PAX Prime 2015: Guild Wars 2 is never getting a PUG raid finder

    
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Guild Wars 2 set its fanbase on edge this last week on Twitter and at PAX prime. We learned that raids are coming to GW2 with its next expansion, and on Saturday the base Guild Wars 2 game became free for everyone. Of course, the announcement left fans with more questions than answers. What are the raids going to be like? How are they going to work without the traditional trinity? Are we ever getting a LFR tool?

Since Game Director Colin Johanson of ArenaNet was at PAX Prime, it only made sense to ask him directly about how it’ll all work in the game itself and what it means for the future of Guild Wars 2.

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Putting Guild Wars 2 on a raid team’s radar

At the forefront of my mind was raiding. I can’t say that I’ve always been raiding in MMOs, but for the last several years, endgame, group-PvE content has been a large focus of my gameplay. Currently, I stream my raids in other games on Twitch, and my progression raid group has been together for going on three years now. Guild Wars 2 was never on our radar because the group size wasn’t that big, and frankly, the group dynamic seemed to not fit what we were looking for in endgame group content.

Johanson assured me that gamers, even in the most difficult Guild Wars 2 content, were barely touching the surface of what players could do in a group. He reiterated to me that although there is no hard trinity, GW2 does have a kind of trinity of its own that players were not always taking advantage of in the current PvE game. He divided the roles into control, support, and damage, and beyond that, groups will have to consider class combos when taking on a raid boss. He said that the only place in the game where all the class abilities are being used to their fullest was in high-level PvP, and he wants to change that so that it takes the same level of skill to raid.

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Optimal team diversity

Of course, this made me wonder if there is then going to be an optimal team make up for a raid or a specific boss. As we know in some cases or in some groups, unless you have the optimal team make-up, then you are just not invited to the raid. I was curious about how the ArenaNet design team plans on mitigating this kind of problem.

Johanson said that he believes it comes down to encounter diversity. “Because we have a lot of different boss encounters, we have a lot of different mechanics we can throw at you, and it requires you to bring a really diverse set of skills.” Secondly, the flexibility of classes will help mitigate the problem. He gave an example: “A Warrior’s ability to support the party works differently from a Guardian’s ability to support them, but they are both very capable and fully able to do that. What we’ve seen from our own internal play testing is very different compositions can handle these encounters.”

Because of the large diversity of encounters, I was prompted to ask whether players will be able to swap out abilities between boss fights. Johanson said that currently players are in combat the whole time they are in an encounter, so swapping out abilities isn’t possible. But he did say that ANet is still “playing around with what [it] will let you change.” However, he was quick to point out that weapon swapping can easily change a character’s role in the group, and that can be done on the fly.

The development team’s “playing around” also extended to group boons another group support abilities. Currently, Johanson said that it’s still in flux and there will be parts where the groups will be split. But as of right now, boons affect only the five people who are in your group.

Masteries and attunement

pax-2015-gw2-raids-03In the same vein, I was concerned about the Masteries needed for doing the raid and why that wasn’t considered attunement. And truthfully, that just comes down to a player’s personal definition of attunement. For some, attunement could mean just having to do one tiny thing before being able to do a raid. For instance, we know that one of the boss encounters in the Heart of Thorns raids will require that you have some of the hanggliding Mastery. Johanson said that there will certainly be raid encounters that will require “soft levels of Mastery, like the hanggliding.” He also mentioned that some encounters will require only some members to have certain levels of Mastery.

His primary concern regarding attuning is that people who maybe leave the game for a period of time don’t have six months of rep grinding or other activities to do before they can begin raiding again.

Although that didn’t completely alleviate all my concerns about raids — I still think that players being players are still going to latch on to an optimal raid-team configuration — it’s good to know the direction ArenaNet is taking with raiding, and unfortunately, we will just have to try some things for ourselves before we can know for sure.

No raid finder

Being a raider myself and sometimes enjoying the ability to group up with other random people, I asked about a group-finder system for raids — whether there is one in HoT or will be in the future. And he explicitly said no — there will not be one at the launch of HoT, and there are no plans to ever put one in. He emphasized that this was intended to be coordinated endgame content, not something a PUG can tackle:

“[For raids,] we focused on players working together on really challenging content. I believe that is part of community building. We cater to a ton to different playstyles. We have content that you don’t have to group for and some that you can do in ad hoc groups. Basically, you can go anywhere you want to join in with other players already.”

Update: To clarify, Johanson was specifically talking about a random PUG raid finder. It will still be possible to use the group finder to put together a raid.
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Don’t neglect the old world

After the announcement of HoT, many players were concerned that the old game content would be left in the dust. Unfortunately, that is partially true. But Johanson wanted to reassure players that even though there is a lot of focus on the new HoTness, events like Halloween will still continue and patches will still come to the old game. Johanson believes that there will be plenty to do in the old game for free players.

That said, moving forward, everything brand-spanking new coming to the game will be specifically designed for players who have bought Heart of Thorns. Specifically, the Living World story will be only for HoT players. He explained that story itself has moved to Maguuma, and it only makes sense that the new Living World updates will happen over there.

As of right now, that’s all that can be revealed about raids and new content. Johanson couldn’t talk about anything more specific because much of it is still in playtesting, and seriously, where would the fun be if we knew everything?

You can play Guild Wars 2 for free right now, and if you’re looking to join in the new content when it launches on October 23rd, know that pre-purchases are available through the Guild Wars 2 store. Stay tuned tomorrow for our second interview with the ANet team!

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Seattle for PAX Prime 2015, bringing you expert MMO coverage from NCsoft, Trion, PWE, and everything else on display at the latest Penny Arcade Expo!
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BillyBanks
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BillyBanks

7BitBrian DugFromTheEarth Good for you, now go back to 10+ year ago MMO-Land and leave us people who like tools that don’t waste our time have fun. I’ve been playing MMOs for 15+ years and was a hardcore raider for 8+ and I like my super accessible dungeons and raids so i don’t have to waste my life away ina  static group throwing my head aginst a wall for days/wees on end. Been there done that, outdated.

Anet will cave eventually. Meanwhile I’ll continue enjoying auto group dungeons and raids in FFXIV, WoW, TERA, and Blade and Soul (when it comes out).

scratches16
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scratches16

annoyedbadger scratches16
“Grind is where some reward is gated behind a repetitive activity you would not normally run repeatedly, and usually poses little challenge, and is just artificially strung out to keep you at it.”
You just 100% described the 1-80 experience, which was entirely my point. Thank you.

Superbrak
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Superbrak

tobascodagama Superbrak Grimmtooth I hadn’t read that when I replied earlier… Now its even more interesting.
I admit, as a CoH refugee, I’m thrilled Anet is out from under the thumb of NC Soft.

Superbrak
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Superbrak

DPandaren Nunky Grimmtooth I hated it for both.
A bait and switch ending gameplay wise that had the audacity to be some of the most anticlimactic/boring ending content to be artificially locked behind content gates it never deserved.

Skyewauker
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Skyewauker

BillyBanks Skyewauker BhimaJenkins Snky Telos_ Its not nonsense and its been proven true countless times.
I played WoW from early beta through WoD.  I have seen first hand how LFG and automated grouping had destroyed the community aspect in MMOs. You have to be ignorant or just stubborn not to see it.

– World PvP, gone
– Any reason to have a guild, gone (other than mythic raiding, which less than 1% of the game does anyways
– Any reason to leave your garrison or capital city, gone.
In vanilla and TBC I knew several people in rival guilds.  We would team up and take down world bosses together.  We would help each other with crafting mats.  Now you don’t even speak to other people in other guilds.  Hell, you barely have reason to be in a guild period.  Just use the group finder and raid heroics.  EzPz.
Its not nonsense.  its the damned truth.

Superbrak
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Superbrak

KirkSteadman I hope they at least expand the LFG to look for bigger groups. It’d be kind of a pain to pug up two separate groups of five when you want to cover your bases for raiding style content.

tobascodagama
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tobascodagama

Superbrak Grimmtooth Particularly interesting given that ANet just took over publishing of GW2. I wonder whether the desire to do “raids” was internally-motivated or something that came down from NCSoft. As usually, we’ll probably never find out, unless Colin starts doing Raph Koster-style post-mortems ten years from now.

annoyedbadger
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annoyedbadger

scratches16 annoyedbadger Playing  a game is not a grind……Seriously, I dont get your comment about “grind starting at level 1”. 

Grind is where some reward is gated behind a repetitive activity you would not normally run repeatedly, and usually poses little challenge, and is just artificially strung out to keep you at it.
Most of GW2 is not a grind, exotic gear is quick to obtain and is the default endgame gear, ascended blurred that line by adding progression.

Superbrak
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Superbrak

Kalamari Superbrak carsont Eh… It might be difficult for someone who doesn’t play a specific aspect of a game to have the social structure within that aspect to allow them try something as group dependent as raids.
But GW2 is better about expanding your circle of friends than most, I admit.

Superbrak
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Superbrak

KenAddeh 7BitBrian I don’t think many do.
Orr was terribly broken on release… but eventually the chains and “exploits” were fixed and was fun… but ultimately abandoned for Living World content, that went over well for the most part too… but the only vestiges of that we see anymore are Halloween and Wintersday…  the rest summarily also abandoned. (SAB, the most popular of them all, criminally hasn’t been in the game in forever.) LS1, the next iteration,  while unpopular for a host of reasons, actually turned out pretty good towards the end… around the Tower of Nightmares chapter in my opinion… and that system of open world, temporary story based events was abandonded in LS2 with (mostly) instanced content… which was also good and allowed for replayability… but I guess wasn’t bringing in as much cash as they needed (or more likely as much as NCSoft projected) and now we’re changing it up with expansion packs and raids.
I think any one of these methodologies could have done gangbusters if given the proper time to grow and iterate and expand on their own. I sincerely hope that going free to play with paid expansions forces Anet to finally settle into a groove that players can get comfortable in.