What brought me back? I had a bit of a burn out in Black Desert and looked for a more "casual"/"traditional" straight forward mmorpg. I hopped right back into GW2 after several "should I?" discussion with myself. I picked up on my level 40 ,EU account, pistol main, dagger off hand wielding assassin.
Right off the bat, everything holds true in my older reviews. There are no missions, just "things to do that go on around the map". Now... I have to revise any negativity I may have mentioned about this kind of system in the past. Although I would have wanted a strong story line that is interesting to follow through sub missions, it is a nice way to through "events" at you to level up and replaces the typical "kill 10 boars". That said, it takes 10 STEPS BACK.
The main issues are still there: The questing is scaled down so even thought I am level 40ish, I am scaled down to level 15 / 20 /30 etc.. depending on the map level requirement. This means, I never feel as epic as I have leveled up as. That is, I have upgraded my armor and weapons, and the only reason I am even RUNNING these lower level 15 maps is for exploration reasons. I SHOULD skip it all, and just go right for the areas my level to keep getting armor updates, but my itch as a partial completion-ist begs me to finish it, and I know the next content is another purchase, so I may as well fully explore the content I purchased (sad motivation to do this). This means every single dog, stray mob, etc I have to chop down to get past. Or...just run past as the game is designed thankfully.
I once said I disliked the Never Winter formula of "kill everything in your narrow path with open action dancing. That means, you have to acrobatically dodge, roll, attack every thing thrown at you blocking your path. It is tedious. It hurts the hands, and makes me feel I am doing a major dungeon tactical boss, and all just to reach a check point on a low level map. I need to chop through these low level mobs at ease. I double their level, but GW2 "fair for everyone" approach and level scaling hurts. Again, this also makes your equipment just for "looks" as it has no impact weather you are using your level 65 item or a level 15 item... the result is the same...so you have to just "go for the looks". As a guild member once told me as I did not want to upgrade to an ugly skin: "Dude just keep the low level item you like, the PvE has been nerfed to super easy". And this takes the steam out of any motivation to do what I am doing: "Playing the game".
(Legendary weapons. The cheese that keeps the mice running the grind treadmill)
So the exp is scaled also! Doing low level "events" in a map gives you high exp for you high level you brought with. In addition, they have a new SIGN IN REWARDS system that most F2P games have. One of these items includes INSTANT 4 LEVEL UP. The max level for original box purchases and new F2P model is 80. I hear it is over 100 and with the purchase of last expansion. So as I do these low level maps I am pumping up in levels and I will have quit this game at around 1 week and level 60 (20 levels just cleating 3 new map areas I had not previously...effortlessly).
The goal of all this is to boost you to 80 and get you thirsty to spend on the new content and "catch up" with others.
Before we get into that lets talk about what these original F2P (that I paid 60 bucks for back in the day) maps have to offer: This is where, at any level as a player, the game is a slap in the face. I am pushing and cleared out 90% of the map now. All maps except level 80 and the expansion maps I unlocked and did all the events in this return. I was jaw dropped disappointed as almost every map had the same copy and paste mobs: EVERYTHING WAS A CENTAUR OR A GHOST. Pepper in a spider or bat or bear as a trash mob. It feels so lazy, and so under developed and I can see that my original price of 60 bucks for this crap game that is just below F2P quality in and out.
(Guild wars 1: Diverse mobs according to environment. Guild Wars 2: Same mob in all environments)Everywhere I was going, the same "Centaur" camps, the same models, the same attacks.... They were the heart of each map. The environnement changed radically from desert, to forest, to snow, to high fantasy setting with purple haze and black wisps....but the same Centaur cries and attacks and models over and over...same stale brown centaurs, not even modified to adapt to their environment. No other creative creatures to fight....just, jaw dropping SAD.
Then there are the ghost models. And this is really lazy design. If it is not a centaur, the "human models" used in game are these "ghost armies" which are just teh regular NPC models previously used in cities, etc.. and turned transparent. Just white. No skin. And to see how lazy they got, IF YOU TARGET THE ENEMY GHOST, THE AVATAR IN THE TOP TARGET CIRCLE IS FLESH MODEL REGULAR NPC SKIN, BUT THE PHYSICAL MODEL YOU FIGHT IS A GHOST. Meaning, they did not even put the effort in changing the target box avatar to reflect the lazy re-skin.
I look back and compare the over hype of this game when it launched well into a year of it's life (The fan bois, and MMORPG.COM would call this the WOW killer). Back then, the maps were populated...over populated to the point we literally stood in groups bashing the same mini boss over and over for drops and fast level up. Now, a pure wasteland with illegal bots running around, or just people too indifferent to respond (I spot at least 5 bots per log in running around on a "QSDERF3434" named character running DIRECTLY to the resource nodes to farm ressources (later sold to make gold, to get weapons, to resell). That just feels sad. That said, there are still guilds hanging out to get into and recruiting. The new guild system allows you to be in several guilds at once.
(Did I mention you can sort of fly now? Sort of...it is just gliders and half ass implementation. Don't ask about the cash or the skins to unlock for them. Depression sets in)
In summary, I look at where I am 20 levels later and ask if it is worth it to go to 80. I am bored. The main story line is not epic, it feels like every other crap event + my previous explained gripe about the "dialog" scenes they cheaply replaced a good cut scene with. And the fact I leveled too fast, and I prefer to catch up with the low level maps and logically "learn about the world" that the main story is taking place in. The problem is after weeks of unlocking maps, doing "missions", and catching up, I forget the main story arch, and or/it is not as important and loses steam. That is, NO WHERE is it tied in with the rest of what I am doing. For example: I spend weeks in famrs cleaning cow poop, stopping waves of centaurs, seeing a living environment with invading ether world objects, conflicts of centaur camps, and ghost villages...tinkering gnomes telling me about their science advancements...NO WHERE DOES THE MAIN STORY, IT'S CHARACTERS, THEIR ISSUES, THEIR EXPLANATION OF MY WORLD EVER COME TIED BACK / WOVEN INTO THE WORLD I AM EXPLORING.
Not once! "Oh hey, giant monster attacked a princess, suspicious lion tribe perhaps at the plot?" now go spend a month cleaning cow poop, watering plants, fighting ghosts, then come back to see how this plot unravels like WTF??? This makes disconnect between player / plot / and world. I can see fan bois that have maybe flash black out memory or "oh cool I clicked and things happening" brains that are easily pleased. But I would rather play for fully free TERA, that at least gave me nice cut scene stories that pushed a plot I would eat in tid bits and tied into the raids. It was not perfect, but I felt more connected to the main arching story than this game. And what is odd, the people cried: "TERA has no story PvE"....these people did not read the text and hit ESC on the cut scenes just to "got 2 go fast".
(There are also guild missions now, but no one except top guilds do them as well...not enough people and they will hurt you more than Bunbun here)
I guess I still feel the burn for paying full price for a game I easily identified as F2P quality at launch, and being silenced by the fan bois. I now sit back and laugh as the title is forced F2P and pulling all the cheap F2P tricks including "level boost" and technical pay to win. How so? If you do not pay for the expansion you are out of the level / power bosts of up to 100 levels of power. You have a new skill tree that you can not touch. And of course, weapons and other items you can not wield.
So even at Free 2 Play, I do not recommend you play or start this game. It is boring. Poorly designed. And pumping out even more disappointing content with it's update that serve as just power boosts (it's new content are poorly made maps and raids that cater only to those that burned their lives away grinding for / paying for the armor / weapon check).
Final score of Guild Wars in 2016: 1/5. 1 point for the cool people I met in my guild that really do not care about the game as much as they do about just chatting.