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Guild Wars 2 Endgame: You Actually Get to Eat the Carrot

by Darkademic in Gaming   55 comments


Something which has been debated and discussed extensively within the Guild Wars 2 community is the issue of the so-called "endgame". Anyone who has played an MMO will more than likely be familiar with the term, which basically means content which exists for players who have reached the level cap.

In this article I will discuss the nature of the endgame in existing MMOs, the approximately equivalent features present in Guild Wars 2, and the concerns that have been raised about the radically different approach Guild Wars 2 is taking. I will not be covering PvP features here (I intend to do so separately at some point in the future).

The Endgame Model of Most Other MMOs (Raids)

In most MMOs (World of Warcraft being the most obvious example), reaching the level cap is accompanied by a significant shift in both the content available and the rewards offered. Prior to the level cap, quests and 5-man dungeons are the most common PvE activities, rewarding the player with enough XP for a reasonably fast rate of levelling, enough currency for any necessary expenses, and gear appropriate to their current level. Upon reaching the level cap, these activities become obsolete almost immediately: XP is no longer an issue, the currency rewards become either insufficient or unnecessary, and the gear rewards no longer provide improved stats.

This is where raiding comes in. Raiding is the focus of the PvE endgame in most contemporary MMOs, and it involves challenging, instanced content designed for groups of more than five players, usually in the form of scripted boss fights and requiring a significant amount of preparation and teamwork to be beaten. The in-game rewards come in the form of better gear (replacing XP), and to a lesser extent currency, crafting materials and achievements.

As I see it, the most crucial difference between raids and all of the preceding content is not the increased difficulty of the content, or the increased number of players required, or the replacement of levels with gear as the primary gauge of progression; it is the introduction of repetition.

Levelling is like going up a hill. The slope is gentle at first, and then gradually it gets steeper, each step requiring more effort than the last. Still, there's plenty of interesting scenery as you ascend. Raiding is the equivalent of reaching the top of the hill and being put onto a treadmill. Whereas you never need to repeat content while levelling, raiding requires you to repeat the same content many times in order to squeeze out all of the possible rewards from it. Then, in the case of World of Warcraft, when you've finally acquired all the rewards from a particular treadmill, your only option is to get back on the same treadmill with the speed cranked up (heroic mode)—at least until the next tier of treadmills is released.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, I don't believe raiding is necessarily bad (in and of itself); it can be a lot of fun and often features challenging and entertaining encounters. However, it is commonly accompanied by other elements which make it repetitive and far from ideal.

I also don't believe that the existence of raiding is the product of an evil conspiracy to trick people into paying the subscription fee every month. While having a subscription fee does mean that there is an additional incentive for developers to keep players playing for as long as possible, a game's longevity is desirable even without said subscription fee (for example, to encourage the purchase of expansions or because it will reflect positively on the developer's reputation), so the root cause must be found elsewhere.

I would argue that the raiding model (in its widely used "treadmill + carrot-on-a-stick" form) is primarily and inescapably the result of two key factors. Firstly, developers are unable to produce new, high-quality content fast enough to keep up with the speed at which players complete it. Secondly, characters are constantly increasing in power, which sooner or later renders all but the latest content obsolete. Simply put, new content isn't released fast enough, and existing content rapidly becomes trivial and rewardless.

This trend culminates at endgame where you are restricted—relative to the game as a whole—to a very small amount of content in the form of raids. To counteract the above issues, raiding features three main devices which artificially extend the lifespan of this limited amount of content: Repetition, low drop rates, and increasing difficulty. Repetition provides an endless reel of content to play through, drop rates dictate roughly how many times the content needs to be repeated in order to be "completed", and increasing difficulty serves to further slow down progression (often leading to a point for many players where they can no longer progress at all due to a lack of time, skill, knowledge or experience). Some MMOs (including WoW) add yet another progression slowing device in the form of raid lockouts, which limit the amount of times you're able to repeat a particular raid within a given period of time (in WoW's case, once per week).

So, while the raid model used by World of Warcraft (amongst others) for its endgame generally does a good job of keeping players entertained—or at least occupied—long enough to keep playing until new content is released, it has severe drawbacks which cannot be easily remedied due to core decisions that were made early in the game's development.

Guild Wars 2's Model

ArenaNet describe Guild Wars 2 as not having an "endgame" as such (or as being "entirely endgame"; effectively the same thing). The game has also been built with an anti-grind philosophy in mind from the very beginning—like the original Guild Wars—which ArenaNet hope will eliminate many of the issues present within existing MMOs, including those described above. Notably, in relation to the above discussion, Guild Wars 2 does not feature raids.

When it comes to the concerns surrounding Guild Wars 2's endgame, or lack thereof, there are a few that have been widely raised, and they can be broken down into two broad categories; concerns about the lifespan of the content, and concerns about the nature of the content.

Concerns About the Content's Lifespan

In terms of the content's lifespan, players are worried that the perceived void left by a lack of raids will not be adequately filled, causing players to be entertained for a shorter amount of time than they would have been if raids were present. Whether this particular concern is valid or not ultimately depends on what motivates you to play.

Most MMOs make use of the following infinite loop, which could be considered the "engine" of the endgame: Gear increases your character's power which allows you to defeat more powerful enemies which drop gear which increases your character's power which allows you to defeat more powerful enemies… and so on. It is reasonable to assume that for most players, one part of the loop serves the motivating aspect, whereas the other serves as the means to it.

This infinite loop does not exist in Guild Wars 2, and if the motivating aspect for you is the constant increase in your character's power then you will be disappointed. I would however ask you to question why it's important; after all, the increase in power doesn't significantly impact your experience as newly added encounters are designed to be a match for you, no matter how large the numbers on your character sheet might be. In fact, if character power is kept constant, it makes it easier for developers to create content with a finely-tuned level of difficulty.

On the other hand, if it's the facing of the encounters which serves as the motivator for you, then you likely have nothing to be worried about. In Guild Wars 2, new content expands rather than extends the game. Thanks to the downlevelling system, content never becomes obsolete; when you reach the level cap your options are not limited to content specifically made for the endgame, you can still play any of the dynamic events or attempt any of the dungeons you may have initially missed. Furthermore, dynamic events provide constant variation across the entire game world. A zone might be completely different the next time you visit it due to different events being active, events being at different stages, or events having a different number of players participating in them.

Now, while your character may not endlessly increase in power, that isn't to say that the content offers no in-game rewards whatsoever once you reach the level cap.

Firstly, there are rewards which expand your abilities. These include weapons, which determine five of the skills you have access to at any given moment, traits, which alter your skills or attributes in some way (these are being reworked as I write this, so we don't know exactly how they will be acquired), and slot skills (including elite skills), which fill your remaining five skill slots (acquired by earning skill points, at least at the time of writing). All of these things combined provide a significant amount of depth in terms of character builds which is great news for those who enjoy theorycrafting and experimentation.

Secondly, there are rewards which provide ways of customising the appearance of your character. For example, each dungeon has its own unique armour set, and there also exist rare dyes which can be used to change the colour of specific parts of your armour. Legendary weapons are also designed to give players a long-term goal to work towards. It's not unreasonable to assume that Guild Wars 2 will also feature other kinds of collectibles and treasure to give people more of a reason to explore the world and/or trade with other players; the original Guild Wars had mini-pets for example.

Thirdly, there are rewards which provide a sense of achievement through explicitly tracking your progress and recording your character's history. Achievements, titles and statistics are now a common feature of MMOs, and these are all present in Guild Wars 2.

As well as the content described above and its rewards, there is also the crafting system, the two-way auction house, and mini-games. There isn't a great deal of information on these features, but suffice it to say they will provide compelling additions to the core gameplay.

Concerns About the Content's Nature

In terms of the the nature of the content, players are unsure whether Guild Wars 2 will cater to certain types of players, in particular to hardcore raiders due to an apparent lack of anything that has similar characteristics to raids (i.e. challenging, instanced encounters designed for premade groups of more than five players).

The answer to this is quite straightforward, and requires these players to define what specific qualities they need in the game in order for them to enjoy it. Dynamic events and explorable mode dungeons will both fulfil certain combinations of the qualities offered by raids, but not all of them.

For example, if raiding appeals to you because of the large number of players involved, or because of the "epic" feel of fighting massive bosses, then dynamic events are exactly what you want. Conversely, if raiding appeals to you because of the challenge—the difficulty of the encounters and the requirements of preparation and teamwork—then explorable mode dungeons will provide you with these things, albeit on a smaller scale.

If however you absolutely must have all of these characteristics within a single type of content, then Guild Wars 2 most likely will not be for you, at least in this respect.


Hopefully this article has helped to ease some of the concerns people have about the endgame in Guild Wars 2. When ArenaNet say "the entire game is endgame", they are more than justified in doing so, and hopefully I've demonstrated why. It is a complicated subject, and a lot of it comes down to our own perceptions and how we are motivated.

Whereas other MMOs use the "treadmill/carrot" raid model, which requires repetition of content and continuously increases your character's power, thus rendering content obsolete as you out-level or out-gear it, Guild Wars 2 takes a completely different approach. There are still plenty of challenges, plenty of things to explore, plenty of rewards, and plenty of other things to do, but the game does not revolve around endlessly increasing numbers as its primary mode of "progression".

With all of the above being said, the game isn't out yet and there are many things we don't know about it, especially beyond the early-mid levels, so apply that caveat to everything I've said.

In Guild Wars 2 you (hopefully) actually get to eat the carrot... and as a final clarification, by that I mean that in Guild Wars 2 rewards are intended to be ends in themselves, and are not a means to gaining access to additional content (which in turn offers rewards to access further content, and so on ad infinitum) as in most MMOs.

- Darkademic (Guild Leader of the Dark Reavers GW2 Guild)

Comments (55)

Donkz (Guest)
11 years ago
Agree with you entirely, for too long now we have been fooled or tricked in to thinking that this is how it has to be. Being obsessed with gear and numbers making us thinks we are having fun getting these 'prizes' by continually grinding and replaying the same content over and over and over again. If were honest first few times you beat a boss its fun, after that its like work. I love what ArenaNeet are doing thus far but it will be a strange experience not having to do these endgame raids, but theres so much more to do than just 'Raids'. Will i miss them yes i think i will a little (mainly due to feeling wanted and usefull in a group as I played healer a lot) but GW2 still has instances anyway, and WvW and dynamic events tons of other stuff to do instead.
Set (Guest)
11 years ago
And indeed, this is how it should be. The numbers mean nothing. They are not rewards. They are just numbers. The reward is participating in legitimately entertaining content with your friends, and that's what Guild Wars 2 is all about.
Omedon (Guest)
11 years ago
Very well done, and to promote and continue the momentum of honesty here, I think the "this might not be for you" message needs to be stressed more often in GW2 discussions.  There is a definite, poisonous subculture in MMOs that, by design, will not enjoy GW2, and whether they find this out before or after they buy the game, it's win/win for the players for whom GW2 *is* designed.

It's not a world to conquer, it's a world to live in. 
Doone (Guest)
11 years ago
Wonderful analysis and response to the MMO community at large, who, as Donkz said, have made convinced themselves that endgame raiding is how it has to be. I don't really fault the players who believe this, but I do think there's a certain amount of the belief that because no other MMOs have strayed from this formula, that these companies must be using the best method for entertainment. And those kinds of assumptions are patently false. Companies who use the WoW model for content delivery, contrary to what these players think, have performed very poorly by comparison. There's no evidence to suggest even remotely that the endgame raid model is the best, most desirable, or any other positive. In fact, games with endgame raiding repeatedly report extremely low percentages of their player base even participating in the content, let alone completing it.
Wolfie (Guest)
11 years ago
@ Omedon: "It's not a world to conquer, it's a world to live in"

/clap - Well said.
Gavin (Guest)
11 years ago
Well, honestly, if you ignore raiding in WoW you can make the same kind of arguments in terms of the amount of stuff to do there as well. I think a large percentage of the WoW player base has been trained to expect ever-increasing power, or at least an unending treadmill that rewards a new set of gear, which is to say there's always something to be working towards (at least as fast as they can produce patches and expansions).

But then the revenue model for WoW and GW2 aren't that different. WoW wants to sell you a monthly subscription and an expansion every 12-18 months. GW2 is likely to want to sell you an expansion every 9-12 months, and in the end while you pay a bit less for GW2 than for WoW, it's not really *that* different. A side effect of needing to come out with new content faster is that GW2 will have less of a problem (hopefully) with people blowing through the content and getting bored before the next xpack comes out.

SWTOR is pretty much a complete failure in my mind for a number of fundamental (i.e. unlikely to be fixed) reasons, one of them being that the leveling is Just Too Fast, and people are blowing through it and getting bored and quitting at a rate that no developer can hope to keep up with. I hope that GW2 is able to strike a good balance in terms of leveling speed so that this is not such a problem. honestly I think "leveling" as a progression mechanism is on its way out and it won't be too long where we see level-less MMOGs.
Vyers (Guest)
11 years ago
Dark Age of Camelot is the most noteworthy persistent world MMO with an end game model similar to Guild Wars 2. With the original release and first expansion, Mythic proved that you didn't need to offer expanded level caps or overpowered gear in order to be competitive. It maintained strong subscription numbers for its time without significant raiding content, being largely focused on its Realm vs Realm combat (an obvious inspiration for GW2's World vs World). DAoC only declined in activity when they threw away the model in Trials of Atlantis, and obvious attempt to be more like EverQuest with a raiding focus and overpowered gear, which alienated much of the core subscriber base.

I've long wished for a modern game that carried on the spirit of classic DAoC, and Guild Wars 2 seems to be doing just that!
Aly (Guest)
11 years ago
Good article, although it implies that dynamic events don't provide challenge and require teamwork. They do, but in a more organic intuitive and spontaneous way. It's only the preparation that's missing, and I don't know anyone that really enjoyed waiting for a raid to build or gathering mats in anticipation. Anyway we can and will sometimes fail at dynamic events because they will be challenging and require some degree of teamwork and coordination, but rather than having to start from scratch, we have a new set of challenges to face...like rebuilding a town that has burned down following a failed event.
Anonymous (Guest)
11 years ago
>> Conversely, if raiding appeals to you because of the challenge—the difficulty of the encounters and the requirements of preparation and teamwork—then explorable mode dungeons will provide you with these things.

ufff, how you planning to balance difficulty ? We are talking about WoW model, okey, as member of pretty hardcore pve guild i have srs doubts about "challenge" with "const stats" model :( Thing is top WoW guilds can manage "current" content with gear from "previews" content, mediocre guilds just farming what they can kill, getting gear and some day can clear endgame... wowprogres, pve race etc.
GW2: everyone has const stats and content balanced around it. There are two ways: A) 100500 guilds clearing content in day 1 (i.e. no challenge) B) only rly smart guys using class stacking, any possible characters min/max strategies, awesome teamwork and abit of luck can finish endgame, 99.99999% of playerbase reading "L2P, scrubs" topics and unhappy.
Variant A is bad imo :(, Variant B... you'll end with weekly nerfs ala "5% more damage this week, 10% next".
11 years ago
@Anonymous It might be better to post in the thread at either GW2Guru or MMO-Champion if you want to discuss it further, but I disagree that those are the only two options. Guild Wars 1 for example had a very low level cap, and it had normal mode missions (which were doable by most people, but some of which were pretty difficult), and hard mode missions (which were very difficult, and impossible without a coordinated team). Then there were also several elite missions which were harder still.

I think ArenaNet will create content that is difficult for those who want difficult content, and less difficult content for everyone else. Since you don't need to complete everything in order to progress, there's no reason for nerfs (unless less people than desired can complete something).

@Aly It was not my intention to imply that dynamic events will not present a challenge, I'm sure some of them will be difficult; but I can see how that might've come across through my omission.

@Everyone Thanks for all your feedback!
Anonymous (Guest)
11 years ago
@Darkademic WoW has LFR, Normal, Hardmode (10man 25man) and guess what, they r nerfing it. It doesnt matter how many difficulty levels you bring into game :) bcuz in fact there is always only one, elite-hardmode-nightmare-inferno w/e.

>> "I think ArenaNet will create content that is difficult for those who want difficult content, and less difficult content for everyone else."
Even if "elite" mission will drop nothing but mini-pet, casual players gonna crash forums with "undoable, nerf, i want pet" crying. Even if nothing special drops but there is gw2progress.com - they'll do it for sure.

>> "Since you don't need to complete everything in order to progress, there's no reason for nerfs (unless less people than desired can complete something)."
Then ask yourself, why blizzard nerfing current content right now, they are not stupid when it comes for money ? You can do LFR (for everyone), normals (for casual guilds), hardmodes... Your logic is : average guild (players) will just give up "uhh, we cant do elite mission, go back to normals". No. They'll be "unhappy" bcuz they cant do elite mode, they'll "hit the wall" (exact quote from blizzard :)) and as result beg for nerfs etc.

btw dont get me wrong, im in love with GW1 and waiting GW2 so much :) but "const stats" model has some issues from my point of view.
11 years ago
@Anonymous Yea, but WoW are nerfing the content because people need to complete it in order to progress - because that's what progression is in WoW.

That's not the case in GW2, so there's no reason certain content can't be prohibitively difficult for those who want a challenge, in fact it would be damaging to the game to nerf such content because it would continually restrict the most skilled players to the latest non-nerfed content (which creates the very problems I discussed in the article, just for a specific set of players). In WoW it's fine, because those players have already moved onto the next tier when the nerfs come in, but in GW2 all of the content remains open to them.

Put it this way - Half-Life 2 is an example of the "constant stats model". I'm sure there are people who can't complete it on hard difficulty, but that doesn't mean it needs nerfing.

Anyway, we'll see! Thanks for your comments.
Hellgaunt (Guest)
11 years ago
@Anonymous: You also forget that the "failure" to complete an elite Dynamic Event doesn't spell the end of that event, rather it spills over into something else that you may complete to gain the reward currency in GW2: Fame.

The only places with unique rewards are the explorable mode dungeons with their unique armor (and at present time, unknown additional rewards) - those might be targetted for nerfs by glueless people that lack the wits to enjoy something challenging. Thankfully I think that the risk of that is rather small because of;

A) Eventually the key strategies to defeating the explorable mode dungeons will become known

B) The world outside is 'easy' and there's tons of activities that players can indulge themselves in.

C) Fame can be gathered for a multitude of personalized armors and offers plenty of reward in themselves.

D) Players can buy themselves to vanity items.

E) The fact that the unique rewards from dungeons rests on the fact that they are 'hard' to get and thus are displays of true player skill and team effort - ergo Anet will be reluctant to nerf the dungeons

F) The fact they didn't nerf anything 'significantly' in GW1
Janet (Guest)
11 years ago
I don't know why they are turning GW into a WoW type game to begin with, even if you do get to eat the carrot. Clearly they are not interested in their current player base, but want to attract the players from other games.
years1hundred (Guest)
11 years ago
Unfortunately, this article does not address the perceived problem at all - mainly that GW2 will be lacking in enough content to keep players engaged. To illustrate what I am trying to say, I will compare GW2 with SWTOR (since I have not played WOW enough to talk about it in-depth).

PVE Leveling Content: Guild Wars 2 definitely has this in the bag with Dynamic Events, Story-Mode Dungeons, Personal Storylines, and Hard-Mode Dungeons. However, SWTOR has this down pat as well with Flashpoints (which dynamically change due to Light Side and Dark Side options), Personal Storylines, Hard-Mode Flashpoints, Daily Quests (which I am fundamentally opposed to, however), and eight different storylines available (each having 200+ hours of content).

Ability Expansion: Guild Wars 2 has Traits, Weapons, Elite Skills, and Utility Skills (I don't count Attributes because they too simple and basic to warrant much variety), while SWTOR has Skills, Advanced Class Skills, Perks, and Stats.

Appearance Customization: Guild Wars 2 has an immense amount of dyes that can be mixed and matched, as well as regular armor and Dungeon-Specific armor. SWTOR has Class Specific Armor that can be worn by other classes (so, for example, a Trooper can dress in Jedi Guardian Robes and be perfectly ok, while a Jedi Guardian can wear heavy Trooper armor and function just fine), the Armor Modification System (which allows for near unlimited customization), and the coming-soon Match To system, which will allow for a lot of color variation as well.

Achievements: Guild Wars 2 has Titles, Statistics, and Achievements. SWTOR has Titles, Statistics, and Codex/Lore (their version of Achievements).

End-Game: SWTOR has Operations and Hard-Mode Flashpoints, and the ability to start a new class and see an entirely different storyline. Guild Wars 2 has the ability to start a new race or keep the old one and make different personal storyline decisions and see a completely different storyline... but that's it?

This is where I perceive a flaw with Guild Wars 2. Once you reach the 80 level cap and beat the content at that level range, there isn't anything left to do. Sure, you can side-kick yourself down and repeat content, but this doesn't gain you anything at all (except for the fun in beating the lower-level content). This is because when you side-kick down, it's true that you can do lower-level content, but it's also true that the rewards you get in terms of money and gear will be equivalent and appropriate for that lower level. So once you pop back up to level 80 content, that shiny new helmet you just got will be absolutely useless to you (unless you PAY Arenanet with REAL LIFE dollars/currency to buy special items that can bump that item up to your respective level). Thus, the only gear that will be desirable at level 80 will be level 80 gear, which will only come from doing level 80 content over and over again (such as farming level 80 Hard-Mode Dungeons). Now, this is kinda offset by the fact that Karma Vendors will be able to give you appropriately-leveled gear, but obviously, lower-level content will give you less Karma than higher-level content will, which means that doing lower-level content won't be time efficient to get that wicked-looking level 80 chestpiece you want so badly.

As such, Guild Wars 2 has its own end-game repetition as well in that to get the best gear and items for your character, you'll either have to repeat level 80 content or you'll have to suck it up and do a LOT of lower-level grinding. And if you go with Option B, then you'll be throwing out a lot of lower level gear and items that will be absolutely useless to you due to your actual high level.

Now, I could be absolutely wrong, as gear and rewards could have been reworked since the last article on them (which was admittedly a while ago), but nevertheless, I feel that people are giving Guild Wars 2 way too much credit in terms of innovation than it actually deserves. Guild Wars 2 doesn't escape from the end-game content loop - it just takes a different approach on it that, in reality, has just as much grind and repetition as WOW or SWTOR or any other MMO out there.

So yeah, just thought I'd share my two cents there - and before you say that I'm a SWTOR fanboy, I'd like to point out that I've been following Guild Wars 2 from its original announcement, I've played Guild Wars 1 since early 2006, I've accumulated 2.5k hours in Guild Wars 1 and I'm a God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals to boot - which I obtained purely so that it could carry over to Guild Wars 2. So like many of you, I am holding my breath for Guild Wars 2 and crossing my fingers in the hopes that it comes out soon - I plan to play the crud out of it when it is finally released. I just feel like there are a lot of problems and grey areas where Guild Wars 2 isn't as saintly as many people claim that it is.
11 years ago
@years1hundred You contradict yourself by firstly saying that GW2 provides you with nothing to do at endgame, then going on to say that GW2 has just as much grind and repetition as WoW and SWTOR. Grind and repetition are the only things WoW and SWTOR offer at endgame.

You seem to have missed the point about repetition though. It's not that repetition merely exists in SWTOR/WoW, it's that it is the primary means of progression (which comes in the form of increasing your character's power - which results in being restricted to a tiny amount of content relative to the game as a whole). Progression involves different things in GW2; beating more difficult content by becoming more skillful (which provides cosmetic rewards to show off your accomplishments), achievements/titles etc.

I don't understand how you can see being able to revisit old content as somehow worse. You're basically saying that more options means less to do. If you disregard repetition, Guild Wars 2 has just as much content as the other games you mentioned. Instead of stretching out the tiny amount of content at the end, GW2 makes all the content both challenging and worthwhile. If they release a new level 80 dungeon, you're not forced to do that—and only that—over and over until the next one comes out.

It's also strange that you've spent so much time in Guild Wars, which follows the same philosophy and uses a similar model, yet claim that GW2 won't give you enough to do.
years1hundred (Guest)
11 years ago
@Darkademic Awesome post! I appreciate your feedback - lemme address your points as you raised them.

Concerning Endgame: Grind/Repetition and Content are not synonymous. As proof of this, look at any number of cheap Asian MMOs - tons of grind/repetition and almost no true content. What I'm saying is that once you hit the Guild Wars 2 level cap, there is not gonna be much to do in terms of content (since Arenanet is spreading content throughout the entire game instead of having early-to-mid-game content and then endgame content). All that will be available will be a few high level instances (such as the final Dungeon that involves taking on a major character in the game [trying to avoid spoilers] or some level 80 Dynamic Events). Whereas in WOW or SWTOR, a significant amount of endgame content opens up when you reach the level cap - and in the case of SWTOR, another Operation and endgame Flashpoint have already been added only one month into the game's life, with the promise of another Operation and endgame Flashpoint on the way.

Concerning Repetition: Many people seem to think that Guild Wars 2's system requires all skill while those of other MMOs simply requires endgame specs. However, anyone who has done endgame content for games like WOW (in the past, at least - maybe not with the dumbing-down that it has done recently) and SWTOR can tell you that skill make all the difference. Playing at endgame in SWTOR, it's easy to tell who is poor, who is mediocre, who is average, who is good, who is great, and who is fantastic with their class, advanced class, builds, and skill setups. I myself, after spending 300+ hours in SWTOR, continue to figure out how to play my chosen class setup better and better all the time - where I was at the beginning of level 50 (SWTOR's level cap) is nowhere near as good as I am now. Moreover, SWTOR progression includes achievements and titles much like Guild Wars 2, so neither game has an edge in this regard.

Concerning Revisiting: In Champions Online, there is a side-kick system much like that Guild Wars 2 has planned. And while it is true that you'll have high level players side-kick down to help out friends, other than that, you'll almost never see a level 40 player deliberately doing lower level content. I'm guessing the same will be with Guild Wars 2. Just because you can scale down and help the farmer feed his pack animals again doesn't mean you will. 1), you probably will have already done this before, and 2) Defeating the Shatterer (or one of the dragons) will be much more fun than helping the farmer. And as it is, a game like SWTOR already has the ability to do old content via rolling a new character and optionally a new class.

Concerning My Perspective: Personally, I was and still am a huge fan of the Guild Wars system - grinding out GWAMM was very enjoyable given my completionist nature. However, I also know players who bought Guild Wars 1 and then uninstalled it days or even weeks later because they had no way to progress aside from achievement/monetary grind.
Many people are hailing Guild Wars 2 as the upcoming Messiah of the MMO realm in that they claim that Guild Wars 2 will revolutionize everything we know and expect from MMOs. However, I do not think that this is so - rather, I believe that Guild Wars 2 is simply expanding on Guild Wars 1's system. The only truly revolutionary aspect of Guild Wars 2 is that of Personal Storyline intimacy (if said system ends up living to Arenanet's claims), as Dynamic Events were originally implemented in Rift (albeit blandly and poorly), Visceral Combat was originally implemented in Champions Online and DC Universe Online, and Guild Wars 2's Dungeons are simply adaptations of WOW's Dungeons and SWTOR's Flashpoints.
In the end, while it's true that Guild Wars 2 directly appeals to players like me, I simply feel that it is more of the same with a few interesting tweaks - it's definitely not the world-changing game that many people seem to think it will be.
Arcfire (Guest)
11 years ago
Hey Dark, quite enjoyed your analysis. I look forward to seeing your group around the game! Judging by your site, our guilds have a similar background and similar outlooks. I think we would have a hoot teaming up on content if the opportunity ever presents itself, especially WvWvW. Keep an eye out for All Out Assault come beta, it wont be long now :)
years1hundred (Guest)
11 years ago
Haha, I didn't realize that I was debating with the author of the article! :D

I would love to post on your forums - thank you for the invite! I have a few nasty midterms due this week, though, so if I don't get to it in the next couple of days I'll definitely reply by this weekend. :)
11 years ago
@Arcfire Indeed, very similar backgrounds it seems. I'll add your guild to my list of potential allies/rivals. :)

@years1hundred Ha. Cool, look forward to it.
M3o5nster (Guest)
11 years ago
I enjoyed the article, thanks for shedding some light on the subject. Just to clear up something Years1hundred said; we won't have to pay real money to give lower level gear level 80 stats. There are transmutation stones for that. I think a lot of the reason people will go back and do lower level content is for the different armor/weapons skins available. Since the combat in GW2 is so skill driven, simply gaining better gear won't be as rewarding as watching my skills grow through combat over time. Like Darkademic said, GW2 won't be for everybody... Some people prefer a treadmill, some people prefer to run outdoors.

I've played SWToR, and it borrows so much from WoW that it's almost shameful. ANet is actually looking at the MMO genre, and trying to make many of the *core* designs more "fun". I think fun has somewhat been replaced by ego stroking in the MMO scene, and I'm behind ANet's philosophy when it comes to building GW2.
years1hundred (Guest)
11 years ago
@M3o5nster: Unfortunately, Transmutation Stones do cost real money. This was stated in a 2010 article - if you want, I can try to dig up the exact link. Transmutation Stones, the devs said, are superficial, which is why Arenanet is going to make them cash shop items.
M3o5nster (Guest)
11 years ago
My information comes from 2011 interviews... We'll have to wait and see, but if you do some more research on GW2, I think you'll find an answer to most of your problems. Whether or not the solutions ArenaNet provides are good enough for you is another story.

It seems they're trying to attack this game from every angle, and as with anything in life, there will have to be compromises made. There is no perfect game... GW2 just seems to be a lot closer than WoW and SWToR at the moment. (Sorry, had to throw that jab in there! LOL)
years1hundred (Guest)
11 years ago
@M3o5nster: Do you have a link to the interview saying Transmutation Stones will be free? If so, I'd love to see it!

Haha, and the thing is, you're spot on with there being no such thing as a perfect game. With this in mind, it's not possible for Guild Wars 2 to be any closer to perfection than a game like SWTOR (which essentially kept all the good aspects of WOW and none of the bad, then innovated and improvised beyond to make it a really polished, great, and in-depth game) is. Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR cater to different audiences - different types of gamers. Guild Wars 2 is going for the world - they want you to be able to completely lose yourself within all aspects of Tyria. SWTOR, on the other hand, is going for the experience - they want you to fall in love with your character and the characters of your companions and even your enemies. So with two different objectives in mind, Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR further distance themselves from each other by taking different paths there. SWTOR goes for a traditional approach, yet innovatively improves said approach in terms of storyline (making it very personal and very involved) and gameplay (making combat much more visceral and engaging). Guild Wars 2, on the other hand, decides to scrap everything traditional about MMOs and go for an entirely new and as-of-yet untried system in the hopes of making a game that redefines how we stereotypically perceive MMOs. And in the end, SWTOR ended up being a fantastic game while Guild Wars 2 will probably be just as fantastic only in a completely different way.
11 years ago
@years1hundred Regarding transmutation stones, they can be purchased using 'karma' in-game, as well as for real money: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Transmutation_Stone. I think they were originally going to be acquired through real money only, but I think they scrapped that idea a year or two ago.
years1hundred (Guest)
11 years ago
@Darkademic: Then I've been had. :( Haha, that's great though! One of my last concerns with GW2 is now obsolete, so thank you for sharing that link. :D
mike (Guest)
11 years ago
enjoyed the article. very good comparison i believe and very fairly evaluated.
lghjk7ugk (Guest)
11 years ago
"However, I also know players who bought Guild Wars 1 and then uninstalled it days or even weeks later because they had no way to progress aside from achievement/monetary grind"

Yes! Exactly the reason why I stopped playing PVE and stuck with PVP for the vast majority of the time I played. If it wasn't for good PVP I would have stopped playing GW1 after beating the expansions.
CdV Jesus (Guest)
11 years ago
You're right. They changed it before June 25th 2011 if you trust the history of guildwiki
francois (Guest)
11 years ago

Thanks for this article so well written that I agree completely with! :)

I also believe vertical stats progression are simply not sustainable anymore for the majority of players in the co called “Social era” we are living now. The “social cost” is just too expansive (separating players) and also immersion breaking after a certain time:

I was longing for horizontal progressions and improving my REAL skills and teamwork capabilities. It looks look like GW2 endgame will bring all that and I’m extremely hopeful now!
Conwolv (Guest)
11 years ago
Raiding isn't entirely about just getting gear. For many it's about team based challenges. It's mostly what motivates the raiders I play with in the MMOs I play now. The process of recruiting other raiders, working together as a team and killing a difficult boss as that team is one of the most enjoyable factors of an MMO for me. That team based gameplay is the same thing that makes people play team based sports.

Without endgame content, what will the guilds do as a group? What's the point of a guild if there's little for a guild to do in the end game as a team? Sure we can PVP, but not everyone enjoys that.

I think this game will be great, but without end game content (raids) I believe that it'll only ever be a passing interest at most. Played only when someone gets bored with other MMOs.
11 years ago
@Conwolv If you really don't care about the gear or progressing in power in some way, then GW2 will cater to you just fine as it has plenty of challenging content for you to do, at least according to the developers and based on what we've seen of the dungeons thus far.

I've no idea why you'd only consider raids as endgame content, but I did say in the article that I wasn't talking about raids in and of themselves, but rather the repetitious model that they are usually a part of.

As a former WoW raider myself, I'm looking forward to something different.
Qanamil Rafiki (Guest)
11 years ago
I just wanted to point out, regarding SWTOR v. GW2, that pvp will be massively different. SWTOR pvp can be very fun, but often falls flat. Ilum in particular is atrocious, while I think WvWvW will always have 'something' to do that will be fun and productive.

joe (Guest)
11 years ago
Eating the carrot, doesn't that mean you just stop, sit down eat and get fat doing nothing?
treadmil, its more like something to work for, people appreciate things they have to work for. I live in the real world, i don't log on to live somewhere else. i log in to conquer evil and kill big ass monsters. When im having a bad day in RL i log in and im a max level raider and it makes me happy to know i save the world once a week. Endgame is about multiplayer, like rockband with 20 people. Don't hate, appreciate, and people appreciate things they work for. Don't believe me, marry a slut? I think not.
11 years ago
@joe No, it means that you get to enjoy your carrot, then go looking for more, as opposed to any carrots you get becoming immediately flavourless and devoid of nutritional value.

I'm not entirely certain what your point is, as nowhere do I state that GW2 gives you nothing to work towards. In GW2 you aren't forced to repeat the same thing dozens of times in order to acquire items which allow you to attempt something else dozens of times, ad infinitum.

In fact in GW2 it's even more the case that you work for your rewards, instead of your items doing half the work for you.
Teadadar (Guest)
11 years ago
Besides the added skills or talents you speak of for completing areas or events, are there other endgame rewards? I understand the gear is tuned so that everyone is competing on the same level, however, provided achievements, and vanity pets dont mean much to some, do the skills you possess grow in power with these rewards? And is there a limit? And if there is a limit, how long would you estimate for someone to get to that point, and once someone is at that point, what is left for them to do? Are there PvP rewards for better gear, or skills, or talents or anything? Or its all practice for the monthly tournaments to get into the yearly tournaments to eventually, possibly get a title saying you won said tournament?
Korin (Guest)
11 years ago
Your argument of the only reason to have the endless loop gear system at endgame is flawed. Your theory works if you only look at those two motivators, but you are missing arguably one of the most popular ones. PVP

If I had to guess, in my experience of playing almost every serious MMORPG that has come out in the last 9 years (everything from EQ to SWTOR) I find that 50% of the people that do endgame PvE content do so so that they can use their awesome new gear, or ability effect if their specific reward changed their playstyle in anyway, in PVP. For example, not to say that these are great games, but some games such as Lineage 2, were designed completely based on the "grind to get the gear to kill the nubs better" mantalaty, and WoW just made it less painfull. Eve, for example, has the strongest player based communities besides WoW and was the 2nd best selling MMO for a LONG time. It's endgame is based Entirely on guild vs guild pvp.

The 'carrot' for me is getting better and better, not cooler and cooler LOOKING, in pvp. Having the knowledge that "I had a 2k+ 5v5 arena team for 8 straight weeks which is VERY DIFFICULT, and thats why my arena armor makes it so it takes 3 normally skilled/geared people to take me down... " is both a cosmetic intimidation reward, and a performance boost that people can quantify. The idea with GW2 is that improvement in that area happens based on player interaction, and your personal aptitude, instead of how much time you spend grinding a currency (honor), which I ultimately think is genious. It's an ambitious change to character progression that will affect PVP the most.

BUT what is the reward for being exceptionally skilled at pvp when most of the rest of your server couldn't win a game of WvWvW to save their lives? How can you become more powerfull? Enough to set you apart from the other max level people your same class? I only worry that with no power-scaling pvp rewards people will innevitably lose interest in what is shaping up to be the most innovative pvp and combat system in an mmo to date.
11 years ago
@Korin I even said at the beginning of the article that I wasn't going to deal with PvP.

If you're better at PvP, you don't need better stats on your gear. Having an armour style which is very difficult to get is enough of an intimidation factor - as it shows you are very good at the game.

Stat disparity in PvP gives players who already have an advantage in skill even more of an advantage, and it is a terrible idea.
Enternalsin (Guest)
11 years ago
Thanks for the good read guys, Finally a non-aggressive convosation about an MMO.

Thoroughly enjoyed it.
soulreava (Guest)
11 years ago
Great view point. I think of it like this: imagine all zones and instances were scaled to max level in WoW (ie heroic version) thereby reducing your characters RELATIVE power against the content. Obviously this is a bit impractical because new characters would get decimated, however Guild Wars 2 accomplishes this exact same thing by scaling the high level characters individual power so that all characters have the same RELATIVE power for all content, therefore the entire game is endgame.

TL:DR max level toon + entire game of heroic zones/instances = scaled levels + zones/instances
Michael (Guest)
11 years ago
Great article, but you are wrong that dynamic content does not have difficutl bosses. There are a few videos floating around of level 30 bosses where the entire dyanamic event team loses. Meaning it requires a great deal amount of tactics to pull off.

There are also a few dynamic events that require multiple squad tactics to accomplish the goal.

Dynamic events are raids without needing to worry about tanks, healers and one tactic to rule them all.

SWTOR's endgame, and every MMO in general forces you into the gear grind cycle. Get more gear, to do raids and dungeons to get more gear to do raids and dungeons. SWTOR is even more insulting, in that it requires you to play the game and repeat content all over again to experience it's legacy system. Only healers and tanks have serious roles in dungeons and they come down to where to stand and who to heal first.
11 years ago
Thanks I'm glad you liked it, but I didn't say that dynamic events don't have difficult bosses.
Xelsus (Guest)
11 years ago
Very good read thanks for that i am abit worried about doing everything the game has to offer ie collect al pets do all dungeons do all random events craft to max etc etc and then be like aaahhh what shall i do now but im hoping that the game will have enough content untill they release an expansion but we shall of course see :) Thanks
Marc (Guest)
11 years ago
Very happy to see Arenanet talking about these concepts. What has been lacking in endgames to date is designer imagination, i.e., the raid treadmill is a sign of a lack of imagination on the game creators.

I've been watching GW2 for some time with mixed feelings: seems like some great concepts but was really afraid of what they were planning for endgame- not that it would be different from WOW and the like but that it would be too much the same. Now I am eagerly awaiting it and hope they have a good launch.

For designers who still want to offer endgame treadmills with the (usually) attendant daily quest grind, I don't know why you think endless repetion is fun. It is not.

Fingers crossed for GW2
Mat (Guest)
11 years ago
Thanks for writing the article and to all participants in the discussion here. Some of the arguments of the article are speaking my mind, some are a bit too optimistic for my taste.

I come from WoW and moved through a few different games, but ended in GW1 for 2 years or so. One thing that I miss in the whole discussion is the social factor. It is generally disregarded a little when games are designed in my opinion.
Back in WoW I started to use it as a chat platform during the day during the wait for the raid in the evening. I redid most of the content at level cap, even if it was just a level 10 instance. Mostly even with my guild, because it was fun doing stuff together.
Sure, you say that you can do that in GW2 too, but GW1 had no decent guild mechanics. You had no servers, you could build no reputation and therefore the whole game felt like a coop game rather than mmo. I seriously hope this changes in GW2, with the world events and all, as for many players that stick with the game, it is not the type of the content (as long as there is content) but the community and the social factor, that keeps them playing.

Just have to wait and see, I will miss the group of 8 though and the hero team builds :). I guess as long as I can collect a load of custom armor I am happy ^^.
Bahska (Guest)
11 years ago
"making us thinks we are having fun getting these 'prizes' by continually grinding and replaying the same content over and over and over again."

Umm....that's basically what guild wars is you do dungeons over and over again to look pretty, then new dungeons come out and you rinse repeat.
Only difference between this and other mmo's is you don't out gear the content.

How many times are you going to go back and do those dungeons that you have done 30+ times when a patch hits?
It will be the same as any other mmo you'll do the new shiny things and discard the old, except now you have even less to do then most mmo's.

Everything else listed as end game content every other mmo has.
11 years ago

"How many times are you going to go back and do those dungeons that you have done 30+ times when a patch hits? It will be the same as any other mmo you'll do the new shiny things and discard the old, except now you have even less to do then most mmo's."

So repeating one small piece of content over and over until new content is released is the same as repeating anything in the entire game until new content is released?

Even less to do than most MMOs? That makes no sense whatsoever. We don't even know how much content exists in the game yet.
Matt (Guest)
11 years ago
Good Post Darkademic,

Also I like the way you have pretty much made every negative response null and void with your responses.

I look forward to the release.
Tim T (Guest)
11 years ago
I've been a long time MMORPG player and have always enjoyed the prospect of raiding. To me it was always a culmination of all your hard work and time. However, I also understand that it doesn't cater to the casual player which is what I am now. While I'd love to take the cake and eat it too, I've come to realize that my days of spending all those hours a week raiding is over. The next generation of MMOs has been born in the form of Tera and Guild Wars 2 neither of which have raiding as an endgame. Only time will tell how I and millions of other old school MMO players adjust. I don't buy into the idea that raiding was an established norm because of lack of imagination or laziness on the part of the developers. It's just the way it's always been. Now, that's changing because the genre is more than a niche for nerds. Ten's of millions of people play MMOs now, a far cry from EQ's amazing 310,000 in 2001 and Ultima Online's 225,000 in the same year.

I may be in the minority when I say that the reason game developers have gone to the new model isn't because raiding has worn out it's welcome. It's more because now they know they have to develop to a much larger crowd than they use to. Raiding by nature is geared towards people that have a lot more time than a casual player. You can't leave it difficult and piss of the casuals and you can't dumb it down and piss of the hardcore players. Luckily for developers, MMOs have turned into a very popular genre with tons of casual players. Now, they don't have to develop for old school raiders. Why would they when it's such a small percentage of the MMO population now?

The only reason MMORPGs are changing to the Tera and Guild Wars 2 model is because World of Warcraft proved that if you're going to have twelve million subscribers, you better have more than raiding at the endgame. Twelve million people can't all raid. 300,000 dedicated players can.
Griev (Guest)
11 years ago
I am looking forward to this game, however... after playing BETA I have some of the same concerns that other people have voiced.
I enjoyed the story, I enjoyed the combat, it was fast paced and fun. The dynamic event system was pretty nice, even though I found myself escorting the same mule several times to it's destination, i.e. doing the same quest over and over ( nothing real dynamic about that). I enjoyed the crafting system once I figured out the whole discovery aspect of it. I got one character to lvl 20( max for the beta) and another to lvl 17. While I did not get to try the whole game of course, I did get to experience about as much as you can during the beta. Let me give ya just a bit of background on myself first I guess. I played Everquest, Ultima Online, the original Neverwinter Nights on AOL, Asheron's Call, and a host of other games from single player Crpgs like Pool of Radiance and Baldur's Gate and Skyrim to FPS like Quake, Quake 3, UT2K3...and tons of other games. ( really dated myself with some of those). I have played WoW since vanilla doing both pvp and fairly hardcore raiding, got bored with it and quit several months ago. I was very excited for SWTOR and although I enjoyed the leveling process stopped playing once we cleared everything in the game prior to the second content patch, it went from too easy raids to bug breaking bugs that should have been addressed way before release. I really wanted to enjoy the game ...but endgame just wasn't right for me.
Now for my concerns, time and time again during the the beta every time someone would bring up an issue, someone else would respond with the exact replies that arena.net and media people have used. The only reason I noticed this was I had been following the game for quite some time and had heard a lot of ( I hate to say it but it is) "hype" surrounding the game. It was like they were not thinking for themselves.
I did not of course get to try any "dungeons" since I believe they start after the limit level on beta. But like everyone else I have read about them. It sounds cool to do the dungeon in story mode then do it slightly different in exploration mode.. but really its the same dungeon, the same thing as grinding valor points for gear in WoW, but with a different slant. I do hope however they keep the instances difficult.
The raiding in SWTOR was laughably easy, even on hard and nightmare. It was the same fight, same mechanics but stuff hit harder and had more health. I do realize they will need to cater to some casual fans to make money. But casual fans have a lot of choices in mmo's from WoW to SWTOR. I am not hating on these games, I played WoW for years and enjoyed it, but got bored, I played SWTOR and enjoyed it but got bored very fast .
World encounters are very difficult to balance vs raids/instanced encounters. Is everyone that walks by going to be in vent, know their class/role, will several poor performing players cripple your chances?

How is doing the same content over and over with slight variations, either world encounters or dungeons world shattering different than the current mmo style. It doesn't matter if I did this world boss or dungeon at lvl 20 and now I am lvl 50 and now I am doing it deleveled . It is still the same thing over and over...grind.
In short, will I play this game? Yes for sure. Will I enjoy it? I think so, I really enjoyed what I played so far. Will it be the earth shattering changes that are being hyped? I fail to see how it really could be.
But I would like to be wrong.
Taris (Guest)
11 years ago
As far as I know, this game has an endgame area which require far more effort to even establish a foothold that enables to continue into deeper areas. It is quite different from WoW treadmill but we cannot say the game has no endgame and forces players to repeat low level contents. I bet this kind of event area will expand with further expansion packs and more of them will also show up to be explored. In fact, this game is designed a bit towards to explorers than achievers. That's why WoW fans, who are the majority of MMORPG fan base today, having trouble with understanding the endgame concept. In this game, progression is achieved by co-operating nameless others for certain world objective, not by hunting down raid bosses with your guild friend limited group.

However, I'm not sure if the majority of people reaches the endgame area and keep staying there. Due to the nature of PvE system(relies heavily on 'Public Quest model'), lack of lower level players end up vacant area and these aren't soloable. The system provides lively experience, if there are enough players who actually stays on that area. Of course, there is the 'Sidekick' system. But not many people would be willing to spend their time to repeat the quests they've already finished when leveling character.
Bobdylan (Guest)
11 years ago
Great artical Dark,

I'm another who has less time as I've gotten older so full steam ahead for GW2. I played the original and loved it, switched to WoW and loved that too (officer in my guilds on both). PvP has always been more about skill on GW rather than when you play i.e the start of a new season (otherwise you end up on the back foot gear wise) plus when I stopped playing WoW (beginning of this year) the PvP was broken and the raids were becoming so much easier :( fingers crossed for a smooth launch and speedy updates. Will be nice to play PvE as I got pretty bored of waiting for specific team members due to gear reasons now can call up someone whos been offline for a while but has skill and not worry about "gearchecks" :>

Happy gaming everyone x
Gurubu (Guest)
11 years ago
Excellent article and well said. I have pre-ordered GW2 and I am excited to play it. I was a little put off regarding no raids but I can understand where arenanet is coming from with regards to dynamic events and it definitely has the potential to be great.

In regards to people trashing raiding completely, I think it still has a place. I had some good times raiding with guilds throughout multiple games over the years and found it enjoyable. You get that epic feeling going through a huge castle to finally take on some huge boss monster that eats people (example).

My last comment is this. If GW2 is taking on a new design regarding MMOs, why have dungeons in the first place? food for thought.
Edje (Guest)
11 years ago
Why do people commenting have to say they were "tricked" into thinking otherwise? If you say you agree with the article then make statements like that--you simply did not understand or read the article in it's entirety.

Nevertheless, I do find the article good but it is still a bit biased. You leave out several key points in which unfortunately question the longevity of the title and are overlooked by your hopefulness.

What about the people that do not care about cosmetics? There is a VERY LARGE number of players who do not care about armor dying, skins or titles. They love the content and the difficulty, but want to be rewarded. See, GW2 will never be able to combat a game like WoW (using as comparison due to popularity and conventional MMO engine) and the release due to this missing link. Having a little bit of everything is to blame for WoW's success and while GW2 may have a plethora of implementations, it will always fall short if it leaves out a certain demographic within the genre.

Way too many times we hear "then the game may not be for you", or "if you do not like this aspect then go back to WoW" and although people mean to filter the community in this manner, it is only segregating the community, causing hate and hurting GW2 as it tries to make a footprint in the genre.

Whether it is a treadmill or something else, there is one thing that remains certain among the gaming community, MMO gamers especially; people want to be rewarded. What needs to be understood is that titles and cosmetics aren't BAD rewards, they are just simply not enough. To turn away a player who may love the game because he loves the game but wants better rewards is not only foolish, but it is selfish.

If ArenaNet doesn't find something to reward the players who do not like the cosmetics, then GW2 is going to have a real tough time competing with MOP. Especially since a lot of MOP implementations are catering to GW2 style reward (scenarios etc...).

P.S. Before anyone makes a comment, I do not play WoW. GW2 is my main game at the moment.

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