Saturday, March 20, 2010

12 Things I Don't Like About Guild Wars

For those of you that know me well enough, you'll know that I am a fan of the fantasy MMO Guild Wars. I've been playing it for several years and although there are a lot of things I like about it (which I may list in a future review) there are a few things Arenanet (the developers) have done that have pissed me off. They are listed below.

12. The Pet System: One of the classes in the game (Rangers) are allowed to bring animal companions into battle, but why you would want to is beyond me. They have rather poor AI in that they run around aimlessly for half the battle, there is nothing other than appearance to distinguish one pet from another, and if you are going to bring a pet then you yourself are going to pretty much be useless since most of your skill bar will have to be devoted to your pet. Sometimes I'll bring one out for fun just for giggles, but when playing seriously its just a waste.

11. Ray of Judgment: This skill is a powerful AoE attack that somehow found its way into the skill pool of Monks, the game's primary healing class. Normally the AI in Guild Wars will scatter if they find themselves in the middle of an AoE attack, the one exception to this rule was Ray of Judgment. The result was the biggest exploit in Guild Wars history. Everywhere you went you saw "RoJ monk LFG" in chat. It was not uncommon to find a group consisting of 5 players using this skill. There was not a single problem that could not be solved with this skill. The worst part was that one simple bug fix would remedy the problem, but for some reason it took them several months to get around to it.

10. No Retroactivity on Storybooks: Imagine that you spent countless hours trying to build an elaborate house of cards that was 10 metres tall. After you build it a man walks up to you and says, "I'll give $5000 to whoever can build a house of cards that's 10 metres tall." You point to your house of cards and ask, "There it is. Can I have my $5000 now?" To which he replies, "No," and you ask, " Why not?" and he answers, "Because you built it before I offered the money. If you want to earn that cash you'll have to do it all over again." Your balls then proceed to shatter due to the sheer magnitude of the figurative kick in the nuts this man just gave to you. Arenanet pretty much did just that when they decided that if you wanted to earn the bonus rewards for completing the storyline then you'd have to replay the entire game all over again.

9. Recycling Content: To some extent many games are guilty of this. Achievements and Trophies are essentially ways to get people to replay the same content over and over again in order to earn some meaningless award. Some MMO's (including Guild Wars) have daily quests, and there are plenty of other examples. But in the expansion to Guild Wars called Eye of the North, they pretty much took the same models, painted them a different colour and called it a day. To be fair there was a sizable amount of genuinely new content, but half the time I was getting a feeling of deja vu as I entered a dungeon and realized that it had the exact same layout as a dungeon I'd done the other day. I guess I shouldn't be one to complain about laziness, but dammit I'll do it anyway!

8. The Titan Quests: Imagine you're a criminal mastermind and a man approaches you and tells you that he'll give you a special reward if you can steal the world's most valuable and heavily guarded diamond. You accept because you are trusting of random strangers and assume that the reward will be huge. You plan for months on how to slip past security and steal it. You almost get caught on one hundred different occasions. You risk life and limb to steal it and, with luck on your side, you manage to pull it off. You return to your client and as a reward he gives you a granola bar. This is pretty much what the Titan Quests amount to. They're an incredibly difficult chain of quests with an incredibly worthless reward.

7. Selling Players Worthless, Overpriced Things: Eye of the North was the last major release for Guild Wars, before the developers switched over to working on Guild Wars 2. That was in 2007 and since then Arenanet has realized that they still need money, so they began using microtransactions as a way to earn some extra cash. So they began selling us useless things like costumes or makeovers at $10 a pop. They also started selling storage space at $10 for 20 slots of storage. One player did the math and found that it would actually be two-times cheaper to buy a completely new account to use as storage, than it would be to buy these extra slots. Yet people seem to like buying these things, so I guess the I am trumped by the free market.

6. Dinosaurs: These are easily the most annoying monsters in the whole of Guild Wars. They're difficult to kill, use annoying skills, and have massive overlapping patrols meaning that its not difficult to get twenty of them swarming you at once. Fun times!

5. The Factions Storyline: Factions is the second campaign, has an Chinese/Japanese theme, and is easily the one with the weakest storyline. It's far to short, rife with cliches, and only barely makes any sense. It's about this guy who was the bodyguard to the emperor, but who killed him because some creepy homeless lady told him to. Shortly after killing the emperor, he himself is killed, because its pretty difficult to get away with murdering royalty. For some reason he becomes on envoy in the afterlife, ferrying newly dead souls or something like that. Many years later he makes a zombie army and attempts to kill the current emperor, because obviously if he does that then he can regain his corporeal form. And it's up to the player to put a stop to all this retardation.

4. The Crystal Desert: Easily the most annoying area in the game. You can't walk two feet without 20 guys popping out of the ground to attack you. Some monsters will chase you halfway across the map, while others will walk right past and ignore you. Its hard to get anywhere what with all the monsters and places you think you can go, but actually can't. And to top it all off, it's a big, boring, ugly desert.

3. Grinding Titles: When Guild Wars first came out grind was kept to a minimum. There were none of the "kill X for Y number of items" style quests typical of most MMOs. But I guess they decided that some people liked that kind of thing so they introduced a number of achievements that are mind-numbingly boring and require absolutely no skill. My favourite is the Lucky/Unlucky title where you buy a bazillion tickets, stand on a ring, then go read a book for the next 72 hours. It's just as arbitrary and pointless as it sounds.

2. The Economy: Since there's no auction house or marketplace in Guild Wars, if you want to sell anything for more than what the merchant will give you, then you have to stand in town shouting, "WTS Voltaic Spear!" all day long until somebody makes an offer to your liking. I normally give up after 5 minutes.

1. Ursan Blessing: In all of Guild Wars history, nothing has been as game breaking as this one single skill. It's difficult to discuss what this skill did without describing the basic mechanics of the game. Suffice to say, it made the entire skill and profession system redundant. Not only did it provide a ridiculous amount of health and armor, but it was also capable of dealing out extreme amounts of damage. It was literally "The Easy Button." Everybody everywhere was using this skill, even if they hated it. If you didn't want to use it you had to either be a healer or be playing by yourself. The amount of debate on forums and wikis relating to this skill go on for pages and pages. Despite this it took Arenanet over a year to address the problem, one horrible, horrible year, and for that reason it is the #1 thing I don't like about Guild Wars.

On a completely unrelated note:

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