Guild Wars 2: The ultimate casual MMO?

Despite economy concerns, temporarily halted sales, and other rough spots, Guild Wars 2 appears to be flying high following its first couple weeks of operation.  That’s great — fly,fly, I say.  This morning we heard that the game’s crossed the two million units sold mark, which feels like one of the fastest-selling MMOs in recent memory, even including SWTOR.  Of course, without subscriptions and announcements regarding such, GW2 gets to sidestep the whole “how many people are still playing?” argument that plagues new releases.  Instead, just like with GW1, ArenaNet will get to keep announcing bigger and bigger numbers of total copies sold.  That seems like a pretty sweet deal for them.

The larger scale of the game’s success aside, I still find myself itching to get in and play almost constantly now, which tells me that it’s certainly “stuck” in a good way.  From my perspective, I see Guild Wars 2 as the ultimate casual MMO that respects instead of demands your time.  It’s ludicrously fast and easy to log into, and mostly just asks you to live in the moment with your activities instead of chugging through a quest list. While I do get a meal of GW2 gaming time now and then, mostly I just log on for 10-30 minutes, accomplish a few things, explore a few vistas, and see if there are any events going on nearby.

Even grinding mobs feels relaxing.  I’m still experimenting with my Engineer setup, waffling between weapons and skill loadouts.  I’m extremely partial to turrets, especially during events (they do a great job helping you be in multiple places at once and tagging lots of mobs), but I forced myself to try the other skills including a speed buff elixir that’s now part of my rotation.  Pewpewpewpewpew — it’s bliss.

Aside from 100% map completion, my other major goal is to unlock eight character slots and other gem store goodies without paying real money.  I know the trading post and economy has its critics and fans, but as for me, I’m engaging more in the economy now because of the easy of the TP’s interface and accessibility, not to mention the allure of earning gems by doing things in-game.  I’ve already purchased one character slot and am on my way to a second.  Sure, I’m disappointed how little sells well on the TP these days, especially for crafting mats, but there is some demand for certain items (cloth, animal parts in particular) that I am still making a good profit.  I earned 50 silver yesterday through it, and have decided to spend half of what I earn every day on gems and save the other half (for eventual training tomes and other expenses).

In a weird way, it reminds me of very old school RPG mechanics, where acquiring money to buy gear from vendors was of all-consuming importance — so the money was actually a rush to get.  Usually I don’t even think of money in MMOs, but GW2 has hit a sweet spot in me with its loot and economy, so the inner Gecko Gordon in me is coming out.

Other than that, I just am eager to dive into any group event.  I’m finally done with all of the 1-15 zones, so I’m on my second 15-25 area and discovering that events are becoming more challenging and more complicated.  I’ve seen groups start to adapt to the challenge by eschewing mere zerging and instead pulling tougher mobs away from their friends, set up heal zones, and lay down spell strips that allow others to trigger combos.  It’s kind of really neat.

One funny side effect of now juggling four MMOs is that my finger memory is getting all sorts of messed up.  Guild Wars 2 uses F to loot, TSW uses V, and LOTRO and RIFT require clicking.  I keep messing all those up all the time now.

Anyway, whether or not GW2 exudes a casual feel to you, it does to me.  It’s not a game I feel any need to rush through, but instead just to be content where I’m at, to savor the experience, and to really see my surroundings instead of the distant horizon.

15 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: The ultimate casual MMO?

  1. This is certainly casual-friendly and this is Why I love it so much ! The fun parts do not seems to be hours away : I have fun now, whatever time I have, and there is no grinding – in the sense of not-fun activities to do to be able to do fun ones.

  2. Totally agree that it’s a top casual MMO. I also think that’s exactly what ArenaNet were shooting for. A lot of the “well this isn’t going to work long-term” and “that’s not going to hold people at end-game” criticisms are largely irrelevant. I think the business model is to keep selling boxes and downloads to new people and sell all the old people expansions every so often. If someone buys each box and only plays a few weeks each time, no problem.

  3. It’s definitely casual, but in a different sense in the word. Casual content is usually content that is skipped because your progression renders it useless. This game is weird in that it doesn’t naturally punish people for rushing, but keeps all the content’s difficulty to where it doesn’t dip into the realm of absolutely trivial.

  4. Ditto x100.
    I’ve enjoyed being able to play when I can and I’m not waiting around for the fun-it’s all around me. Bored of the human zone? Go to the Charr or Norn zones. Also, I love the gear searching. Looking for the right specs and how to make it look cool.

    In addition, it seems ANet pathed-out the first ten levels just right. By the time most people get to 15ish they can interact win other professions during group events with very little communication whether that be healing spots, spell walls, running in for rezzing.

    GW2 is just a great game for what it does.

  5. Wait, you have to buy character slots individually? When I shelled out my 800 gems the other day I got FOUR additional slots. I just assumed that the store GUI just sucked and nobody felt it was important to convey exactly how many slots you got per purchase.

  6. It’s casual friendly while still maintaining a good balance of difficulty – this alone has been what’s kept me logging 2-3 hours every night since release.

  7. I would swap out the world casual for relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, the casual gamer will still enjoy GW2 but even the hardcore folk can go about their business without ever really feeling rushed. I personally find I can do what I want, when I want, and for how long and there’s no worries of getting to it before the next person does, so to speak. You don’t have to run to point A, then B, then C, then back to B, then over to D. Things just have a natural flow and I think that’s where it becomes a relaxing adventure. Sure you have the adrenaline moments, but those are far and few between (unless you get a solid PvP situation).

  8. I find it a little too relaxed, overall, but am still enjoying it. It is nice for the game to be flexible when it comes to how much time I have to put in on a per session basis, but I am finding a real lack of motivation to do a lot. The carrots just aren’t there for me.

  9. I rebound TSW keys, on including having a heal on the same key my selfheal uses in GW2.

    I generally rebind keys to be similar across games, or I would go nuts.

  10. Kinda like hitsstuff, I configured my Nostromo “loot” key to match for both TSW and GW2. IIRC, most other games I’ve played simply had right-click loot mechanics. Everything else is spost on, of course. Despite enjoying (and defending) TSW thoroughly, I find myself drawn to GW2. Was just wishing I were home today instead of at work.

  11. I love your observation about the gem store and about how earning money in-game in GW2 is refreshingly dramatic. I have limited experiences with old school MMOs. (Vanilla WoW was my first.) But I think I like GW2’s use of in-game money more than any other MMO I’ve played.

    I think it’s that I’m used to thinking of interactions between the real world economy and the game’s in-game economy as one directional, such that players can sometimes get extra in-game goodies if they’re willing to shell out more real world dollars GW2’s gem store makes this interaction flow in both directions, which, in turn, makes me feel as though I’m getting something for free. (“Are you kidding me? You’re gonna give me a $10 character slot just playing the bejeezus out of this game! Woot!”)

    Like I said, it actually feels more rewarding to me than what I remember from my early days of playing MMOs. It was a big deal, back in the first year when WoW came out, to actually save up enough to buy a mount. It felt like I had to slave away forever to come up with enough gold. It was all-encompassing, and it was rush when I finally got it, but I also a remember a hollow feeling afterward. (“Dude, this game just tricked you into mindlessly farming loot for days so that you could buy a make believe horse!”) GW2 feels a little more rewarding to me because I feel as though in-game work is earning me an out-of-game perk.

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