Digital Salad: The Guild Wars 2 I Dream Of [Part 1]

My recent 3 part series on the broad topic of modern MMO economics has received more attention than I could have possibly hoped for, and that’s been great. Most of all it’s got people responding, talking about parts of the game that they might not even have realised were there. Debate is a great thing, so I’m glad to have got some going. To finish off that series I wanted to do a slightly special post in the same theme. It also comes as I pass a couple of landmarks for numbers of posts and views. So here is a celebration, taking a look at the Guild Wars 2 that I dream of.


This blog started off with Guild Wars 2, it was the main inspiration and the reason why I am the Digital Salad; named in honour of my loveable underdog Sylvari ranger in the game. The trouble is, nearly 6 months later now, I’ve gone off Guild Wars 2. I’ve hardly played on the game in past month or so; and not for lack of motivation. I really want to play it, I love the world of Tyria; I just have nothing to do anymore. I’ve done all I wanted, seen all the world, got all the items I wanted on all the characters I like the most.

Guild Wars 2 has run dry for me, and it seems I’m not the only one, with a flurry of prominent GW2 players and bloggers recently throwing in the towel on the game. In fact, Healing The Masses , who’s opinion I have always respected greatly on all matters GW2 even when we haven’t agreed, did so today.

So why has GW2 run dry for so many? Certainly a big part is the imminent release of many big guns in the MMO market, but then that shouldn’t worry Arena Net too much if they had succeeded in meeting all that they laudably aimed for at the outset back in 2012.

Sorry Digital Salad - I'll always remember you!
Sorry Digital Salad – I’ll always remember you!

With that in mind I want to get to the main purpose of this blog post, to talk about the Guild Wars 2 that I dream of. What I mean by that is what I wished was different; what, if changed, would keep me playing Guild Wars 2 for years. Coincidentally there’s 12 points to my dream, but I really don’t mean to sound like I’ve got a messiah complex. I couldn’t help but think of this when I said that; please forgive the Monty Python reference. That aside, I’ll try to keep each point as concise, and hopefully as interesting, as possible.

1) Player Trading

I don’t want to say too much about this one actually because I’ve covered it quite a bit in the Digital Economies series of posts. The key point is that GW2 lacks any sort of player to player trading. Everything must either be bought and sold through the Black Lion Trading Post or else very limited NPC merchants.

Introducing the ability to trade between players would be a great enabler for a more social community. Currently you can buy and sell forever without meeting or speaking to a single player, and while that’s great for many gamers – there needs to be the option to do so if needs be to inject some social back into the MMO.

2) NPC Merchants

NPC merchants exist for 2 reasons, selling “junk” items and buying gathering tools. You might also potentially buy salvaging kits from them, but that’s more of an individual choice. I want to see these merchants having a more active role. Merchants need to be an alternative to the Black Lion.

Currently, over 90% of items sell for more on the Black Lion Trading Post than they do to merchants. Merchants need to offer an alternative, for items under Exotic rarity, where they offer reasonable prices to sellers. Currently they are sidelined by their own prices, nobody sells to the very people who should be a great balancing force in the market. I want to see them taking more of a role, and taking the focus away from the Black Lion for items below Exotic.

Depressing Orr - does it always have to be this way?
Depressing Orr – does it always have to be this way?

3) Orr

That title sums it all up really. Orr is a bloody miserable place, and understandably not many players spend much time there. You might pop in to gather the littered nodes of Ancient Wood and Orichalcum, you might even occasionally take part in a World Event there. You’re never there for long though, and most players will take the first train out of there that they can.

I want to see Orr change. Its depressing as hell, yet its supposed to be the pinnacle of the game. It all comes to a head here, its the ‘end zone’ and supposed to be akin to finding the holy grail. Orr, as it stands, is just avoided, and I can’t blame anyone for that.

I understand the argument well, many have called on Orr to be ‘renovated’ now that Zhaitan is dead; and the developers respond, understandably, that that just isn’t possible because not all players have finished the story. Orr can’t be changed in its pure form, it would screw up the storyline. But why can’t they at least change the colour palate a little.

Some have suggested a work around in the form of two different Orrs, one for players who finish the story and has rebuilding going on and the current one stays for all others. Maybe that could work. Orr is so empty though that maybe it needs some drastic action such as reworking the story to make the place better.

4) Embrace The Mob

Some of the most fun I’ve had on Guild Wars 2 has been the parts where you fight against big mobs. There’s a lot of focus in the game on big bosses, you get them in the story as well as in world events. Not many bosses come with mobs though, which is a staple of many other MMO bosses.

When I think of my favourite world events though I think of Arah and the Melandru Temple, both of which heavily focus on attacking enemy mobs. They’re not particularly high leveled, but in a group they can pack more of a punch than one big mega boss. It feels good to take on a mob and come out fighting.

I think that’s what I like about World Versus World, or at least the concept, that a small group can take on a big group and win. There’s not enough of that in the PvE experience in GW2, where you take on huge groups of Risen as a small group and come out fighting. Its manic gameplay, but its fun, and something I’d love to see more of.

Zergs everywhere!
Zergs everywhere!

5) Tone Down The Zerg

Very much linked to number 4 this point. GW2 has a definite love affair with Zergs, huge groups of players swamping all opposition. You find zergs in World Versus World trampling all opposition, and you also find zergs in PvE crushing champions on farming cycles. Its quick and effective, it works great in the gameplay that Arena Net have created. Its just not fun though, and gets dull very fast.

Its a crucial part of ’embracing the mob’ – for really fun combat gameplay its best when you’re a small group fighting against a larger group. The odds are stacked against you, attacks are coming in from all directions. But you and your friends have got it sorted, you can work together as a well-oiled team to take all of them down. That’s far more fun than steamrollering over those opponents in a split second of stuttering lag-filled frames. Develop new events with enemy mobs, and stop supporting zerging so much.

Dead during the Jormag world event - an ice dragon as weak to fire as he is to ice
Dead during the Jormag world event – an ice dragon as weak to fire as he is to ice

6) Weakness

Something that seems to be missing from a lot of MMOs, and GW2 amongst these, is weaknesses. What I mean by that is, an Ice Shaman would likely be less happy being attacked by a fire attack and relatively unaffected by an ice attack.

I’m a child of the first pokemon era, it was all about which type was more effective against another. You would really struggle to get past certain points in the game without taking elemental weakness into account. First Gym battle is a water type expert, and you’ve chosen a fire starter – you sure as hell are gonna need an electric type! That makes sense to me, but in GW2 there isn’t any of that. It logically makes sense to have some system of weakness/effectivity.

There are potential problems with balancing, potentially making elementalists much more powerful. Of course, its balanced by other professions having condition attacks, so it wouldn’t just be the elementalist getting a boost; but they would be the most noticeable. The thing is, everybody plays as a beserker warrior or guardian, because that makes sense in the current game. There is a real lack of variety, and it hurts the game. Giving the alternatives to beserkers a boost wouldn’t go amiss as far as balancing goes.

Break Time!

This post has become pretty long now, so I’m going to break it there, in the middle of the 12 points. Part 2 will be posted as soon as possible, looking at the next 6 points. Let me know what you think of the Guild Wars 2 that I dream of in the mean time; do you think it would be a better game?


Digital Salad –


9 thoughts on “Digital Salad: The Guild Wars 2 I Dream Of [Part 1]

  1. C. T. Murphy January 20, 2014 / 4:39 am

    I can see it.

    My biggest issue was I found the classes a bit lacking. It was just so easy to respec how I did things as I was leveling, that I was changing specs every couple of levels just to make the game feel fresh enough to continue on. It just never game together as a decent game for me at all.

    • Digital Salad January 21, 2014 / 10:01 pm

      Glad you liked the post! I’m working on part 2, but I’ve started a new job this week – so progress is sporadic. I’ll get it out asap though, and hopefully you’ll like my suggestions in there as well.

      I definitely agree with you there. I think the classes really don’t feel special enough, which is best shown by how most players will dabble in several classes, and many will play as at least one of every class. A good MMO will usually make you say ‘I’m a cleric!’ or ‘I’m a mesmer!’. There’s certain roles that you click with, that others can’t necessarily get on with, and that is a great thing. GW2 really lacks it and I do think it suffers for it, you’re right.

      • C. T. Murphy January 21, 2014 / 10:25 pm

        Yeah, the customization is fairly shallow, the unique classes are undeveloped, and the limited ability bar plus constant weapon switching undercuts depth rather than add to it.

        I do look forward to part 2! I’d also be interested in your and CakeBoxFox’s shared opinion and how your decisions to walk away were mutual/affected one another.

        If you two need any more ideas, at least …

      • Digital Salad January 21, 2014 / 10:36 pm

        I think we might well do a joint post, good idea! We’ll have a chat and see what we can come up with as far as getting our ideas straight and blog-able 🙂

        Thanks for the idea Murf!

  2. j3w3l January 20, 2014 / 8:37 am

    Oh the Zerg… it’s everywhere and it’s multiplying. It really does kill a lot of my enjoyment for events as they barely scale appropriately and then your dealing with the insane lag. It’s just no fun at all.

    In WvW it’s just as bad as it is nigh impossible to take on a larger and competent group. Our guild could manage a certain amount.. even double our numbers at times but then I believe that was mostly against the untrained. with the ressing, the buffing, and the silly aoe cap it just made zerging too easy. Not to mention the speed with which you can capture points.

    I;ve written about Orr before as it’s sad that they think they are so stuck with such a depressing zone. It is also the final part of the personal story and as such the roadblock to future change.

    I think there is a way around though. My idea was to just make that whole personal story journey as some sort of thing within the mists. Reliving past heroes accomplishments within Tyria and freeing us from the blight of the Elder Dragons. It’s perfect, you would only need minimal changes, you could still have it accessed from the points around Tyria with the aid of some type of device and then your free to change whatever you live….especially Orr.

    If they began changing Orr, healing the taint and bringing back it’s former glory I could guarantee I would log back on. Well, that and permanently erasing all the centaurs

    My main complaint since release is that the changes to the world are just too static. The living story changes and the events themselves. They are too contained and lack meaningful consequences. I wanted to see whole zones change, towns and camps being wiped out… not just vacated because the players had failed to stop them. Then actually growth as players build it back… not a woosh type animation but actually involvement like doing quests for them and even crafting replacement items.

    Everything is just too… within it’s own bubble of change. A distinct area where it can’t stray from

    • Digital Salad January 21, 2014 / 10:05 pm

      Glad you liked the post! I’m working on part 2, but as I said to Murf above, I’ve started a new job this week – so progress is sporadic. It’ll be posted asap though, and hopefully you’ll like that as well.

      I like your ideas for Orr. I’ve seen so many great ideas of how to solve Orr, because it really does need it, but the developers seem happy to just sit there and say they can’t do anything about it. It could be great if they really wanted to make it an awesome place for the end-game, its a shame that they don’t seem committed to doing so.

      I’m hoping to kind of mention what you say about the changes being too static in Part 2 and it’ll mention WvW much more; so definitely stay tuned!

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