GW2: Why I Haven’t Quit GW2 Raids Yet

Despite being rather sympathetic and in agreement with the general tenor that Heart of Thorns added a bunch of content that was pitched a little out there towards the hardcore (and frustrating those less so, encouraging thoughts of quitting,) I thought I’d try a smidgen of positivity today.

I’d like to point out what GW2 raids did -right.-

Or at least, right enough that I haven’t (yet) thrown up my hands in exasperation and hurled GW2 on the trash pile with the carcasses of pretty much all the other MMOs I’ve played, especially those that introduced raids late in the process.

Just as Bhagpuss finds that the phrase “the trinity” conjures up associated ideas that aren’t, strictly speaking, contigent upon having a trinity of combat roles, I tend to use the phrase “holy trinity MMO” as a shorthand for a bunch of inconveniences that I’ve decided aren’t worth putting up with in the games I’ve chosen to play.

Beyond the lack of pure, restrictive dependencies-on-others for specialized roles (which we’ve touched on in other rants):

  • No raid boss loot-based vertical progression

I just don’t do the hamster wheel gear grind. It doesn’t make sense to me that a player is defined as “good” or “bad” by the virtue of the stats he or she happens to have, as defined by their avatar being a coatrack for greatness.

It’s also very linearly simplistic and boring. Do X easier bosses first, to do Y middling boss next, and then when you’ve earned enough gear, then you get to do Z. Ugh. Can anyone say, artificial gating?

The ever-increasing gear stats also create a moving baseline that makes it difficult for newer entrants to get past the entry barrier. (Any game or game mode that discourages newbies is a soon-to-be “ded gam.”)

With the introduction of Ascended tier quality, GW2 isn’t perfect right now either, but at least it has (hopefully) reached the peak of what it can do, beyond some sneaky increases in stat numbers on four-stat gear like what we’ve seen in HoT.

A new tier would incite a riot, so thankfully, an exponential increase in power is highly unlikely to happen. (Unless the designers fuck up the next round of elite specializations to make them the only desirable ones.)

What this does mean is that raid difficulty can be held at a constant level of challenge without ever being diminished or invalidated by players growing exponential stronger stat-wise. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that ‘if a raid is conquered, it means something,” as has been used by a marketing spiel at some point, but I would say it shows that the players have gained in specific encounter / build knowledge in order to defeat that raid boss.

At least the baseline isn’t going to move exponentially stat-wise.

(Alas, players being players, they are still going to create their own fairly absurd entry requirements to pose a barrier to newbies.

The latest one I’ve heard about is to ping a certain number of Legendary Insights, which no doubt will turn into a catch-22 problem for newbies down the road, along the lines of “if I can’t get into any raid groups, how do I earn Legendary Insights in the first place?”)

  • The partial option to “selectively” choose a raid boss, and fight them in nonlinear fashion

Linearity is boring. If you always -had- to kill the very first boss of the raid wing in order to progress on to learning the rest, and if your group was unlucky enough to screw that up for a day or two, I can foresee some raid drama coming on in short order, as people get tired of being stuck at particular boss X.

It isn’t a full and complete option to select any boss in GW2 (yet), but there is at least some possibility for variation by joining a raid instance that has been opened to a specific boss (by said instance holder having killed the other bosses prior, within the week.)

Last week, our group actually did Spirit Vale backwards, as most of the group just had Sabetha to go. Once she’d died, then the group did Gorseval and Vale Guardian for the one or two members that hadn’t killed them that week yet, which was a somewhat welcome change from -always- doing the Vale Guardian fight.

  • No strict instance or boss-based raid lockouts. Only a loot-based lockout with a time period of a week.

The problem with the former kinds of lockouts is that they limit a player to -one- set specific raid group.

If one only gets one opportunity to fight said boss per week, the natural optimizer in many players will seek out the most competent group they can find, and to hell with the rest.

It’s that “to hell with the rest” that fosters even more divisiveness and toxicity and drama.

In GW2, if you’re willing to just fight the boss without receiving any further loot reward, you are not prevented by the game from doing so. This allows for players to help others run the same boss within the week, and/or fight the boss for the fun of it.

Much like the whole idea of node-sharing, this is a concept that screams, “Why not? It doesn’t hurt and only helps.”

  • Little consolation prizes for failure or repeat-killing of the same boss (up to a weekly cap)

You get a random number of 0-5 magnetite shards for nearly but not quite killing the raid boss, or bringing it to a certain phase, following some kind of completely opaque logic for discouraging purposefully fail-farming a raid boss, but encouraging people to make the attempt or help others succeed at killing said boss.

This caps at about 100 a week, not a huge amount, considering that most things cost at least 300-400 magnetite shards plus gold, but at least a small acknowledgement.

vendor

  • A token buy system, for the times RNG screws you over

Yep, on a personal level, I really need this one.

I’ve seen other people get a ghostly infusion pop worth hundreds of gold. The guild has been chattering about some other guy whose “selling” run popped -three- ghostly infusions, two for the members selling the raid and one for the extremely lucky buyer (who presumably recouped the fee with that pop, and then some.)

I’ve heard a guy complaining that he’s got three mini Gorsevals already, and here I am, looking at my still incomplete collection of mini Vale Guardians and just wanting -one- mini Gorseval some day.

All I pop are randomly named exotics of the extremely boring Prefix Affix variety (Weird-Stat Shortbow of the Blah Blah) and now and then, one with a unique name and skin that I probably don’t have in my collection yet (but could have bought on the TP for less than 2 gold, eg. Firelighter, Jora’s Defender, etc.)

For the moment, I’m still saving up the shards, since I have no idea how much, if any, Legendary Armor is going to need. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually buy myself something pretty I want, when I’ve gotten tired of getting shafted by RNG drops.

  • No Need/Greed or Leader-controlled mob-drops-limited-loot systems, everyone gets personal loot.

This is a biggy.

This is, in fact, I think the biggest biggy as to why I tend to drop all other MMOs with raids and group-based content.

I have never played a single PUG dungeon in which someone (that wasn’t me) didn’t ninja all the loot with a Need roll.

Even after you give up and join all the rest in the perversion of rolling Need on everything, my perennial streak of no-luck means I get low rolls on everything and walk away from an hours-long dungeon with nothing. Zilch. No stat improvement. Nada. Waste of time.

All of the former kinds of loot systems end up with emotional drama from bringing humans into the equation, along with the fact that they’re competing for limited resources.

All of this is completely unnecessary competition. Cue the whole resource-node sharing, eradication of mob-tapping as a concept again.

Personal loot is where it’s at.

The computer knows that ten people participated in the fight. The computer says, ok, ALL ten of you get a reward. Now some of your rewards may be better than others, but I will roll it up for you and you WILL get it, and no one else can see what you got, unless you choose to tell them (which is your business.)

There is no human to blame in this equation. It’s just whether the computer RNG screwed you over or no, in terms of the jackpot or bonus prize you were hoping for.

But it also gave you something and didn’t let you leave home empty-handed.

  • No repair bill. No penalty for death besides failure to defeat the encounter and time spent.

This reduces player hostility towards others a ton, in my opinion.

This makes wipes and failures caused by other people or things beyond anybody’s control tolerable, without the sting of additional negative progress in some fashion.

It encourages players to be more open to experimentation, to be okay with trying things out for fun and not expecting immediate success every single go. It reduces the need for super min-max cookie cutter strategies, in order not to be penalized by failing.

  • Trash mobs scaffold and teach mechanics that will be necessary for the upcoming boss.

Unnecessary mobs in the way of the raid boss are just a waste of everybody’s time.

What mobs are present in Spirit Vale tend to have a purpose of introducing individual mechanics separately, before combining them all up in the next boss encounter.

There’s a certain admirable elegance to that sort of level design.

guildhalldeco

Don’t ask. Someone must have gotten especially creative with guild decoration limits to come up with this monstrosity made out of boss trophies.

What’s less admirable: I’m not really in favor of any story being gated behind these raid bosses.

And the jury’s still out on whether raiding is viewed as the be-all and end-all of the PvE world yet.

But we’ll save those criticisms for another day.

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3 thoughts on “GW2: Why I Haven’t Quit GW2 Raids Yet

  1. Sylow says:

    First the TL/DR:
    Yes, you listed a lot of progress GW2 made when comparing it to very old games. Once you take a look at games less than 6 years old, the progress gets very small, though.

    The deciding valid point is: you are having fun, unless in other games when you tried. As long as this is true, you should carry on and enjoy it.

    That being said, the TL/DR is over, here comes why i disagree with a lot of what you wrote:

    First of all i find the distinction funny. Especially when again taking a look at the article where you shot down TSW. I could bring other examples from other games I played in the last years, but as you list TSW as one of the games you played, it’s common ground and I will use it again. Another awesome game to show you that GW2 is not innovative but just copies concepts from older games would be DCU, which somebody mentioned on your blog only a few days ago, but it’s not common ground and would require so much more explaining, the wall of text is long enough like this…

    To start out, i re-read your posting on TSW and the only thing i found absolutely valid is that TSW indeed is a ressource hog, has stability issues on a 32 bit OS and thus really creates problems. If you run with less than 8 GB RAM and a 64 bit OS, I can not advise to go for TSW, from a technical point of view the game is a wreck.

    That being said, let’s take a closer look at what you wrote here:

    – Your preception of the trinity. You start to confuse me. In former postings you tried to make a point that GW2 is not the trinity because there are potentially more tasks than just three of them. Indeed we dismissed that by comparing your points to strongly trinity based games. Now you try to point it to arbitrary criterias of “inconveniences”. This indeed is harder to counter.

    – “No raid boss loot-based vertical progression”

    Strange. I dare to compare TSW and GW2, and again TSW wins, based on the community. When i go to Kingsmouth (starter area in TSW) and listen to general chat, i hear people forming dungeon groups. The whole requirement is “have two weapons”. [You can’t even leave the tutorial any more without picking up two weapons. ]

    When going for nightmare difficulty dungeons, the game itself has the requirement that you have done all dungeons previously at a lower difficulty setting, and that you have beaten the gatekeeper. So yes, this is a check of gear and player ability, implemented into the game. In turn, there are no “be geared” and so on requirements stated by players, anybody who can join a nightmare dungeon has proven a certain level of ability and can be taken along.

    In contrast in GW2 elitism is on the rampage. When just listening to people forming the raid, i get the impression that any player joining the raid is required to play MMOs since at least 30 years, play GW2 since at least 10 years and be active in it’s raidgame since at least 5 years. Not to mention that a complete set of gear from the raid seems to become the entry requirement for joining the raid. A classical catch 22, created by insane elitism.

    Also, in your TSW article you worried to be “that guy”. I very rarely encountered this problem in TSW, but while I have not raided in GW2 yet, every feedback (including your previous articles here) very much indicate that expecially the “that guy” problem seems to be a huge issue in GW2, going so far that several classes are not taken along into the raid. Just being perceived (no matter if true or not) to be a single-digit percentage weaker than another class results in a class not being taken along for a raid.

    I haven’t experienced such behavior since years, not even in SWtoR, which I find faulty in a plethora of aspects. Thus in my perception, GW2 hit ground bottom here.

    – “The partial option to “selectively” choose a raid boss, and fight them in nonlinear fashion”

    Hmm. This might be true for GW2, but it’s in a way true for TSW. There are 8 classical dungeons, and two Kaidan dungeons. Either of them can be started independently of the others.

    Yes, either is a chain of 6 bosses, but not only is your criteria of skipping a boss by joining later is technically possible, the most valuable loot in all dungeons in TSW is not any specific loot but the currency you get for killing each and any boss. (More on that in the next point. )

    – “No strict instance or boss-based raid lockouts. Only a loot-based lockout with a time period of a week.”

    Uh, lockouts… yes, i remember those from some old fashioned games… like GW2.

    Now, yes, this is an overexageration. DCU uses lockouts a lot and even TSW has lockouts on open world missions and a few other selected aspects of its content. But dungeons do not belong to that, you can farm them as much as you want, there’s only a weekly cap on on how many tokens you can earn. More on the tokens below.

    – “Little consolation prizes for failure or repeat-killing of the same boss (up to a weekly cap)”
    and
    – “A token buy system, for the times RNG screws you over”

    That’s only progress within GW2, not any more when you know other MMOs. Especially after reading your older article about TSW, i find this ironic. In TSW everything is around the token system. Really everything. You get Black Bullion one of the two tokens, for any mission you do in the game. You get it for every dungeon boss you kill, etc. Of course a simple mission in the open world gives you 2 tokens while a boss in a dungeon might give you 30. So you have the choice: quicker earning on dungeons, or slow grind by repeating easy missions? Your call, the game allows both.

    In GW2, the currency you get is merely a small trinket as thanks for being there. The top gear still is loot, you can be lucky and win it at your first run, or you are out of luck and have to repeat the same stuff over and over, till you collected the currency to buy the gear.

    Of course, Murphy says that once you bought the gear, it will drop for you the very next time you are there, as it’s not helping you any more.

    In contrast, all the loot in TSW is a stepping stone. I mean, when you stage up the difficulty of the dungeons you do, you tend to get drops which are a bit better than what you use if you used gear from the previous difficulty. Newcomers in higher difficulties are told to roll need on everything, as for them it might still be useful for a short while, everybody else just disassembles the stuff for materials or vendors it.

    The actual game is in the tokens, which allow you to buy and upgrade custom gear. You defeat a boss and you get your tokens, allowing you to buy the upgrade of your choice. No loot, no random, full control. Perfect.

    I know that the gambler-types miss the thrill of rolling for the best gear, but for everybody else this system is the best i ever encountered. And if you consider what i wrote at the start, you should also understand that even a player who never ever enters a dungeon in TSW can acquire the best gear in the game. Given enough time and patience, you can work all your way to purple QL 10.9 equipment by just repeating missions in the open world all by yourself.

    Doing dungeons is faster and, at least for me who likes to play with people, much more fun than any solo grind. Still either way and everything in between is feasible, every playstyle can get you to top end gear if you invest enough time.

    – “No repair bill. No penalty for death besides failure to defeat the encounter and time spent.”

    Now, this i have to give to you. In TSW you have repair costs. They are insignificant, even when i spent hours in a new dungeon, wiping at one boss again and again, the financial aspect of repairs was not troublesome. (We wanted to beat that one the very first night it was introduced into the game, and in the end we manged!)

    So from a technical point of view, you are right, GW2 is “better” there. On the other hand, i consider my time to be more valuable than any in-game currenty, as technically the first can always be converted into the second, so i consider it a minor point.

    – “Trash mobs scaffold and teach mechanics that will be necessary for the upcoming boss.”

    Again, on technical terms and based on me not having experienced a GW2 raid yet, i have to give this to you. While most dungeons in TSW have zero trash mobs, one has three groups of them spread between its six bosses. And while most of them are designed to teach players something, there are two groups of thrash mobs in game, where i fail to see what they would be teaching.

    So yes, while those two groups each just take a few seconds to dispose off, based on my knowledge GW2 here wins by a small margin. The very moment somebody is able to mention just one group of thrash mobs in the GW2 dungeon, which does not function to teach new mechanics, it’s equal ground again. I now await a critical analysis of GW2s thrash mobs in the raid. 😀

    So really, all you write for me boils down to this: GW2 indeed is better and fresher than other MMOs which either are older (e.g. WoW, EQ, AO) or copied too many concepts of older MMOs, making them feel just as outdated there. (e.g. SWtoR, WS) But once you take a look at some other titles out there (up to 6 years old), you have to find that the “all new” stuff you currently advertise here merely a weak copy of what those do since years. Especially what you praise the most, tokens along with the loot, is something which both DCU and TSW do much better. There the tokens are what people really want, and loot is just something on the side. If your gear is still weak and you just made it into the new tier of difficulty (in TSW by beating the gatekeeper, in DCU by getting your equipment up to the required gearscore) the loot helps you to close the gap to other players of that difficulty level, but the best gear is to be acquired by collecting tokens, resulting in all the loot being trivial.

    That being said, i experienced such token systems to be a huge step forward. This results in other players in a group not being rivals any more for the valuable loot, but partners for the bigger goal of acquiring the tokens.

    The one thing i have to give to GW2 is: personalized loot. This indeed still is better than the need/greed you see in other games, including TSW or DCU. Even if the loot is trivial for experienced players, there is some rivalry if there’s several beginners in group who all still can profit well from the drops. But also note, personalized loot we have since GW2 launched, it’s not progress made with the expansion.

    That being said, would i have had the chance to influence the raid during development, drops would be exotic and not ascended, resulting in them being useful for newer players, but the currency being the real reward for veterans. Unfortunately that boat has sailed, there is no way of going for that now without getting a huge negative backlash. 😦

  2. Karinshastha says:

    Thumbs up to everything on the list. Vertical gear progression hasn’t gone out of style within the genre, but loot that isn’t personalized is a personal bugbear in 2016 (as are non-shared resource nodes). Allowing players more control over their raiding experience is the right thing to do.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    I loathe and detest all “get tokens, buy gear” systems. I would far, FAR rather have all the gear sold in the cash shop for real money than that. if we’re going to be playing a shopping simulator then let’s just get straight to it.

    I also don’t like personalized loot systems. They are gamified and overly, intrusively artificial. I don’t like any loot automagically appearing in my bags and I like it even less when it’s been chosen for me by my invisible Personal Shopper.

    I like mobs to drop items they were actually using during the fight or that they could reasonably be understood to have been carrying, even if they didn’t use them on this occasion. I like to retrieve them directly from the body, too, not from some chest that miraculously appears out of thin air.

    As for rolling on the loot, in my days of regular grouping I usually wouldn’t even bother in PUGs. I passed on most loot unless it was very common and I knew no-one cared. I rarely do this kind of content for loot and if I do I prefer to do it in a group where the allocation of drops has been decided before we even begin.

    We used to do it that way when I did a lot of non-PUG grouping. We’d generally be doing the dungeon or named specifically in order to get Item X for Group Member Y. If other things dropped unexpectedly we’d discuss who was going to have them, not roll.

    I have seen my share of ninja looting and “I Need Everything” rollers but I never cared then I and I don’t care now. The true point of being there is for the fun of the fights, not for the loot. If it isn’t, why even bother?

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