The Incredible Non-Sticking Guild Wars

Faithful readers of Bio Break and concerned family members have undoubtedly documented my insane bounce between giving Guild Wars a try and then leaving it in the dust over the past couple years.  Back and forth, back and forth.  I get really excited about it, devote time to it, and within a week it’s in my recycle bin without so much of a how-do-ya-do.

The weird thing is that I really should like this game.  There’s a lot of things GW does and stands for that’s right up my alley — the skill-collecting/building system, the gorgeous art, the combo classes.  I want to love this game, I try to love this game, and it never, ever sticks.  I haven’t even seen level 20 in it since launch, and semi-conscious monkeys with mange have done better than that.

So I’ve sat down and pondered this paradox for a bit, and come to a few conclusions why this happens.

1. The lack of fun loot.

As someone who has a healthy dose of Pirate in my bloodstream, it’s no surprise that loot is a huge motivating factor in games.  I know it’s shallow, but hey, it’s always fun getting prizes and presents from mobs, particularly with the potential of a “big score” with the next hit.  Guild Wars’ loot is really… lackluster.  Yeah, I know, they designed the game so that gear doesn’t matter as much, and what loot there is tends to be crafting items to help you piece together the next tier or armor, but it takes a lot of the fun out of killing mobs.  I open my backpack and see piles of crap that doesn’t tend to do me much good.  Oh, sure, sometimes I get a cool weapon, but those are few and far between.

2. Fragmentation.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not one of those people who decry Guild Wars because it’s heavily instanced.  I actually have no problem with that… to a point.  It’s just that somewhere in here the GW world stopped being a world and became a series of tiny puzzle pieces that I’d skip through (or avoid entirely).

The missions also made me feel a bit fragmented in how they’re arranged, pulling you ahead in the game world while you still have to go back and finish up quests and the like.  It’s hard to define this, but GW never felt as cohesive as it could’ve.

3. Walls and walking.

Again, it’s been said, but there you are — I feel confined in this game, like a player in a virtual zoo, when I bump into invisible walls, can’t swim in deep water, and have my feet nailed to the ground.  It feels claustrophobic at times, and I really dislike that.

4. Its age.

Not that this is Guild Wars’ fault, but any MMO that’s more than a few years old, I get very wary of playing.  I know that there’s little “new” in there, that most everyone’s hit the end game, that guilds have long since been established, and that it’s past its prime.  Now couple this with the news of Guild Wars 2 and that exciting slice of the future, and I’m more motivated to wait than hop back in time for a dose of GW.

I think those four things sum it up for me, and that’s a shame.  I know they sound a bit shallow, but I can’t help it.  I am looking forward to being first on board the GW2 train when it pulls into the station, tho.  All aboard!

14 thoughts on “The Incredible Non-Sticking Guild Wars

  1. Rog July 17, 2010 / 7:04 am

    I have a similar love-hate relationship going on with Guild Wars. I’ve chalked it up to #2.

    The instancing? No problemo.

    It’s the story-related missions that fragment me away from my friends when we all play.

    Sure, there’s always the issue with any MMORPG that my guildmates may have other areas of interest or quests they’d like to complete, but generally it’s a lot easier to wander in/out of group activities within other games.

    Other than that one nagging problem, I really like the game. Unfortunately, that’s a doozy.

  2. heartlessgamer July 17, 2010 / 7:29 am

    #3 is my biggest problem with the game and eventually why I got sick of playing it. Great backgrounds that were just that, backgrounds. I really hope GW2 does away with the non-interactive world.

  3. Starayo July 17, 2010 / 7:54 am

    On the loot front, I’ll agree that nothing in GW really “wowed” me, but there was this one thing I wanted… The flaming swords. Ever since I saw them in the cinematic I wanted one.

    When I got far enough in the game for people to be selling them I immediately shelled out a huge amount of in-game cash for them (this was way back near release). I loved that sword.

    It’s a pity my character was an Ele/War. What a terrible class to choose to play.

  4. Hunter July 17, 2010 / 11:03 am

    I’ve noticed many bloggers have the same problem with guild wars. I had been trying to find someone who steadily blogged about the game for years, finding only people such as yourself, who come and go very quickly.

    I don’t deny most of your points are valid, although I think if you put more time in you get better loot, get to places that have better loot, no offense.

  5. sente July 17, 2010 / 1:05 pm

    If you have not reached level 20, then you are still pretty much in the part of the game that would be considered the newbie or extended tutorial – except if you play the first campaign (Prophecies).

    I had the same back and forth thing with GW since its beta until perhaps 2 years ago, when it just clicked.

    1. Would you expect phat loot if you play in Tortage, the EQ2 newbie island or similar? It is quite rare to get a rare (good ) quality loot drop, not surprisingly. Play further into the main campaigns and you will get rewarded with some phat loot for completing that. Earning money and collecting resources will allow you to make some quite cool outfits.

    And you also have the treasure chests out in the world which you can loot for $$$ and some phat loot (not too often though).

    Getting the phat loot as a random drop is unlikely. Getting phat loot as reward for missions/campaigns is certain.

    And of course you also have the “phat skills” – i.e. the Elite skills, which you can collect by defeating bosses out in the world.

    2. Only the missions belonging to the main campaign are important – the others are up to you if you want to do anything with – you do not have to. Some of the missions may get you a certain skill or reward and are thus good to do for that. But there is definitely no need to pick up every quest you see. If you feel fragmented, just follow the quests & missions for the main story.

    3. Can’t help with that, although the later campaigns has done a better job of designing the landscape so you do not run into these annoying situations as often as in the older parts.

    4. In Guild Wars, most of the game is the “end game”. The only limitation is really that you have to slow travel to a location if you have not been there before, which can limit the selection of places to go for a team if there is limited time.
    You really do not have quite the same issues of end game vs newbies as in many traditional level based MMOs.
    There is of course the issue with people zerging though some content in teams where they could have waited a bit for people who are new to it to follow the story properly. But that is an issue of teaming up with people with the right casual mindset.

    The Nightfall campaign is the one I would recommend to start with, but all campaigns are worthwhile getting.

  6. paislea July 17, 2010 / 1:17 pm

    Yep, same here. Actually I really liked Guild Wars at first and leveled my character up all the way to the Searing.

    It’s weird, but even though I had been playing the game for only a short time, the Searing really depressed me. That, combined with #2 and #3, pretty much killed my desire to log in.

    I’m really hoping that GW2 is more open and interactive. If it is, there may be good things in store. 🙂

  7. Professor Beej July 17, 2010 / 2:06 pm

    My main problem with Guild Wars has always been that I want to PvP, and even with a permafrost character, I lose a lot of the experience and power without doing the PvE content. So I can’t really play the part of the game I want, and I never bothered to go at it full on.

  8. Void July 17, 2010 / 2:47 pm

    I’ve been trying to write a post about why I can’t get into Guild Wars but it seems you’ve beaten me to it. You put your finger on a bunch of issues that really bugged me. Now that I’ve read your post I realize what they are, but it was hard to figure out when I sat down to analyze the game.

    Great post! I fully agree.

  9. Drannos July 17, 2010 / 4:36 pm

    Funny, all the news about GW2 actually makes want to go play through the original even more. Everytime they release more info, I find myself putting in a few more hours. Having never gotten past Bergen Hot Springs, I know there is a ton I’ve missed, and yet I can never motivate enough to push through, as Hunter suggests.

    Your reasons above pretty much sum it up for me as well.

  10. Rindan July 17, 2010 / 6:40 pm

    I still love Guild Wars as my #2 game after LOTRO, just ran out of stuff to do after 7 months. Wish they would have put out another expansion.

  11. Sleepysam July 17, 2010 / 9:22 pm

    One thing missing is friends – none to hold you in – that is what keeps me in games long after they aren’t shiny

  12. Soliloquy July 18, 2010 / 3:55 am

    I remember getting as far as Lion’s Arch the first time round and while strolling through the town dealing with merchants I looked at the map and thought “there is still miles to go!” and moved onto another game.

    The bizarre reality is that the first reason I go into MMORPG type games is for exploration and yet I didn’t have the … stamina to get to the end of GW1 😦

  13. Aillas July 18, 2010 / 9:00 am

    Your comments about GW are reasonable, however I think your experiences with other MMO’s are a contributing factor. Players who came from the single player platformer, RPG, RTS, FPS type background wouldn’t be as worried about walls, fragmentation, loot, and so on, and instead find GW to be somewhere in between a full scale MMO and a single player game with MMO-ish features.

    What clicked for me was the skill and class system: only having a limited number of skills to take with you at a time, and being able to take a secondary class. I loved making various builds, and thinking about groups of skills that work well together. Other MMO’s I play sometimes feel like the challenge is displaying enough slots so everything is one click away. Or worse, playing level after level using the same 3 skill rotation 95% of the time.

    The comment about age is fair – I’m a huge fan of GW, but even I don’t play much anymore because I did everything I wanted to in game and am eagerly awaiting GW2. Basically what’s left for me in GW is grinding out Vanquisher or Max Rep titles, and I just can’t get to into doing it.

    In the meantime I am also enjoying LoTRO and DDO. And speaking of that… you might feel differently about character confinement after falling to your death a few times in Moria. 😉

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