Feedback From A New/returning Player In Guild Wars 2

I started playing within a month or so of release, but could never really stay interested for much longer than about level 20-25, for a variety of reasons.

  • bland voice acting and writing
  • limited character customization
  • combat felt very repetitive
  • lack of Trinity limits PvE to zerging
  • PvP is setup to encourage zerging
  • Story never feels cohesive, partly because you spend 90% of your time doing random crap like feeding cows or whatever, for people you don’t know, don’t care about, and will never see again.
  • The 10% of the time that you’re doing your personal story (or whatever it’s called), felt disjointed because you have to constantly put them on hold while you gain levels.

Despite that very broad set of complaints, I’ve kept coming back every 3 or 4 months to give the game another try, because I really want to like the game. I did so again this weekend, before realizing there was a major patch that just went live. Having started a new character and played to about 16 or 17, I wanted to take a moment to let people and/or devs know what my impression is. Mostly because I feel like I’m exactly the kind of player that they are trying to retain (maybe I’m wrong though).

First Impressions
I’ll be honest, and just say up front that I very nearly uninstalled as soon as I left the intro map. I immediately went looking for an AH guy, only to find out they are no longer on the 1-15 map. Thinking that was strange, I ran into the city and loaded up the AH. I was immediately struck by how *un*intuitive that interface has become. I don’t know if it was changed in this last patch, or earlier this year or what. But I managed to somehow accidentally purchase 48 bags when I only intended to purchase 5. So I spent the next several minutes figuring out how to relist the 43 bags that I didn’t need, and finally purchased the off hand weapon I came for in the first place.

And then I found out that I can’t even use off hand weapons until level 7. After asking around in chat again, people mentioned that ANet wrecked the whole early level experience because it was somehow too complicated. I then poke around on the forums to see what’s going on and read through the patch notes, usually dumbfounded by what I saw.

So basically, ANet managed take a game that was already too simplistic and found ways to make it ever less complicated in an effort to appeal to… I don’t know, 7 year olds or something. There aren’t enough abilities in the game to begin with (especially when you consider stuff with long cooldowns), yet they felt like offering even fewer abilities would better retain people? I still don’t understand the level gating thing, but it’s their game.

The single bright spot in all this, and the one reason why I might possibly manage to last longer than level 25 this time, is how the personal story is now paced. When I finally hit level 10 (after doing several hours of the same crap for the same people that I don’t know or care about, mind you), I was able to push through the first major story line without having to constantly stop and go level a few times before picking it up again. That was a huge improvement. My understanding these story sections will come up about every ten levels, which should be fine as long as the later levels don’t move too slowly. Even if the pacing does slow down at later levels, at least I’m not inexplicably holding off on something major like rescuing someone because I need to go kill grubs until another farmer is happy with me.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. I really want to like the game, and I’m hoping that ANet can introduce some complexity at some point, rather than focusing solely on lowering the barrier of entry. Complexity is what will keep players playing.

Side note to ANet: despite what you may think, getting a notification every level about stats gained, or stuff unlocked, doesn’t actually make cheap gw2 gold any more special because the stats/features/etc have no context. I gained a level and my stats increased by 20? I don’t even know what that means or how it helps my character, much less why I should feel accomplished.


Guild Wars 2 New Lvling System

I look at this from the “Play how you want” perspective, which is why I don’t like the new leveling system. The new system feels like your riding on rails, showing you the sights. But the whole time, I want to get off and do my own thing.

Take the Personal Story. Before the new system, you could do the personal story at any level. Basically, you can do it whenever you wanted. The only restriction being whether you wanted it to be very hard (below recommended level), average difficulty (at recommended level), or very easy (above recommended level). Now that first option has been taken away. I understand that having to take leveling breaks between the story could be jarring. My suggestion would be to keep the story chapters under the new system, but let you start them whenever you want. So the first chapter would still be recommended for level 10. However, you could try it at level 5, but receive a warning that you are below the recommended level.

I mostly dislike the unlocking of abilities. Being under 80 was already a huge liability for many types of group activities (dungeons, world events, guild events, etc.). Now it is greatly worse because you will be missing key skills and traits.

The worst part of it is that you can’t do the experimenting at earlier levels that you could under the old system. I relied on leveling to learn my classes, but not through a forced tutorial. I liked trying out new weapons and traits. The more time (earlier levels) I had them, the better I understood them. In fact, the only drawback with the old system, imo, was that you used to have to pay for trait changes, which reduced experimentation and learning. Dropping those fees was a fantastic move by Anet.

My suggestion would be to return weapons, skills, and traits gained at level up to the old system. Any new traits and skills added to the game can be acquired through activities or by purchase like the new Grandmaster traits. This gives level 80s something to do to gain them (though they should all be available in sPvP for free).

All the other unlocks with level seem a little arbitrary and cruel to me. I’m not high enough level to use the trading post? Why? Underwater combat at level 7. What if I go underwater before that? I must be punished. I hear I have to wait until a certain level to do jumping puzzles. I love jumping puzzles.

All of this creates a long, boring ride to level 80. Before, when you started GW2, it opened up a world of possibilities. Now everything is handed/told to you during your ride. When you do get to 80, you feel as if you’ve already seen and done all there is to do. If there was more, they would have told you and held your hand through it, right?

Others have asked whether they would recommend GW2 after this update. My primary reason for recommending this game was the freedom it offered. There was so much you could do and explore, and running around the world felt great. Now, I would be embarrassed to make that claim to new players, because they won’t experience that wonder and freedom.