On Tuesday Eliot Lefebvre posted “Where Guild Wars 2 goes wrong” a pretty strong opinion piece about the failings of Gw2. Some points I agree with, some not, so I’ve decided to blog about this article and give my own thoughts in response. I’ll give each of the author’s main points as a bold title to each paragraph.
Roles are horribly underexplained and unclear
I have to concur that there is no explanation of how the group dynamics should work in fights. Several bloggers have pointed that the lack of trinity is a problem. I would chime in with Eliot here agreeing that the lack of training on survival in this brave new soft-trinity or no-trinity world is part of the issue. It’s also that the majority of the players of the game are used to trinity-based gaming and the shock of this new style is pretty harsh. But, and it’s a big but, do any MMOs actually even teach trinity gameplay beyond the “here’s a stupidly easy, linear first dungeon – go figure it out” variety? You could apply the above critique to almost all MMOs and it would stick, the difference for GW2 is that it matters more that it’s not explained since it’s a new dynamic.
Dynamic events don’t work in their role as quest replacements
This comes down to opinion I expect, and perhaps time-played as well. I’ve played GW2 pretty casually alongside other games. I haven’t leveled multiple characters to 80th and done all the zone completions on them. Therefore for me, I’ve only done all but the starter zone events one or two times. I find them interesting and enjoyable. Sure it’s a different experience from the ! and ? system of most games, the flaws in the system come from over-repetition I would argue, and actually that same argument can be leveled at any MMO anyway. Rerunning the quests in Hellfire Peninsula in WoW is enough to give me a migrane, I’ve just done them so many times now.
Area flow is problematic
This section speaks to the issues of player population and auto-scaling of character power and the rewards. Although the system isn’t perfect I do think it’s pretty amazing to be able to group up with friends so effortlessly at any level. The fact that the game doesn’t railroad you around is just part of its core design. Either you like to explore or you don’t. Given the super linearity of many MMOs I’m happy that GW2 is more open-ended.
Crafting is a freaking mess
I don’t really agree with many of the points made here. I would say that, unlike FFXIV as quoted by Eliot, the crafting in GW2 is very easy to intuitively ‘play around with’. The discovery system works well enough once you get your head around the tiers of ingredients. I would not expect to level my crafting skill from 20 to 21 (the example given) by crafting one level 20 item. All crafting systems in all MMOs are inherently grindy, you make lots of the same item to progress to higher skill and newer recipes. The lack of salvaging components is a good point though, as you can end up with lots of lower level insignias or similar which you can’t break down nor can you realistically sell them for much.
The story is weak
This is a highly subjective point to make, and I’m still on the fence as we haven’t finished the personal storylines on our main characters yet. I get the point that having Destiny’s Edge as the focal point is a mistake in so far that it makes player’s feel like their characters are second fiddle to this bunch of bickering, rather childish and self-centred “heroes”. But a main conceit at the core of LoTRO’s epic questlines is that you as the “hero” of the game are actually following in the Fellowship’s shadow – so this story device isn’t new. If the problem is more the execution of the device than the device itself then fair enough. So far I can’t think of any major issues with how the Asura storylines mesh with the Priory as is our experience of the game.
Eliot’s piece ends of a positive note, stating that it’s still a “great game in many parts”, which I can agree with of course. I’ve been playing it more again these last few days and having a ton of fun.