It's still two months until Thanksgiving, but as rough as things have been in Guild Wars 2-land recently, I thought now was as good a time as any to “give thanks” for what the game does offer – specifically, some of the major changes ArenaNet has implemented since the game's launch, even if you don't take the most recent Feature Pack into account. Today, I'd like to look back on some of those changes and reflect upon how they've made our lives in Tyria a little bit better.
And if that comes across as a little too positive for your current mood, I understand. But I like to at least occasionally step back from the Crack of Doom and think about those halcyon days when our biggest gripe was Subdirector Blingg's Tourette's syndrome.
OK, I admit... I kinda miss that.
Wardrobe system. By now, the wardrobe system has become such an essential part of the game that it's hard to remember that we didn't have it until just a few months ago. For a game that relies so much on cosmetic rewards, it's more than a little surprising that ArenaNet never implemented a more robust way to manage your character's look until nearly two years into the game.
My only beef with the system is that there's no way to “store” a look so you can switch from one to another quickly. I know, you can do it easily enough by using Transmutation Charges, and you can switch to outfits, but I'd like a way to do so with my armor, as well, without “losing” my previous look. Obviously, ArenaNet could sell more outfit slots in the Gem Store, but maybe some could unlock with the expenditure of a fair number (25?) of Transmutation Charges, too.
Megaservers. I was a little harsh on megaservers shortly after their implementation, and many of the issues I addressed still haven't been dealt with. But after several months of seeing them in action, I'm far more positive about them than I am negative.
The most obvious benefit of the megaservers has been the increased population in the game's various zones. It's just better to see actual people running around lower-level zones when you're doing events or map completion and to have people around when you're trying to do a group event. Sure, some areas can still be overcrowded, but I having “too many people” is a “problem” most MMOs would love to have.
And then there are zones like Dry Top, which would be pretty much unworkable without megaservers. In that zone, you need a certain number of players to complete events to advance the Favor of the Zephyrites meter to get the better/cheaper rewards from vendors. With a traditional server set-up, well-populated worlds would get this done easily, while the less-populated ones would be lucky to make it to level two each hour. With megaservers, ArenaNet can properly estimate the challenge and reward level for zone-wide events like this, knowing that they'll get a roughly even number of players in each instance.
Down the road, the smart money is on this being one of the major “foundations” ArenaNet always refers to when talking about the stuff that needs to be done before announcing/implementing the next big thing in the game. It fundamentally changes the entirety of zone design and allows for each zone to have an overarching story and for players to band together throughout to achieve a common goal. Hey, it sure beats doing more hearts.
Achievement rewards. Free stuff is good, right? Achievement points used to just be a cute little number attached to my account profile, neat to look at but not really worth much. I wasn't excited when I hit 4,000 points, nor was I anxious to get those last couple when I was at 3,998.
Now, though, I really look forward to getting those loot chests every 500 points, especially the big ones at every 2,500 or 5,000. It's gotten me poring over my achievement tracker to find things I haven't completed (like, oh, most of the jumping puzzles...) and also encourages me to finish something off when I see I'm at 496/500 kills for Asura Slayer... what, that isn't an achievement? You mean I've been slaughtering those egotistical little goblins for nothing?
Sure, at this point the loot isn't usually that spectacular – I've got enough Boxes o' Fun to make three Gifts of Enchantment – but there's something about getting a bouncy chest... so shiny... must... click...
Edge of the Mists. Sure, it's a karma farm. Yeah, actual PvP is pretty rare, and when it does happen, you'll often get shouted down by the farmers.
But Edge of the Mists is still a fun map, and after running Borderlands and Eternal Battlegrounds for so long, it's nice to have an alternative for semi-WvW activities. The ability to go there any time solves WvW's greatest weakness: the long queues for the other four zones that often resulted during busy times, shutting people out from what they wanted to do – which goes pretty much totally against the premise of Guild Wars 2.
I'm not sure that EotM will ever be “fixed” to be more of a PvP zone – and if ArenaNet ever does, it'll be met with so much vitriol by the farmers that it might not even be worth it – but I still like the occasional zerging and really enjoy the PvP when it does come along, rare as that is.
How about you? What's your favorite pre-September Feature Pack addition to the game?