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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
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!