In a World… vs. World!

Hello, Dak here, Verene’s boyfriend!  I’m doing a guest post here, after the recent announcement detailing GW2’s World vs. World (WvW) mode.

First, some background.  I’m not an expert on GW1, having played it little and relatively recently, though I’ve enjoyed what I have played.  I have a grip on how the various classes are played, but I don’t have all the best skill sets memorized or anything like that.  So this is from the perspective of someone who hasn’t really played GW, which should give a refreshing point of view from the rest of us who are merely waiting to be fanatics.

Second, I haven’t touched GW1’s PvP, at all.  While I like how GW handles PvP from a design perspective, beating up other people in a hectic battle isn’t my cup of tea.  I haven’t played PvP in other MMOs either, and as far as the other genres go… same deal, not a fan of deathmatches, capture the flag, and the like (the sole exception being Assassin’s Creed, for myriad reasons that are not the point of this post).

So what’s my view on GW2’s WvW, as a non-fanatic non-PvP upcoming player?  Simply put, I’m really intrigued!

The first thing that catches my attention is the scope of it all.  Massive maps designed to support 300 people at a time, filled with majestic castles, keeps, and camps awaiting worthy adventurers to swarm into them swords and staves swinging.  Battles so prodigious they’ll take two weeks to play out.  Just the prospect of being a part of something so colossal is alluring in its own way.  Even if I am a tad squeamish at the thought of joining a group of adventurers and thus having to cooperate with people I don’t know, the size of the undertaking in this case – combined with GW2’s simple and painless grouping system – reverses that worry: in a group of 100, I can work with the force as if they were much smarter AI NPCs in dynamic events.  Thank you ArenaNet, for developing a style of PvP that suits those of us who don’t like the pressure of close-knit teamwork.

Yes, that's a siege golem.

Second, the freedom.  Gw2’s philosophy of freeing the player extends to WvW just as much as every other facet of the game, and as a result the things you can do to support your world in its fight are numerous.  Join the frontal assault and crush an enemy’s defensive lines directly!  Aid the battle by erecting any of a handful of siege engines, and decimate enemy forces or shatter their walls!  Or defend incoming supply caravans, to ensure your front line’s steady flow of resources!  Roam the countryside to recruit mercenaries to your side, the better to defend your keeps or charge in for a surprise assault!  Establish your guild in a specific keep, to harden its defenses and give bonuses to your side!  The possibilities are vast, and with such varied objectives you’ll always have something to do, or switch to if you need a fresh approach to the conflict.

Third, balance.  Like the standard PvP, WvW adjusts everyone playing so that their power is roughly the same as it would be at level 80.  Players who have reached 80 will of course have access to many more bonuses on their weapons, and a plethora of elite skills that lower level players won’t have, but the fight won’t be a completely one-sided curbstomp either.  Leveling the field in this way means that playing experience counts, but newer players won’t be scared off by capped players decimating them at every turn.  And since you earn xp even while playing WvW, those newer players are leveling up and closing the gap as they learn the ropes!  Everybody wins!

WvW is an exciting concept unlike anything I’ve seen before.  Its accommodation for all kinds and all levels of players is very inviting, and its immense scope draws attention for the sheer sense of size and ability to influence the world.  All in all, World vs. World is just another facet to GW2 that causes this relative newcomer to await its release with growing anticipation.

I play, you play…so what’s the problem?

A conversation/debate/argument came up in a thread on Guild Wars 2 Guru recently about how people play video games, and MMOs in particular, and it’s gotten me thinking.

Basically, most gamers can be split into three types – those who play a game simply to play, and enjoy the journey above all else, those who play because they want the rewards they get at the end, and those who are a mix of the two – they like the journey and the goodies at the end. The argument that was being made was that playing for rewards is bad, and that people should be playing simply to play.

While I myself am a “journey > rewards” gamer, I’m not entirely sure I agree.

You all know you want to know what's in here.

When it comes down to it, does it really matter how someone likes to play a game? I don’t think it does. Guild Wars – and Guild Wars 2 – both will cater to both sides of the spectrum. If you like to play through the game and find the gameplay and story the biggest reward? Go for it. If you like to collect shiny things? Hey, you can do that too. And if you like both…perfect!

Sure, it’s not going to be like a traditional MMO. You won’t have to grind through dungeons a hundred times over to get a chance at that Shiny Staff of Awesome, with +100 Against Quaggan*. Completing events gains you Karma, which can be traded to NPCs for items. If you participate? You get something! No more of that “One good item and everyone rolls for it” nonsense.

Don’t forget the fact that what you get at the end of a dungeon or event is not necessarily, stat-wise, better than what you’ll have already picked up by other means. Grinding dungeons doesn’t mean you’ll be better off or equipped than someone who likes to explore and take everything in.

Which is how it should be. No one should be forced into a playstyle that they don’t like, because it’s the only way to get anywhere in the game. Everyone should be free to play in a way that they enjoy, so long as it doesn’t impede on anyone else’s fun in the game. And these differences in play should only matter if the game shifts to only favor one way of play. People can make the argument that GW1 has shifted to a “grind for rewards!” playstyle, but it hasn’t, really. It’s simply an aging game, and many people turn to speedclears and title hunting and the like as it’s something for them to do while they wait for Winds of Change to release. The game was not designed for that to be the only way to play; it’s simply that there’s a limited amount of content (a ton, to be fair, but it’s still finite) and there’s only so many times you can play through the same thing before you start to lose interest.

There may reach a point where GW2 is on the better side of a decade old, and all of the content’s been done repeatedly, and it’s a long wait for new stuff. That may not happen. But they’re trying to make the game so that it will have a little something for everyone. You have your own personal story…and your own playstyle. And that’s okay.

* Under the Pale Tree does not encourage nor endorse violence against quaggans. Please don’t hurt the quaggans, that makes everyone sad :(

Become an ambassador!

On the Guild Wars 2 website, ArenaNet is holding an awesome contest – Become a Guild Wars 2 Ambassador! The challenge? To create a video, no longer than one minute, about why people should play GW2. The deadline is still over a week away, but I’ve seen many entries already for it, covering a large variety of video styles.

Of course, it being a video contest, a lot of people are going to look at it and go “but I don’t know how to edit video!”. Don’t worry about it. You don’t need to be some expert video editor with all of the top of the line equipment and programs to make a decent video. The most important part is to show your passion and excitement about GW2. I mean, I made a video, and I know nothing about video editing, nor do I even have a proper video camera – I just stuck my mom’s digital camera on a tripod and used Windows Movie Maker to add some music to the background. That’s literally all that it takes.

There’s a thread on Guild Wars 2 Guru where a collection is being made of all of the entries so far, and all are quite impressive. Above all, the videos do a great job of displaying why GW2 is going to be awesome and why people should be interested in it. And if you haven’t yet entered? You still have until May 12th. So why not give it a try? :D