Hey everybody, my name is Andrew Gray. I took over as Content Design Lead a few months back and I want to talk a bit about last year, this year, and what's on the horizon for Guild Wars 2.
First, 2019 was hard. I've been with ArenaNet since 2004 and I can say without question that 2019 was the studio's most challenging. Many of the people who left in 2019 were not involved in the day-to-day development of Guild Wars 2, that much is true--but they were our friends, colleagues, and in some cases literally family. All the teams were affected by saying goodbye to so many colleagues. I'm proud of what we were able to ship under the circumstances, but we also understand the legacy we are trying to carry forward with Guild Wars 2; rather than slip into a status quo, we are all determined to create an even better game moving forward.
We've got our footing and we have exciting plans for the future of GW2. I can't talk about what I'm most excited for yet, but I can tell you 2020 is laying the groundwork for an exciting future. Here are some of the highlights:
- Between episodes two and three, we already mentioned we'll be releasing a special new type of content called Visions of the Past; we'll have more details on that at PAX East.
- I can't go into a ton of details on episodes three and four because, you know, spoilers and all, but I can tell you the map is meta-focused with a push-and-pull feel similar to WvW in a PvE setting. We want maps this season to bring something to them that makes them a permanent part of your play experience. That's why the culmination of Bjora Marches is a world boss and we're striving for high replayability for the episodes three and four map. We want it to be a unique, fun, and rewarding experience that will be part of your daily/weekly play cycle.
- After episode four, again I'm going to be somewhat vague here, but we want to revisit some of the types of content we pioneered in the past. We learned a lot with Living World Season One and one thing it did very well was to bring the community into the story, and make their actions drive the plot forward. The Nightmare Tower, the election between Evon Gnashblade and Ellen Kiel – these things are memorable experiences because the community's combined efforts had an impact on the world. As you may have noticed, we've been testing tech with things like the boss rush event, that we hope to leverage later on in The Icebrood Saga to create a unique, community experience. But, learning lessons from Season 1, the bulk of this content will be built in a way that it is still playable after the Icebrood Saga comes to a close.
- Generally, as a team, we are placing a greater emphasis on repeatable content (open world events, world bosses, WvW, and yes, even Fractals (hint hint)). We want to make the types of content that have a lasting, positive impact on the game, so expect that design approach to focus on that more going forward.
On the topic of Fractals…
- Reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated, though I apologize that our silence on the topic raised that concern.
- I am personally committed to Fractals and see them as an area that deserves more focus and attention going forward. I'm happy to announce that Cameron Rich, who worked on Fractals during Season Three, will be taking the reins on a new Fractal as he rolls off his current duties. This Fractal will feature a challenge mode. Beyond that, I'm working with the Systems Design team on more plans to keep Fractals fresh and exciting. I'm excited and when everything is ready to share, we'll have more details.
- Raids are a trickier beast. They're a unique experience and community that we want to find better ways to support, the biggest challenge in creating more is the small audience they attract. We gathered data to determine why, and the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame content, and there isn't anything to help players work their way up.
- Our intention was for Strike Missions to be that intermediary step into 10-person content. As we've mentioned before and you've likely noticed, strike missions are getting harder. Once a full suite of strike missions is complete there should be a graceful ramp up to the existing raid content rather than the imposing leap that previously existed, and our hope is once that ramp is in place, the number of players participating in raids will go up. In addition to that, we're striving to make improvements to Strike Missions themselves to make grouping easier, and to improve the rewards. We hope this will help introduce more people to 10-person content, which will in turn increase the number of people interested in Raids.
- Regardless of if that succeeds or not, we understand the importance of balancing our efforts between accessible content with broad appeal, and content that appeals to the more hard core audience, and recognize that we need to do a better job of supporting the latter.
I'm excited for what's coming next. There's going to be more news coming out throughout this year that will make it pretty kitten clear why, but in the meantime, we're incredibly grateful for all your constructive feedback and continued support of the game.