I think more and more players are beginning to find rhythm with Guild Wars 2. This means that launch concurrency is dropping, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact it’s quite good.
Last night I was in the Straits of Devastation with a friend that was helping me explore the zone. We picked up another player along the way who enjoyed hanging out with us along the southern and western skill points. With launch concurrency it would’ve been hot-pocket zergs at every skill point and event cluster. Instead it was a really challenging and fun zone.
We found a champion risen pirate. Champions are built for around five players to take down. We were three. It was an epic boss fight. The elementalist trying to support and take down adds. The engineer going through tons of kits trying to bat out flames, whether that was adds, player’s downed, or an uncontrolled champion. I kept as much pressure on the champion as I could with my condition-based necromancer, juggling between champion control and bleeds as best as I could while playing peek-a-boo around the corner. At the least moment when it was clearly going to be down to the wire a charr warrior leaps in and helps us pummel the boss to the ground. This could not have happened with a hot-pocket zerg where the champion risen pirate would become ashes in a few seconds.
Many of the mid-level zones have been quieter for a while now. First off, a character has a choice of roughly three zones every 5 levels, and given the high leveling speed of Guild Wars 2, skipping many mid-level zones is just going to happen. Even my first character who I was trying to explore heavily with (“smell the roses”) did not make it to the eastern side of Tyria until I decided I wanted to take down the Shatterer. That’s the interesting part. The Shatterer event brings people to the normally quiet zone because, as I’ve heard it crudely called, it is a loot piñata. The same can be said for the Tequatl event as well.
The sticky part for ArenaNet is that they have already committed a large number of resources to all these quiet zones. Are they going to continue to give reason to re-explore these zones, or will they become silent speed bumps as alts and new players pass through on their way to Orr or the cold north? I am pretty sure we’ll get good stuff with the Halloween celebration and new zones/expansions are pretty much expected further down the road, but I hope ArenaNet can share what their goals are with regard to the current content sooner.
I can’t help but feel the same way about dungeons, which have also taken a large amount of dev resources to create. Which of the dungeons will be quiet in a month or so? There are eight, and the “easiest” one goes to the farmers while everybody else is fighting for armor and weapon skins. Will story mode be even quieter? I can’t help but think that not providing dungeon tokens for story mode is the wrong move. Giving players a small carrot is better than relying on altruism. The story mode could even provide a dungeon token bonus on top of say allowing a once per day story run with dungeon tokens. For each player that hasn’t completed story mode, the veteran players get X dungeon tokens for helping them beat it.
With things having settled mostly from the ultra-high concurrency of launch, I can honestly say that I am enjoying the zones I explore more than before. Events are becoming challenging again. Random groupings are becoming more meaningful. It feels closer to what ArenaNet intended for the long run with Guild Wars 2, and I am having more fun than the first few weeks. There will be quiet places, much like any MMO. I feel like I can rely on ArenaNet watching such activity statistics, but it is unknown how they will react.