The Last Bastion

For the old guard, the happy fools, the dreamers.

My Guild Wars 2 life comes to an end.

Posted By on February 20, 2016

Here we are again. Right around three years since my last post. What have I been doing all this time? Well, besides being lazy and not finding the time or putting in the effort to write blog posts, I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2.

The game was great. I enjoyed it pretty much the whole time. The aspects of the game that I focused on and found fun changed over the three years, but the game provided enough variety and replayability to keep me going all that time. I finished with a fairly big stack of cool virtual things to attest to my play time. 18 Max level characters, three legendary weapons, and 8,000+ hours played. I did it all, saw it all, and lived to tell the tale.

After getting that much enjoyment and entertainment out of a single game purchase (and some gem purchases along the way, which I treated somewhat like a subscription), I don’t want to spend this post talking about the bad stuff. The things that ended up going down that made me feel more and more alienated and eventually have made me decide to hang it up for good. Suffice it to say that I did everything I wanted to in the game, and it’s about time to be moving on.

So let me discuss a bit of the good. Obviously my perspective about games in general and this genre specifically are a bit changed after having experienced GW2. It opened my eyes and really rewarded me for my reluctant willingness to step outside of my comfort zone when it comes to game design. The accessibility and quality of the various game modes broadened my horizons and I ended finding fun in places I never would have even tried if it weren’t for this game.

The primary new experience for me was PvP. Not something I had ever been interested in, and through some really bad experiences early on, I very strongly believed that PvP was a detriment to games in this genre, removing depth and fun and replacing it with mindless revenge cycles and constant angst and griefing. Guild Wars 2, through some great design decisions, pushed me into trying the World vs. World game mode, and later the sPvP game mode. It did so in probably the only way that would have worked on me…by dragging me kicking and screaming using the most powerful carrot for me personally. Exploration. I was “forced” into an open-world, unbalanced PvP game mode in order to complete the world map…and once I tried it out, I loved it.

Not everything about PvP in GW2 was great…it actually could have been improved greatly and instead was designed into the ground (or right out from under the players), but the overall design of providing multiple separate game modes and allowing things to be self-contained and not clashing was fantastic. It was entirely voluntary and I could choose how and when to take part. Providing more depth and interest besides just PKing unsuspecting carebears by offering castles to siege and defend and supply to manage really made things fun for a long time. Large-group combat was awesome, and joining guilds and becoming an integral part of their highly organized death machines (even starting and commanding my own skill group for a time) was some of the best experiences I had in the game. Go figure…from a high-level game design perspective at least, PvP can be done well.

Another place where my mind has expanded is in terms of game economies and cash shops. I don’t like cash shops any better than I used to…in fact I might like them less these days, especially after trying some of the recent games imported from Korea. BUT, I’ve now seen a game economy and cash shop that worked, that didn’t break the game or the experience, and that for a long time managed to avoid most of the common pitfalls with in-game economies and remain largely stable. So it can be done. I have even less patience for games that cross the line when it comes to RMT…because there’s clearly a model of how to do it in GW2.

I’ve managed to quit the game cold turkey and say goodbye…I’ll miss Guild Wars 2, but I’m already looking forward to what’s next. I’ll be posting about the industry and game design again as the need strikes, because it’s looking like it may be another long wait before my next virtual world home arrives. Out of sheer luck, and in an amazing twist from the way my gaming life has been for 20 years (i.e. pretty much a duo activity with my wife and I), I met a cool group of folks just before the end of my GW2 career. Spending the down times with a steady guild of friends, and shopping for and trying out new games together, is a welcome new frontier for me.


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