Despite economy concerns, temporarily halted sales, and other rough spots, Guild Wars 2 appears to be flying high following its first couple weeks of operation. That’s great — fly,fly, I say. This morning we heard that the game’s crossed the two million units sold mark, which feels like one of the fastest-selling MMOs in recent memory, even including SWTOR. Of course, without subscriptions and announcements regarding such, GW2 gets to sidestep the whole “how many people are still playing?” argument that plagues new releases. Instead, just like with GW1, ArenaNet will get to keep announcing bigger and bigger numbers of total copies sold. That seems like a pretty sweet deal for them.
The larger scale of the game’s success aside, I still find myself itching to get in and play almost constantly now, which tells me that it’s certainly “stuck” in a good way. From my perspective, I see Guild Wars 2 as the ultimate casual MMO that respects instead of demands your time. It’s ludicrously fast and easy to log into, and mostly just asks you to live in the moment with your activities instead of chugging through a quest list. While I do get a meal of GW2 gaming time now and then, mostly I just log on for 10-30 minutes, accomplish a few things, explore a few vistas, and see if there are any events going on nearby.
Even grinding mobs feels relaxing. I’m still experimenting with my Engineer setup, waffling between weapons and skill loadouts. I’m extremely partial to turrets, especially during events (they do a great job helping you be in multiple places at once and tagging lots of mobs), but I forced myself to try the other skills including a speed buff elixir that’s now part of my rotation. Pewpewpewpewpew — it’s bliss.
Aside from 100% map completion, my other major goal is to unlock eight character slots and other gem store goodies without paying real money. I know the trading post and economy has its critics and fans, but as for me, I’m engaging more in the economy now because of the easy of the TP’s interface and accessibility, not to mention the allure of earning gems by doing things in-game. I’ve already purchased one character slot and am on my way to a second. Sure, I’m disappointed how little sells well on the TP these days, especially for crafting mats, but there is some demand for certain items (cloth, animal parts in particular) that I am still making a good profit. I earned 50 silver yesterday through it, and have decided to spend half of what I earn every day on gems and save the other half (for eventual training tomes and other expenses).
In a weird way, it reminds me of very old school RPG mechanics, where acquiring money to buy gear from vendors was of all-consuming importance — so the money was actually a rush to get. Usually I don’t even think of money in MMOs, but GW2 has hit a sweet spot in me with its loot and economy, so the inner Gecko Gordon in me is coming out.
Other than that, I just am eager to dive into any group event. I’m finally done with all of the 1-15 zones, so I’m on my second 15-25 area and discovering that events are becoming more challenging and more complicated. I’ve seen groups start to adapt to the challenge by eschewing mere zerging and instead pulling tougher mobs away from their friends, set up heal zones, and lay down spell strips that allow others to trigger combos. It’s kind of really neat.
One funny side effect of now juggling four MMOs is that my finger memory is getting all sorts of messed up. Guild Wars 2 uses F to loot, TSW uses V, and LOTRO and RIFT require clicking. I keep messing all those up all the time now.
Anyway, whether or not GW2 exudes a casual feel to you, it does to me. It’s not a game I feel any need to rush through, but instead just to be content where I’m at, to savor the experience, and to really see my surroundings instead of the distant horizon.