“Do not seek perfection in a changing world.” –Buddha
Guild Wars 2 is coming. I think it will be a great game. I also know that it is not just a game; it is a service. Like a good MMO service the actual game part will be a living, growing document. Events found unworkable or unfun might get cut or replaced. Mechanics might get tweaked or wholly reworked. Zones might get added or changed. The only sure thing is impermanence.
Hunter’s Insight already wrote about the so-called imperfections found in Guild Wars 2. A big one is the lack of free guesting between worlds. It will come “in time”, but it is a disappointment that the uninhibited feeling found in the original Guild Wars will be tampered a bit by servers. He also mentions mini-games and a bit more, and I want to add a “spectator mode” to the list. Again, it’s hard to regress.
Going a bit more subjective players all around the world are going to find things in Guild Wars 2 they simply do not like. My friend does not like the asura animations at all, whereas I adore them. I’ve heard other people complain about dodging. I bet some will not enjoy the endgame focus on the undead in comparison to the [pre-searing] beauty they might have enjoyed at the start. There will be plenty of screaming about balance.
It is good, I feel, like Hunter’s Insight, to have already found disappointment because it is relatively small. Once I step back and regard my disappointment I find that in the course of this entire, monstrous game, it is a pebble in my Crocs, easily kicked out through the generous air-flow gaps. Why make mountains out of mole-hills when the Dredge can be dealt with?
For some reason I had thought about Turbine’s Evendim update for Lord of the Rings Online when writing about MMO success. Here was a beautiful, free zone filled with tons of quests and new dungeon content, and because of one issue it garnered the nickname “Everswim”. Evendim had a huge lake in the middle of the zone, and a large part of the quests required players to swim back and forth across the lake. The swim took what felt like 5-10 minutes each way.
Memories of Evendim are rather fond now. It was frustrating as heck at the time, but when I look back I can’t help but chuckle. Those “unfun” moments have become a large part of my MMO story, and I wouldn’t change the past if I could. A long time afterwards, Turbine finally added waypoint-esque boats to Evendim.
I also spent a bit of time looking back at the original Guild Wars last weekend. I used to have to rely on crappy henchmen without much build freedom. Now I have my Heroes of Discord, and I can change builds without thought. There are places to group up, and dailies to keep things interesting. It has become a much different game. Comparing Guild Wars at launch to the Guild Wars seven years later isn’t that easy.
There are two truths in Guild Wars 2: things won’t be perfect and things will change. I think it will be a great game. I know I am going to have hours and hours of fun. I know other people won’t like it the same way I do. I know reviewers will find “flaws” (many of them so subjective that they enrage “the fanbois”), but I also know that ArenaNet plans on having the industry best implementation for live updates and expansions.
Instead of perfection, I expect fun. Instead of permanence, I expect iteration. That’s how I plan on viewing Guild Wars 2 for the few short days before launch. Any greater expectations will only smudge that clarity. I know what I have experienced from playing Guild Wars 2, and that is real enough to know where I am headed. For the rest, bring it on!