Guild Wars 2

guildwars2-07-1600x1200It’s kinda funny; I have been complaining about the Dilex rate until the Phoenix Pack dropped it to a reasonable level. Hurriedly I liquidated the dilithium reserves on every single one of my toons, which left me with more Zen than I know what to do with. At the same time, for over two weeks straight I have been running dailies on each of my toons to rebuild their dilithium pool… which takes over 2.5 hours of doing nothing but clicking at various screens.

Guess what happened? Burnt out. 😦

So I’m taking another break from Star Trek Online. Meanwhile, Fungi and I have taken up Guild Wars 2.

Guild Wars 2 is a MMORPG which is currently free-to-play; it is set in the fantasy world of Tyria, and at first glance reminds me quite a bit of Rift in terms of looks and aesthetics. The world is absolutely HUGE, with a wide variety of environments, from the rolling hills of Kryta, the blasted plains of Ascalon, to the lonely snow-covered mountains of the Shiverpeaks, and the pretty pretty fairy lands of Caledon Forest. The human city of Divinity’s Reach is massive compared to Rift’s main city of Sanctum; the latter feels more like a small fort compared to the former. Animation is smooth, and definitely far superior to STO; your toon’s lips actually move when she’s speaking! In fact, as an overall game GW2 feels a whole lot more polished than STO.

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Each of the Zones is a huge map in itself, so just imagine how vast this world is.

Although at first glance, gameplay seems typical of MMORPGs (i.e. use of skill bars), it’s a bit different in practice. The number of skills available for use is limited to 10 at maximum, and they are somewhat locked in place: Skills 1-5 are fixed to your choice of weapons, environmental items, or in the case of my main girl who is an Elementalist, what attunement she’s using. Skill 6 is your Heal, Skills 7-9 are Utility Skills, and Skill 10 is the “Elite” skill. Whereas in most MMORPGs different classes give you different skills, in GW2 each class gives you a different interface so they all play differently. As examples, Elementalists have an extra selection bar for the four different elemental attunements, Rangers have a pet selection/stance skill bar, Warriors have an Adrenaline bar that fills up and depletes in battle.

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This is not my screencap, but I included it just to illustrate how clean and uncluttered the player UI is compared to other MMORPGs.

Because of this relatively small set of skills, combat in GW2 is more action-oriented. In addition, dodging is actually very critical – it’s often the best way to avoid damage, and you can’t fight someone who’s behind you.

I’m still in the middle of leveling, so I can’t speak about endgame content yet, but I can attest that the leveling grind feels a lot less “grindy” than other games. You move from area to area where “Hearts” are found, which are quest-givers whose tasks you complete for XP and loot. The game makes clever use of its rich environment to give you a variety of tasks so it’s rarely repetitive. The best part about this is the game randomly generates “Events” around the map, cooperative tasks such as defending a fort, killing a boss enemy nearby, escorting a caravan from Point A to Point B, and so on, which you can participate in between your leveling quests.

The whole thing is also interspersed with your “Personal Story” missions, which are based on choices you made for your character during CGen. This is your personal ongoing storyline, which apparently can also impact the world around you.

Gear drops have been very generous so far, although I noticed a lot of the endgame Barbie-ing is locked behind real money purchases. We’ll have to see how expensive it gets when I get there!

The other part of the game that requires real money purchases is the expansion, “Heart of Thorns”. The expansion adds a new class (Revenant), unlocks some restricted features such as zone chat and additional character slots, but mainly it adds some new open-world maps which I suspect will be important for endgame play. The expansion happened to be on sale during Boxing Day so I went ahead and bought it as a Christmas present for myself, but Fungi didn’t buy it so I’m not sure what we’ll do when we get to level 80.

Overall I’ve been enjoying my time on GW2; it’s a vast, beautiful world where, as far as I can tell, you are not really penalized too much as a free player. Will it replace STO as my main game? I don’t know yet, but it’s entirely possible. One thing I have noticed is that the GW2 business model is pretty smart: no subscription, but you buy expansions as they come out in addition to small optional purchases along the way. As a comparison, STO’s lifetime subscription is USD$300 — buying Heart of Thorns is USD$50, which is a whole lot easier to swallow. Buying a STO ship is USD$30 (3000 zen) per ship, and probably essential — on GW2 you buy an outfit for USD$10 (700 Gems), which is entirely optional. As far as I can tell, most Gem Store items are either vanity items, or utility items designed to make life a bit easier… but nothing is essential. That makes quite a bit of difference when it comes to making a purchase.

So if anyone is interested, come play Guild Wars 2 and we can co-opt!

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Screencap borrowed from Huntersinsight.wordpress.com!

 

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17 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2

  1. It’s funny you should mention being burnt out on STO; I’ve been similarly burnt out on it lately too. Getting disconnected from the server almost every time I move from one map to another in STO hasn’t been helping either. So I’ve been taking a break from it too.

    I hadn’t played SWTOR in about a year and a half, so I decided to have another go at it. I’ve taken my old Jedi character out of mothballs, so to speak, and over the past few days I’ve been re-familiarizing myself with that game and remembering how to play it.

    Looking at that screenshot there, the UI in Guild Wars 2 reminds me a lot of SWTOR with the overall arrangement. That game looks pretty detailed and realistic too.

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    1. That’s another thing that I noticed: in GW2 (same goes for Rift, I think) there are no loading screens unless you’re moving between each zone, as opposed to STO where you get a loading screen every time you enter a system, and then beaming down to a planet’s surface. You could spend 15 levels of advancement without ever loading another screen!

      Come play GW2 with us!

      I have heard good reviews of SWTOR, but alas I have virtually no interest in Star Wars as a setting, otherwise I’d try the game.

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      1. Well, I can tell you this about SWTOR: I don’t think you’d like it anyway because it costs Cartel Coins (the SWTOR equivalent of Zen) to do lots of things that are free in STO, e.g. customizing your appearance. It’s much more limited in SWTOR and costs CC every time you do it. That game will nickel and dime you on most things, at least the truly good gear that’s mostly only available from the Cartel Market (their equivalent of the C-Store). I understand they’re a business and I don’t mind supporting the game in principle, but that’s just excessive, I feel. The Ferengi have got nothing on the Hutt Cartel, or EA/Bioware for that matter. lol

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    2. The eternal throne story is good, and the big opening arc where you view everything in slow motion spiritial view with the emperor tempting you at every step is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had. But i hate the way they handled companions where you could choose some and others are forced onto you. Like you cannot get back even your own spouse unless you take on the giant talking cockroach (finding the findsman mission).

      The worst thing they nickle and dime you on, in my opinion, is the $2.40 (if i recall correctly) to unlock sprinting. That is just unethical.

      In swtor, as in all games with a player market, i am reasonably space rich. I have multiple well developed houses, maxed crafyers in every field, filled banks with crates and hypercrates, etc. But i’ll probably never log in again because of these issues.

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      1. Giant talking cockroach? Where’s that at? I’d like to have Kira back. She was very helpful to me in my story quests back when I was leveling up.

        I unlocked sprinting just by reaching level 10, I think it was. Maybe it’s changed. But I see what you’re saying about how they nickel and dime you; I can’t even customize my Jedi character’s appearance without paying Cartel Coins. Ridiculous. That sort of thing is why despite having played SWTOR for about 5 years now, it’s been off and on and I’ve not been at it consistently. I’ve only just recently come back to it after not having touched it for about a year and a half myself.

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      2. His name is yuun, he’s originally a trooper companion, and his species is gand. The mission to get him as a companion is called “to find a findsman” and you are FORCED to do it, no matter what, or you cannot do any missions related to the original companions.

        But he is a giant insect and I really never liked him as a companion for my trooper, nor do i like being forced to have him as a companion for ALL of my eternal throne characters just so they can reconnect to their spouses and the companions i do like.

        Such as Blizz. ❤ ❤ ❤ that lil guy. Best companion in the whole game.

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  2. And yes, Heidy, Hutts tend to be gangsters, but they’re the kingpins, not the “foot soldiers” of their gangs. They’re really more like Mafia bosses who run big criminal enterprises, often with several legitimate businesses acting as a front for their other, less legal activities. So they’re really more entrepreneurial and so have more in common with the Ferengi than it may seem. Jabba the Hutt, for example, was said to own many different businesses (both legal and illegal) across several sectors of space in his heyday. Plus not all Hutts are greedy crime lords; some are even scientists, like this one Hutt at my Alliance base who likes to create new technology. He’s a pretty unusual Hutt, tho.

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    1. Don’t forget Zero the Hutt bandit. Or that one hutt who was your scientist’s original boss and built himself a mech suit to kill people with.

      A few hutts are physical when they need to be.

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  3. Burnout happens whenever you play repetitively. Thats why i never do dailies or focus on just one thing but always goof around and do different things. Still trying out various games is always fun and i do it all the time myself.

    One thing you’ll enjoy about GW2 is because it is a pvp game first, and pve is intended as a glorified tutorial and side game to teach you combat, that the game is more balanced than many pve centric MMOs. This is also why the emphasis on pay for cosmetics instead of pay for power like in sto. pvp gamers like a fair playing field. The downside is living with griefers, ganking, and corpse campers. This is also why it has fluid combat, dodging etc. In general i found GW2 had a great community. helpful people, and it was easy to find guilds that treated you like a person not a resource. This was a long time ago, but hopefully it is still true.

    The lack of loading screens is a defining feature of “open world MMO ” design. But it also means kill stealers, impossible quests, jerks kiting world bosses into newb territory, and ganking players so far below them in power they can’t fight back or just out farming so they get no exp and can’t complete quests. Instanced games like STO are immune to these issues because of those loading screens, because each mission is for you and you alone.

    I’ve been playing black desert online and xcom. BDO is undeniably beautiful with a mind blowing character builder. And it has lots of cool sandbox features. But as a game it gets boring fast. shallow story, and really super grindy quests kinda kill it. I enjoy the crafting/life skills, and exploring how pretty the world is, but i don’t enjoy playing the game, heh.

    Xcom, the original, is still my second favorite game ever (behind emperor of the fading suns). The new reboots are wonderful and i recommend them without reservation. It is turn-based squad level tactical combat. Basically, you are the commander of a woefully underfunded international military unit trying to protect earth from alien invaders. No joke, you have two f14 raptors and a single troop transport vs an armada that has smashed multiple races (i think 11 in the original, 6 in Enemy Within, the new one). You sometimes have to go into battle without enough ammo because you are broke. But this isn’t some heroic plot device exploiting game, it is a meat grinder. They kill everyone. You take a dozen guys on a mission (or 8+ a tank) and are happy when half survive. You lose your way to victory over a mountain of corpses, pyrric victories and sheer stubborn refusal to give in.

    The new one isn’t anywhere near as painful but it is still brutal. You use 6 guys max, and they mostly all live. Still, i love the game. Here is a complete play of the original done as a story
    http://lparchive.org/X-COM-UFO-Defense/

    The remake (Enemy Within) was on sale on steam for $8 recently, and the sequel is this month’s humble bundle for $12, plus one of steam’s best selling games of 2016.

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  4. I have to say, tho, Lana Beniko is freaking awesome as a companion in SWTOR. At first it was weird having a Sith for a companion. But she comes in really handy. She throws Force lightning around which is especially useful against droids. And she’ll levitate enemies off the ground and hold them there so I can just chop them with my lightsabers (I like to dual-wield). So I have to say that as crazy as it sounds, she’s become my go-to companion nowadays. Stranger things have happened in Star Wars. lol Blizz and Bowdaar are my other favorites.

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    1. Lana is cool, and has a great voice actress who actually puts emotion into her dialog and understands timing. The spy dude who is the “good” counterpoint to her I never really liked as much. The writers tried to hard to make him cool and it didn’t work for me.

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      1. Oh, that would be Theron Shan. He’s… meh. But yeah, Lana is awesomeness incarnate. And that voice… I could listen to her all day. 🙂

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      2. Update: I’ve been playing SWTOR some more lately. Finally played the new expansion (KOTET) and gradually played thru the whole thing with my Jedi Shadow character. One word: damn. Because that last battle with Vaylin and Valkorion was hands-down the hardest thing I’ve even done in any game. Seriously. Vaylin is actually harder to defeat than Valkorion. No wonder he feared her power. Yikes… Valkorion wasn’t easy to take down either. I won’t say any spoilers in case you haven’t played it yet, but… wow. That was one seriously brutal fight there at the end.
        Now I’m not sure I want to go thru that all over again on my other character, my Jedi Sentinel. That was just vicious. One thing’s for sure: if I ever do it again I’ll definitely invest in some better gear first, because it really helps there.

        So now I’m at max level (70) and basically just gear-grinding and really not liking the new RNG-based reward system they’ve got now. I have finally gotten a few good items from flashpoint rewards but I’m not sure it was worth grinding that much for them. That just sucks. I think I’d rather just save up my credits and buy them from the GTN (Galactic Trade Network, SWTOR’s version of the exchange). Otherwise it just sucks to grind thru a flashpoint and MAYBE (if you’re lucky) you might actually score ONE truly good item. So now I’m pretty unhappy with Bioware and I’m burnt out on SWTOR too. Maybe I’m just burnt out on games in general. lol

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  5. GW2 is an awesome mmo. I played it at launch and have recently picked it up again. Like you i havent bought HoT yet but the base game is fine until i hit 80 and feel ready to progress with elite specialisations

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