It’s been a few days since the second Feature Pack arrived from Guild Wars 2, and large chunks of the vocal community are in an uproar. My favorite description of the Feature Pack contents comes from Bog Otter’s delightful YouTube video, but for the written word head to Jeromai’s overview.
So there were some class changes. Mrs. Ravious loves her new Ranger Power! I haven’t had a chance to dabble with a dagger necro now with mini-cleave (pinky to mouth for effect). There’s some new WvW stuff, and I’m getting used to the new Trading Post updates. Yay for speed, Boo for default to list the item instead of auto-selling it. Double Yay for improved search and sell from my backpack power!
The “content” of this Feature Pack is the new Collections Achievements. These are long-term (usually) achievements to say collect things like 1 of every type of junk item. As soon as the junk item hits your bag it unlocks that part of the collection. Another achievement involves gaining the skins of every exotic crafted armor, and another one involves the skins of every ascended armor. The only one I am really interested in is the Treasure Hunter achievement because it puts a daily lootable chest in the home instance. Heading to the home instance for a daily mining run is a pretty good way to earn a decent chunk of a gold. Overall Collections seem like nice longer term goals, especially as achievements, and I’ve enjoyed them greatly in other MMOs (RIFT especially comes to mind).
That was the good first. Now let’s move on to the New Player Experience (NPE).
I think it is best that we start with the monthly post of Distilled Willpower. Most of the feedback coming from veteran players is not very probative because they are not “new players”. These changes were based on feedback from new players, usability studies, and likely a wagonload of heuristics on seeing things like ‘when did this player stop playing the game’.
I am mostly underwhelmed, but also unaffected. I will likely never level a character from 1-20 again since I have nearly a dozen (or more) auto-level to 20 scrolls. If I did play around down there it would be to check out the NPE, such as what Jeromai did. Judging by what I’ve seen from people playing, vocal feedback, and implementation I think these words from sage Jeromai are the best:
The biggest mixed feelings I get from this new player experience is the distinct sensation that we’ve moved over from stressing an Explorer experience to focusing on an Achiever one.
It isn’t so much, I feel, that the implementation was bad (although I certainly feel there were better, and more time costly, ways of implementing a NPE). I think it’s that we started with an MMO that was free. It was “do what you want” from the start. It was “just play”. And now it feels like it could be a series of restrictive hoops with no way to make the player feel clever.
The NPE has gone banal. The spark of Guild Wars 2 has been divided, categorized, and sub-divided. It has become a paint-by-numbers instead of a blank canvas. I hope that ArenaNet made the correct decision for new players. I would guess at least in part they were correct in the assumption that MMO pros had already picked up the game and now it was players that needed this clear, yellow line to follow.
I am pretty grateful that I am so far beyond the NPE that I am still getting pretty enjoyable content. I still look forward to WvW on my sewer-ranked server. I love messing around in Cursed Shore with all the megaserve’d farmers, and I enjoy Dry Top even more though I seem to have a mental block to learning event times. I hope at least on the end-game end of playing ArenaNet continues to try and keep that spark glimmering.
Yet, that won’t return until November. I assume Halloween is in between since that’s a pretty popular event. However, I do beg the question of how did we go from seemingly sustained content earlier this year to lots of breaks. The NPE seems to shed further light on the lack of anything feeling “new” to the classes. Good on rangers and other balances. Good on the few traits, but it definitely feels like things like new weapons are off the table in the Living World.
Everything is getting more and more polished, and I sure would like an expansion to mess things up.