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Keeping Busy

David North Posted:
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When ArenaNet first launched Guild Wars 2, players had a whole new game to explore.  They had to get used to the new world, and the new professions they might play as.  There was a lot to do.  But it wasn’t long before ArenaNet started to throw more at the players.  The first holiday event gave players a break from their normal adventuring, reminding them to laugh a little.  It wasn’t long before a new island was ready to be explored, with new dangers lurking around the corner.  The year ended with another great holiday event, giving players a reason to relax from all the stress of holiday gift shopping.

2013 came and before you know it, we were given the Living Story.  Every month since then, more story and lore has been added to Guild Wars 2.  Super Adventure Box is out now, overlapping the release of the newest chapter in the Living Story.  Some players haven’t even touched it yet because the wonder of 8-bit has entranced them.  The new content every month sure is keeping players busy, but is it too much?  Is it enough?

One of the great things about Guild Wars 2 is how smooth the character progression is.  Even going from level 79 to 80, you don’t feel like you spent a whole day doing 30 quests in a row to level up.  By just playing the game, you’re making progress.  But this is also a bit of a curse.  As soon as a player hits max level they stop exploring and look for end game dungeons.  You can’t blame them because that’s how most MMOs have been designed for so many years.  They end up skipping the rest of their personal story, the rest of the world exploration, and may even skip a few of the dungeons.

When you hit max level you feel like you're on top of the world! A game should try to keep that feeling going for as long as possible.

Now you can argue all day, back and forth, about how endgame content was designed in Guild Wars 2.  This is the internet, no one will admit defeat.  It really puts ArenaNet in a tough position.  They've been pumping out new content every month so far this year.  Some of the content is small.  Look at the Living Story.  It starts off small, but has grown in size with each new addition. It gives players something to do, but they made it so that it adds to the experience.  It will be there for awhile, giving everyone a chance to get in on the action, and also intertwines with other parts of the game, like monthly achievements.

The pacing has been pretty good so far.  Players get a whole month to check out the new part of the story, though for the earlier parts this was too much time, at the end of the month you could look forward to the next chapter opening up.  You could go off and do your monthly achievements, or go and play some WvW until then.

Adding in little bits and pieces to a story isn’t going to cut it.   That’s where events like the Lost Shores, or Super Adventure Box come in.  Even the Holiday events give players a ton of stuff to do for a whole month.  They don’t just give players more lore to find, they let players explore whole new areas.  Whether it’s an uncharted island, or a flying golem high up in the sky, players love having the chance to explore new surroundings.  It also helps when the content is designed for max level. 

Spreading out these events can be a little tricky.  They can keep players busy for a whole month, solving jumping puzzles and obtaining new gear skins, but if you do something like this month after month, they can lose their luster.  Player’s don’t get enough time to enjoy their new skins, and the game ends up feeling like a never ending grind, but if you spread these types of events too far apart players can get bored.  We are a picky bunch.  We always want more!

ArenaNet has been adding in new changes to the core of the game, like WvW and daily achievements, to go along with the updates to the Living Story.  This enhances the old content that we love to play, and gives us a reason to go back and try it again after we’ve experience the new stuff.  I have to say it’s worked for me.  I’ve finally returned to WvW, and SPvP has also grabbed my interest with new maps.

When you start to make armor and weapons out of items from the kitchen to look more like a Norn, you should probably take a break from playing.

So far I think ArenaNet is finding a good pace for content additions.  The Living Story could be sped up a bit when the updates are small, but having the changes to the core game helps to keep things fresh.  I do think major updates, like the Lost Shores, need to happen more often.  Maybe every other month would work.  I’m not saying I’m having a hard time finding something to do, but there are players who spend a lot more time playing the game than others, and they are the ones who tend to pick things apart more.  But like I said earlier, it’s impossible to make every player happy. But it's nice to see someone try.

David North / David North is a freelance writer for MMORPG.com.  David loves to play and makes games, but now he writes about them!  If you want to creep on him and make fun of his ability to draw, follow him over on twitter @David_the_North.

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David North