For a long time, Guild Wars 2 was my go-to game. Those of you who follow me know that I tend to bounce around from game to game a lot, but Guild Wars 2 was a constant for a long time. It’s hard to pin down exactly how long, but I’m going to say it was more than five years. Then, suddenly, I realized that I really didn’t have much of a desire to log in. Normally when a game falls out of favor with me, it just sort of tapers off. There’s no moment that I can pinpoint when I am suddenly not interested anymore, I just log in less and less until I’m not logging in at all. With Guild Wars 2, however, it was fairly abrupt. There were a variety of factors, so let’s talk about them.
The first is that it seems like Path of Fire didn’t have as much to it as the previous expansion, Heart of Thorns. In retrospect, I think a lot of the reason for that is actually one of my favorite things about Path of Fire, and that is the much more reasonable difficulty. There are some masteries I still haven’t gotten in Heart of Thorns, and I didn’t have many of my elite specs filled out even by the time Path of Fire launched. PoF was a lot more solo friendly, so you didn’t have to beg zone chat for help every time you needed skill points or mastery points. It’s also a lot less grindy. It’s a weird paradox of game design that players don’t want to do boring repetitive tasks, but when those are eliminated, they also complain that they aren’t given enough tasks to do. It’s a balancing act, and I think Arenanet swung the pendulum too far in the other direction following negative feedback from HoT.
Second was that it was kind of replaced by The Elder Scrolls Online. I usually have one main MMO and one or two side games (online or off). ESO had been off-and-on one of those side games, but at some point it finally clicked and I really fell in love with the game. It’s not perfect–I voiced my ambivalence toward the combat last time–but no game is. Plus there is what seems like an endless amount of content in front of me, with most of the zone stories and some of the DLCs completely untouched. By contrast, I’ve seen and done just about everything in Guild Wars 2, aside from raiding, which doesn’t really interest me that much.
Finally, there was that one PR disaster. I don’t want to drag it back out, but the short version is that a story designer was chatting on Twitter about story design, and a player (who happened to be an Arenanet Twitch affiliate) said something in a way that was maybe a little insensitive, which she took offense to. She went off on him, which shouldn’t have happened, but Arenanet responded by firing her and another employee who got involved, which was equally excessive. Reddit trolls got involved (on both sides), and it was just a big mess. It seems weird that drama that’s completely tangential to the game like that could kill my interest in it, but it did. It made me not really like the company, and it made me like the players even less.
I can’t point to any of these things as the single root cause of my sudden, total lack of interest in Guild Wars 2, but when all of them happened at once, it made me lose all motivation to come back. That’s ok, there are plenty of other games out there, and the great thing about buy-to-play titles like Guild Wars 2 is that I can come back at any time if I feel like it. I’m sure I’ll be back next time there’s an expansion, if not at launch then when it inevitably goes on sale. But for now, Guild Wars 2 is going back on the shelf.
It’s really interesting to me that I seem to have come to the same place as you regarding GW2, but for almost exactly the opposite reasons. I loved HoT and I dislike PoF but to me the difficulty is reversed. HoT was much , much easier than I expected and than people said. I discussed it at length at the time on my blog and had plenty of disagreements about it but I am absolutely convinced – and can give chapter and verse why – that HoT was as casual-friendly for most classes as the base game – considerably more so than Orr! Also Gliding was a pure joy from the get-go and only got better still with Masteries. And the big set-piece events, particularly Dragon’s Stand and Octovine, were (and still are) some of the very best public raid content ever seen in the game. Absolutely nothing added since can hold a candle to either of those.
PoF, on the other hand, was extremely casual UNfriendly. It had tons of gating and mob density was off the scale. I found it both tedious and wearing just traveling from one place to another. And still do. Mounts were a huge disappointment. I hate the way they handle and the functionality is gimmicky in the extreme. Joko was also a dreadful villain, annoying and tonally jarring, and the plot was ludicrous. Bounties were irritating too. All in all, PoF was, and remains, a huge disappointment. If those two expansions are ANet’s idea of “difficult” and “easy” I hope they go for “super-hardcore” for the next one!
As for the incident with the writer, again as I wrote at the time, I felt Anet took exactly the right action. They could and should have done it faster and they could have handled the PR side better, but the actions of the individual in question were heinous and from other evidence produced at the time by no means isolated. What’s more, since that event we have seen a very tangible improvement in the quality of the writing in-game, something widely acknowledged in the feedback said writing has received. It’s still not brilliant but it’s better and improving still.
I haven’t cleaved towards ESO but I have found myself playing more – sometimes a lot more – EQ2 than GW2. When I do play, I mostly just do dailies and WvW or level up my low level character on my free account. I haven’t touched anything in PoF for over a year (I left much of it unfinished) and apart from doing the Living Story narrative once every two or three months I scarcely visit any of the new post-PoF maps either.
If any new MMORPG that’s even half-way interesting appears, GW2 is going to be the thing that makes way for it in my schedule. Although I’ll still most likely keep doing the dailies.
Reposted in case first didn’t go through – please delete duplicate!