Tuesday, 23 June 2015

GW2 is dead, long live GW2HOT

Today's patch confirmed my worst fears. Up until now a lot of my negativity has been sort of gallows humour of the "wouldn't it be terrible if" variety. I was actually a bit excited when I logged in today. Not excitement of the "OMG I've devoured every morsel of information and can't wait to see it in action" variety, just general curiosity.

Now my (well documented) fears are confirmed. As a veteran player currently without interest in Heart of Thorns I don't want to relearn everything before I can enjoy the three basic game modes again. If I was sold on HoT and intended to head to Maguuma, then, yes, it would make it worthwhile but I'm not. Yes, the meta did need a shake up but that's all it needed. It didn't need demolishing and rebuilding. I was fully invested in GW2 and happily coasting along and all that's gone out the window.  I don't want to start over in GW2, it's just exhausting.

As a veteran player the message I get from ArenaNet today is "HoT or GTFO". And you know what? That's fine. It's a buy to play game. This is how you make money and move your player base onto your next expansion. It's great business. Games Workshop have been doing this for years. Their stated business model is to manufacture and sell miniatures and the best way for them to do that is by changing the rules constantly so you need to buy new models to get the most out of each new iteration. It's genius. Of course the internet doesn't think so but, hey, shareholders are happy.

Suddenly buy to play isn't looking like the panacea it did two and half years ago.

One of the main reasons I'm not sold on HoT (and this opinion I've discovered is shared by many others) is that all these new systems like Masteries and Specializations have been introduced but it's not clear what we're going to be doing with them. When HoT was announced CJ said this:
Now as Mo [Mike O'Brien] said earlier, the maps in the Heart of Maguuma are some of the richest, deepest content experiences that we have ever built in GW2. The game space is tremendous, the amount of space that you can play in, and the jungle is made up of three distinct biomes: The Core (the jungle floor itself), The Roots of the jungle that run deep beneath the jungle itself, and The Canopy, high above, where the remains of the Pact fleet are scattered across the top of the jungle. You're going to get to go and explore all of these areas, from the very depths, to the very top of the jungle, and as you explore, you'll find a secret that the last known good dragon, Glint, left hidden in the jungle for us, right as the story of Guild Wars 1 concluded. And now, hundreds of years later, we will go into the jungle, and find that secret, and find Glint's legacy.
Well, if that really is the case then, damn, they are saving the BEST for last announcements wise because so far I ain't seen NOTHIN' to back that up. I suspect the "content" we're going to see in HoT is going to be no more than 3 zones with lots of "verticality". I could be wrong. If I am wrong I'll be happy. If there is a variety of rich new experiences and zones to explore I might completely change my mind about all this. However, I and many others suspect it's simply Silverwastes in the jungle.

What I DO hope ArenaNet is doing is laying the ground work for all future expansions. That's what they said Heart of Thorns was: "a new framework for how an MMO can grow its universe." What concerns me is that in the 3 years since launch this is the 2nd big overhaul of traits and I wouldn't be surprised if we get to the next expansion and they have changed their mind again. From my experience of logging in today I don't think the new system is "simpler" than the previous one. I hate the fact I now have to unlock skills consecutively (I must have missed that announcement). Yes, it's more like other games but that was what made GW2 great, it wasn't like other games. When I logged on today I had traits equipped in slots where an actual trait I had been using wasn't selected. Whoever derived the logic for the "comparable build generator" is an idiot. Also, I hover over some traits and two boxes come up. I dunno what that means any more. Looking at this as yet another stab at revamping the NPE they've confused me, a veteran player. So, is this a fail right off the bat? Do we now need yet another iteration? Who decides?

May be that's the big question: who exactly is deciding the direction of Guild War 2? ArenaNet, NCSoft or the players? One thing is for sure, as the answer to that question becomes less clear, the worse it will be for the game.

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