Okay, so my family unit has changed in the past 500 days, but so has Guild Wars 2 and ArenaNet. The first year ArenaNet said they needed to transition to the Living World output. Now, ArenaNet Director Chris Whiteside says they are on the Death Star level of content output. They are also pushing forward with a lot more player communication having community initiatives and forthcoming community interviews. Looking back…
My black day in Guild Wars 2 was in the beginning of Flame & Frost. Before that, my close friends were playing Guild Wars 2. They were warily on board with the whole update scheme, and then they left with the all the problem associated with Flame & Frost. Namely, the slow tempo, meaningless and grindy gameplay, and unclear story were just unappealing to folks used to expansion-like content (many hailed from LOTRO). I did my best to rope them back with the Molten Alliance Facility dungeon, but they had virtually checked out. Using conjectural statistics, I can only assume that this was the case for many, and then coupled with ascended items, whole crops were lost (conjecturally).
That was nearly a year ago, and things have changed. Now, the content comes in nice chunks every two weeks. This cycle took a break for the holidays, but starting January 21 we get a whole new shebang (likely teased January 14). I see a lot of players getting in to good rhythms for playing with this cycle and for playing other games. I don’t find Guild Wars 2 as meant to be The Only Game, and I appreciate that it likes to be a core game in my current suite of games. It’s still an unselfish one.
I find every first Tuesday of the bi-week is like an expansion release. The energy in the air is huge. It’s exciting to see so many players running about, helping each other, and generally figuring things out. Things start to cool down towards the first weekend, but there is generally another hit as the weekend warriors join in. The second week is more comfortable as players return to their more general routines or find a routine within the latest release.
This ties directly in to the other complaint I’ve seen regularly: there is not enough content per release. I agree if the expectation is to only play Guild Wars 2. My expectation is to be entertained every two weeks for some period of time. Sometimes I am absolutely grabbed by the content, and sometimes I’m good with a run or two. But, every two weeks there is something, and I wonder if I could go back to the peaks and valleys of an MMO’s expansion cycle. Still, I do feel that Guild Wars 2 needs a bigger update (“expansion”) to bring many back that have different expectations than my own.
Another change I really appreciate is how achievements have gone from being-the-content in Flame and Frost to being a content guide. The pressure to get the fleeting achievements done in two weeks is gone. Now the harder achievements might be in the permanent category (Tequatl) or as a non-achievement… achievement, such as a minipet from the Tri-Key Chest. I feel ArenaNet is getting better and better each cycle with their questless design. The changes in the world are also getting very good, such as all the quaggan conversations in Kessex Hills after the nightmare tower collapsed.
What has happened over 501 days of Guild Wars 2? ArenaNet has responded to the fans. This is very clear. They are not the MMO game for everyone, but I have never experienced a better MMO service. For better or worse, Guild Wars 2 feels more like an episodic TV show than a blockbuster movie. And, I can’t wait for the end of season 1* and beyond.
*really I just can’t wait to kill Scarlet. We do end her, right?