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The September Patch Did Some Good

David North Posted:
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I know some will rage a bit because of my title for this piece, and I know things seem really rough right now for the Guild Wars 2 community. Trust me I’m right there with you.  A few weeks ago I went over the idea of level gating.  I’m not a fan of it, but still, the September Feature pack is live, and now that I’ve played it I see that it isn’t all bad.

Forget about the level gating for a few minutes, and hear me out.  I get the goal this feature pack was trying to reach, and if it wasn’t for the level gating, it actually would have made a really solid improvement.  The goal for the new player experience is to give direction to those that are stepping foot onto Tyria for their first time.  Even if you’ve played MMOs before, Guild Wars 2 is a different kind of beast.  It handles combat, quests, and even world exploration differently, and that’s what this feature pack is trying to tell new players. 

I love how Guild Wars 2 handles questing.  You just go around and explore until you find someone that needs help, most of the time on accident.  The only real issue is that the quest doesn’t tell you where it takes place.  The feature pack changes this, by adding a navigation arrow that points in the direction of the quest area.  The old way never made things too difficult, but sometimes I would wander off not realizing I wasn’t participating in the quest any more.  This new system will help players know where they need to be to get things done. 

This tiny compass reminds me of the one used in the original Guild Wars.

World exploration is huge, and while some of that experience is now level gated, dynamic events are getting more attention.  Players will now notice stars appearing on their mini map directing them to active events.  This is a small change, but this really helps new players get into the flow of looking out for events.  It also warns them of where their frame rate may take a dive.

We’ve all been waiting for Guild Unification, which combines all the different world chapters of a guild into one.  This may seem like a small change, but what it does is open up more resources to players, thanks to the megaserver.  Before the megaserver, if you were on a lower population world, but still in a large guild, your chapter more than likely had very few upgrades.  Now guild mates can gather together, and work towards the same goals, no matter what your home server is.  New players can even get help from their guild mates without having to guest over to different servers. 

Telling players about events may cause them to look around for more.

Leveling rewards have been added to the game, and this is something I’m a bit on the fence about.  It’s great that players can now gain a bit of loot when they level up, but it seems that this is trying to replace the trait points players use to get before the very first feature pack.  Yes it’s great to know how your stats increase, and getting a piece of equipment is always welcomed, but gaining a trait and using it to customize your character build is more fun.  At least leveling has some sort of reward again, right?

I’ve always said the beginning of Guild Wars 2 is what needs the most work.  This feature pack was meant to help make that experience better, and while I don’t like some of what I’m seeing, not everything is a dud.  I know things are a bit rough for us veterans, and I know some brand new players are having a tough time as well.  It’s a bummer that a lot of the more noticeable changes are for new and newish players, but those are the breaks sometimes. The best thing we can now is look at the good of this feature pack, and use those new tools to get to level 80 faster.  Besides, ArenaNet may be sitting back and taking notes quietly in the dark.  Nothing is ever permanent. 

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David North