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Giving Thanks

By Jason Winter on December 01, 2014 | Columns | Comments

Giving Thanks

I'm sure that when the Pilgrims first celebrated their bountiful autumn harvest, nearly four centuries ago, they didn't just give thanks for surviving in the New World. I'm pretty sure they were equally thankful for their high-speed Internet connections and for their Native American buddies with whom they could play the latest online video games, like Madden Lacrosse '22 and Grand Theft Carriage Online. That all totally happened, right?

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In modern times, we have a slightly larger pool of games to choose from, and it's easy to lose track of the little things that make those games special – or at the very least, more tolerable. I've recently gotten back into a couple of older MMOs I used to play, and while I can still enjoy “old school” gameplay for the most part, I keep running up against things that I think, “Man, I really wish they did this like Guild Wars 2.” (Raise your hand if you're like me and you try to dodge roll in every game and use F to talk to NPCs.)

Here are a few things about GW2 that I'm truly thankful for:

Crafting material storage

What are the three little words that every Guild Wars 2 player adores? No, not “I love you.” “Deposit all materials.”

Look at your collectibles tab. (Now back at me. Now your collectibles tab. Now back at me. I'm on a boat.)Imagine having to find bank space for all that stuff. Granted, GW2 has a bit more crafting mats than most other games, but they can do that because they make storage so easy. In games where I don't have this, it's a royal pain in the butt to make sure every one of my alts has the right stuff on them when I craft and that I have enough space in my bank for all my ingots and sticks of butter – so much butter!The new-ish crafting interface that lets you craft components more easily is a major plus, too.

Somewhat related to the notion of “easy storage”... I'd like to give a little extra shout-out here to the currency wallet, but I also need to dock it a few points for not including all currency. There's really no reason why Pristine Fractal Relics, Geodes, Bandit Crests, and the like aren't included. Well, there probably is a reason – it's because it would mess up that nice and sleek 4x3 interface. Go with form over function, ArenaNet, and turn it into a list if you have to. It'll be better in the long run, and you can still make it look stylish.

Megaservers

The implementation isn't perfect, but I'd rather live in an overcrowded MMO world than in a barren one. In my older games, I've definitely had a few moments of “Wow, it's another actual player!” when wandering in the wild – and occasionally while in cities.

Zones like Dry Top and the Silverwastes just wouldn't be possible without megaserver technology, at least for players on underpopulated servers. You need a certain critical mass of players to accomplish those zones' wide-ranging goals, and I like to think that the bulk of future zones – like in an expansion, maybe? – will incorporate similar mechanics.

Level scaling

I see plenty of “LFG for dungeon” in chat in my older games. I'd love to go, and I have a max-level character... but what you're asking for is 20 levels below him. That wouldn't be fun for me or for you, so I just go back to my questing and enjoy my massively single-player online RPG.

I could get on my high horse and talk about how leveling is something so archaic and unsuitable for MMOs that companies bend over backwards to make it irrelevant, whether through instant level boosts, dungeon level scaling, bonus XP for leveling, or upleveling/downleveling. Admittedly, all the games I play use some of these methods to some extent, but they've been grafted on to what was originally a strict leveling system. Guild Wars 2 planned for it from the start, with downleveling for dungeons and upleveling for PvP and WvW, so that gives them a (turkey) leg up, in my mind.

If I had to bet, though, I'd guess that Guild Wars 3 will do away with leveling altogether. It's the next natural progression from a company that makes it a point to do MMOs as they feel they should be done, not just as everyone else does them.

Account-wide unlocks and achievements

I'll admit to waffling on this one a little bit from time to time. I like there to be a certain level of individuality for my characters, knowing that one slew the dragon while another stormed the tower of the evil wizard and another has been granted the title Duke of Happyunicornland.

What I don't miss is having to grind for those achievements on every character. Clearing the dungeon in hard mode or mercilessly slaughtering 100 unicorns (that's how you become duke, after all) is fine on your first character, but by the time you get to your third or fourth, you get tired of having to repeat the same, repetitive content over and over.

Some will say that that's the price you have to pay to get the shiny title or whatever, but if you've already done it once, what are you “proving” by doing it again? And imagine if GW2's achievements were character bound. Killed 1,000 centaurs on your warrior? That's cool, bro. Now, to get even more achievement points, kill 1,000 centaurs on your mesmer. And on your thief. And on your ranger. And on your...

Thanks, but no thanks. I'll take things the way they are.

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Yep, still very thankful for this. It's what turned me on to the Guild Wars franchise when I first heard about it, 10 years ago.

So what are you thankful for in Guild Wars 2?

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