Friday, July 30, 2010

Guild Wars 2 - It's still a grind!

No matter how short or fun it claims to be, as long as XP is given for killing mobs and a certain amount is required to advance each level, it's going to be a predictable grind to some extent. If players are in the situation of 'needing' to get a few (reputation) levels, the choice between staying in the one place to kill say 100 mobs or finding 5 events to complete (or just as bad, killing mobs while waiting for an event to begin), I think a surprising amount would opt for the former, especially on an alt. It's failing to change the mentality of killing mobs for advancement rather than compelling players to search for activity.

Levels and levelling is such a tired mechanic at this stage, that I was expecting something more innovative from Arenanet. While they have not discussed mob power or levels, there's a lot already in place or in the original that could have been developed leaving levels at the door. Look at the type of content a player could choose between on logging in for the evening, a choice of doing achievements, collecting skills and traits, participating in events or venturing into dungeons and killing bosses. They could reward attribute points for those activities and task the player with acquiring a certain number in whatever manner they want. Not such a big departure from levels, but even with this there is player choice and adaptability in choosing where to spend points first and a higher level character has a broader spread of attributes rather than vastly increased attributes.

What's most important is that they need to move away from incentivizing boring repetitive tasks, i.e. killing a mob and receiving a set amount of XP. Looking again at the activities I think should be rewarded:

1) Doing the daily achievements - random, dependable but hopefully skippable.

2) Collecting skills and traits - reward skill, knowledge and research about your profession.

3) Killing open-world and dungeon bosses, rewarding co-operation and providing challenge.

4) The Karma from events could also be used to buy attribute points, offered alongside the more material rewards. Tying character progression to events might frustrate some people, but it's not as dependable as some activities, and the rewards for a challenging or rare event could be significant to reward exploration.

The only thing keeping levels in play is being able to simply communicate the difficulty of mobs to players, which I think is an opportunity ripe for innovating.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Panic in Lion's Arch

This weekend went from cussing A'net for putting in such as a difficult final quest to end the 'War in Kryta', to enthusing about the finale when I eventually got it done. On Friday, lag made it unplayable, Saturday tried to pug with another person, no good. Tried on my own with several builds and hero set-ups, even tried 'tanking' and bonding which is not really something I know how to do well on my warrior. In the end settled for a Barrage/SY! bar, because the mission is all about AOE, the alternative is build a wall of minions and spirits. There is certainly an epic feel to the encounter, standing on a hill behind barricades, firing upon hordes of enemies. In the end the toughness made the reward all the sweeter.

Special mention goes to 'Panic', this is the mesmer spell that got buffed the last big update, and it is amazing for this mission. The fun of turning the White Mantle and mursaat into a bunch of panicky idiots is immense, only moments after them walking into Lion's Arch confident of victory. Created a mesmer recently and fully intend to make it the elite when I get up to level cap. It could be considered overpowered but it only works best when mobs bunch up together. '!!' '!!'

I wonder about it though, this is the kind of skill that hints a lot towards the sequel. Going on the roles they released last week, this skill is control, but with great potential to prevent a lot of damage taken by allies. Initial thoughts about those roles were that they were replacing one trinity with another but have reconsidered since then; preventing damage taken by allies and preventing foes dealing damage are two sides of the same coin, thus control and support tend to blend together, with damage falling by the side as something you just need enough or of a certain type. The system as outlined is all about giving all classes the tools to be able to work together and coordinate their efforts for greater effect. I don't see anything to be worried about in this, it is a good thing. The argument could be made that the classes would become indistinct, but so what, if they have a distinct style and feel. Artificial differences between classes is an out-dated notion, as an adventurer needs be a adaptable if they are to make it anywhere in the world.