Massively Overthinking: Thoughts and predictions on Guild Wars 2’s next big thing


Last week, Guild Wars 2 put an end to the whining about info droughts by promising a big reveal of living story season 5 at a solo event during PAX West at the end of August. I say “put an end to the whining,” but it certainly didn’t put an end to the speculation; the community’s been speculating on where the season might take us (I’ve seen everything from Cantha to the Far Shiverpeaks) and whether it’ll take on a new format (yes, some folks still think the season will be an expansion, maybe because the reveal is a bit like those ArenaNet’s held for past expansions).

I thought it would be fun to join in the speculation and the wish-mongering, especially since a lot of folks have been worried about ArenaNet in the wake of its mass-layoffs earlier this year. What do you want S5 to look like, what quality-of-life stuff do you hope accompanies the plot, where do you think it will let you down, and what do you think ArenaNet will and should do afterward? And especially if you’re a former player or somebody who’s never played, what would grab your attention? Let’s ruminate in this week’s Massively Overthinking.

Andy McAdams: Overall, I don’t really know what to expect out of GW2. For a game that has my favorite fantasy race (Sylvari) and one of my favorite classes (Mesmer), I find myself not a GW2 player. It never hooked me like I wanted it to. I’m not a big fan of this implementation of the Living World. Try as I might I can’t forgive the sins of installing spyware of my computer and the staff/community mess last summer. It was then and remains now a bridge too far for me to cross. I uninstalled during the spyware incident, and the Reddit incident convinced me I made the right decision. I haven’t looked back since. As much as I love so many things about that game, I have no expectations for it.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Yeah, so I wish it were Cantha, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen, if I can be honest here, which is why I’ll probably keep teasing ANet about it forever. Even if we didn’t have trickles of hints that’s elsewhere, it’s just way easier to re-use existing assets for something like the Far Shiverpeaks maps than start fresh trying to do Cantha justice. Plus, given that much of S5 was apparently done pre-layoffs/pre-reorganization of the team, I’m just not believing that the team back then (read: in 2018) had the resources for something spectacular when said resources were being drained for other titles that never went anywhere.

That said, we’re kind of in uncharted territory here, as what we should be getting this summer is an expansion, going by the pattern of the first few years of the game. Of course, we already knew that was off the table, and I don’t believe ArenaNet is turning S5 into an expansion either, though I’d previously argued it should. What I’d like to see is an expansion after S5, after the studio’s had time to get its bearings. Expansions bring gobs of money and attention in for ArenaNet, and I want to see it and GW2 around for a good long while.

It’s frustrating because the game really is super solid and deserving of its spot in the top tier of MMOs, but it creates unnecessary problems for itself because of poor studio communication, confused design direction, and barriers to entry. If I could have one wish granted, it’d be for ArenaNet to figure out ways to re-onboard lapsed players. The benefit of a B2P game with no constantly power-creeping level span is that it should be easy to jump back into, but as we’ve argued, it isn’t. It needs to be!

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX): I’ve been saying it the last six years: It needs to be Cantha this time around or I am not interested. I know there’s some kind of law or something about it in China, but they should have been working on that problem as soon as it became one.

I would love new animations too. I’ve hated them since day one. They are so generic! I hate how wielding a wand and a sword have the same battle stance. I don’t like how the left wrist crooks awkwardly downwards when characters hold a focus. I can’t stand how there isn’t any unique animation for fighting with two weapons.

This game is sooooo macro-focused that they don’t even look at the small details. At this point, I’m invested in the story… but that’s all. PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THOSE ANIMATIONS!

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): First of all, I’ve seen the speculation Bree mentioned that this will secretly be an expansion announcement, and I don’t buy it either. If ArenaNet were announcing an expansion, it would say it was announcing an expansion, not season 5. Season 5 will hopefully lead up to a new expansion, but that’s something to announce at the end of a season, not before it begins.

Story-wise, we will definitely need to spend some time dealing with the fallout of last season’s conclusion. I’d like to say that we could be done with dragons for a while, but I think it’s more likely that the other elder dragons will not take kindly to their new, mortal-loving competition, and we’ll have to replace another one this season. If that happens, I think Jormag and the Far Shiverpeaks seems like the most logical antagonist and location, but we’ll have to see. It would also be interesting to see how the remaining human gods, and their followers, feel about a dragon running around with Balthazar’s energy.

As for quality-of-life, we’re still waiting for the long-promised build templates. New guild features would be nice as well. It would be great if players could list their guild on a central guild finder instead of just spamming zone chat. I’ve also always thought guild banners should be more of guild billboard rather than just a free buff with your four letter guild tag next to it. An “apply to guild” button would be great, but banners should at least be able to tell you their guild name and a small blurb. Also,why does nobody do in-game guild calendars anymore?

Finally, it’s high time ArenaNet did something about worlds. They’ve been talking about it forever, but we haven’t seen any movement on it yet. I just want to play WvW with my friends and guildies who happen to be on other servers! I know it’s complicated because some players are attached to the WvW community on their world, but there has to be some solution to this problem.

Samon Kashani (@thesamkash): I’m expecting some good things from Anet. The lack of communication since… always is lame and a real detriment to the game and community. Not only that, it’s a disservice to the quality we deserve as loyal fans. We need more information.

I definitely don’t expect them to announce an expansion, but hopefully we’ll get content akin to it in this season. The very best they can do is announce we are going to Cantha, that we’ll get new specializations, and new structured PvP modes. Hah, new PvP modes, the audacity of hope.

Actually, I don’t expect Cantha; we kind of had fan service with Joko et al. Maybe we’ll meet some visitors from outer space? Yes, you are hearing it here first. Alien expansion.

Tyler Edwards: I played Guild Wars 2 heavily for a few weeks after launch, but then drifted away, so maybe I’m not the best person to ask, especially if we’re talking about the Living Story. The Living Story hadn’t fully gotten off the ground when I left, so I can’t quite say it’s what drove me away, but it has been singularly effective at keeping me from coming back. As outlined by Colin in his rather insightful column on the subject a few weeks back, it’s a pretty harsh barrier to entry (or re-entry).

I think GW2’s best bet at this point to win back players like me would be to invest heavily in sandbox mechanics. Now, I’m a die-hard themepark guy, and normally saying a game should give up on linear story and focus on sandbox stuff would go against every fiber of my being, but in the case of GW2, I think it would actually be a good idea. GW2 was always at its best when you’re simply wandering the world, pursuing your own whims. Lean into that. Give us more things to collect. Give us big new maps that you can jump into without wading through all the previous story. Give us a robust player housing system. Give us maps that are randomized outside of major events: eco-systems that grow and evolve over time, random nodes of treasure or extra crafting materials, that sort of thing.

I’m not sure if ArenaNet has the resources for any of that at this point, but that’s what would catch my attention.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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