I think that it’s amazing that Guild Wars 2 is adding raiding to the game, even though I’m not an avid player. I also think raiding is inevitable and required for a game to be as amazing as it is. Now, I understand that originally GW2 wanted to be different. It wanted to go in a different direction than other MMOs, and it did. It really, honestly, did. However, that’s not to discount the need for large group endgame content.
Endgame content is the most important part of any game. A long time ago, the journey was the longest and hardest part of the game, and the endgame content was sort of like a reward for getting there. It was what rested on-top of the long and arduous mountain climb. You spent months reaching to that point, making an army of friends, and passed every trail thrown your way. Much like a college degree, reaching the maximum level proved you had what it take to be a real team player, that you played enough of the game to reach this point, and you were a valuable member of gaming society.
You sat and grinded and now, you needed some reason to return and login to the game. You’ve made all these friends, went on this epic adventure together, and now what? Additionally, there were a lot of you. You were most likely in a guild, with at least 10 other players, and you all wanted to do something together – thus, raid content.
Originally raids were massive server wide endeavors, usually taking sometimes more than 100 players to go and fight the content. Of course, a once or twice a month event wasn’t necessarily what interested players the most, so raids shrunk over time, until where they’re at now – generally 8 to 10 is the fewest, with 40 being the upper limit.
Of course, World of Warcraft, like always, changed everything – raids become way more about prestige than some kind of large co-op event. You needed more than just friends, you need nearly employees loyal to grinding gear. WoW switched the dynamic to being less and less about the journey to the endgame and more about the endgame being the journey.
It began with guilds of 60 or more members working out raiding groups, then, it moved into TBC where it became more and more exclusive, like a club with a 100 mile queue, and then finally in Wrath it reached its peak where every player was measured across a multitude of statistics and reputation, it was almost as if your character needed a LinkedIn account with your accomplishments in order to raid – although raiding did become more accessible with 10-man raids, anything bigger or more impressive required so much.
Then, with Cataclysm, the raid finder was introduced which allowed players to all basically play the Play-Skool version of raids. Mists of Pandaria and Warlords continued the trend, making raid content trivial. At a minimum, you could fight and win against every boss almost, and then get loot that was rather good. Since PvP, at this point, doesn’t utilize PvE gear at all, completing the content is good enough for most.
Anyway, while I could rant on how to fix WoW’s raiding system for hours and hours on end, it’s clear that every game since WoW that hasn’t had a satisfying raid experience hasn’t done so well. WildStar is a clear example, where attunements (something that were removed in Wrath of the Lich King in WoW) and disorganized gear were the chief complaint by fans, which is why WildStar’s F2P has been such an exciting prospect.
Back to the original point, Guild Wars 2 could never flee from the concept of raiding. It’s not the idea that you need to have 2 tanks, 3 healers, and 5 DPS in order to be super awesome and have fun, but it’s the idea you need PvE content that large groups of players can work at in 2 to 3 hour time chunks a few times a week. Raiding is one of the only concepts I know that scratches that itch. It provides a reason for you to do all of the other content as well, because you need to craft for potions and consumables, you need to farm for gold for repairs and crafting materials, and you need to in general work towards a common goal as a group.
It’s the biggest and best incentive to keep playing and while GW2 has done a wonderful job of not having it so far, it’s still a great boon nevertheless. I think, tomorrow, I’ll talk a little bit more about why raiding is so important and flesh all of this out in a bit more nuance, since raiding honestly will determine the success or failure of most MMOs.
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