Keen has a report card out for GW2, and while I think the grades are a bit high, I agree overall with his assessment. In short, GW2 is a good game, but a month in its pretty clear GW2 is a very shitty MMO. If you are keeping score at home, you will notice a trend here in the last few years.
I’ll start with this, because I think it’s important to keep in mind when considering any ‘MMO’: If the ‘MMO’ does not have a sub fee, it’s the developers telling you they don’t believe people will find the game good enough to pay $15 a month for. PR can spin it any way they want, but the fact remains that you only stop being a sub game (or never start) if you suspect or know people won’t give you the money. WoW is WoW because enough people still believe it’s worth it, and that is why Blizzard still has their money tree. F2P ‘works’ because a few people can’t help themselves and spend a fortune while most don’t spend a dime. That should tell you all you need to know about the MMO in question.
Back to GW2. As mentioned numerous times, it’s a solid game. Most things work, it looks good, and occasionally it will do something unexpected or above-average to surprise you. Yay.
The problems hit at level 80, which unfortunately comes almost instantly so long as you login a few times. Once you hit 80 and hit the AH once, you are done progressing. Yes, there is still a lot of ‘stuff’ to do, but none of it is going to open anything new up for you or give you new toys to play with. The only form of progression is collecting cute outfits to play dress-up with, and if that’s your thing, awesome, but I suspect for most it’s not. It certainly has not been historically on this side of the ocean.
On top of the above, which is very critical, is the fact that while GW2 has a lot of content, almost all of it is the same. ‘Dynamic’ events are not only not dynamic, but for the most part are just reskins of each other. If you have seen one “collect X” event, you have seen them all. Kill invaders, collect stuff, kill big bad. Which ‘chain’ did I just describe? Half of them, in all zones.
And not only is the content just reskinned, but the method to defeat it is the same since about level 30 as well. Regardless of your class, you will likely end up using the same skills and tactics against everything, and those tactics will always work. For most events, it’s as simple as “spam big AoE attack to tag mobs, collect loot”. On occasion you will need to dodge, maybe. And yes, it’s like that until the final Orr zone, so don’t buy into the “it gets more complicated later” BS either.
For all its hype, the combat system in GW2 might be one of the worst in the themepark genre, if only because of its simplicity and the games total lack of strategic encouragement. You will literally be hitting the same buttons over and over again, brainlessly, and not only will you succeed, but you will actually perform at almost max efficiency. At least in WoW or other themeparks the facerolling only gets you to 50% dps or so, and there is/was content where that was not good enough. In GW2, regardless of what you do, it’s not only always good enough, but doing better is almost impossible.
WvW should be the save grace and the reason to stick around, but again with zero form of progression, the ‘why’ kicks in pretty quickly, and what little ‘server pride’ you might muster up, the queues and off-hours scoring will do a great job of crushing. The scoring is perhaps the saddest part if you think about it: more points are scoring in off-hours than during primetime, which means the ‘best’ servers are not those with the best players, but those that organized to cover all time zones. Makes splitting EU and NA servers apart a total joke.
Worst still is the fact that, because of the combat system and the tiny maps, playing WvW is only a slightly different experience than grinding a generic ‘dynamic event’. Most of it is still AoE spam, and most of the time doing just enough is all that is required. Contrast WvW results to which Alliances succeed in EVE (and how), or which guilds did well in a game like Darkfall, and it becomes very clear that WvW is highly flawed not just at the top, but all the way to its core. There are ways to make MMO PvP work, and what GW2 has is very, very far from that.
Which brings up the ultimate question; would I pay for new content? I think the answer is no, because I don’t imagine the new content playing like anything but more of the same due to the game’s core flaws, and I still have some of that content untouched as is should I want it, which I don’t.
It’s sadly funny that the more current-day devs try to evolve MMOs, the further they go from what actually makes the games work.