Quick post to lock in some random guesses for GW2’s scheduled Aug 30 announcement… in roughly 12 hours from this post… just to see how wildly off-base and out of touch I might be from the current pulse of things.
Like undoubtedly many, learning more about the future of GW2 from what ArenaNet is able to show of its current plans is going to play a big part in whether I think I want to participate in that future.
- Next episodes of Living World/Story announced / Lore drops / Hints at map direction / showing off some environments and level design
- An assurance that an expansion’s worth of content will be bundled into the staggered release format
- Some shiny mount/weapon/armor skins
- Some ridiculously grindy long term Legendary sort of item to construct
- Jewelcrafting to 500?
- Some brief allusion to fractal/raid to keep the difficult group content subset dangling
Possible But Moving Towards Uncalled For Hope
- Build templates
- Something to help WvW or PvP
- New elite specs
- Variant difficulties to raids (easier to repeatable CMs)
- New weapon types?
Hopeful Ideals / Wild Dreams
- Ships (ie. above water and underwater mounts)
- Improved Guild Halls and Guild Missions
- Personal Housing (or improved decorating / player placed features for home instances, etc.)
- Underwater combat
Not all of the above are going to be things I personally like, but these are just guesses into what might be conceivably achievable and a possible priority for Anet.
Most of the stuff listed under Realistic Expectations is the standard bread and butter for both Anet and their game audience, in my opinion, anyway. Stuff they should be able to do. If they can’t, then there really is an issue with how their company is doing things and we should all be running for the hills.
The biggest puzzle is what max jewelcrafting might do if Legendary sigils can already be made without it. Infusions? Craftable Ascended trinkets (as if there weren’t enough sources for those)?
New fractal is personally not going to thrill me. I shut myself off from PUGing long ago and horror stories of the new Siren’s Reef do not help in that respect. The only way I’ll see that content is if some attention is given to helping soloability of dungeons/fractals, be it through henchman/hero AI or even more power creep. (And note, that feature didn’t even make the Wild Dreams list, it’s that far off the table, even in my guesses.)
New raid would make me sigh. I dunno. Still conflicted about that whole issue. Yes, I acknowledge a decent (and controversially debatable) amount of people like raids. Yes, I begged, borrowed, stole my way into a static that tolerates my shenanigans long enough for mutual goals to be achieved and things to eventually die (which is probably the diametric opposite of elitist behavior.) They also take up a lot of time every week. They have undoubtedly changed the social community feel of GW2, with the introduction of different people with different values, which then changes some social mores.
One has never been a truly ideal fit for raids, and many times, I end up feeling like I’m shoving a hexagonal peg into a round hole just to deal with its introduction to the game. (It’ll get in there eventually, after some of the rough edges are worn off, but with imperfect fit and a lot of swearing involved.)
The big question has always been, is that struggle worth it? If GW2 has a future, and a future I can see myself interested in and taking part of, then okay, the pain is worth it, for the rewards and the maintaining of that social network. If not, then I might do better rethinking my relationship to MMOs altogether, because I’m kinda reaching a plateau point regarding social persistent world games and my interest level in them.
Anyway, moving on from those maudlin thoughts until we know more of what’s actually coming, and back to wild guesses of what dreams may come.
Build templates would be big. If they can actually announce and successfully introduce that (as some changes in UI and tweaks to Legendary functionality seem to hint at), then the current GW2 team demonstrates that they can actually pull off a long term, ‘new feature’ project.
If they can’t, then it’s another layer of glum depression of getting nothing substantial on a systems front.
WvW and/or PvP. Heh. Yeah, I think they exist? Does Anet? Is the group of interested players on those fronts large enough for them to devote resources to? I dunno, I just include it as a mention, just in case.
Elite specs are probably a thing. That should come with expansions. And if the Living World is the next expansion per se, they should endeavor to throw those in sporadically, like one or two per episode or something. Should. There seems to be a lot of repetitions of that word “should.” I wonder if I can name an asura Should.
On an even more hopeful level, if some of those elite specs can move on from using the established weapons, perhaps we’ll actually see new weapon types like greataxes and polearms (land spears?) Does Anet even have animators anymore, post layoffs? If new combat skills can be introduced and chairs/rocks with player poses… maybe?
Saving the best for last, can raids actually be salvaged for a larger percentage of the population?
On a mechanical and technical level, they are basically just another sort of combat/boss fight – as long as you disregard the closed instances, social necessities and difficulty level pitched at time investments of 2-3+ uninterrupted hours from ~10 people meeting the arbitary thresholds of performance required for success.
Except that said performance thresholds in GW2 vary significantly with game knowledge, time investment and willingness to practice (aka skill/learning factors) and cannot be modified like other games through time and grinding for gear with bigger and bigger stat numbers.
Ideally, a progression would be to filter a bunch of players like a pyramid from a large pool of middling competence players into a smaller group of more competence until the ridiculously refined levels at the peak.
Yes, the downside would be this forever push by the more competitive to clamber ever higher and increased social drama, but the alternative is what we are already seeing now, a large bunch of players never hit the thresholds and are excluded, the players over that threshold dropping like flies from boredom at repeating already mastered content and nobody happy and blaming the other group. I am sure I said this divide would happen years ago when Heart of Thorns came out. No shit, Sherlock.
So. The most positive way(s) out of this mess that I can possibly conceive…
1) Raids are salvageable, enough of our population likes them = Variant difficulty raids
Have a raid variant that is equivalent to the pick-up-and-play experiments we saw for Wintersday Frosty and Dragon Bash. People go in, people come out, or just play for 15-30mins. People see mechanics and learn mechanics. Mechanics are not punitively punishing and other players can save shitty players by forcibly rezzing them repeatedly. Good players can carry others. Lower performance numbers required. Low stakes. Low or different rewards.
Continue with standard raid difficulty.
Add repeatable Challenge Modes and increased Challenge Mode variety for the statics that have finished with standard raid difficulty. Different rewards, more prestige based, aka achievements/titles and the occasional shiny skin or sexy stool.
The hopeful results would be casuals try out easy pickup raid and get carried, decide “oh, this is fun or not too bad” and mostly stick to that, with some ambitious or inspired enough to move to the standard that is in effect now, aka some new blood that has at least taken dips in the baby pool and not shoved off a diving board to figure it out as they are falling.
Meanwhile, your old and burnt out blood that is now busy making derisive attacking posts on Reddit and ranting on Twitch/Youtube would be kept busy running a hamster wheel of their own making (except that the hamster wheel is cat-sized, full of hamster-sized holes to jump across aka fall through, and has actual cats draped around it for added difficulty… I mean, that’s what they want, right? It’s great stream material.)
2) Raids are not salvageable, too little people like it or will play it, regardless of what we do. Let’s ignore it and say nothing and eventually they will go away and leave us alone.
Some people would be deeply unhappy and have huge vocal histrionic fits about this for a while. But ehhh, I’m good. Practically every other MMO is a haven for the raider subset already. (Have you heard of our Lord and Saviour WoW Classic? Or the New Book of Final Fantasy XIV? If you’re not a devout MMO traditionalist, I hear there is this other upcoming sect called Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.)
We’ll see. There may be other more boring alternatives that Anet might take, like play it safe and promise a raid Soon(TM) and we’ll see it 9 months from now, assuming anyone’s still left to be interested in running it.
Let’s move on to the “If this happens, I think I’ll buy their Black Lion Package Deal of Miscellaneous Goodies (or whatever it’s really called) to show my support” items:
No shit. We got Elona. Seeing Cantha would be fucking cool. Will we actually get it when a Living World expansion will probably take us to Jormag or Charr homelands or whatever? Probably not. But we can dream. The Warclaw was kinda Chinese Lion looking, right?
Ships. Naval combat. Two or multiple seater mounts. We already have the skimmer. Underwater mount would be neat. (Octopus? Shark?) I just want something new, different, systems/feature-based and cool. Not more reskinned content in the same vein and a new layer coat of story veneered on.
Guild halls and guild missions were a great idea. In 2013. Or was it 2015. You get the picture. It’s been ignored since forever. It was a great way to socialize in a no stress environment and actually have an excuse for a mini-community gathering. Was. No variation to the content will do that after some time. As for guild hall costs, tweak them to accomodate guilds of different sizes and not only the megaguild, eh? Even Warframe and Path of Exile have better guild/housing options than a full on MMO. That’s a shame. The promise of achievable, personal housing to decorate and self-express might pull back a bunch of casuals that fled from raids.
As for underwater combat, I’ll grant that this one might be extremely controversial to do. But as a sort of stretch goal for ArenaNet, to do for underwater combat/content what they did for mounts, to lead and innovate where no other MMO has, to do it differently and make it appealing and have it be big time news like how praises for the raptor mount’s feel were splashed all over various sites…
… yeah, this would resoundingly demonstrate that the ArenaNet of today is still right up there with the big boys.
But um, I’m not exactly holding my breath for it (pun fully intended.)
Tomorrow or the day after, we’ll look at how many things I nailed (if any) and how many more things I got wrong, and that should probably help us figure out a bit more of our very conflicted feelings about this game and about this company.