MMOs typically offer a huge amount of content compared to games in other genres, which is one of the main draws for MMOs. But eventually players experience everything a game world has to offer, which leads to expansions in order to keep people playing. ArenaNet has tried a new method to add some smaller bits of content to expand the story of the game, known as the Living World. Season 2 has now gone through 3 episodes, and it seems the future of Guild Wars 2 looks pretty promising, but not without a few hiccups.
Many of us remember the first season of the Living World. It was certainly an ambitious attempt at something new, which was great... about half of the time. Still, we played through the great moments, and the not so great ones. We gave our feedback, and the developers went back to the drawing board to try and fine tune the idea of the Living World.
The biggest change with this new season is just how much it focuses on narrative. It feels like you’re actually playing an RPG, something that I feel the MMO genre has been missing for a long time. It also feels more like the original Guild Wars games, in how the storytelling is executed. It’s actually been very hard to stop at the end of every update, knowing that I have to wait a whole 2 weeks for the more of the tale. That’s a good thing though, because it means it’s actually engaging.
A story needs a stage to take place, and for season 2 that’s in Maguuma's Dry Top. The new zone is actually separated into different areas that are opened up with each new update. The map also looks visually amazing, giving us a mix of new environments that are a breath of fresh air. It’s great that we finally got a new map, but I do hope to see it grow even more before this story arc is finished.
It’s nice to finally play through a story experience that breathes life into the world, but it does require a lot of work to make these updates happen on a two week schedule, and it’s starting to show in the polish department. Bugs have become a pretty severe problem, halting the progress of the story for many of the players. I’ve been lucky and dodged these bugs in the first update, but the past 2 have been very hard to play through. As of today most bugs have been ironed out, but the first week of episode three was a bit rough to say the least.
I can’t imagine having to create new content that includes a whole new map, and have only a small amount of time to test it. Because of the issues we’re seeing with these updates, would it be more worth it to wait for a fully primed expansion? We are getting new areas to explore, and a great story to take part in, but if it doesn’t work properly, maybe ArenaNet needs to rethink their strategy. Or maybe they are working on an expansion alongside the living world, which would be fantastic.
I love the idea of the Living World as a supplement to the core game, so I’m not saying it needs to end, I just think it needs to be restructured. The developers have been hard at work trying to make this season meet expectations. Maybe we should give them more time to work on these updates, so that they have more time to get things working properly. It’s great to get updates so frequently, but I don’t think having the updates one month apart from each other would be all that bad.
I’ve had to deal with nerd rage from gamers who’ve found a bug in a game, and let me tell you, it’s not a fun thing to deal with at all. Players can put so much pressure on developers that it can actually be the cause of some problems. It’s funny how easy it is to put high expectations on free updates. We aren’t the only (or even main) cause of these bugs, but perhaps our expectations have caused ArenaNet’s own goals to become too high for what they can achieve in such a small amount of time. They’re great developers, but they’re still human.
So is season 2 worth returning to Tyria? The story has definitely been upgraded, being much more interesting than the personal story the game shipped with. A new map taking us through this narrative is also very welcoming. While these two factors are great, bugs plague the updates, which makes one wonder if this is something we will have to get used to. I think season 2 is off to a great start, but it might be worth waiting a few days after an update releases to dig in, so that the bugs are fixed. Let’s hope ArenaNet gets things to run smoothly in the future.
Read more Guild Wars 2 columns by David: