Will I Look to the Horizon and See a New Dawn

Taugrim made a post about horizontal scaling in Guild Wars 2 via content that can get replayed "forever" in the case of WvW and structured PvP. The post got me thinking about GW2′s progression and how to really define it.

Taking into consideration what I do know about the game via reading and playing one beta weekend, Guild Wars 2 seems to be a game with both horizontal and vertical elements.

The more traditional and vertical progression is still alive and well in GW2 in the form of character levels, unlockable "traits" that you need to earn skill points to purchase, gear with stats and level ranges, and level ranges on the PvE zone content and dungeons.

The horizontal progression comes in with the automatic downscaling of player level so you can play in lower level zones. This essentially widens the areas you can PvE in rather than having to make a choice along the way. Technically, you could quest in a particular zone over and over and still progress in the game, but how long would a person conceivably do so? At some point, players will tire of the content and a game expansion would have to be released to bring the PvE’er back. Even with dynamic events in the PvE zones, the events are not infinite and will eventually be experienced by all.

As Taugrim points out, there is more opportunity for horizontal scaling in the PvP portions of the game. All players in WvW are bolstered to level 80, but there are still some vertical elements here as you still need to unlock your traits. You can earn those traits in the Mists and gain experience just like you would through PvE, but there is still a disadvantage for those who aren’t "true" level 80s. Aside from that, you could play in this area indefinitely and have different player-made experiences, and with multiple profession types.

Structured PvP (or what would be the equivalent of battlegrounds or arenas) takes away the disadvantages by giving everyone access to the same gear and traits upon joining. As far as I can tell, the only real progression in structured PvP is to gain Glory. You use Glory to purchase different gear skins, but not more powerful gear, therefore making it purely a bragging right.

This horizontal scaling seems to go hand-in-hand with player generated content like PvP. It leaves me with the question of what will happen to players who really don’t PvP at all? With no raiding to fall back on, they may leave in droves once they’ve experienced the PvE content with as many professions as they care to create. That would not bode well for life out in the lands of Tyria. Our hope rests with Arenanet seeing the trend and counteracting it, if indeed it becomes a problem at all.

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4 comments on “Will I Look to the Horizon and See a New Dawn

  1. bhagpuss says:

    “Technically, you could quest in a particular zone over and over and still progress in the game, but how long would a person conceivably do so?”

    As soon as I realized this was possible my first thought was “someone’s going to do all 80 levels in the very first zone, just to prove they can”.

    On the issue of whether people will play the same PvE content indefinitely, presumably that won’t be any more of an issue in GW2 than in any other MMO. Isn’t ArenaNet’s commercial model partly based on selling boxes? They did four expansions to Guild Wars and if they hadn’t been developing GW2 they could well have done more. They also added a stream of free PvE content.

    If GW2′s a big success I’d expect to be buying an expansion every 18-24 months as a bare minimum. Every year would be better.

  2. Pai says:

    I admit that I wonder about this, as well (longevity for PvE), primarily because I am a PvE-er myself. I am also a collector of fluff and various other silly things in MMOs, so usually when I run out of ‘real content’ I start going after obscure drops or collecting vanity armor sets, pets, or titles. I just hope GW2 has enough of that sort of thing to hold folks like me over between content additions, though I’m assuming ANet is aware that due to their minimal-grind gameplay much of their playerbase will consume content quickly and therefore come and go more fluidly than a sub game’s.

    • Very true, things like crafting and getting all the dye colors are definitely time extenders. I think there are some great and unique professions as well, so if the content does not get stale altoholics would be happy for a long while.

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