I finally made it: my engineer, Isoni, finally hit 80, rather unceremoniously in the middle of a heated underwater battle (I hate underwater combat… there’s a reason why GW2 is the first game I’ve seen in years actually implement it, and I hope it’s a good many years before I see it again). It’s been some time since I actually got a character to the endgame in an MMO (I think Star Wars: The Old Republic was the last, and that was nearly three years ago), and I guess it’s kind of refreshing to actually finish a character for once. Not as refreshing as you might imagine, though; I’m one of those strange people who seeks the journey rather than the destination. It’s probably why I’m such an altaholic… but that’s a subject for another post. This post is about my thoughts on getting a character to 80 in Guild Wars 2.
First of all, let me talk about the thing that has most bothered me about the game: the story, or perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof. There’s something wrong when I hit level cap and I really don’t feel like I know much about the lore, and it’s not because I stopped caring, it’s because I either missed something or it wasn’t explained very well. There’s something about undead and elder dragons returning, but what happened to them before? Where did they go? What caused them to come back? Are they refugees from Skyrim? Did Jeremy Soule hook them up? Do they know Smaug? Seriously, though, I’m guessing this is stuff I missed by not playing Guild Wars 1? If so, there really needs to be come catchup videos or something for us noobs. Not at the expense of boring veteran players, but enough that I don’t feel like I walked in half way though a movie. Also, playing a couple of Sylvari characters has me a bit confused (I’m probably somewhere around level 25 or 30 in the story, so maybe some of this is answered somewhere later on). Where did the pale tree come from, and is the awakening of the Sylvari tied to the awakening of the elder dragons? What exactly does Ventari’s Tablet say? More importantly, what does the fox say? I have similar questions about many other parts of the story, but you get the idea.
Also, I didn’t stop ranting for three days about how <SPOILER ALERT>Tybalt Leftpaw, the only character I’ve actually genuinely enjoyed so far, killed himself FOR NO REASON. There was a giant gate. One person was not going to help hold off the entire horde of undead (plus one undead dragon) any better than the gate by itself. Actually, come to think of it, why was the gate effective at all? The Risen have shown themselves to be very good at burrowing absurdly fast, and the dragon can fly. I was even more mad when I found out that they pointlessly kill off your mentor in all three storylines. I wouldn’t mind them killing off a character for the sake of good storytelling, but this lame excuse for a plot twist was somewhere between Tasha Yar and Leeroy Jenkins.</SPOILER ALERT>
Ok, now that I’m done ranting, let’s talk about the good things that have stood out to me so far. First off, the more I get in to my engineer the more I like it. No weapon switching cooldowns holding me back; I can swap between my main weapon, my flamethrower, and my grenade kit at whim. I still think I’d prefer a mountain of hotbars over Guild Wars 2’s more refined skill system, but I’m finally starting to understand the appeal. That’s the weird thing about GW2; it takes a lot of un-learning everything you know about MMOs–or should I say WoW-like MMOs–before you can really enjoy it. All of that un-learning has been worth it for me, but I almost missed the game because I didn’t get it.
Second is the overall polish the game has. The graphics are beautiful, I love the soundtrack, and the user interface is one of the best I’ve seen in an MMO. Yes, there are still a few things that bug me–the voice acting is spotty, and the storytelling method is strange and jarringly disconnected from the game–but nobody’s perfect.
I’ve also been enjoying GW2’s PvP. I’ve never been much of a PvP person, but GW2’s arena PvP is really fun. Sure, 90% of the players are thieves, elementalists, and engineers, but I feel like every game has certain classes that are more PvP-centric than others. Some would say that some of the classes are a little too unbalanced. Honestly, I don’t feel I have enough information to make that judgement, both because I haven’t played enough GW2 PvP, and because I don’t feel like I’ve ever played a game where everyone loved the PvP (then again, I think WoW is the only MMO where I’ve ever even heard of anyone think the PvP was great).
I dabbled a little in World vs. World, and either I’m terrible or I just don’t get it. Probably some of both, actually. It’s a really cool idea–pit players from three different servers against each other in an unending siege war–but I don’t think it’s for me. I’m lucky to have fun and do well in a 5v5 arena, adding extra complexity and more players is just a bit too much for me.
MMO gamers know the old adage: The game starts at 80 (insert whatever the level cap for your game may be). Sure, this applies more to WoW than GW2, but if it is at all true for my latest MMO home, I am glad to be starting the game. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I still have a lot of sub-80 gear, which means it’s time to hit the dungeons. I also haven’t quite finished my personal story, and, despite all my complaining, I am looking forward to that. I’ve yet to find a guild I like–something that’s small enough that people know my name, but big enough that there are actually enough people on to do stuff–and for once I’m actually interested in finding one. If anyone knows of a guild of that description on Tarnished Coast, let me know!. Of course there’s the daunting task of 100% world completion… but that will have to wait quite a while, if it ever happens at all. I’d be happy to join. I’ve also recently started both a ranger and a thief, and really enjoy both of them (apparently I like medium-armor classes), and I’m going to try to make an effort to go through different zones with them than I hit with Isoni, so at least I’ll see the whole world, even if I don’t get an achievement and title for it.