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PAX East 2013: ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2’s Near and Far Future

Before the palaver began in earnest, we were given a brief recap of the game’s current state and the overall design focus. At the moment, we know that the game’s developers are not looking to release a major expansion, focusing instead on more immediate content releases on a short schedule to make the game as good as it can be. While they don’t like to use the term sandbox, they want the game to be a living world where people have a reason to be out in the world instead of stuck in small, instanced areas.

So does that mean we’ll never get an expansion? No, it means we’re not getting one in the forseeable future. Despite this, team members are working on some of the things that would be in an expansion if one did come out. Odds are that players won’t see any new professions or continents in the game without an expansion, but new skills, new traits, and new maps are all fair game for adding in the game’s regular updates.

 

We talked a bit about the endgame in Guild Wars 2, which is the source of a lot of player angst and overall misunderstandings. The statement “there is no endgame” means not that there’s nothing to be done at the level cap but that the elements players enjoyed from level 1-79 should still be relevant and the main form of content at level 80. That means that the game needs more endgame, but mostly it just needs more content in the high end because there’s no artificial distinction between the two.

Right now, the team is putting a lot of work into World vs. World, which requires a lot of lead time — data have to be collected, then the team has to implement changes, then it has to collect more data. Despite that, WvW fans should see some additions every month for the next few months.

Will there be an alternate system of PvE-only progression like the new WvW system? It’s been discussed, but right now ANet is focused on bulking up rewards for PvE to produce the same effect. That brought up a discussion about ascended gear, which is admittedly a patch — the team needed something to make up the gap between exotic items and legendary items, since players were grabbing the former at a far faster rate than the developers had anticipated.

On the subject of WvW progression, the team fully expects that players will initially feel that rewards take too long to earn. That’s intentional; the devs would rather have the system tuned too slow and require a faster progression than tune it too fast and have to take that away from players. There are ways to guess, but players can be more skilled or more dedicated than developers expect.

Some players have been nonplussed by the fact that the game’s main story thrust has shifted away from Orr, the big endpoint at launch. But Orr is neither forgotten nor irrelevant; it’s just not the sole focus any longer. Some plot points will lie fallow for a few months at any given interval, and the team as a whole is aimed at spreading the world out rather than having every level 80 player congregating in the same location. 

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