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Patch Perfect?

Guild Wars 2 Columns - By Jason Winter on May 02, 2016

Patch Perfect?

The Spring Update for Guild Wars 2 added no new content. The classes I play were tweaked but not majorly overhauled. The game itself plays pretty much the same.

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And I've been playing the heck out of it. Frankly, I'm a little surprised at how much I've been enjoying it. But enjoy it I have been, and that's mostly because I've been getting more stuff. A lot more stuff. Maybe that's enough.

My loot bags runneth over

As you've undoubtedly noticed by now, currency rewards in Heart of Thorns zones have been greatly increased. Airship Parts, Lumps of Aurilo it, but lium, and Ley Line Crystals are flowing like cheap ale at the Dead End Tavern, both from events and from the various loot chests in the zones. And speaking of those chests, there are a lot more of them, they give better loot, and keys for them are easier to obtain from events – which means you'll have even more currency to buy other things.

For me, that's been a godsend. I've been saving up those currencies for my legendary weapon, and while I had plenty of Airship Parts and Lumps of Aurillium, the Ley Line Crystals were coming along much more slowly. And if I wanted to buy anything else – oh, Bladed Armor, how cool you look – I had pretty much resigned myself to endless hours getting meager returns from my play time. Or, more likely, I was just going to abandon such grandiose plans and take a long break.

Now I feel like I can make progress on multiple fronts, without having to devote my entire life to Guild Wars 2. I'm spending currency much more freely now, not worrying about being able to replenish my funds later. I snagged about 200 Ley Line Crystals in an hour of Tangled Depths, which include the meta; at that rate, I can afford to be less miserly and enjoy the profits of my labors. I haven't had the chance to try dungeons or fractals since the patch, but I've heard similarly good things about them.

Revising the way the metas work, to grant better rewards for less of a time commitment, has also been great, though I feel like it's come at the expense of the final payoff, which seems meager by comparison. When you get chest after chest of loot over the course of an hour, getting a slightly bigger chest – probably full of blues and greens – at the end of an epic encounter is rather lackluster.

Still, the patch has done a great job of rejuvenating my interest in the game. The first night of the patch, I played for three hours with my girlfriend and then, after an hour's break, hopped back in for a couple more hours before I went to bed. I hadn't simply wanted to play GW2 that much in a couple months. On that level alone, the patch was a success, at least for me. Now that I feel like I can progress toward my goals more easily, it's much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Progression regression

The only new thing I don't feel great about is the World vs. World reward tracks. The way your scoring contribution increases and decreases is a little confusing, especially when compared to the simplicity of PvP, which awards your progress after after match. I can see a little bit of the reasoning behind it, that maybe it was deemed better to have your score be “continuous” because of the nature of WvW, but I'm not sure why it couldn't have still reset your points after every scoring tick to have you build it back up again before the next tick.

(Also, why is the max contribution 550 while each reward level requires 500? That just makes me cringe on an OCD level. It must be orderly!)

Finally, there are the reward tracks themselves. I know that they're simply offering more than what we used to get, so that's a plus. I also understand that they should be less rewarding than PvP tracks because we do get other loot in WvW. That doesn't change that they just feel grindy, which is the exact thing this patch was supposed to change. I wonder if it the pace could be altered somewhat, because right now, WvW paradoxically feels less rewarding to me than it was before the patch.

More is better, right?

With all this extra stuff being handed out, and the 2g bonus for doing dailies, there are some concerns about the long-term effect on the economy, but – other than a likely increase in the cost of gold-to-gems conversion – I'm not too concerned. Besides, it's probably better to correct things in this direction, by handing out more stuff, rather than by handing out less. It would be nice if we could figure out a way to make loot more streamlined than the current “bags within bags within bags” concept, but I don't know if that can be addressed without a complete overhaul of how loot is handled. (And while we're talking about the economy, here's another request for an Amalgamated Gemstone fix.)

I can't help but feel a little guilty, though, for liking the update as much as I do. For all my talk of wanting new and interesting things to do in an MMO, it feels somehow wrong to be excited about just getting more stuff and seeing my bank fill up and my gold count rise. I also can't help but feel a little suspicious of even the free shared inventory space, which I'll probably spend gems on to fill with that Copper-Fed Salvage-o-Matic I've had my eye on for a while.

Maybe it's a “cheap” way to satisfy the masses, a bread-and-circuses kind of thing, but it's effective, at least in the short term. We do still need that new content, but I suppose making previous content more enjoyable has had a similar, if lesser, effect of getting people to play more. I'm just trying not to think too hard about it and just trying to have some fun again. That wasn't happening much for me right before the patch.

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