Guild Wars 2 and Why I’m Hooked

Llumyria Guild Wars 2

Dear gaming, I AM BACK. Did you miss me?

I haven’t been this excited about a game in a long time, guys, but it’s official – I’m totally hooked on Guild Wars 2.

I know, I know. The last substantial post I wrote was about how I had started up in SWTOR last December and I was totally excited about it, too. And I was! And don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed SWTOR… but Guild Wars has solved all of the biggest issues that online gaming has for me at this point in my life… issues that caused me to cancel my SWTOR subscription. This is why I’m head over heels in love with Guild Wars 2.

Say Goodbye to the Casual Gap
I’ve never classified myself as a hardcore gamer, even back when I was playing and writing articles about WoW for side income. But let’s be honest… with a one year old, I’m definitely more of a casual player these days and I don’t have as much time to play as I used to. This means that the gap between friends and guildmates that I play with has grown exponentially; if I’m not playing several hours a day or even several hours a week, I’m behind enough that I can’t do a lot of the in-game activities that my friends are doing when I *can* login. I know that some games recently have tried to implement a way for friends to play together, (in a way that doesn’t hinder either person) even with a huge level difference, but none have seemed as successful to me as the way that it works in Guild Wars 2. Combine that with all of the other amazing mechanics that I keep discovering about the game, and the common obstacles I face with MMORPGs today just melt away.

Guild Wars 2 truly caters to all playstyles. Want to solo to 80? No problem. Want to group all the way to 80? Sure! Prefer to craft your way to 80? Absolutely! They’ve thought of everything to ensure that you can play every day or one day a week and still not feel like you’re left behind or missing out on the fun. Group member levels scale accordingly to eliminate the gap and make grouping with lower level friends no longer a chore. Your effectiveness scales down to the level of the zone you’re in, too. If you’re into PvP combat, (or just want to get a feel for your class at end game) you could go into the battlegrounds and have a ton of fun right now and know what you’re getting into with your class.

And I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that there’s no subscription fee. Some months I play more than others, and if I can’t play much I hate trying to justify the $15 fee. Now I don’t have to; whether I play 10 hours or 10 minutes, there’s no fee to feel guilty about. The combo of the gap + subscription fee is what drove me, as a typical casual player, away from other traditional MMOs. It was why I canceled all of my other subscription-based game accounts.

Say Hello to Seamless, Cross-Server Guilding and Grouping
Another problem I sometimes ran into was playing MMOs with friends from different circles. I had my old gaming friends from one game, and a local group of friends, a group of friends from Twitter, and so on. It’s hard to make characters in all of those places and be expected to level with all of your friends all the time. Not just because you have friends from different social circles, but also because not everyone’s interests on server choice matched. It was sometimes a nightmare getting everyone on the same server, because those friends had THEIR own circles of friends to balance, too. Whose guild would you be in? How would you play across three different servers? Guild Wars 2 has made cross-server friending, grouping, and guilding seamless. While some of the functionality isn’t quite ready yet, I love that Guild Wars 2 has made it easier, not more complicated, to be able to play with ALL of your friends, no matter who, what, or where they are. I love that you can be a member of multiple guilds at the same time, too. Being able to have one character and still play with everyone (along with not having to worry about the casual gap) solves so many issues!

What About Content?
Okay, yes, I admit a huge bonus for me is the social aspect of gaming with friends, but what about the content? It took some getting used to, but I really enjoy how  just about any class can play ranged or melee (or a combo of the two) well depending on what weapons they choose to equip. And equipping different weapons gives to access to different abilities. I love that you can switch weapon sets on the fly with the press of a button, which automatically changes your skill bar to use the appropriate abilities that correspond with your weapons. As a guardian, if I wield a mace and shield I will wreak havoc up close and personal, but if I want to play ranged I could equip a scepter and torch and wreak havoc from afar. Because every class has some personal (or in some cases, group) survivability skills, pretty much any grouping combo works, throwing out the traditional formula of always needing exactly xyz all the time. And if you don’t feel like grouping today, it’s entirely possible to level all the way to end game solo.

Speaking of it being possible to solo level all the way to end game, you could also level all the way to end game on crafting alone, if you wanted. I love that crafting gives xp to your character and the crafting system doesn’t require you to grind out hundreds of worthless items in order to level up your skill. Harvesting also gives substantial xp, as does discovering new areas and completing your main storyline quests. Sure other games give xp for harvesting and questing, but in Guild Wars 2 I feel like you’re really rewarded for being immersed in your story as opposed to it being quicker to grind boars all day long to level up. It would take longer to level up by just grinding mobs than it would to follow your story, craft items you need along the way, and explore. It’s refreshing to have the focus taken off of mindless mob grinding.

They’ve Thought of Everything
Tyria is vast and beautiful. Much like Rift, the various lands of Tyria could be under attack at any given moment. Random world events that pop up while you’re out and about questing are so thrilling! You’ll be going along and suddenly the Inquest will run in and take over or something will go awry and your assistance is needed to get things under control. Everyone nearby is alerted to the event and everyone comes together to overcome the evil and restore peace. There’s lots of opportunities for quick, short bursts of spontaneous teamwork, which is totally fun. Not to mention you score tons of xp and karma.

And if random world events don’t keep you interested, finding all of Tyria’s puzzles might. The game developers have purposely put in “secret” locations throughout the world that are well hidden and sometimes require precarious navigation tactics to successfully reach. Lion’s Arch has at least 3 of these puzzles and I’ve seen 2 of them. Some are incredibly hard and complicated to get to; it makes me think of the method of getting to Shatterspear Village in WoW back in the day (before the sundering) where you had to climb and jump from rock to rock strategically without falling in order to get to a secretive location in the game. Most people will not see these hidden places, but there are chests of rewards daily for adventurers who have the time and patience to stumble upon these concealed areas. How cool is that?!

Aesthetically Speaking…
Character creation and attention to detail is huge for me in an MMO. I have to like every aspect of the character that I create and spend a long time tweaking every detail. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that all of my characters are asuras in Guild Wars 2. Asuras with pigtails, to be more precise. The asuras are an adorable cross between a goblin and a gnome, and I love them. ALL of the character races look really good, though. But really… when I saw the asuras, it was no contest; they’re the perfect race for me. And I know it sounds ridiculous, but I really appreciate that the armor color scheme you set in character creation sticks with you as you grow and level, meaning new pieces you craft or loot will automatically match those color preferences when you equip them. No more awkward patchwork characters with mis-matched pieces; you look complete, even when you’re wearing a variety of pieces. I don’t know if this continues throughout the entire game, (and it does appear to just be the main pieces like chest, legs, and feet) but there are dyes in game that you can loot or purchase to “learn” so I’m guessing this means you could alter your armor color preferences later if you so desire. It’s the little things, really.

The only thing I didn’t think I would like at first about Guild Wars 2 was that there wasn’t a set dedicated healer class, since all classes have some form of self-healing or survivability to support the group. It took me awhile to change my traditional way of thinking about group dynamics. Now I don’t even think of this as a negative thing; once I figured out how I could still fit in without being “the healer,” I have warmed up to this setup, which in turn means this negative is actually another positive for the game in that the mechanics work if you keep an open mind.

It feels like every time I play I discover something else about the way the game was designed that makes me think, “Wow, that’s smart.” And this is why Guild Wars 2 has got me hooked, and why it’s the perfect game for me.

Are YOU Playing?
Be sure to say hello! You’ll find me as Llumyria (guardian) on Sorrow’s Furnace in my old guild, Ultimate Genesis [GEN], from the original Guild Wars days. (Strangely enough, there’s nothing on this blog other than a photo gallery to show for my late 2005/early 2006 Guild Wars days because I started blogging here shortly after I left Guild Wars to go back to WoW and write articles. But hey, that old gallery is pretty nostalgic, don’t you think?) Hope to see you in game!

Guild Wars 2 is totally fantastic and I recommend you play it.

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I'm Toque, (aka @geeksoap) and I'm a gamer girl. This is where I've been blogging about the game(s) I play and sharing screenshots and gaming articles I've written since 2006.

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FFXIV Online: A Realm Reborn Character

Lumiya Spellsong, Lalafell White Mage and Scholar / Summoner on Brynhildr [MOG Knights]

Old WoW Characters

Amoodala, Tauren Monk on the Emerald Dream US realm. Horde main, Mistweaver spec. Guilded with After Hours.

Amoothyst, Tauren Druid on the Emerald Dream US realm. Resto main, Balance secondary. Guild: Bloodscourge Pillagers.

Lumiya, Blood elf Hunter on the Emerald Dream US realm.