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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

GW2: Old Habits & Preconceptions

Posted by Meleagar Wednesday September 12 2012 at 7:41AM
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When you've been trained by more than a decade to interact with MMOG's a certain way, and to think of them a certain way, and to play a certain way, it's difficult to change. You carry those habits and preconceptions around with you because they work, for the most part; then, if a game comes out that is fundamentally different, it can be difficult to get past them in order to experience something new without trying to force it into the old box - without judging the new by those ingrained preconceptions.

So it is, I think, with many players and Guild Wars 2. They try to play the same way as in other MMOGs, and fail.  They try to interact with other players in the same way, and fail.  They try to find their old conventional mechanisms to find the same enjoyments they had in other games - and fail. They hold GW2 up to a preconceived standard, and they mistake something different for something lacking

It's like expecting a steak in every meal; even though they clamor for something different, when they get their lobster dinner they complain - "Where's the steak?" or "Hey!  This doesn't cut, chew or taste like steak!"

GW2 is something entirely different, but many players just don't get it.

Something I've seen in many comments by players at various sites is the complaint that they're having a hard time leveling - that they're not powerful enough for the "next area" when they outlevel the first. Apparently, they don't understand that you cannot "outlevel" any area. I was hanging around the starter zone with my level 20 character getting about the same experience as I did the first time I went through it. I was getting drops appropriate to my level, as far as items were concerned.  I was getting experience from daily achievements, for gathering resources, and finding new points of interest.

I would say that I level "too fast", but that's one of those old preconceptions.  Too fast ... for what? I can't "outlevel" any zone, quest, event, heart, achievement, exploration, or resource, so I had to put the concept of "leveling too fast" (or slow) away. This game is structured so that you can enjoy all locations at or below your current level pretty much equally.   

In other games, often the best way to gain experience is to grind kills; in GW2, that's pretty much the slowest way to gain exp.  Gathering a resource, crafting, exploring, daily achievements, hearts, DE's, skill point challenges ... generally, these other acitivites give you much, much more experience than simply grinding kills - even though just killing things is pretty fun, it's not the only thing to do in an area that gives you a sense of accomplishment and movement forward for your character.

GW2 offers many features that are often overlooked or misinterpreted because of player preconceptions.  Another complaint is that many open-world raid events are "zerg-fests" without any real strategy or tactics.  I think that those players are confusing the ironclad group strategy of the holy trinity with a more loose, individually synergistic strategy.  Just because a formal group or raid leader isn't issuing rote trinity positions and rotations doesn't mean all that is going on is a blind zerg rush. For example, I and other players often figure out wher to place our area effects so that other players who are already shooting at the target will have an effect added to their shot.  When I'm shooting and someone lays down an effect, I always position myself to shoot through it.

The idea that what is going on is nothing but zerg just because nobody is formally issuing top-down holy trinity position and combat commands is overly simplistic and nothing more than a term of disparagement for a system that is different from that old MMOG system. Sure, a lot of players may be clueless about what is going on and what to do, but many, many players have what I call tactical interaction synergy - they see what is going on and develop a strategy on the fly employing what others are doing to better increase the chance of success for the group.  When my elementalist is in a rather large group and I don't see any or enough healing support, I switch over to my staff and water attunement and start dishing out some health. Other times, I use air attunment to flash into the target area, drop a circle of fire and then mist out, granting boons to allies, conditions to the enemy, and ensuring that everyone who is firing into the target area is also applying some burning damage.

Generally, open-world fights are not scripted, tightly-controlled events, but that doesn't mean there isn't strategy being applied.  It's just a different kind of fight and a different kind of strategy that doesn't lend itself to easy categorization and judgements of player ability.