One of the things Guild Wars 2 does best is do away with all the loot-snatching, XP-stealing, level-outstripping nonsense that made traditional MMOs frustratingly competitive where they should have been cooperative and cuddly.
In a nutshell, ArenaNet’s plan for the new year is: more of that. They’ll be encouraging you and your pals to remain Chummy McChums forever and ever. Around the complicated exterior of the nutshell, however, things take a little more explanation. There's plenty of that beyond the break.
I lost count, by the way. The number of times ArenaNet’s Colin Johanson says ‘reward’ or ‘rewarding’ in that video. Couldn’t do it.
“In order to continue to build on the pillars of Guild Wars 2, our focus for the game needs to be on these concepts of building up community and events,” said Johanson in a blog post on the game’s official site. “We’ve shown some of the promise of a truly living world, but we still have so many ideas on how to take this to the next level. Put simply we’ve barely scratched the surface.”
GW2’s three global-scale community events to date - Halloween, The Lost Shores and Wintersday - played out to “varying degrees of success” by ArenaNet’s own admittance, but the developers want to apply any lessons they might have learned about story-driven events more frequently and over longer periods of time in the coming months.
These regular world events will be complemented by more persistent low-level events in the game’s existing areas. The idea is to encourage high-level players to return to long-neglected regions and the now relatively empty starting zones and play alongside new faces.
A related improvement will see daily achievements change every day of the week, driving players to unexplored areas of the world to bump into each other. Later in the year, players will only have to complete a subgroup of achievements to get their daily, offering them a little more choice in progression. Further incentive will come with tokens, introduced as rewards for achievements, which can be traded in for new items.
“Our reward systems need to be exciting, and include things you want to earn over time, but we don’t want to force our players on endless gear treadmills for new tiers of gear we add every 6 months,” says Johanson.
Non-competitive PvP will benefit from an overhauled reward system too, designed to give reasons to login and compete every day. New systems should ensure that the less-competitive get matched only against people with similar skill sets and have a smoother learning curve overall. Competitive PvP, meanwhile, will benefit from spectating support, team practice arenas, visible rankings and eventually prize-laden tournaments - all stuff designed to promote Guild Wars 2 as an eSport.
The revamped reward systems mentioned earlier will feed into GW2’s vaunted World vs World mode, which will also enjoy some major updates of its own. A new ‘prestige’ progression path, for instance, will allow players to earn WvW-only abilities and bonuses, and visible titles with them.
“Polishing the existing WvW experience to ensure it shines in every way possible is a major goal for us which requires addressing major areas we know need a lot of attention,” says Johanson. “We’ve been working on two of these projects for a while now, and both have proven far more complicated to solve than we’d hoped, but we’re getting really close and have made tremendous progress.”
The first of these tricky projects is the option of server transfers, which will come at a price and be limited by time to ensure players don’t switch sides if their World fails to perform. The second is the elimination of ‘culling’, an issue which means player characters fail to render properly when they come into viewable range, making coordinated defence something of an impossibility. ArenaNet have been running a few tests and are hopeful that this year should see an end to all that.
And, my friends, that’s not all. Here’s the rest of what ArenaNet currently have planned.
- Leaderboards on our website where you can compare your abilities with other players to find out who is the best in the world.
- Expanded and re-designed encounters for bosses in dungeons and the open world.
- New types of achievements which tie into the new systems of achievement rewards.
- Continuing to improve the security of the game fighting botters and hackers, as well as improving the games stability by addressing bugs as quickly as possible when they are reported.
- Identifying existing parts of the game that can be improved and made more fun/exciting, and investing the time to ensure everything we’ve built really shines as we move forward.
- Improving the new player experience, to make it easier for new players to learn how to play GW2, enter the game world, and more quickly learn the game without being overwhelmed.
- Improving the “looking for group” tool to make it easier to find other players to play with in the game.
- Improvements and fixes to the fractal dungeons.
While some of ArenaNet’s more distant plans seem a touch ‘blue sky’ at present, others are pleasantly tangible. What are you most looking forward to?