Posted by : Wendy B Monday, 10 September 2012

Remember how I said SWTOR was my last MMO? Yeah well. Guild Wars 2 happened. It’s been two weeks since I started and all other things are currently on hold as I play around with my WarriorNecromancerElementalistEngineer and Ranger. And when I’m not playing around with them in game, then I’m playing around with colour-coded spreadsheets about them as I plan out their adventures.

Yes, I have five characters, and yes I plan to level them all (and maybe one or two more). I'm loving the job variations and the way you can basically play any profession you want the way you want, without any one profession being forced into the cookiecutter standards (unless you want them to be). Oh I know there are the elitists who have already decided what the perfect build for each job in each situation MUST be, but fuck 'em. I'm doing this instead! The game seems to have found the fine balance of making the jobs and corresponding attributes easy enough for a more casual gamer to handle, while still allowing for just enough math for a stat calculators to be content -- though the game subtly stresses that skill is far more important that stats. It does not allow you to check gear on other players. This is somewhat frustrating for me when it comes to tracking down all the nice outfits...

It’s still early times, of course, but I think this is all a good sign for the future of Guild Wars 2 in my life – and in my husband’s, who spent a mere few hours taking up one of my precious character slots to toy around with the game and subsequently ran out to get his own copy. He and I have been looking for a game to play together, but all of our attempts have failed thus far. I can see a lot of potential with GW2, though. He’s a crafter and is already level 40 just from crafting and farming, but his farming plus the game’s level capping means that we can still hang out together from time to time.

There are a lot of things that I love about this game, so far, not the least of which is the exploration. You are rewarded for taking the time to explore, not just with experience points and goodies, but with the beautiful music and scenery as well as the lore. There is a lot to learn just by taking the time to click on a few books, NPCs and statues.
Our exploration amusement has since been augmented by the realization that Bioware voice actors are allllll over the place. Grunt hangs out in the Charr priory, Duncan is hiding among the Wardens (oh I see what you did there!), Anders is playing with fire, Kai Leng is going to be my mini pet and Fenris is whispering sweet temptations to me from the Nightmare Court. Oh right, Felicia Day is there too. Sigh. Just kidding. I don’t hate her, remember? And at least her character and purpose aren’t the self indulgence that Tallis was.
Despite me always being about The Story in games, I have not gotten very far in any of mine and can hardly judge how good they are, though they do feel a bit superficial at the moment. Still, I do like the way they differ based on your character creation choices and the few choices you get to make along the way. And again, they focus on getting you out into the world and exploring, once again rewarding you for doing so.
The major reason for me not doing my storylines, despite full intent to do so is simply distraction, which AGAIN is heavily related to the exploration (Theme. I see you there.), as well as the fact that there is ALWAYS something to do if you step outside the towns. Events are constantly occurring in the world and there is always a gathering point to access or an NPC requesting your aid. Sure you can just ignore them but what’s that? Shadow Behemoth is up? Keg Brawl? Save the Skritt King? Warning: Cave Troll? What happens if I click this? Oh a Vista! lol Cattlepult. Sweet sweet dance moves party? Hey I’ve never been here before. Oh I found onions! Teehee whale people! OMG Krypto the Superdog! I’m sure this cave is safe…
To be fair, I should list the cons of the game, but they are so minor or are related to MMO launch jitters and soon to be cleared up, if they haven’t been already that it isn’t worth it to mention them. My husband has complained that things are a little too easy and convenient, but I keep looking up at his screen to see him dead or dying, so I’m going to assume there’s still just enough challenge involved. I do understand what he means though, considering he used to play Final Fantasy XI with me. Back in the day, things were challenging. You couldn’t get to level 80 in a day. But while I appreciated those challenges and took pride in my accomplishments as an individual and in a group, there was also a helluva lot of frustration involved. As much as I agree that things are being made too convenient for gamers these days, I really can’t complain about the lack of stress and frustration and the ability to accomplish more individually or in a smaller group.

I love that, even for those like my husband who prefer to do things on their own, they are still able to participate in group events, even in passing. Mobs are shared (as are gathering points), so there is none of the annoyance of camping or kill stealing. It’s to your advantage to team up with others, even if not in party, to take down a monster, since everyone is going to get their own loot pot.

Crafting is also my husband’s thing, where it was never mine. But we’re both enjoying it. I’ve even got plans to level one of my characters mostly on crafting because it’s so much fun. I’m sure there are many guides available, but I have no interest. Discovering new materials and recipes is half the fun. I still have to check out PvP, WvWvW and dungeons, but I’m in no rush to get anywhere and farming and crafting – things I’ve hated hated hated in the past, are just so much fun, especially when we can enhance them with guild bonuses, which is how I’m building our guild. I’m leading a guild again, but feel far less apprehensive about doing so because of how guilds are set up and the fact that people can represent more than one.

Technically speaking, this game is brilliant. Aside from the horribly amusing coincidence of my computer having a big ol’ crash the moment my husband asked how the game was running, I have had absolutely no issues. Sure there have been the occasional shut downs and connections losses, but they are nothing compared to the lag frustration I’ve had in some games that have had me give up trying to play them. I can alt-tab to my heart’s content without the back and forth taking five minutes.

And let us not forget the big plus of GW2 being free to play and actually understanding how that works. As in, you aren't nickle and dimed over game elements that are necessary to game enjoyment. You aren't locked out of anything because you are poor. If you want to pay for a few extras, they are merely for convenience or personal expression, and yeah okay I'm totally buying those outfits shut up.... I am very happy with ArenaNet's microtransaction philosophy, along with many of the other philosophies they have displayed thus far.

So, as it stands, this is going to be my game for quite a while. My to-play, to-watch and to-read lists are being neglected, but I’m sure Shepard can handle reaper killersSinbad can sail away, Jessica and her peeps can make with the sexy law, Richard and Kaylan can keep seeking, Cesare and Michaletto can be awesome, Batman can get over his parents, Tom Hanks can write cloud journalsAlphas can sort their shit out and Sean Darcy and Jackie Estacado can hang out at the BroTP Club without me. I’m sure they will all be fine until my obsession calms down a bit…
lol Cattlepult

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This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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