[GW2] Fair to Middling (Double Down II)

The middle zones always seem to be the red-headed step child of MMO content. Is it a function of population distribution extremes? Is it that in the case of Guild Wars 2 there are so many leveling paths to take? Is it that veteran players simply have no reason to be there except for friendship or exploration points?

This is the hardest puzzler. Nothing is wrong, per se, any more than… yes, clearly, as in all MMOs, the middle zones have lighter population distributions. The content in the middle zones, with a few noticeable patches, does seem pretty solid, especially with regard to renown content. It hasn’t felt like a chore to get through the zones on my way to 100% exploration. It still feels different, and I wonder how or if ArenaNet is going to draw more attention to these zones.

An interesting Reddit thread awhile back suggested adding legendary precursor exotics to the middle zone. I don’t agree that the middle zones needs carrots of that magnitude, but I really don’t like the sheer discrepancy in rewards for hanging out in middle zones.

A good working example is the Shatterer event in the middle zone Blazeridge Steppes (40-50). Even though it is only a level 50 event with so-so loot, the excitement of it still provides a draw. Any casually-leveling player running through southern Blazeridge Steppes is going to see a lot of exciting conversation coming across her screen regarding the upcoming dragon fight. There are timers popping up around fan sites dedicated to these dragons, two of which are in middle zones.

I think there are two good ways to promote activity. “Timed” reasons would be something where a middle-zone is spotlighted for a time. The Shatterer event is a good example of this, but the timer is mostly hidden. On the other hand, the Zaishen activities in Guild Wars 1 are very public reasons to hit up a middle-zone. Should the daily achievements be a little more directed? Another would be a “permanent” reason. Tree and ores that acted like loot-table herbs based on player level, and a better chance of getting level 80 loot in sub-80 zones would go miles.

A lot of seemingly veteran players were hanging around Mount Maelstrom last night. I happened upon a group just as I was finishing up exploration of the zone as we all headed in to conquer the Crucible of Eternity, which has an event chain to open up the dungeon. We all had fleeting purpose, but it was fun the moment we came together to wind that clock backwards. A bunch of them were clearly in a dungeon group together as they all disappeared inside the portal once it was open.

I imagine if the dungeon team was a pick-up group, they would’ve had to meet in Lion’s Arch. If it had felt profitable to play around Mount Maelstrom to find groups, I wonder how many people would still be complaining about the LFG mechanism (which still needs a lot of work even if ArenaNet doesn’t want a WoW-esque dungeon finder). Still, I wouldn’t mind actually playing while “finding” a group for the dungeon I am interested in as opposed to milling about Lion’s Arch. Arah has no lack of pick-up groups as Cursed Shore is probably the most profitable zone to be in.

I do not envy the dev team’s decisions on what to do with all the middle zones. I hope they can find ways to use all those maps for the veteran player’s benefit.


4 thoughts on “[GW2] Fair to Middling (Double Down II)”

  1. They aren’t all that quiet, on Yak’s Bend at least. My engineer is in the mid-40s and everywhere he goes there are quite a few people in the 40-50 maps. Bear in mind this is on a US server and I play GMT hours, so I am not even seeing it at its busiest.

    In the end, though, it surely can never be possible to keep all zones roughly equal in population. There’s a given number of people playing at any time and the more evenly you can persuade them to distribute themselves across the world, the fewer “hot spots” of high population there will be.

    Equally, I really wouldn’t like a solution that had great clumps of players waypointing around the world in convoy as they moved from one big-ticket event to the next. That already happens with Claw of Jormag, The Shatterer and Tequatl and it’s pretty disruptive even just with three of them.

    As the game matures, I can’t see anything wrong with mid-level zones becoming a haven for calmer, more reflective players who like to take things at a slower pace. If indeed that is what happens.

  2. One thing I don’t think players have noticed is that the karma from mid zone events isn’t that much less (about 100 less I’ve noticed working toward map completion) and I feel like I get more done in a shorter period of time (and with less competition from bots.) Plus those mid range mats are going to be the most valuable in the long run if people stick to the end zones since they will be shortest in supply.

    I don’t get all the hub bub about the LFG thing. All I remember in WoW was people complaining about it, and I never touched it myself…well maybe when I was trying to get that horrible trinket out of that one blood elf dungeon (well, great trinket/hideous drop rate and frequent kicks from groups started by people wanting it for themselves and not wanting to leave it to chance.)

    I love that such things are not an issue in this game, but I’d still avoid LFG at all cost. Guild runs or bust.

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