We've heard a lot of naysayers making outlandish claims about ArenaNet's upcoming MMO, but do they actually make sense? Find out, as Gazimoff takes a closer look at the most common doubts.
3 - There are no healers/tanks! I can’t play my favorite role!
After playing the same MMO for a few months you get a taste for a particular role. You focus on it, grow used to it and tend to base your gameplay around it. It becomes your approach to future MMOs; your eye scans through charts as you pick something that feels familiar. I’ve done it myself, with ranged spell caster DPS being my particular flavor. If you’re a regular healer or tank, you’ll know this tale as well.
Thing is, that practiced eye we use as we study character archetypes is based solely on our own experience. And our experience tells us that it’s how the character plays at endgame that matters. It doesn’t matter how leveling feels – raiding and endgame PvE are normally completely different experiences. Likewise, time spent questing rarely prepares us for dungeons or PvP, as we use different skills in different ways. It’s all a bit clunky, a bit broken.
Getting around the obvious stuff can be tough: everyone heals themselves, everyone’s expected to tank occasionally. But it’s also liberating: you pick the profession (character types in Guild Wars 2) that you actually want to play. If you want to play a mace-wielding thug you can do that. If you want to play an engineer with an army of gadgets you can do that too. But importantly, everything you learn about your profession from level 1 up will be useful whatever you decide to do. Because you’re playing a profession and not a role, you’re using the facets and features of that profession all the time.
4 - The combat is too hard!
This is one that I sympathize with after being thrown into the deep end during the February press event. If you’d seen some of the videos of Press failing repeatedly to try to do Ascalonian Catacombs, you’d get the impression that either none of us knew how to play (which may have been fair at the time) or that the dungeon was far too hard.
The truth is that the game isn’t too hard, it’s that it requires a different approach compared to what we’re used to. Coming from playing a spell caster in almost every other MMO, I’m used to standing at a huge range and spamming spells until things die. This is usually fairly easy, as spells do incredible amounts of damage and creatures usually don’t get close enough to hit me. It’s an approach that’s been reinforced by every major MMO I’ve played, from Warcraft through to SWTOR with several others in-between.
And it doesn’t work in Guild Wars 2. Stand still and die. Learn to dodge and you have a good chance of surviving. Find out which weapon skills work best for you, and you’ll get somewhere. Being a glass cannon means that there’s no margin for error, but it’s compounded when you try to play the game with the same approach that you’ve used for your last five MMOs.
Just because something is hard doesn’t mean that it’s automatically bad. It’ll take time to unlearn bad habits and learn new skills, just like with any other game that introduces a slightly new combat or control system. But it’s worth it. The combat system in Guild Wars 2 does feel more engaging and responsive than other MMOs, especially when you take the time to learn how to use it properly. Just don’t expect to become great at it overnight.
5 - There’s no subscription! It’ll lose money, crash, burn and fail!
This is currently my favorite argument: that somehow charging a monthly subscription guarantees that an MMO will be high-quality, long-lasting and have regular updates. Yet MMO history is littered with examples of subscription MMOs that have crashed and burned. There are also several examples of struggling subscription MMOs switching to a free to play model and finding success.
Part of ArenaNet’s ethos is about player choice. By not locking you into a subscription, you don’t feel pushed into playing all the time just to maximize the value you get from paying for access. Instead you can dip in and play when you want without feeling pressured to get the most out of your game time.
Besides, how many times have you bought into a new MMO, only to cancel at the end of the bundled month of playtime instead of taking out a subscription? ArenaNet’s smartest move is making sure you don’t need to make that choice. As president Mike O’Brien suggested in an interview with PC Gamer, it’s unreasonable to expect gamers to subscribe to more than one game. By letting you dip into Guild Wars 2 whenever you want, yet maintain your subscription to your current game, ArenaNet’s focusing on a longer term strategy.
This summer is likely to be one of the busiest we’ve seen in the MMO genre for quite a while. In the battle to open our wallets, developers are offering us a range of options from subscription-free to lifetime packages. The jury’s still out on which one will be the most popular, but ArenaNet’s is definitely one with few obstacles.
Gareth "Gazimoff" Harmer, Staff Writer