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When a player in an MMO encounters some content that he finds difficult to complete, traditionally there are four ways he can deal with it:

* Go away, gain some levels/better gear and come back to faceroll it;

* Get his mates to join in and zerg it (assuming this isn’t in an instance with limited numbers allowed, of course);

* Hit the forums and whine for the devs to nerf the content;

* Learn to play his character better and beat it with the tools at his disposal.

It struck me, thinking about my experiences in the GW2 beta weekend, that here is a game where options 1 and 2 above are no longer an option. Going away and levelling up is pretty pointless if you’re going to get levelled back down to match the content, and bringing more bodies just makes the opposition tougher – it may even be counterproductive, as there were reports that too many players resulted in overpowered bosses that were one-shotting melee right left and centre (of course, those reports might just be option 3 in action… )

So that leaves pitching a hissy fit on the forums, or rising to the challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how ArenaNet stand up to the “nerf this content” crowd. Of course, it’s also true that players out there have a continuum of ability, and what’s just right or too easy for some will be too hard for others. Since players can’t manage the difficulty themselves by overlevelling or zerging, it’s down to ArenaNet to pitch their difficulty in the right spot for as many of their players as possible. We’ll see how that works.


  1. When you put it like this, I wonder if it’s really such a great design decision. One of the nice things about CRPGs is that you do have a lot of control over your difficulty, so if you prefer to only fight enemies that are green or grey to you, you can level up and do that.

    I predict this is going to be a bit traumatic for people who like to play with less experienced gaming partners.

  2. Generally I play with a group of two or three people, the content balance has been perfect for us and challenging is not a naughty word. It’s always good to run into something that just wipes the floor with your normal strategy because it DOES make you open your eyes and try something a little different. Those are the PvE experiences we’re always looking for. I’m hoping ANet keeps that nerfbat in a locked case and only uses it in dire emergencies. Some things aren’t meant to be easy.

  3. I’d wait and see how things balance out…I cannot imagine GW2 aiming to be ‘too hard’ for any average player.
    I also experienced the opposite in terms of grouping: as an elem, it was easier killing stuff for me when grouped up with another guy (who also happened to be a pet class) than all by myself. I died less and taking on groups became an option. it was more of a 1+1=3 situation than 2. while difficulty may scale in GW2, there is still such a thing as group setup (respective skills) and combining several classes is always an advantage over going solo.

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