Guild Wars 2’s disconnection problem distances the game from players

Posted by | September 22, 2017

Guild Wars 2 is a magnificent massively multiplayer online gaming experience that has brought some of the best graphics to MMO gaming as well as compelling storytelling and built a lasting community. Like it game franchise it is not without its flaws, however, and one of those flaws disconnects GW2 from its customer base.

We refer specifically to disconnections.

When suddenly, without omen or warning, the game loses connection to servers and unceremoniously boots you back to the character select menu.

Sometimes this even happens so gracelessly as to get you stuck with the client running, unable to act or even close it. However, this is not the problem that brings us here today.

That problem is that sometimes these disconnections occur in the midst of what GW2 is known as living story instances. Little episodic parts of the game that occur outside of the open game world and inside their own cinematic and narrative controlled game areas that open up progression in the game world and with the story.

When a player is disconnected from one of these instances they are not just dumped out of the game, but they also lose all of their progress in that story instance.

In some cases, this progress as hard earned and hard fought, often through frustrating or annoying obstacles that the player overcame in order to move forward. GW2 is not a roguelike game where players feel that they’ll be rewarded for their frustration — a loss does not give them the surge of adrenaline to go back and attempt to beat that Nintendo-hard boss again — many players want to see the next area.

So, after trudging through frustrating and annoying obstacles to have all of that wiped away on a disconnection does not cause them to come back and redouble their efforts. It is demoralizing.

GW2 lacks a basic concept of milestones or checkpoints inside of story instances. This means that if a story instance is 30 minutes long and contains six separate acts and connection is lost at 29 minutes, all of that progress vanishes. The player logs back into GW2 and has to skip the opening cinematic (if they can) and then skip NPC dialogue or then wait through unskippable in-game scripted events for the entire 30 minutes again.

The game’s developer, ArenaNet, has had almost five years to implement something to make this easier on their players.

With how often the ArenaNet servers hiccup — and at the most inopportune times, not just during big releases such as the recent release of the second expansion to the game, Path of Fire — this has become an infuriating thorn in the side of the playerbase.

The most bizarre and infuriating part of these disconnects is that they seem to strike at random. Three people on the same network can see one suddenly vanish from the party — disconnected — yet the other two sail smoothly for the entire night. The next day it could be someone else suffering disconnections. They seem to be without rhyme or reason.

And worse: Disconnections tend to strike during story instances and not during open world or player vs. player gameplay. As if they maliciously wait for the most inopportune time, when the damage that a disconnection does is at its potential worst.

If ArenaNet cannot fix the disconnection problem the developer should at least implement some sort of checkpoint or milestone system.

It’s way beyond time for you to do so.

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