Longevity – Two weeks in

The game has been out for two weeks now and we’re still playing it. For some games, that’s an eternity. However, Guild Wars 2 is a massive online world and we fans hope and expect enough content to keep us playing for months or even years. So in the grand scheme of things, two weeks equates to only a tiny portion of the amount of time we want to spend with this game.

So it is a bit too early to make much of an educated guess how long the game will last or compile of comprehensive list of things to do to keep Tyria interesting, but I am going to try my best to make a prediction anyway. I will begin with my past MMO experiences and briefly analyze what made them last (or not), then I will try to pull out everything I have observed about Guild Wars 2 so far that gives players a reason to keep playing and finally at the end I have a few suggestions which I think may help keep the game interesting.

What made them last

One thing that has certainly changed since my time with games like the original Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online and even Runescape is the community. A decade ago the idea of an online world was very exclusive to a select few games. We as a community were much more fascinated with the fact that we were seeing the avatars of other people from across the world than we are today.

Most of my favorite memories from MMOs aren’t of the fighting monsters or collecting epic loot, but rather the time spent hanging out with friends and strangers. Sure we still have /dance parties and shout out random things like “YOLO” today, but recently I have seen a lot less /bowing to simulate puking beer off a balcony and decorated heroes pretending to be bartenders.

One of my favorite things about Guild Wars was the variety of tasks I had to undertake to essentially complete the game. Yes, often times many of the titles felt like chores, but that was ironically what made them so great. I liked feeling like I worked for my accomplishments… to an extent. I never could get too much into games like Lord of the Rings Online or WoW because the process of leveling was too much of the same over and over again. Guild Wars was much better at mixing it up.

I collected titles, minipets, weapons, skills and even vanquished zones. To me going out to vanquish a new zone with new enemy patterns and strategies was a lot better than leveling up on kill 20 wolves quests only to be given a kill 25 wolves quest for the next level.

Every now and then I’ll hear a song that reminds me of a game of which I have fond memories. This usually results in me reinstalling it and playing it again, even sometimes longer than my first play session. When LOTRO when free to play I went back into the starter areas again to relive some of my past moments. On the non-MMO side, I have replayed MYST 2: Riven twice already. It’s such a shame I can’t forget the solutions to all the puzzles though.

One of the things I find myself doing less and less as games evolve is true exploration. It’s been an expectation in recent video games that the game will always show you where to go. The days of static maps are long gone and have been replaced with very advanced GPS-like dynamic maps that show you exactly where to go. These days when I run into a wall I find myself thinking “Why did they put this stupid wall here preventing me from getting to the point I want to!?” instead of “Oo look a wall, I wonder what it’s connected to?”

Feeling at home is important for sticking with an MMO and that just isn’t going to happen for environment/culture geeks like me if we find ourselves chasing the UI instead of soaking in the scenery and making discoveries.

What will make Guild Wars 2 last

Guild Wars 2 unfortunately has this feature called “map completion” which is easily attainable, very UI based and can give players the false feeling that they have really ‘one-hundred percented’ the map. Fortunately, there are a lot of things not marked on the map that give true explorers things to look at and even a reward every now and then. There are thousands of details in this game right underneath everyone’s noses. For example, have you ever stopped to actually look at your crafting station in Lion’s Arch. They are so cool, and each city’s crafting area has unique stations.

Anyone who wants to stop and smell every rose before moving on will find themselves progressing through Guild Wars 2 very slowly. And that is not a bad thing. Not in the least bit.

Crafting is not a side-project in Guild Wars 2, it is a powerful endgame. The community still hasn’t figured out the full extend of it, but it gets pretty complex and expensive. Sometimes players are required to finish dungeons, complete events and explore just to find a few crafting components.

What needs to be done

At first I agreed with ArenaNet’s philosophy of omitting the ability to zoom into first person… just kidding! No I most certainly did not. However, at the time I only “disagreed.” Now that I’ve failed to find a good way to look out a beautiful window in a ship overlooking an amazing view of Lions Arch from behind my character’s head, my “disagree” status has changed to “strongly disagree.”

Also not to spoil anything, but there is also a puzzle in LA that is something like 700% easier to navigate for asuras than it is for norns. And just about every jumping puzzle that makes you look up at any point can get very frustrating or even nauseating from several feet behind your character. Also he just stands there obstructing a lot of the view.

Solution: Don’t want people fighting in first person view? Then have unsheathing or entering combat kick them out. Heck, I’d even settle for movement kicking me out of first person.

I just want to be able to look up at tall mountains, stare out windows, inspect people’s characters and survey the many small details that Guild Wars 2 possesses. Seriously, there are so many fine details you’d think the game was built for first person in the first place.


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