The Scrying Pool: Wardrobe Malfunction

This edition of the Scrying Pool takes a quick look at Town Clothing in Guild Wars 2.

In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, whether that be lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.

The gem store seems to really be working for Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet has just announced a permanent  cut in the box price for GW2, a testament to its confidence in the game not needing a drastic price cut as well as confidence in its gem store to continue to thrive.

One of the big real estate items in the gem store is Town Clothing. The town clothing however, doesn't seem to live up as the big ticket items that the gem store showcases them as.

Town Clothes are the cosmetic clothing in GW2. Players can open their hero panel and click a button to switch from combat to town clothes and vice versa. There is also a hotkey to make this switch but, by default, it is not bound to any key (I bound it to my ‘C’ key).

Where GW2 differs from many other MMOs is that this is more of a temporary switch in clothing. When players change instance (like changing maps or entering or leaving dungeons and story instances) the character’s clothing defaults back to its combat gear. This automatic switch also occurs when players enter combat, after which it continues to restrict players from switching back to town clothes while they remain in combat.

While town clothes had been known about for a while, the implementation of them was still largely speculation. Having the name of town clothes gave the natural impression that they would be clothes you wore in town, yet town clothing has yet to live up to its name. It would be more fitting to call these non-combat alternative clothes.

The town clothes system is somewhat of a break from what other MMOs do with cosmetic clothing. In many MMOs these days cosmetic clothing is something that goes on “over the armor”, giving the stat benefits of the armor and the appearance of the cosmetic clothing. Even the original Guild Wars followed this cosmetic coverall approach with its costumes.

Why not have armor covering cosmetic items in GW2 as well?

It is partly a test in cosmetic immersion and innovation. Some games (like GW1) sold cosmetics such as wedding dresses that, while looking nice, are things people probably wouldn’t be running around fighting monsters in. With town clothes, the idea was you could have your wedding dress but wouldn’t be breaking any immersion by fighting in it.

Then a common overall design goal for ArenaNet with GW2 is to innovate and not become another clone of different MMO. Town Clothes is another instance of this with breaking away from the cosmetic norms of other games. What this divide between armor and cosmetics helps ArenaNet do is keep the simplicity of foes in appearance. There is something for looking at a character and knowing he/she is a guardian because he is wearing heavy armor and wielding a staff. If any character could wear that wedding dress then that character goes from recognizable as a guardian at a glance to any one of half the professions in GW2.

So in ArenaNet’s take on cosmetics, the costumes are not hiding the armor with cosmetic coveralls while also not completely replacing stated armor with generic statless or stated but armor type specific looking cosmetic gear. Instead GW2 is giving interesting armor designs and fun cosmetic looks without completely limiting either the sense of combat in the game or a character’s costume preferences with the town clothes toggle. Characters are fighting in their full stated armor, while outside of combat they are able to switch to their statless cosmetic fancies available independent of profession choice.

I am possibly in the minority with this, but I like the split between armor and town clothes. In a game that is all about the cosmetics of armor and not having to grind for the best stats, wouldn't buying coverall cosmetic clothing be a little bit pay-to-win? But aside from that, I like that I can see that the enemy is a Guardian. When I originally heard of town clothes I liked the idea that I would be adventuring in my armor and then during the cutscene entering a town my character had switched into its everyday casual wear.

So what is the problem with Town Clothes? -->

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