The Daily Show

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Following an announcement out of the blue this time last week, ArenaNet released their new ‘content–driven’ daily achievements system yesterday as part of a patch that brought back the Wintersday holiday festival. I’ve been excited to try it out and have to say that after completing my first day of achievements that I'm very happy with the changes.

Daily achievements

Day one: 12/12

I tend to be predominantly a PvE player, which means that with the old daily achievements system I would find the five quickest to complete, grind them out in whatever zone I tended to be inhabiting (pretty much Dry Top or Silverwastes) just because, and then go and do something else. The rewards were adequate, but hardly exciting. Last night, I completed all 12 daily achievements open to me, plus the 5 Wintersday dailies, had a blast, and walked away with bags and bags of rewards.

In doing so, I believe that the rationale for this unexpected overhaul became very clear and quite possibly proved itself already. I was drawn out of my usual bubble of (in)activity and taken to parts of Tyria that I've not been back to since getting 100% world completion. I took my relatively untouched level 80 Thief into PvP, slapped on a build from MetaBattle which seemed to fit the way I’d like to play, and had an interesting (if not hugely) successful couple of matches. I went to the Aurora Glade borderlands, joined up with a zerg, and had a great time capturing camps and keeps.

This is all content that I could’ve been playing before, of course, but the improved rewards and variety already feel like a better motivator for me to get involved on a more regular basis. With the old system, once you got your 5 quests completed for a day, each subsequent achievement meant a single achievement point. Now, I get reward track progress in PvP and badges of honor in WvW. Given that these are not modes that I play the majority of the time (at the moment, anyway) these extra little boosts are just the ticket to augment my progression. It remains to be seen if I’ll eventually get bored of doing this every day and just finish 3 or 4 PvE achievements before doing something else, but I’m optimistic that I can keep it going.

Not everyone likes it

What you’ve probably gathered so far is that for my personal playstyle and involvement with the game, this new daily system is just the shot in the arm that was needed. Other players, of course, do things in their own ways, and for some of them the changes are not so welcome. I’m still reading around and finding opinions, but here are a few concerns that I’ve seen raised so far:

I don't have an engineer, I don't have a free slot, and I’m sure as hell not going to delete a toon to make one. So don’t force me to get kills with one to complete the pvp achievement.

I can absolutely understand how this might be a problem, and given that there are 8 professions and only 5 character slots by default it’s conceivable that you might get two daily achievements for professions that you don’t have, which would render you completely unable to get 3/4 for that game type.

I’m not upset that they changed the system around, I’m upset that the new PvE achievements that I’ve seen are annoyingly specific, like “go to this ONE location at this ONE time of day and do this ONE task” rather than “do any of dozens of possible tasks wherever you like”

This is something that I have absolutely no problem with. Take the achievement yesterday to harvest 4 plants in one of 5 listed Maguuma zones. That cost me maybe 5 silver total in waypoint fees, took 2 minutes to complete, and rewarded me with a chest that gave me 10 plants and a couple of Wintersday presents and an XP scroll. On top of that, it reminded me that Sparkfly Fen is a really nice looking zone, so I stayed for another 10 minutes running around to do some mining and logging. If I hadn’t completed the zone, maybe I’d stay there and snag a heart quest or missing waypoint. We have this massive game world, and I definitely can’t fault ArenaNet for trying to incentivise players to actually go out and explore more than just the most recently released living world zone.

I saw some people mentioning this in map chat for sure, but didn’t have any problems with it myself. Over time I think that we’ll see some common knowledge come about regarding events in zones which last long enough for everyone to easily get credit. I made use of the event tracking satnav to point me in the right direction, which helped greatly, although this would likely be less effective if I hadn’t finished everything else in the zone. I tried to get credit on events and then move along to let others in to complete them; you don’t need a gold medal for every event for it to count towards the daily achievement. This is also exacerbated by the fact that it’s a low–level zone in which lv80 characters can one–shot kill most enemies. Higher level zones are highly unlikely to suffer anything like as much.

I had a longer conversation with everyone’s favourite roaming engineer badass Wolfineer (take a look at his site for all things engineer) and it’s the potential issue that has given me the most pause for thought about the new system so far. His argument, essentially, is that he should be able to complete the daily meta achievement (i.e. any 3 achievements across the PvE, PvP and WvW) without needing to step out of his chosen role within the game. That role is predominantly roaming in WvW, flipping camps, taking sentries, and killing other roaming players and zerg stragglers.

Looking at a list of data–mined daily achievements, it looks to me like there are potentially enough viable options, but you’re then left hoping that you get the right configuration that makes it possible to finish the meta without either having to branch out into other facets of WvW, or into other game types entirely. Is it unreasonable to expect that you should be able to complete the meta within a single game type? I’m not sure. Roaming in WvW plays a specific and important role, definitely, but I don’t think that it’s the worst thing to break off from that and tag along with a zerg to grab a couple of towers, or to hop out of the Mists to do daily gatherer somewhere.

Day 2: ???

This new system marks a definite shift away from ‘passive’ dailies that you tick off as you go about your regular business, towards ‘active’ tasks that you might need to specifically go after. As a Guild Wars generalist, this totally works for me. I’m happy to go exploring, and need that encouragement to jump into PvP and WvW more often. What is becoming apparent is that this change does mean a period of adjustment for others who are very happy with their own ‘small’ part of the game.

Will we see more changes from ArenaNet? Almost certainly. They’ve shown again and again this year that they’re listening to the community feedback and making changes as necessary. They approach game development with an agile methodology (Josh Foreman took great delight in the most recent Points of Interest in explaining how the Skritt in the new Silverwastes area spout agile buzzwords) and part of that tends to mean releasing features and then iterating until they’re just right. This often means that the first version of a feature that is released might have some rough edges which need smoothing off, but they have a track record for doing that swiftly. I have enough faith in ArenaNet now that I don’t let myself get upset about changes to the game. I trust them to work with the community to get things into a state that supports their vision, whilst at the same time not needlessly making players unhappy.

Now, I’d better get back to those dailies…