GW2: Entertain me once, get $60. Entertain me twice, get $15

Lack of progression is the second biggest killer of MMOs (progression you can’t be bothered with being number one), which is why I’ve always maintained that GW2 will live or die by how successful WvW is (and to a lesser extend the arena stuff). Consider everything you currently find fun in GW2, remove the progression, and ask yourself if you would still do it? Now ask yourself if you would do it more than once.

Most ‘dynamic’ events are dressed up “kill X” quests, and while the dressing is often times very nice (more on that in a bit), the point remains that if killing boars or whatever did not lead to something, most would not spend hours killing boars for the ‘gameplay’ factor. That’s why people still mine Veld in EVE 10 years later, and no one is going to be fighting back the centaurs in a month (more on that later as well). Has GW2 improved MMO combat and exploration from the generic themepark model? Yes. Is it improved to the point that you would play it just for that, repeatedly? No.

And because the answer is indeed no, you need the MMO secret sauce, progression, to keep you going. Take a look at player behavior around a ‘dynamic’ event that triggers shortly after it just finished. Notice how many people can’t be bothered to care the second time around. If the gameplay itself was that good, they would, but for most events, it’s just more of the same and the window dressing has been seen, so you ignore it and keep going.

The sheer volume of content will keep people busy for some time, and that along with its quality justifies the $60 buy in. And for many that’s all that matters, which is fine. But for those who play MMOs for the community and the continuity that goes with these games, the lack of progression, and ultimately purpose (outside of PvP), is something to keep in mind.

Now about that nice dressing: Anet has put in a lot of detail into GW2 content, and most players are going to miss a whole lot of it because WoW has trained them to be leveling monkeys rather than engaging with an active world. And because GW2 is not a ‘real’ world, you could be forgiven for not caring about the actions of NPC X, because we all know they are going to reset sooner rather than later, and tomorrow nothing you did will matter.

Still, the detail is there, and it’s pretty cool. One little example was an NPC that is collecting chocobos (or whatever GW2 calls them) in the human lands. Once you herd them into a pen, you can watch a little animation play out, and then trigger the escort quest. Once the NPC makes it to town, they again have some animation play out before turning into a vendor that sells baby chocobos. Out of curiosity, I stood around and watched this NPC, wondering how they are going to reset back to the first phase of the event. I was fully expecting the NPC to just go poof after a minute or so, but in a great show of detail, they actually walk into a nearby building and only go poof when they reach a door you can’t open. Minor? Very. But still pretty cool. Once.

Oh and about those centaurs. As expected, they are currently on the endangered species list as the hordes plow through the zone, meaning that ‘world’ event is always locked in its final victory phase. By the time Wilhelm gets around to playing GW2, you can bet the centaur will be fully in charge, and the final ‘defeat’ event will be waiting for him. Should he and his gang decide to ‘impact the world’, they can have a nice bit of content progressing through the phases, until they ‘win’ and move on, allowing the centaurs to again reset things.

Is the above better than 100% static quest hubs? Yes. Is it the virtual world dynamic that UO had in beta with its ecology system? No. So yay for progress, but let’s not cheer and celebrate until we actually get there, eh?

20 Responses to GW2: Entertain me once, get $60. Entertain me twice, get $15

  1. professer says:

    With games like Darkfall, Mortal Online, Fallen Earth’s (not as great) FPS combat… there’s no excuse to still be doing wow-type ‘tab-123444′ combat. Adding a dodge key and ‘strategic button mashing’ is still the same type of combat.

    I don’t mean to call the combat shit, but that’s like bedazzling a piece of shit to try and make it better. MMOs outside of the indie-realm seriously need to evolve a bit. Eventually, most people will grow tired of this. That will take a long time, and I guess there’s no real chances of seeing AAA games take a step forwards untill that point.

    Enjoy bending over and handing out your monies until then. The industry just isn’t worth it at this point. Even with some good indie titles out there, they’re not fully there yet either.

    Am I really the only one who’s grown up from the wow remakes and realizes that the entire MMO industry just isn’t worth it at this point? EvE is the only exception at the moment. Maybe WoD will shed some light. Until then I’m enjoying my time not playing terrible games.

    There also seems to be a mentality of “Oh, well this game is the best of the crap-bunch to play until an actual decent game comes along” or some sorts. I remember when I was like that (playing war, vanguard, etc.). Everyone seriously should stop taking this crap they feed us. That’d send em a message…

    • Tell me again how FPS style combat with repeated mashing of a single button is better than WOW style repeated mashing of eight different buttons.

      • SynCaine says:

        How long have people played the same FPS map in the same game for months/years with zero progression?

        Point is, FPS gameplay is good. MMO gameplay is not. MMOs work DESPITE the gameplay in many ways.

        • spinks says:

          Yeah but you don’t play an MMO for the gameplay. The best MMOs aren’t necessarily the best ‘games’ per se.

        • That’s something of a misleading statement: “zero progression.” There is a quite a bit of progression in FPS games – I’ve unlocked dozens of gadgets, guns, vanity gear, and perks in BF3, for example. A friend of mine was bragging last night of a perk he had just gotten in COD4. If you want to make the argument that FPS gameplay is better than MMO gameplay, fine, but progression is not going to be the lynchpin for that argument. I happen to think MMO gameplay is better, and my hours played/money spent reflect that.

    • Mekhios says:

      The problem with Eve Online is that it is tedious and about as exciting as watching paint dry for most people. Eve will never appeal to a wide cross section of the MMO playing community. Keep in mind the people that read this blog only represent a small section of the MMO playing community.

      For the vast majority of MMO players who just want to have fun and don’t want to have to think too much about MMO mechanics Guild Wars 2 is a perfect MMO.

    • Kelindia says:

      I think the problem with MMO combat has nothing to do with 123444 combat but actually stems from the relationship between pressing 123444 and the mobs. What I mean is to say while 123444 works for fighting 99% of the mobs, so does 111111 for 99% of the mobs. MMO combat has almost no refinement to how the character has to react mob to mob.

      While shooter combat generally has the player trying hard to get head shots or hit weak points that in many cases varies considerably in difficulty considering range, terrain, speed of the mobs and relative aggression.

      What the MMO market really needs to focus on imo is making combat more varied. Not necessarily harder just require the player to actually have some knowledge of what they are trying to kill and what options they have as players to try and do so.

  2. professer says:

    second paragraph last sentence should read: take a serious step forwards

  3. My mind is greatly eased by the knowledge that those centaurs will be waiting for us, the way that Old Blanchy used to wait for the new players to show up… before Blizzard ruined everything. Hah!

  4. […] and the World v World PVP system all seem interesting. I’ve heard good things about the detail level of some of the quests which does sound like a nice touch. Having NPC’s follow a complete arc of events and not […]

  5. kennyg says:

    sorry to quote you here but..

    “Is it improved to the point that you would play it just for that, repeatedly? No.

    And because the answer is indeed no”

    That is just your opinion you make it sound so definitive that it will apply to everyone, in fact id argue its got so much replay-ability from 1 to 80 than any other MMO in recent times

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d say, based on doing four zones so far, that it likely has enough replay-ability to do each zone maybe two or three times. The reason would mostly be for the quality of the zones, the events you misses / playing them differently with different numbers of players, and the new mechanics of each class. But that’s still not all that terribly long. You could probably level five or eight classes to eighty in maybe three or four months of playing.

      What might keep people around longer than that, and more importantly get them using the cash shop, is still going to be end-game content. There’s no evidence yet that Guild Wars 2 has enough of that to keep people playing. It’s the biggest question still remaining, and it’ll probably impact whether the game is just a success, or a BIG success.

      • kennyg says:

        sure agree, i think as long as Anet bring out regular expansions (as is part of there business model) to out pace the majority of players then the game will be fine

        • SynCaine says:

          Problem is, no themepark MMO has ever been able to do that (maybe EQ1 back in the day?) and given the style of GW2 content, I doubt Anet will be any different here.

      • Shadow says:

        Did the first Guild Wars subsist on it’s (many) expansions, and keep its players persistently happy via the competitive PvP system? Do we have any reason to think that ANet has changed their game model to steer away from this?

        Serious question.

        • SynCaine says:

          The first GW was not an MMO. Also ‘many’ expansion is 3. UO/EQ would like to talk to you about the definition of ‘many’.

        • professer says:

          GW1 only had one expansion actually. The ‘… of the North” one. The other two releases were extra campaigns.

        • Shadow says:

          Huh, I just seem to recall there were lots of other boxes being sold. Specifically, my mental recognition put it on the same level as EQ (and EQ2 had done a good try at matching it’s predecessor).

  6. Bosstiger says:

    Reblogged this on Gigable – Tech Blog.

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