Moving is serious business, especially when you're playing tetris with your furniture. While not everything is unpacked yet, I didn't expect it to take quite this long to get back to blogging, but life is life. That said, I want to continue the discourse from my last post regarding how cooperation is executed in games. With the advent of Guild Wars 2's first anniversary August 30th, I thought it would be a great parallel post to focus on.
Gotta love XKCD
I've only been able to be at launch for one other MMO in my life so far and that was Shin Megami Tensei Imagine. While I loved the idea of the game and the ability to persuade demons & youkai to my team and go around Pokemon style in a cyberpunk setting, the MMO never quite picked up like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars has. The lag, lack of players (and friends playing with me) after the first couple of months, and the inability of my laptop to play the game made me give up. I needed friends to really do dungeons, and when you can't even get a party together after a couple of hours because you can't find anyone within your level range and willing, it's rather a detriment. I'd like to go back eventually because I love the whole SMT series, but ultimately I think the MMO failed because of it was an earlier free to play MMO. To get ahead in the game, I would have had to spend money- money I couldn't afford, which was why I was happy to play this MMO.
A great game artistically at the very least, I hope it's something I can go back to someday without having to pay to win/play.
With Guild Wars 2, While I never played the original, I paid my initial $60.00 to buy a physical copy (I'm a bit old fashioned in that aspect I guess, I like being able to hold a game if I can) But having a company at least having an initial bit of money to fund the production of the game plus any money spent into its in game currency called gems in this instance, Guild Wars two takes a middling approach from the traditional monthly subscription fee business model. I for one enjoy this. I don't have to feel guilty that I'm wasting my time not playing because of how much I might pay a month or that I would need to cancel and renew as needed. With this more laid back attitude, I'm more relaxed in playing and thus I think more people are willing to play as the MMO is not bare bones, yet not as grindy for a constant need to keep player count active. I will say though that player count did drop significantly for a few months before they started releasing their monthly and bimonthly Living Story expansions. By these mini expansions coupled with a few game mechanic aspects unique to Guild Wars 2 gamer attendance is relatively stable.
Rawr! I'm a dragon!
The biggest mechanic that I want to mention here is the dynamic event mechanic. A player can find come across a random event that will trigger upon arrival into the area. It can be pretty much anything from collecting to escorting, to killing something really big. You don't have to be there from the start however and any amount of participation (whether alone, or in a zerg group) will net you some amount of reward. With this along with regular heart quests (which take place of regular quests), regional bosses, and three behemoth sized dragons make playing together in a group or as a map easier and much more fun. Luckily, most of these dynamic events and heart quests can be soloed, but for any world events or map event such a the claw of Jormag, Tequatl the sunless, or the Shatterer, dragon champions representing elemental dragons that have been plaguing the land of Tyria with their corrupted minions in tangent with Zhaitan, the games ultimate boss must be played cooperatively. Because of this, Guild Wars 2 rewards accordingly. Along with daily, monthly, and a slew of other achievements, the rewards for most of these feats are rather nice. In addition, a character is never vying for a fair share of the loot; every person is allotted a balanced share of the awards so there isn't the tension of rolling for loot within a party or guild.
Tequatl the Sunless, who is actually going to get beefed up in the next expansion since players have figured out pretty much everything about this guy.
Finally dungeons round out the PvE experience. These are the one other aspect of the game that cannot be soloed. One has a party of up to five people (though it's possible with one or two less) to tackle a dungeon particular to that area. There is incentive too to play more than just the initial time in “story mode” as there are three different branches opened up to the player after story mode in “explorable mode”. Explorable mode has a different boss to fight at the end of each branching route of varying difficulty and add extra fun and variety to an existing dungeon.
Honor of the waves, one of the prettiest dungeons, you're fighting on a giant ice ship trying to save the Kodans, giant polar bear people who have had to flee from Zhaitan, the colossal death dragon that's the boss of the MMO so far.
By having parties team up and creating a bonding experience over something completely new or the slightly familiar, I think Arena Net, the creator of Guild Wars 2 has the right idea in the particular mix they have going for them. There are other aspects which I haven’t mentioned such as World v World, a gargantuan map that pairs server vs server or SpvP which is more scaled down to individual teams of players fighting against each other with the mob Ais aren't enough of a challenge anymore, but that will be for another time. The cooperative focus on parties and spontaneous groupings of players to defeat a threat create a more engaging and familial environment, building upon the MMOs that came before it. Coupled with the biweekly expansions constantly churning out new content, Guild Wars 2 certainly can be considered a evolutionary step up in the MMO theatre.
The events even overlap with other heart quests or even other dynamic events