Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition – is it worth the $150?

Anyone feel like it’s last summer again?

Yes, as with SWTOR before it, Guild Wars 2 is making headlines by announcing a Collector’s Edition – and not just any CE, but a bloody expensive one, at $150 for the game, which comes with a statue, soundtrack, and a book about the making of the game.

The blogosphere’s been poring through the details – and so far, it seems to be a bit of a damp squib:

  • Kill Ten Rats’ Ravious admits that the CE was pretty much a sure buy for him – but even he’s a little unsure about a couple of details“I’d personally have preferred a more cosmetic effect, like a special dance than a deluxe skill, especially given that the deluxe edition’s elite skill will likely see much less use than profession-specific elites.”
  • Syp at Bio Break doesn’t hate the CE extras, but none of it screams “must have” to him“The book and the soundtrack are nice, but an extra $70 worth of nice?”
  • And Pewter at Decoding Dragons is skeptical about quite a few of the features, including the very short early access period“As someone living in rural England, the early access for SW:TOR was practically over by the time I had gotten the game downloaded. 3 days seems incredibly short from my perspective, and even for the general populace.”

Does the $150 Collector’s Edition of Guild Wars 2 seem like a good deal to you?

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Will Guild Wars 2 make it OK to fail again?

Last week we had some great Devil’s Advocate posts on various aspects of upcoming MMOs, including Azuriel explaining why he thinks Guild Wars 2’s purported abandonment of the Holy Trinity design (Tank, Healer and DPS) is doomed to failure. Whilst I found the piece very interesting, I’ve long been hoping that we could genuinely escape the grasp of the Trinity, and so T.R. Redskies’ impassioned response in defence of GW2’s “self-sufficient” gameplay was a great read.

He identifies the key arguments Azuriel’s making as revolving around “trust” and “responsibility” in a group – we must trust players to handle the responsibilities of their role, and the Trinity makes those divisions easier to understand. From there, he examines why we might not trust another player in a role, whether a non-Trinity design will make us more or less likely to trust, and whether it’s fun to have a game where it’s not OK to fail

“But it’s a different thing to prefer to do something and to simply not trust others to do something. Very different. If games are invoking feelings of paranoia or vulnerability in a setting like World of Warcraft, then we ought to challenge why certain mechanics exist at all.

It’s ok to fail. Ask any hero, role model, or superstar. The road to success is paved with failures. Why do we demand perfect gameplay from our fellow players? As I said, it’s one thing to prefer to perform tasks one thinks they’re good at and quite another to simply not trust anyone else to do something in which you have a stake in. What’s the worst that could happen if your groupmate fails? You start over. I’m not an advocate of wiping infinitely during a raid encounter in an MMO, but I’m not an advocate of shielding players from trying and possibly succeeding or failing at a task. In fact, part of the experience is triumphing despite shortcomings. The game, despite aiming to make players interdependent, has created a situation in which depending on someone else is the last thing they want to do.

Part of the explanation for why it’s ok to not be afraid to allow others to fail in these group settings is that they’re possibly failing because of their teammates. In this sense, the responsibility is shared. Why do the group roles make it ok to blame some and not all? A group is always only as strong as it’s weakest link and roles have no bearing on this. If it’s a situation where only a certain role can fulfill a certain task, then perhaps it’s the games design which is failing the group. Ostensilby, the game has shown that as long as you bring X number of players, you can succeed. Where the trinity of tank/heal/dps appears, the game says that as long as you bring these roles you can succeed. Groups have little opportunity to succeed on their merit, which has the opposite effect of creating interdependency.”

There’s some pretty serious thinking going on here – and it’s really interesting reading. For me, T.R.‘s post really helped to illuminate some of the frequent threads we see in the blogosphere – particularly the terror of the new player going into raiding, the difficulty of tanking or healing, particularly in PUGs, and conversely the ways in which LFR doesn’t satisfy whilst attempting to appeal to everyone.

It looks like the “to Trinity or not to Trinity” debate’s just starting to head up, with GW2 now bearing down upon us. I’ll be interested to see where it goes from here!

Do you think GW2’s roles will work?

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3 Things That Might Not Work (in future MMOs)

We’ve got some interesting analysis going on today from a variety of folks in the blogosphere, as the informal phrase of the day seems to be “O RLY?”. Yes, the hype’s dying down a bit, and Bio Break, Decoding Dragons, and In An Age are taking a long hard look at the promises for the future made in Wildstar, Guild Wars 2, and Mists of Pandaria:

  • Syp at Bio Break is decidedly less than impressed with Wildstar’s decision to tell all stories in 140 characters or less“I mean, why stop with 140 characters? Why not 50? Why not do away with words altogether in quest assignments and use just pretty pictures and arrows? “
  • Azuriel at In An Age explains why he thinks the much-vaunted removal of the Holy Trinity in Guild Wars 2 is doomed to failure“If you have attempted group content in WoW at any point in the last two years, you probably recoiled in horror as I did at the thought of looking forward to shared group responsibility. We have a term for that now – The Dance – and every indication that it was the principle cause of the nearly 2 million subscriber exodus.”
  • And Pewter at Decoding Dragons highlights the things she did like in Dave Kosak’s postmortem on Cataclysm and promises for Mists“In Warcraft, the issue is not so much the open world, but that locations rarely flow naturally into each other. Verdant jungles sit next to icefloes, and deserts impinge on primordial craters.”

What features of upcoming MMOs do you think are doomed to failure – or massive unexpected success?

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Cross-Faction Raiding, LEAPS for GREAT JUSTICE, and boobs in GW2

I’m still catching up on the posts that were made whilst we were transferring the server over to its new home – so here are some of the great pieces that caught my eye over the last two days…

  • Syl of Raging Monkey’s is back, and she’s been observing the transformation of GW2’s Norns into Barbie Dolls with displeasure“I can try ignore other players wearing silly armor ingame or even creating anatomically laughable characters for themselves somewhat (if not completely), but I am really not looking forward to get it in my face from NPCs too, let alone on my own character model.”
  • Matthew Rossi at WoW Insider argues that alongside cross-realm raiding, we should have cross-faction raiding too“Allowing my tauren to raid with draenei and gnomes would be really, really rewarding for me, as a long-time player with a lot of friends across servers. It would be a nice, low-impact way to reward long-term players with lots of friends.”
  • And Melmoth at Killed in A Smiling Accident has a short, sweet post about what a heroic game ability should be“It’s Batman. It’s Hulk. It’s Neo. And it’s Goku. It’s Spiderman; Predator; Aang. It’s V. It’s glee. It’s you. And me. Isn’t that what a hero should be?”

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DPS responsibility, Irritating Sexism, War Stories and Final Grades

Some interesting discussions on a variety of topics today – plus more info on the game de jour, Guild Wars 2!

Oh, and whilst I’m at it – Guild Wars 2 Beta Signups are now open

On to the awesome articles:

  • Tobold responds to yesterday’s criticism of SWTOR Heroic Flashpoints, discussing the crazy idea that maybe DPS could be the role with responsibility“What if tanking and healing was relatively easy, and fails were predominantly caused by the damage dealers not dealing enough damage per second? Well, what would happen would be that damage dealers would be extremely unhappy.”
  • Ravious at Kill Ten Rats gives us details of just what a Guild Wars 2 World vs World battle is like“We just didn’t have enough players. This was a well defended keep and someone had taken the time to upgrade the NPC defenders. Every minute a swarm of hefty NPCs would appear near our siege, and we had to waste precious time taking them down, healing, and finally getting back to the door.”
  • Apple Cider Mage issues a takedown notice for the tired old ‘Make me a sandwich, woman!’ joke“World of Warcraft has a fairly even split of men and women now, if current numbers are to be believed. There’s no reason to NOT accept that at any given moment, you’ll be surrounded by women, whether they choose to reveal this to you or not. “
  • And Tzufit’s “Cataclysm Final Grades” project has more-or-less come to a close, with wide selection of really interesting posts about the evolution of the various classes in this WoW expansion

Found these posts interesting? Please consider sharing them!

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Guild Wars 2 Beta Impressions Roundup

The NDA for the Guild Wars 2 Press Beta lifted very recently, and whilst the impressions posts aren’t as thick on the ground as they were at the end of the SWTOR beta, one thing really stands out to me from them.

I’ve never, ever seen a bunch of beta impressions as frothingly enthusiastic as these before.

It might be a small sample size. The gripes might have yet to come out of the woodwork. But for now, the people who have played the beta and reported on it think that Guild Wars 2 is on track to absolutely rock:

  • Ravious at Kill Ten Rats isn’t normally one to rave, but it would appear he’s making a major exception“What I can say with finality is, if $60 is the price tag of Guild Wars 2 it is going to blow away the competition in terms of value.”
  • Massively ran two seperate impressions pieces – from Elizabeth Cardy and Shawn Schuster . They both loved, loved, loved it – “Guild Wars 2’s combat system is everything it’s supposed to be. I don’t mean that it’s everything MMO combat is supposed to be but everything that game combat should be.”
  • And Syp at Bio Break has been reading everything he can get his hands on, and he’s pretty darn excited too“Combos, rallying, WvWvW, personal stories, skill bar setups — it’s all coming together to make a product that has a refreshingly new experience rather than just refreshingly polished approach.”

Wow. OK. I’m really looking forward to this one now.

Seriously, is Guild Wars 2 going to be all it’s cracked up to be?

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Guild Wars 2 WvWvW (that’s World vs World vs World) announcement roundup

Yes, the lovely people at Arena.net, responsible for the upcoming juggernaut that is Guild Wars 2, have broken radio silence to talk about a new feature of their game. And this time, it’s genuinely very exciting – they’ve been talking about their approach to PvP, and specifically large-scale PvP, with their World vs World vs World (WvWvW) system.

Before we get on to the reactions – the original blog post discussing World vs World vs World is here, and it’s worth reading in detail:

“From the earliest days of development, we knew that we wanted to include some form of large-scale PvP combat in Guild Wars 2, but how would it work? We knew right away that we wanted three teams fighting against one another on a series of huge maps in the Mists (our world vs. world battleground) and that each team would be composed of an entire server full of players. Including three forces in world vs. world acts as an excellent balancing factor, preventing one team from growing too powerful and ruining the competitive balance of the game. Two teams can gang up to counter a more dominant third team, a dynamic that simply isn’t possible with only two opposing factions.

We dreamed of a game where players could work together to capture objectives on the battlefield, like keeps and towers, claiming them for their guilds, then fortifications before defending them against hordes of attackers. With players from three different servers fighting each other, we knew that we would need a lot of different areas for them to fight over, and we wanted to have plenty of locations for guilds of all sizes to claim as their own. With this in mind, we created a number of different objectives that are designed to be captured and contested by large groups, small groups, or even just a few players.”

I’m very excited about the ideas in this post, and I’m not the only one:

  • Keen and Graev pick out their favourite bits of the announcement, paying particular attention to the 3-way battle: “I like the sound of creating healthy competition between servers; maybe that’s what’s needed to create the infamous “realm pride” in today’s market.”
  • Kill Ten Rats has a detailed analysis, touching on NPCs, supplies and more: “It appears that skirmishes on secondary objectives will be critical while the siege continues. I like, at least on paper, this “soft” gating as compared to Warhammer Online‘s hard gating using minor objectives.”
  • And Hunter’s Insight talks not so much about what we’ve heard, but what we still need to know“I do have questions about recruiting NPCs though. How effective are they? How many can you recruit at once? Can they be used to attack gates like siege weapons?”
  • And Syncaine has a typically cycnical viewpoint on the announcement – “There are also some “I don’t know shit about MMO PvP History” parts in there as well.”

Are you excited about World vs World vs World?

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In the Distance… Guild Wars 2 and Titan speculation

Let’s face it, there’s only so long you can talk about pandas.

Today the blogosphere’s turned its thoughts further afield, with comment on Guild Wars 2, as well as a really interesting bit of speculation on Titan. Let’s go:

  • Ravious at Kill Ten Rats notes that Guild Wars 2 is remarkably eagerly awaited despite its lack of publicity“Currently Guild Wars 2 is the most anticipated game on mmorpg.com by nearly a whole point. That is a game without a release date being more anticipated than say Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR), which is going to release this year. I’d say the so-called “hype machine” has done it’s job.”
  • Syp is thinking GW2, too, and suspects that the press silence may be part of a master plan“Assuming that ArenaNet makes good on its promises of unparalleled gameplay and MMO innovation, then we could be looking at a silent predator in the treetops, waiting for its best chance to pounce. “
  • And Doone at T.R.Redskies has a really interesting bit of speculation on what Titan could be – not a game, but a platform for games“Blizzard said “it’s a game changer” about Titan a few months ago. First, I don’t see how a single new game could change the whole industry right now. Second, Blizzard is well know to NOT create new types of games. “

Is Titan going to be more than a game? Is Guild Wars 2 going to live up to the hype?

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Are World Events just promising fake change?

There’s a fascinating topic going around the blogosphere today – starting with a discussion of Guild Wars 2’s upcoming world event system, bloggers are discussing just how a world event can and should work, and how much it can affect an entire game world.

First up, we’ve got Ravious at Kill Ten Rats, who has a lengthy post up discussing the GW2 event system, what its organic events might mean, and most importantly, whether Arena.net is willing to punish players for failure

“For 1-2 hours, Helpful Asuras, a mega-guild chartered to “lead all bookahs” is making sure that Tequatl the Sunless will be unlocked. The four Helpful Asuras leaders are really good at each leading their quadrant of the map, yet when Tequatl comes out and smashes some things, the Helpful Asuras are all squabbling over the various tasks leaving the bookah rabble they had collected over the past few hours to construct their own chain of command and task management. It becomes every bookah for himself really quickly.”

Syncaine followed up on that post with his own take, discussing his experience in Darkfall, where players really can change the landscape through PvP, and how close Guild Wars can get to that feeling in a more PvE-focussed game

“If the impact is Rift-level, where failure leads to a quest NPC not being available for a few minutes, no one is really going to go out of their way to fight back if they don’t need that NPC or any of the rewards associated with pushing the event back. MMO players don’t care about the feelings of NPCs, and so we won’t go on a heroic quest to save a village just to give those NPC farmers a safe home (while we would if said farmers were players farming stuff that we actually need – see EVE conflicts over high-value mining areas). We do it because said NPC farmers give us epics, and once we have those epics, we let them burn. And by design, those farmers NEED to burn so that the next solo-hero can come along and ‘save’ them to collect his epics. Actually making saving a village have impact would create more problems than benefits in a traditional PvE MMO.”

And finally, Chris over at Game By Night writes a parallel post, talking about RIFT world events – which he says he loves the idea of, but is starting to become disenchanted by the reality

“Here’s my problem with world events in RIFT: They’re all exactly the same. Every single world event has consisted of variously skinned versions of “kill these invaders, kill these rift creatures, buff this wardstone, and go to this spot and click on something” — except this time they took out the clicking part. How great can your lore tie-ins be when what you’re actually doing is no different that what you’ve done every other time the world has been threatened? These planar leaders better get together for some kind of think tank because they’re seriously lacking in the creativity department.”

Interesting stuff all around – and nice to see so much discussion going on about a non-WoW topic. (Although I do wonder if, given Blizz’s tendancy to copy-and-perfect other games’ ideas, we’ll see world events announced as part of the next expansion.)

Do you think Guild Wars 2 will deliver genuine world-changing events? Or is it all going to be another theme-park ride?

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The agony of choice

The blogosphere seems to be split at the moment between those who still love WoW and those who love everything else. There’s a feeling that WoW is under threat, with lots of new things vying for attention. Even non-MMO games are costing the MMOs subscribers, with Keen and Graev declaring that the Drought has officially ended for those waiting for new games.

Nils takes yet another look at the eternal question of what makes WoW so successful and Kiryn at Eleven-Four has decided that transmogrification is a sufficient draw to warrant a return to WoW.

Meanwhile, Syp at Biobreak has declared that The more I play Guild Wars, the more I wish it was Guild Wars 2.

[M]y primary goal — earning Hall of Monument points — will hopefully pay off when GW2 launches. But honestly? It’s a whole lot of work for what will probably be relatively small rewards down the line, and I’m not sure that it was worth doing for just that alone.

Over at MMO Symposium, Sres is taking a look at Dragon Nest Adventures, which I must admit I’ve never played, but Sres makes it sound pretty interesting:

The graphics are quite stunning, the game world is vibrant and colourful, the characters are well animated and you get drawn into your character really easily.

It certainly seems that the MMO big hitters can’t rest on their laurels right now. There are so many competing games vying for our time (and wallets), and gamers are becoming increasingly discerning. Rather than watching everybody copy WoW, as we did only a few years ago, we’re now seeing a whole array of games, each with their own unique twists and clever ideas. As attached as I am to my beloved World of Warcraft, I can’t deny that Guild Wars 2 looks freakin’ awesome.

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