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Well, ArenaNet certainly didn't let 2011 go out on a quiet note. The team had a few last tricks up its sleeve before closing down shop until the new year. We chatted with Eric Flannum about the Guild Wars 2 Mesmer, and the newest ArenaNet blog post contained some exciting talk of combat, achievements, and some tweaking to the Thief class.

I loved hearing about the updates to the Thief and to combat because the fact that the developers are talking about fine-tuning says good things to me about the development process. However, it was the talk of achievements that really caught my attention because it's such a sweeping, game-wide system. Follow along after the jump and let's take a closer look!

Achievements

I'm pretty excited about the introduction of achievements for several reasons, and my mind can't stop speculating like crazy on it. I've got a few reservations too, so let's go ahead and get those out of the way. Long-term achievements are my biggest concern, in large part because I think they have the potential to drive completionists crazy. Eric mentioned the Centaur Slayer achievement, "which tracks how many centaurs you've killed, as well as achievements specific to each of the different story arcs."

It tracks how many you've killed? This isn't vanquishing; there aren't instances. The number of centaurs you could kill is literally infinite. Will you get an achievement for killing a million? This worries me because there's a certain mindset needed to really enjoy an open-ended goal like that. On one hand, you could view it as a little bonus to your regular play: Every so often you get a little gold and XP bonus and all is well. However, there will be people who view it as an unpleasant endless grind with no end in sight. Will there be an ultimate cap -- maybe the title's finished once you kill a thousand or so?

That said, I trust ArenaNet to manage it better than that, so it's not a huge worry. The developers have talked a lot in the past year or so about systems that are founded in both Guild Wars and other MMOs that they want to use but improve upon. Over-the-top grind and goals that feel impossible to achieve are a few of those things, so I've got hope that however long-term achievements shake out, it'll be something that works for the vast majority of the playerbase. I do like the idea of ongoing title tracks that give long-term players a little something extra.

The daily and monthly achievements are familiar; we all know about dailies, and I like the inclusion of the various achievement track "sizes" that accommodate the full gamut of players from super casual to hardcore. Even if you are too busy to play every single day, there's still an achievement set that fits you. Finally, nobody's left out in the cold. There are achievements for PvP, PvE, and even non-combat things like trading. (I'll bet money that there are crafting achievements. Yay!) I like it.

Another aspect of all this really intrigued me: "As your achievement points accumulate, they are reflected in your account's achievement score. This score is easily viewable in both the friends and guild panels and is an easy way for you to compare your overall level of achievement progress with your friends and guild mates."

First of all, that's going to be really handy when you're looking for someone to play with. Flip through your friends list and find someone who's making similar progress on the Skrittkicker achievement track as you so that you can pair up and head out to work on it together for a bit. Of course you're going to have the other side of that in dorks who use the information in their guild panel to crow about how much faster they're progressing than anyone else, but hey, welcome to the internet. I am pre-emptively choosing to ignore those people and focus on how great this setup is for encouraging group play.

That quote gave me pause on one more thing: the friend and guild panels. Being able to view these achievements for each individual speaks to pretty extensive panels to me, and I like that. I assume there won't be only three or four achievement tracks in the entire game, so the panel will need more room to fit them. Of course, we already knew that the friends list was going to be a lot more extensive that what we currently have, but more information on just how much more extensive makes me a happy fan.

Finally, titles and achievement points. I've got a lot of speculation about these two things happening in my head, so I'll try to rein it in a little bit. The titles are up in the air for me. In Guild Wars 1 we have a lot of titles that are rewards in and of themselves, but we have a respectable number that give various buffs to various aspects of your gameplay. Will there be a mix like that in GW2? Will they all offer bonuses or will they all be for show? I'm really eager to find out more about this. The HoM is another point of curiosity. Will we be able to add bonuses to our Hall of Monuments in GW2? We know the HoM will be there, but will it be just a static resource for bringing over the perks from GW1 titles, or can we keep improving it?

The concept of achievement points get the speculation wheels spinning for me. Are they like skill points, useful for a while then just piling up endlessly?

Again, I trust ArenaNet to manage better than that, but if these points can be used to acquire anything in game, it's going to take a masterful balancing act to hit the right note of available items or perks, acquisition of points, and desirability to keep as many players happy as possible. I'll be watching for more news on all of this with great interest.

For now, I'm content to speculate patiently and wait to see what arrives in '12. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and I'll see you in the new year!

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 rubi@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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