GW2: The Controversy of “Grind”

208 hours later on a single GW2 character, up creeps a growing pressing need to switch things up a little. I’ll be doing a short post on what else I’ve been playing soon.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still intend to play a lot more hours on GW2 – I’m barely at 47% world completion, there are about 75% jumping puzzles still unseen and unsolved, taunting me, and I basically still enjoy wandering around the world, soaking up the lore and the scenery and grabbing screenshots of everything, plus WvW and sPvP. I like ’em all.

I can’t help but notice that there seem to be a ton of people who have retreated back to the GW2 Guru and official forums to start bitching and whining about everything under the sun, though, and most of those complaints seem to have to do with “boredom” and feeling “forced” to “grind” for endless hours to get to the uber max of uber maxness.

*sighs*

I don’t want to swing that ugly word of “entitlement” around because it’s too easy a cop out.

Also, I can’t help but notice a certain similarity of protest and reaction with my rabid loathing of what City of Heroes did with their Incarnate raids, even though this time I’m on the side of the “fanboys” and apt to just shrug and ignore it.

However, I do want to point out that my issue was more of a lack of alternative choice/option for a different playstyle (not liking mass group content) who would also like to be an Incarnate.

Conversely, the big PvE issue of max stat exotic armor has a ton of alternative choice. Enjoy the DEs? Karma will get you there in the end. You can also craft exotic armor. You can buy exotic armor off the trading post, which is the fastest and easiest shortcut method. Like dungeons? Enough tokens will also get you there. I haven’t looked, but I suspect WvW may also have an option handy.

The next issue that this argument always segues into is a disagreement on the amount of TIME it should be taking. Way too long, is what the unhappy are complaining about. On this, I have some sympathy. Back in CoH, a bunch of us were fairly rabid for a while regarding the pathetic exchange rate of solo Incarnate earning power versus someone who just jumped into a group and closed their eyes and pressed random buttons for 15-20 minutes. Though I think the most galling thing was the perceived lack of respect for our preferred playstyle and a distinct disparity of faced challenge/difficulty level versus reward.

Honestly, I don’t really feel that disparity in GW2. Crafted exotic armor is basic, looks okay and works. That’s the baseline. Karma exotic armor is going to take a longer time to accrue, but not at that high a difficulty challenge, so that seems more or less fair. The sobbing mostly comes due to the dungeon exotic armors – which appear to be meant to take a pretty damn long time, and involve a high level of challenge in group coordination. The additional cosmetic aesthetic reflects that.

I think it’s intended that you feel pretty special when you get one piece of exotic armor (and over the moon if you ever get a legendary) but the baseline of these unhappy players seem to be set at a much higher level. Being decked out in exotic armor from tip to toe seems to be the expected thing, so correspondingly, they get upset when they learn it’s going to take at least a month or more.

(Me, on the other hand, I’m carrying a set of decent stat yellows around for dungeons and WvW and slowly upgrading it with crafted or karma exotics, I got the shoulders swapped out and nuthing more. I also wander around in PvE zones in an el cheapo blue and green magic find gear left over from crafting, studded with slightly less cheapo major runes giving magic find, with omnomberry bars to hand (whoever thought of that berry name is awesome) and manage just fine, with a yellow weapon or two.  I -just- swapped two of the pieces to yellow rare Explorer’s yesterday after checking my bank and going, oh hey, there’s 30 sharp claws in here! Yes!)

I’m not sure there’s that much to worry about. In dungeons, how well you play and your build and how cooperatively your entire team works together will help you survive a whole lot longer than slightly better armor. I’ve successfully gone through explorable modes in yellows (and before that, in blues and greens) and no one can “inspect” you to be all huffy about it either. (If anyone ever demands for linkage, I’ll group them with the groups who keep on chatting LFG guardian/warrior on my avoid-list, thanks.)

In WvW, while you may very well have an advantage 1 vs 1 or 2 decked out in very shiny armor at level 80 versus some random lowbie in blues, all that orange glamor is not going to help that much when a zerg of 10-20 or 60 rushes into you. It’s a lot more about group organization and coordination. Some siege equipment would do a hell of a lot more damage to that wall or door, fer instance.

Perhaps it’s just the style of game that promotes a mindset of acceptance in me. Guild Wars 1 has a long history of long-term goals, some of which should be attempted only by the most insane or the most completist. GWAMM, fer instance. Legendary Defender of Ascalon wasn’t that easily achievable either. To this date, I have neither of those, nor does many of those who played GW1, I’m sure. But some have achieved them. That scarcity makes it all the more special to them, no doubt. And I don’t have a problem with that, I can still enjoy the game without those titles.

I guess the problem for some comes when you layer a cosmetic skin on as a reward, rather than a title. For some reason, words are easily dismissed, but something so visually shiny is harder to bear for them. (I do fine looking el cheapo in Glitch, but judging by the number of players who have paid money for credits to dress up their toons, there’s a huge pool of folks who love customization and self expression and possibly keeping up with the Joneses.)

I can’t really help there because I have the ultimate cosmetic cheese-out solution in the form of the HoM. Whatever the hell I’m wearing, if I hate the look, I can make it look shiny enough with those bonus skins. (And I still get tells about that flaming dragon sword.)

But I think some examination of the cheaper crafted armor skins and mix-and-matching with cheap stuff bought off the trading post and free transmutation stones would probably work as a stop gap measure.

Perhaps things will get better when they finally start selling costume and transmutation skins in the gem shop.

Oh, don’t gasp, GW1 has a history of that too. And lemme tell you, those skins can look absolutely gorgeous. I wear ’em in preference over armor any day. I look forward to all the bitching and whining about unfairness that will start up when that happens – little tip, save up those gems if you can’t convert spare irl cash readily!

Finally, there’s the issue of just not liking the style of game. Seriously guys (and gals), if the lore or the environment or the aesthetic just leaves you cold, don’t bother following the hype and being disappointed later, you just won’t want to play it. Period.

I got nothing invested in WoW lore. I disapprove of the holy trinity and the endless raid/gear grind and achievement mechanic. I only fiddled with it up to level 60 during Cataclysm because I was bored and wanted to experience the fluidity of WoW combat, but I knew it wasn’t going to last. Two months, mild entertainment, no hard feelings. Done. Got my money’s worth.

If you got nothing invested in GW2 lore, disapprove of the control/support/damage trinity and the explore/wander time-based grind mechanic and don’t like DEs, jumping puzzles, dungeons, WvW, PvP – then… why keep playing?

On that note, I’m going to repost my thoughts on “grinding” from an earlier post, which I’m sure barely anyone read, because it was a wall of text regarding A Tale in the Desert:

On “Grinding”

I believe there is no such thing as “grind” as long as you are aware of your own feelings and reactions and honest with yourself.

1) Are you taking any pleasure in the -present- activity you are doing? (Not looking forward to what you’ll feel when you reach the end, but actively, what you’re doing, do you like it?)

If you’re neutral, or just tolerating it, that’s a warning sign. Do ask yourself if the long-term gain will be worth it or if you might regret it later. And be on the lookout for emotional progress to…

Actively loathing is bad. Stop, stop now, before it’s too late and you ruin the activity for yourself for good. Take a break, go do something else. Come back only when you can honestly answer yes to the question, being neutral isn’t good enough once you’ve ever started hating the activity before.

2) Whenever you start feeling bored with the repetition, even though you do think the activity still has its positive sides, stop and do something else. Don’t ever try to ‘work’ through it or push yourself through a bad spot. It doesn’t work. Burnout lurks behind that self-rationalizing corner. It’s a game, it’s not meant to be a chore or an obligation.

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