Everything just kinda plays/unlocks itself. – kalex716
I think this describes why GW2 feels like an enjoyably meh experience to me right now. I like each piece of content, to varying degrees, but as soon as I close GW2 the experience is completely forgettable. I’ve not once logged off with my adrenaline still pumping like I have from so many encounters in games like UO, DF, or EVE. Hell, logging off after a successful guild-first boss kill in WoW did more for me. The same goes for starting up GW2; rather than being excited to progress, I just kinda zombie around in the game, ever-progressing forward towards… something.
The lack of in-game report-style posts here and on blogs I read just confirms this: it’s not bad exactly, but it’s not anything to write home (blog) about either.
Part of the problem is the lack of challenge. Or rather, the lack of meaningful challenge. Yes, certain encounters in the dungeons are frustratingly hard (or bugged/broken), but when you overcome them it’s more of a relief than a sense of accomplishment because most likely you just abused the systems enough to win. Plus the knowledge that once these encounters are ‘tuned’, they will fall in line with the rest of the cakewalk experience makes the whole thing a self-inflicted punishment for pixels more than anything else.
As for the rest of the PvE? Forehead-smash to the num-pad will earn you the same gold medal in an event that min-maxing the hell of our character would. Aside from becoming a master at rolling around (which itself feels incredibly lame in a world of heat-seeking arrows and lava pools that don’t hurt if you roll through them), the combat system is the same hotbar smashfest as in previous games, with the occasional combo going off to do… not much of anything actually, because stuff dies whether you pull them off or not.
In addition to a lack of challenge (lvl 65 now, still facerolling all PvE including events. When exactly does it get harder?), GW2 seriously lacks anything resembling a meaningful decision. Crafting? Do them all! Collecting? Everyone collect everything! Hunting for resources? Everything is open to everyone! Gear? It rains from the sky so hard and fast it makes WoW’s welfare epic system feel like full-loot PvP! And in the super-rare event that you can’t find an upgrade under your nose? Don’t worry gear has little to no impact on anything but the one area gear was expected not to matter (PvP).
Worst of all you don’t need to plan anything. Nothing you do one day will determine what you do the next, and regardless of your path, you will eventually reach the same end-point as everyone else. The journey will largely be forgettable with none of your decisions impacting anything anyway. Oh sorry, you get a medal at the login screen. Wheee…
In the oddest sense, GW2 has zero progression. Sure you gain XP and world completion % and such, but it feels like regardless of what you do, you will get there anyway. It’s very Farmville actually. Whether you log in or not, click the right button or wrong, your pixels just keep ‘growing’ regardless. It truly has that “just show up and get a prize” feel, rather than being something that requires effort or ability.
I’ve seen it written a few times now that GW2 is catering to the ultra-casual player, the mythical creature who does not notice gear stats or character builds, nor does anything resembling an intelligent approach to a game. They just materialize from thin air, buy a ton of stuff from the cash shop, and play for ‘fun’. (Because everyone else is not playing for fun…) I don’t doubt that such people exits. It’s a bit scary, but it’s sadly true. But if you have not been lobotomized yet, GW2 has a serious lack of hooks, challenge, or purpose for an MMO.
GW2 is a very pretty, polished, and lovingly detailed toy. Sadly the only thing you can do with it is look and admire the craftsmanship for a bit before returning to play with your Lego kit that you got five years ago.