The 11 Things I Like Least About Guild Wars 2

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Matt Peckham

Guild Wars 2 forces you to hunt for bad things to say about it. I mean it — you really have to try. And since I’d rather work a little than glide down another compliment slide, it’s probably time for a gripe post.

They’re minor gripes, and probably a few you’d even characterize as unfair, but games as fine as Guild Wars 2 invite niggling criticism, if only because they remind us how much we’ve outgrown conventional MMOs.

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I wish I could stay in overflow without pop-ups. Guild Wars 2’s overflow servers let everyone play immediately, no waiting in line. It’s a wonderful pressure-release valve that gets everyone in pronto, no waiting, and when you’ve cleared the queue, all you need do to load into the main server is click “yes” when prompted.

Except that prompt pops up, then pops up again, often with terrible timing, say you’re playing a dynamic world event or an instance. You’ll usually want to stick around to finish what you started, since overflow and primary server events aren’t synced. And suddenly there’s this dialogue box popping up every couple minutes, reminding you the queue is clear. It’s a big box. It takes up a lot of screen space. And the last thing you want, in the middle of a tough battle, is to have to keep telling it to go away.

An option to stay in overflow longer, maybe something like Windows’ update install/reboot postponement options (10 minutes, one hour, four hours, etc.) would help here. I don’t want to create an overflow-on-the-overflow-servers problem, so I’m not asking for “indefinitely,” I just want a sensible way to tell the game to stop lousing up the user interface at crucial moments.

Addendum: I’d also like to see an option to stay on the main server once you’ve cleared the queue. Currently, you pop back into overflow if you teleport around or enter/exit an instance. It’d be nice if the game could somehow track who’d cleared overflow and held their spot until they actually logged out of the game.

It’s a shame you can’t work crafting stations from your bank inventory. If you want to craft, you have to have all your ingredients on your person. That makes sense using real world logic, but this isn’t the real world, and you can access your bank account from any crafting station, including the “collections” tab that stores all your crafting loot. Why can’t the crafting tables tap your banked collection? Having to transfer this stuff just seems punitive, and for no sensible game-related reason.

If a combat-related world event starts without you, the story gets lost in the muddle. Guild Wars 2‘s lore isn’t its strong point, so I’m not wringing my hands when I miss these bits of narrative coloring, but half the time when I stumble into a world event, I have no idea what’s going on. “Help this guy fend off a bunch of undead!” or “Escort that pack of Dolyaks from this place to that one” or “Keep the hordes of centaurs out of our camp.”

Why? Who knows. People show up like firefighters rushing to the scene, working to fill a yellow bar (or deplete it), win the event, collect their winnings, then scatter. Why were the undead attacking? What were the Dolyaks carrying? What did the centaurs want? You can find out if you hang around and wait for the event to re-spawn, but…it’s an MMO, and who wants to do that? I really don’t want a quest log, but an event catalog that keeps track of what you’ve done, that explains the setup, might be nice.

Giant freaky-looking birds drop chainmail shirts. And wolves drop leather leggings. And sharks drop shortbows. (And so forth.) I know, who cares, it’s an MMO, yada yada. But Guild Wars 2 distinguishes itself from other MMOs in so many wonderful ways that it’s a shame the random loot dispersion system couldn’t have a less conventionally bizarre ecology. Creatures dropping stuff they have no business carrying is a roleplaying cliché. I suppose changing it would entail overhauling the entire item system so you’re not throwing off distribution types and rates, so I wouldn’t stand on this quibble — put it on the list of to-dos for Guild Wars 3?

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Some of the work isn’t very dignified, and it’s all inherently itinerant. In Guild Wars 2, you’re essentially a vagrant, dropping by farms to shovel up weeds, drop grub repellant on goo-spitting bugs, set traps, remove traps, smash supplies, herd cattle, haul kegs and so forth. You’re also dependably ineffective, momentarily rectifying a problem, only for it to reappear, moments if not seconds later. I’ve read complaints about the logic-snapping, immersion-killing downsides of certain story-related moral choices (just a few — not all), but the area and dynamic world event system has that beat, in terms of making you aware you’re just playing a game, by a long shot.

That’s by design, of course — done to accommodate player churn — but it warrants mention since games like this bend over backwards to immerse you in other ways. Would it be possible to have a dynamic PvE world or area event system where the consequences for the world last longer? Where weeds aren’t growing back 10 seconds after you’ve plucked them? Where the bad guys can actually capture an area and hold it for more than a few minutes at a time?

Why can’t I see my queue time for World vs. World? Maybe there’s a reason for this, and I haven’t actually played World vs. World because I’m always in queue, and — fussy five-week-old sitting in a bouncy seat beside me — wind up stepping away before the game lets me in. That said, I’ve been in queue for multi-hour stretches, and all the game gives me is that little hourglass up top in the menu bar on the WvW icon. I don’t need an actual ETA or anything, but a “where am I in queue” readout, say X out of X players, would be helpful.

Is it possible to see your daily timeframe cycle? I can’t find a way to. I’d like to know exactly when my dailies — the daily activities you can do to accrue extra achievement points — reset.

Skill challenges range from riveting to so-so to “That’s it? Really?” I love the skill challenges when they involve an actual challenge, like fighting “Champion Queen of the Spiders Who Hates You” or something. But when they’re just “commune with this place of power,” where you stand still for a few seconds and gobble some experience points, what’s the point? I’m getting better at meditating? The game already offers “because you made it here” XP. Skill points give you actual skill points that unlock special abilities — they should at least make you perspire a little.

We need a better interaction system than “F.” If you’ve just fought in a major scrum, in a populous area with lots of NPCs, chances are you’re accidentally triggering conversations when all you meant to do was loot. Putting “talk,” “use,” “loot,” etc. on the same button (“Interact”) has upsides and downsides in an MMO, where everything clips and a zillion things can occupy the same space. Maybe the upsides outweigh the downsides — I haven’t decided yet — but there has to be a better way to do this.

Can we get a player achievement comparison option? It’s one thing to see you’ve accrued 300 achievement points while your friend has 276 or 324 or whatever, but it’d be really nice to know where those achievements point are allocated. Why are we both the same level, but he has 100 more APs than me? Because he’s up on crafting? Better about dailies? Slayed more harpies or drakes or spiders? Cleared more maps? It’d be cool to know some of that stuff, to help you play the achievement hunt game more effectively.

The game has close-quarters camera problems. I don’t just mean “give us a first-person view option.” That too, so we can better appreciate the lovely visuals, but the camera bugs out sometimes when you’re in close quarters. I know: easier complained about than solved, but whatever the challenges, it’s no fun battling creatures that cast movement slowing or stopping spells in close confines, where the camera often winds up inside your body (or theirs), destroying your ability to aim as they pummel away.

There you go, off the top of my head and not counting bugs. It’s not because the latter haven’t affected me, but I’m more likely to hear about bugs or glitches in map chat or read about them on Reddit. Something glitched on the Trading Post last night, for instance, where I bought something and the transaction actually happened but didn’t register (that is, my money depleted but I didn’t get the “you bought something” confirmation). Since I was paying attention, no harm, no foul. It’s minor stuff like that, which hasn’t been a bother.

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