Another Guild Wars Post?

It was been nearly five years to the day since I made a post about Guild Wars 2, back when it released in 2012.  Reading this post got me thinking about how much the game has changed, and how much I have changed, too.  Aside from my writing becoming slightly less terrible from five years ago, my opinion of the game remains essentially unchanged.  If anything, it may have improved a bit.  My gaming preferences have been the thing that I think have changed the most over the course of half a decade, and I've grown more fond of games with a deep sense of progression that doesn't feel superfluous.  This is why I ended up adoring Stardew Valley.  This is also one of the reasons why I drifted away from World of Warcraft.  In GW2, the progression systems are intricately tied into the game itself.  The game awards you with a chest of goodies each time you reach a milestone of achievement points.  This happens about every 500 points that you earn.  Additionally, some achievements have mastery points tied to them, which are necessary to unlock mastery skills.  Sure, some WoW achievements give you a reward.  You might get a mount for completing a meta achievement that contains 10-20 different achievements, all of which require you to play for dozens of hours in high-level group content.  Most achievements, however, do nothing else except increase your total achievement points total, and that total means nothing at all.  This isn't the case in GW2, as every achievement you earn is progress towards a reward, or is rewarding by itself.

I don't want this post to turn into a WoW bashing rant, though.  My reasons for straying away from that game are many, and complex.

The point here is that the progression systems in GW2 have been improved over the course of the game's life, and it's exactly the kind of thing that I enjoy in a game.  It's a sense of personal accomplishment.  Sure, grouping up with people to achieve something really difficult is great and all, and I've given that a try.  Perhaps all the years I spent in the late 1990s and early 2000s playing single-player games have made me a slave to the solo experience.  Or perhaps I just don't like people.  Either way, with time such a valued commodity in adult life, I've started to prefer these sorts of games, and I've been getting increasingly picky about them.  Let's examine an open-world game such as Far Cry 4, or Watch Dogs 2, or Grand Theft Auto 5.  These games are littered with hundreds of items, secret collectibles, or optional challenges that beef up the amount of game to play.  They all suffer from the same problem as WoW's achievements.  They feel pointless outside the small pleasure of finding them.  They effect the main part of the game not at all, except to maybe give you a few extra of whatever in-game currency the game happens to utilize.  Stardew Valley is probably the best example I have of collections done right.  They are tied directly into the progression of the game, and feel rewarding as fuck.  GW2 does something similar, but it feels more organic.  You can stumble upon a jumping puzzle in the game, for example, and upon reaching the top you will find something, either an achievement, a chest of goodies, or a mastery point.

I really hope that more games start to evolve towards this sort of system.  For example, it would be fantastic if the collectibles and the secrets in Assassin's Creed: Origins would actually contribute to the experience in a meaningful way.  These can be entirely cosmetic.  Hey, you know what would be cool?  If doing this optional content got you different skins for your character or weapons.  You know, the sort of things that, these days, are usually sold as micro-transactions.

Oh dear, I've gone too far, haven't I?

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