Is this really what Guild Wars 2 has become?
Dozens and dozens of people repeatedly farming 5 champion monsters in one zone. It is so fundamentally wrong and is so entirely at odds with ArenaNet’s design philosophies that at times I’m struggling to comprehend how it has even survived for five minutes, never mind the weeks that have now passed.
The principal behind improving world encounters and enemies is sound. Champions were throw-away enemies that had no bearing on game play and were avoided by all as lengthy encounters that yielded no profit for your efforts. ArenaNet rightly sought to change this and implemented loot bags which when farmed, yield a relatively reasonable gold return (as well as Skill Points).
My issue however is the fact that ArenaNet have shifted one problem (Citadel of Flame Path 1) to another (Champion Farming). Both resulted in a large majority of the player base congregating in one location at the expense of participating in events and other game content. The reason for this is the fact that earning money in Guild Wars 2, through traditional means, is a difficult endeavour due to the processes and design decisions ArenaNet have taken. Effectively, in their interests of fairness, they’ve crippled a player’s ability to earn money. As a result, players take the initiative and use any means necessary to eke out a profit even if it means partaking in something monotonous or exploitative.
Unfortunately for us players, it’s in ArenaNet’s best interests to ensure the vast majority of players are not wealthy. This would entirely undermine their buy-to-play model and their reliance on you purchasing gems. Were gold readily available they would inevitably be unable to fund their Living World teams because no one would buy gems, they would simply convert them. Due to this, the mechanics the game has in place are all designed to ensure wealth gain is incredibly slow.
The sharing of harvest nodes, everyone being able to maximise all trade skills, the removal of player to player mail, up-scaling and down-leveling, a complete reliance on the Trading Post and terrible loot tables ensures this. You may consider all of the above to have little effect on a player’s ability to generate income but its impact is telling.
Where nodes were once competitive resources people fought over (rightly so) the impact of having them available to everyone has resulted in their value being almost worthless. Where you could once profit from getting off your backside and farming the world, regardless of resource “level”, it’s now a pointless endeavour that only bears fruit for a daily. This even playing field has repercussions for almost everything. Want 250 Sharp Claws? You’ll need a miracle to acquire even ten on a farming run based on the poor loot tables. Unlike other MMOG’s you cannot target a specific monster to grind out claws because the drops rates are so pitiful, compounded by the fact that to farm in lower level zones (as players used to) isn’t possible due to level scaling. Your strength and higher level won’t help you farm cotton scraps quickly in Guild Wars 2.
Where in World of Warcraft you might have jumped onto WoWHead to see what mob dropped a specific item (complete with drop rate figures) this just doesn’t exist in Guild Wars 2. What’s worse, there is absolutely no profitability to farming for any raw materials that isn’t outweighed by time versus outcome. You could happily gather Orichalcum and have a minor financial return, but there’s little value in it based on the limited number of nodes and the shared-server Trading Post keeping all sale costs relatively low. Unlike in other games where you could control the Auction House through buyouts and thanks to the Auction House being limited to one server only, that also isn’t possible here. What’s worse is the fact that the Champion Choo-Choo Train still outstrips the value of such farming and is frighteningly efficient for nothing more than obtaining silver and vendoring trash greens.
So there are two fundamental issues here:
1. Ensuring Champions don’t spawn in the same place so Champion farming in its current form isn’t possible.
2. Adding additional methods of income to ensure scenarios such as Champion Farming or Citadel of Flame isn’t a continued occurrence.
Unfortunately for ArenaNet, they are too far in to make any major changes to the way the game and its economy functions. What they can do however is implement methods of earning gold to make up for it. The Pavillion, despite Deadeye being exploited into oblivion, was a perfect example of this: structured, repeatedable content that yielded good rewards. By expanding this principal into the game world, in a variety of zones, would go some way to alleviate the lack of funds most players experience.
I have of course ignored the Trading Post for a large part of this editorial and the reason for that is the fact that while profitable to flip items, not only is the interface horrendous but it's also a tedious and mundane process that relies on minor profits over hundreds upon hundreds of items. Further, it also requires a lot of capital to really make your mark and simply isn't an accessible option for the many as it involves no physical play of the actual game we all love.
Overall, Guild Wars 2's economy is a mess due to the systems ArenaNet have developed and while the buy-to-play model is championed (and it is great in many ways) and many of the systems were marketed as having players at heart, I'm not sure its worked out that way. I believe that the majority of issues players face in earning an income are the fault of these very systems intended to create a level playing field. More than anything, I pine for a system similar to World of Warcraft and that's something I thought I'd never say.