About a week and a half ago, there was a bit of a buzz around the TenTonHammer office - Guild Wars 2 was going on sale for 10 bucks, people were talking about it again, and we decided to amp up our coverage to meet those needs. Once again, being a team player, I figured I could lend my own unique voice to the discussion.
And I really did try, for a whole week. I started new characters and ran around the newbie areas trying things out and seeing what two and a half years of growth have done to the game.
Short answer: not enough to make me want to keep playing it. Even with our awesome and helpful guides, I can't find a race/class combo that keeps me interested in the game.
One of the things I hated the first time around, when the game was still new, was how my Norn warrior got all his weapon skills within the first few levels. They've changed that sometime over the past 2.5 years, so now you get select skills when you level up - basically, converting the quirky, unique thing to the standard MMO formula. It's a lateral move, really - even though the old system was kind of annoying, moving to the "everyone does it" standard robs the game of some of its flavor. I know, can't have it both ways. Lucky for me, I don't want it in the first place.
I think they might have changed the way cosmetic outfits work, also. I remember being able to swap between a "go to town" outfit and my ugly low-level armor, but apparently now you unlock armor "skins" and you can change to unlocked skins you have collected by using items you buy from the cash shop. There's a chance I'm remembering the old system incorrectly, because I seem to recall you could buy goofy hats and sunglasses from the cash shop way back then, too, and I don't remember how any of that worked. Anyway... meh. Another lateral move - there are more options and the system is more flexible (I think), but it costs money I am too cheap to spend.
I imagine all the rest of the 2.5 years' worth of progress has gone into late-game content, because the newbie stuff is exactly the same as I remember from launch time: boring no-story screwing around in a "dynamic" world I don't care about.
I enjoy questing. It's an old mechanic, yes, but the reason every other game uses it is because it works. You go to town, pawn off all the trash you've collected from killing stuff, run around talking to people and signing on for odd jobs, go out and do them, come back and receive your rewards. That's awesome. It feels like you've accomplished something, because people are thanking your for it and rewarding all the hard, dangerous work you did for them.
The Guild Wars 2 concept is, "Do whatever you feel like, I guess, stop bothering me." Filling hearts by screwing around dancing for cows doesn't have the same feel as killing 10 rats so the barkeep's boy can get the cheese out of the cellar or whatever.
Seriously, I almost quit the goddamn game for good when this happened.
As for the "dynamic" content... again, it feels like distracting busywork, not heroic undertakings. Escorting some ox along a road, defending it against centaurs is vaguely interesting, but not really as "dynamic" as the world-builders would have you believe. If the ox dies, you wait half an hour and the consequence for failure resets to zero. Or you can succeed, wait half an hour and do the exact same thing again if you prefer, because screw your heroic accomplishment. With your standard quest-based progression, once a job is done, that job stays done. Unless it's a repeatable.
In any other game, the "core gameplay" of Guild Wars 2's new player areas would be considered unforgivably dreadful grind. Yeah, you get loads of XP for killing stuff and for finding map markers and the like - that's incidental.
There's no feeling that you're out there doing a job that no one else has the stones to do, because literally any villager or townsfolk could run around finding vistas or points of interest. Likewise, literally anyone could dance for the entertainment of cows, but even the farmers who own the damned things aren't stupid enough to do it.
The actual new-player intro is, to be fair, pretty engaging. For Humans, Norns and Charr kitty-demons, anyway. Like everything else about those big-headed little turds, I dislike the Asura starting story and newbie region. Even the ridiculous psilocybin-painted jungle of the Sylvari is less annoying. I played this guy right up to this point here, then stopped and deleted him forever.
I'm going to go ahead and admit that I haven't ever gotten very far into the game. My highest-level character is the level 21 Norn Warrior I made two and a half years ago. So it's accurate to say I haven't seen the late-game content, which is totally amazeballs according to the people who spend much of their time there. But those fine people obviously aren't having the same issues I am having with the early-game content. It's a matter of taste - some people simply adore the open-ended dick-around exploring and non-quest-centric leveling experience. If I hate the early-game content this much, what are the odds I'm going to somehow start to like the same game mechanics at level 80?
Invariably, someone is going to tell me, "Oh, well, see, you have to play the game THIS way, that's why you are having a bad time," or "if you try thinking about it THIS way instead of THAT way, it's not so bad." That's a cop-out and that argument carries no weight with me. I like what I like, and I'm not interested in changing myself to make your dumb game seem less awful. And I'm not saying the game is terrible (even though it totally is and you're wrong for liking it) - just that it's not for me. I prefer games where grind is incidental, not a core mechanic. That's how I liked things two and a half years ago, that's how I still like things today.
If you're still one of "those people" who enjoys Guild Wars 2, good on ya. More power to you, continue to enjoy your weirdo game. But please don't try to sell me on it again, because I'm a dog person, and you're clearly all demon-cat people.
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