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End Game Content

May 11, 2012

This time around I’m discussing something that I was a huge fan of when I played World of Warcraft: end-game content and raiding. It’s something a lot of people work towards to, while a lot of other people dismiss. Another breaking point in an MMO, it seems the discussion is taking epic proportions with Guild Wars 2.

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What is end-game content anyway? The most common answer is “instanced dungeons you experience at maximum level, that requires some degree of equipment quality and proper team composition”. There are many other definitions or complements to this definition (such as Faction, Achivement and Profession grinding, among others), but I feel this is what most people think of when they hear/read end-game content, so I’ll discard those alternatives in this discussion (I’m also excluding PvP for now, that’s worthy of a whole post).

How has this been achieved in other games? Let’s take a look at WoW. When you get to maximum level you’re objective stops being leveling up and is now (among other things) getting better equipment for your character. Most common route is to do 5-man dungeons so you can get a decent minimum level in order to advance to harder 5-mans or start raiding. It was like this in 2006 and I would bet it hasn’t changed significantly since then.

Now, lets look at Guild Wars 2 and see what can we expect from it. I wasn’t able to find any Official post or article or news bit about this (although I’m 99% sure I did see it somewhere, sometime…), but I’ve read it from a lot of sources and it seems to be the general acceptance: there are no raids in Guild Wars 2. 

This is that sentence that has generated so many heated arguments around the Interwebs. Now, I didn’t say there is no “end-game content” I just said there are no “raids“, as in there are no dungeons designed for 10-40 players size groups, which, to my knowledge, aren’t even possible to form. Even so, this has put a lot of people off, people that are used to the WoW system. For a long while people will be comparing, as they have been, any MMORPG title to WoW. But Guild Wars 2 isn’t like any other MMORPG. And yes, Guild Wars 2 will have a lot of end-game content. First there’s the 5-player dungeons, each with 4+ different paths and events, making it 4 different dungeons to be honest. Then there’s the giant boss encounters throughout the game. And this is where ArenaNet’s Sidekick system will make a stand regarding end-game: since you get sidekicked down to match the recommended level range for the zone you’re in, any boss encounter made for lower level zones (like the Shadow Behemoth in Queensdale, The Shatterer from GamesCom 2010 or Tequatl the Sunless in a more recent event) will still be hard and fun for you. This is maybe a weird concept to grasp: end-game content at early- and mid-game.

The Shatterer

Tequatl the Sunless

But having raid encounters anyway wouldn’t hurt right? I have to say it’s something I think I will miss as well. Raids feel epic and that’s something really important in fantasy games, MMO or not. Fighting giant evil monsters alongside 30 or 40 other players is cool, there’s no escaping that. But there’s another thing that I feel makes raids (as we know them at least) not viable in Guild Wars 2 , and that is the removal of the “holy trinity”. Not having the “normal” damage soakers (Tanks) coupled with the healing bots completely turns raiding upside down. I’m not saying it’s not possible, hell I’m sure ArenaNet could make it work, but it breaks a design orientation that ArenaNet follows (read below). Would I love to see it in Guild Wars 2? Yeah definitely. Can I live without it? Sure I can.

I think the bottom line is understanding how ArenaNet is building this game. It will not be another WoW clone, doing the same things with different names and characters, it’s going to be a whole different game, I dare saying a whole different genre. This is a game focused on the social side of MMORPG, on enjoying a fun multiplayer game with your friends. Eric Flannum said in an interview some time ago that levels in Guild Wars 2 are more progress markers than power markers. It might be hard getting used to this idea if you just started following this game, but in time I’m sure you will stop comparing GW2 to WoW (or most other MMO’s really) and realize it’s like comparing apples to cars. To quote Eric Flannum, “we don’t want people to feel like the game only starts when you reach max level“. That is why we get to fight the Shadow Behemoth at level 15 out in an open area. That idea summarizes this post very well I believe.

What do you think? Will Guild Wars 2 be able to keep players interested without having raids? Do you think we’ll see high level players travel to lower level areas to specifically fight bosses like Tequatl and the Shatterer? Post your thoughts below :D

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10 Comments
  1. I don’t know, I’m very conflicted about this. I understand well what ArenaNet is trying to accomplish with this design. I just don’t know if “repeatable content” will be enough for level cap players.

    Raiding can be tiresome, hard to manage and incredibly frustrating, but it’s also very rewarding when you manage to achieve something extraordinary with a large group of people after a long time trying. But more importantly, it’s something to do while looking forward on the game, not backwards. The way Anet is representing their content, if you took your time to do everything you could of PvE while leveling, your only option is doing it all again, because there won’t be anything else there. I’m not entirely sure I like that idea.

    As you mentioned, there’s also PvP, but that’s an entirely different discussion, and doesn’t really help much those PvE-oriented players. As of right now, I’m cautiously optimistic that Anet really found a solution to this problem. I mean, they have got so many things right so far, they wouldn’t just screw this up… would they?

    • Yes that is exactly how I feel too.. And yep, I hope they don’t screw it up.. I get the impression they are catering too much the so called “casual” community. I have no problem in making content more accessible or whatever, but they need to make sure players still want to play after they have “finished” the game.
      They are trying to steal players from WoW (mainly) right? So even if they want something new and something fresh, I believe there are aspects they must keep or enhance in order to accomplish that goal.

  2. I don’t care about the question, i just won’t comment!.. oh wait..
    Anyway, this is a system i was dreaming about. I was bored out of my head with raiding, and i think this system is way better. Thanks for sharing, can’t wait for this game :)

  3. I think you answered your own question in this post honestly.

    “Fighting giant evil monsters alongside 30 or 40 other players is cool, there’s no escaping that.”

    Do you have to be in a designated raid to do that? During the BWE I was able to participate in 3-4 of these kind of fights/events, it just wasn’t with an organized group, it was with people who were near the event.

    I think it’s a shift from a Linear path of raiding (clear trash, kill boss 1, clear trash, kill boss 2, clear trash, kill boss 3…etc.), to a more open style of *events* rather than raiding. I think it’s just going to be hard for people to accept a different mental and game model than what has been the MMO standard for so long.

    • Yes I think that sort of answers it. But then again, it’s not the same as going in to an instanced dungeon and killing a boss without help from outsiders and claim the glory to you and your group. There’s other aspects, even social aspects, to raiding that might be lost with Guild Wars 2’s system. And there’s the issue that some players might have with “having” to go back to lower level zones, some might see it as going backwards (as Kemwer stated). But then again, Guild Wars 2 does try to change people’s minds regarding MMORPGs, it doesn’t have to be like we’re used to being, it CAN be different. Let’s see how it holds up, I’m really looking forward to it :)

      • To me the main issue is that, because of its lack of an end game, playing GW2 “properly” means changing your philosophy about how to level. If there’s nothing waiting for you at the end line, that’s a great reason to just take your time to smell the flowers, appreciate every part of the game before you move further up.

        That means that I’ll probably explore every single nook and cranny of an area before leaving for the next one. I’ll complete every renown heart, get every skill point, find every area of interest and jumping puzzle, and explore every detail that looks explorable (yes, I walked up the pipeline near Beetletun, on the first human area. There was nothing there but mobs btw).

        By consequence, I’ll probably see every dungeon on the game before moving over, so when I finally get to level cap, what will there be to do? Just doing it all again.

        I totally get those that say they have been burned out by raiding, because I did so too. But I still love the *idea* of raiding, because achieving something amazing with a group you put together for that specific purpose is a feeling without equal.

      • It will take a lot of effort, at least for me, to really get it inside my head that rushing to max level is not the way to play Guild Wars 2. Maybe with a couple more Beta Weekend Events I’ll get it :D

  4. Yeah, I agree :) I burned out on raiding and have be doing solely pvp since MC in WoW, so I’m looking forward to actually enjoying pve again. I enjoyed the bit I tried in the first BWE, so I have high hopes. And if it crashes, I’ll just spend more time in WvW :)

  5. I never was a raider. I gained my MMO footing in WAR’s RvR. So, the WvW will keep me occupied. But I’m still looking forward to see its end-game content for PvE though.

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