I have been experiencing a bit of disconnect during play lately with GW2 and the feeling of why bother is slowly creeping in.. Yes I seem to be behind the times as proportion have been proclaiming it for a month or so but i usually tend to enjoy these mmo’s beyond there 3 month shelf life. Now it isn’t just a feeling contained within WvW although that is a part of it, it is a feeling I get across the entire game world no matter what the game type. It just seems odd as quiet often when I connect to the game I am just not feeling the magic anymore and often upon logging on I just find myself standing in the mists for a awhile thinking what now?
Mostly I play with the guildies doing WvW and such but right now my only enjoyment comes from these experiences and the rare fight in structured, which seems like poor design in a way, if no one is around or WvW is lagging or isn’t fun then there is nothing holding me to the game. I thought at first upon seeing the world that i would be able to feel connected to it in some and that i would feel invested in my character, for fighting for my server but I have still yet to feel that. It has been a wonderful game in getting to know my fellow guildies as we have enjoyed some excellent unstructured fun together and even made cross guild friends and allies that may just continue through to the next game but something is missing.
Guild Wars 2 is certainly not a virtual world in any sense of the word, or even a well structured and paced RPG but it is a fun experience so the feeling is a little jarring but I just couldn’t pin point where exactly this feeling was stemming from. The game has issues, even serious ones like culling but I have dealt with issues before and continued to enjoy a game regardless. Then, after being very involved in the gaming festivities this time and thoroughly enjoying the few mini games that were released i was getting the strangest feeling of deja vous, like i had done all this sort of stuff before. And then it hit me, Guild Wars 2 is the most elaborate collection of Mini Games ever developed.That feeling I got during the Snowball fight was reminiscent of the many hot join games I do, Tixx’s Infinarium another fractal run where group functioning is entirely too limited.
Now what makes it all feel like a collection of mini games to me is that all these experiences a separated from each other just like these winter games. I go to a special spot, then into my little instanced playground none the wiser of whats happening in the rest of the world and can enjoy whatever it is uninterrupted. Every part of the game is separated from the whole, it is a game delivering a main meal to you by giving you it’s separate components. Each of these parts is also a simplistic version of other iterations in certain certain ways which makes them feel far less substantial.
The main problem I think though is that everything feels disconnected from each other, actions are removed from all the other parts so that nothing interferes which is good in concept but which makes these different parts feel shallow. Progress in one part doesn’t translate well into progress in other areas, there is nothing really tangible as a result of any efforts and no changes to the world.. it just feels shallow in a way. It is a consequence in a way of making the game so casual friendly with a pick up and play atmosphere that pervades each part, having no cross over between the parts while letting people enjoy the content at will with no barriers but at the consequence of a cohesive experience. It’s just a pervasive issue across the game which is more visible in some areas over others.
- Leveling could be considered it’s own mini game, it has no bearing on the other parts and can be stopped and started at will by starting a new character. The different maps are there own separate world’s in a way as it is not a seamless world with each area only accessible through portals and a loading screen, a separate chat screen from everywhere else, and you are even leveled down appropriately making maps feel separate from each other and hindering that progress feel you get from smashing lower level mobs.
- The Story elements are there own world, instanced apart from everyone else and delivered as unlocks as part of the leveling mini game. Your part in the story is mostly pointless as your part could have been filled by any other warm blooded mammal, maybe even by a quaggan as you are not the hero or destined to save the world. You are a support character no better than an NPC to the main characters. Even after you have completed these “epic” trials nothing changes in any other parts, the game world is the same, Orr is still infested with the undead.
- Nothing in WvW really matter and there is no impact on any other parts of the game other than some silly stat increases over the course of the week that no one really cares about. There is no long term reason to be involved as after a one week match everything is restarted like nothing before mattered, there are no bonuses or consequences that entice the community of a server to band together over the course of the week or even longer, and there is very little personal reason to feel devoted. Even your contribution on the battlefield is mostly inconsequential as it is the numbers and coverage factor which matters more.
- The Structured game is the epitamy of a mini game as nothing transfers over, it has it’s own crafting materials that are completely untradeable, a selection of clothing options that are not useable outside of the mists. No experience gain, no progress, absolute no connection to your character. This could be a separate game in and of it’s self released apart from Guild Wars 2 and it would be the exact same experience.
- Dungeons and fractals are completely separate in their own little instance. With the way the horizontal progression works as well this are of the game feels pointless to me. Each time I enter is it’s own mini game with none of them connected to each other. I don’t grow in power, there is very little progression between them and every time I do the same dungeon or fractal is the exact same experience. It could be argued that the Ascended gear is the progression but the only thing that does is protect you from dying to a secondary condition, the core experience is still the same as your stat values barely increase and your fighting the same creatures and bosses who change very little from dungeon to dungeon. And due to the change in the core fighting mechanics of an MMO we are also left with far more simplistic mechanics and many which copy each other
Arenanet have designed there game with the a.d.d addled masses in mind, the casual atmosphere of the game pervades every aspect of the game making it feel as though nothing really matters in terms of player action. Now it is partly an issue with feelings of progression but what many fail to realize is that progression needn’t be about stat upgrades, I thought Anet understood that but apparently not. There are a few other avenues like outfits and titles and such but the clothing system is entirely to restrictive and convoluted and title are rare, have huge grinds attached, or have retarded boring names. Guild Wars 2 is a game designed as a pick up and play mini game that is meant to be picked up and played at leisure, its fun and all but not nearly enough to retain long term players. With nothing impacting on other points the experience feels rather disjointed, my effort in one area counts for nothing in others and as a result I don’t feel invested in the whole only interested in certain parts. I can jump in out at will and out of game modes but any effort doesn’t doesn’t impact future play which I don’t think is that great an idea for an mmo where you are meant to feel invested. If you have no reason to play, after a while when the novelty falls of you just won’t anymore.
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with creating a well designed and polished mini game, the heavy hitters like lol and dota, CoD and co. make an absolute fortune off it but when your trying to keep a regular and consistent playerbase and a functioning virtual world then you really should be making a better overall experience then this. I said in the Wintersday wrap up that Arenanet make good mini games but it isn’t the concise experience that the others are bringing such as LoL and Arena fighting, WoW and raiding, the epic realm battling of DAoC or Shadowbane, or even TSW and story. Right now there approach has been far to broad to make a well crafted and fully functional experience in it’s many mini games and it shows. Every part of these mini games is missing vital mechanics that would have made them something special. Structured is very simplistic right now, WvW offers no real incentives or long term appeal, Dungeon running and fractals are rather pointless (skins are ok but most aren’t that great) as well as being rather terrible designed in regards to the no trinity group mechanics (some are good), the story is B grade at best with some terrible writing and audio work, the economy is barely functioning, and most of the world has become a ghost town leaving their dynamic events system to rot.
They had a great vision with GW2 but I think like most of these AAA MMO’s lately they aimed far to high and wanted to cram in way to much. There was no way they were going to have everything fully functioning come release unless they took at least another year of development, their “when it’s ready” mantra was nothing but marketing speak. I don’t blame them for it, they obviously had to release as I don’t expect a company to be in development indefinitely without any income to back it up, it’s pretty much standard that MMO’s really do just need time to grow into themselves to slowly added pieces to fill in the gaps that were missing on release.
But that won’t stop me from having a QQ about it and lamenting the extinction of mmo’s that offered more than a collection of fun mini games, that offered immersion rather than burst of novelty. The market that caters to those who lack a basic attention span is already saturated.. did we really need another title and one that was so promising