Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Don't Like Guild Wars 2

After playing Guild Wars 2 for a week or so, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I simply do not like this game. Here are my reasons:

1. No Stories

I play RPGs for the stories. It's not the only element, but it's the most important one.

Guild Wars 2 doesn't have stories, other than a single main questline (which is not particularly well written). All the hearts have terribly simplistic situations, with simple resolutions. There are no interesting characters, no twists, no plot other than the vaguest semblance of one.

There were 17 quest hubs or hearts in the first human zone. I don't remember a single one.

2. The Grind

Go to a heart. Kill or click on stuff until the bar is filled. Go to the next heart in order of level.

I just don't find this process interesting. The events and main questline do break up the monotony, but it's not enough. It seems extraordinarily linear to me, without even a decent story to make up for it.

3. The Combat is Bad

I don't like combat in GW2. It's boring and involves a lot of waiting for cooldowns. It's also very fiddly with all the long cooldowns. It just doesn't feel visceral or fluid.

Even the touted combos are boring. Someone put down a field? Click your finisher ability and random stuff happens.

Now, I can see how someone might like this combat. It has the potential to be very strategic. But I prefer a more immediate style of combat.

4. Character Models and Animation

I don't like the character models and animations. They simply do not look good to my eyes. All the models feel like there is something wrong with them. Especially the human models with their matchstick legs.

Now the environment and other effects are very nice. But not the character model which is on-screen all the time.

5. Playing Alone Together

For the most part, the presence or absence of other players simply does not matter in this game. At most, a fight might be slightly easier because another player helped out. But even groups of players are nothing but a zerg.

In other MMOs, the presence of another player affects my gameplay. Maybe I have to kill mobs in a different area because she's killing stuff over here. Maybe I have to wait for her to finish something before I can proceed. Maybe we'll group up so things go faster. Maybe we don't and things go slower. Maybe she'll get that ore node before I will.

The other player and I both inhabit the same world. Our actions affect each other. Maybe sometimes this interaction is rough and negative, but it's better than the smooth nothingness of GW2.

I think the element that pushed me over the edge here is the fact that resource nodes exist for all players. If I see a copper ore node, and someone else runs up and mines it, the copper node will still exist for me. I suppose it's very convenient, not having to worry about other players "stealing" your nodes. But at this point are the two players even in the same world any more?

There are a few times when the presence of other players matters. The biggest is reviving a downed player. At those times you can almost see the game that could be.


Basically, I just do not like GW2. The only element I really like is the weapon and skill system. The events are okay as well. But I just do not find the core mechanics to be fun, and I'd rather play a game with interesting stories. I have not seen anything yet that would keep me playing.


  1. "the environment and other effects are very nice. But not the character model which is on-screen all the time"

    That sounds like one of the reasons I did not like the original Guild Wars. It had beautiful scenery, but I found the character models to be distractingly bad.

  2. You are a very brave man, and it has been a privilege to know you. As the rabid badgers devour your bones in nerd rage, I bid you farewell. Farewell, mon ami. Farewell.

  3. I can see your point on human models, and story but combat? Maybe it's just the class, but i think traditional mmo combat in WoW and rift is much worse. I like the alone together instead of just alone like it typically is. As far a grind goes its no worse than most MMOs, tor being the exception with space combat being amazing. It's too bad you don't like it really. I'm having a blast and I love the idea of not needing to subscribe to get the a solid mmo fix

  4. And you did not even mention the issues with guilds (who cares about guilds in Guild Wars, amirite?), permanent WvW queues, and a non-functional AH (but the cash shop works!).

    This is going to be a fun couple of weeks.

  5. I still cringe every time I hear about a game diluting yet another aspect of the "world" in an MMO.

    Do you really play MMOs for the quest stories? In my experience the player stories [interactions and so on] are the interesting part.

    It's also worth mentioning that grouping for otherwise soloable content in an MMO will almost always turn into a zerg. That's not really a fair criticism in my mind. It's for this reason that I despise the idea of public quests to begin with.

  6. Typically you only see "groups" and the zerg for events. I would class events as group content, not solo content.

    Normal solo content has generally been 1 to 3 players on the same mob so far. It's pretty much normal.

  7. Regarding combat you may want to try a thief. Their 5 weapon skills have no cooldowns instead they use the initiative system. And the steal mechanic is a lot of fun.

    When it comes to story I only half agree with you. I haven't met any personalities outside of the personal story or dungeon story(in Ascalonian Catacombs). At least none memorable. However there are stories out there, they are just more grandiose. In the Asura/Sylvari 15-25 zone the middle of the zone is a mountain inhabited by a Skritt civilization with a king. All the hearts and events revolve around them trying to keep a float as a civilization and if you talk to npcs around the area you get background info. The skritt king talks about how long past kings lasted. Then some of the events outside of the mountain had you stopping bandits from poisoning skritt with traps.

    In the 25-40 zone Lornar's Pass the first heart has you takinga break from combat and helping serve patrons at an inn and dousing drunks with water. The related PQ has the apprentice chef gathering griffon eggs from nests grumbling about being treated as expendable.

    I think there is plenty of story out there. It just is more worldly and less personal. It also isn't hand fed in quest text. You have to seek out the story or infer it from the environment.

  8. I always assumed that lore/story is something that evolves, especially towards higher levels in MMOs, with dungeon story modes etc. I don't know how far into the game you are yet, but to me it's a bit early to say the game has no stories or less stories than other MMOs. no MMO starts with a ton of long, meaningful questlines. that said, I remember almost every quest I played in GW2 so far - just like I still remember every quest in Elwynn Forest or Westfall, all boring fetch&delivery quests included (and there were many). in GW2 the stories rely more on you looking for them though, is what I've found anyway.

    it seems Asura + Sylvari got a much better treatment in terms of model and movement in general, compared to the first three races that were created. humans are my least favorite, too.

    on grouping and combat I gotta disagree personally :) I play far less alone now than I did in WoW /Rift/AoC all the time and the combat is more tactical. not sure what 'random stuff happens' means - isn't that due to inexperience? nothing about the combos is random, they are just not introduced very well. it takes a long time to realize how best to make use of combos and how to setup your own. I'm still learning this.

  9. Agreed with most of your points. Right now I'm in mid 30s and slowly losing interest. Unless something about the gameplay drastically changes I don't see myself pushing on for too long. What bothers me the most is:

    - combat is basically TSW in terms of movement and dynamics, except worse. It's crippled by how they chose to use cooldowns as the only balancing mechanic between skills. It makes every class way more similar than they should be.

    - level scaling robs the game of any sense of power progression. This is kinda big deal, because character advancement is usually the only RPG aspect in action RPGs. What's the point of leveling up and me getting stronger if the game arbitrarily decides to throw that out of the window all the time?

    The way I see it, GW2 has more in common with open world games like Just Cause or Saints Row than traditional RPGs. There's nothing wrong with that, I'm just not really the target audience.

  10. I wonder what kind of combat would be fun for you. All of the combat models I've encountered so far had a problem:

    - If you have a lot of abilities, the problem usually is that eventually you will get abilities that do not differ or differ very little. This seems to be an issue especially for DPS as healers have more situations they have to respond to (high AoE damage, high single-target damage, low damage etc.) Example: WoW; it does make it more interesting by introducing rotations which make players use all their abilities but it still feels like many of them lack flavour.

    - Less abilities and ABC (always be casting) lead to an ability to be spammed over and over. Example: Ragnarok Online; while it does spice this up thanks to it element system so you have to chose the ability to spam based on what enemies you face but it still felt as if most of one's casts were a single ability.

    - No ABC - what you mentioned, it really involved mostly waiting for cooldowns as you autoattack the enemy.

    Don't get me wrong, all styles of combat have their good points but they have their disadvantages as well.

  11. About the 'cooldown issues' I wonder a litle: are people actually switching weapons/attunements/pets during fights?

    I am not experiencing any combat boredom or cooldown disruptions because I frequently switch between 2-3 of my Elem attunements. I never wait on cooldowns this way, there are always skills ready to be used. of course if you just stick to the same set of 5, it becomes more monotonous and relies more on your first auto-attack ability.

  12. @BBB

    haha, my thoughts exactly. When I saw the title, first thought was "incoming fan rage in 5 ... 4... 3..."

  13. I think the stories are just differently presented than normal. For example, I was running around near a small village in the Norn starter area last night. I saw a little girl talking to her father, then run into the in, I followed her, listened to her talk to her brother, and then basically after 2-3 minutes of dialogue, was able to start an event. After that one was done, then kids went back to playing together, and another event started up. The interesting thing about it was that I couldn't just run up and click someone to start a quest, I actually had to wait and watch the world play out.

  14. 1. I agree that the lack of quest text does make the stories less complex, though they are still there. For example, I discovered that dragon-worship had spread to the Jotun (mini-giants from what I can tell) and had ti deal with the corruption spreading from that. Along the way I learned that they'd once ruled the lands.

    2. Anything done for a goal will degrade into a grind. I suggest flowing along instead, wandering the land. If you happen across a heart, that's a change of pace.

  15. It is a gorgeous game, but I only played Slyvari after trying the Humans and Norn during the beta weekends. It's like the male NE and Draenei in WoW, there's just something wrong with the physiology.

    The quest system (and story) is very background. This reminds me a lot of Eve. There is a pseudo-story if you look at enough missions in Eve but it's not the focus. The hearts and DE feel the same way, though blindingly blatant. I am not arguing that GW2 is a sandbox, as it clearly isn't. This works in the Eve free-for-all but I'm not sure it translates to a directed-leveling game.

    I fully agree with you on combat, it is very flat. The Rogue is better but only marginally. One of the complaints I had in SW:ToR was that I had one reactive skill on my character (SW or SI). It made combat very methodical. That's the way it is in raids in any game, but when I'm out doing free hunting I like to pay attention to procs. This is probably a requirement of the combo system for high-speed groups. If you can't reliably predict what is going to happen I can see it being very difficult to set combos.

    Alone together is very interesting. It does a good job of creating a model closer to actual human interaction. Unless we are on the job (in a guild in MMO terms) we are really autonomous actors who intersect and disperse based on environmental stimuli and personal desire. Think of it less as community and more coincidental habitation. Reading Sarte or Camus may not be a good idea for this game...

  16. I can understand why GW2's story wouldn't appeal to you and I can respect that. And on that note, I must respectfully disagree.

    Especially, in light of recent developments in WoW, it seems like ArenaNet actually cares how their stories are written.

    And, let's be honest here; Chris Metzen couldn't write his way out of a paper bag.

  17. Some of the other races story lines are better than others - I very much enjoy the Asura story. They all converge on a central theme by the 20's, shortly after joining one of the three factions (scholars, assassins, or militants).

    On the other hand, I've found the world to be very atmospheric, with small elements playing out all around. In Hoelbrak there's an old woman surrounded by children, who tells them a story of the Norn - whether she tells it for eternity I don't know, didn't hang around long enough.

    Back to the story, it rally doesn't start to make much sense until the 30s.

    If you want to feel like an organ player going ad lib at a Papal Mass, try combat as the Mesmer. Combat is anything but boring - especially after level 20.

    Oh, and don't forget to swap your weapon a time or two in combat as the need arises.

  18. I agree all my friends bought guild wars 2 and said that it's really amazing. But my first impression when I joined was, " ... boring" The quests are really stupid! you have to collect trash until your bar is full!!! there are too many random events going on . The pvp is terrible because you cannot understand what is going on!!! you dont know who you are attacking because the highlight is so damn small in massive fights. When I first joined World of warcraft I was surprised how fun it looked and I enjoyed playing it and the music was amazing.

    gw2 disappointed me.

  19. Well definately difference strokes. I went back to WoW for about a month and the combat felt really whiffy and static. There is no block/dodge stat in GW2 - you have to pull those off yourself. What level did you get to? Do you realize that at level 7 you can swap weapon types? In an engineers case Traits add even more weapon types and combat ablities. So am thinking your assessment of combat in GW2 is based more on lack of understanding of what you are doing then anything. There are lots of guides out there and the wiki!

    As to quests, well walking into a town and seeing a see of exclamation points is depressing at this point. I guarantee Blizz will be copying a lot of the best idea of GW2 in the coming months, just like Rift already has by making all gear and weap DPS even in their battlegrounds.

    Now the story thing is frustrating as everything in the world is based on tons of lore that could be alluded to a little better.

    But the core game is better then anything out there so Anet has a great base to build on.

  20. Despite my personal skepticism about the game, I really tried to like GW2 both in beta and after launch because everyone is playing it. I made it to level 12 or so and haven't wanted to log on again in over a week.

    Anyway, I agree with all your points. The best part of the game in my opinion is the vistas, because the environments are very pretty.

  21. I couldn't disagree with you more my friend.

    The combat in this game is fantastic. It is a precise activity that requires you to know what you have available. What I'm finding now, as I progress through the game, is that I am discovering new and interesting depths to the skills available to me. Almost every new thing I find forces me to rethink the rotation. So far, if I play it right, I'm not waiting for cool-downs, I'm planning them into the actual rotation. If this is down then I use that, then this, then that again maybe. And...if I don't like that I can switch it up by changing my base skill set or changing weapons etc. I'm playing an Engineer at the moment and I find the whole affair to be loads of fun. No more fun than WoW was when I played on a regular basis, but at least as much. (Actually, it's more fun right now, but probably because it's simply new and different.) The sheer number of different ways I can play my character keeps me dipping my feet in the pool. And let me tell you, once you actually get into WvWvW, it is a mind blowing good time. I have never had that much fun in WoW, ever.

    I promise I'm not hating on WoW, I plan on raiding with my friends through MoP, and I still love the game, if for no other reason that I get to hang with my compatriots on a regular basis, some of whom have become dear friends.

    I'm not going to write a wall of text here(whoops, too late), but I will quickly agree with you about the story line; I find nothing memorable. But so what? Frankly, WoW's story line lately is simply too much. In a way it's neat and all, but what I'm trying to say here is that I don't miss it really. But that's me. I respect your opinion, even if it does smack a little of 'It's not WoW, therefore I don't like it.' I'm sure I'm wrong, but I still get that impression.

    On a more agreeable note, keep on writing man, I really do enjoy reading the blog.

  22. Since lore is such a personal focus for you, I thought I'd leave this link here for you Rohan that I only stumbled on today -

    since I didn't play GW myself, this makes me feel like I missed out on a lot. :) but it sheds some light at the depth of GW's lore from a longtime player's perspective - and may also hint at potential story arches that only develop later in the game.anyway, I thought it was a great read.

  23. You should try Mabinogi. I can almost guarantee you won't like the graphics (very kiddy - odd for a game that involves rape and suicide) or the grind (its a king of grinds) but its got a memorable story, and a combat system that trumps any other MMO I've played so far.

    It's also free to play (and pay for more) as usual for Korean-made MMOs. :P

  24. My friend bought me the game for my birthday and now I feel forced to play it with him.
    I admit we were both expecting the game for a while. But as an rpg lover who has played plenty of MMOS, I'll say that I am ->extremely<- disappointed with gw2.
    I don't feel like getting into all the details because they've already been mentioned. but just the fact that they've removed any desired of leveling with the whole level scaling, and by allowing you to be the highest level possible and have everything unlocked almost makes it unnecessary to mention any other flaws. if you dont feel motivated to level and acquire skills/ abilities, what kind of rpg is this? I'd like to remind whoever is reading this, that its also not just a personal opinion, many others feel the same way. And if some people dont feel that way and think the game is amazing etc etc that's okay too, maybe a mindless chaotic scene is your. the disappointment is in finding out that gw2 wasnt able to satisfy SO MANY people that it's just sad really.

    ps: did i mention how much i hate the chaotic wvsw? Was it implied?
    Sorry, just had to restate that.

  25. Honestly I agree with you. I played extensively for about a week but now the desire to log in and go through the same mmo routines has me thinking of shelving it. I just realize that the MMO formula of gameplay is not compelling to me anymore. With Borderlands 2 and Torchlight 2 being released in the next couple of days I don't feel that itch to return.