[GW2] Ride Guide

I approve of the way the Guild Wars 2 Living Story achievements incentivize experiencing content. While a few of the mini-game achievements reward aberrant behavior, on the whole the achievements do a good job of directing people towards content, rewarding multiple styles of play, using new content to feature old content rather than making it superfluous, rewarding both exploration and completionism, and not encouraging unhealthy completionism.

As Ravious has noted, GW2 uses achievements where other games use quests. I think this works much better than the early attempt to use the mail system for the same purpose. It also lets them present the full menu of options at once, rather than facing the limitations of the quest system.That has created some heartburn in previous events, when staggered event stages meant that the menu was up before the content was, creating spoilers while frustrating players. The current Living Story content (Bazaar of the Four Winds, Cutthroat Politics) does not seem to have those hiccups. Most games need to put the menu of new content outside the game, and while GW2 also has its updates pages on the web, you do not want to send your players out of the game to see what is in the game. Players can see the menu on the web, in the interface, or by talking to an in-game herald.

The achievements reward multiple styles of play to varying degrees. This is a virtue of both the content and the reward design, and it meets the long-running philosophy of playing as you like. “To varying degrees” probably evokes some grumbles if your interest area has the fewest rewards, but hey, free candy! Achievements for the current Living Story content cover PvP, WvW, harvesting, dungeons, fractal dungeons, mini dungeons, jumping puzzles, open world exploration, dynamic events, mini games, and social content in noncombat areas. Whatever you like doing in Guild Wars 2, they gave you at least one new achievement for it. (Granted, the WvW item is in the WvW jumping puzzle, which might annoy both WvW-lovers and WvW-haters.)

Existing content is integrated into the new content, so the Living Story increases use of the original zones rather than driving players from them. There are far more in the new/temporary area, but you get achievements all over the map. Several are for playing existing content (events, dungeons, fractals, daily achievements) under the influence of the new content. Almost every zone has Zephyr kites, and you use places of power to combine the crafting materials. The big Zephyr kites, each with its own achievement, are scattered across out-of-the-way content, such as at the end of a jumping puzzle or halfway through a mini-dungeon. Granted, I found Forsaken Halls somewhat annoying, but it was a mini-dungeon I had never heard of, and the new achievements encouraged me to go visit it.

GW2 has tiers of achievements, so the same achievements can reward both trying a bit of everything and doing a lot of the one you like. There are also repeatable achievements attached to new mini-games and/or PvP in case you really like one thing. Run the new race once and you get an achievement; run it twenty-five times to get the final tier of the achievement. You get a few free points just for playing normally while the new content is lain over the existing content, a bunch for looking into the Living Story and trying it out, and then there is the meta-achievement for completionists.

I find the meta-achievement healthy in that it does not require 100% completion. Remember, there are achievements for PvP and WvW and PvE and jumping puzzles dungeons and… You reach the meta-achievement before completing all of them. No one should (“should”!) feel “forced” to engage in the parts of the game they do not like, at least not to get the Official Living Story Reward. Let’s encourage everyone to explore the new content fully, but let’s not be ridiculous about it.

: Zubon

7 thoughts on “[GW2] Ride Guide”

  1. I think if they halved the required achievements required for the meta and quartered the individual requirements for each of the individual achievements that require cumulative actions, then they’d be getting somewhere.

    Currently most of the episodes have managed to land squarely in the “short enough to be achievable but far too drawn-out and tedious to be entertaining” bracket.

  2. I absolutely agree about the meta-achievements not requiring 100% of the event achievements – that has made them always achievable for me, and it means that as well as being rewarded for playing how you like, you are not penalised for not liking everything. The system makes the meta something to work for, but generally without forcing me through stuff I don’t want to do.

    I think the two week living story turnover helps a lot with avoiding the spoiler achievements problem (which I did find unfortunate and annoying). The pace is good. New content every two weeks, but much of the time it has turned out to be the second half of the story we’ve already started – allowing them to set up a situation and then throw in a plot twist, a la Dragon Bash. Plus, updates overlap, so we tend to get new content every two weeks but a month to complete any give meta-achievement.

  3. Unfortunately the problem is there is nothing driving gameplay except achievements. Even WvW is a series of tagging and attacking. For a “living world” there is very little to do besides kill stuff and play ‘find the hidden shiny’. Even WoW has farming now.

  4. Keyword: Should. Not sure how well that’s working out in practice. (Looks askance at achievement rewards and radiant/hellfire skins and leaderboards creating pressure in another direction.)

  5. Well. Actually today is first day I put cross on GW2. Since new 2weeks content rotation it is simply not a game for me anymore.
    It’s sad really – I had every daily (PvE & PvP), monthly, almost all PvE achievements, around 60-75% PvP achives etc.
    But I realised there is one flaw with this “achievement” system, flaw that I can’t stand. They are not achievements. You gain them mostly by not achieving anything.
    And while all new content is “achivement” driven – because, really. What there is to do? Ellen vs Evon is perfect example. Whole update introduced only one thing (Southsun Survival) that cought my attention and achievements changed nice expirience (repeating it more than I can bare) into chore. Rest of udate is well… medicore at best. Trials? Great – cheat the system to get achi (if it won’t stuck for You), play like Anet didn’t predict You can – it will be easy then. Aspect Arena? Meh – I hate it. And well… rest is cheese.
    With this new 2week content rotation, “achivements” that are not achivements and my completionist nature that force me to get everything I can… this game become really unpleasnt, un-fun expirience.
    To put cherry on cake – I have one bugged achievement – the trials. They supposed to be fixed now, but done t3-t4 like 5 times now (yeasterday last time) and still “achivement” is stuck in half. So yeah. Great stuff for limited time only bargain.

    That said – it was a nice ride. But I don’t like new direction, do not enjoy new content much (well – haven’t enjoy any since f&f) so yeah. I’m going to find greener grass elswhere.
    The sad thing for me is awareness, that I won’t come back. My completionist nature wont let me – all this time limited “achivements” are like Gandalfs “you shall not pass”. Either I have all that I can get (and I know I’m able to get all), or I uninstall game and forget about it.

    The only regret is that I bought (again -_-‘ ) gems to support Anet. Oh well – a goodbye gift from me XD

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