Guild Wars 2: I’m playing WHAT now?

me

One of my loose ambitions for gaming this December is to “check in” on MMOs that I used to play fairly regularly at one point but have been away from for a while now. I loaded up LOTRO for a hot 10 minutes of “let’s see if this still works… yup, it does,” and promised myself that I’d be back to work on the new epic story. Star Trek Online has gotten a few logins this week, thanks to a promotion that’s giving away free prize packs (I got a space shotgun!). But perhaps the most unexpected for me was getting back into Guild Wars 2.

I don’t know what prompted it. I have this inner process, this algorithm that determines whether or not I’ll play a new game or return to an old one. It’s pretty simple:

  1. Become aware of the title as something more than background noise. A big promotion, event, or release (say, expansion) can do this, or a bunch of other bloggers talking about it.
  2. Mentally mull it over for a while. Am I interested in playing it? If I’ve been in this game before, was I truly burned out on it? Is it too time-intensive to return? Would I need to pay money? Am I too hopelessly behind to ever catch up to the crowd?
  3. If I’m feeling interested or excited, I’ll load it up and take it for a test drive. See if the feeling of returning to that game is refreshing joy or a quick return of sour burnout.

I guess I was just thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve played Guild Wars 2 and curious if enough time has passed that my interest has rejuvenated. After all, it’s been since March 2015 since I was actively playing and blogging about those sessions. That’s a good long period for a game to go fallow. But there wasn’t anything pressing going on right now to pull me in other than just mild curiosity.

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So why not? I don’t have Heart of Thorns — it came out after I had left the game and I don’t see the point in buying expansions (on sale or not) when I’m not playing — so I wasn’t returning to bust through the expansion. I don’t even think I finished up season 2. I was just coming back to see what’s what and feel out whether this was something I was interested in playing right now.

I think maybe. It’s amazing how fast the knowledge of this MMO rushed back at me after a mere 30 minutes or so of being back. How the economy worked (the updated trading screen is really nice to work with!). How the experience bar progresses with that little light show. How there are dynamic, moving events — funny enough, I had forgotten those and was taken aback when I encountered some during that first night. The NPC chatter. The general visual aesthetic (yay) and the two-people-talking cutscenes (boo). How amazing Divinity’s Reach looks. Even having been gone for a year and a half, I wasn’t really lost in the interface or with the changes.

I decided to clean house and start up a new character, because that’s part of the fun for me. A fresh start. I rolled up a Human Engineer to play as a rifle-toting gunslinger and used my zillion boosts lying around in the bank to bump her up to 80 right away. Actually, it took a couple of hours to manage my bank, transfer usable materials between characters, sort out all of the leveling up rewards, pick out a new outfit, and generally get situated so that I could start playing. As you can see in my character at the top, I’ve strongly angled for nice steampunk look for her.

burn

In the past I was always on a kick to do full zone completes — hearts, vistas, POIs, — but this time around, if I stay, I think I’ll just be following the storylines. Heaven knows that there’s enough for a new character to do: the personal story, Scarlet’s War, living world season 1, season 2, Heart of Thorns, and season 3. The latter two I can’t do unless I buy the expansion, but I’m holding off because (a) Christmas is sucking all of my allowance toward presents and (b) if I peter out halfway through, it would be a waste of money to buy an expansion I wouldn’t be using. Plus, maybe it’ll go on sale again at some point.

I played off and on during the weekend, mostly just gearing up my character (huzzah for having saved enough money and laurels to do that) and going through the first ten levels or so of the personal storyline. I’m such a tourist, too, because I’m taking screenshots left and right. Forgot how pretty this game is.

I’m in a play-and-see mode with this game right now. Maybe it’ll stick, maybe not. If I’m deeper into it by the end of the month, I’ll spring for Heart of Thorns and work it more heavily into my rotation. And hey, if there’s a new expansion sometime in 2017, that’d put me on track for being ready for it!

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3 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: I’m playing WHAT now?

  1. Aywren Sojourner December 5, 2016 / 10:56 am

    Though I’ve “completed” GW2 on several characters, and have many level 80 characters in my roster who are fairly well geared (nothing amazing, but good enough), I haven’t picked up HoT yet. I still log in to unlock those chapter updates as they come out… even though I can’t play them without HoT, which is a huge bummer. But maybe one day. Never say never.

    I still love my charr and the way the game looks, though. Just wish the storyline that I’ve participated in was more compelling. And the large zone events less frustrating. I’ve heard they’ve made strides to work on that, though.

    Let us know what you find in your return to Tyria!

  2. Syp December 5, 2016 / 11:58 am

    Will do!

  3. Sylow December 6, 2016 / 8:29 am

    For me GW2 is a nice “a little every few days” game. I bought it at launch and by now have a character of any class at level 80, although some of them did most of their levels using level-up rewards for the daily login. It’s not captivating enough to get my full attention, but when consuming it in limited doses, it can stay entertaining for a long time. πŸ™‚

    On the storyline, i also dare to say that it got a good deal better in HoT and in the living story. Mind you, the “much better” is the comparison between the base game and the new content. It still is miles behind even the weaker content of TSW, but since the storywriting and voice acting of TSW leaves any other MMO out there in the dust (no exceptions) it still is at good standing.

    Actually i rate the new content of GW2 better than what i experienced in SWtoR. (Mind you, i only played that one for three months, there might actually be good content there which i missed, but i couldn’t handle any more of it. ) In GW2 the cutscenes are kind of “cardboard characters in front of a canvas”. That might be an art choice, but it results in the characters appearing “out of the world”, while the cutscenes in TSW and even SWtoR seem to happen “in the world” and thus are not as disconnected from the game. Also in the base game the of GW2 characters themselves very much matched to that cardboard impression. Most of them were bland and uninteresting, with very few exceptions. (In SWtoR the characters were better animated and had a bit better voice acting, but all the same were replaceable and not interesting at all. ) Unlike that, in the new storyline and mostly in the new living story, there are a few characters which become recognizeable and the player can start to relate to.

    Again, it’s far behind from TSW. There you might see a character in just one or two cutscenes, but they are so well done that you know him and remember him again after not being there for a year. In GW2 the NPCs need some more time and the have to be in several missions till the player can distinguish some of them from all the “one time, throw away afterwards” NPCs. But it’s still a huge step forward, some writers in the GW2 team apparently are learning and improving.

    On the other topic of large zone events, also known as “meta events”, i have participated in them in all four HoT zones. In a way i would say that Dry Top and the Silverwastes, the two event-zones which were added later to the base game and can be accessed without HoT, were the testing ground, where the team learned how to do the big events. And i would say that the developers did learn from them, HoT feels better than the two maps i mentioned. They don’t feel as “tacked on” as the worldbosses in the base game but are more integral to the map. In one of them it’s implemented as day and night cycle, which feels very solid. (The time of day and night does not really fit together if you’d play the map with a clock, but that’s allright, both are long enough to give the proper feeling. So the map works. )

    Their only drawback is that you should plan in some extra time for them. Some can be done in like 20 minutes (especially if you are in an active map and just notice it to start, so you can just run there and participate), but some are much longer, and for either of them, there is some “overhead” of finding a group and setting up.

    The extreme is the map event of the fourth map in HoT, which runs for two hours i think. (I might be wrong, could also be 90 minutes, but i think it’s 120 minutes. ) This requires an at least somewhat organized effort, as the first step of the map event is started by at least 5 players being present at three different points, so a minimum of 15 players required. Usually this event is organized before the map starts, groups are formed, people are gathered and several leaders organize the progress of attack on different lanes. (*1) So if things go bad (long organisation time but then slow progress on the map) you might have to invest like 130 minutes into this meta event. And i never ran into that event by chance. People organize their teams before the map opens, they move in and taxi in people till the map is full. The chances to stumble into a map where the meta event is just forming, people are gathering but the map is not full yet are low.

    That being said, i also have to point out that those events are optional, you don’t need a group to complete the HoT storyline. It’s actually a good thing here, that you most likely end up in an instance of the last map where the meta event is not running. This means you can push your story forward without all the happenings of the meta event all around you. I never was in the raid (which is partof the HoT content) and my girl and me were able to complete the storyline without outside help. So the whole story of HoT, as well as the first two of the three new chapters of the living story (we haven’t found the time to go for the third chapter yet) can be beaten by two players and possibly can be soloed. (There is one fight which i don’t know how i could’ve done that solo, but probably we missed part of the fight mechanic and compensated by resurrecting each other several times. πŸ˜€ )

    I rate this change highly. The last mission of the base game was hell. I managed to solo it as ranger and think as a necromancer that’s also possible (since you have pets and thus are not really “solo”), but when trying it solo on my mesmer i found it to be pure torture. The mission was designed around being done in group. As far as i know, it was changed some time ago, i haven’t tested it since then, but before that you either had to find a group (not that easy once the game is a bit older and not that many people still need to do that mission) or painfully complete the mission by dying a lot.

    HoT seems to be much more solo-friendly for those times when you just don’t want or don’t have somebody available to assist.

    *1: So yes, when thinking about it, the last zone is a little “League of Legends” in MMO format. Players progress along three attack lanes, defeating bosses and eliminating fortifications on the way, till they can get to the big bossfight of the map. I didn’t really notice that before writing this, but now i can’t unsee the parallels any more… πŸ˜€

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