The joke is that there is no joke. Perhaps the timing of the latest addition to Guild Wars 2 was done to ease the pain and let them have their “lols”, but for April, Super Adventure Box is here to stay.
What is Super Adventure Box (“SAB”)? An asuran genius, Moto, created a holographic video game using patented solidification hologram technologies. Players can go in to this “training apparatus” to learn about basic techniques in a closed environment. By closed environment I mean all the players stats and gear is virtually gone. Health is replaced by hearts, and gear is replaced by a few SAB items such as a sword-like stick or bombs. The graphics in SAB… well my kids were asking me how I was playing Minecraft in Guild Wars 2.
The first time I interfaced with SAB, I hated it. After a night’s rest and poking around with it a bit more, I have grown to love it.
As far as immersion, for all the magi-technology the asurans have, players are really kept away from it. Asuran players, the short few, get a decent helping in their personal story, but much of it might as well be a spell (e.g., cast to find ancient artifact). Waypoints are used every session, but I rarely think, “thank you asuran engineers.” Walking around Rata Sum, something I haven’t done in ages I see tons of holographic screens and weird experiments that have been restrained to one corner of Tyria. There is plenty of room for asuran technology to branch its way into modern-day Tyrian life.
It is also a balance. The humans, norn, charr, and sylvari are kept mostly safely below the fantasy to sci-fi break line. Charr seem to push that boundary the most with their steamy dieselpunk, but somehow keeping it uncouth and dirty keeps it “realistic”. Asura dance back and forth across that break line all the time. It’s just that ArenaNet has really kept that portrayal rather light, especially where it is basically narrative hand-waving.
I think that the asurans present a large challenge for ArenaNet because they can push the whole world in to a big sci-fi/fantasy mashup. The pastoral, medieval humans already have waypoints and two asura gates in their capital city. Why wouldn’t they have holographic news displays instead of heralds? Wouldn’t the charr want to use asuran circuitry in their machines?
Stepping away from a lore/immersion perspective, I agree that it can be a head-scratcher to see why ArenaNet chose to apply limited resources to this project. This wasn’t an after-hours tag-team of a few devs using some time to create a jumping puzzle in some unused corner of the world. This was a serious addition to gameplay requiring seemingly a lot of changes.
Why wouldn’t ArenaNet just use those resources to add “more Guild Wars 2”? In this update, they did with the Molten Alliance instances and event additions. They also added more guild bounties. But, there is also the common complaint of “just more of the same”. How many exciting MMO updates became just that?
I like that ArenaNet had the guts to add something that could not in any sense be considered “more of the same”. They added something that will force heads to turn. The Braham/Rox story was really good, as short as it was, but that won’t interest [other MMO] player who is dealing with whatever story is presented in [other MMO]. Most things I see that cause the mass of MMO players, as a whole, to become interested in a sole MMO’s change are usually limited to betas, launches, expansions, and destruction of the game through microtransactions. How can the SAB commercial be ignored by any video gamer?
Players that love it immediately or figure out ways to get past the fact that their immersion might have been shattered by an asuran fist (meaning a golem fist), I think will find the gameplay to be pretty fun. It’s difficult, but my errors were my own. I liked the use of space, and the puzzle of getting through each level. The frog boss is a boss/puzzle definitely heralding from ancient Mega Man days where the pattern and telegraphs were super critical. It is something I hope to beat eventually.
I’d like to see more added to SAB. Clearly the devs got really excited with the creation of this because I feel their love and inside jokes throughout the minigame. It is good to have excited devs. I hope they remain as excited to create new portions of that main part of the game too.