Things that Baffle me about Guild Wars 2
Posted by Ringwraith
Seeing as the expansion, Heart of Thorns, launches tomorrow to an influx of failures to login after the snail’s pace of a download that will inevitably happen, some long overdue musings on what I do and don’t like about Guild Wars 2, starting with the bad so I hopefully I don’t sound like I hopelessly bitter about it. I thought I might go for a mixed list but it got a bit long. I’m bound to miss something though. There’s always a lost niggle.
You can join multiple guilds at once in Guild Wars 2! Yay! Don’t have to have mutually-exclusive social circles!
Except you can only ‘represent’ one guild at a time, which means you can only get the bonuses of, earn the guild currency influence for, and use the guild chat of a single guild at a time, which kind of defeats most of the point of having membership of multiple guilds. The influence-earning part is also highly important, as you can only earn influence (through just playing the game mostly) for a single guild at a time, most guilds have ‘100% or 99% representation’ policies, meaning they’ll kick you out if you’re not constantly repping the guild, meaning you can’t access other guild chats, defeating the point of having multiple guilds for different social circles.
About the only thing it allows for is ‘event’ guilds which do certain mass-group activities at particular times, which is why a lot of guilds have ‘99% representation’ policies, you can drop off for a bit for a scheduled mass world boss or such when they’re running.
Only three years after release, with Heart of Thorns’ release will actually allow the use of multiple guild chats at once. So they can finally be used for something, even though they are keeping earned guild currencies, at least you can have different social communities running at once, instead of having to be incredibly exclusionary. That Guild Wars of the title hasn’t been relevant since a bit of backstory for the first game.
While I’m at it, also people randomly appear offline to you in the very guild chat they are currently participating for no reason, preventing you inviting them to a party or anything. That’s never been fixed and always been an issue.
Trait & Skill Builds
You can’t save multiple trait builds, which means if you want to change them, you have to go and manually change everything yourself, same with swapping out the latter five skills on your skillbar, there’s no easy way to save certain configurations so you have to manually change each one. There are separate saved states for each of the main ‘game modes’, PvE, PvP (which actually has its own interface), and World v World, even though the latter was only added relatively recently and used to share a layout with the PvE which is definitely not what you wanted.
Although you still can’t change any of them without being their respective area, so that’s still a bit irritating.
Speaking of builds, condition-based builds, ones which rely on applying damage-over-time effects instead of dealing direct damage, got severely shafted until relatively recently, and still aren’t untroubled. They got a big boost once they finally raised the cap for intensity-stacking conditions like bleeding from 25 to 1000, when 25 could often easily be reached by a single person, meaning if there was another person in your group also trying to inflict bleeding, you were suddenly fighting for the stack space and mostly losing a lot of damage. The same change also made some conditions from duration-stacking to intensity-stacking, which had a worse problem of wasting damage output, seeing something having burning applied for over two minutes wasn’t uncommon, large world bosses being wailed on by 100+ people at once often racked up enough burning time to be able to heat a village for a week.
Now conditions have a new problem, burning is better than all of them. As originally burning’s per-second damage was balanced around the fact it’d have one damage tick, so it’d do less than frequently stacked piles of bleeding, but now it stacks, so it just outclasses all the others, rendering bleeding and poison mostly moot. Burning is still the condition to end all conditions even after they weakened it slightly post-change, and it’s been unchanged since. Burn-happy Guardians went from the class least suited to condition builds, as that’s all they did, burn, to being one of the best instantly.
Although conditions still have the issue in PvE that due to the fact there are food consumables which increase inflicted condition duration by 40%, greater than almost all equipment or traits will give, they’re basically forced to use it, and it has be balanced around this. As that’s almost a flat 40% damage increase, and it stacks with other duration increases. Direct damage doesn’t have a comparable boost for damage in food, only giving extra damage-increasing-stats instead of a direct multiplier. Veggie pizzas for everyone!
This being of course, not being an issue in the heavily structured PvP they supposedly focus so much balancing around, as everyone’s on a level field with no extra bonuses from consumables or personal equipment allowed.
Oh dungeons, what are we going to do with you. There are enough problems stemming from some of the community, like the fact you’ll often find Looking For Group adverts for ‘Berserker stats & experienced only’ incredibly often, despite the fact they’re made of the paper they think maximum theoretical damage is the only way to go. Although most of the problems stem from the designs themselves, outside of the Story mode of each dungeon, which are relatively easy to just casually roll through, killing everything in sight, the Explorable modes where all the unique dungeon rewards lie, also have all of the headaches. Mechanics of individual parts tend to be badly explained if attempted to be explained at all, so you can go banging your head against a brick wall for a while, especially with some of the boss fights. Most of time you won’t fight anything because there’s loads of enemies that aren’t really worth anything, annoying to slog through, and you can often skip past them anyway, especially if you have a thief in the party to give everyone stealth.
These are just the general problems, there’s some more dungeon-specific ones. Most notably in the last dungeon in the list, having one of the possible paths being twice the length of the others, but still giving the same rewards, while the significantly-shortest path of the dungeon gives less of a reward precisely for its length. As a result hardly anyone does it, even though it’s quite thematically nifty, it gets outweighed by the fact it can quickly become wading through quicksand, average completion time being upwards of 90 minutes, only if you’re not all dying repeatedly, which is easy to do. Especially as it still retains the hardest boss in the entire dungeon that every path has right in the middle as well as having more boss fights in total.
Meanwhile, some dungeon paths have been exacted down to a science of about five minutes.
There was an effort to try and clean up some dungeons a long time ago, making them more easily decipherable and completable by less dedicated groups (one path used to nigh-impossible unless you were super-organised with voice chat, they changed that thankfully), except the entire dungeon overall initiative ran out of steam after it had revamped the Ascalonian Catacombs… the first dungeon.
The Fractal dungeons which were a post-release addition, fare better, consisting of smaller dungeon segments, even though there are highly replicable party-killing bugs they haven’t addressed that have been there since their introduction. Although the idea of ramping up the difficulty for ‘harder’ fractals is mostly ramping up enemies’ health and damage, and tends to turn some things into slugfests where you really don’t want to get hit. Also they’re getting a significant rework with the expansion being changed from strings of 4 randomly-chosen mini-dungeons to a big list of fixed segments you do one at a time.
Some dungeons similar to the originals were added post-release, but were limited time only for story reasons (nevermind the fact the entirety of three zones are trapped in an endless time loop of ‘before the last dungeon is completed’ story-wise), although they had some sections chopped and shuffled into fractals some time afterwards, even though some were incredibly flawed at release (one segment took over an hour before being changed, longer than average completion times of a whole string of 4), and still don’t explain things greatly sometimes.
Making the Interface Harder to Read
A little while ago, they split Skill Points into Hero Points and Spirit Shards to help differentiate their uses for unlocking skills and being spent as a form of currency, but they also changed the icon for the new skill-unlocking Hero Points from the old Skill point one, and the old ‘challenges’ dotted around the maps similarly had the icons changed to match… and so much harder to read.
Oh, and you’re going to need to track most of these down if you want to use the new Elite Specialisations that are coming with Heart of Thorns. I can’t wait.
To be fair they altered the contrast on the hero point icons recently… and it doesn’t really help, in fact, I think it’s possibly worse, (the middle is not quite as dark).
Advertising on their Loading Screens
Because what I want during beta weekends only open to people who have pre-purchased is a large hyperlink in the middle of every loading screen sending me to their purchase page if accidentally clicked, which appears regardless of whether or not I’ve bought it already.
Then they wheeled it out again for their stream during Twitchcon, sending you there instead. At least the notifications for events they sometimes put up in the corner next to your current to-do list aren’t nearly as intrusive, but still annoying.
I really wish I had an image for this, but it’s hard to take screenshots of loading screens, and I’ve not found one I can pinch.
Not Showing Patch Size in the Launcher
Seriously why does it not do this? Number of files remaining isn’t a helpful measure of how much left there is! Spare a thought for those with slower internet.