Update: Of course, I hadn’t played GW2 yesterday so didn’t see the blog post on the GW2 website about this very topic. Glad to see they are communicating about their vision for long-term involvement!
Guild Wars 2 is certainly generating a lot of debate in the blogosphere.
Other than the economy debates of last week, the lack of traditional gear-progression focused end-game seems to be the hot topic. I have read some positive posts about the game’s take on content: Ravious of KillTenRats, and Syp of Bio Break are both pretty upbeat about the game not needing to ape WoW or others to keep players playing. For the counterview you can see Keen’s post or In An Age both have posts showing concern over whether GW2 will suffer from playerbase drop-off.
Personally, as I’ve said before, I’m optimistic that the buy-to-pay model will help the game immensely as there’s no “one month free time” or “three/six month sub renewal” dates, those dates that in subscription model games usually sees the casual crowd leaving en-masse. The multiple storylines for the races, the five starter zones and the strong differentiation of how classes ‘feel’ to play certainly makes this an attractive game for alt-creation.
I can understand the viewpoint expressed by Keen over the lack of direction at endgame, not necessarily because there is nothing to do, but rather that it’s less obvious or narrowly focused as it would be in other theme park MMOs. But I also remember feeling the slightly jarring sense of “what now” in Rift when I dinged 50 on my cleric. It wasn’t that I had nothing I could do with my gear, but given the very linear progression through zones and content up to that point, it was confusing to then have numerous grindy alternatives to continue my gear progression beyond the final zone. I’ve also read a few complaints that the dynamic events get old soon. I just have to roll my eyes at such comments, I can only assume that those making such comments have played at least one major theme park MMO over the last 5+ years? All these games make an ‘end-game’ out of repeating the same small and usually very linear instanced zones (a k a dungeons) ad nauseum for random loot drops or token rewards. This of course is usually arranged in level tiers and difficulty modes just to slightly break up the moronic repetitiveness. If I had a £1 for every time I ran Hall of Lightning during the Wrath era of WoW… Needless to say I will, personally, not get bored of running the same dynamic events for a long time. Why? The events may play the same sequence of events, but the reaction of a random selection of players (number, group make up, play skill etc) can make each time feel very, very different! Give me dynamic events over raids any day!
With Guild Wars 2 I really hope that ArenaNet ignore the calls for a standard end-game. I assume that they have a development plan for more content going forwards, I would guess more big open world bosses, some way to continue the overall story arcs, the odd new dungeon for a change of pace and a drip-feed of new dynamic events to mix up the main bulk of the existing content every so often. This plan seems the way to maintain the games attractiveness as a casual game or second game. Bolting on a raid end-game would destroy the core that makes this game something a bit different from the crowd.
Perhaps ArenaNet needs to market the more hard-core options that are in game such as the mega-grind for legendaries or the map completion exploration goals to make it clearer what you can do at the level cap? But then this game isn’t about super linear, sign-posted power leveling to cap, so the game wasn’t designed for some players and will never satisfy them, IMHO.
I’m certainly really happy with how the game plays and I can see myself being at home in the reborn Tyria for a very long time.