Tyria Today – In Defense of the Daily


[ Tyria Today brings you the important issues you need regarding the goings-on in Guild Wars 2, because MMORPGs can be serious business. And Tyria Today is Totally Your Business(tm) ]

Today, we’re talking about Dailies, Laurels, Ascended Gear, and the complaints that they’re changing the nature of the Guild Wars 2 community for the worse.

NOTE: This is an opinion piece, just in case anyone confuses it with an “article”, whatever that is.

There has been a bit of discussion about the “Daily” system in Guild Wars 2 lately. Most of it on the game’s official forums, since the third-party community sites are still germinating. There are the odd exceptions, like gw2lfg.com, which came to the rescue where ArenaNet thought not having a party-finder was a good idea. The concept for gw2lfg.com is also very elegant – you specify what it is you want to do, who you are, and where you can be found.

Daily Whatnow?

For the uninitiated, the Daily system in Guild Wars 2 has seen a mild overhaul lately, giving people more ways in which to complete the tasks set for the day. Where before it was a fixed list of a few repeating tasks (kill certain things somewhere, harvest an amount of crafting materials, etc), now the Daily list shows nine choices, and you just pick which 5 you want to complete for your once-a-day reward.

It doesn’t matter which of the five tasks you do, and the nine choices are random each day (from a pool of 30, if I’m not mistaken). Usually, this results in a spread of choices that, if you play a regular 30 to 45-minute session, will result in at least five being completed anyway. And that gives you a shiny Laurel, one of the (perhaps too many) new currencies trading in Tyria.

Laurels, it’s the new Karma.

So what can you do with Laurels? The always-excellent Dulfy.net is your go-to site when you want a methodical breakdown on the changes happening all over a growing Tyria’s body. You can read the exactitude over at this link. But the short of it is: Laurels buy some pretty nice things. Things like high-durability mining gear (save dat bag space!), World vs World blueprints (Dailies can usually be done entirely in WvW as well), Exotic-quality gear for the class of your choosing (but it’s random what you get, derp), two of the new Ascended quality item types (of which we’re now up to four, I think), and of course, some mini-pets.

The amount of Laurels you’ll need is usually in proportion to the value of the item you’re buying, though I always question the value people place on mini-pets. They’re cute, sure, but not really functional. For someone playing Player vs Environment (and even World vs World to a degree), the two possible Ascended upgrades are the most appealing. The numbers may not seem that high in direct comparison to the tier below Ascended, which is Exotic, but when you’re settling with some specialization at the higher levels, every little bit helps.

Ass-ended Rings, hyuck.

You could buy Ascended Rings using your Laurels, but the Rings are (in my opinion) best gotten by running Fractals. Once you hit Fractal difficulty 10 (which is when the new Agony debuff starts kicking in), each time you complete a run you have a pretty good chance at getting a random Ascended ring. Unless you’re really super-picky about your stat balance, any ring you get is an improvement over that Exotic you have in there. You can (and probably should, if you want to save some time) fill both ring slots without having to do more than a single Fractal run a day, until you hit 10 and then repeat 10 a few times. The loot that drops is also very good at that level, even with only mild Magic Find (8%) you should luck into a few Rares and the odd Exotic to salvage (gotta get dat Ecto).

That leaves us with Ascended Amulets. Aside from running the new Guild Missions with a guild of at least a hundred people (since smaller guilds likely wouldn’t have even unlocked the requirements for Guild Missions yet), there’s no other way to get an Ascended Amulet other than spending Laurels. Since the Rings you get from Fractals are random, the Amulet gives you some control. All the Amulets at the Laurel vendor are sets of three. While they may be named differently, each set of three has the same stats, but different Infusion slots. Infusions come in four flavors: Offensive, Defensive, Utility and Omni. Omni infusions can go into any slot. So you’ll want to pick the Amulet with the stats you want, while keeping in mind which Infusions you want to focus on. If you’re still running Fractals for your Rings, you’ll be putting an Agony Resist Infusion (Omni) in your Amulet in the meantime, so try to plan ahead.

Complaint #1 – It’s too hard, make it easier. It’s too easy, make it harder.

There seems to be some vexation by the Guild Wars community (again, I refer in general to the official Guild Wars 2 forums, which I try to take with a pinch of salt), claiming that now Ascended Gear is too easy to get, or it requires a grind of dailies to get.

Okay, that’s actually two complaints. It’s true, an Ascended Amulet is only 30 Laurels. You get one Laurel a day, if you play a little each day, and if you finish your Monthlies (which were ridiculously easy this month), that’s a bonus 10 Laurels. So in 20 days, it’s possible to get an Ascended Amulet. It’s pretty easy, since it just requires showing up and participating a little. Personally, I don’t see the problem with it. People who play a lot get it faster, but this ain’t a race.

Is it a good thing that Ascended items get “handed out like candy” now, as some see it? “Used to be you had to slave away in the Fractals, but now any Casual fool can get one”. There was a large lash-back from the community when the Ascended tier was introduced, because fans felt ArenaNet had betrayed their “no equipment tier grinds” promise. Well, it’s certainly not a grind anymore.

Complaint #2 – Take Me Down To The Overflow City…

When the Fractals were launched, Lion’s Arch, the central city of Tyria – port of trade, center of commerce  and with a really bitching (recently rebuilt) giant statue of a Lion – became too damn popular. Lion’s Arch (pro-tip – there’s a lion, and lots of arches) was built to handle a large gathering of players, since it’s the nexus between all the main cities, but when the Fractal entrance was built it concentrated much of the higher-level player base into one zone. And since Guild Wars 2 literally pushes you towards max level as hard as it can without having to actually play for you, most of the player base could be considered high-level. Though this swings back and fourth on a cycle only ArenaNet is privy to, since they have the hard numbers and behind-the-scenes stats.

There is a system in place for when too many people try to be in one place at the same time. Any zone (a single map, connected at the edges via rippling portals to other zones), once it reaches its occupancy limit (250? 300? No idea), will start putting players trying to waygate or walk in, into a new instance of the zone. Players in an Overflow, get “Overflow” written under the name of the zone, as it’s shown on the minimap. A lot of new players miss this cue, which can result in some comedy. Overflow instances throw together players from all the servers in a specific Realm (North America, Europe, Asia). And there can be multiple overflow instances of a single zone, as was seen during the Lost Shores event and at the game’s launch.

The Fractals gave Lion’s Arch a serious, long-running case of chronic overflowus. That, and it’s been taking longer and longer to log in, if you logged out in LA. Then the New Dailies showed up this month, and everything changed. Lion’s Arch is no longer in perpetual Overflow, which is nice. Because you can get Ascended Rings via other means than running Fractals, it’s safe to bet that many people stopped running Fractals, or there are less people starting them for the first time. Some of the pressure is gone. But suddenly, Queensdale and the Wayfarer Foothills contracted overflowitus, and it’s pretty chronic.

In this case, it’s both the Dailies, and the currently-in-progress “Living Story” experiment that’re causing serious congestion in those zones. The dailies now have the chance to instruct players to go to some of the lower-level zones and kill stuff there, or run some events there. Because the “newbie” zones, Queensdale and Wayfarer, are pretty easy and chock-full of events, they’re the obvious choice for many. So now you have large chunks of the high-level population, slumming it in the level 1 to 15, 15 to 20 zones. Of course, they’re still “sidekicked”, their stats artificially capped at a lower level so they can’t just wipe the map solo.

The benefit here is pretty obvious, and likely what ArenaNet was going for: counteract the newbie zones feeling “empty” (since populations move on to new zones when they level), by providing incentives for players to revisit them. Newbies see an MMO full of life, and the veterans get some Karma, money, items to salvage for crafting materials, and a shiny Laurel. And hopefully, ArenaNet gets a better gauge on population control, because Overflow isn’t helping in this case. Granted, having Overflow is the better alternative to a Queue. Nobody wants to see “You are X in the Queue, estimated wait: 30 minutes”, in an MMO. The overflow system is meant to negate anyone having to wait to start playing, the downside being they might get placed in a near-empty overflow instance.

Complaint #3 – “This is ruining the game”

Here’s the main one that got me thinking on this topic in the first place. I don’t think it’s a very popular complaint, most of the community seems okay with the changes, because, hey, free stuff.

But while there are many variants of this complaint, each making their own hypothesis as to which part of the new Dailies is ruining the game, one stood out to me because it seemed a valid question:

I paraphrase: “What if the Dailies are just training people to log in an hour a day to check off the list, get a Laurel, then stop playing? Dailies are fine, but they’re not all the game has to offer, and many events/systems are being ignored.”

That’s how I remember it, anyway. It’s true: ever since the New Dailies, I’ve been making it a point to log in when they reset (which is a convenient 8pm for me), do the easiest/quickest ones, then log out when done. I’d still chat to the one guild I joined, because they’re fun people and we all share a common interest (the Engineer class). When the timing matched up, I’d still play with friends – we’d do our dailies together. And sometimes, this coincided with someone working to “clear” a map (get 100% in finding all the Points of Interests, Vistas and Skill Points). It’s nice to get a bunch of things done at the same time.

Is my method of play, ruining the game? There was a time I spent more of my energy running Plinx in the Cursed Shore. Plinx, being a chain-event that starts every 30 minutes or so, yields good loot, but isn’t very challenging. But it beats “running the tunnel” as it’s called, which is where groups of very bored-looking players stand around waiting for a specific event which, when completed, all you have to do is run to the other end of a nearby tunnel, and stand around waiting for a specific event. Repeat. It’s incredibly boring, but until ArenaNet changes it, one of the quicker ways to farm Karma. And a farm it is. I’m shocked half the players that do it regularly, haven’t been accidentally banned for botting yet.

Is the Daily system ruining the game, by changing the nature of how people play it? I’ve seen no evidence to support it, really. Granted, my “evidence” is anecdotal, limited to one server (Fort Aspenwood), and of course I’m not everywhere at once. I think a trick here is that not everyone logs on to do Dailies at the same time, and so there’s a pretty good spread of people across the zones, no matter the time. And, at the end of the day, all those Laurels you get from Dailies are used to buy things for use in regular play, like running Dungeons, completing your Personal Story, or clearing zones… so there’s no benefit to doing only Dailies forever.

People play MMOs for very different reasons, the Dailies are there to assist people who don’t want to spend 10 hours a day in a game, just to stay competitive or feel like they’re making progress. So I think ArenaNet are on the right track here.