It finally happened, about three months after probably everyone else: I dinged 80 in Guild Wars 2. I actually had a great leveling sprint over the weekend that took me from 72 to 80 in a couple of days, further illustrating that ArenaNet wasn’t joking when it said that the game had a pretty flat leveling curve. It was pretty cool to see levels ding fairly frequently, because there’s something psychologically satisfying when that bar fills up quickly instead of slowly.
In a way, level 80 is an arbitrary number without much significance to my current playstyle. I guess it means that most of the zones and content are open to me, but I’ve been methodically leveling in zones far below my level so that I keep getting artificially bumped down. It certainly was nice to get my final trait point and fully flesh out my pyrotank build.
My goals for this character remain constant. I’m working toward 100% map completion (I’m 63% right now, so there’s 37% of the game that still needs plundering). I also have quite a bit of my personal story to do, having stopped doing it at level 22. I think I’ll wait until I hit 100% map completion and then just do the whole story in one go so that I can keep track of what’s going on. Making money continues to be a goal, and I’m enjoying playing the AH a little more than I was previously.
One of the things I started to worry about when I hit 80 was the whole gear issue. I wasn’t really putting much emphasis on gear while leveling, because I was handling the zones okay and decent gear would come my way all the time. But I felt that level 80 meant that I had to get serious about shoring up my stats, so I started to look into exotics for the first time. I actually felt a twinge of despair at this, because I loathe endgame gear grinds and had no idea what was in store for GW2. A guildie told me that I’d be spending karma out of my nose to buy just one piece, and I knew I wasn’t going to be running a lot of dungeons.
So, dope that I am, I finally turned to the trading post to see what was available. Wouldn’t you know it, there is just tons of exotic gear on sale by crafters for incredibly affordable prices. I had over 7 gold saved up at this point, and it took a little less than 5 gold to fully deck out my character. Sure, I didn’t pick the absolute BEST exotic gear, but it’s all very servicable and gets me into the right stat range. I also had some nice tanking runes saved up for my build, so now I’m way better than before. That actually felt GREAT; the concern of gear was lifted from my shoulders and I could just keep playing the game. Sure, there’s better gear out there if I’m ever interested, but it’s far from a priority.
A part of me is still mulling over alts, but I’m trying to hold off of rolling one until I reach my goals on this character. I was going back and forth between a Necro and a Mesmer for my #2, although lately I’ve had the strong desire to hit things hard with a big weapon, which means that I’m also looking at the Guardian and Warrior. For my second run-through, I’m going to focus a little more on crafting and just general wanderlust, doing events and going wherever I want. Doing more exploring, lore-reading, and so on.
I’m very heartened by how enjoyable Guild Wars 2 continues to be. It’s the most relaxing MMO I have on my computer, because I can boot it up within seconds and just do whatever comes natural. I don’t feel the weight of a huge quest log hovering over my head or the pressure to get to the endgame where everyone else is. And I’m still wowed by the game’s beauty and little touches that go a long way to setting it apart from the pack. Hopefully over Christmas I’ll get some good time to play it and check out the Wintersday content coming to the game.