The Ten Ton Hammer Best of 2013 Awards - Page 6

Updated Mon, Dec 30, 2013 by Sardu

A rocky launch is often the kiss of death for just about any MMO, and few ever manage to truly recover. Occasionally, however, the development team is willing to do whatever it takes to turn a potential defeat into a major success story for the industry.

That was certainly the case with our pick for Best Reinvention of 2013. While this award has been granted to other titles in previous years, our winner for 2013 is the embodiment of what it means to truly reinvent such a complex game as an MMO and turn it into one of the biggest success stories of the year.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn didn't simply repackage and relaunch the original game. Instead, systems were rebuilt from the ground up, the gameplay was tightened and polished, and most of all the developers listened to the feedback of their fans to help transform ARR into the game it was always meant to be.

About Guild Wars 2 as the mmo of th year...

Dominate? It is not an exaggeration as a term? I know many people who are still playing The old Republic, Rift and more who still play Wow. But everyone I know who have played Guild Wars 2 have stopped for several months.

I think your article lacks objectivity ... Especially in the choice of words. YOU think this is good? Ok, I can agree! YOU think this is the best? I'm ok, it's your opinion! But it dominates all mmo?? You just lost your credibility!

Sure riptel, please tell us what is the mmo that dominates all? WoW? of course! I mean, the numbers are solid, just like the millions of fans of justin bieber that proves his music to be the best. It's so freaking easy to say "this game it's bad" (not your words) not that easy to say "this game game it's better for this objective reasons"

Comparing WoW to Justin Bieber is terrible.

WoW is the Beatles of MMOs, and in this case, the numbers mean something.

It is still the best MMO out there for one simple reason - The end game. The bosses in other MMOs are still flat out TERRIBLE compared to WoW end game progression fights.

If you want serious raiding in an MMO, you play WoW.

Compare the beatles wow is an insult to the beatles. Ok with bieber was not nice of me. Let me say it like this: The beatles, like other iconic artists died (or got separated) at the top of their musical career. WoW is, in any case, (and trying to soften the situation) like Madonna prostituting herself to pop. Let it die already.

Guild Wars 2 probably deserves the title of MMO of the year, but the high praise and enthusiastic wording seems out of place. I would word it something more like "Guild Wars 2 wins MMO of the year again because who else are we going to give it to?"

That's harsh but also true in both the implications it makes. The first implication is that there isn't a better MMORPG out there right now (there are better MMO games but I'm assuming you specifically mean RPGs in this category) this is true, nothing is doing any better. The genre is suffering right now. The second implication is that Guild Wars 2 is lacking but wins by default, this is also true.

GW2 is a good game with fantastic graphics, sounds, and storytelling. It also has some of the best class design I've ever seen in any game, ever. Each class feels unique and interesting, fun and easy to learn but difficult to master. I absolutely worship them for the time and effort they put into the design of their classes and the unique feel and style of each class makes me smile to talk about.

And yet despite my deep love of their classes, my enjoyment of the look and sound and feel of the game, the excellent questing system and fun outdoor bosses, I'm still not playing this game. Why? Well there's a number of reasons:

Guild Wars 2 gave us everything we thought we wanted but it turns out we didn't know what we were talking about. They gave us Structured PvP on even footing by allowing everyone to have the same gear as soon as they logged in but this gave us nothing to work for except cosmetics and nothing at all to work for once you were happy with the way you looked or if you didn't like any of the available looks. They also made it so fast paced and intense that it's nearly impossible for a new player to even dip their toes in the water much less actually have fun.

They gave us World vs World PvP but they stripped it of the balanced gear, this is actually a good thing because now you can think "Well if I earn better gear, I will perform better!" but they made a terrible mistake here, they didn't give you anywhere to respawn. Because of this the entire game is a zerg. No one wants to risk dying because if you do it is a very long and very tedious walk back to wherever you were and you may get there just in time to die again, assuming you don't get ambushed along the way. So instead everyone runs around in one enormous group fighting other enormous groups, but only in little skirmishes, rarely does a true fight break out. If the two groups are of even size they will often bypass one another or skirmish around the edges and then pull back when they begin to lose.

They gave us no looking for group tool so that you had to meet people and talk to them and form a community in the game but the days of WoW have ruined that. No one wants to do that any more, people don't want to talk and chat, people don't want to get to know eachother, they want to hop into a dungeon and have some fun and go on with their lives. Sitting around for an hour forming a group and hoping they do well isn't fun and while it worked early on in WoW that was a different era and people play with a different mindset now. They did, finally, introduce an LFG tool but it has a its own problems, including making it too easy to kick people.

They got rid of tanks and healers, again something that sounded good to all of us, but hasn't really worked out so well. Without tanks and healers everything is chaos, people running for their lives and aggroing more things or dodging themselves into death, or simply being unable to get a mob off of them and dying to it. Players end up trying to play the role of tank without actually being a tank and it does little to improve the situation. You end up with players who don't want to be healers (and often don't really have the tools for it) trying to keep people alive despite themselves. Playing this way simply requires a level of coordination beyond your average players leaving them with only the simple and easy dungeons to run and even then just barely.

They got rid of "damage meters", so people could play "happily" but this has made it hard to determine where your weak links are, what the actual problem with your group is, why you're failing when you fail.

They got rid of "Chinese Farmers" by allowing you to just buy gold if you want, but it's so expensive and impractical that only the truly rich (or at least those with massive amounts of disposable income and the will to spend it for a weapon that will eventually be outdated) can afford to actually use this system. The result is that you see someone with an enviable item and you have no idea if he earned it or bought it and so it brings little prestige or admiration and instead tends to result in jealousy or disinterest.

There's more I would like to discuss about why I don't play this game that I really want to play, lack of non-grinding activities at the level cap, overly complex holidays that are hard to understand the goals for, random chance for highly desired rewards that are only available for a limited time, lack of UI customization hindering players with disabilities, lack of UI customization annoying those of us without disabilities who just want to change some things, inability to understand how you died or why or what you could have done differently, etc. but I doubt many people will see this post, much less read it and care what I had to say, so I'm not going to keep on.

I really wanted to love Guild Wars 2, so did a lot of people I know. We bought it, we joined the same server, we adored our new characters and their awesome feel and abilities, we loved the flexible trait trees and slot skills, we all made it to 80 but in the end none of us are actually playing this game any more.

Excellent synopsis and really articulates my feelings about the game as well.

Very interesting commentary! You raise good points, but then reach conclusions which leave me perplexed. As a Guild Wars 2 intense player and fanboy, I'm sure I'm not objective at all :-), but I'd like to argue a couple of points.

PvP: this is probably the realm I admittedly know the less. I play it regularly, but I don't consider myself an expert on the field. That said: I think that (at least in design) the points you noticed just fit together. Whether PvE is thought to be the reign of horizontal character progression (whether or not they completely succeeded, is another thing), PvP is the one of personal skill progression. The reward is not in better stats (vertical progression) or better looks (horizontal), but in a better grasp of you profession's mechanics and tricks, and better knowledge of the counters to other professions/builds. Your points stand, though: it's beginner-unfriendly (although quite exciting after you get into it), and doesn't reward you enough. Both points are known to be on the radar of ANet, which has already started to take measures about that (trading glory for gold, PvE armors getting into PvP, and so on).

The respawn critique for WvW I find a bit weird. If I were to pick flaws in the WvW design, I would have chosen the lack of reward for getting points for your server, or the lack of motivations for defending structures, but surely not the respawn-point system. If anything, it favours a tactical gameplay. If you could easily respawn, a commander that makes his/her zerg wipe would be no big deal. This way, you have to pick and choose your battles, and try to make the best of it. And anyway, have you played during WvW Season 1? Three-way battles were the norm. At every structure attack you had a very high probability of getting into a ZvZ battle. It wasn't surely about sporadic, small skirmishes.

The LFG and roles things actually go hand in hand. I think we can divide the PvE content in two parts: easy, open PvE (world bosses and the like, except for very few exceptions - *cough* Balthazar *cough*); and harder, dungeon contents. In open PvE, you rarely get into a "chaos" situation, because most of the time you could go through it just with autoattack and the occasional timed dodge. Dungeons are a completely different beast: they are *thought* for coordinated gameplay. It's then clear that, with a PUG, you easily get into such chaotic situations. And that's also the reason why we had to wait so long for a LFG too, I think: getting a PUG is contrary to the philosophy of dungeons, and it's actually now possible at all only because, after a year, the ways of skipping mobs and techniques to fight bosses have been consolidated enough that it's possible in most random groups without particular coordination. If we want to find a problem in the transformation of the DPS-Tank-Healer trinity into the DPS-Support-Control trinity, is that "control" has next to no role in high level content because of the Defiant mechanic and "support" has a little one and can mostly be integrated in the DPS one, leaving the first as the one and only dominator of the PvE builds.

It's true, buying in-game gold with real currency is expensive, and impractically so for the top-tier (legendary) skins. And that's actually better than having cheap gold for money, because then most people would choose this way instead of farming/earning their rewards, and such rewards would have even a smaller value (but then, if you really look for prestige items, you are probably more interested in something like the Fractal skins, only obtainable in-game, than a Legendary). Sadly, there will always be "chinese farmers" (never thought how actually racist this sound!), for how good a company can be at keeping them at bay, so having an official mechanism at least deter the illegal ones. And let's not forget that you don't have to pay a monthly subscription, so if you were to compare this to other games there's this factor to consider too!

Beware: I know this game has lots of big and small defects. But, all in all, it would be absurd to have this big a game with this big a community, and see it make everybody happy. What matters is that most people are mostly happy with it, and that's why I think it's correct to award him a very good position. It's true that many people tried the game, played a bit, and then stopped, but many, many more do still play them regularly.

Good thing? You can come back whenever you want, without expenses - and that's something you can't say of every game!

As a last note: the lore and setting of Guild Wars 2 are wonderful and exciting, the storytelling thought... well, let's say they're getting better at it, but there's still a long way to go, the good writers they have notwithstanding

Thank you for the reasonable and polite reply. Allow me to elaborate on some things and respond to some of your post. I didn't want to write an entire 2 page post for every section of the game so I attempted to discuss some of the more obvious and easy to relate to problems that I encountered without going too far into minutiae or discussing things people who hadn't played the game wouldn't be able to grasp from context.

Let me also preface this by saying that the last time I played Guild Wars 2 was Dragon Bash, which according some quick googling was in early June. I recently came back for about two days after one of my subscribed youtube channels posted a new video that made me feel like playing a bit. I have noticed some improvements in some areas but I have mostly been playing a low level Engineer in levelling PvE content so I haven't explored the changes to higher level content, PvP, or much of the new interface.

Structured PvP: The lack of rewards shouldn't have been such a large portion of my statement on that topic. It certainly has an effect on things but more important to my feelings on the topic is the end of my statement, I really feel the true problem is the extremely high pacing of the game making it difficult to understand what is going on and what has happened to your character. You can counter this with a heavy focus on defensive abilities and gear but this creates a situation where it is very difficult for you to contribute damage to a fight, this is fine for some classes with certain trait choices and for players that enjoy this type of play, they can then simply use their survivabilty and control abilities to hold a point for their team, but the more damage focused classes and trait lines couldn't contribute much if they had focused on gear and abilities to keep themselves alive longer.

I'm sure there is a middle ground between survivability and offensive potential but I had a great deal of trouble finding it, I always felt like I was dying so quickly that I didn't even have time to respond or that I was so invested in staying alive that I couldn't kill anyone else. I did find a great deal of fun to be had as a Warrior holding points or controlling enemies while my team members did the actual killing, but after a time you desire to be the person killing people rather than just be the turtle with control abilities.

WvW: My respawn critique comes from experience with other games, both in the MMORPG genre and in others. Take First Person Shooters for example, they have long dominated the gaming landscape as the most popular and universal genre of gaming but they have only recently introduced experience and unlockable rewards/levels. For decades that genre survived simply on peoples desire to fight eachother for fun. WvW can broadly be divided up into two groups of people in my mind: Those that want rewards and those that want a fight.

The people who want rewards will always gravitate toward zerging, it's the easiest and safest way to obtain loot. I don't know if they still use loot bags that drop on the ground in WvW but if they do, please watch next time you're in a Zerg. You will see a huge percentage of people who stand carefully in the back and throw little shots off and spam AoEs to hit as many people as possible, always careful not to die, but if there is a loot bag up there then they're suddenly willing to charge forward and risk death to pick it up (though they rarely die because they have equipped whatever abilities are available to them to ensure they can grab that bag and get back to the zerg, even if those abilities are useless for anything else). This is not gameplay, this is farming. People trying to get the most while risking the least and if they actually die they become upset because they're now going to miss out on loot while they run back to the zerg. This was my primary experience with WvW gameplay.

When I became tired of this (which was quickly) I attempted to go off by myself, perhaps to pick some fights or capture/defend some points, what I found was that there is very little for a solo or small group to do that actually contributes to the overall situation. There were some fights to be had, 1v1 occasionally, more often small groups, these were fun, they offered little reward and contributed virtually nothing to the goals of WvW but they were enjoyable, the problem was that if you lost you were sent back an interminable distance and then got to jog around for a bit until you found someone else to fight or just gave up and rejoined the zerg. This resulted in a situation of "heavy penalty for leaving the zerg" versus "no reward for leaving the zerg", so why would you ever leave the zerg?

This is where my discussion about additional repsawn points comes in. The primary punishment for dying in WvW is the walk back but this is a horrible punishment because it commits the cardinal sin of video games, being boring. I don't normally try to offer possible solutions because I am not a game designer but I would solve this by giving a larger number of waypoints but having those waypoints steal an idea from many modern FPS games, "respawn tickets". Each waypoint would be inside a keep, each keep would have a number of respawn tickets assigned to it depending on the size of the keep, how long it had been held, how much supply it had, etc. Tickets would be consumed when someone respawned and regenerate slowly over time or could be regenerated more quickly by giving supply to the keep (instead of having keeps always be a source of supply, they could also consume it to allow more defenders to spawn there).

This would have little effect on the zerg gameplay, it would allow some people who died while defending a keep to respawn there but that doesn't matter much because most people who die defending a keep die after the enemy gets inside, once this happens it doesn't really matter if you can respawn there you will just be killed again, the tickets will be quickly consumed, and you'll be sent somewhere else.

This would, however, allow individual players or small groups to respawn at those keeps and since the number of tickets would be effected by the size of the keep you could control how many players could waypoint to that area at any given time to prevent the entire zerg from simply spawning into anything that was under attack. You could also use this system to allow players to construct waypoints in the field and feed them supply to allow respawning, this would allow attackers to build a waypoint outside a base they were attacking and use it to bring in reinforcements or respawns, the waypoint itself would be destructible like any other constructed siege weapon and it would consume supply to generate respawn tickets giving it a finite amount of resources.

It seems to me that more waypoints with a limited number of people who can use them at a time plus constructed but limited waypoints for offense would allow the zerg to be broken into smaller attacking and defending groups spread out over a larger portion of the enormous maps. But I am not a game designer and I may be entirely wrong and missing some obvious fundamental flaw in my plan that would ruin the entire game if you did this. Either way perhaps my attempt to solve the problem will better help explain what I feel the problem is.

LFG: I don't have much to add here. I agree with what you said and I don't feel like you were really disagreeing with me. It is difficult at the low end and impossible at the higher difficulties for a random group of PUGs to do dungeons. I think this is a real problem with the game and needs to be addressed, I think WoW did a good job of dealing with this by separating "Normal" dungeons with lower quality loot from "Heroic" dungeons with much better loot. This also allowed one to be used as a stepping stone to the next.

This is a very long post, in reply to a very long post, which was in reply to my original very long post. I think this shows that I really loved a lot about this game and wanted it to be my new MMO of choice, I have a lot of interest in this genre and Guild Wars 2 especially appealed to me, I hope you and anyone else who bothers to read this understand that the only reason I, or anyone, would spend this much time and effort typing about a game is because we like it and want to love it. I am not bashing this game, I do not discourage others from trying it, and I do come back from time to time to try again, but I just can't seem to find a niche that fits me to keep me playing. Perhaps it's just my problem and has nothing to do with the game at all.

I really do disagree with you. I have four 80 classes. One tank/healer (my guardian char). As a tank he does little damage, but he is constantly buffing, healing and removing conditions.

My other character is an elementalist. He seems to be the hardest to play for me, but the payoff is huge. Using combo fields, I buff and heal AoE partys through dungeons nicely. He tends to be pretty squishy. I play him middle ground so I do get too close to the mobs.

You said that you don't understand holiday events. Literally all you have to do is read... it is right there at the top right. If not, there are a million guides (on this site for example... a site you obviously know)

You say you waste money getting a vanity weapon to have it outdated? Legendaries will always scale with the highest weapon. Legendaries will always be same Tier as the strongest weapon of its type. They don't get outdated. ANet promised this with their introduction.

The LFG tool is just fine. I use it all of the time and its easy and very useful. Not much to add here.

You can kick people with 50% the votes, which is on par with other games (party = 5 leaving 4 voting members)

WvW never had balanced gear. You were always able to wear whatever gear you want without the stats being stripped. People were always scaled to 80 for their character and their gear never scaled with them. Not sure why you thought there was ever gear balancing in WvW.

I am not trying to say you don't know anything about the game, but then again most of the things you talk about sound like you only understand half of what is there. You probably played for a couple months.

I play so many MMOs and GW2 honestly deserved it in my opinion and obviously TTH which is no newbie when it comes to MMORPGs.

I feel like I addressed a lot of what you had to say in my original post and you either missed it or misunderstood what I said. I also just posted a lengthy reply to someone else and I don't feel like writing another dissertation right now so I am only going to choose a few things you said to reply to:

"You said that you don't understand holiday events. Literally all you have to do is read... it is right there at the top right. If not, there are a million guides (on this site for example... a site you obviously know)"

The last time I played was during Dragon Bash, just before that was Southsun. You are free to disagree with me on the complexity of the events, personally I found them to be unintuitive and while you imply that a guide is something you can choose to use, I feel that it's a requirement. Without a guide there are simply things I would likely have never figured out about the way some of the content and holidays work. This is, however, a very minor complaint and not really worth a large discussion.

"You say you waste money getting a vanity weapon to have it outdated? Legendaries will always scale with the highest weapon. Legendaries will always be same Tier as the strongest weapon of its type. They don't get outdated. ANet promised this with their introduction."

I did not know that legendary items scaled up. That's very interesting, thank you for telling me. However, whether or not legendary items were worth spending money on was not the point of what I was saying. I was discussing the way the money for gems for gold system works, the unreasonable conversion rates that favor only the super wealthy and the fact that you can buy prestige items damaging the prestige of those items.

The rest of your post mostly addresses things I never said, misses the point of what I said completely, or takes a small bit of a larger comment and ignores the context. I'm not going to reply to those parts.

I'm glad you enjoy the game so much, I hope that people like you will keep it alive and thriving for a while so that maybe in the future I can come back and find a spot I really enjoy to fit into.

Ok I hear you. I guess what I am saying is people that pay money do so for vanity alone. There is no reason you need to drop a dime other than certain appearances you may like. There are no stat benefits. Regarding gold to gem conversion, you can get around 100 gems a day running dungeons and selling 10 G. That is pretty cool and honestly not that bad, right?

Regardless, I appreciate your honesty and how nice you are in your responses.

I would like to see someone like yourself come back to the game someday.

News from around the 'Net