"A video game comic and blog that would have been awesome and relevant 10 years ago. Maybe." -Famous Website
You're in a pitch black room and the screen glimmers at you defiantly. Your mind begins to warp and you start to, deep down from the center of your core, believe that you can do it. You've got this. There is nothing you can't handle. I am gamer, hear me roar. And with your folly and bravado hand in hand, you take on the game full force on its hardest setting: the nightmare mode, as Doom so famously put it. But what is this? You become overwhelmed with the sensation of your pride, self-esteem and self worth being decimated, among other things.
After having played the beloved indie classic Cave Story near its release, Pie and I have recently picked it up again. Not just for the sheer joy that the sublime package brings, but also because Pie had never properly played through. I completed the game when I first played it and, in my hubris, I decided that this time I would go for a little extra challenge. Granted, the game is moderately difficult on regular as it is, but I did not expect the hard mode to be...well...so hard.
Early on you find something is amiss when you realize that enemies aren't stronger; the game derives its difficulty by starving you of precious health upgrades. This effectively makes every hit fatal, save for the first few enemies encountered. I figured with a bit of stubbornness, I could make it through without too much issue. Enemies and bosses were tough, but not impossible...that is until I reached the massive skill check known as Labyrinth and Monster X. Oh how silly it was to have believed in myself...has life taught me nothing?
I really love games that have bite in them and make you work for the rewards. It feels so gratifying to persist at a problem and getting the sense that you are gradually making progress. Guild Wars 2 recently had a really awesome Halloween event where you could ascend a massive, time-intensive clock tower jumping puzzle that required you to bring your A-Game. I always enjoy the platforming aspects ArenaNet has put in, and the Mad King's Clock Tower did not disappoint.
Interestingly, what has disappointed is my continued interest in GW2. They have something so special there, but my drive to play has been sapped by a certain something. I'm not at level cap, but I have put in a non-trivial amount of time at 35, and as far as I can discern the problem for me lies in a combination of environments and character progression pacing. The field environments don't really seem interesting enough for me to want to explore and the first dungeon was a total letdown. After traversing several zones, I've not found many to be especially compelling as they tend to lack character. WoW has certainly shown us how compelling strong environments can call out to you, begging to be explored and to unearth the creativity, scale, and lore imbued within its world.
Where GW2 shines, the combat and dynamic events, it feels stagnant when considering character pacing. Since you learn weapon skills so quickly, your character plays very similarly for long periods of time, making normally fun encounters repetitive while you wait for new gameplay elements to surface. Even with skills and traits being added, you are still very limited in how many skills are immediately available with the stringent hotbar restrictions. And so I think that between the lack of compelling environments to prod me to explore, and thus level up, and combat that remains stagnant for too long, I am looking elsewhere for my MMO fix. The great thing about GW2 though is not having a subscription fee; I feel completely comfortable letting my interest re-surface naturally without feeling like I'm missing out on precious paid game time or the need to re-sub after I put the game down.