Author Archives: paeroka

Then & Now: Reliving the newbie experience (1-5)

With the recent feature patch, ArenaNet released the new player experience. There has been quite a lot of controversy around the related changes. For example, your skills unlock one by one when you level up. The last one, your elite skill, is not available until you hit level 40 (it was at level 30 before). Some of the changes annoy some veteran players because when we create the 10th alt, we obviously do not need the handholding anymore. However, not all systems should be hidden and/or disabled for veteran players who already levelled a character. As usual with patches, there are bugs (I wish there weren’t, but we all know how it is… :p).

Anyway, as they said, these changes are to make it easier for new players, to keep them playing the game instead of running away screaming and to give a nicer feeling of progression as they get rewards with every level.

GW2_asura creation

My initial reaction was a very negative one. Those changes sounded bad! Very very bad! And yes, while I agree that ArenaNet throws a lot at the players at once, I always thought a better tutorial would help, but not stretching everything mercilessly without giving you a choice. You know, an actual tutorial before you start the actual game. Not this very short story introduction. However, I assume making a tutorial is very costly (and time-intensive). So here we are.

And instead of ranting and raging about the changes, I decided to “recreate” my first steps in Tyria as much as I can! Keep in mind that I have been blogging about Guild Wars 2 since before its launch. So, I was in no way new to the game even when headstart happened. I also have experience with a lot of different MMOs. Both do not make me the “problem child” of ArenaNet (as in: the one that needs more hand-holding). However, my goal was to remember what it felt like being new in Tyria (and I, too, was confused about some things!) and compare my reactions to the gameplay now with the reactions I had back when my first asura stepped into the world for the first time.

GW2_the original Flummi

The original Flummi

My first asura was no other than Flummi, a mesmer. In hindsight, while I really loved that profession, I also had a few issues with the mesmer. It took a while, but I figured out how to survive even difficult skill challenges (judging by how often I ran past them later on and found players in the downed state :p). When compared to levelling the warrior afterwards, the mesmer still was much harder to play. So she seems to be the perfect choice to test the new player experience. Luckily, I did take screenshots of the settings in the character creation screen, so I could literally create a clone of her: Flummi Two.

I also do not play on my main account, because that one comes with lots of XP bonus thanks to achievement points. My second account isn’t often played and has 0 extra XP, and 1 % karma and gold gain. I figured the last two won’t be that much anyway. I sent all my gold (4. In letters: Four… -.-) to my main account and wrote down how much karma I had in the beginning: 255.125. So, while adventuring through Tyria with “Flummi Two”, I will not spend more karma than she has earned herself and I will not use my other characters to help her out. I want the real newbie experience again! :p I will write about my experiences here in our blog. Very likely not level by level, because that would be boring. Today’s part will be about my first impression and the first five levels.

Back at headstart, I remember that with the first “boss” mob that appears at the end of the tutorial zone, I got downed for no apparent reason. “Fight for your life” – yes, but… why? I was perfectly healthy in one second and downed in the next. Does this happen all the time? What can I do to be sure to predict when something like this happens? What is even causing it? This annoyed me to no end. If ArenaNet wanted to show us that they have a downed state, they should do it differently, not in the middle of a big fight and certainly not without indicating why you got damage. But maybe it was also just a bug. I never figured that one out. However, Flummi Two now had no such issues. In fact, if I understood correctly, she cannot get downed (and thus, die) until level 5. I had no problems surviving with her, though, so I did not experience this.

The collections which were also newly introduced with the feature pack, popped up at the right of my screen when I collected an item that belongs to a collection. I feel that with the whole revamping and making it easier to understand, they could have also thrown a tooltip with an explanation towards that notification window.

GW2_NPE_level 2

Level 2 gives you your second weapon skill slot.

Flummi Two started with a scepter and only the first weapon skill slot. This wasn’t bad, actually: I quite enjoyed the slow unlocking of weapon skills per level as it meant that I had time to learn and try one skill before the next one appeared. With the previous system, we also had that, but it happened faster. After killing a mob with a weapon, that weapon’s next skill got unlocked a bit further. After killing a certain amount of mobs, the skill got fully unlocked and you could use it. This had to be done with every single weapon the character could use. When you were higher in level, this could get a bit annoying. Say you found a staff for the first time, you equipped it and only had one single skill to use. But it still meant you could slowly get used to the weapon skills. The system now works great for a new player who hasn’t played the game before, but only until all 5 weapon skill slots are unlocked. When the player then equips a new weapon, all weapon skills are immediately available. If this truly was about “slow pacing” and not overburdening a player new to the profession, then the new system would fail. On the other hand, I guess this is more part of the “levelling should feel rewarding” as getting a new weapon skill slot is not dependant on X killed mobs anymore (especially annoying when you levelled by doing peaceful things instead). At the same time, more experienced players do not need to unlock a new weapon’s skills one by one, but can access all of them immediately.

GW2_NPE_no water bucket

I remember there being useable water buckets for extinguishing the fire instead of just running through them now…

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to experience my first disappointment: The golem game in Soren Draa was taken out. Well, the little golems are still there, but you cannot interact with them anymore. In fact, you cannot use any items anymore. At least not in the low-level area (like picking up a bucket of water and throwing the water at flames to extinguish them). Back at release, I did play a few games with the mini golems. It has no real purpose. It’s just there to fill the bar and get you closer to the heart reward. I lost the game, repeatedly, because I had trouble with the control skills. Yes, I was a newb. ;) But I still had fun and loved seeing this little touch from ArenaNet! It just showed how detailed the world and the game was that they cared enough to add something like this. It’s also so very cute! I want one for myself.

GW2_NPE_level 5

Level 5 rewards: My beloved F-skill and the downed state

What I really did miss was the F skill. With the mesmer, the first F skill lets you destroy your illusions for some nice damage on the enemy. When I first started playing the game, I created several professions to see what their F skill was, as I felt that this was what’s making the professions feel distinctive and special. Even if both the mesmer and the elementalist are using a staff and cast spells, the F skills are what makes them very different from each other. Having to wait until you finally unlock those skills is a bad decision if you ask me. Or, maybe not having to wait per se. But it should be a level 2 unlock. Level 2 happens so fast, after all. And it just lets a new player see what’s special about their profession almost immediately after starting playing them.

GW2_NPE_dodge tutorial

This is a great addition! A dodge tutorial was certainly needed to introduce the mechanic to new players.

There was also a dodge tutorial in the open world and this one is definitely needed! I would have loved to get this when I started playing. Even though I had read about dodging, I still felt a bit overwhelmed when I first had to do it.

However, not everything is nice and good about this system. There is also the “navigator” (not sure what it’s officially called). That navi shows you an arrow of where to go next. It mainly led me from heart to heart and to the dodge tutorial. This resulted in me looking at the upper right corner of my screen instead of looking at the world. It made me follow the arrow, because… this is what you do, right? Other MMOs work like that as well in a way. You get a quest, which leads to another quest, which leads to another… And here in Guild Wars 2, it’s hearts and little tutorials. You follow the navigator. But this isn’t what us veterans learned about Guild Wars 2 when we started playing! We may have been overwhelmed sometimes and I know there were a lot of players asking: “Where should I go now?” but this was what set Guild Wars 2 apart. The answer usually was: Follow your nose. Go, explore the world! Well, try not to run into mobs a lot higher in level than you. But other than that, take a stroll, sniff on the flowers and you may run into an event that you can participate in.

GW2_NPE_navigator

The navigator (upper right corner) tells you what to do and where to go next. No need to think for yourself here.

Flummi Two is now level 5. All in all, it took me one hour and 8 minutes to get there. This is long, in case you’re wondering! I took my time, looked around, read every tooltip, etc. As I said, I wanted to recreate the original experience. I imagined being new in the game again. I don’t think a new player who needs guidance will play much faster, if at all.

My impression of the new player experience, so far, is a positive one. I did not expect that, to be honest. ;) The slower unlocking of things isn’t as bad as I thought and just as ArenaNet said, getting rewards for level ups is neat. At no point did I get too many things thrown at me. Everything was nicely paced and levelling feels very rewarding. This part I like and I’m sure it’s great for new players. On the other hand, the heart of Guild Wars 2 seems to be missing. There is no sense of wanting to go and explore the world. Not as long as the navigator tells me where to go. But maybe this will change. Flummi Two is only at level 5, after all. There are many more levels waiting for the two of us now and I’ll be sure to report about my progress here.

World of Warcraft: 10 years – 10 questions

wow_healerI stumbled upon a post by the ALT:ernative chat blog asking former and current World of Warcraft players 10 questions. This post is from August, so I was worried I’d be much too late, but in another post, the deadline is stated as… tomorrow. Perfect timing here. :p

As you, my readers, may know, I do not play World of Warcraft currently. But it is the very first MMO that I’ve ever played, so there’s a big chunk of nostalgia connected to it! World of Warcraft is having its 10 year anniversary and I’ve got to say that it aged very well. Anyway, on with the questions.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

Because of my boyfriend. What a stereotypical boring answer, right? ;) But there it is. We had been together close to a year when he’d let me test the game on his account. He had offered before, but I had always declined, because despite liking computer games, I thought that an MMO was too big of a time investment. Well, I tested on Sunday evening. Monday afternoon, he called to tell me my account key. And the rest… is history. ;) We spent a few years playing that game, left for Warhammer Online, came back afterwards, left again, came back, and today, we only play on the free starter editions when we get the urge to have a look at the game again.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

zwerge_wowI actually don’t remember. I tried out all the classes that were available for gnomes. I wondered if priest was a class I would enjoy, but gnomes couldn’t be priests back then. So, my dwarf priest, Grifola (see on the left), was born. The anecdote I always give about that character is how in Westfall (low level area, I hadn’t been playing for long), I got a random message from a random stranger asking me to please reroll the character because “female dwarves are ugly and fat and I don’t want to see them in the game”. -.-

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

World of Warcraft UndeadsI got the game in December 2005. It had released here in Europe in February 2005. So, at that point, my boyfriend, his sister, his cousin and a friend had settled down on a German PvP server, Alliance faction. I did not want to play alone, so I joined them. They also had Horde alts on a different German PvP server where I had created my undead warlock (seen in the picture) to play with them. But the main faction was Alliance and it stayed that way for our most active gaming time, even though I always liked Horde more. The people I wanted to play with just always ended up playing Alliance instead.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

There are a lot. For one, the above mentioned anecdote of a player asking me to reroll my female dwarf because he thought they’re fat and ugly. Thankfully, healers were in high demand and I had decided to not level as shadow (no dual-specs at that point), so I could jump into dungeons as a healer whenever a group needed one which meant that I met a lot of friendly and nice players who were just too happy to see my little healing dwarf. ;)

WoW_Undead Poets Society 2Another one was the weekend we spent at bookahnerk’s cousin’s place where we played our Horde characters. We basically did 4 man runs through all of Scarlet Crusade until everybody had all the good items that dropped from there. Thankfully, the dungeon had four wings. But it still got a tiny bit repetitive after a while. Still, with all four of us being in the same room, we had a lot of fun!

Last but not least (and there are definitely more memorable moments!), that one time in Serpentshrine Caverns where we killed Morogrim Tidewalker on our first try: I had been part of a raid that raided once a week. Most of the others did that raid with their alts and I was one of the few ones doing the raids with their main (draenei frost mage at that point). It was past the usual raid time, so quite a lot had had to leave and our raid leaders decided we should give that boss a try. We got a few others in, so there were several people there that had never done that boss before. Me included. We were usually a chaotic bunch of people, mostly because those who were there with their alts thought they didn’t need to pay attention that much during the encounters and concentration was always an issue. The raid leaders had told us: Yeah, we’re going to wipe here. But let’s just give it a try, okay? – That one single try ended with us killing the boss and 0 wipes, as nobody had made a mistake throughout the entire boss fight. I had never heard Teamspeak being this quiet. Until that moment when the boss died, of course!

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

Fishing chair - perfect for every kind of weather

Fishing chair – perfect for every kind of weather

I can’t say what my favourite aspect is. When I first got into the game, I loved the soundtrack and how big the world seemed to be. I loved fishing and crafting and earning gold without doing any combat. How many addons and mods the game has and how much you actually can mod (mostly speaking about the UI here, not so much about damage meters and the like). There are so many things I still love and miss. Archaeology became one of my favourite things to do. I also greatly enjoyed the pet battles when I had briefly returned a few months ago (right before Rift went free to play and lured me back in). So, I would say archaeology and no, it hasn’t always been the case as that was added later on.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

An area as in a certain place in the world? Ironforge. With the music turned on. I often turn off the soundtrack, because it’s distracting or I’m watching a stream while playing. But entering Ironforge without having the music turned on just doesn’t feel right. This place is also connected to the “most nostalgia” seeing how the first city I ever entered was Ironforge with my dwarf.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

charactercreation_wowI cannot check that because I’m not currently subscribed to the game. I did start in December 2005. As mentioned above, I left when Warhammer Online was released, but returned two or three more times following that initial departure. My /played time in all MMOs is always very high, though. I tend to be online in MMOs while doing other stuff (right now, my cleric in Rift is idling next to the mailbox, for example).

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends on where I am in the game, what I’m doing next to gaming (e.g. watching a stream or talking to bookahnerk) and of course, the kind of quest. I am not interested in reading a vague and boring explanation on why I need to kill 10 murlocs. If the quest is related to a bigger storyline, for example, I usually read the quest texts.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

Not quitting the Karazhan raid with my healing druid earlier when the raid leader had started to be rude. (Hey look! I am capable of writing short answers… ^^)

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

WoW dragon smileNot all that many, actually. The effects to life outside of gaming came afterwards, especially with Guild Wars 2 where I went and met people outside of the game. On the other hand, I did meet other WoW players in gaming communities and friendships were formed. It was my first MMO, though, and the happenings in my life and new friends I have found were because I have this very blog here and I wouldn’t have started this blog without Warhammer Online and I probably wouldn’t have played that game if I hadn’t played WoW first. ;) Oh, one thing, though: My name! I did not go by “Paeroka” before World of Warcraft. That name is a name I had used in a (still unfinished) story I had started writing and when I started World of Warcraft, I needed names for my characters. I had given the name “Paeroka” to my undead warlock and later started using her name for myself (technically, that is “outside gaming”, because I use it on Twitter, etc. where I don’t only talk about games ^^).

Guild Wars 1 on Steam’s sale

Guild Wars background imageI haven’t seen Guild Wars on sale for quite a long time. Today, however, it is on sale on Steam. All versions are 50 % off for the next 48 hours: Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, the expansion Eye of the North and the trilogy (containing the campaigns Prophecies, Factions and Nightfall).

A little information in case you don’t know much about Guild Wars 1: The campaigns are standalone, meaning you can buy either of those and play the game. Each campaign takes place in a different part of the world (called Tyria). The expansion “Eye of the North” requires any of the three campaigns. So, you do not have to buy all three campaigns. You can just buy one or two if you want. However, if you do want to get two, you may as well just buy the trilogy as the price is the same. ;)

GW2 Hall of Monuments TitlesIf you are also a Guild Wars 2 player, link your Guild Wars 1 account to your Guild Wars 2 account or you will not receive those Hall of Monuments points.  I wrote about it before and linked to several guides (I can recommend the one done by Dragon Season! :p) on how to get the points in Guild Wars 1 that are required for the various rewards, namely armor skins, ranger pets and miniatures. You can see the list of rewards with the demo mode of the Hall of Monuments rewards calculator showing 3 points already – read on to know why: What you do need in order to get those Hall of Monuments points is the expansion “Eye of the North” + one of the campaigns. However, you will automatically receive 1 point for each of the three campaigns. So, if you buy all three campaigns and the expansion (and play a character to level 10, so they can enter the Hall of Monuments), you will receive your first three Hall of Monuments points.

Guild Wars_Dancing Derwish

Dervishes dancing

Is this game worth buying, especially since it’s several years old already? Yes, yes it is! I have had a lot of fun with it, I enjoyed the storylines, I loved the world and the way it looks. One caveat: You cannot jump in this game. ;)

Necromancer Elite Sunspear Armor

Necromancer Elite Sunspear Armor

And if you are worried about not finding any players to play with: 1) There are no dedicated servers, but districts that you can freely choose. 2) Guild Wars has NPCs that you can take with you. The game is not an open world game, but you enter instanced areas where a premade group of varying size (4 to 8) can enter together. If you can’t find or don’t want to find others to group with, you can just take NPCs. The Nightfall campaign also added heroes which are customizable NPCs. You can choose builds and armor stats for your heroes which makes playing even easier. But even with the NPCs, I did not have any trouble playing the campaigns and I really enjoyed the game.

Guild Wars 2 Mini Llama

Yesterday, I was lucky to win a mini llama on Guild Wars 2’s twitter giveaway. Since we were away at the GW2 community meeting at Cologne (where gamescom is currently taking place), I couldn’t redeem the code immediately. Oh, the irony. ;) More about that community meeting later. For now, I’ll just need coffee.

 

You currently cannot buy this mini, by the way, but I’m pretty sure there will be more ways to win one in the future… Once we know more, you will get to hear it here on the blog, of course!

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (August 7, 2014)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch and the first Geekwatch in 2014! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to Guild Wars 2 – and on occasion, other games.

If you have thought about trying out Trove in their alpha, but thought that paying 18.99€ for a game that you have not been able to try out first, then this deal may interest you: From now until August 10, you get alpha access for spending 4.99€. What’s especially nice about this deal is that you will get almost every of the milestones you can see listed on that page. You can read my first impressions here on the blog. My opinion about the game hasn’t changed since then and I do not regret spending money on it despite having free alpha access. If you need more information, have a look at gameplay videos on YouTube or Twitch. There is no NDA on Trove. :) If you still don’t want to spend any money on it, then watch their Reddit page, as they apparently always include a multi-use alpha key with their patch notes.

Rift has had another patch which revamped the auction house interface. For the most part, I love it! It now shows you suggestions for prices based on the sale history of items. This is a great feature, if you ask me, especially for players who do not “play the auction house” regularly and spend hours memorizing prices they have seen for various items. Unfortunately, they also increased the fee you pay for listing items. Artifacts used to be very cheap with a flat amount (I think it was based on a low percentage of the vendor price) you paid for listing them, but now it’s always based on how much gold you’re asking for. On the other hand, at least they will increase the time the items will be listed to 7 days. I always found 48 hours as the maximum amount to be much too short. For more information, this blog post may be useful.

And the last bit of news today – isn’t about Guild Wars 2 either. I wrote about that game yesterday already. :p No, the last bit of information is that WordPress has released a new feature last night. You can now “like” comments. For existing blogs, this feature is automatically disabled, so you need to manually enable it if you want your readers to be able to like comments. I have done so. So, if you’re ever here and see a comment that you like, feel free to hit that button!

Tyrian Explorer’s Knapsack – worth the price?

GW2 Covert Charr BackpackToday is Tuesday and as is usual on Tuesdays, we get to see new items in the gem store (and a new trailer). The first item is the Covert Charr Backpack Set for 300 gems. If you don’t have a charr backpack yet and this is your favourite, then go buy it! Otherwise, consider getting the tiger charr backpack, the plush tybalt backpack (my personal favourite) or the cheetah charr backpack. All of them are available on the Trading Post for less than 2 gold!

But let’s have a look at the second new item, the Tyrian Explorer’s Knapsack. It costs 1650 gems and has quite a few items in it: 1 hairstyle kit, 1 Zephyrite color swatch: green, 6 transmutation charges, 1 top hat skin, 5 metabolic primers and 5 utility primers.

GW2 Tyrian Explorer's Knapsack

I always find it difficult to judge whether such a package is worth the price tag or not, so I decided to have a closer look. Some items are easy, as you could buy them off the gem store directly. Others cannot be bought, so those are a bit trickier. However, we can compare the items to items you would instead use in-game. I will take the price we would pay for those items on the Trading Post and will then see how many gems we would have to pay to get the gold to buy the items off the Trading Post.

First, let’s have a look at the items that can be bought directly:

Item Price on Gem Store
1 hairstyle kit 250
6 transmutation charges 180 gems (you can only buy 5, so I used that price as my basis)
1 top hat 200
5 metabolic primers 550
1 zephyrite color swatch: green Not in the gem store
5 utility primers Not in the gem store

As you can see in the table above, we are now at 1180 gems. So far, so good.

One thing is important to note: the color swatch gives you a choice of one non-exclusive (!) green dye! I checked and the most expensive of those green dyes was the Emerald Green Dye for 72 silver. If you exchanged gems for silver, then it would cost you 9 gems to get 75 silver (as of writing this). For 9 gems, you get the most expensive non-exclusive green dye!

This brings the total to 1189 gems.

And now there are only the 5 utility primers left. What this item does is extend a utility buff to last for 12 hours. With the primer, you would only need 5 items to have the buff for 60 hours (5 * 12). Without the primer, you need either 60 or 120 of those items. So, without the primer, you’d need an additional 55 or 115 buff items. This whole calculation, of course, only works if you really did use those primers that effectively and would otherwise use up buff item after buff item within those 12 hours.

GW2_Gem gold exchange

I admit, it was quite difficult to see which items are even affected by this primer… Dulfy says it’s items like sharpening stones and focusing crystals. The wiki article about nourishment also helps a bit. I looked for the most expensive utility buff items.

Buff item price on the TP for 55 or 115 items
gems you would exchange for that amount of gold
Swift Moa Feather (30 minutes) 83 silver for one; 95 gold 45 silver for 115 items ~ 1030 gems
Potent Master Tuning Crystal (1 hour) 30 silver for one; 16 gold 50 silver for 55 items ~ 190 gems
Toxic Maintenance Oil (30 minutes) 30 silver for one; 34 gold 50 for 115 items ~ 380 gems

The Swift Moa Feather cannot be bought anymore as it was previously sold by Tiggs in Lion’s Arch. I decided to include it for fun (or rather because the primer could be worth it for this item!).

 We were at 1189 gems. Depending on which buffs we wanted, we would now be at 1379 to 2219 gems. As you can see, the question “Is this package worth it” highly depends on which buff items you are using and – as mentioned above already – if you are really using them with no interruptions.

If you are like me, who hardly ever uses any buff items, then no, this package is not worth it at all!

But wait! 190 to 1030 gems for 5 utility primers… Have a look at the 5 metabolic primers for 550 gems. This is the price you pay, but it essentially does what the utility primers does, only that it’s for food. Are those worth their price? Let’s have a look!

Buff item price on the TP for 55 or 115 items
gems you would exchange for that amount of gold
Bowl of Garlic Kale Sautee* (1 hour) 1 gold 70 silver; 93 gold 50 silver for 55 items ~ 1017 gems
Spicy Marinated Mushroom* (1 hour) 85 silver for one; 46 gold 75 silver for 55 items ~ 516 gems
Bowl of Orrian Truffle and Meat Stew* (30 minutes) 13 silver; 14 gold 95 silver for 115 items ~ 163 gems

*I checked for the two most expensive food items. Guild Wars 2 Hub has a few suggestions on what the best buff food items are and the Bowl of Orrian Truffle and Meat Stew only costs 13 silver per piece, which is why I have included it in the list to give you a much cheaper – but very viable – alternative.

GW2_Top Hat female asura If you always go for non-stop buffs and use the most expensive ones, then this package may be worth the price! Otherwise, this package – and the metabolic primers, too – are overpriced. Stay away from them and treat yourself to a top hat (unless you’re a female asura, then this is a rip-off as you only get the mini version) and a pair of glasses instead. Or get the charr and the quaggan backpack. Or buy Mini Scruffy and the self-style hair kit. Braham’s Heavy Armor Skin, Magitech Medium Armor Skin and Phoenix Light Armor Skin are currently 25 % off. Use the gems you save from not buying this package and get yourself two of those (for 1200 gems total)! As you can see, there are a lot of alternatives and many better ways to show ArenaNet that you want to give them your money!

What about Guild Wars 2’s endgame*?

Two years ago, in July 2012 – and thus, before Guild Wars 2 was released – there was the usual pre-launch discussion that happens with every MMO: What will the endgame be about? Will the game even have meaningful endgame? I had joined the discussion here in our blog and posted my own thoughts about it.

I figured now is a good time to look at the topic again, as the game has been out for almost two years now, season 1 of the living story has finished and episode 3 of the 2nd season has just started.

“One complaint about MMOs that I have seen several times is that the game worlds’ importance in MMOs is constantly diminishing.”

I had mentioned that and talked about how Guild Wars 2 wants to do it differently. As we have seen by now, they were serious about that and still are. Season 1 added a lot of fights and content in the open world. Most of it was removed again after a while, but some zones were left completely changed (Lion’s Arch is the most prominent example here), and almost every content patch made us go into the open world and experience the content there. Even though the amount of instanced content has increased with the release of season 2, they have also introduced new zone events in several zones and added a new map, so that the open world is anything but deserted!

“For me, the big question is: How do the events work at max level? How complex will the fights be in general and how much strategy will they require?”

GW2 Marionette fight with guardian

Fighting against the marionette with my guardian

I would say this has been a “hit or miss” so far. Some of the living story events were horrible and some were really good. This is, however, highly subjective here! I, personally, would say that the best one has been the marionette fight. It was a good mix of challenge and it had very interesting mechanics. However, the platforms had the issue of sometimes tossing one single player in who had very slim chances of winning in the given amount of time. A bit more fine-tuning and it would have been an excellent fight, I think, and I would love to see something like this return (again, with fine-tuning and maybe scaling fights on the platform so that if there is only one player, the fight gets easier).

We recently had a long break from the living story releases and every active player consequently experienced the PvE endgame without that part. So let’s look at that: What kind of endgame is there in Guild Wars 2, other than the living story? Once again, just like I did two years ago, I will leave the PvP aside. While I have enjoyed battlegrounds in WoW and scenarios in WAR, I just cannot really get into sPvP that much. I think it’s because it is a lot more competitive in Guild Wars 2, whereas in World of Warcraft it was more “for fun” or even “something to do before my raid starts”. Open world PvP is usually following a zerg. So even if I took PvP into the equation, it would still not be anything I would spend most of my gaming time doing in Guild Wars 2.

I don’t know what other players have been doing during the break from the living season. My personal “problem” is that I don’t enjoy the dungeons too much. Then again, we haven’t exactly gotten a lot of new dungeons anyway and even those players who like them have had to go through the same ones for almost two years now (with the exception of the new Twilight Arbor path). Fractals – the few I have done – seem to be more fun for me. But the person I want to do them with (other than bookahnerk, of course) and me seem to have terrible timing, so that we switched from using whole sentences and explanations on why we can’t make it to just saying “rain check”. It’s more efficient, really. So while I definitely think this is a viable part of the PvE endgame experience, I can’t talk much about what I haven’t really explored in-depth. ;)

The main thing I seem to be doing in Guild Wars 2 and the moments where I have the most fun are two other things: For one, I love screenshotting maps, because I stop to smell the flowers, I take myself out of the game as it is and appreciate what ArenaNet’s artists and world designers have done. The other thing is levelling alts.

I have always been an altoholic in MMOs. In World of Warcraft , I regularly levelled up new alts because we switched servers with our main characters a few times. I did not want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on server transfers as you pay per character! In some MMOs, like Warhammer Online, I never really set on the one main character and had up to three (tanky black orc, goblin shaman or dwarf engineer – a decision that really is harder to make than you would think!). Only in Lord of the Rings Online, I could not get myself to levelling alts. I have never disliked levelling as much as I did in that game! So, playing a game like Guild Wars 2 is great, because alts have never been more fun to level for me. In fact, I actually wish it would take longer to reach maximum level. I have even tried to avoid doing dailies with my thief when I levelled her, so she would be slower.

Anyway, this is part of my personal “endgame”*. I know that by definition, it’s not the endgame – on the contrary, actually – but it is what I have been doing most of my play time in the last few weeks, even during the attacks on Lion’s Arch which I used to get a taste for my thief when trying to decide whether I really wanted to level her.

I am kind of dreading the day when I have levelled all professions to 80, because even though I can still level up other alts, it is a bit boring when you can’t explore anything new about a profession. Even the world is well-known by now as are the events in those maps. I am curious whether ArenaNet will ever let us use different weapons like they once said they may do (still hoping for a pistol/pistol mesmer here …).

GW2 Living Story Season 2 RytlockAnother good side-effect of levelling up my alts is that once they are level 80, I can switch between my characters when I don’t feel like playing my warrior. ArenaNet has also changed the way the living story works with their second season. Previously, you had certain time windows (two or four weeks) in which you could participate in the current content and after that, most of it was gone again. Now you have to log in during a certain time window (two weeks for each episode so far) in order to unlock the content free of charge (it costs gems to unlock otherwise) and then you can play it whenever you want to. You play through the different episodes of the living story on a per character basis now and also get the rewards on a per character basis. This means that with my habit of switching between characters, even when they have reached level 80, I now have more to do and can decide when I want to do that. It is nice and challenging to do the living story with my squishier thief instead of my warrior. Although I am not sure I would want to replay all of the living story with all my characters. Still, it’s nice to have the option!

GW2 Living Story Season 2 Episode 3

Open world event in episode 3

So, having said all of that, what is my résumée about Guild Wars 2’s endgame? As I had predicted back before the game’s launch, it is different from other MMOs. There are still no raids (as instanced areas), but they have added big open world fights where you need coordination, such as the Tequatl one. Unfortunately, dungeons have been mostly ignored and even though I don’t enjoy them much in Guild Wars 2, compared to how much I loved them in World of Warcraft, I would still like to see ArenaNet give them some love. In general, I think the living world is a good concept and keeps us occupied and entertained, especially now as we can replay them whenever we want to, but I still can’t help but feel that the game lacks more options of things to do, such as new dungeons (and more fractals more often!) or maybe some activities to do in the cities (Polymock, anyone?).

But as I said above, this is for me personally. I do wonder… Is Guild Wars 2’s living story enough PvE endgame for the rest of the players?

*”Endgame” is used loosely here and means “the things you do in the game once your main character has reached maximal level”.