Shamus Young continues his quest to write as many Guild Wars 2 blog posts as humanly possible, it seems, this time turning his attention to the game's dungeon-crawling aspect. Specifically, he seems interested in dissecting the difficulty level of dungeons and why he thinks they aren't so much too challenging, as challenging in the wrong ways.
Some people claim that the dungeons are too hard. This is true. The problem is that they are also too easy. Many fights have a waypoint nearby, so you can respawn and run back to rejoin the fight. The only way you can lose is if the entire party gets wiped, which will cause the boss to reset. As long as one person is still standing, your steady stream of respawning players will eventually bring him down. Your equipment breaks when you die, and those constant repairs can get expensive.
The problem isn’t just that some dungeons are too hard, it’s that their underlying mechanics aren’t designed to encourage or reward interesting play. The extreme difficulty is actually masking a more fundamental flaw, which is that these fights aren’t testing for a particular level of power, skill, or gear. There’s no thrill to victory, since anyone can win a fight when they get infinite respawns. When you die, it’s no clear what you did wrong, how you could get better, or what the game expects of you.
This is singularly unsatisfying gameplay. It’s like the old coin-op arcade games where you could continue by inserting more coin, only in this case you’re using the coins to pay for equipment repairs. Or, to swipe Jarenth’s much-better analogy, it’s like a version of BioShock where the splicers hit for 3/4 of your health, but you can still endlessly restart at the vita-chamber. The only way you can lose is if you get bored or frustrated enough to quit.
It's an interesting read for anyone playing the game, or even those thinking of getting into NCSoft's latest MMO.