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The Feature Pack is Almost Upon Us!

Guild Wars 2 Columns - By Jason Winter on March 24, 2014

The Feature Pack is Almost Upon Us!

The Feature Pack is upon us! Well, almost...

Over the next few weeks, we'll hear about a bunch of gameplay tweaks and quality-of-life improvements, set to be implemented in the April 15 update. My personal favorite-most-wanted-please-can-I-have-this-soon-I'm-begging-you feature, precursor crafting, has been confirmed as not being a part of the pack, so I've outlined three other things I'd like to see implemented – if not in the Feature Pack, then somewhere shortly down the road.

Right after precursor crafting, that is.

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Better tracking for individual achievements

The achievement panel got a nice cosmetic overhaul a few months back, but it didn't affect its functionality much. For achievements that track individual things, as opposed to simple counting, I'd love for there to be a way to see what's still needed in that category.

The classic case for this is any of the dungeon completion achievements. If you've done three of four paths in a dungeon, which one do you still need? Path one? Path three? You might remember if you've done story mode already, but that's about it – and knowing which characters have done story mode so they can open up explorable mode would also be a nice touch.

It wouldn't just be for dungeons, either. I was never certain during the Twisted Marionette which regulator wardens I'd received credit for. I had solid memories of defeating them in my platform's group, but not if my entire group had done so and earned me the achievement tick. There aren't very many achievements that work this way, but it's still aggravating when you run across one that does and don't remember what you need to do to complete it.

And while we're at it... how about a timer for any limited-time achievements? They already have them for dailies and monthlies, but some sort of indicator for Living Story achievements, even if it's just “You cannot complete these achievements after [date],” which would just require the addition of a line of text, would be nice.

New outfit system

Getting this one in under the wire, it seems, since Monday's patches are titled “A New Way to Explore the Looks of Guild Wars 2” and “A Colorful Outlook.” But, since I'm writing this over the weekend, let's see how closely I can match up with reality!

It's really surprised me that Guild Wars 2 doesn't have a more robust way to let you show off different looks. I've actually been hesitant to buy new types of outfits in game or on the Gem Store – not to mention the Transmutation Stones required to implement them – because I know that doing so would completely “overwrite” my existing looks.

That should really sink in for ArenaNet: I would spend more money if I could choose between different looks. Granted, maybe their notion all along was that people would spend to get different looks every now and then and be OK with the overwriting, and because they could only have one look, they would spend more frequently on outfits and Transmutation Stones to cycle between looks. Maybe some people are fine with that, but I'm not one of them.

For me, the gold standard of appearance management in MMOs is still The Lord of the Rings Online. You don't “transmute” or change the appearance of your armor in LOTRO. Instead, you have multiple outfit slots. The first is your equipment slot, which is determined by your actual gear. For the others, you can drag real armor pieces or cosmetic stuff, like dresses and fancy hats, into slots (chest, legs, gloves, etc.) just as if you were equipping them. They only change your appearance, though, and not your stats, which are still determined by your gear. Best of all, each appearance panel, save the first, gear-based, one, saves the look that's it's given, meaning that you don't even need to own the stuff you put in it once you've cosmetically “equipped” it.

Imagine being able to do the same thing with armor, or even skins, in GW2. Wear your Citadel of Flame armor and be all fiery, but then equip the Aetherblade skin in your cosmetic slot. Then, when you get some new armor with a different stat combo, you equip that as your gear, shift your CoF gear to a cosmetic slot, and you now have your “real” armor and two cosmetic looks: Aetherblade and CoF. Of course, there would be a limit as to how many cosmetic slots you had – LOTRO starts you off with two – but that's what the Gem Store is for.

More ways to earn karma

I get it... karma was flowing a little too freely when the game launched. If you did dailies and monthlies, you could earn over 250,000 karma per month, and that's not even taking into account karma you earn from doing events and other random stuff.

But now? With 600 karma per daily and 6,000 per monthly, you'll earn barely 10% of that amount in a typical month. If, like me, you were fortunate enough to have plenty saved up beforehand, you'll be OK for a while, if you're in need of Obsidian Shards for legendary weapons, which require about a million karma worth of Obby, or other high-end gear. If not? Sucks to be you, pal.

I think there should be a middle ground between the karma rewards of old and the new implementation. This is hardly a controversial stance; I've read plenty of articles, blogs, and Twitter semi-rants that say the same thing.

Here's one idea: ArenaNet upped the rewards for “failed” Mystic Clover attempts in the Mystic Forge a while back. Now you get 20 to 40 tier six crafting materials with each unsuccessful attempt, which helps to greatly alleviate the time and money required to collect those mats for your legendary weapon.

What if the Forge could also be reworked to grant you karma for each “undesirable” Forge attempt, with the greater the difference between the value of the stuff you put in and the quality of what you get out, the more karma your receive? Putting in four level 30 greens and getting something mediocre might only net you 100 karma, while putting in four level 80 exotics and getting a non-precursor back might grant you 1,000 karma or more. (Getting a super-rare drop, of course, would net you less or even zero karma, as would “guaranteed” results, like forging ascended items.) This would make people hate the RNG of the Forge a little bit less (as would precursor crafting – sorry, had to do it one more time!) and, like with the changes to Clover crafting, would help people build toward their legendaries even with “failed” attempts.

I don't know how technically feasible this is; right now, Zommoros always grants just one item on each Forge attempt, so I don't know whether it would be easier to add another item in the form of a karma container or to just auto-grant the karma, like for event completion. But it doesn't seem like it would be tremendously difficult either. And it fits thematically, too! Giving up valuable stuff to get (comparative) junk in return seems like some kind of boost to one's karmic balance.

What do you think? What kind of mini-features would you like to see implemented in Guild Wars 2, either in the current Feature Pack or beyond?

Jason Winter is the semi-proud owner of an underwater legendary weapon. He's been gaming long enough to remember when the Atari 2600 was a thing and when Ms. Pac-Man was all the rage. Get off of his lawn and find him on Twitter @winterinformal.

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