Last week ArenaNet posted plans on where they intend to take Guild Wars 2. I wanted a weekend (to eat hot dogs in Chicago) to digest all that the official blog post had discussed. I think for the most part things are pretty good. Some ideas are “wait until implementation to decide” and some are “OMG, I want that now!” Overall, it’s nice to see that there are many plans beyond the bi-weekly Living World releases.
Four Living World Teams Stand Before You
That’s what I said now. I think most Guild Wars 2 fans are blown away with the updates. It is very addictive to get something new so often. Tonight, I know that players are going to be a buzz with the player-decided election in Cutthroat Politics. The goal is for each of the four teams to have four months to design and polish a month of content. I seem to recall that in a Twitch developer livestream one of the devs implied that they were just hitting that four month cadence now, and it really shows. The content seems much tighter in Bazaar of the Four Winds.
It also is feeling a bit disconnected. It does feel like four distinct teams are working on content. We’ve returned to Southsun Cove, had a Dragon Bash festival, and now are running around like sky ninjas in the Bazaar of Four Winds. They are all somewhat connected around Lion’s Arch and Inspector Kiel, and there is seemingly a spider or two in the story’s background. But, it doesn’t feel connected.
As slow as Flame & Frost was, players knew that for four updates they would be dealing with that story. Now, it’s very unclear where we are headed. We could be having a Midsummer’s Night Revival in The Grove or finding some golden pond in Frostgorge Sound to escape the summer heat. I am sure Inspector Kiel will be there along with some Aetherblades to muck things up. But, I don’t really know.
I hope that in 2013 the Living World teams create more inter-month flow. Right now I am seeing vignettes, as fun as fantastic as they are, with just sprinklings of something over-arching. I feel if they want to compete with whole expansions using their bi-weekly update system, they need players to feel like they are in an expansion worthy story. It could already be in the plans giving all the background hints players have been getting, but it doesn’t feel like it is quite here yet.
Progress of Players
Another big drop was that ArenaNet is going to have more horizontal advancement with new skills and traits. I think it was kind of expected, in an expansion-type way, but I did not expect it for 2013, given how players and devs are still getting a handle on current skills and traits. I liked seeing a lot of feedback on this feature asking for the return of Guild Wars 1 Signet of Capture, where elite skills were gained from the corpses of boss enemies.
I like that they are also still fiddling with the core rewards system. I too agree that greens and blues are kind of the middle-child of rewards right now. They don’t seem worthwhile. Blues for me are merchant fodder, and I use greens to gamble for rares in the Mystic Forge. Champion hunts in the later zones would also be a really fun ad hoc group activity with a reward chest drop from champion kills. Finally, it is great that magic find is being removed as an item stat. I am interested to see how ArenaNet will deal with the equipment that has magic find, but I am glad that it is in the plans this year to be gone.
Crafting Over 9000!
Crafting is going to get an increase to 500, which seems like an end-game tier of progression because it will be time limited. It seems like this fifth tier of crafting will suck up a lot of lower tier crafting materials, such as hopefully near worthless silk or leather. Having this time-limited crafting will let players craft ascended gear and legendary precursors.
In a sense this system is already being tested on live with the quartz infusions at the places of power (skill points) where players can turn 25 of the new crafting material, quartz, in to an account bound charged quartz. Currently the only use for this one/day charged quartz is to create celestial-stat items, at a cost of approximately 5 days’ worth of charged quartz per exotic. I am pretty impressed with how, even with limited use and incredible supply, the tradable quartz crystals are maintaining a decent value.
My personal feature wishes are a LFG tool, which seems like it will come fairly soon™ and a PvE-skin storage locker, which already seems rudimentarily implemented with the achievement skins. I really want to use the tentacle-back item, but I don’t want to lose the unique stats (which I can’t use for my current power build). So right now, I feel I can’t use the look I want because I am caught in a 22 of my own insane devising. I would gladly pay for the ability to copypasta a skin off something I have rather than fuse away attributes I might want later on. ArenaNet told Massively that it’s high on their priority list so that’d be great to have that also knocked out soon™.
All in all, I am very pleased with ArenaNet’s MMO service. I really appreciate these transparency posts. I feel communication, which is a key feature of any service, has been really good on ArenaNet’s end. It’s nice to see where they intend to drive this monster of an ocean liner because right now with the current MMO market is their time of smooth sailing.