GW2: Quality of Life Features Every Game Needs

After complaining in my last post about how frustrated I’ve been when trying out a few older MMOs, I’ve been reflecting on a few of the things the developers have done that make Tyria a nice place to live. Many other games have some of these features in some form or another, but Guild Wars 2 seems to nail so many little things so well.

My Bags Are Never Full

Anyone who’s played MMOs, or most RPGs for that matter, for very long has bemoaned their lack of inventory space, but I never have this problem in Guild Wars 2. Most obvious is the “Deposit All Collectables” button, which deposits all of your crafting materials to the bank instantly. I’ve never even thought of having a button like this, and even if I did I would expect it to be a premium feature (especially on a subscriptionless game like Guild Wars 2). Perhaps the most subtle quality of life feature of Guild Wars 2 is the general lack of junk. Yes, there is a little bit of vendor trash, but not much, plus any vendor will kindly pay you for your useless globs of globby gloop (yes, that’s a thing) whether they’re a weaponsmith, merchant, or an armor repair. Instead, the game throws a lot of salvage items at you. A great quality of life feature in its own right, salvage kits, turn salvage items and unwanted gear into crafting mats (which can then be deposited via the aforementioned deposit collectables button), which of course can either be used or sold. Best of all, they’re only a few copper for a stack of 15 basic ones, or a little more if you want a chance of better salvage. Guild Wars 2 makes you wonder what the point of intentional vendor trash items are. Why not just drop more gold and save me the frustration of hauling my overstuffed bags back to town to dump it off on some poor vendor?

Auction House Anywhere

This goes along with the above, but it’s so huge it deserves its own mention. Guild Wars 2 not only lets you check prices on the auction house in-game from anywhere, which would be great in and of itself, but it even lets you list your items from anywhere. This has the added effect that the auction house has virtually every tradeable item available for purchase, since no one thinks to themselves “this will be hard to sell, and I need space, I’ll just vendor it.” It will even let you buy items, but to retrieve your items or your cash you will have to track down your local Black Lion Trader in your nearest big city. It begs the question of why every game doesn’t do this. It would be too convenient? Why is that a bad thing?

Waypoints

At first I was a little disappointed that Guild Wars 2 didn’t have mounts to get me around the world faster. Yes, I’ve seen other games argue that they don’t need mounts because their content is clustered closer together, but there’s something more interesting about jumping on something that makes you go faster than on foot, be it a horse, a proto-drake, or a hoverboard (especially if it’s a hoverboard, let’s be honest). Guild Wars 2 has been the first game that has made me not miss mounts by dotting the landscape with waypoints, instant teleport points that cost a few copper or silver (depending on your level and the distance traveled) per teleport. At 80, the cost can add up quickly if you’re popping around the map catching up on your personal story, but I feel like the fee is pretty spot-on for the convenience.

Weapons Determine Skills

I’ve often wondered why games like LotRO have so many weapon types. All melee weapons seem more or less interchangeable–a club works just as well as a sword, a halberd is mostly indistinguishable from a two-handed axe–with minutely different bonuses. In Guild Wars 2, a different weapon may completely change your play style, or even your role. For instance, guardians can crank out respectable DPS with a greatsword, or heal and buff with a staff. This not only gives different weapon types a reason to exist, but it gives classes a degree of variety and customizability as well.

Stats Are Stats, Regardless of Class

“Ok, so for this class, agility increases damage, and vitality increases my mana regen, but not as much as intelligence….” Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think I should have to look up a translation matrix to figure out if a piece of gear is good for my class and build or not. Guild Wars 2’s gear is simple: if it says power, it increases my damage, if it says vitality, it increases my health, regardless of class or gear type. Why can’t all games be this way? It makes it so much easier to bounce between characters. At least some games like WildStar are starting to show the actual stat bonuses on the tooltip below the attributes, which is a step in the right direction, but I don’t understand why you can’t just cut out the middle man and put the stats on there. I’m sure there must be some kind of justification out there involving class balance or something, but it seems like a holdover from some ye olde time RPG mechanic.

XP For Everything!

What do reviving a player, harvesting a plant (my cabbages!), watching a flyby of a mountain, and simply walking around have in common? They’re all ways I’ve leveled up in Guild Wars 2 (probably all in the last couple weeks). Seriously, they’d give you XP for sneezing if they could. This would be an incredibly frustrating way to miss a lot of content, if players weren’t down-scaled by zone. Coupled with this, it is actually very freeing; there isn’t a distinction in Guild Wars 2 between leveling, exploring, and crafting as there is in other games I’ve played. Every activity gives XP, so no time feels wasted.

So next time you use one of these features, be grateful to the good developers at ArenaNet, and remember gamers less fortunate who have to get by without these conveniences.