The Guild Wars 2 Endgame and Other MMO Problems (For Me)
As I'm closing in on level 80 on my first toon in Guild Wars 2, I've become increasingly worried about the end game content. What's going to keep me playing after I hit 80 besides trying out another class? ArenaNet is constantly stating that the entire 1-80 process is the endgame and in some ways they're right.
When you do World vs. World PvP (WvW) or structured PvP (sPvP) your level, stats, and skills are all scaled up to level 80 to provide an even playing field. Your character has a semi-personalized story campaign (based on decisions made during character creation) that is a pretty cool story albeit a little corny or loose at times.
As someone that does not enjoy PvP in any form, after trying WvW and sPvP they don't appeal to me at all and those seem to be the primary forms of end game being stressed in GW2. There are story and explorable modes for the handful of dungeons but there's no raids. The closest they have to raids are dragon spawns in various zones around the game world on 3 hour timers. The story modes add to the personal story campaign as sort of side quests that do character development for NPCs. The explorable modes present multiple options to complete the dungeon (find these people, do this thing, or whatever) that net various rewards and a piece dungeon set armor. The explorable modes require a higher level as well as have higher difficulty requiring better group organization.
There's a gear grind but it doesn't bring better gear with better stats but just, supposedly, cooler looks. I have to hand it to them on the transmogrification and dye systems they implemented with the tokens, though. Best implementation of them I've seen. It's not my cup of tea but it definitely make retaining a favorable look a lot easier without having to keep that armor lying around taking up precious bag space.
They, ArenaNet, is also stressing crafting as endgame content to net yourself a fancy looking legendary item. Legendary in the looks department, not the stats. I find this laughable at best and don't really intend to do crafting because from what I've done of it so far, it's ridiculously cumbersome. Sure, it's "realistic" crafting in how you need different parts for a piece of armor - padding and chain insert - to be made but it just isn't fun for me.
It seems to me that with their higher emphasis on PvP, they've kind of made a lacking effort in the PvE department. The dungeons are cool and interesting and the rewards are sorta neat. The dragons spawns are always really cool if not a little chaotic for melee weapon users. They're also a sad replacement for raids, despite the timer. There's a plethora of "dynamic events" in Orr as soon as you hit 80 but from what I've read about it, it's pretty much WvW with no player opposition.
However, the seeming uncaring attitude towards solid PvE content really worries me is that with such little reward for the PvE content, what's to keep players like me around? I know it sounds funny considering every MMO does it but, what's my compelling reason to keep doing the same dungeons over and over with so little reward? Why should I keep playing the game with no content that I want to play?
I've played WoW since shortly after the release of Burning Crusade. I started off as a rogue as DPS (duh), moved to druid as a healer, and then to paladin as a tank. All of my toons since have been healers or tanks as I am now bored with the DPS and stick strictly to tanking and healing since they're more fun to me. I won't say I'm pro but I'm not lacking for compliments in my game playing skills. I played SW:tOR as both a Sith Sorcerer (healer) and a Jedi Guardian (tank). I'm very comfortable with the kind of gameplay style that the "trinity" (damage, healing, and tanking classes/specializations) brings as well as threat mechanics.
In some ways I've enjoyed GW2's departure from the trinity and traditional threat mechanics (HEY BIG GUY ATTACK ME NOT THE 20 OTHER PEOPLE ATTACKING YOU!) but in others, it's very faulty, frustrating, and downright sucky. I really like the dodge mechanic but I also really feel that fights are way too disorganized and chaotic to be fun and not frustrating, especially if you're PUGging. I'm not saying introduce the trinity for PvE content, but having a bit more organization wouldn't hurt. I don't want the game to be easy like WoW is but I don't want it to be so difficult that I loathe doing it. My controversial opinion here is that I often feel that it's the people that primarily play DPS toons don't like the trinity. I can see how they would but I'm personally a big fan. That's probably because it wholly supports my preferred playstyles of tank and healer and their importance. Me in my ivory tower.
I'm not saying WoW or other MMOs or better, quite the contrary! GW2 is one of the best MMOs I've played since I started playing MMOs in the early 2000s with Ragnarok Online and Ultima Online. I will not be buying Mists of Pandaria for the foreseeable future and will not be playing SW:tOR until it goes F2P in November. I'll probably play SW:tOR as often as I play Star Trek Online (not often). If GW2's endgame doesn't become attractive to me, I'll probably stop playing it as soon as I complete my storyline quests until they introduce more content that I will hopefully be interested in. The only thing I'm currently planning to do is do 100% world exploration because the game is gorgeous.
I'm not sure if this is a common opinion on GW2 or if I'm, so far, wholly unique (probably not). In my experience so far, many GW2 players are past or current GW1 players, it's their first MMO, or never played WoW but played other MMOs. Love it or hate it, WoW is a benchmark for MMOs in both success and accessibility these days. There's a lot it does right and there's also a lot it does that makes you go "wtf?!" and all of those are highly debatable. There's a lot of implications in those two previous statements that I'd love to discuss civilly.
I think I'm gonna go play more Shining Force II...