Improving MMO Dungeons #GW2

Guild Wars 2, GW2, The Searing

Over the weekend, the skies opened up and the gods of casual MMO players smiled down upon me.

In Guild Wars 2, I have recently joined a new guild called Fight Together, Die Alone on Fort Aspenwood that is significantly more active than my own. Thanks to the GW2 mechanic of allowing players to join multiple guilds, and thus still retaining guilds with friends, joining a second guild that had more than 1 person on at a time was easy and no mental strain. Killer feature.

Anyway, one of my new guildmates piped up to see if anyone wanted to join in on an Ascalon Catacombs run. Being as how I’m now level 50, technically my second level 50 in the game, and still have not run a single dungeon once, I said sure. Once grouped and near the entrance, I did as any good group member would and revealed that this was my first time, that I had not read up on anything ahead of time, and it was all new to me. To my astonishment, every other person in the group said the exact same thing.

Could this be? Was this real? I had to pinch myself. I thought I was the only one at this point! How is it, more than a year after the game’s release, that there isn’t only 1, but 5 people, randomly together, that have all never stepped foot into the game’s first dungeon?! The odds must be staggeringly high. Long story short, we wiped once, but for all intents and purposes we cleared it no problem, and had a blast doing so.

Ascalon, Guild Wars 2, Ghosts

But it made me think of how rare a situation this was. Was it really rare? Was this just random happenstance or are there many many players who have just skipped over Guild Wars 2 dungeons? If that’s the case, a mere half-assed Looking For Group tool isn’t going to cut it, ArenaNet. Here is a simple suggestion to making dungeons a lot better, not just for Guild Wars 2, but for any game that has them:

Offer a Solo Version of Every Instance.

Now, straight up, this is the “casual gamer” in me talking. But I am truly sick and tired of having mob mentality dictate who should and shouldn’t be allowed to run group dungeons. Deny it if you want, but I’ve been deemed not worthy to run instances by a great number of other gamers. Why? Inexperience. It has happened in every single MMO that I’ve ever played. Every. Single. One.

It’s a Catch-22 if ever I’ve heard one. Haven’t run a dungeon? Then we don’t want you running it. I don’t always have the time to run instances, and the way I play MMO’s, it’s to experience the content first, then possibly look up if I’ve missed anything later. It’s this part, the experiencing it first part, that seems to be the trouble. The truth is, other players don’t want to waste their time in an instance with someone who hasn’t run it already, doesn’t know the dance moves, and doesn’t know the puzzles. They don’t want to hold their hand. And you know what? I fully understand that.

After the first couple of times, hand-holding others in every single instance I enter would get frustrating quick. Also, players want to maximize their gaming time, and failure in a dungeon, even once, is cutting into that efficiency. Suddenly, someone like me, who likes to experience the content first, someone who considers videos, build sites, wikis, etc. just a form of cheating and really taking away from the overall experience, is considered rude.

Ascalon, Guild Wars 2, Charr

So here’s the solution: Offer every instance as a solo instance. Now, of course, rewards shouldn’t be offered in solo versions. None. The story and practice would be it’s own reward. It would give players that crucial experience that is demanded by the playing-majority and give those who want it the ability to see the storyline that is otherwise blocked by a grouping gate.

After running it solo a time or two, grouping up to achieve the phat lootz and rewards would be much easier. Gaining experience could be done on one’s own, without bothering anyone else. Now if someone says “Hey, I’ve never played this before, what does this boss do?”, they are the truly lazy ones, and have no excuse as to why they don’t know the dungeons already. I feel like this would make everyone more comfortable in running group content and the amount of people who would run dungeon content would increase dramatically.

Rytlock, Eir, Guild Wars 2, Ascalon Catacombs

After successfully running Ascalon Catacombs with members of FTDA, and everyone else having to log, I decided to give the new Looking For Group tool a try and joined a group for the next instance, Caudecus’s Manor. Once in a group, I was once more the good group member and told them that I had not run the instance before and it was my first time.

… I was quickly booted from the group.

So it goes.

// Ocho

12 thoughts on “Improving MMO Dungeons #GW2

  1. This. So this. I would be a lot more comfortable joining a group for a dungeon if I had already spent time exploring the same surroundings by myself (without getting immediately massacred by mobs scaled for 500%-800% more people than one newbie.)

    GW2 actually did pull this off somewhat in a few seasonal events – Canach’s Lair offered a solo preview of the trap/bomb mechanics used in the group instance, but it got panned for being the shortest one-room one-boss affair ever. You could also generally peek into instances like the Wintersday, Halloween, Candidate Trials, Scarlet’s Playhouse ones by yourself, before joining up with a group for additional fun.


    • Ooooo… Yes, GW2 has started doing some of this with it’s holiday content. Scaling a solo player up to 80, for example, making it group or solo, and this has made the accessibility of the content SO more widespread. They’re on the right path, I just wish it was for ALL instances. I know that Secret World has something planned upcoming that can be scaled for solo to 5-man groups, too, and pretty much every mission in STO scales in difficulty (except the Special Task Forces), so it IS out there, just not widespread. I just like options. More than anything, give us options. 🙂


  2. The choice would be great. I’d love it if it didn’t just do solo and 5-man but scale according to the number of players. Fortunately the 3 others I sometimes team up with haven’t done many dungeons either, so we become the majority in the party :). The catch-22 is damn nasty though, how else am I going to learn if I can’t go in there and see it for myself?
    Nice idea and blog 🙂


    • Thanks you the compliments and thanks for reading! Yeah, the perfect option would be if a dungeon scaled for difficulty for 1-5 players, for example (and a cap for number of players), with scaling rewards to go along with it. So that way you could run it solo, with 3, or with 5. However, I can see where balancing that, especially if the game is based on a trinity, would be exceptionally difficult, and very easily abused. So I’ll settle for just a solo and max option. 🙂


  3. Word of advice: don’t tell’em you’re a newb. You would have been fine in Caudecus’s Manor just following everyone else, and I dooubt they would have been to tell. It’s not like there is a Heigen Dance in the the middle of the instance. 🙂 On a different note, lemme know if you want to run a few of the TSW dungeons. We can get some folks together


    • Yeah, I keep thinking of not offering that, but then I feel like a bad group member because I’m holding back information. Bah. And I’m always up for trying out new TSW dungeons… just as long as everyone’s okay with my newbishness. (But hey, I’m not the tank, so my newb card is not as prominent… so there is that.)


  4. Pingback: The Whispering Tide #TSW | Casual Aggro

  5. I would love a solo option to dungeons. Granted I havent played a MMO in a while but I used to try and solo most dungeons in WoW when I played. Sadly you had to vastly be overpowered to do it but I never had to depend on others to help or fall within their timeframe. I died, no one to make upset but myself.


    • I use to do that, too, and it’s where I got the idea. It’s a workaround, and it’s a fun challenge to get to the end of a dungeon solo at the lowest level possible… but then the relevance of the story of the dungeon is levels beneath you, as well as the loot. Still, though, I think the chances of this ever being implemented are slim to none. You take away the “forced group” aspect and people start yelling about how they’re removing the second M of MMO. I don’t play MMOs solely for the multiplayer, really, but there are a lot who do.


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