The much anticipated blog post has gone live this morning. In it, Colin Johanson covers what ArenaNet has in store for the first half of 2013, and what improvements we can look forward to as we travel around Tyria. Head past the cut for a run down of the blogpost, as well as some minor excitement on what I see as a great charter for the future.
The Mission Statement: Improve what already exists
ArenaNet didn't give it explicitly, but there seems to be an underlying theme of all their plans. Instead of focusing on new content types and maps and events, there seems to be admission that a lot of Tyria is devoid of players and that by improving content in these zones the whole game improves dramatically.
At the start of the game, running into players was the highlight of PvE. Randomly finding a person to do a dynamic event with on the northern slopes of the Shiverpeaks was amazing. Two wandering adventures unified by a common goal. This has been lost some in the months since launch, and ArenaNet seems tenacious to try and get it back. A break down of what they have planned to achieve this:
- New Achievement system with redeemable tokens. These tokens can be spent on the highest quality gear in the game.
- Revolving daily achievements that take you to different parts of the world each day (Zaishen quests, hooray!).
- Living story events that are long form world events that change the map cover multiple zones (I wont gloat, but I did ask for grander content, I'm so stoked they are delivering).
- Cosmetic Reward Titles tied into the Achievement lines
- New guild missions and guild created open world content
- Improved Boss dynamics in the open world
- More, and less frequent Dynamic Events to really make the world feel different every time you log in.
And that seems to be the tip of the iceberg. I can not explain how awesome all of that sounds. A persistant reward path, tied into the achievement system, that rewards high end gear solves the "grind Fractals for ascended" issue in one fell swoop. The image they shared shows getting to select gear based on profession. Which should mean no more heavy armor daily rewards for my Mesmer. Thank Dwayna.
World vs World and sPvP
These both got considerably less attention in the post, but that's just because the changes seem simpler. WvW will get a subset or part of all of the PvE changes they are planning. Which means new rewards and achievement tracks. They also mentioned wanting to make winning in the short term more rewarding, and not just at the end of the week. If I can read between the lines here, I think (hope) this means well see systems and scoring metrics that reward partial map control or other forms of rewards for strong group efforts that unify the whole server's attention.
The sad truth with WvW is I think they are about 2 months behind where they want to be as a result of server transfer issues and culling issues stealing developer time. Paid Server transfers were confirmed as coming soon and will included WvW time outs and restrictions. Guesting was (finally) mentioned again as well. They also seem to be close on culling fixes, and if 2012 was the year of the Dragon, Colin lightly jokes that 2013 will be the year of no culling. I'll inform my Chinese friends to amend their calendars.
On the sPvP front, I think most of this was covered in the many pseudo updates by Jonathan Sharp, but he continued to stress improved rewards and more reason to log in daily and compete. The one big piece of news is Colin did give a brief mention to spectator mode, a feature that was lacking from Sharp's previous roadmap. Seeing that feature mentioned, along with guesting and server transfers for WvW should resolve two of the biggest issues plaguing the player vs player sphere of the game.
The Road Ahead
I think we can all agree that ArenaNet focusing on making the existing world and maps better is a great path for the game. If you were around for launch (and the betas) you remember just how amazing the open world content of this game is with players in each map. That still happens, don't get me wrong, but to see developers try to capitalize on the strength of their game, instead of constantly spinning out new content for the top 25% of the player base is truely refreshing to see in the industry. It's not often a developer says "our focus is on making level 24-60 zones worth playing for high level characters" and if any dev studio can pull it off, it may be this one.\
What are you most looking forward to out of the blog post, and what do you think they may have missed?