It's been well over a year since the Hall of Monuments was unveiled for Guild Wars 2, bringing with it a large and ongoing influx of new players. These are players who either tried Guild Wars 1 and it didn't stick for them, or players who never tried it in the first place but are here now to prepare for Guild Wars 2.
New players are great -- a bigger community is often a win for everyone involved. But this new playerbase isn't exactly what we've been used to. Follow along after the jump and let's take a look.
It's all about the points
OK, let's start by being brutally honest: The vast majority of these newer players are here to fill their Halls in anticipation of Guild Wars 2. Many of them likely would never have touched the game if it weren't for the promise of a head-start on GW2. This is not a bad thing; don't get me wrong. I personally think it was a brilliant strategy on ArenaNet's part to link the two games in this manner, and every player who joins, stays, and becomes a contributing member of the current community is a big win in my book.
However, it would be silly not to acknowledge why they're here in the first place. They want that GW2 loot, and playing GW is the way to get it. Therefore, they are coming in with their eyes on a specific prize. The Hall of Monuments is the thing; the game, world, and story are secondary. Not the other way around.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm as enthusiastic as anyone about participating in Underworld clears with my guild because I need that statue, and I diligently pick up Zaishen bounties and missions to min-max my progress on titles. It's such a great incentive for everyone to play together because we're all striving toward a common goal.
There's another side to all of this, however, and I don't view it as a positive thing. Those of us striving toward HoM points are very aware that the launch date -- whatever it may be -- is creeping closer by the day. We've got a lot to do and we want it done by launch day.
This means that there isn't necessarily time to stop and smell the red iris flowers. Latecomers who are heavily focused on HoM points don't necessarily have time to wander Pre-Searing for weeks, enjoying the warm morning breeze and gaining familiarity and affection for the citizens. I've mentioned this before, but when I played in the Charr starting area at PAX, the fight with Duke Barradin affected me strongly.
I didn't want to kill him. I didn't want to be a part of that group taunting him about what happened to his home. Barradin was part of that Pre-Searing world that I still love because I've spent a lot of time there. This isn't because I'm so empathetic or I feel things so deeply or whatnot; it's because I've had the luxury of years to get to know Tyria and those who live in it. It's also because the team that created this world told a great story.
Sure, we joke about Kormir stealing all our credit, and we wish loudly and often that we could knock Togo and Mhenlo unconscious and stuff them in an out-of-the-way corner so we can just finish the mission already, but it's still a world that we know and are a part of, virtually speaking.
When you come to an old, established game like this with a large goal and a deadline, there's not a lot of time for story and lore, and that's unfortunate, in my eyes. The Hall of Monuments isn't the only thing in GW1 that can give you a boost in GW2. Knowing that Duke Barradin isn't just a random evil ghost in a smelly crypt gives you a deeper appreciation for the story and what you're doing. Knowing the history behind the Sons of Svanir because you were a part of it makes it that much more interesting.
I've seen a growing trend in the Guild Wars community in the past months, and that's a heavy focus on titles and points at the expense of just taking your time and enjoying the game -- the AFK farm of Glint's Challenge, players beating their heads against infuriating skill caps or hard-mode missions and vanquishes until they actively dislike playing, and so on, all in the name of HoM points.
It would be easy to place all the blame squarely on ArenaNet and say that the devs forced us into this by setting up the HoM, but I've frankly never had the patience for that way of thinking. There are not words for how hard I rolled my eyes last year during the mass bannings. The howls from people insisting it was not fair because ArenaNet forced them to bot by making the titles too hard to get were laughable to me. Nobody forced anyone to do anything. If it's that awful, then stop playing it.
I'm not denying that some stuff is grindy. I still haven't maxed my Kurzick or Luxon titles, even on my main account, because good grief. But I don't blame ArenaNet for that. If I wanted it, I'd go grind it out. I don't want it badly enough, so I don't. The end.
Therefore, I can't really point a finger at the ArenaNet team and bellow, "You did this!" Any game is what you make it for yourself, and while that means a thousand different things to a thousand different people, I maintain that if you're not enjoying it, you're doing it wrong.
Which brings me full circle to my original thought: this trend of people grimly plowing through the game with HoM Tunnel Vision, not enjoying the journey. I believe there's time to sit back, find out why your character is doing these missions, enjoy the scenery, and have some fun playing this game.
And this, readers, is where I turn to you. Is this just the way the community needs to be at this point? Is it too late for latecomers to enjoy Tyria to the fullest? Are we running out of time to fill our Halls too rapidly? Is it really even that important to be invested in the current world to prepare for GW2?
Hit the comment button and let's talk it over!
Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at firstname.lastname@example.org.