GW2 – Waypoint woes and the repair system

Every week the guys from GetBonkd release a short Guild Wars 2 feature on youtube. I generally really enjoy their clips, they’re informative sneak-peeks with nice footage and the quality and editing of the videos is very high for youtube standards. While watching, it gets very obvious how hyped Scylol & Co. are for this upcoming MMO, but then it’s not as if what they’re presenting was untrue and I can appreciate the excitement for something new. If you’re looking for some good quality GW2 introductions to various topics, be it class overviews, combat, pvp, questing or other nifty features such as mini-games (did you know there will be bar fights in GW2?) or the home instances, I recommend you browse their channel sometime (by now 23 episodes).

However, just last week’s episode 23 was one that brought up two topics I personally feel very reluctant about: the waypoints and repair system in GW2. I think the episode would have benefited from a more critical eye there, but maybe I am just drawing pre-mature conclusions. Three weeks ago I asked where might be the “orcs” in GW2 – aspects that players currently eye with worry. One that stood out to me when reading closed beta reviews at the time, was the mention of waypoints all over the zones in GW2. Frequent teleports that are not only easily accessible but cheap. Or as one reviewer came to praise them –

“Each map is littered with teleport stones which you can use for a paltry sum of copper, allowing you to jump between areas of interest with lightning speed and minimal drudgery. No waiting around for thirty minutes for your hearthstone to cool down for no reason: just pull up the map and click on the teleport stone nearest to where you want to go.”

That information really took me by surprise. Had ArenaNet not announced early into development that they wanted travel to be an essential part of GW2? Didn’t they praise their large scale maps and point out that there wouldn’t be flying mounts in the game, so players wouldn’t skip content and get easy short-cuts?

Well then, why so many teleports? As much as I appreciate the effort of making gameplay and questing more fluent and grouping up easier in GW2, I don’t quite understand why they needed to give players so many waypoints per zone. Not just that, I wonder how motivated players will really be to re-conquer those controlled by an opposing faction, if there are so many to begin with? And should you really be able to use them while dead?

The only thing I could imagine influencing this decision, is the dynamic leveling and side-kicking feature of GW2; for one thing, there won’t be the traditional low-level and high-level zones, but zone mobs and quests actually scale with the player’s level. What’s more, your own level will be downgraded when grouping with lowbies (and upgraded in WvW). The benefits of that are quite clear: not only can you keep experiencing the content of any zone as a challenge (even large events scale dynamically), you can group up with anybody no matter the level differences between players (see side-kicking @ 03:20). So just maybe ArenaNet decided it would be too bothersome for players having to constantly fight their way through to anywhere, on any map, always being attacked and dismounted by every mob.

Still, I am sad; even if you chose to ignore waypoints and play the game entirely on foot, I can imagine just how “voluntary” using them will be if you’re grouped up with other players in an awful hurry to get somewhere. The explorer in me is eying this with a clear “MEH” for now.

The repair system

No less surprising was the information on GW2 featuring gear repairs as an attrition mechanic, when initially there was talk of death penalties and similar being a boring, out-dated concept. To clarify, I’m not exactly a fan of not having death penalties in MMOs; in fact, I’m a sucker for punishment where it serves a purpose. But….repairs? Really?

What probably cracks me up the most about this, is how the repair system in GW2 is supposed to be so fresh and different, when it’s mostly just a washed up, more complicated version of WoW’s durability system (or other MMOs for that matter). Judge for yourself –

“When a player is defeated, and not just downed, a random piece of their armor will be damaged. When a piece of armor is damaged, it imparts no penalty but serves as a warning. If a player is defeated while all of their armor is damaged, then a random piece of armor will break. When armor breaks, it ceases to provide any benefit to the player and must be repaired by visiting an armor-repair NPC in town. This NPC will charge a small sum of coins to repair any broken pieces of armor, and will repair any damaged armor as well. Having thus transferred the coin cost to the armor-repair NPC, we removed the multiplier on the cost of traveling to a waypoint when defeated.

We like this system for several reasons. Unlike most other armor durability systems, it doesn’t start becoming a factor just through normal play but only kicks in when a player is defeated. This means that it’s not a tax on playing and can be avoided through skillful or careful play. With every piece of armor needing to be damaged before any of them are broken, it also provides ample warning for the player before any real penalty is incurred.”

I fail to see how this is essentially different or more meaningful? It sounds rather ineffective to me – something you will hardly have to care about much. And if you do, well then it’s just the usual trade money for repairs-deal we already know so well. What does it matter if you only need repairs after X deaths and due to X items damaged, or due to a more constant stream of overall damage? I can also in fact not recall having to repair much in WoW unless I died; and then I could still easily die some more before requiring that repair service (the joy of not being a tank).

There’s also a much more important, general question to be asked here: if repairs are easy to come by and cheap enough in an MMO, then what’s the point anyway?

Who cares how the system works?


  1. It took multiple readings, but I think their distinction is that you only have repair bills if you die. In WoW, as a melee class, I could get a ~50g repair bill just from questing for a few hours without dying at all.

    But you’re right, it is such an insignificant difference that I actually lose respect for them even bringing it up. In WoW, repairing was just something I did when vendoring grays. Who really feels “punished” for taking nominal durability loss in WoW? This is one of those “proud nails” of designers who have no connection with the people actually playing the game.

    1. That’s the thing; most of the “changes” in GW2 are actually different and feel as if some thought went into them. in this case I am just baffled they would re-use such an ineffective and dusty concept.

      oh well, I was also surprised that for all their innovational spirit, they kept a classic leveling system, instead of going for skill-based progression. but at least the leveling curve is a flat one. can’t have it all, huh. 😉

    2. Repairs on gear is something that a good player is almost unaware about, because it is set up into a routine to visit a merchant/armourer everytime you enter a city. So you never actually run into the misery of having broken armour and being penaltized.

      The ones that are effected by such a system are the *bad players* who for one die alot, second forget to repair their gear on a regular basis and maybe third lack the gold to do so.

      Having a armour damage and repair model is still a hassle for the good player though, because you might end up grouped with someone whose “bow broke can’t shoot lol”.

    3. The goal is that good players never die and so are not at all impacted by the repair systems.

      In GW2 resurecting someone is very easy. My understanding is that it is so easy that some players can go in too high zone and just progress while repeatdly dying. The goal of this repair mechanism is to warn them : if they start to lose piece of armor, it is a warning that they are not enough powerful to be in this zone.

      To sum up :
      – as long as you are good enough you do not repair anything
      – as soon as you are not good enough, you start to repair

    4. I still don’t see how that’s punishing anyone much. from all we’ve heard so far, GW2 isn’t going to be a hardcore difficult MMO by any standard. nor does it sound like repairs will cost anything worth mentioning.
      you’d need to assume a VERY awful player (after all you only need to repair one ALL your items are damaged) who then also has no money to repair. and how likely is that? 😀

      Don’t the zones adjust to your level though?
      I can see how death could be an indicator for somebody to leave, but if you keep dying in a zone surely that’s sign enough to leave, without adding a meaningless repair system into the equation? and how often will it happen that you end up completely in the wrong place. hardly a reason to implement this.

  2. A thought: Repairs are a currency sink. This is vital in a multi-currency system like they proposed to keep the exchange rate between currencies on a somewhat even keel. Puzzle Pirates has been doing this for years; nearly everything decays, though there, it’s either time or use-based. That keeps the in-game currency in demand, which helps balance it against the currency users buy with real world cash.

    1. That makes sense. but then, how effective is this in an MMO that (supposedly) only aims repairs at really bad players?
      I guess we’ll have to see how often the average player ever repairs in GW2 and what it costs – but the current impression is that it’s nowhere near serving a gold-sink purpose.

    2. If nothing else, it spreads the costs to the “guppies” a bit more instead of focusing solely on the “whales”. In theory, anyway. As in, weaker players wind up paying for maintenance, elites wind up paying for frippery. Everyone has some costs.

      …I’m not saying that’s the way I’d design it, incidentally, I’m just trying to see where they might be going.

  3. I’m with Sylv on this – what’s the point in having any death penalty aside from a corpse run – god knows they are annoying enough. This is especially the case if you’ve carefully cleared your way through a mass of enemies, only to find them all re-spawning. It’s just another money sync on top of the time trap.

    Personally i think you should have either/or these days. Either a repair bill and a 10 second res cloak from where you died all the time OR no repairs but a 10 second res cloak with diminishing time returns of use (like in Rift or SWTOR). There seems to be no reason to inflict both on players. It won’t make you a better player, just more jaded if you’re not the best player in the world and you find the game hard.

    I’m already dreading the inevitable flaming on world chat channels when the PR0s tell normal people how shit they are because they can’t solo 4 million mobs or if someone foolishly asks for help with a tough mob

    1. LOL, well the latter is going to happen in some shape or form; every MMOs has its l33t kids and haters. am sure GW2 will deliver.

      the thing is, there isn’t even corpse-running either. you can use the waypoints in ghost-form, so that time sink is more or less erased. maybe that’s why they felt they needed the repair system, but it’s still horribly flawed imo.

    2. well, that means there will still be some form of corpse run, just shorter than the trek that was Searing Gorge to MC!! But any format where you have to go back to a waypoint and start again is enough of a deterrent to over-pulling or trying to be clever, you don’t need to put a fine on it as well – especially if it’s an utterly irrelevant amount of money for a repair. BUT if they do insist on having repair bills, they should turn that mechanic off if you are in any group instance. At the end game, you would be grinding for hours to earn enough cash to buy pots or whatever without having to add another 3 hours just to pay for repairs. How do they think that contributes to “fun”

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