Perfect Ten: Underappreciated Guild Wars 2 features

    
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Perfect Ten: Underappreciated Guild Wars 2 features

Guild Wars 2 is not a perfect game, but then again, no MMORPG is. I’ve had a pull-and-push relationship with the game since its launch, going through periods of being attracted to its casual-friendly nature and periods of being repulsed by the generally forgettable stories and the hard turn into raiding.

But since I’ve come back to the game in the past month after a long absence, I’ve enjoyed that brief “getting to know you all over again” phase during which it’s easier to spot the little details and features that made me like the game in the first place. Before I forget what those are and start taking them for granted, I thought I’d share them in this week’s list. So here goes with 10 underappreciated Guild Wars 2 features!

User interface

I suppose it’s a matter of opinion on this, but for me, this game has one of the best UIs I’ve experienced in an MMO. It’s not only functional without being intrusive, but it went the extra step of looking like an extension of the game’s art style. Not many MMOs go to that length, and the little touches of the fading paint off to the right or the right amount of shiny bursts of light to mark accomplishments endear themselves to me.

Gliding

I know, I know, gliding is so old hat for many Guild Wars 2 players. But here’s the thing: I didn’t unlock it myself until a couple of weeks ago. So I’m just a babe in the sky, appreciating this feather fall spell while taking in the sights. This system is so slick and effortless that it easily trumps the somewhat clumsy mount system that was later added, and I have a blast climbing up to tall areas and throwing myself off with wild abandon.

Material storage

This game throws a whole lot of loot your way, and while it’s debatable whether any of it is useful to the average, non-legendary crafting player, at least it can be translated into cash money. I absolutely love the fact that you can click one button and send all of your mats in your bags straight to the material storage bank page without needing to go anywhere special. It’s incredibly convenient and appreciated on my part.

Footing

This is a very small detail that’s been around since launch, but I want to point out how great Guild Wars 2 is about having your character’s feet adjust for different elevations. If you’re on a slope, you’ll actually stand as a human does in real life instead of the normal MMO way of clipping your shoes through the ground or standing on the same plane in a very unnatural way. The animations of many attacks also involve subtle but believable footwork, which is really cool when you notice it.

Maps

I really love me a good MMO map. There’s a huge range of usability and aesthetics out there in the genre, with Guild Wars 2 being somewhere at the top of the heap. The transition in and out of them is smooth, and can we get some applause for how you can easily zoom in and out (and out to the world level)? It’s usually very easy to see where events are happening and what my next objective or point of interest should be.

Music

Guild Wars 2 launched with an astounding soundtrack — and it’s only gotten better from there! I’m constantly impressed how much quality music has been added for all of the episodes, expansions, and events, as well as how ArenaNet makes this music publicly available to those of us who are VGM fans.

NPC interaction

I saw a thing in the news this past week about how World of Warcraft’s NPCs are finally going to turn their head to look at you when you draw near, but of course, this sort of things has been around for a long while in other games. GW2’s characters not only shift their bodies to look at their target but often will run up to players passing by and attempt to engage them in a mission. I find it charming, even if I do tend to ignore them.

Super Adventure Box culture

Super Adventure Box could have been just a silly (though detailed) one-off joke, but seeing as how the game-within-a-game resonated with the community, ArenaNet embraced it and nurtured it (to a point). Not many MMOs have a cult following for an activity within their own boundaries, but Guild Wars 2 does.

Respecs on the fly

If I want to swap out my weapons, train up some hero skills, or tinker with my build, I don’t have to go out of my way to find a certain NPC. As long as I’m out of combat in the game, I’m free to change up these things without any penalty or difficulty. It’s a quality-of-life feature that I have come to appreciate in light of other games that make this a chore.

Races

Apart from WildStar, Guild Wars 2 might just have the best roster of fascinating and memorable races in the MMORPG field. From the creepy/cute Choya to the cute/cute Quaggan, each of these races have been well-thought out and developed. Now, it’s a total shame we can’t roll up most of these as playable characters (make me a Kodan already!), but encountering them helps make this world all that much more interesting to me.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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MolleaFauss

I’d add the level scaling. That’s how you make all content relevant and allow playing with friends. Yes there _are_ differences when fully equipped, but still all the world is meaningful to you not only the endgame.

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Tanek

I’d add one more. The patch/update system.

No other game I play lets you just keep playing while they put out a patch. Usually you are talking about a set downtime, possibly hours to put out the patch and test it, and waiting until the next scheduled patch day for non-urgent fixes.

Guild Wars 1 and 2, though? You get a notice that the patch is ready and you can restart any time in the next 2 hours. Gives you time to finish up what you are doing before you do a quick restart, apply the patch, and get right back in. Also lets the devs put out adjustments the same day if they are able to have a hotfix ready.

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Andrew Schwartz

Moving across the maps is a joy with all the different ways to do so. Also all the different map metas a lot of fun. Too bad I despise the visual clutter so much that I rarely play.

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Nate Woodard

I mean, for me… I tend to agree with everything on the list save for the UI. I hate it. There’s no customization and that irks me to the core. At least with GW1, I could move my spells where I wanted on the eight slot bar. Granted, that’s not much, but for GW2 they halved that and force four main spells on you. I adapted to it, of course, but I still didn’t like it when I played.

I also find myself not really caring about the races, though I appreciate they added them. Charr were the biggest let down for me as in GW1, all I wanted to do was play a charr. In GW2 they are very hand holdy, tamed house cats. I find myself not really caring about norn or asura as they shoe horned them in with a purpose of playable races in GW2 and didn’t really give me a chance to like them.

I’d love to see tengu, but they never really conquered the clipping issue, and I fear they are going to push them out anyway with the Cantha expansion(For those that don’t know, we were “rumored” to have them at launch and most of the assets are made for a tengu playable race.). It might be a mistake launching a new race this late, but they are money hungry and for good reason. I’d love them to do centaur, because no one is doing centaur playable race. I realize there’s a mountain of things they’d have to jump over to make this happen, so I just lament that we will probably never get a centaur playable race.

I get super adventure box for what it is, but it’s also meeeeeh to me. Perhaps if they put some of the core things you find in super adventure box in the actual game, I’d like the game a whole lot more? Who can say really?!

There are a few things GW2 does right for me off the top of my head. Crafting. noncombat professions, gathering, personal story(While generally bad story telling, I appreciate that it is it’s own separate entity.) and mounts spring to mind.

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Ben Stone

Not out yet, but Crowfall has playable centaurs FYI.

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Nate Woodard

Heh, we’ll see with that game.

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EmberStar

I never cared for the UI much either. The powers bar is okay, I guess. But having the minimap and *especially* the daily missions pinned all the time with no way to get rid of them seriously annoys me. I prefer to have as little UI as possible, and I’m NEVER going to do most of the daily missions. “Do some kind of PVP thing a billionty times. Run a team only dungeon. Craft a bunch of stuff.” Yeah… nope.

I’ve never tried Super Adventure Box. While I like Minecraft, I prefer to keep “blocky pixel art stuff” IN Minecraft. Super Adventure Box struck me as exactly the kind of “memes for the lulz” content I don’t like at all, and I never cared enough to try it and confirm or deny.

The launch music was nice (and I got the collectors edition with the actual CDs of it.) But… well, my understanding is that Jeremy Soule is kind of a massive jerk, and I find myself not in any hurry to support him in the future. I guess it’s probably a good thing that he apparently doesn’t work there anymore?

I appreciate that Charr and Asura exist as playable characters at all, but I’m also seriously disappointed that they make almost no effort to support either of them. Charr largely get “human armor but stretched all to heck,” and I quit even attempting jumping puzzles because it seemed extremely obvious that whatever slacker designs them doesn’t bother to test them with anything other than a human model. (Oh, I seem to have gotten hung up on a random vine with impenetrable collision mesh and fallen to my death. Again. In five different places in this single sequence. Which I’m less than halfway through. yay.)

The material storage… yeah I guess that depends on how much you’re willing to spend on unlocking bank and bag space. I don’t even have any max level characters, and yet somehow I have to throw out or vendor stuff because “my crafting slots are full” and I can’t send anymore of much of anything to to bank.

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Nate Woodard

Well with the collectors edition we were supposed to get the full sound track which is the only reason I ordered it. By the time they start to send them out, Jeremy Toule said he wasn’t getting paid enough money and we only got four songs. I was livid. The collectors edition means nothing at this point in terms of in-game rewards. Still bitter about that, too. The statuette was made rather cheaply and broke when my girlfriend’s cat jumped on my bookcase when I was at work. Sword broke after punching a hole in my mattress and assuming it then dropped to the floor where it broke off the base. A few days later and very coincidentally that cat came up missing after it got out of the house. We broke up a week after that. A month later I started dating her friend who then became my wife. LOL.

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EmberStar

I’m not sure which version I bought then. Because I’ve got a four CD set of the “Official Guild Wars 2 Soundtrack.” And I never had any kind of statue.

Sorry about the cat, and I can see how that would absolutely become an “I’m sure you had NOTHING to do with this… you liar!” situation. :(

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Nate Woodard

Lol, no need to be sorry. She was a bag of crazy anyway. It was because of her crazy that my wife and I became friends and then started dating.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

You forgot the best feature ever introduced, salvage all.

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Siphaed

I do agree that the Koden need to be playable.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Only if we can get playable Skritt.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Quaggan or bust! <3

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Cooo

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Ironwu

Well, I think things would have gone much better for GW2 if these features had been in place at LAUNCH rather than years after launch.

Races were nice, and they started great by having 2 novels related to GW2 lore and the races available. Sadly, they screwed the pooch on the 3rd novel which did not become available until much after GW2 launched and it had become irrelevant. So did the races.

I played at launch for a year plus, but then they started to muck around with the base design and rapidly lost interest when they add the Fractals grind to the game.

It was really to bad, they had a unique and exciting new vision for MMOs, then just threw it all away. Sad.

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Hikari Kenzaki

You missed camera control. While it doesn’t have the freedom of a more modern game like Black Desert, it does offer quite a bit of adjustment that makes for some lovely pictures.

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Dug From The Earth

I agree with everything listed here

except for Races

Races are where I feel GW2 has fallen flat on.

5

1 of which are humans

4 unique races, 1 of which a similar has been seen in Dark Age of Camelot, and another that is basically just “large human”.

Where GW2 has missed a HUGE opportunity, is in tapping into all the OTHER races their game world has. So many times they could have allowed these to be playable races, but didnt… and I think they lost a lot of players that would have stayed if they had.

Skritt
Tengu
Hylek
Kodan

These 4 specifically would have easily fit into the system as playable races, without lore issues or other problems.

But nope.

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Siphaed

Problems with the races you specifically mentioned.

Tengu:
Armor & Lore.
Armor sets would be challenging to accompany the specific feather-covered aesthetic of the Tengu. They’re pretty birds. Also they don’t want to be involved in the wars of the other races (at least in vanilla GW2).

Kodan:
Lore.
Most of them have been pushed out of the north on their floating iceberg cities. No real capital city or anything. Unless something has changed in the past few years (haven’t played in a long while).

Hylek:
Armor.
Aesthetics for the rest of the armor sets in the game would be hard to fit this froggy race. Literally no necks on them and their hunchback stature is a bit odd.

Skritt:
Stupidity.

They’re just dumb. Your character would literally have to start with a debuff -100 Intelligence, resulting in reduction to both Power and Precision.

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Dug From The Earth

you mean the devs would have to do work to add them? Adding new custom armor models? Thats not an excuse, as it would most likely come with a PAID expansion. Im not saying to throw them in for free.

Racial IQ is something that should never be told to you by the game. By that logic, no one should be able to play vulcans in STO, or gnomes in wow (too smart), etc. Let players determine how to play their character… and from what Ive experienced in GW2, people have no problems roleplaying.

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Nate Woodard

I agree with all of this, especially skritt. I don’t understand the crave for them.

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EmberStar

I seem to remember there’s a few specific exceptions, or at least there used to be. I’m almost certain there used to be a “way above average” female Skritt that wandered around Lions Arch and tried to convince some of the others that they could be more than random pests who steal anything not nailed down. And I’m pretty sure there was a lore bit that Skritt get functionally smarter as their numbers grow? Maybe one way to handle it would be that a “playable Skritt” would actually be three or four “above average” ones that function as a single playable character? It would never happen because it would obviously be a HUGE amount of work to animate, and they won’t even spend the time to give Charr their own armor models most of the time.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

If you want it to be Lore friendly a player playing a Skritt would actually be a unit of half a dozen Skritt since they get smarter in groups, each Skritt as a single armor slot equipped, the Skritt wearing gloves would wield the weapons.

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EmberStar

I’d definitely be tempted to make a new character for playable Skritt. No idea why, I just find the little rodents super amusing.

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styopa

Well, I might dispute a few and agree with a few:
1) UI: *HATE* it. Unmodifiable in ANY way (and please don’t start that modding a UI = hacking or cheating. It doesn’t and that’s a dumb argument.) Limited buttons, constraining the entire gameplay mechanic to this bottlenecked small assortment of keys. Where they HAD to go around it, they use non intuitive, inconvenient F-keys. Oh, and you can’t even move around your OWN skills on the buttons. Maybe I like to try to be consistent with functions on the same keys as much as possible (like a ‘charge’ ability). Switched weapons? OOPS – now it’s on another key and that muscle memory actually now works against you!

2) Gliding is great. And (IMO) a really effective midpoint between preventing players from flying at all (or until all the content is done, WoW) and giving up on meaningful terrain, etc.

3) Material storage – convenient, sure, but I don’t play a quasi-medieval setting for the conveniences. I found this useful…but ultimately immersion breaking. And for altoholics, shared storage ultimately means LESS storage, despite the convenience.

4 & 7) Footing, NPC interactions = good but pretty trivial.

5) Maps = meh. All are very 1990s-ish squares or rectangles. Map divided into loading zones (how did WoW avoid this what, 16 years ago and we still have loading screens in other AAA games?) They’re often pretty, certainly. I don’t think they always remember their integration of ‘levels’ into the world map, myself.

6) Music – pretty decent music.

8) SAB – I get some people love it, good for them. For me it’s a one trick pony that (to mix metaphors) has been milked beyond dry. GROSSLY immersion breaking, if anyone cares about that anymore.

9) Respecs – handy, pretty much the industry standard. cf Convenience, above.

10) Races – The funny thing is I’d agree with you on the NPC races …. But the PC races are tiresome, unctuous, 2-dimensional, vapid, identical personalities with different superficial masks on. All the PCs can play is pretty much super-pretty young adults, surrounded by relativist NPCs full of self-doubt and angst that just smells like Seattle. The Charr, the Sylvari, Norn, even Asura are all more or less just the same with slight flavor variations. The Charr are slightly gruff but never offensive nor (actually) dangerous. The Sylvari are weird like the guy with lots of piercings-weird, not ACTUAL ALIEN RACE CREATED BY A VEGETAL INTELLIGENCE weird. Etc.