gear yet this gear doesn’t even make me look pretty being only accessories. What’s the deal with that? I thought horizontal progression was meant to be about just gaining more stuff rather than better stuff. I admit I don’t care in the slightest about completing a daily, I haven’t even looked at that achievement in over a month now but it still feels like I’m missing out a little on a mechanic that could have revolved around interesting armor/weapon skins. If I’m going to grind for something then it should be meaningful, a few extra stats is not.

Even if it did offer the most amazingly awesome outfit I would still probably consider whether or not to bother because this whole transmutation and costume system is just plain stupid. A big part of horizontal progression in just about every mmo is finding new awesome costumes to collect. One of my new years wishes was a functional cosmetic system and we still have this pathetic, restrictive, and annoying system. How you created a system so unintuitive to the actual job it was supposed to do I will never know. It was the intern wasn’t it..please tell me it was.

When I have spent hours saving up to purchase a new piece either for the looks or the stats I do not want to lose it due to circumstances I shouldn’t have to. I will lose it to degradation quite happily, even if it’s pilfered of my corpse is ok, but losing it simply because I want to change my look is not. I want to be able to use the items I earned when and how I feel but I can’t. Everytime I want to change my look I have to struggle with an extremely hard decision of destroying the pieces I love and worked for. I feel like that doll face from saw is asking if I want to play a game, choose who will die… It’s just freekin sadistic!

I have squireled away quite a few pieces in my bank of varying costumes on different gear sets just to try and avoid the system but it isn’t enough and after a few times transmuting over armor and then having to reaquire it I no longer want to play that game anymore. I even have a half row in the bank just for backpacks which I’m too scared to use since it either means destroying my fluffy quggan or going without one of my rare ascended pieces. You know what, that sadistic system can burn in hell and your pretty pixels are becoming meaningless since what’s the point if I’m not going to use them.

Ahh the town clothes you say, let me just dry reach a second in the corner here. Did you know, I could probably count the number of hours I have spent in Lions Arch on my fingers, the other towns aren’t even worth counting. Do you expect me to just stand around in lions arch proclaiming to the masses that they should be admiring my new skirt that I purchased in the cash shop (for ridiculous prices too), well be damned with that I tell thee! There is a wide world out there to explore, not to mention upholding ones honour within the mists and if I can’t wear what I want than be damned with it. It’s sad though, how a game could get this so wrong when there are plenty around including its original doing it better.

What’s in a name

Syp brought up the stinginess in titles during his last post and I have to agree. Haha, I just checked and I have 6, seriously, 10 months of playing and I have a handful of titles I don’t use and that aren’t even that interesting. I still don’t have any freekin wvw ones and I would say about 3/4 of my 800 hours would have been there, Pathetic. You have one of the most extensive achievement sections I’ve ever seen, so much so that I think your true calling was creating facebook games and apps, yet you don’t attach a title to them. How hard is a freekin title, it just involves basic writing skills and maybe a little imagination or is that in short supply these days.

I know titles might sound like fluff, and they are, but horizontal progression is meant to embrace this side rather than shun it. Titles can actually provide people with certain in game goals surrounding points of activities. It is nice to show off the chalenges you’ve completed and the areas of the game you have focused on to others. It’s a matter of principle and pride to some but also a tool for fuelling gamers inflated ego’s, both are equally important. They are also a great reminder of were you’ve been for those times you want to reminis.

They can also be tied into existing content in order to invigorate players interest in it. You don’t need to create new content just follow along with players interests. A few more titles for certain dungeon and fractal achievements, some for open world events, mini-games, maybe even a title for killing the Skritt burglar a certain amount of times. It can serve to hold players interest far more than just an achievement ticked off and just as much as any new backpack skin if the title is interesting enough… That is if they’re actually achievable within a reasonable time.

They don’t have to be all serious either, add a little whimsy and charm to the world with the implementation of unusual, comical, or downright stupid names. Some of my favourites titles I’ve earned and proudly worn were rather childish, I wore the dances with squirrels title for many many months in Rift.

Skillin

When your characters progression at max level mainly involves gear grinding you took a wrong turn at the WoW thrift shop and shoveled all the basic features into your trolley. Think bigger, we’ve done all that before many many many times before. It’s honestly just tiring at this stage and doesn’t promote good gameplay, all it is is boring.

Where did you go wrong, I read about your early foray into the mmo scene and one of the best parts of the game is suddenly missing here. Collecting skills is a more personal version of pokemon except your not just collecting a yellow rat but changing the way you play. I realise you don’t want people who play more than those who don’t to be more powerful, but that’s just a bit silly now isn’t it when you already added an extra tier of gear with a huge time factor attached. They don’t even need to be that strong just different.

Utilities would be excellent of course but don’t just stop there. New traits to use, new weapons, and maybe even new skills that swap with certain skills on the weapon set. Come on, after swinging the same sword, the same way while leveling and after it’s getting a bit stale. Also why not add an extra layer of customisation and allow people to unlock or find new interesting animations for certain key skills.

And let’s face it, traits are just a restrictive version of the typical talent tree with half the charm and less customisation . You made it look kind of new but it really is the same thing. I always thought this needed to be a bit grander, add a couple more whole trait lines, let as mix and match minors from a pool as well. There is so much more that could be done to make skill customisation more in depth and add a greater range of builds to choose from.

Should I address the abysmal rate with which you are balancing the minimal traits already in order to provide people with greater build options. That’s not to say I wouldn’t love to have them and I’m really quite excited here that your working on not only new skills and traits but weapons as well but at the rate you’re going I don’t hold much hope for new, interesting, and balanced traits in the near future. Did the living story teams somehow poach all the best people from the balancing department.

Housing

Honestly where the hell is it. Your lacklustre attempt at making a more personal space for players is quite frankly a joke. I would have thought the first subject in Horizontal progression 101 was giving players a personal space with which to spend copious amounts of time collecting for and decorating. Are you still stuck in the past? All the cool kids are doing it now and if done right can be an integral part of gameplay, add to long term potential, and even be a focal point for communities.

Tie it in with the shinies, titles, achievements, crafting… Screw it housing should be apart of everything and OMG do you realise the profit potential. Creating costumes is obviously soooo hard and time consuming with modelling to different sizes and genders and all that clipping nonsense. Here all you do is create a 3d model and your done.. Ready to ship. It’s a freekin printing press waiting to happen. Make a gold sink too and you’ll be rolling In it by the end of the month all the while laughing hysterically.

Minipets

Seriously wtf is up with you and creating a hundred billion things that clog up the bank and bags. You made your achievement and daily system a model for intuitive ui and yet you leave everything as a physical object. You obviously love achievement tabs so make one where I can just activate the pets I want from it, have a slide down minipet windows with an easy click system.

Having to use physical space for Minipets is extremely restrictive on how you use them. It becomes a concious decision on which pets to take with you at any given time and if a player is happy enough with what they have and don’t have any more space they are unlikely to bother getting any more. Then there is the constant fight with bag space and if a decision to buy a pet also involves buying bank space then you just bought that cost up and most likely lost a sale. Fix that up and there you go Anet, sales of your minpets doubled over night.

You probably should put some out in the world to catch too as only having the in the cash shop is a bit limiting and is kind of dismissive to the players that maybe can’t afford to finance your living story teams. And screw it, make it character bound like the dyes so that players will always have that money sink and never feel complete.

Also Anet, one word…. POLYMUCK

WHERE

IS

IT

Collectibles

Did you know that even without a housing system people just like collecting random crap. You don’t need to sign post it, or add it to your nifty achievement system. All you need to do is create a few tooltips and then scatter interaction points throughout the world. It’s like having your own personal treasure hunt. You might think gamers would never go for a system wherein there is no advantage gained but it is surprisingly popular.

Think of gamers like your typical skrit, no matter the quality of the item if it’s shiny we must have it. It might not be for everyone and that is a good thing as it provides long term goals for players with a different playstyle. And if it’s like the usual all these items will further clog up bag and bank same meaning more people buying gems.

Crafting

Ahahaaha.. Haha ha. Ahem, well that was awkward. Hmm, your crafting is bad and you should feel bad.

Content

Not all content has to be available to each and every player from the onset. I hate to bring up Firefall since I have an obvious bas towards it at the moment, but there a big part of progress is crafting unlocks to new areas and new group content. It creates a very stable goal for players to work towards and having these areas feels extremely rewarding. I gain very little from having them but the lure of new areas is very enticing.

It can still be a very social experience as you can have events in the open world that everyone can join in on, kind of like your guild bounty missions. New and unusual activities out into the world will make it feel more dynamic, and they may even be the focal point in the creation of certain community events. Or it might be a completely separate zone where you can you maybe only unlock it for your group or have it a server goal where it is unlocked for a limited time.

Rant Ending

If you are still confused about horizontal progression then go have a look at what Rift is doing and start from there, maybe even Tsw to see how a cosmetic system should be done. You see all those collectibles, time wasters and alternate activities… that is what horizontal progression is supposed to loook like. I am sorry for this guild wars 2, but It’s you this time and not me. I don’t say this to be mean my dear friend… I say because I care.

7 thoughts on “A Horizontal Handicap in GW2

  1. A good rant. Spot on with many points, especially the awful cosmetic system (WoW’s transmog system is equally convoluted but doesn’t push you to buy cash shop items) and the laughable attempt at housing (I mean personal instances). They’ve said already they’ll go back to Guild Wars 1′s tried and tested skill collecting horizontal progression which I think is great news – it was and still is a great idea. As you say, and I mentioned in my last post, I think weapon skills need expanding or alternatives though as the skillsets do get boring eventually.

    • I’m glad they are focusing more on new skills and such, they definitely need expanding at this point as for many people playing certain meta builds they’ve gotten a bit boring at this stage. Even if you haven’t stuck to the meta’s there is still a lot of similarity in how a profession plays.

      I really don’t understand why they are sticking so defiantly with this model of cosmetics though. Would they really be making more money this way?

  2. Great rant! I have to go to work in five minutes or I’d be at work on a reply already. Probably going to use this post to bounce off for one of my own although maybe not til next week when I have a few days off because at the moment I seem to want to spend every free minute playing GW2 not writing about it.

    Whatever it is that they’re doing, it has all the things wrong with it that you skewer and yet I can’t leave the damn game alone and I’m not really comfortable about how that’s working.

    • Neither can I for some inexplicable reason. The PvP has some sort of magic to it which makes it far more fun then the sum of it’s parts.Although my play has been slowing down a lot lately.

      I’m just so Freeeeeeeking angry at it now for not trying to be more than it is, settling for mediocrity when you have so much potential is not acceptable. God damn I’m a self entitled gamer

  3. A mighty rant indeed. Bloody accurate too.

    Though I’m surprised that you didn’t mention that even with though the total selection of progression in the game is limited, the amount available to dedicated WvWers is even tinier.

    What skins are available via WvW? Oh, the same ones that can be bought from karma merchants.

    Titles? There like 12 total and they all require ludicrous amounts of grinding. I don’t know if it’s even possible for someone to have obtained some of them yet, like the one for 25,000 Stonemist Captures.

    Minis? None. Would it be so difficult to add something like a Mini-Ballista that would shoot other minis?

    And don’t even bloody mention ascended shit. As I ranted at some dick on massively a few days ago, it takes a WvW player almost 4 times as long and requires 10 times more gold for a WvW player to get full ascended when compared to a PvE player.

    • Haha TY. It felt very good to get all that out

      I was very tempted to rant about WvW but I thought this us more a generalised rant. Also I have ranted about WvW extensively many many times before, time to share the love.

      I did mention the titles briefly, I’ve played around 600 hours in WvW and I’m bot even close. The captain from red guard managed to get the kill one about a month ago…right before they quit, coincidence?

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