Choose My Adventure: All spoken out in Guild Wars 2

Well, this is a bit awkward. I appear to have run out of things to say.

This is not inherently a bad thing. My time with Guild Wars 2 has not been unpleasant (but you can read more about that next week), even if it hasn’t been perfect; I’ve been having fun. At the same time, once you’ve dissected the game’s various map-based offerings and the story’s general flow, there’s not a whole lot else to be said. I could pick apart bits and pieces of the story that work better or worse, but at that point, isn’t it largely perfunctory?

Of course, there is something to be said for the paucity of other things to talk about. Path of Fire is an interesting experience to come back for, because while you can see that the game is putting in overtime to address some of the issues from Heart of Thorns, there are other issues that either aren’t addressed or aren’t addressed terribly well, both of which are interesting to analyze. From my perspective, anyhow.

Hot plant butt.Case in point: dungeons. I’ve had some bad things to say about GW2’s dungeons in the past for a variety of reasons, but what I will definitely say about them in the base game is that they were there. They really needed some actual party roles to work properly and I didn’t find them all that fun, but that’s the “fix and improve” part.

Instead, the game seems to have altogether discarded dungeons from top to bottom. More akin to the original Guild Wars, the closest thing you get are the elaborate setpieces of story missions, and the rest of the time you’re just pathing about in the world and taking on foes there.

The result is an oddly isolated feeling compared even to the other games that I’ve played here. The open system for fighting enemies and taking part in events has meant that I don’t see a lack of other players, but they tend to show up, do their own thing, and then leave without ceremony. There’s no real impetus for people to band together as anything more than momentary ad hoc groups unless you’re invested in Fractals or raids, which strikes me as something of a missed opportunity.

Perhaps I’m wrong and just missed seeing anything like a Path of Fire dungeon, but I suspect not.

The power curve at work is also kind of weird. As much as people dislike having another batch of X many levels to clear through for a new expansion (including me, although a full discussion will have to wait for elsewhere), it does usually have the net result of providing a feeling of growth. There are other ways to achieve that same end, but PoF uses… well, none of those. Gear is the same, you probably have most of the gear you already want, and unless you’re working on a new Elite Spec you are probably starting and finishing the expansion at the exact same power level all the way through.

Masteries help a bit with this, but not entirely. It’s ultimately just not the same as getting more levels, or getting some form of alternate advancement that feels like a steady power curve. You could go through the entire expansion without ever changing gear or skills, which is simultaneously commendable and kind of bland.

No, I’m not suggesting that another dozen levels for players to earn would make for a better expansion; just that the lack of a power curve is notable. (And I suppose I sort of did say that, which may mean that there’s just no pleasing me. Or that designing a satisfying reward matrix for MMOs is difficult. Pick whichever you like.)

I also can’t help but still not be in love with the game’s combat system; it’s all functional, and frequently fun, but it reminds me a bit of Marvel vs. Capcom 2. No, not in the sense that I’m constantly swapping characters, although the amazing alt-friendliness of the game encourages that, too.

HOT TIMES, SUMMER IN THE CITY

If you’ve never played MvC2 and only played the later games, you’ve probably gotten the sense that the games are usually meant to be somewhat casual on the surface with a competitive core. MvC2 specifically, though, always felt like it was a bit badly tilted there. It’s not that the game had no depth; it’s that mashing wildly with only the vaguest understanding of how a character worked would often work well enough that you could pull out consistent, entertaining wins.

Heck, someone whose opinion I trust once said that you feel worst at MvC2 when you’re starting to get good, because you’re trying to pulloff strategies with depth… that are often steamrolled by button-mashing madness. Staying at that level is often more rewarding.

That’s kind of how I feel about GW2’s combat. There’s clearly lots of depth there with the combo system, the various conditions and management of same, the multi-stage nature of each Engineer skill, and so forth. But “mash everything as soon as it’s off of cooldown” is a solid and frequently rewarding approach to gameplay, and so you kind of get used to that. The result is combat that feels very chaotic and kinetic, but also like it defies assembling a strategy. You’re flailing until you win or until you die.

And yes, for a more casual-friendly game, I think that’s probably the right way to go with the system. But it also feels kind of awkward, and I’ve had lots of moments in which my character has been downed not because I did something dumb that I could see but just because things went wrong. My personal preference is that if I’m going to die, it should be because I did something wrong that I can suss out. I own it.

I did make a suitably nice-looking plant.That having been said, there’s something wonderfully fun about jumping into a pack of enemies, tail swiping them, and then unloading upon them as a Holosmith. While the core of Holosmith is still akin to the weapon kits of Engineers, in practice I find I like it more simply because of its temporary nature. You’re going to be constantly switching in and out, and the actual sword skills still feel fun even when you aren’t in holo mode.

Plus, it feels like something you are in total control of. Are you paying attention to your heat? If not, you have no one to blame but yourself. Used it too early and need to cool off? Again, it’s yours to manage or explode. There’s a really fun cadence to that, and I think it’s something lots of games should do more to manage; instead of just making it a cooldown, it’s really a matter of carefully watching your time in what amounts to super mode.

Yes, the whole elite spec thing is a problem, especially as evidenced by how many people outright have said that the big reason to clear out maps is exactly that in the last poll. But at least the net result is something fun.

By and large, though, I keep coming back to what I said right at the start of this particular article. I seem to have run out of things to say, not because the game is proving bad or unpleasant to play, but because it continues as it begins. It gives you a good reason to keep hacking along and more map objectives to complete, it still lacks quest givers that really fill that role (no, heart NPCs still really don’t), it still has length and sometimes mildly frustrating missions that manage to be neat set pieces, it goes onward.

I suppose the other thing to point out would be that I’m not super in love with the number of zones that are gated more by story than anything else and the need for new mounts, but even that is basically repeating myself. It’s not like you’re locked out from everywhere, either, and it at least tries to push the urgency of taking on a deity.

And as for my thoughts on the experience as a whole? Well, that’s for next week. Until then, you can feel free to leave your thoughts and mockery for my dearth of good screenshots in the comments below, or you can send them along to eliot@massivelyop.com. Tune in next week for a wrap-up and a poll on our next destination, which is probably not going to turn out this well. (Yes, that’s a bit of a spoiler for next week.)

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. Yes, he is in fact capable of shutting up from time to time. But not of taking enough screenshots.
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30 Comments on "Choose My Adventure: All spoken out in Guild Wars 2"

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sauldo
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sauldo

This article is a by the book example of the disconnect that exists between GW2’s way of delivering content and the expectations set by a decade of post-WoW MMOs.

Not to sound antagonizing but I’m left with the impression that Elliot, like others who are now complaining that there isn’t anything left to do because PoF came without instanced team content, are looking at the expansion (and the game overall) from the flawed perspective that it isn’t giving them what they’re accustomed to, and fail in the process to open their minds to the game’s other possibilities.

About the specific matter of instanced group content, Anet’s communication is maybe to be blamed here, but apart from raids 5-men content is also coming out regularly in the form of fractals, which are pretty much the same thing as dungeons with 4 evolutive levels of difficulty (as in, the content changes the higher the difficulty gets). If anything, I cannot commend Anet enough for not locking them behind an expansion -like many other games do- but, based on the standard dungeon runner reaction I’m beginning to question that choice.

dixa
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dixa

Played HOT for about 4 hours when it launched and shelved it. Navigation, mastery system, etc. didn’t care for it.

Finished PoF. Pretty good. Liked the last fight. Figured I would go back into HoT.

Nope. no. Nope.jpg. Still can’t stand that joint. And it still costs a metric ass ton of hero points to advance those elite specs.

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Leiloni

I actually don’t mind that it costs a lot of points for the Elite specs because any Hero points you got in HoT Zones gave you 10 Hero points, so it didn’t end up taking long at all if you farmed only the HoT ones.

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Sally Bowls

Yeah, I am not saying I want the traditional MMO cruft; OTOH, it does feel like there is idk something missing; enjoy the first month in the expansion, a couple of hours per LW chapter. stop by from time to time but … Not bad but I get your “nothing new to say” I think it would be better for player retention if the next expansion were closer to one than three years away.

P.s.: ” You’re flailing until you win or until you die.” No, just flail harder. I was picking out the lowest health raptor I was going to kill to rally when jumped by a HoT pack. And the PoF chapter which had the withered army training, there was a door I could not get through because I had no more withered. But I died and killed the door generator to rally, went through the door, got some more withered and continued on. “Death is merely a setback.

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Leiloni

Withered army training? Are you sure you’re not confusing GW2 with WoW lol?

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Paragon Lost

Though I bought it when it came out and every expansion, the game has never stuck to me. The character story sucks in my opinion as well as my wife and one of my sons who played it. You’re so limited and directed into “one” direction. That of a goody two shoes lawful good sort that it’s boring. The character stories have always also come off rather “B” feeling at best as well.

While class mechanics are interesting, they just seem to lack something for me and often feel a bit disjointed and a bit redundant as well in many cases. Also not allowing me to slot abilities where I want them really irks the crap out of me. Specially since I’m an altoholic and play all classes in an mmo. I want to put certain types of abilities in the same slot every time if I can so that it saves memory mapping.

I wanted to like the concept of not having the usual trinity class roles but I feel that they failed to achieve that concept in practice. Basically in the end it’s just an mmo that I tool around once in awhile and it does feel mostly like a solo experience. I can take it or leave it honestly. :/

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Leiloni

Omg I’m glad someone else has the same feelings I do about this game. Everyone praises it as the best thing since sliced bread and it’s just not for anyone who wants to experience everything an MMO has to offer. Some things the game does are great, but some big things just are not and those things continually keep me from sticking with it.

Combat just isn’t quite right for a number of reasons, I wholeheartedly agree with that. Dungeons, fractals, raids, all suffer from the odd combat design and the lack of true trinity roles – and no the pseudo roles that HoT brought are not at all the same. I really wish the group PvE content was more standard MMO stuff and I’d then play a healer and do a ton of it, because I enjoy the open world solo stuff GW2 does. But not being able to truly enjoy the group PvE content leaves me feeling like a huge piece of what makes MMO’s fun to me is missing, thus making it pointless to play long term.

My other problem, again stemming from combat design oddities, is the PvP also then suffers. If you have time I’d suggest trying out WvW just to see how disappointing it is compared to other games. I would love to see your thoughts on it. It’s a spammy stack everyone and AoE zerg fest that requires perfect timing and constant dodging to stay alive for any decent amount of time so you can contribute to the spamming and feel like you’re not actually doing anything. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t fit in with the casual nature of the rest of the game, it’s just not *fun* where other games manage to do various PvP modes fairly well (because IMO it’s usually simple to design for).

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MeltWithYou

I liked the running dungeons at launch for tokens to get unique dungeon gear sets…it was a thing to work towards that I thought was fun. Hopefully they revisit it.

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Jacobin GW

Drop-in, play for a bit, drop-out is pretty much what GW2 is designed for. The people who play consistently are doing legendary crafting or pvp.

Fractals are the main instanced pve content but I can see how the 100 levels and agony requirements look like a mess to people who are more used to traditional dungeons.

The weird thing about POF is the maps do not have huge meta events for people to farm so once you complete them there is little reason to go back. A lot of people are going to dip out until S4.

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Paragon Lost

That’s the problem though, it doesn’t tug at me to come log in and play and develop my character(s). It’s a ehh, yeah I guess I’ll log in and play a bit today. That might not happen for months for me.

atatahir
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atatahir

You are a little too obsessed with hero points. GW2 does not work like traditional MMO’s; You do not need elite specs to do expansion content, especially on an engineer.

I unlocked my elite spec before even entering the expansion zones, but I completed the story on base engineer spec because I am familiar with it.

Veteran players will have all the hero points they need to unlock the spec even before entering the expansion, and getting elite specs on new chars takes only about an hour if you have explored the game and know what you are doing. If there is an issue with hero point it is that they are now too easy to get.

Fractals are the new dungeons (5 man instanced content) in GW2. There are about 17 fractals in the game now and another one is coming in soon. We get a new fractal every few months now.
Fractals also offer 100 difficulty levels so they cater to both casuals and hardcore audiences.

Ironically ArenaNets answer to most of your complain was HOT expansion. In HOT there is coordinated group content, there is real sense of progression, and there is real discovery in that you have to discover areas and mob’s weaknesses to be effective. In HOT if you just mindlessly go anywhere or fight any mob you will most likely fell flat on your face.

The good thing is that unlike most MMO’s, in GW2 additional content is almost always an addition and not a replacement of older content. So, HOT content is still as relevant as it was a year ago and will still be populated and enjoyed by those who like it.

dixa
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dixa

Ah but you do “need” y our elite specs if you do not only play gw2, therefore:

1) you are not likely to have a set group
2) you are not likely to play at set times every day or week
3) due to 1 and 2, you need to pug to see the content meaning..
4) you had better be playing a class and build that OTHERS want you to play.

This is the same problem every mmorpg has, but perhaps moreso here where so many think you can overcome poor situational awareness skills by crafting those legendaries and playing whatever class/build is currently getting that extra 1.2k dps on the dummy raid buffed.

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Dan Green

Fractals of the Mists are the current dungeons. But you are correct that PoF did not launch with any new additions to Fractals, those will be coming throughout Season 4 just as they had in Season 3 (the most recent addition was Shattered Observatory in late July). Likewise, the new Raid that requires/utilizes Path of Fire will be releasing in Season 4 as well.

If you should find the time to toss your hat into the ring to try out Fractals – you’ll get the best idea of what the current development is like by trying the more recent ones, which are (by order of release): Chaos, Nightmare, and Shattered Observatory. The portal to the Fractals of the Mists is in Lion’s Arch, and you’ll be able to find a group in the Fractals tab of the LFG. Nightmare and Shattered are especially good examples of their current boss design, while Chaos is a bit easier (and there’s an overarching story between the three).

EDIT: And just to note, Nightmare and Shattered both have a Challenge Mode that can be activated to provide you with the most difficult 5-player experiences in the game. These runs do require high skill and good group comp, including roles like a dedicated healer. This Challenge Mode can only be activated at difficulty scale 99 and 100, respectively, so they require you to progress your character by earning Ascended gear and slotting Infusions in to provide you with enough Agony Resistance to not die immediately. This is where some of the basic vertical progression is for dungeon minded players.

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Krenian Kandos

I bought GW2 back when it first came out, and I felt like the lack of a role really did not help the situation in the sense that I never really felt attached to any character. While I understand the flexibility that this offers the game, it really loses the identity portion of a character. I could give him a role of being a shield and sword but it never really stayed to a point where they would be a tank. Anyone could facetank stuff and that’s that. You took less damage with a shield, naturally, but it never got to the point where I ever thought this guy would be a defender of some sort.

Compound that with the fact that some of the story fights were ridiculously hard for the level that you were supposed to play, and the fact they expected you to swap through multiple weapons to get the weapon skills and play around with that, made me really hate the game and stop at 20. The story was actually kinda decent and I was curious, but that, combine it with the art style which I’m not fond of, just made me dislike my time in the game.

Have they fixed that issue, I ask? Can you essentially do everything in the game now with one weapon instead of having to swap and master all the weapons properly? Did they make things a tad simpler to do story wise? My interest in the game is very little, but I like the whole ‘living story’ idea where the world changes around you as the story progresses. It makes it more alive and the story more yours.

I dunno. It just…doesn’t seem to be a game I ever would have enjoyed. What I’ve seen in the CMA that Eliot did, I’m still not convinced they really have changed much, either. While I’m not indifferent to the fact you can essentially just play on your own and be able to do everything, I do like some part of the mMo (capitalize the MULTIPLAYER) portion of an MMORPG. Not seeing many through most of the game seems to be going against common standards.

Kudos to those of you who enjoy the game. It just never stuck with me.

7BitBrian
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7BitBrian

Wait the role you play is the “identity” of the character? You and I seem to view “identity” of a character and play this game completely different. And that’s okay. GW2 is not the game for everyone. It’s the game for me exactly because it’s not like WoW and every other MMO that copies WoW.

atatahir
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atatahir

If you have not played since launch then it is now a completely different game now and the issues that you mentioned have been resolved.

The story at launch was not gated by level so that meant that you could get to a story step at lower level than you should. This does not happen now as the story is unlocked now at every ten levels so you are always at the right level.

The encounter design for all new difficult content (fractal, raids) has changed and now requires specific roles. The game still does not have holy trinity and will probably never have it, but it does now allow players to create and fill their own roles.

For example, in a raid my guild mates had a role that they called leacher where a necro was sucking the health of the boss and transferring it to us as healing. The necro was not a dedicated healer, or support but it did had a very specific role to fill in the raid group.

You have to weapon swap to be effective, but now you get all weapon skills automatically at level 10 (or maybe 12 ).

Also GW2 is probably the most MMO of all thempark MMO’s in terms of open world. You get group content for all kind of difficulty levels, from mindless grinding to highly coordinated and from groups of 5 -6 players to 100+ players.

dixa
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dixa

it’s not “completely different”. the core mechanics are still the same as are the vanilla class options.

Most are still using the same berserker gear we used back then for pve. It’s not completely anything other than 5 years and two dlc’s older.

Completely different would apply to something like the One Tamriel patch.

7BitBrian
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7BitBrian

This couldn’t be more wrong. The most commonly used gear now is Viper’s not Berserker’s. And then you have Assassin’s, Sinister, Berserker’s, and Commanders gear all being used a lot as well. And some builds with lesser used gear.

YOU may still be using the old Berserker gear but the rest of the game isn’t, not if they want to run an actual build worth using.

Also core classes have seen a ton of updates. Some playing very differently now. Ask a core Guardian today if he plays like a core Guardian did when the game launched.

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Dan Green

Don’t forget Magi and Harrier are common on druids, Firebrands are mixing in Griever’s. And exploration is still being done on Scourge and the benefits of barriers in group content, which could use some more interesting stat sets.

I will say that Berserker’s is still a common stat set for open world PvE, but damage maxing leads a lot of roles to condi DPS & Viper’s these days for instanced content.

Ultimately, though, this is a difference in definition of “completely different”. If your focus is on what gear your characters are wearing, then dixa is both right and wrong. Right in that the focus is, by majority of players, on pure DPS builds with no survival. Wrong, of course, in that they simply aren’t aware of the current meta and the distinct builds created by stat min/maxing for role.

However, I think a lot of us don’t define “completely different” based on how the characters set up their armor stats for combat, but rather on an experiential level . And that’s where atatahir is 100% correct. If I compare what I do when I play today – what types of content I choose, what my challenging content looks like, and what my leveling progression for new characters looks like, etc – to the same facets 5 years ago, it is night and day.

Compare any boss, story or open world, to Ensolyss, Viirastra, or the mechanics of any raid boss – the boss mechanics are more engaging, use more components of your skill bar to make it through, and even are adding new special skills to shake up how they play. Night and day.

Compare what you are able to engage in today to even up to a year post launch – open world organized group content that isn’t a simple faceroll (Triple Trouble, Dragon’s Stand, Serpent’s Ire), actual content within exploration (map “findables” that began in Dry Top and have been in every map going forward, unique achievement based “quests”, Mastery challenges in PoF maps), Raids in general, Fractals being overhauled to at last be easy to engage in, challenging, and rewarding, PvP leagues and ladder for competitive minded players, Story missions with actual cutscenes, replayable challenge achievements, etc…None of that was there at launch or in the majority of Season 1 (Queen’s Jubilee and Marionette being the start of such types of content, but still it was expanded and improved over time).

And, for players leveling, the new leveling system – with regular pop ups that tell you what you got, what you can do if you haven’t tried it yet, and what’s coming up for you – along with gating you along – while it’s true the majority of that content is basically the same as it was at launch, the game makes it easier for you to know what you are gaining by leveling, helps you with more rewards like armor and weapons as you level, and in general smooths out those rough edges that can help players reach the point where the massively improved content at 80 can be enjoyed.

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Bruno Brito

I can’t discuss on raids, but that doesn’t exist outside them, from what i recall. Yeah, chronotanks exist, but what about tank warriors? tank guardians?

That’s what he’s talking about.

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Dan Green

While I understand it’s jarring that Guardians do not fill the expected role based on trope, this question is also kind of the same as asking “Where’s my tank Mage? My Tank Hunter?” (forgive me if those are a thing now for some reason, I haven’t played WoW in years). Not all roles are meant to be filled by all classes. Perhaps over time more classes will become more optimal at that role.

FWIW, Chronotank is simply the best option because it gives up the least by playing the tank. It still outputs its support boons just as well, where other classes give up significant amounts of what they bring by playing a tankier role. Raids are done with tanks of different classes all the time, it’s just most optimal to use a Chrono.

rahkeesh
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rahkeesh

And he’s talking about it in level 20 personal story, not raids. Meta is hardly relevant there.

You want to build tanky toons of any class that hit like a wet noodle or slightly harder, you can. But its done largely with traits and gear stats moreso than weapon type, which you don’t get much choice on until higher levels.

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Dug From The Earth

Im done playing GW2 again. Not because im mad, or hate the game. Im done because I played through Path of Fire, did the story, explored the new zones to completion, had my fun with mounts and everything else, and now there isnt anything more I want to do thats fun.

I wish there had been more, is my only real gripe. Path of Fire was more like a mini mmorpg, without any real end game.

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Joshua Dickerson

Same here. I slugged through the story, waited a few weeks to finish it because I wanted to take my time. Once I finished that, ran a few HP trains to try out some elite specs, ran around on the mounts a bit……….then I was done.

I could unlock more Elite specs or hunt down gear to transmute, but I just feel its “cool” but not really worth keeping in my game rotation. Cool casual game definitely, but once the content was done I felt the strong drop in replay ability.

Fortunately Warframe came out with their update recently, so GW2 gets shelved for that while I play BDO as my main game.

dixa
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dixa

Heh. Warframe is the definition of grind. It has potential but boy that grind. And that motion sickness

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Joshua Dickerson

Yea I can only do a few missions a night and log out. Or I run missions solo because sometimes, its just too many guns and explosions going off………or people rushing through maps at light speed.

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MeltWithYou

TBH GW2 really doesnt have an end game…unless you like to run Auric Basin or Dragon Stand over and over and over and over and over and over again for thousands of items of completely useless shit…peeps love their metas…peeps love their useless shit.

What you said though is basically how I’ve been playing the game for the last 5 years…I log in to grab the LS updates, log out…wait til the end of the season…burn through all of them. POF zones were great, I loved the time I spent, dipped out after the story and the zone clears

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Dan Green

End Game is what you make of it. That’s the point…it’s what you do when you’ve reached the End of the Game. Players who enjoy running AB and DS metas are doing so because they find the content engaging enough, and they seek the rewards at the end, which will allow them to afford gear or other purchasables they are after (salvaging or selling the “useless shit”), or acquire rare or simply time-intensive items through luck or event currency. Likewise, players also enjoy repeating Raid runs, Fractal runs, Dungeon runs, ticking off achievements, World boss runs, WvW, PvP, etc, all for the same reason – the content engages them enough, and they seek the reward.

The primary difference between GW2 and a large chunk of other MMOs is that the reward you seek is, following a small set of upgrades not long into your end game foray, never going to include increasing your stats to make future content, same or different, easier. And I totally understand being put off by that, but it’s disingenuous to say there’s no end game, because all of the above stuff exists for players to do, it’s just the rewards – or the result of those rewards – do not interest you personally.

For a taste of the other side, my personal goals include completionist ideals (ticking achievements, earning AP) as a primary motivation, and secondarily I enjoy unlocking the skins and dyes for Fashion Wars. Dress up is fun and earning cool or exclusive skins to use is enjoyable to me. That’s what keeps me playing current content in between releases, as I await the next story progression bit and challenging content to enjoy learning.

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Arktouros

Took words right out of my mouth regarding POF. It was a fine little $30 expansion but it’s about $30 worth of content and not much more. Easily done in 40-60 hours which even relatively casual players would have hit by now.

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blah blazh

You mentioned the lack of dungeons. Did you try any fractals? Sort of dungeon lite parts of the game. They have been adding those and some are quite nice. But if you want traditional dungeons then I suppose they aren’t a substitute for you. Just reading your articles throughout the years, I think you prefer traditional, more standard types of MMOs. Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed some of what you played.

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