Wednesday, 29 April 2015

We now revert to our scheduled programming #GW2

(I wrote this back at the end of March and didn't publish. Not sure why.  I think I was just a bit sick of my own whining. Reading over it now I can see that everything I said is absolutely relevant a month later.)

So, ArenaNet announced an expansion for Guild Wars 2 and then went back to doing their PR exactly the same way. We're being drip fed the same level of information on about the same sort of schedule we're used to.  Just instead of previewing the next feature pack (or whatever they span it as) or Episode it's now parts of the expansion.  The difference is we don't know when the expansion is coming. More than that our educated best guess is based purely on (korean) financials.  Q1 is done, if they were releasing next quarter they would be  announcing now (or VERY soon) in order to boost Q2.

Personally, I can't see release before Q3. Q2 is surely out since the first "closed beta" was just the demo.  Admittedly, the demo on the live servers with real players, but clearly barely scratching the surface of what has been promised. Has anyone heard anything bad about that beta period? I haven't.  By all accounts people were impressed that they could play it so seamlessly.  So, developmental progress seem solid enough.

Assuming the Anet hype-machine continues to function as normal we can expect at least a week of coverage per Specialisation. I mean you could do a day a week but why clump it all together?  That's basically two months of news items on it's own.

When I think about it, though, what haven't they covered? Masteries, Revenant and the new zones have all had a pretty good chunk of coverage.  The new Stronghold map and WvW ditto.  I guess that pretty much does leave Specialisations and Guild Halls.  But part of me wonders if these Specialisations are even final for each class yet.  We know from the Revenant coverage that they built and abandoned at least one spirit.

I think it's safe to say that we're still some way from release but then why have they announced so early, and with such detail, without a release date? To put it in perspective, Warlords of Draenor was announced November 2013 and release November 2014.  The release date was announced just 3 months prior, in August.  I get the impression from Twitter that people think that Heart of Thorns should have been RELEASED already, never mind announcing a release date. I think the lack of release date is an indication of just how far away it is.

The biggest problem that I have is that, now an expansion has been annouced, Anet are no longer obliged to release any new "content" until the expansion. I said before, and repeatedly, that the expansion to me looks no more than Season 3, the PvP and WvW updates and a feature pack all bundled up with a price tag. I don't have a problem with paying, I just would have preferred to have the content delivered under the old model.

So, why did they announce? Back around the announcement I said this:
It's bad news rather than good. Quite simply there is nothing coming between now and release and there was no way they could keep hiding that without admitting they were working on an expansion.  I keep hearing people say that they have been working on this since release but I very much got the impression that the China release was their main focus from launch (watch the first minute) and it's only since then they have started working on the expansion.  Otherwise, well, why isn't it ready?

I just hope this isn't the shape of things to come. Pre-announcment I said that I thought they'd shown that the traditional MMO release model wasn't the only thing that worked but now it looks like they just fallen back to that. Will Season 4 be delivered as a Living Story again?

Oh, and how the hell will they balance a new class and 8 new specialisations across PvE (with new mechanics), PvP (with new mechanics) and WvW (with new mechanics)?

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