Casual Play is Guild Wars 2's Greatest Strength
If you are a hardcore Guild Wars 2 fan, and login every single day for your dailies, chomp at the bit for every living world release, and achievement hunt until your face is as blue as a Quaggan, then perhaps this article may seem a little blasé. For the rest of us who can’t be bothered with the minutia of daily Tyrian life, there lies a greater strength hidden inside Guild Wars 2, it’s supreme use of casual play.
First and foremost, there is no question that Guild Wars as a series has always been casual friendly. From the onset of Guild Wars 1 and their use of henchmen, it was clear Arenanet has been very casual forward when it comes to their outlook of content completion. When Guild Wars 2 released, this time under the propitious rumblings of being a full fledged MMO, I personally worried that there wouldn’t be enough content to keep me continually invested. To my great pleasure, I just happened to be correct.
It isn’t that Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have enough content to keep one invested, maybe even perpetually, but it lies more-so in the purpose a player has to continue playing. Sure, Arenanet has updated the game several times, with landscape changes and new stories that are added through the Living World updates, but the underlying factor that most players gravitate towards in MMO’s is a kind of vertical progression, which Guild Wars 2 lacks entirely.
Consequently, what may be many MMO gamers’ biggest gripe on Guild Wars 2 is actually its greatest strength. This epiphany sunk in slowly over the course of the release of Season 4 of the Living World. If you haven’t noticed, though undoubtedly most of you have, there have been a lot of games out there to cover. Despite writing this column periodically throughout the month, I don’t always have time to immerse myself in a Tyrian escape daily, and for the most part, it’s wholly unnecessary for me to. As the season soldiers forth into new territories, sparking new areas to explore, mounts to own and stories to uncover, the buy-in to ride those wild roller beetle rides is simply the cost of my time.
More importantly, missing large swaths of time in Tyria comes at little penalty at all. Rewards do exist for the die-hard Guild Wars 2 player, but they aren’t across a wide enough spectrum from those that don’t accomplish them for it to matter. For me, and for many others on my friends list and in my guilds, Guild Wars 2 is like an old acquaintance. When you have a moment to catch up, you always find something worth sinking time into. Sometimes I even ask myself, why exactly has it taken me so long to return? After a solemn stint into what is new, I often find myself wandering again.
Many games that I won’t mention here, aren’t as forgiving as Guild Wars 2 is. Many go into the tropes of level cap increases and gear score farming. They have gates barring entry to content until you finally work your way through content, much of which has been passed by the greater population, before you can even land at the doorstep of new content. Worse yet, some games purposely put in gates and new level caps arranged to encourage players to spend money so they don’t have to tarry through old, rarely treaded content.
To that end and that end alone, my article this week, however mixed it may seem, is written as a thank you to Arenanet. Despite what we have seen in the industry from buy-to-play titles that never stayed buy-to-play, to legacy servers that seem to tread the path of milking players on nostalgia, Guild Wars 2 has stayed an honest, steady path that lends itself well to a superb casual population. Cheers ArenaNet, and many happy returns.