And now I’m going to geek out about game mechanics for Guild Wars 2.
This trailer got me rather excited when I first saw it last year. I always like to see innovations in MMOs. I’ve been playing MMOs, on and off, since 2004, and I’ve tried quiiiiite a lot of them.
That being the case, some of the criticisms they talk about in this trailer are inevitable with MMORPG gaming. There’s always grind, for example, but the key is to make the grind fun. They talk about individualizing your story, and yes they did some of it but it’s releasing the same year as and not too long after SWTOR, so that wasn’t a huge whoop. Nothing could beat what Bioware brought regarding storytelling to the genre.
It’s still better than what’s been done before in so many other ways, though.
The best thing, and this is the absolute best thing, is that GW2 is a relatively stressless MMO.
In most others you have small annoyances, all the time. Someone stole your kill and your loot. Someone stole the materials you were going to grab. Someone killed the elite boss which you were waiting hours for and you only had the 3 hours to spare that one day out of your busy week. Some content you can only do with groups of people and you had to waste half your gaming time spamming the chat channels for group requests. Your class build is geared towards a very specific style that only works in teams, so you’re stuck unless you have dedicated friends to game with.
GW2 makes it easy. Incredibly easy. They removed a dedicated healing class and allowed everyone to heal themselves and buff each other. They have an interesting death system. They made area events and random group quests which just occur as long as there are enough people in the area and you don’t have to waste time asking anyone to join you and just do it. Everyone can mine from the same seam, everyone gets XP and loot from a mutual kill.
These are all things which are, now that I’ve tried this, unnecessary barriers. Why make every crafting resource on the map something to dash for before someone else gets it? Why make it such a pain in the ass to do anything? You don’t need things to be rare, or to have struggled through other players, to be worthy. You just need the task itself to have been memorable and difficult by itself.
Basically those things are invitations for players to compete against each other and invites them to be dicks to each other.
There’s one small addition which I think says a lot. Any player can revive another one, and it even rewards them with XP for doing it. Basically the game is rewarding you for helping people, giving no cost to helping them either.
If you jump in to help someone, they’re not going to yell at you for stealing their kill. And you know, that’s wonderful.
The game itself was never going to fix the problems with gaming in general, especially MMO gaming. It was never going to remove the fact that there’s grind, or that there’s a limit to the amount of immersion possible in any video game. They talked about wanting the world to feel alive, and to some extent it was nice but in others they were never going to get far.
But in all these little things, they made me enjoy online gaming again without having to remember to be patient about things. I enjoyed many of the other MMOs I’ve played. I had a long love affair with CoH, I really enjoyed DCUO and SWTOR, but both the Guild Wars games have just made it so much easier to let go and enjoy yourself.
Other games justify the limitations they place on the character. “Well you have to do that so that you feel a certain way about it.” “Well you can’t have everything.” And you just know it was a developer decision, too. You have to take a breath and just get used to it. And now I play an online game which doesn’t make me do that.
And no monthly fees. Seriously.