Tobold's Blog
Monday, September 03, 2012
Guild Wars 2 size

I played 32 hours of Guild Wars 2 up to now, and have a lot of thoughts on various features. But I decided to not put them all into one big post, but rather split them into many small posts over the coming weeks to keep the discussion on topic. This first post is about the size of Guild Wars 2. In the 32 hours I played, I completed 12% of the world. That isn't simple map discovery, but it means that on average I did 12% of the hearts, vistas, skill challenges, and points of interest. Unlike other games I had the impression that progress was pretty linear, at least up to level 24 I didn't experience a slowing down of the leveling speed.

Thus allow me to extrapolate (with all the scientific caveats about extrapolation): If I need 32 hours to complete 12% of the game, I need just under 300 hours to complete 100% of the hearts, vistas, skill challenges, and points of interest. Well, more likely 300 hours to complete 99% and then being stuck because some of the points you need for completion are behind enemy lines on WvWvW maps.

300 hours of PvE solo content is extremely good value for a box purchase without monthly subscription. Vanilla WoW had about twice that, but unless you played 24/7 you would pay more per hour of entertainment due to WoW's monthly subscription. I'd say that Guild Wars 2 has more content than Star Wars: The Old Republic. Surveys have shown that the average MMORPG player plays around 20 hours per week, so 300 hours is over 3 months of solo PvE content. Depending on how much group PvE and PvP you do, you'll be occupied until well after Christmas. Me especially, since I also want to play Mists of Pandaria, and will have to split my time between games.

I do like the idea of going for 99% world completion with a single character. The alternative would be to see everything but with 5 different characters of different races and professions (classes). But the single character plan is appealing because it is something which would only work well in Guild Wars 2, where doing a second newbie starter zone is neither completely trivial, nor void of rewards. If I do all the maps with my Asura engineer, I will have enough skill points to unlock every single skill of that class, which is nice. So that is currently my idea of what I'll be doing for the months to come.

I read/Heard that until level 30 the time you need for each level slowly increasing. But for 30-80 it is the same exactly. Also have in mind that as you progress higher in levels the difficulty of the mobs increasing and maybe you need more time to complete a heart than in queensdale for example. Also now there are lot of people around and doing a heart is much more faster since all players just give 1 hit to a mob and it dies, while if you go after a month or two and you are alone or with 2-3 other people it will take more time.

I think vanilla wow had a better explorasion and immersion..there wasn't scouts to guide you and there wasn't hearts that you can mouseover and see the level of the area. I remember questing in Elwyn forest south by the river and see the other side of the river a dark forest...I swim to go there and look and a huge high level spider comes out and scare me and kill me :) This is the exploration and immersion feel I seek in games and gw2 do not have it.

Although the combat is awesome..I installed wow to check out the new patch and it was very weird to me that I couldn't actively dodge and block attacks and I was just sitting there waiting for an RNG dodge or block...

All in all, as you said it, the experience GW2 offers for 54 euro is almost a steal compared to other MMOs out there that does not deserve to even buy them, leave out to pay a monthly fee for..and GW2 doesn't stop when you complete the map 99%. PVE wise you can work for legendary gear, do dungeons, do Events for Karma points in the level 80 area (Orr), discover/buy more recipes for the crafting profession..according to this guide it is impossible to learn all the recipes while leveling..only the 1/4 of them...

Anyway, it sets new standards for the MMO genre as for the combat, although I would like to have the holy trinity while dodge/block on demand not with RNG
If you plan on crafting and doing all the gathering yourself, not buying mats from the Trading Post, should it ever work (as I plan to do) you can double that that 300 hours. If, like me, you plan on getting all craft skills to the maximum 400 skill on the same character, you can double and maybe double that again.

Gathering mats is attritionally slow and demanding in GW2. Unless they change that, making even a single character entirely self-sufficient in all crafts is going to be a project that lasts a year or more.

That's just on one character. I plan to have a minimum of eight and I expect all of them to be fully rounded in adventuring and exploration although not all will do all crafts. Long before I am any where near achieving my long-term goals I am sure GW2 will have had an expansion so the goalposts will have moved even further out of sight.

@giannis You clearly ca't have explored very far - only a tiny fraction of what's there to be found by exploration is marked on your map. Go an poke around - you'll get surprised plenty often!
@Bhagpuss I am not going only to Points of Interest, I go all over the maps, swim to the bottom of lakes, go into every cave :) I don't say the game doesn't have exploration, I just say that I am always pretty much know what to expect for the place...there isn't a feeling of danger when I go into thinks. Although I think that playing MMOs for almost 10 years has something to do with this..I was noob back in wow vanilla.

Now, once you mentioned crafting, I have a slight problem here. what I love in games is craft my own armor during leveling. And here is the problem.. If I chose to complete all zones during leveling, I will outlevel by far the crafting gear I can make with the materials, making my crafting skills useless for myself and maybe only useful for my alts. Although give the small shared bank, I cannot stock gear in my bank for alts while I am leveling my main.

Somehow the game force me to always move to the next tier areas if I ever want to stay on par with my crafting professions and craft upgrades for myself. With my warrior I got Armorsmithing and Weaponsmithing. I have completed Queensdale and the Norn Area 100% and I was 22 before I had to go to Kessex Hills to find Iron and tier 2 fine crafting materials. I am now 26 and didn't manage to make me full level 25 upgrades even if I was always running around to gather materials and killing mobs for fine materials.

Fine crafting materials from the other hand is pain if you farm them alone. Since everyone get separate loot, I think Anet have calculated the loot tables having in mind that you farm with 4-5 other people around. But if you are alone, the drop rate/speed of kills are discouraging.

So I am thinking either to ignore crafting Disciplines for my main and just complete maps/gather (I hate do this though) or to constantly moving to higher tier of maps, leaving lot of content behind for max level and spend lot of time grinding mobs for fine crafting materials, since I have to gather all I need only in one map of each tier. For example if I have to go like this

a) Queensdale -> Kessex Hills -> Gendarran Fields I have to find all tier 1 materials I need for both professions in Queensdale, means I have to go out of Dynamic events, hearts and exploring, to grind specific mobs for hours for tier1 materials.

But if I go for

b)Queensdale -> Wayfarer foothills -> Plains of Ashford -> Caledon forest -> Metrica Province I will gather all the tier1 materials I need just for doing hearts, exploring, Dynamic Events without have to grind specific mobs for hours

In example (a) I will have to grind for hours specific mobs and leave content behind but I can craft my own gear and my crafting professions is usefull while leveling. In example (b) leveling the professions doesn't feel grindy, gameplay is more fun, complete all content, but crafting professions is useles until max level

So how exactly you work around your goal? Did you manage to stay on par with your crafting and being able to use what you craft? Or you just want to complete crafting as a "completionist goal"
As I pointed out in a recent post, the devs went on the record (circa Nov 2010) as saying that the goal was for each level to take about 90 minutes. That might have went up or down since that time, but my own math is 120 hours or 1.5 months if you play 20 hours/week.

Getting 99% on the map might extend that out for Explorer types and end up closer to your figure, but I find some elements of that simple padding (e.g. Points of Interest). Not sure whether it is absolutely a fair comparison to other MMOs either - does it feel like more content than SWTOR simply because SWTOR (presumably) lacks the slowly filling meter?
Not sure whether it is absolutely a fair comparison to other MMOs either - does it feel like more content than SWTOR simply because SWTOR (presumably) lacks the slowly filling meter?

To me it does. The world in GW2 feels much more like a world to explore. For example in SWTOR some planets just felt like a meaningless collection of corridors. Some areas looked very nice such as the Jedi start area but those zones didn't connect to the rest of the game world.

Yesterday I was fighting a veteran spider in Queensdale (me being downscaled but it still was a challenge). The spider was located right across a cave, that wasn't a POI. I entered the cave which had curious platforms. Inside the cave an NPC said she was afraid to jump to the next platform. This all encouraged me to explore the cave (with some surprises along the way which I'm not going to spoil here). It is this type of exploration that I really like.

Is it the same way as the first time I set foot in Hillsbrad Foothills? No, but then I was also amazed by the enormous scale of the world. The type of content in GW2 is simply different, if you leave the predefined path of scouts and renown hearts you are rewarded will this kind of content, some which is memorable in itself. This makes the world feel bigger beyond that slowly filling meter.

The later zones take longer to complete than the earlier ones, mostlz because the combat gets more complicated. But I think zour estimate of 300+ hours are quite accurate, although you would have to add the time you spend on events.

In addition to that, the last 3 zones in Orr no longer have hearts, Orr is on big warzone with lots of events. And exploring is considerable slowler there then in the other zones, simplz because of the mobs.

About skill points: GW2 uses the GW1 system where you still get XP after lvl 80 and get another skill point every 254.000 xp. If you clean all zones, you will get alot of skillpoints from all the skill challenges and the levels after 80.
Well, I am sure a lot of people will try the 5 toon slots, so that people will play 1.500 hours...

And I guess that who want one legendary weapon will have to play other 200 hours (200 skill points, 200 levels above 80, one hour per level).

Tobold, take care with time: it is not free. Time is a resource, and there is not enough time for play two MMO. I think everyone is overestimating the number of people will play both MoP and GW2. IMHO, a lot of people will need to choose what to play, if GW2 or MoP, becauswe they have not enough "free time". However, GW2 is more fun and have no subscription. MoP is more of the same... the same basic fraw of cata.
Well, I am sure a lot of people will try the 5 toon slots, so that people will play 1.500 hours...

Sorry, 300 hours is for world completion, not character to max level. 5 characters probably take about half your estimate, because you won't do all zones with each of them.

IMHO, a lot of people will need to choose what to play, if GW2 or MoP, becauswe they have not enough "free time". However, GW2 is more fun and have no subscription.

True on the difficulty of playing two games. But I doubt the case is so clear cut which game people will choose. GW2 is great fun NOW, but some people will start getting bored in 3 weeks and look for the next NEW game, which will be MoP. Never underestimate how much people feel they NEED to play a new game or expansion on the first day.

I think GW2 not having a subscription will hurt rather than help retention. If somebody wants to see MoP on day one, and resubscribes, he might feel compelled to stay for at least one month or three, because his subscription is running. He'll think that GW2 isn't as urgent, because there is no subscription wasting if he doesn't play.
I really think they should charge SOMETHING per month for a game of this scope/quality.

Even $4.99/mo would provide some steady income, and be so low that most people would just keep paying it forever.

I fear they won't be able to keep paying their staff.
I really think they should charge SOMETHING per month for a game of this scope/quality.

Even $4.99/mo would provide some steady income, and be so low that most people would just keep paying it forever.

I fear they won't be able to keep paying their staff.
"Vanilla WoW had about twice that"

How are you substantiating that? I went through my very first character mostly solo, completing every quest in every zone past 20 (there were fewer quests then, you had to do them all on both continents), and that still includes two spells of forced grinding, as well as a fair amount of crafting. After 300 hours, there was essentially nothing left for me to do outside of groups.

I know you say you took longer, but you also say that you did a lot of grouping in your vanilla WoW leveling (which at the time was MUCH slower than soloing). Your estimate for GW2 was specifically for solo PvE content.

Or perhaps you are doubling the 300 hour number for the two sides, Alliance and Horde? I guess I don't know how that should count, or how that really compares to simply starting a new race/class in GW2.

I recommend a look at TSW if you haven't already. Exploration is king. (As is, to a certain extent, navigation. Many of your quest objectives are given in code as coordinates, not map markers.) The major story quests are usually pointed out for you on the map, but all the side-quests? That's exploration, baby. And yeah, there are monsters roaming which WILL spank you. There are 'lairs' in the game, high-level raidable bosses whose territory you shouldn't stray into. There are visual in-game cues, but no giant neon signs or map indicators. A few other legendary 'storyline' special mobs are also largely unkillable by small parties too, adding some very in-character danger.

Just playing it as a mostly-single-player game you can probably get 3 good months out of it.

@Azuriel / @Felsir:

I think the SWTOR comparison is fair. There are a lot of areas in SWTOR's planets which are useless to you unless you happen to be on the right quest.

There are many areas off the beaten path with no obvious POI/vista reward, but often they yield chests and in some rare cases, I've found ones which actually can be used to TRIGGER dynamic events.

I'm starting to realize that a lot of the dynamic events are actually grounded in being the result of player action. If you decide to get your renown heart by killing a tonne of skritt, that's one thing. If you decide to do it by turning in gate pieces, that SEEMS (could be ipod 'random' shuffle fallacy) to trigger the gate event.

IMPORTANT if you're low on events/karma: On several occasions, I've overheard NPCs having a conversation which seems to indicate room for development, and going up and talking to them offers a green tick mark, which kicks off a new event, too. Knowing this, I'm talking to more NPCs than ever, and doing more events than just 'coming across them randomly'.

It's kind of similar to Rift's exploration incentives. Getting to the weirder, more out-of-the-way places or impossible peaks pretty much always yields a rare artifact. Rift is also the first game I'd seen that didn't use bullshit invisible walls to gate you between zones. You CAN cross a mountain range to hop over into the next zone if your mountain-goat skills are good enough. GW2 does actually have some of those BS invisible walls if you explore enough. Gentle inclines which are normally traversable elsewhere, you run up into and smack into invisible barrier when jumping. It's part of their instancing mechanic, I'm guessing.


I kinda feel the same way, and on that basis I've decided to spend a small amount (roughly a sub price) on the gem store. I don't necessarily know what I'll spend the gems on, but it'll be my way of 'subbing'.
Oh, final point to note for people who complain about not having levelled enough due to not getting enough events... When you complete an event, stick around and listen to the NPCs.

The events often chain, but with 1-2min break in between them. There's lore fluff and dialogue plus some NPC-travelling happening in that time.
How are you substantiating that?

I am comparing the time it took to do all quests in WoW with the time it takes to do all hearts / skill challenges / vistas / points of interest in GW2. I agree that to do everything in WoW you have to use several characters, while in GW2 you get the option of doing it with one. By I want to compare "all content" in both games, not the path of a single character.
If you want to participate in as many events possible you need way more time than 300hours. And then there is the personal story also.
"I really think they should charge SOMETHING per month for a game of this scope/quality."

No, they don't. If you believe this you don't understand their model (you're free to disagree with the model provided you supply arguments :).

Their model is three-fold: A) they sell at premium price the full game B) they sell utility/vanity items in store C) new content will cost money.

If you contrast that to a game like WoW or TSW you pay the game + expansions (A and C) and then you pay a monthly fee which may or may not give you new content. They have gear grinds (or mount/rep grinds; grinds) to keep you active. WoW also sells some vanity items in game, but no utility items.

GW2 doesn't contain grinds like WoW does. If you want to PvP in GW2 you don't have to first craft a PvP gearset or grind honor points to get the "base" set.

So for me its a no-brainer. I play WoW by default as I've done for years. I have a spot in a top raiding guild, I have my friends there. Some of my friends have moved to PvP in GW2. I joined their guild in GW2, but I will only play GW2 during "WoW downtime" as being in a top raiding guild does demand a lot of time and effort. What does that mean for GW2 though? NOTHING, because I already bought the game and enjoy the game when I play it. Both NCsoft and Blizzard won me as customer. Also, I already spend something like 20 EUR to buy gems to get full bag space slots (I hate not having bag space in MMOs). Yes, I know about deposit collectibles, it is awesome but doesn't cut it.

I have to say it continues to amaze me how people see these 2 games as competitor. For me, they're most certainly not! It is subscription-based games like SWTOR, TSW, WoW, RIFT are indeed competing with each other despite having a different genre/theme!

"Even $4.99/mo would provide some steady income, and be so low that most people would just keep paying it forever."

In that case I'd feel shit (as in: wasted money) if I did not pay the game for a month. Or two. And I'd have to resubscribe if I'd want to. And the game doesn't have the grinds so it isn't build around keeping me hooked artificially as mentioned games above. Instead, let me play the game at my own pace. I paid for it already, and if I like the game enough I buy the expansion. You know, this scheme worked well for ages with online servers. Its quite normal in the FPS community to not work with subscriptions.
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