Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, February 25, 2013

QOTD: A Voice of Dissent

As the Human Torch would say . . .
The Ancient Gaming Noob is debating whether to buy and play either Guild Wars 2 or Mists of Pandaria at a bargain. Most of the responses were positive toward GW2, especially at a discount; considering that it is subscription free. And then came Solf, a voice of dissent out of the desert. I don't know what the protocol is for wholesale copying of comments from someone else's blog, but to fully understand what my response, you have to read his whole comment, so here it is:
Since everyone and his mother seems to be so ‘pro gw2′, here are my two cents.

If you generally like character-progression gameplay in Rift and WoW — e.g. five man instances, like skill progression with level ups (getting new skills as you level up), this kind of stuff — then odds are you might be seriously disappointed by GW2.

For the certain definition of “nothing” there’s “nothing” to do in the game after level 20. You can get all skills that you’ll ever need (excepting I believe elite ones which are often situational at best) by that level and then it is just “keep killing stuff using the same buttons forever”. And don’t forget the auto-scaling mechanics which basically mean you’re not supposed to ever feel e.g. too much overpowered which might be fun sometimes etc.

And the stuff I’ve heard [emphasis mine] about GW2 dungeons and group mechanics (back when I played which was early fall) was uniformly horrible. Taking away the holy trinity doesn’t magically make your game awesome, it only takes away the holy trinity. Which is replaced by what exactly? Everyone fending for themselves? Which doesn’t seem such a great group mechanic to me.

In short, for a certain kind of player (me :P; the guy who likes challenging small-group content in Rift and WoW [back when it used to have one]), GW2 is nothing but a disappointment.

What was that Syncaine said? “If GW2 fixed all the MMO problems, I’m so glad so many games got it totally wrong.” Some such.
Upon rereading Solf's comment, I see that he never even went through an instanced dungeon. So his judgment on the topic is hearsay. Having been through at least a couple different GW2 dungeons, I can say they are interesting, if sometimes frustrating. Like many fights in WoW, Rift, and others, there is a key to each fight in GW2. They are seldom simply "Tank-and-Spank." Here is my response, with some fixes:

TSW: It's like a big game of Marbles.
Solf, I hope you’re playing TSW with that gaming philosophy, since it will take you hours and hours of gameplay to get all the possible abilities, even after you’ve maxed out all your gear. Entertaining trinity-based dungeons with good storylines that fold into the larger world, as well.

As for GW2, I like it. For most definitions of “nothing,” there is plenty to do even after reaching level 80. The game doesn’t have a ton of depth, but I continue to reassess the skills that I have at my immediate disposal depending on the current fight, or the one I just lost. Like TSW, the limited buttons create a strategic element to the game (by strategic, I mean the time you spend on your current abilities outside of combat), since you can’t have every oh-shit ability spread across 48 or more action buttons.

The original GW maximum level was 20, if I recall correctly, including the ex-pacs. It’s my understanding that this was the case in the original design of GW2, and there were many complaints this past autumn about the way content is gated by the increased number of levels. And despite downleveling, I can still faceroll my way through the starting areas on my max-level engineer.

And if you don’t like the dungeons, then maybe you aren’t playing with the right group of people. Despite a similarity in names, tanks in a real battle do nothing to draw fire from the opponent other than being amongst the highest damage causers. And other than patch-you-up field medics, the healers are all in the rear, nowhere near the steel-raining artillery. There are tactics involved that don’t require a big (or little) dude in heavy armor shouting taunts at the enemy. And battle itself is very chaotic. In that respect, I think the dungeons in GW2 are very realistic, far more so than trinity-based fights (which can also be a ton of fun).

I’m guessing that no one reading this has found a predominantly PvE game really challenging for at least a decade. Much like in-game crafting, there’s only so much you can do to make button-and-mouse-based combat challenging, before you suddenly make it impossible for any newbies that may come along. I eagerly await a VR/Holodeck style game where we all have to actually learn fencing and blacksmithing techniques, but I’m not holding my breath.

As for Syncaine, his smug default position that nothing awesome has happened in gaming since the turn of the millennium brings nothing the conversation about the current state of gaming.
Full disclosure: regarding MoP, I have little to say. Other people enjoy it, I found it to be the same ol' same ol' now boring WoW when I tried it this past fall. If I am an apologist for GW2 and TSW, I most certainly am not for MoP, despite having enjoyed WoW for years. In some ways, that makes me as bad as Solf and Syncaine.


  1. "In short, for a certain kind of player (me :P; the guy who likes challenging small-group content in Rift and WoW [back when it used to have one]), GW2 is nothing but a disappointment."


    It should be "I am personally disappointed by GW2"

    GW2 itself is not disappointing; it's a product which is simply being what it is. The only disappointment comes from PEOPLE who want or expect something from the game which it does not provide.

    If he is disappointed by not finding what he wants in GW2, that's entirely his problem, not the game's.

    1. Agreed. I was personally disappointed by MoP, and other games (LOTRO, for example). But each game has its fans, and provides them the entertainment they desire.

  2. I'd suggest reading Healing The Masses on the complexity of combat in GW2. Having played many, many MMOs and tried many, many class, skill and combat designs, I'd say that for a hotbar MMO GW2 is at the more complex end of the scale. The variety even within a single class is almost too much to take in sometimes.

    The thing that getting all your skills by 30 tends to obscure is that your skills aren't the most important part. Your traits are. You don't complete those until you reach 80, by when you will have more really game-changing ones than you can use at any one time. Partly because of that I personally don't feel I'll be ready even to decide which class I want to specialize in until I've tried all of them at 80.

    I've only done a couple of dungeons and maybe ten or so fractals. They are tough and unforgiving, much more so than what I was familiar with in group instances from other MMOs. You have to think all the time, and pay attention all the time, which has not been my experience elsewhere. Whether that's fun or not depends. I like a bit more goofing-off time myself and found them too full-on to be really enjoyable.

    1. If you're interested, sPvP offers the chance to see how your profession is at 80, with the chance to adjust your traits out of combat. The fact that it's PvP makes the assessment slightly inaccurate for the main world PvE, however. I love my "Pyrochem" Engineer build, but it sucks for PvP.

      The one time I did a fractal (this weekend), we were unable to complete even the first segment. Whether more or less complexity is good or bad is largely subjective. I can appreciate your assessment more than a blanket statement, based on hearsay, that the GW2 dungeons suck. I'm not saying GW2 is the end-all, be-all of MMOs. To do so would be foolish. But I think many people expected it to be and were disappointed that it isn't.