The topic has come up many times before – does Guild Wars 2 need an expansion? For this latest edition of The Tyrian Chronicle, we take a look at the game in its current state, how the Living Story is holding up, and what the games needs to do to stay relevant.
With Guild Wars 2 nearing its two-year anniversary very soon, naturally the topic of an expansion is more popular than ever. Could Living Story Season 2 be leading up to a big expansion release? Is that what they’ve been saving some features for all this time? Will there be new continents and new end-game content coming soon? There are lots of questions – let’s discuss!
Why Do People Want An Expansion?
The answer to this question is actually a lot more complicated than you might think. On its face, it’s pretty simple – the game has been out for a while and people are starting to wish there was more stuff to do. Obviously that’s what ArenaNet is trying to solve with their Living Story system, but that’s not sufficient for a lot of people. For people that devour content quickly and binge on the game several hours per day – they remain hungry for more. Episodes that last a handful of hours are just not enough for them.
An expansion brings the opportunity to create a ton of new content and release it all at once which means not only will players be extremely happy with the influx of new things to do, but it’s also a huge surge of income for the developer since most expansions are sold as separate additions to the game. Since the content is paid for and was developed over a longer period of time, there is usually much more included than an entire season of the Living Story could really account for.
Things like new races, new professions, new continents, new dungeons, new fractals, new World v. World maps, new PvP maps, new features, new storylines, and everything else you could imagine would be brought into the game all at once. In theory, you would be irrational to not want an expansion – there are so many possibilities. Besides, new content could never be a bad thing right?
Why Do People Not Want an Expansion?
With such a long list of potential improvements and additions, surely there can’t be any good reasons to want an expansion…could there? Well, think again. The fact of the matter is that, despite all of those possibilities, ArenaNet has shown that it doesn’t need to charge its players for new content. The Living Story and the big Feature patch are testaments to that fact. Every couple of weeks they release large sweeping updates to the game that not only push the story forward, but provide new events and locations to explore.
If ArenaNet were to release a big expansion, not only would that cost another $30 – $60, but it would also set a precedent. Thus far, all additions to the game that were not purely convenience items or cosmetic have been attainable in-game with little issue. This would create a barrier to players that don’t wish to spend extra on the game and would fragment the player-base, something that they’ve pretty clearly not wanted.
So, Does Guild Wars 2 Really Need an Expansion?
Well, there isn’t really a clear answer. Both sides of the equation have strong arguments, but I’m leaning towards yes. The original Guild Wars releases several campaigns and expansions over the course of its lifetime that introduced all of the things I mentioned before – they were a big part of the game’s success. Granted, it wasn’t even really an MMO, but it shows that they understand how to add value to a game.
The trouble is how it would mesh with the Living Story content. If an expansion released, it would have to be in the interim period between Living Story seasons. On top of that, how does ArenaNet push the Living Story forward for players that do not purchase the expansion? If they plan to continue the story and just pick up from where the previous season leaves off, won’t players that bought the expansion feel cheated? Does that mean the expansion won’t receive as much attention as the core game? What if the reverse of that happens and the core game is all but abandoned in favor of adding new and big expansions to the game?
ArenaNet’s focus should be on what is best for the game not only in the short term, but also in the long run. Adding content and giving players more things to do, as long as it compliments what already exists, would be a great thing to consider. Adding new races and professions could reinvigorate many of the existing starting zones, as well as providing the chance to add new ones, that can cross-populate the game in creative ways. Besides that though, let’s look at what else could be added in an expansion.
A Few Ideas for Expansion Content
The first and probably most talked about addition would be the inclusion of more playable races. The currently available list of five is great, but Tyria is so rich with diversity it would be criminal to be limited to just those five. Some of the obvious choices include the Kodan and Tengu, the polar bear and bird-people races, respectively. Each race is well established in the game’s lore and would provide lots of opportunity for integration into the culture of the game. Alternatively, an aquatic race such as the Largos would be a great shake-up to the formula and give ample incentive to expand on the highly touted underwater portions of the game.
Beyond simply adding new races, new classes such as the Monk, which was available in the base Prophecies campaign in the original Guild Wars, would be the new logical inclusion. Other classes such as the Ritualist, Paragon, and Dervish are missed as well, but even creating new classes would be great as well. Overall, Dry Top is a great new zone, but it’s small in comparison to what could be done in an expansion. Throw in guild improvements and expanded Dynamic Events and I would be one happy player.
Ultimately, ArenaNet’s priority should be with improving the game and looking towards the future. No MMO has ever thrived because it dwelled too much in the past. Sure, once a game shuts down, everyone has rose-tinted glasses and remembers the old days fondly as if they were the best days of their lives, but nostalgia is a nasty influence.Related: ArenaNet, Column, Expansion, Fantasy, Guild Wars 2, MMORPG, The Tyrian Chronicle