For a long time, third party programs in Guild Wars 2 have been taboo of sort, with anything that reads the game’s memory being a straight up ban for anyone who uses it. Overlays, and some helpful add ons have been around for a while to make life easier, but the biggest place this hit was in trying to measure DPS. Recently, ArenaNet have made an exception in this case, allowing DPS meters to be a part of the game so long as their memory reading capabilities are only being used to check on combat data and nothing else.
Although originally this wasn’t having direct impacts in game straight away, after a few weeks of it being known about, many players began running DPS meters that not only check personal numbers, but also check the numbers for people around them. In Fractals of the Mists there has been a moderate impact on pug play, with a few extreme cases booting players not meeting requirements, but for the most part this game mode has seen pretty much nothing come of the ability to check the DPS of the group. If anything, players who have installed meters are trying even harder to squeeze out their rotation correctly and up their own numbers to compete with the other players in their group, which is a positive outcome.
In the Raids of Guild Wars 2, the success has been somewhat tempered, seeing a mix of good and bad results. Although it is still having the same impact of getting players to try and up their own rotation and gameplay in competition with the others around them, there seems now to be more kicking, raging and flaming going on. Not that any game mode in any online game would ever be free from that behaviour, especially with a thrown together group of random players. DPS meters allow someone who sees poor performance to call it out, put the player down and potentially kick them without investigation or discussion, because they have ‘the facts’ from their DPS checking tool.
Is this a boon or a detriment to the game mode? Well, players can see who is letting a group down in close calls or low damage groups that are struggling, and sometimes it can even just be as simple as calling out the player and they will fix up what they’re doing or explain what happened. On the other side of the coin, this can force runs to take significantly longer than normal, especially in groups that lack very experienced or very knowledgeable players about the raids. Players with low DPS could be getting kicked, one after another, until eventually someone points out that, actually, their chrono isn’t giving any quickness and their druid doesn’t have Frost Spirit on. Players can also spend so much time looking at their meter, trying to squeeze out rotations, that they miss mechanics or ignore them to finish their casting, which is significantly more likely to cause a raid wipe than low DPS is.
I’ve been running outside of my regular clearing group to play with pugs, wanting to see if it made any difference to the game, and the results are baffling. People were very quick to call out some of our low number players, even at absurd times. Two of the most extreme cases came on the same day with two different groups. In the first, our Vale Guardian clear wasn’t going smoothly at all, and one of the members of the group dedicated to running to Greens (an important mechanic that if not done instantly downs/highly damages all players) was calling out pug after pug for their low damage. To do so, this player was typing out what was happening, and missed numerous mechanics whilst typing out player names to our commander. Eventually we got rid of this player, re invited with an apology one of our lower DPS players, and cleared the boss on the next attempt.
The second was a group that seemed normal, we did a few bosses together and all was going well. In fact, it looked like a dedicated clearing group rather than pugs, they were so well organised and communicated beautifully. As we got to Matthias (one of the hardest bosses), it took just one fail to see that this group was far from perfect. Lots of the DPS classes couldn’t keep up with mechanics, and it climaxed with the commander of the group screaming at the top of his lungs profanity in the discord and posting screen shots of the low DPS that was on his meter, before booting four of the ten members from the clear. I left after this, and didn’t see how it ended, but it was undoubtedly one of the worst experiences I’ve had not just in raids but in the game as a whole.
To me, the DPS meter has been a great benefit, I know my personal gameplay has improved having it there and makes me much more conscious of what I’m doing, encouraging no slacking off even at trash clearing or easier fractal bosses. It has also been very entertaining to have friendly competition with other guild members and friends, and for many other players has increased their knowledge of what is the best skill to use in a situation. It’s also just, well, fun! To see your DPS and to see what skills are contributing the most is a really enjoyable thing to have in the game, and even my World versus World group has been using it to help them improve rotations, builds and compositions.
Whether DPS meters are good or bad is no longer the question in my mind. Like many things in the world, they can be a useful tool or a deadly weapon depending on whose hands they are in. I wholeheartedly agree with making them part of the game and wish to see even more incorporation, with some amazing benefits clear to see. But I also think that, whilst my raging commander might be a rare case, that these tools enable players to feel justified in outrages actions, and that you must always use them with good intentions to make the most of such a fantastic tool.