GW2: A Fresh Start

Probably not your average newbie...

I might be the only two-year old veteran of Guild Wars 2 that is excited about the recently announced changes to the new player experience.

Am I really the only one?

Most of the Reddit posts following the announcement are all in full-on bitch mode about how this change doesn’t affect or cater to players already at level 80, grousewhinecomplain, etc. so it’s hard to share any enthusiasm over there.

See, every so often in either Reddit or the GW2 forums, there’s always going to be this one scared newbie post about “help! I’m level X and I can’t level anymore / don’t know where to go next / getting bored shitless of these hearts.’

And these are the ones that actually bothered or dared to post, looking for help because they want to enjoy the game but don’t know how.

How many others just shut down the game and left?

Only Anet’s metrics know.

Somehow, these players aren’t connecting the dots.

I can’t fathom it personally myself, how hard pressing M and finding the next promising area to wander around in (of which, there are always at least two valid choices for each level range) could be, or what it is they’re doing exactly that’s leaving them bereft of xp.

My first character, I was just so thrilled to be standing in the GW2 world and able to -jump- that I combed every corner and talked to every NPC just because I could. I killed stuff along the way, did hearts until I got tired of systematically following them and then just went hog wild across the world instead, following the personal story through the open world, doing crafting, WvW, dungeons, the works.

Since then, I’ve been guilty of twinking up lowbies with +Power runes, food and wrenches, and those ubiquitous XP boosters and just running through packs of mobs that no one ever touches and gaining 2 levels every hour or less, never bothering with any goddamn stupid heart if I didn’t want to, so I guess my perspective is somewhat skewed by the leveling sandbox that is the open world.

Personally, I know I lost one RL friend to the leveling experience. Said friend came in after much persuasion, made an engineer, kinda halfheartedly got through Caledon Forest complaining the engineer felt weak and then I never saw him again past the start of Brisban Wildlands.

Might be he just didn’t feel like he had enough time to play an MMO, but I don’t think the leveling experience did him any favors either.

For -my- personal purposes, I’m pleased as punch to see the paragraphs:

“Players who don’t need direction can ignore this system and go exploring in any direction they want, do content in any order, and play any content they want exactly as they can currently in Guild Wars 2 as it’s available today.

There are advanced settings in the options menu for more experienced players that will allow you to change the functionality of the content direction system. You can select to disable it if you like the way the game UI functions now, or you can select “world complete” mode, which will focus only on providing direction to areas for world completion.”

That’s me. I level the explorer way, with my world at barely 41% complete before I’ve hit level 80, wondering how the hell do people run out of ways to get experience?

But somehow, they do.

I can only presume they don’t gather anything, don’t play personal story, don’t craft, don’t kill any mobs that aren’t an immediate “heart completion” task and never run into a single orange event because they’re unlucky.

So I’m really really happy that they’ll now have a developer-guided signposting experience that will give them the giant glowy arrows and immediate to-do Achiever list that these less-familiar-with-game-that-allows-exploration people seem to require.

It is, after all, an option. Different strokes for different folks.

Some people really need those warm fuzzy feelings from getting a guitar riff and trumpets blowing when they level up. Whatever helps them stick with the game and come to appreciate it more.

As long as the end result is more players playing GW2 and new blood coming in, what’s the harm?

(I can only hope that they won’t hit level 80 and become utterly confused and adrift at the perceived lack of endgame and no more signposting. But hey, WoW’s already given them an expectation of a bait-and-switch, so I guess they’ll just have to adapt to learning how to choose their own goals when they hit GW2’s endgame.

Worse come to the worse, they’ll have plenty of Living Story chapters offering a clear directed experience there too. Step 2: Pay 200 gems to unlock each! Step 1: Earn gold to afford 200 gems!)

A better extended tutorial experience that spells out systems so that lowbies coming in can learn and appreciate each nuance can only mean slightly more informed newbies when they hit max level. That’s a good thing, since they’re going to have to keep pace with practiced veterans getting older (and more burnt out or jaded) with each patch.

Hell, I’m excited to take at least one more character through the whole experience just so I can see if these new rewards are any more fun.

Maybe I’ll ditch the boring human mesmer and make a fun charr mesmer with a transmuted necro skull mask and run around confusing and tormenting all the things – new mesmer meta, yaaarrr.

Plus, a better paced Personal Story that actually gives you story chunks, rather than getting stupidly staggered out between levels where you’ve totally forgotten what happened previously by the time you’ve gone and helped some random Norn, fed feed to cows and cows to Charr, turned into random animals, fallen off some jumping puzzles, and now have got to go back to the Personal Story NPCs again.

Of course, the one worrisome casualty from this may just be key-farming. I guess those level 20 experience scrolls I’m accumulating will eventually have a use and equate to a few more keys.

Time to get a few more 20-minute runs in before the feature patch, methinks.

7 thoughts on “GW2: A Fresh Start

  1. “As long as the end result is more players playing GW2 and new blood coming in, what’s the harm?”

    WIthout also giving the veterans reasons to stay, how will we necessarily end up with an end result of more players playing GW2? (and I too had friends that didn’t stick with the game.. my own boyfriend didn’t. Some didn’t like the story and my bf didn’t like the leveling process because you got everything unlocked so early. He felt there wasn’t much to strive for throughout the levels.. and to an extent, I agree with him.)

    My guild and friends list has gotten very empty and I myself have been logging in less and am contemplating simply logging in only for the story updates… which is really sad because I still love the world and combat. I play solo for leveling, but personally a game isn’t complete for me unless I have things to do with friends. With fractals, dungeons and WvW (and some bits of LS S1), GW2 has offered many of us that. But, most of this stuff is two years old and you get to the point that not even hanging out with friends can make it fun anymore.

    There’s no way of telling what the actual population is given the implementaion of mega servers… which was probably one of the reasons that was done: the illusion of high populations no matter the server.

    I think these new player changes (which aside from the removal of downed state until level 5 and the lump unlocking of the personal story) have largely favourable views, but the absence of something somewhat meaningful for people who have been around since head start, it is incredibly difficult for people to get excited for them. I believe ANet is doing themselves a disservice regarding the way they are handing rollouts of content, bug fixes and QoL. I really don’t understand their ‘either/or’ approach. They hold off QoL and bug fixes for one large release which in the meantime pisses people off since they have to wait around for them. Then when that “feature pack” (which is quite short of features so far :/) gets rolled out, they put content on hold, which then peeves off people regarding that.. though that’s been exacerbated by only coming out with the living story. The game severely needs content that has better replayability as right now there is hardly any reason to go back to the story missions, unlike how you can run fractals and dungeons daily for a long time.

    So tl;dr, without any meaningful additions for long time players (we need an expansion’s worth of new dungeons), it’s difficult for players to feel excited about these QoL changes. If the QoL changes had been rolled out along with content updates (you know, like most game companies do), I think we’d see more excitement for them.


  2. At work so only a brief comment – I’m most likely going to post on this anyway. As far as I can see, the entire “feature pack” is a straight port of the revamp they already did to launch GW2 in China. Whether any of it was necessary for the US/EU market I rather doubt.

    My personal feelings are that GW2 was already the easiest MMO to level up in that I have played in fifteen years. It damn nearly plays itself! If these changes really are necessary to address problems new players are having then fair enough but I find that almost impossible to believe.

    My main complaint about levelling in GW2 is that it’s way, way too fast. I want options to turn xp off like other MMOs offer, not tricks to make the best part of the game flash by even faster.


  3. Indeed – it seemed to me a lot of this stuff is QoL features that were present in the Chinese release that are just now making their way into NA/EU/ANZ. I welcome anything that makes the leveling up process more engaging, rewarding, and instructive. But withholding downed state until level 5? I don’t think those four buttons were making any heads explode.

    Unlocking the Personal Story in batches still doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to connect to the lore if you’re coming into it brand new. It may even make it more disjointed. The use of enhanced PS completion rewards coupled with the pre-update system may have been more viable on the principle of shiny = interesting. Leveling up will certainly feel much more rewarding as players receive yellows and stat increases progress along demarcated tiers. Now if only they could make leveling up more meaningful in terms of time investment without moving too far in the direction of the exponential…


    1. I find it gets easier when you pretend that the ones having trouble wrapping their brains around GW2 are:

      a) a stereotypical girlfriend or mom-in-law struggling to manage WASD and mouselook, aka players who come in completely new to MMOs as a genre – imagine your everyday co-worker or boss who hunts and pecks at the keyboard or squints at the screen as they try to find where to click precisely or figure out the difference between single and double-click

      b) WoW tourists, or players super-trained into the mindset of WoW. The Achiever types who see everything in terms of clear to-do lists, labels everything as a ‘quest,’ expects escalating power progression and the feeling of having ‘unlocked’ special stuff, and so on.

      c) People who are more strategic and tactical learners as opposed to experimental, exploratory learners.

      This last subset is a lot harder to understand for gamers, who are very used to exploratory learning. I personally had no clue this was a problem until I tried to use a text adventure game as an introduction ‘fun’ experience for a group of “gifted” students once.

      I had -thought- they would all leap into it and start playing avidly, but it was apparently so alien an experience and the context was too ‘classroom’ a setting, that only 3 out of 40 were getting into it and not afraid of making mistakes or error messages from the parser while playing.

      The rest seemed all unimaginably frightened and were looking at me to give them the ‘right answer’ and when that wasn’t forthcoming, they were watching their friends first to get an idea of what they were expected to do, discussing without actually touching the computer, and super-hesitant to even start ‘trying’ to do anything.

      That day, I realized there is a pretty big group of people who want everything spelled out to them in clear step-by-step ‘press this to do this’ directions and that they were very happy in classrooms where they would get the ‘right answer’ and lots of praise for doing so.

      It’s no wonder that MMOs that give quests and corresponding rewards and “dings” are fairly popular with the mainstream.

      For all these groups of people, putting off the downed state can’t hurt.

      Assume that everyone ‘smart’ and quick enough on their feet to intuitively ‘get it’ will level right past 5 in under an hour, and probably already have, seeing that GW2 has been out for two years.

      If feeding info in more controlled drips helps player retention, then that’s what’s best for the game.

      As long as it isn’t forced or obtrusive enough for the more faster-paced exploratory learner – it’s always possible to click past those reward screens, and/or skip straight to level 20 anyway.


      1. I think example a) entirely true. I’m always very aware of how alienating the entire process of playing ANY video game is to many people and MMORPGs in particular to most.

        What I’d question is how many of that gorup, who would never take to the process naturally and intuitively, could ever, even with the most suitable, accessible and unintimidating controls, systems and UI, find MMORPGs something they would actively enjoy.

        Yes, there are such things as acquired tastes, but my feeling is that, as with a lot of things in life in general and entertainment in particular you either “get” MMORPGs or you don’t. And there’s nothing wrong with not getting them nor anything clever about getting them, either. Horses for courses and leading them to drink and all that.

        As for the WoW players in example b) I just don’t buy that one at all. GW2 and WoW are about as different one from the other as Rugby Union is from Rugby League. No-one who is able to play one effectively is unable to play the other just as well. Unwilling, yes.

        C) is the interesting group. These changes will clearly of great benefit to them. Whether they’ll then be able to assimilate the rest of the game, which doesn’t (yet) work the same way is another matter.

        All in all I’d say the changes are probbaly designed to widen GW2’s player base to include existing MMO players who currently play those MMOs GW2 claimed it was going to replace. Clearly they were developed with the existing Chines game-playing market in mind. Good commercial decision but hardly a shining example of sticking to one’s principles.

        I have a character in the mid-30s right now so I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it plays out in practice. I found the Trait changes to be a non-event (apparently a minority view if you read the forums, where they are abhorred) so I am open-minded on how it will affect me personally. Regardless of how it turns out I’m certain the rational for introducing it is pure commercial cynicism though.


  4. Veterans won’t give a damn about the low level changes – they already have all the level 80s so for them is all resources spent in something that they won’t benefit.

    Not only they don’t see that the popular key farming that is the only way to obtain black lion scraps to convert into tickets other than tossing hundreds of $/£/€ will possibly under fire.

    So what they see is “Black Lion skins are beyond a pay wall hidden behind a RNG”.

    Some of those Black lion skins simply shot to $100+ range that is not even guaranteed. That is ludicrous.

    Maybe Black Lion scraps and tickets chance will tremendously increase and maybe Anet will remove the completely useless black lion chest drops like the powder or the +1 skill point scroll.

    Maybe Anet will make keys actually drop in game (I got like 3 in 2000 hours played and so did my GF) and/or there will be other ways to obtain scraps and/or the skins.

    So far we haven’t seen anything but a nerf to black lion key farming “disguised” in some change (that is what even me or you will think deep down while we rationalize that is for the good of the game and new players) to a system that we played and didn’t make us quit (in fact I bet most did the few 20 or 30 or so PS steps with all their characters and enjoyed it, our problem with the PS is the Trahearne story arc).


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