Giving the players a way to “opt-out” of the NPE is not the answer. especially when the NPE does not foster the same enjoyment from leveling as the one veterans experienced. gating anything and locking stuff away does not foster anything other than frustration especially when it goes completely counter to why many people buy the game in the first place (very bait-and-switch). the game is supposed to teach you how best to play as you naturally play and not force you to play the game in a particular way.
I always thought that Claypool would be a great model for ANet to put in all starter zones to “teach” people the mechanics of the game. it does not spam your UI with pop-ups or gate skills/traits but instead naturally teaches players about timing and watching for animations. just expand the range and scope of activities and add this to every starting area, then just direct people to them. problem solved.
But now with this new gating system you cannot even help players build their characters correctly as they need to not only unlock certain skills, utilities, but ALSO traits and this creates a very fragmented player base with wildly different experiences and freedom of exploration. no longer can you just explore the maps as you need to first reach particular levels in order to gain skills, but then also do specific content to unlock traits. so everything is on rails now. it is really sad to see ANet turn their game into the antithesis of what drew many of us here in the first place.
ANet, i don’t know who/what is prompting the changes in philosophy and the decision to make all of the recent contentious shifts in priorities (starting in May 2013 for me), but i feel as though you are killing your own game. it may stay alive financially for a while but i feel that you are doing something far worse for the sake of money gained in the short term and that is long term brand recognition and player goodwill. you are well aware of the NCSoft brand causing many to not even consider GW2 due to their experiences with past NCSoft products. you admit yourselves, and also in light of your very bizarre marketing ploys, that the people responsible for the selling and marketing your game the most are we the players. and i feel that you have forgotten that and are hell bent on acquiring customers that don’t even exist yet to the exclusion of your current player-base. and with the recent announcement that you are not going to work on permanent content that players have actually asked for, it begs the question, “what do you guys spend your time doing at work all day?”. i hope that you guys can turn this around for i have had really great experiences in this game and do not want them to end over what seems like self-destructive behavior on the development side of things.
ANet (and whiteknights), it should also be noted that most of us voicing out rage and dissatisfaction really care about the game, we just don’t agree with you that this is the best way to go about it. if you are going to change game systems based on focus groups then you might consider listening to a different focus group, your current players instead.
Please ANet build on the systems that made GW2 the fastest selling MMO in history and not squander what you worked so hard to achieve before release by restricting access and freedom to basic mechanics and integral traits and utilities. remember you are the company of innovation and willing to go on the road less traveled even if it is not the safest financially to go because you are courageous and unique in the MMO space. the recent changes in 2014 turn something unique into something generic and that is so sad to see.