August 23, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Beta Impressions: Looting the Loot

     There is always a time in every new MMO player's life where you are just dead broke. If you start out on a new MMO, you start out with zero items, zero gold and zero gear. This is actually a very interesting part in every budding players game life since this is usually the point where you think how you can get the wealth that you were so accustomed to in your other games. Guild Wars 2 is no different. To be an successful in the game overall, you have to have a certain level of game wealth to fund your anything from crafting to collecting mini pets. In this edition of my beta impressions, I'll be talking around this topic. Farming and Trade.

     For those not very familiar with these concepts, there is a basic two-step process to get rich in MMO's. The first part is farming. This is where you go out to explorable areas of the world looking for items of value. This can be obtained in a variety of ways. Either killing monsters and looting their bodies or looking for resource nodes that usually give items useful for crafting. The second part of the processes is trading. While you normally get a small amount of game currency just by killing monsters, selling the items that you get farming to other players will be where most of your income will come from. This can be done either by initiating a trade, or using in-game systems such as auction houses or market places.

     Having said all this, Guild Wars 2 implements both these concepts be it in its own unique way.

     First let's talk about farming. While killing monsters is generally similar across games, getting the loot is handled quite differently. Early Korean MMO's simply drop the items on the floor for anyone to pickup while some of the more recent games, be it western or eastern, employ a system where a monster you killed only gives the rewards to you and no one else. In Guild Wars 2, neither of these are the case. In essence, any monster that you helped (yes, that's right, helped) to kill gives you some loot. Let's say I am attacking a spider. Mid-fight, if someone joins in my fight with the spider, that person also gets the experience and loot from the spider. Note though that other people won't be getting your loot, but each person gets his or her own version of the loot for a particular monster. This change has a lot of implications in terms of the community. People will no longer feel threatened or annoyed that people are "kill stealing" their mob because it was designed in a way that allows people to group together towards a certain goal. And it doesn't stop there. This system extends to resource nodes you find around the world.

My node!
     In every game with a crafting system, there are always resources that scattered across the world for players to harvest. And the common system used is the "first come only person served" system. When a person reaches a resource node before you and starts harvesting said node, the node will despawn once the player has finished harvesting. This means that there are situations where people race toward a certain node in hopes of being able to gather the precious material within it. In Guild Wars 2, this is, again, no longer the case. Each person get's to tap the node once. This means, if Player A gets to the node and starts harvesting. Once he is done, the node despawns only for him. Player B can then go to the same node and get his turn to harvest the materials within it.

     These ways at handling monster loot and resource nodes are a refreshing change of pace compared to other games that I was accustomed with. During my initial time in the beta, whenever I saw a resource node, my brain goes into hyper drive checking if I can get to it first. I sweep the area to see if I am the only one there and feel quite good and relieved once I get said node. Until I start going into areas with a lot more people in them. It made me really appreciate the system since I can actually take my time before harvesting. The stress of being there first is gone and I can finish whatever I am doing at the moment.

     This system, along with the other points I discussed in the previous beta impressions articles, makes it really clear that Arena Net has a very solid focus in the community. PVE (Player vs Environment) no longer feels as competitive but is now very much cooperative. People no longer get rewarded by being the first ones to tap a monster or node but by participating in the kill or event. I can't say for certain if this will actually make the community exhibit more teamwork than other games but at the very least, people no longer feel threatened by the presence of other people and I think that is a good first step.

     It seems I have focused more on the looting aspect in this article but it is such an important change to the community that it seems apt to talk about it. In my next article, I'll be talking more about the second part of the process which is trading. Check back soon!

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