Said the dragon to the knight from the depths of its lair.
Let’s talk dungeons.
You all know I’m a former World of Warcraft player, an active raider even (why do I feel like I’m saying I’m a recovering alcoholic?). I played WoW because it was fun and I got to hang with my friends. A couple years ago, however, I played WoW because it was INSANELY fun and I got to conquer gods with my friends. (If you’re wondering though, this was my proudest moment, I was raid leader for that and we were still 25-strong.)
Anyway! Guild Wars is great, and Guild Wars 2 looks even more great. Even in the midst of my excited anticipation, however, there was still a part of me that mourned the passing of Tigerfeet the Raider. There’s something about talking with other people, adrenaline running high as everyone concentrates on performing to the best of their ability, failing, failing, and finally the rush of SUCCESS when the Big Bad of the moment finally falls. It’s the euphoria of accomplishment shared with friends.
Guild Wars Classic has this to a point, but the majority of the boss fights do not leave me feeling like I have accomplished something epic, though Dhuum at the end of the Underworld certainly comes close. The activity I’m missing can best be described as a carefully orchestrated dance to stay alive. WoW’s heavily scripted battles are often maligned as predictable and compared to a guided theme park experience. I at least found them exceedingly fun.
My explorer was satisfied by wondering “What’s he going to do next”. My competitive side was satisfied when we finally worked through the difficulties and conquered the boss. Since these encounters were scripted, once we gained a little experience (practical experience, I’m not talking about arbitrary numbers attached to your character) we would take that knowledge back with us and try again, eventually becoming proficient enough individually and as a group to overcome the challenge.
While reading Jeff Grubb’s article I started smiling. (Two dungeon modes? Yes Please!) As I kept reading my smile broadened, (dynamic changes within the dungeon? Absolutely!) and when I reached the end and read about the massive scripted bossfights my smile broke into an enthusiastic grin. (HELL YES!) This is the challenge, the experience I’m looking for. This is the manner in which I want to catch Tyria in a headlock and wrestle her to the ground.
The dungeons also remind me of a point I’ve made about Guild Wars 2 in the past. For every amazing and revolutionary step forward ArenaNet takes (dynamic dungeon content), they offer in the other hand a treat of the ‘familiar’ for players of older MMOs (scripted boss battles).
It’s so easy to get angry and feel betrayed when a tried mechanic is implemented in a game that’s touted as being original and revolutionary, but please, think about it. A game can be new and fresh without all of its parts needing to be so. I can build a beautiful new wooden floor out of salvaged barn lumber, for example.
If ArenaNet were to turn away every idea and mechanic that had been used in games previously I truly believe that Guild Wars 2 would be less for it. I respect a company that can get excited about the new and unique things its doing while still being happy to offer more familiar mainstays when they work. And that’s exactly what ArenaNet is doing with the dungeons. As we say here in the Midwest, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Of course, a bit of spit shine polish doesn’t hurt.