[GW2] Social Aspects

Although Syl’s recent article on Guild War 2’s end-game have absolutely nothing to do with my subject, they did remind me that this is a post I wanted to write. I’ve seen the argument (sorry I’m link poor on that one) that the on-the-fly-fellowship model improves the social life of the MMO.

How does that work? How does not having to communicate make you more social? How does it make you connect with other players? It doesn’t. In the *almost* month I’ve been playing GW2, I can count the total number of things I’ve said in a chat channel on one hand.

Now, I’m willing to take the bulk of the blame. I’m very happily wandering around the world and discovering little nooks and crannies. I’m sure there *is* some way to actually scroll in my text box, but I haven’t taken the time to figure it out. What can I say, I’m a little anti-social on a good day. When I have been social in MMOs, it’s primarily been the result of group content. I had to communicate to function in a group setting.

While I don’t have any quibbles about not having to be social in order to enjoy an MMO, I do have a major quibble with saying that I’m enjoying the “social life” of an MMO. Auto-grouping doesn’t encourage me to do group activities and it sure doesn’t encourage me to actually interact with my fellow players. While I have enjoyed the group encounters I’ve taken part of, the absolute self-reliance that players are encouraged to embrace has left gaping holes in the mentoring you often see in new MMOs.

Let’s look at one of the encounters I took part in. The boss did a stomp. If you weren’t dodging during the stomp, you died. Pretty simple. You could spot the new people by the ring of death surrounding the boss. Since we’re not a “group” in the traditional sense, it doesn’t really matter to the bulk of people that these folks are dying. We’re all self-reliant, they’ll figure it out or just die a lot, right?

Chatter in the area was either:

  1. Melee can’t do this fight (lies! I was melee!)
  2. Rez me (it doesn’t matter that I’m right under the boss and you won’t actually have time to rez me before the stomp again)

 

It was rather frustrating to be a part of. Since it was my second time at the boss, I’d figured it out, and actually had enough time to look around and see the circle of death. I realized how nice it would have been if someone else would have done what I did: explain how the fight works. Moving on to new zones and new encounters, I saw this pattern repeated again and again. Sure, people were talking, but it was generally the same crappy bullshit you get in any forced group. As much as I’ve complained about having to struggle to form groups, or to keep groups together, the very fact that I must depend on other group members for a minimum set of time made me want them to succeed. As a result,because I was invested in my fellow players, I’ve formed a lot of great relationships in a multitude of different communities. Now that’s what I call being social.

The GW2 model, at least for outdoor auto-group type raiding doesn’t make me invest in others, which means I have less reason to want to talk to them, help them, or form relationships with them. As a result, I fail to see how we can say that the GW2 model encourages socialization. It might encourage you to enjoy “group” content, but that’s a story for another day.

[GW2] Lost and Found

I didn’t have a lot of expectations heading into Guild Wars 2. I’d seen it popping up in my feedreader fairly regularly, and it had been recommended to me a couple times during the beta testing stage as something that might interest me, but I haven’t actively been seeking a new game per se. However, late last week I made one of my infamous impulse buys and plunked down some cash. No monthly fee, just buy the box? Sold.

Although there will be quite a few screenshots tucked around in this post, you won’t see one of my first character. I was going to break the mold, I was going to be a rebel, I was not going to roll a healing plate wearer or a ranger. No way, no how. I went for a Sylvari Mesmer, a class that promised spellcasting and sneakery.

What was I thinking?

By the time I had reached level 5, I had discovered that I didn’t need to spam my auto-attack to get the 3 hits… it handled itself quite nicely being an auto attack. But the clone system (see soul shards) that I could never manage to get past 2 were doing horrible things for my blood pressure, and I threw up my hands, called it a day, and completely went with my personal trend: plate-wearing healer incoming.

For the rest of the weekend I went gallivanting around the countryside as a Charr Guardian. Now, I thought they were a cat-like people until my husband felt the need to exclaim “rabbits!” over my shoulder, and now I can’t get back to my initial catty reaction. They do have this funny little nose twitch that just screams “looking for carrots.”

 

I discovered that each weapon came with it’s own baked in skills, and that additional skills were limited by a combination of skills tests and leveling. I discovered that the crafting system, while easy to get started with is going to be difficult to master. I loved that anything that I could mine, pluck, or chop I could harvest without restriction. And I discovered my passion and I daresay my addiction: exploration.

Exploration points aren’t all just run to the right part of the map and done (although those are there too). To completely discover an area, you meet skill checks, help out residents, and find your way into various nooks and crannies.

Platform experience of some kind definitely comes in handy as you attempt to reach these delicious mini-maps which play a nice cinematic of your local area.

The questing experience, frankly, didn’t feel like questing for much of my time spent over the weekend. Sure, you do tasks, sometimes very silly or fun tasks that don’t really have anything to do with world domination or staving off the same.

 

But there’s no “run to quest-giver, do task, run back to quest-giver, get another task” repetition involved. You get into the area where a task is located, it pops up in your quest log, and when you finish you get mailed some cash and a thank you. You don’t even have to get to a mailbox–you can access your mail anywhere. Same with world events. They just happen in a very Rift-esque manner but without the constant joining and dropping of parties. You just show up, do your job, and move along.

All in all, having finished my 2nd complete map yesterday, I’m thoroughly hooked, and waiting to see what the next zone will bring.