TheValliant’s interesting article on parting ways with Guild Wars 2 for now made me consider my own choices in the past months and years. I will be the first to admit I have taken several breaks from Guild Wars 2, but to be honest I actually feel the developer themselves legitimised it in past years more or less stating the casual nature meant you were free to play as you wanted, when you wanted. And I find it refreshing that it’s an MMO where you will not return and find yourself outdated in terms of gear and power progression. And this is partly a reason why I always find time to return to the Guild Wars franchise, heck I even re-install the original Guild Wars from time to time to participate in some automated event or see if I can nail down a few more achievements towards achieving GWAMM in the Hall of Monuments (ed. I am still nestled nicely on 45 points having achieved the Legend of the Mists title I coveted).
But – if you have left GW2, what brings you to return after your hiatus… generally, if you leave an MMO for new ones, you tend to leave your characters in a stateless limbo, and the longer you leave it the less you manage to grasp of what’s going on around you coming back. In the time since GW2 launched, I have taken longer breaks to try or play ArcheAge, SW:ToR, The Secret World (and the relaunch Secret World Legends), Skyforge, The Elder Scrolls Online, Black Desert Online, Conan Exiles (mind you, not an MMORPG but a multiplayer survival game). I have playtested Landmark, Crowfall, and -REDACTED- (hehe, NDA coming on strong there), and am still paying attention to the development of Ashes of Creation. “The grass is always greener,” and all that shebang.
And to some degree, I have loved some of these games… the modern day Cthulhuesque setting of The Secret World is unique in storytelling and missions for one of three factions participating in a world-encompassing shadow war laden with conspiracies and supernatural phenomena. Another lore-rich game is TESO, albeit set far back in the past but still part of the great Elder Scrolls franchise. Black Desert Online entised me with amazing graphics and fast-paced action-oriented combat, but sadly the Asian MMORPGs have a tendency to turn out horrible grinds. Notice me not even touching upon the train-wreck that was ArcheAge – how many relaunches have they gone through by now?? A game definitely worth of note is Conan Exiles, Funcom’s well-deserved break into the genre of survival sandbox games. Anything with the ‘Conan’ name on it, I’ll be a sucker for it, being a long-time Age of Conan player before I came into the Guild Wars franchise.
However, no matter how great these games have been, there’s always been things to irk me… BDO with its incessant grind, the destructive player progression where gearing to become most powerful involves seeing your attempts repeatedly fail and gear blowing up. And if Kill Ten Rats was ever a fallacy in quest design, then after you’ve killed somewhere close to 100 000 of one NPC type, only to gain about 31.654% of the progression needed towards an ever upwards-creeping level cap, well, that stuff gets old. They may as well slap a ‘hamster’ tag on my forehead and stick me in a treadmill. TSW suffered unfairly under Funcom bugs and at first a confusing character progression system and complex mechanics that meant the game never developed a huge player base. A real shame, because with time the game got really honed and it is truly awesome, apart from clunky combat. And speaking of clunky combat, that was the reason I fell off the TESO train too, in addition to something about the graphics that made it feel just a bit too plasticky with too little customization available to make your character stand out. This part has never been an issue with Guild Wars 2 where you can mix and match gear and lacking – fortunately(!) – an endless gear progression there is instead a grind towards the cooler gear, exclusive pieces to fulfill your character’s attire – which has led to the game probably justifiably being dubbed Fashion Wars.
The storytelling side of Guild Wars 2 has had its ups and downs and the original game’s personal story and subsequently Living World seasons 1 and 2 were below par, but since then, the narrative teams have continued to up their game in response to demands from the player base. And knowledge and experience of areas visited once back in the original Guild Wars game further piqued my interest when it came to return to these places in Guild Wars 2. I will not make claims that GW2 lore outshines TESO or The Secret World; each of these 3 games are leaders in providing lore rich universes in which their games can unfold and continue to tell new stories as time goes on.
Another fact that has me return to Guild Wars 2 is the many game modes available. Sometimes I feel like playing in World vs World – and you should read some of our guides on DragonSeason if you ever feel like getting into just that yourself – and other times I prefer more structured combat in ranked PvP with 5 vs 5. Sure enough, there’s balance issues but any game has those concerns, but at least I will die to someone because of their skill and grasp of their profession’s mechanics unlike BDO where the fact that someone has grinded the game for 4000 hours more to gain 50% more into level 62 (current softcap) and had RNG on their side to fully outfit their character in TET and PEN-gear (max level enhancements). And the combat is still fun in Guild Wars 2… I don’t want to come off elitist here because people in open world PvE tend to zerg around and mostly mash the 1-button to attack, but in PvP/WvW combat, and PvE raids and fractals, being great at your class will greatly aid you and be the most important factor if you succeed or not.
So, there you have it, if you’re wondering, I am currently back in Guild Wars 2, my most recent excursion into other worlds led me to Conan Exiles and lots of fun stories in an RP-PvP environment as well as another attempt to see if BDO was worth it, but it turns out I am still too invested in Guild Wars 2. And luckily right now, there is the Super Adventure Festival going on and Arena.net has recently teased the community about the finale episode of Living World Season 4, entitled “War Eternal”, which will introduce the 8th mount in the game, the “Skyscale” dragon.
Roll on good times in Tyria!
(…but I will probably take breaks in the future, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all? Or what do you think? Leave a message in the comments and share your view what keeps you returning to Tyria or what’s stopping you from doing so)