I've cool my heels a bit on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and decided that maybe I could get on board with it.
My current GW2 playtime consists of logging on to my level 24 norn Warrior, harvesting my home instance and logging off. That's it. On most days, at least. If there is a Mystic Forge daily I will throw watchwork sprockets in to get Blade Shards. That was until I realised I don't want the Ascended Spinal blades (crazy expensive) and then realised I had enough Blades to complete the Exotic version already. Doh.
So, I'm not playing GW2 by any reasonable definition of the word. I went into this holding pattern when I got my 10k achievement chest. And the reason I stopped there was because, with the annoucement of HoT, I knew there was nothing but achievement grind to do until release. This has been my main beef with the expac all along.
As a result of my uninterest in HoT I haven't been following the news at. A few headlines but no in-depth readathons. I have heard about the disatisfaction with unlocking the Elite specs and seen the word "grind" bandied about. It always puzzles me when people complain about having to DO the new things added in an expac.
Having decided that HoT might be worth a bit more of a look, this morning I decided to explore some of the new stuff added to the character UI on my way back from the Forge. I noticed that new Achievements had been added to categories I had completed and I realised that some of these were linked to Masteries. Full realisation dawned and then I got angry.
So "Masteries" are Achievements 2.0? "NO," the fan people cry! "You get abilities instead of items! You can grow your character!" Yeah, but to do what? Unlock more Mastery points that are "gated" behind obstacles that can only be passed with abilities you get from Masteries. That's a genius system for long-term player buy in. But actually it's just a massive facade of busy work.
Before I go on I just need to make a critical point: if you are still enjoying the gameplay of GW2 there is nothing wrong with this system. If you can go and kill Tequatl every day and enjoy every battle, then HoT must be right up your street. If like me you don't enjoy that gameplay and were looking forward to something fresh in HoT, well, forget it.
I'm not into Achievements. I never have been. I was delighted when I Anet broke the Achievements away from the story in Season 2 of the Living World. Now, looking at the UI, I can see Mastery points attached to all that crap I have zero interest in doing. Once again, it's a great system: force players to do content that you already built instead of building new content. Genius.
But you can grow your character! Well, no, that's actually impossible in GW2 because everyone can do everything. Because those same people that are complaining about having to unlock Elite Specs would NEVER allow a situation in which they cannot obtain ALL the Achievements. So you will never be able to differentiate your character in terms of abilities. Hence your character never really grows; there's no richness. When every PC can do everything you don't have an RPG. What you actually have is closer to a MOBA. I could write a whole post about how GW2 is cleaving closer to a MOBA philosophy than an MMORPG philosphy with each release but it should be obvious to anyone that gives it any thought. Yet again, that's probably very good business!
As someone with a pretty busy lifestyle, being a completitionist would mean a life of disappointment. So when a game becomes about completitionism at it's very core, it becomes impossible for me to engage with. By ensuring that everyone can do everything, and that the only differentiation between characters is how much of it they have done, Arenanet have ripped the heart out of Guild Wars 2.