I guess this is going to be one of those “missing the old days” posts, but I can’t help myself. Obviously not everything was better in the vanilla era. Just like today we had those issues with the meta for example, which at one point consisted of five Control Wizards (no kidding!). Foundry and Gateway botting was on the rise if not already on its height, and dungeon exploiting the norm.
Great Gameplay Mechanics
While that stuff clearly was messed up, the game offered some gameplay related features and systems that were tons of fun. Unbound loot from old Castle Never is probably one thing you keep hearing. Yeah, you could actually farm a dungeon for a guaranteed profit. It sounds almost unreal in today’s rng-tastic world, where repetition beats skill all the time. Another great concept that I’d like to talk about today however is the original Gauntlgrym. Because I miss it, I really do.
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As the trailer shows it was a massive battle of two factions, which included PVE and PVP. It had flaws, but for this post I don’t want to get into too many specifics since that’s besides the point. It’s more about how the combination of PVE, PVP and meaningful rewards made for a fun and challenging experience. In case you’re really interested the wiki still has an extensive page up describing the format with all its phases.
Gauntlgrym Was Something Completely Different
First of all, it was something completely different. The game always had campaigns, the Domination map and dungeon crawling. Gauntlgrym would mix all those elements into a new game mode that players of all variety happily dedicated up to one hour of their time to. And why not? It was sort of the best of all worlds! A bit casual PVE, PVP that mattered and dungeons with unbound rewards (Tier 1 and Tier 2 armor, some pieces still best in slot at that time). It was a truly unique experience, a game mode for everyone. So everyone participated.
Overall player vs. player was slightly more important, but individual power in that large scaled, essentially server-wide, battle didn’t matter as much. It was advertised as 20v20, but in reality several hundred players fought in independent matches for points and their faction. It took the outcome out of individual’s hands and guaranteed premades could only do so much.
Best of All Worlds
Casual PVE players could not only contribute, but were slowly sucked into PVP as well. You had to do PVP to be able to enter the dungeons in the last phase. So gaining Glory and gearing up was kind of a natural side effect. Plus competing in Gauntlgrym could lead to being more ambitious in player vs. player combat. On the other hand PVP toons could join fast-paced, almost skirmish-like dungeons, that didn’t induce the same elitism like other endgame content.
Basically Gauntlgrym was casual enough for everyone to participate while offering just enough incentive for the upper class as well. In hindsight you suddenly realize how smart of a design it was.
Especially today with PVP being a weirdly disconnected stepchild, a model like Gauntlgrym could do wonders for it. I remember that I wasn’t much into PVP back then either. I started Gauntlgrym mostly because of the dungeons. The game mode offering a new armor set with an unique look was an additional incentive for me. But step by step I build up PVP gear, and also generally developed more interest in that area of gameplay.
Elemental Evil Swallowed It
Unfortunately the game mode never was adequately maintained, like many stuff in the game, and eventually got killed with the Elemental Evil module. It was probably a win-win for the devs, who got rid of an outdated piece of content and could reuse the maps in the level 70 campaign. The Fiery Pit adventure zone is the original Gauntlgrym map, the dungeons were recycled as solo lairs.
While I get the necessity to replace Gauntlgrym at that point, I’m still sad it’s gone. It was intriguing and truly unique content that I never regretted spending time on.
Have you been around in 2013 when the original Gauntlgrym was introduced? Do you miss it as well or don’t care as much? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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