[GW2] Uptown Views (Double Down I)

(This is going to be one of at least three posts. I am splitting up a draft called Double Down into more digestible sections.)

With certainty, ArenaNet is working on more content and updates. Halloween is sure to have lots of holiday fun, but it isn’t clear what permanent offerings ArenaNet is considering. There are two clear routes to take: (1) create wholly new content such dungeons or zones, or (2) double down with the content already in place.

Now that people have had plenty of time to play Guild Wars 2, it is becoming very clear where there are holes in content and gaps in fun. Is it worthwhile to go back and patch these, or is it better to press ever onward?

The biggest hole in my mind coming from pre-launch featurettes is the lack of content surrounding my home instance. I do have a home instance. Everybody does, and it feels like the most placeholder object in the game. The gate to the Crystal Desert in Ebonhawke is a tease at the future. My empty house portraying nothing from my personal story or other accomplishments is a sad content void.

This is coupled with the apparent detachment of players to their racial cities. Not only do I not really have a home, but Lion’s Arch becomes the only city I need after about 20 or 30 levels. Imagine bits of lore and stories that keep appearing in the home instance. Might as well heap on a free port to home, whenever, wherever. That’s the deal, my dear. Now, people want to go back to racial cities.

It will be interesting to see how ArenaNet finally implements home instance content. Will I just all of the sudden have 100 trophies from my adventures? Will it just be from my personal story? I think either way it will provide a late game draw back to the racial cities.

Hoelbrak, the norn’s racial city, is a bit luckier because ArenaNet had time before launch to add a small content cookie in the form of Keg Brawl. Keg Brawl widens its arms to account for an entire tab of achievements. It’s another great reason to head back home, and hopefully every racial city will have their own achievement-oriented activity.

Except Keg Brawl, while a blast to play, is very insular in rewards from PvE. Why doesn’t everybody get booze as rewards? Players can either drink up or sell it for gold. I mean like rugby, people should be drunk while playing Keg Brawl, right? Right. I don’t mind warping to the Mists, then Lion’s Arch, then Hoelbrak just to play a few rounds of Keg Brawl, but at least give me some little 100 proof carrot juice for doing so.

What is important is a lot of developer time has been taken to create pretty amazing racial cities? There are tons of voiced conversations, tons of street scenes, and not to mention pretty fantastic architecture. It will be sad if ease of access and lack of racial city activities distills all 6 cities into Lion’s Arch. I think that the home instance and activities like Keg Brawl (with good rewards!) will go along way towards drawing people home.


26 thoughts on “[GW2] Uptown Views (Double Down I)”

  1. There were supposed to be many minigames in the various cities (for instance a sharpshooting game in the human area). For some reason only Keg Brawl was ready for launch. I’m guessing the others are a ‘coming soon’ thing.

    1. Rata Sum is supposed to get Polymock, and I can imagine the Charr utilizing their huge arena in the basement of the Black Citadel on a more permanent basis than for a personal story step. Still, I have no ideas for games in The Grove or Lions Arch.

  2. My own experience is the polar opposite. I spend all my city time in Black Citadel. Not only my two charr live there but my Asura and my Sylvari were both established there at around level three and all my other characters go there to bank, craft and do anything practical.

    I do use Lion’s Arch to bank and craft sometimes but it is too big for comfort. To me it’s a transport hub – I pass through it a lot but I rarely stop.

    My favorite city of all and the one I would prefer to live in is Ebonhawke. Not only is it by far the most attractive visually, in my opinion, it has a fantastic atmosphere. It’s also the only city which you can leave without zoning, which is a huge plus for immersion. Best of all, it’s the only place I have found where all the crafting stations, the main and guild banks and the Trading Post are right next to each other out in the open!

    The only problem with Ebonhawke is that ArenaNet seem to have forgotten to add the full vendor functions to the Master Crafters, making crafting there a lot less practical than it should be. That and the street violence and terrorist bombings of course…

  3. The first thing your home instance needs is a reason to go there. What is it people do when they play Guild Wars 2? Explore, kill monsters, complete hearts and dynamic events, fight other players, craft, do jumping puzzles and vistas. In other words, things you don’t normally do at home.

    Exploring: You can only explore the inside of the wardrobe so many times before you give up on finding Narnia.
    Slaying: You could kill monsters at home; maybe your kitchen is invaded by an elite wave of cockroaches that got into your neighbor’s Asuran growth formula?
    Fight Other Players: There probably isn’t enough room for sPvP, unless that trap door in the cellar opens up into cathedral-sized cavern the previous owner used for smuggling.
    Vistas/Jumping puzzles: Kind of a stretch. Imagine there’s a great view from the attic window, and the only way to reach it is a jumping puzzle across the cobwebbed piles of furniture you inherited from your great aunt.

    That leaves crafting and dynamic events/hearts. Crafting sounds perfect. Even before crafting details came out there was talk that Asura characters would get a private laboratory for their home instance. A home crafting station, maybe with a “comfort of your own home” boost, would give players a reason to stay in for an evening.

    As for dynamic events and hearts, your home instance could be more like 221b Baker Street was to Sherlock Holmes: the place where the supporting cast comes to find you. You turn the corner on your home street and find a stricken father waiting on your doorstep. He sees you, and with cap clutched in both hands he asks, “Are you the Hero of Hoelbrak? Only I’ve come a long way…” Thus you are invited to take part in a dynamic event. Or Mrs. Ellrise stops by to chat you up about the neighborhood beautification committee, and would you be willing to help out (fill up a heart)? Mr. Ellrise collects exotic weapons, apparel, and cuisine as a hobby, providing you with a karma vendor.

  4. Maybe I’ve missed something, but the first thing I did after rescuing Deborah was head to my home instance to see if I could talk with her. Didn’t find her. Didn’t find her in the Seraph HQ either. What’s the point in rescuing my sister if she promptly vanishes again?

  5. I’ve been playing since headstart and honestly forgot I had a home instance. I guess I went there a couple of times during the early personal story? Otherwise I have never returned to it.

    That being said, I don’t particularly care about that either. Solo instances are certainly not GW2’s focus or strong point, as it should be.

  6. I’d vote for crafting with a “home bonus” as the best possible quick win for the home instances. It’s a real shame their use in personal story wasn’t fully realised (the talk from devs of NPCs moving in and it changing based on our choices doesn’t seem to have really happened).

    I do wish they come up with a solution to keep the racial cities alive as more and more reach the cap. It’s happened in so many games but certainly Darnassus in WoW was always neglected compared with Stormwind.

  7. Whichever way they are doing this, it would be great to integrate it with the coming guild halls…because that will be one more place to visit, depending on what it provides.

    If they go for a homerun here, they would somehow tie the home city-home instance-guild hall trinity together. I have no exact vision how, but e.g. members of a guild could visit any member’s home instance, where they could see the trophies. How would that sound?:)

    This of course could come together with personalizing your home instance, not sparing resources and efforts (e.g. building same way as guilds now – with mutually exclusive choices to make it replayable). It is needed to make the place really your own. And as I said above, I think a more flexible sharing is needed, after all what an own place worths if it is difficult to show off to others. Allowing _some_ people to visit your home instance e.g. from guild hall would make great socializer aspect.

    Maybe you could even show off your legendaries in your home instance. And famous members by the guild could have e.g. a statue of their own in the guild hall, which could be an achievement (=requiring time and effort) to reach.

  8. For my taste only Rata Sum is designed good, therefore I hop back pretty often, even with my non-Asura charcters.
    Bank, guildbank, trading post and general merchant are within sneezing distance, all crafting professions just a hob in one of three directions.
    The Black citadel is outright disastrous (while exploring for completion), the other cities with their ups and down and arounds and something far away too complicated for easy reach.
    So Rata Sum is my fvourite place to stay, even if it costs me 2 silver to come back and log out there. Old habits…

    1. Rata sum is the worst city for me. It is small, and there is not habitation. Where do the Asura live ?

      My prefered city is the human one : this is a city ! With house. I do not mind to see different sort of house (big dormitory for every one with tiny tiny cells for Asura for exemple, or big field with small luggage everywhere for Sylvaris, etc… but something where people can live in ! )

  9. How many years was this in development again? How much shilling did they do for pre-purchases? How much hype did they endlessly raise for at least three years prior to release? How much revenue have they made selling this game (enough to load every site that’s even vaguely gaming-related with dozens of ads, at least)?

    There’s no excuse for ANYTHING to be a “placeholder object” at this point. None. Especially not when it was part of the endless, nauseating hypestorm that predicated this game’s release.

    1. Your criticism is fair – it WAS a long development and they DID say that we would get it when it was ready. However ‘placeholder’ doesn’t necessarily mean it plain isn’t finished. ‘Finished’ is a bit of a useless word with MMOs because they’re constantly updated; there are a number of things in GW2 which feel like they’ve been left open for future development. I’ll be interested to see where we’re at with these in 6 months or so, it will depend on how updates go.

  10. I think it’s safe to assume they will both add to the existing world and expand it. Honestly, what I’d like to see added is an actual sit emote. I can lounge on the furniture in my house, but not sit on it.

    Have guild halls been confirmed?

    It would be nice if more personal story missions began from the home instance. I do have plenty of new NPCs though…which actually makes it hard to make different choices on alts. So tempting to have quaggen everywhere.

    I think there needs a better draw to the home instance for fellow players than showing off trophies, though.

    1. Guild halls were confirmed pre-release as a feature that wouldn’t ship with the game but would be implemented later, iirc.

  11. I came into GW2 expecting that one would be able to use one’s home instance as a kind of home base, the way we used our GW1 guild halls. Some place to go between adventures to sort out our loot in peace and quiet, do a little business with the NPCs, etc.

    Instead, I found myself feeling very rootless. The home instance is not really worth returning to after the first few story chapters, even though I’ve found that there have been some minor changes such as skritt living in the alley now or quaggan living in the fountain. If nothing else, waypoint costs preclude regular visits. But there is something else: lack of services. No bank, crafting, etc.

    Later I thought that maybe the HQ of your order was supposed to fill the role of a home base for our characters. But, the same thing happened. Travel costs and lack of services make it an undesirable hangout, even after you get the asura gate from Fort Trinity working. (And why, as second in command in the Pact, can I go TO any of the HQ, but return only from my own order?)

  12. I visited the home instance as my story required, and other than one or two trips for RP sake, haven’t gone back. There’s nothing there, so why bother.

    The idea of adding trophies (whatever they might end up being) and having other people be able to see them has me completely nonplussed as well. If that’s the plan, I’ll keep not using the home instance for anything.

    My interest in the game has severely tanked over the last week or so, mostly due to the leveling/skills tedium that set in around the time I hit 50. If they focus on seasonal and holiday updates, it’s gonna tank even more as I despise that kind of content (in any game, not GW2’s fault per se).

    1. Personally I love GW festivals, but of course that doesn’t mean you have to! I will say though that the teaser for Halloween does seem to imply a variety of new content (“new events, jumping puzzles, bosses, mini-dungeons, and achievements”) – whether or not we see all that in October, I’m not sure.

      1. Oh, it’s not anything against GW2 in itself. I just dislike seasonal/holiday content in any game (as it should be, I think, since I dislike holidays IRL too :) ).

        I fully realize this is a weird hangup of mine, but holiday content never, ever, clicks in my head as something interesting I’d like to do. I don’t much care what it is, how it’s arranged and what rewards there are. There’s always this feeling that it’s something completely tacked on to the main meat of the game. A side of sauce that may very well taste good but, dagnabbit, I did -not- order.

  13. At 24, I haven’t entered a city in 12 levels. I can get all the services I need from mini-hubs. I’ve never been to Lion’s Arch at all.

        1. That seems like an age ago. The oldest of my boys is in second grade – he was born two years after I left Turbine.

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