I am a shameful, loathsome creature. Unlike the rest of the world, I'm not even within awkward-glancing-because-you-think-it's-someone-you-know-but-you're-not-entirely-sure distance of Guild Wars 2's level cap yet. On some level, though, I think I only feel bad because other MMOs have taught me to feel bad. Moreso than just about any other MMO to date, ArenaNet's latest gingerly ties the carrot to a stick, sets the treadmill on low (with only a bit of incline), and funnels a syrupy slick of smooth jazz through the loudspeakers. "Relax," it says in a soothing growl. "Take your time." And that, explains ArenaNet, was a very intentional design goal - which is why Guild Wars 2's endgame, well, isn't.
Some players might be a bit miffed that the tippity top peak of Guild Wars mountain isn't all that different from the rest of it. But, in a new blog post, ArenaNet explained its reasoning.
"We didn’t want the endgame to be something you could only experience after a hundred hours of gameplay or after you reached some arbitrary number. We wanted it to be something that players got to experience every step along the way, spread out across the entire world of Tyria, so we’ve introduced game elements that you’d normally associate with 'endgame' at every level and every possible opportunity."
"Sure, once your character reaches max level, we’ve created new and interesting ways to challenge you as a player, but we didn’t want to force you to master an entirely new subset of the game... As players reach the max level of 80, the dynamic events become larger, the battles more spectacular, the circumstances more dire. Each of the high-level maps in the corrupted land of Orr contain battles on a grand scale against Zhaitan’s forces, an epic war with shifting fortunes and frontlines."
Don't think, however, that ArenaNet's attempting to talk its away around a lack of content. According to the developer, there's plenty to do once you reach the end - it specifically listed dungeons' explorable mode, heaps of giant world bosses, legendary crafting, and world completion (which doesn't become a total cakewalk thanks to level scaling), among others - but now the stakes are much, much higher.
I like that philosophy a lot, too. I've never really understood the concept of endgames morphing into these unwieldy, inaccessible behemoths that require completely different skillsets than the rest of the game. You're not cannon-balling into the deep end so much as you're awkwardly falling off the diving board and belly-flopping with a sickening slap. Then it's sink or swim for a while, until eventually you're allowed to have fun again. That's weird. ArenaNet's approach, in my opinion, is a far more natural way of thinking about it.
Happily, there's also apparently quite a bit more to look forward to. "The launch of Guild Wars 2 is just the start. With the game now out in the hands of the players, we can focus our efforts to adding new types of events, new dungeons, new bosses, new rewards, and new places for players to explore," the post concluded.
So hooray for guilds! And also hooray for wars, but only in this context. War in general - I have heard from a few people - is kind of a not-great thing.