I’ve been a Guild Wars 2 player since beta. I was a huge fan of Guild Wars 1 which in my opinion was one of the best MMOs I’ve ever played. Guild Wars 2 is very different from GW1 and there’s hardly anything similar about the two other than the name and the continent of Tyria. I’ve played every aspect of Guild Wars 2 – PvP and PvE – and after almost two years, I’ve given up. I’ve tried to drag it out for as long as possible especially given the amount of time I’ve invested in it. But enough is enough. I can’t take it anymore, and here’s why. Let’s look at the PvE and PvP aspect separately.
Guild Wars 2 PvE
There are two things wrong with GW2 PvE:
Not Enough Solo Play
I don’t like to team up with people. I prefer to play alone at my own pace. I know, I know. It’s an MMO and all that jazz. But so what? MM stands for “Massively Multiplayer”, which only means that you have the ability to interact with others and team up. It doesn’t mean you have to. It’s not that you can’t roam around solo – you most certainly can. I explored all of Tyria and even managed to craft my legendary. Though I had to team up to complete the dungeon runs necessary to obtain a certain dungeon gift.
GW1 on the other hand had almost every aspect of PvE completely soloable. You had 8 heroes towards the end whom you could equip with all the best gear and take with you into the most dangerous parts of the game. Except for perhaps the Domain of Anguish (DoA), I was able to complete all dungeons in solo mode. Sure it could take longer than with a team, but it could also take less time than with a PUG. Most importantly, you were always in control. I could leave my heroes hanging around while I went to get something to eat. Even go shopping with my wife, come back, and pick up from where I left off.
In GW2, there no chance of that happening. Just about every dungeon has some kind of mechanic that requires other human players to be present. Whether it’s the Citadel of Flame with the four braziers or the Crucible of Eternity with the switches next to the lasers, it’s not just a question of it being tough to solo them. It’s impossible to solo them.
And that pissed me off. It meant that for the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the game I had to rely on other human beings with their own schedules, and styles of play. It meant that you could end up with someone who didn’t know what to do, or didn’t know the optimal strategy. And it meant that you had to follow along with the group schedule. You can’t just take a break and come back.
So GW2 fails in the solo department big time. While there’s no doubt that I enjoyed teaming up with others a few times, I would like the ability to choose not to and still have access to almost every part of the game. Guild Wars 2 is very solo unfriendly. And for a guy like me who often actively dislikes having to interact with other players, it finally got to a point where I abandoned PvE entirely and shifted exclusively to PvP for over a year.
Not Dark Enough
The second thing that bugged me about Guild Wars 2 PvE was how “cartoony” the environment is. None of the enemies look really threatening and more than that, the environment was too cheery. Full of flashy glowy lights and very few shadows. Even the “end zone areas” like Orr where just too non-threatening. The so called “zombies” were just laughable (Everyone…come!).
For comparison, look at some of the zones in GW1. Anyone remember the Domain of Anguish? How alone and messed up that was? That kind of thing plays on your psyche. Many of the Nightfall areas were spooky with demonic figures hanging around every corner.
Perhaps much of this ties in with my first sore point – no solo play. When you’re alone, things are more scary in general. There’s no one to help you. No champion comes running along to take down that monster. You’re on your own in the dark with your heroes. In GW2, there’s no sense of dread. There are tough enemies and champions, yeah. But I was never afraid of them. Does anyone remember running into Borrguus Blisterbark in Sacnoth Valley in the “Eye of the North” campaign in Guild Wars 1? Even though he wasn’t demonic, or had a scary form, that guy commanded respect. In fact in GW2, the enemies are just generic “Champion whatever”. They don’t really have names, or personalities.
The cheery effects and glowy surrounding don’t help create a dangerous atmosphere either. Tyria is just too friendly a place in Guild Wars 2. And it grates on my nerves.
These were my two biggest problems with GW2 PvE. Because of them I gave up playing it entirely and switched my attention to the PvP arena. I focused on that for over a year until Anet decided to pull the carpet out from under us. Here’s what happened.
Guild Wars 2 PvP Problems
Let me be upfront and say I loved GW2 combat. I have never experienced play so fluid and dynamic. Evades, movement while casting skills, and jumping all made the action really fast paced and exciting. PvP was just what I needed to get my blood going. And the best part was that I didn’t really have to team up with anyone. Sure, we all played in a team and had to coordinate somewhat. But there’s a huge difference between playing with other people and teaming up with them.
Every once in a while I would play in a nice team and the others would send me an invite asking me to join their group, which I would accept. Only to be reminded in a couple of games why I like to go solo and leave again.
More importantly however, Guild Wars 2 PvP was completely separate from PvE. All gear and armor you obtained while in PvP was inaccessible to those outside. Which meant that it didn’t matter how much of a hero you were in PvE. Once you entered the hallowed grounds of PvP, you had to earn the right to wear that armor. You couldn’t tout your rewards in one part of the game in the other.
The other awesome thing about PvP was the ranks. The more you played, the higher rank you got. And the last rank was r80 which was a very, very, VERY long term goal (with little rewards along the way). After playing for so long I just managed to make it to r56 and each set of 10 ranks is exponentially harder than the ten before it. It meant that there was a way to distinguish the long time players from the new ones. Also, each set of 10 ranks had its own finisher. Having a shark rank meant something. It meant you were r60 and above and had been around a while. I had something to work towards. I had to get the next rank. I had to get the next piece of armor.
It was great. It was awesome. And then Anet ruined it.
The Death of Hardcore. All Hail the Casuals!
On the 15th of April, Anet destroyed PvP. It did this in two ways
1. They essentially removed ranks
First off they bumped everyone at r55 and above to r80, suddenly elevating a huge chunk of the PvP population to the highest level with nothing left to play for after that. In GW1, the highest ranks took years upon years to reach. And those who stuck it out and played above and beyond were rewarded for it with distinctive looks and rank emotes. But by shoving everyone up the ranks, Anet essentially made the game all about casual play. Anet was saying “Ok, you played enough. There’s nothing more for you to achieve here”.
Actually, I got lucky. I’d only reached r55 when they bumped me up to 80. I feel terrible for those poor players who had put in hundreds and hundreds of PvP hours more than me only to hit the same level cap of 80 that I shot up to. Way to reward your most loyal players Anet.
This move was made worse by the second of Anet’s changes
2. They brought in PvE gear
The April 15th update allowed players to bring their PvE skins and rewards into PvP. Which meant that suddenly we had hordes of newbies coming into the arena flashing around their legendaries while the rest of us loyal PvP’ers had nothing to show for our time spent. Skin for skin and reward for reward, PvE always gave more than PvP. If I took all the time I’d spent in PvP and put it into PvE, I would have gotten at least 5 legendaries by now. Not to mention more achievement points, insane amounts of gold and other skins. But that was ok since the two game modes were separate.
After April 15th, there was no telling a seasoned PvP player from a PvE one. In addition to getting bumped up to r80 and having nothing more to play for, Anet removed all prestige of armor and other skins in PvP because now everyone could have the highest gear simply by playing in an unrelated mode.
So what was the point anymore? No more rewards (I’ve already reached the highest cap), and no way to tell who was a new player and who was a veteran. Anet just went and diminished the dedication and hard work that thousands of players had put into PvP and essentially gave out freebies to everyone.
After a while I stopped playing PvP as well, which was a damned shame cause I really loved it. But I don’t just play for fun. I play for progression. For achievements. For rewards. For bragging rights. And both Guild Wars 2 PvP and PvE just took all of that away from me.
Based on the direction I’ve seen so far, Anet seems to have no intention of reversing this trend. They want to continue to make GW2 casual friendly and drive away the hardcore players. Good for them, if that’s what they want to do. I just wish they had told me earlier what they were going to do so that I wouldn’t have wasted so much time.