One of the aspects of leveling in Guild Wars 2 that players are most looking forward to is the game’s dynamic event system. Let’s face it, questing in a static world gets pretty boring, and the promise of dynamic content– content that actually shifts, changes, and presents danger to us– seems like a breath of fresh air to us after years of plugging away at killing boars and wolves. A game world that actually comes to life based on the acts of players in the area? The ability to make a difference in this world? Sign me up.
The system sounds fantastic on paper, and has proven to be enjoyable in beta for most players who have taken part, but some remain skeptical. Why? Because we’ve heard the promise before. We’ve seen it in other games. Warhammer Online’s Public Quests are advertised as dynamic events, and so is a large portion of RIFT’s content. RIFT is an interesting comparison here, because RIFT’s dynamic content is one of its main focuses. RIFT is about, well, rifts. And huge, planar invasion forces. And zone events that can make an entire map gloomy until danger subsides. Despite all this, however, RIFT’s dynamic content is very different from Guild Wars 2′s. Let’s talk about how.
First off, there are some good reasons why players generally compare RIFT’s and Guild Wars 2′s dynamic events. For one thing, the name’s the same. Both games feature events that are dynamic in nature, can randomly pop up at any point, and scale in a way that encourage players to group together to take down the enemy. At least, that’s the goal. RIFT uses a public grouping system, similar to Warhammer Online’s, which makes it simple for players to group up and take down tough mobs. Once grouped, players share loot, and even without using the grouping system, players are able to obtain planar-related loot and currency.
The system works most of the time, except for the fact that are still two factions that can’t group together, and that, for the most part– RIFT is a game that favors solo gameplay in non-instanced environments. Players will often avoid public groups altogether, or make their own guild groups instead. Even planar enemies become “tagged”, and provide additional loot to the owner of the mob. Non-event mobs and quest objectives are as solo-friendly as in other, typical MMOs, and it’s often hard for players to break the solo-friendly habit.
Guild Wars 2 takes the public grouping idea and propels it a couple yards further. Why have players publicly group only for special events, when the world itself could encourage cooperation? Why can’t players gain experience and loot from mobs they’ve helped kill even while not grouped? Why not let players all mine the same ore nodes?
Cooperation is one of the traits currently missing in many MMOs right now, which is quite disappointing given the ‘M’ that stands for multiplayer in ‘MMORPG’. Guild Wars 2 is attempting to change that, and encourages cooperation across the board. There’s no need to join a special group to finish off a tough dynamic event boss, and there’s no need to peer around anxiously for a tank. With no solid role system and one faction, survival becomes a single, cooperative goal, instead of one spread across small groups who cling together, particular classes, and faction numbers. Breath of fresh air, indeed.
Now, let’s take at a look at the mechanics used in both games. Guild Wars 2′s dynamic events offer a scoring system similar to the one RIFT originally launched with. RIFT’s was more of a scorecard than anything, which proved to cause too much competition among players, and was taken out completely. GW2′s system serves a broader purpose, and merely tallies up a player’s level of participation. Rewards in both games are easily identified.
Objectives are easy to find in both games, and are easily tracked. GW2′s objective bar is used to give players an idea of how long the event lasts for, which serves the same purpose as the multiple stages of most of RIFT’s rifts and events. The bonus stages of RIFT’s events add a fun boost to the objective table, but GW2 has a very cool way of chaining events together that, to me, comes out on top. Not all dynamic events chain across to others, but the ones that do are very enjoyable. That mechanic is quite akin to many of the most recent larger zone events in RIFT, except more unpredictable and not quite as zerg-ridden.
Speaking of zergs, one interesting side effect of dynamic content in both games is the effect of player zerging. RIFT’s world content, currently, is very centered around large groups of players following a single-file line of turtle, spider, raptor, and other assorted creature mounts toward an objective. Once there, everyone slays a common enemy, then zergs off to the next. Part of this zerg-ful way of life is due to the fact that tough mobs need to be tanked, but it’s also due to the fact that the largest mobs and and rifts pop up on every player’s map in the area. Zone events are also globally announced.
Yes, players are brought together nicely, and some gigantic battles ensue, which can be fun, but at the same time– it’s a little dull and predictable. GW2 adds more randomness in their events. Some of GW2′s dynamic events follow this same model of “kill the big guy”, but there are a large number that don’t. The events themselves are also a little more hidden, and players are likely to stumble across them while exploring. This, in turn, encourages players to explore, and if they need assistance, to rally for help across chat channels.
Unfortunately, it’s possible that in time, many of GW2′s events may rarely see action due to the somewhat-hidden nature of many dynamic events. Once areas start quieting down, leveling players may avoid the more difficult events altogether. At this point, scaling may have to be further adjusted. But due to the automatic de-leveling system in GW2, this issue may not be as prominent as many of us fear. And for the purposes of GW2′s launch– most players, I think, will find exploration very enjoyable, and immersive.
Immersive. That’s a key word right there for myself and for many fans eager to break free into Tyria this August. Guild Wars 2′s dynamic events are centered around an immersive world, where events are random, numerous, and a little unpredictable. RIFT’s dynamic events have some very solid ideas behind them, if you ask me, but after a few weeks of exploring the game, its rifts, and zone events, it all starts to blend together and become just a tad repetitive. Don’t get me wrong– I still enjoy RIFT– but for a game supposedly focused on “rifts” as the name would suggest, its dynamic content could use some serious love.
Then there’s the issue of impact. RIFT’s dynamic events used to shape the world around them a lot more than they currently do. Entire quest hubs used to be totally taken over, and NPCs would lay dead until players would rally together and clear away the invaders. When maps began to clear out more as the population hit endgame, new players found it impossible to quest without a little assistance from higher level players, and Trion made some changes. Now even failed zone events result in a sudden extermination of bad guys. It’s honestly hard to say dynamic content has an impact on the game world when this happens.
In GW2′s case, failed dynamic events often cause nearby NPCs to not spawn, or for enemies to continue tromping around. Chained events won’t begin until the first is complete. NPCs will complain and mutter until more heros come around and the next event starts. There’s some kind of impact in most cases, even if it’s minor. And the events themselves are different enough as to make most players genuinely curious. Objectives aren’t always about killing– that’s a huge positive there. It’s fantastic seeing some creativity in GW2′s events.
Will GW2′s dynamic event system suffer the same fate as RIFT’s once the game launches? It’s hard to say, but with any luck, the game’s de-leveling system, the focus on exploration, and the way in which events chain to others may save us all. There’s a whole lot of exploration out there. And for players who enjoy just that– I think we’re in for a treat.