Lots has been said by the community about the changes introduced in the April feature pack and the end of season one of the Living World. I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about a few of the things that I've been doing since, and what I'm hoping to see in the future for Guild Wars.
The levelling process was changed to spread out the awarding of trait points, and on my new Elementalist, the pacing of 1–60 (as far as I've gotten) has felt about right. There's been no need to worry about which build to use, instead keeping the focus on trying out the different weapons available and choosing slot skills which fit my preferred playstyle. I also really, really enjoy the new impetus introduced by the Wardrobe and transmutation changes to check completed heart vendors for locked skins.
I bought my first outfits from the gem store and predominantly use them for pre–lv80 characters since I'm unlikely to ever use transmutation charges on equipment which will be replaced within a few levels. I would love to see an increase in the number of available outfits, including a 'basic' getup for each Order made available through the personal story when you choose who to join.
The reintroduction of Zephyr Sanctum and the Queen's Jubilee content has been fun. The changes made to Boss Blitz are a big improvement on last year, and the balancing that has been done since then to the bronze tier made a lot of sense. I've been wracking my brain to figure out better ways to get non–organised players following what are fairly basic strategies. The situation might be helped by giving PvE commanders better tools to help people understand what they need to do without resorting to shouting in map chat, but there's no guarentee that players will listen. It shouldn't be too big an issue, as long as organised groups have a way into these events, and the rewards are balanced correctly for time taken and skill demonstrated.
The Zephyr Sanctum is a lovely zone to run around and explore, but it hasn't held my attention all that well, which is part of why I've (yet again) found myself levelling up another character instead. I'll probably push to finish some of the new achievements before July 1st, but it makes me even more confident that the move in season two to give meta rewards after completing the story component of a patch and then unlocking achievements will be a good fit.
The new Black Lion Chest UI is really nice, and has the desired affect of making me want to buy more keys so that I can keep clicking. I've had to log off a couple of times to stop myself splurging on the gem store, because I know for sure that I won't get anything good. The meta–game that is keyfarming is surprisingly enjoyable alternative, although I've probably only done 10 runs with very little by way of meaningful reward.
Hopes for season two
The most in demand feature, and one it looks like we'll be getting on July 1st, are new zones. My hope is that these new zones are 'complete', with hearts, dynamic events, points of interest, and vistas. While Southsun Cove was permanently added during season one, it's never felt like a fully realised zone, and there's very little reason to go there. Hopefully ArenaNet aren't shying away from creating new fully–realised zones because of inflating the task of 100% world completion. To my mind, as the world grows bigger with time, it should take longer to fully explore.
I've seen a lot of disappointment with the storyline of season one, which I think is unfair. It was slow to start, but finished very strongly and had some great moments, while ArenaNet were very open with us in saying that they were constantly refining what the Living World was supposed to be, and how they would deliver it to us. They've continued in this way with the news about the big changes to the way in which season two will be delivered through the journal, and I can't wait to see how that works out. I'd love to see them dive into this next story arc with the same verve and interest that concluded the last one, keeping events at a reasonable tempo and taking us deeper into the lore. I would really like to see an improvement in the dialogue between characters, too, as this has often been a little weak (Braham and Rox, I'm looking at you).
I only really enjoy group content when done with guildmates, which isn't always possible and tends to take some organising. As such, if I login and just want to mindlessly play the game, I'll tend to go for something that I can do by myself, or just with whoever happens to be in the same zone as me. The decision to make the living story a direct, repeatable, continuation of the personal story is a great step towards giving us more solo–suitable content, but I'd like to see something a little more long–lasting…
When I played World of Warcraft, I was never a huge fan of the massive reputation grinds and roundly failed to progress to Exalted with any of the most time–consuming, but on reflection I think that a lot of it was due to the method through which you had to impress the various factions. Running raids over and over. Slaughtering the same mobs relentlessly for drops. Not much fun. All that said, I think the Guild Wars 2 definitely has space for some kind of process of gaining reputation (and rewards) with groups of people.
I'd like to see this done by way of an additional set of daily quests, with a hard limit of how many you can do per day. I could run information–gathering missions for The Durmand Priory, impress the Tyrian Explorers Society by recovering long–lost Dwarven artifacts in the Shiverpeaks, or deliver bribes to powerful people in the capital cities to build support for the Evon Gnashblade and the Black Lion Trading Company. If you don't want to support any of those organisations, maybe you could put effort into impressing the Consortium, Ebon Vanguard, Lionguard, Order of Whispers, or the Vigil instead.
What would I get in return? Titles and skins are the obvious things, and I'd love to be able to spend time unlocking distinctive new outfits which show my affiliations with the various groups in Tyria. If I rock up to guild missions in my resplendent Lionguard armour, y'all know who I'm reppin'. It would be great to see affiliations bleed through into the story as well. Extra dialogue options or reactions from characters who recognise the relationships that you've put effort into building would be small touches that make a big difference.
None of this is really breaking out of the mould of what is already available to us in the game. With some new UI elements, something that I think ArenaNet have gotten very good at, and a clutch of new repeatable quests and rewards, we could have a new solo timesink, ripe for expansion and inclusion in all aspects of the game.