Adventure Log: Reflections on a week in GW2

Glumshanks in Gendarren Fields
In Gendarren Fields with Lion’s Arch in the background.

It’s hard to believe that a week has already passed since GW2 has launched because so much has happened!  I’ve seen so much of the world, and experienced so many different aspects of the game.  I think this is easily the most ‘active’ (on my part) MMO launch I’ve seen in a while.

In this week’s Adventure Log I want to run you guys through some of my thoughts on the zones I’ve done, and fill in some details about my activities that I’ve left out this week.

Humans Have It All

The Human zones are the best I’ve played in thus far.  The Asura and Sylvari zones look neat, but the content in them is not laid out well.  I haven’t played the Charr’s first couple of areas, but I suspect the trend continues.  Human zones simply have more harvesting nodes, bigger events, and more mobs to kill.  I think a huge bonus are the centaurs — well, and a huge downfall.  Centaurs give tons of loot — tons — but now that I’m in the 4th Human zone I’ve started to wonder if there’s ever going to be a different antagonist.

My favorite zone so far is Gendarren Fields (Featured in the pictures of this entry) because of the atmosphere.  Gendarren Fields is nestled right up to Lion’s Arch, so part of the zone has a very rustic/antique nautical feel.  The rest of the zone is grassy fields with hills, and a big lake.  It’s also home to the Vigil headquarters.

So Many Options

I’ve bounced back and forth around the map to different zones lower than my level and some higher.  I’ve half-completed a zone and decided I’d rather not be there and move on to the next, or go WvW and craft to finish a level bracket.  I think that’s one of GW2’s strengths: So many options to level.  Players are not forced into any one path.

Boat House in Gendarren Fields
This boat-house contains a Vista, PoI, heart even, and dynamic events surrounding it. Very cool location in Gendarren Fields.

Crafting Is Where Its At For Gear

Crafting has been a real treat.  The experience gains are insane!  I think I’ve crafted at least 5 of my levels so far, and that’s without really trying hard.  The biggest hurdle for crating are the blue materials like fangs, claws, scales, blood, totems, etc.  They’re not rare as much as they are highly particular to a certain mob type.  Hunting centaurs, for example, gives a lot of leather but you won’t necessarily find a lot of claws.  I find myself wanting to farm materials, but I consider that a good thing.

What I love about the gear is how good it is compared to drops.  Crafting is -the- place to get items while leveling up.  We have a lot of crafters in our guild who are always handing out items to lower levels.  I think I’ve had a set of weapons waiting for me every 10 levels.

WvW Is Intense

Ehmry Bay is… well… struggling.  We’re getting ganged up on and we aren’t having the most success.  I’m not going to judge us out just yet, though.  Perhaps we have a lot of people waiting for level 80, or maybe we just haven’t been matched well yet.  Regardless, we’re last place every day.

Despite struggling to win, I am loving WvW.  The best way to communicate this is through relating an experience I had for many hours yesterday in Tarnished Coast’s Borderlands at the Bluelake Tower.  About 8 guildies and two dozen random people from our server held Bluelake like it was Helms Deep.  We had Tarnished Coast server attacking from the east and Borlis from the west.  We had trebuchet bombarding us from an unreachable mountain.  The chaos was constant for 5 hours, but we held.

We were losing everything else, but there was nothing and no one capable of taking that Tower from us.  We withstood a double server assault of three times our numbers, but with coordination to upgrade the walls, and continually repair them when they broke, the Tower endured.

I was sad to log off.  By the end of the night I cared a great deal for that little fort.  That is realm pride, folks.  That is the magic.  That is what makes WvWing for five hours without realizing the time worth it, and why I will come back again and again.

 

This week I have several interesting GW2 topics planned.  I’m pleased to say that so far I haven’t even had a twinge of boredom or fatigue from playing.  That says a lot for GW2’s ability to break the 3 month cycle.  There’s plenty more to come.

  • I don’t know if it’s going to break the three month curse for me but I do know at this stage in most recent MMOs I’ve felt fatigue setting in where as in gw2 Im still excited to push on.

    For me it’s not just the variety of ways to get xp its the actual gameplay. They really nailed a fun factor that makes me want to fight things and try out different strategies and play different classes. The game part of gw2 is just phenomenal (for me). That’s where MMOs like TSW and SWToR broke down fast. After a certain point the combat became a chore.

  • Yes the fighting at Bluelake was epic last night. I never had so much fun defending against overwhelming odds.

  • Bluelake was awesome last night. Those trebuchets can be reached, before i logged i ran up past the bridge. I was able to cause a little havoc but was out numbered in the end.

    All in all, i havent played an mmo in a while where i could not see the end, with gw2 i am always wondering what i will encounter next and that is keeping it fresh.

  • Kessox Hills has been my favorite zone so far, I just felt I was better rewarded for the exploration I did. Weather it was stealing from the giant cyclops or stumbling upon the port town enslaving elementals.

    My thief just hit 30, and I’ve only got 2 hearts left in Gendarren Fields. Unfortunately the level 30 quest to join The Order of Whispers is currently bugged so I can not continue my story.

    I’ve done small amounts of WvW, but I tend to lag to much while I’m there, I’ve had to get all my player fighting out of sPVP which is enjoyable. I’m really glad it’s not tied to my normal character, and testing builds on the practice class NPCs has been very helpful in seeing what works.

    Overall I’m very much enjoying my time in game.

    I’m not seeing any KGC about though, perhaps your all just too far ahead of me.

  • My asura elementalist is now 48, and I totally agree with your view. When tired with an activity, I can do a lot of other thing, including exploring all the towns one after another (exploration gives a ton of experience too).
    My server is insanely good at WvW. In fact I chose it when I learnt that the massive PvP guilds were going there. I did log for 5 minutes 3 hours before the official starting time of the game (woke up at 6 am saturday…).
    Centaurs are everywhere in that game ! Centaurs level 5, level 15, level 45.
    My only regret is that none of my friends are there, and I don’t want to try the dungeons on pick up. But with the automatic level adjustment I know I’ll be able to do them later.

  • is it true that you can transfer servers for free? I’m not playing the game yet, but wont that cause players to switch to the winning server?

  • @Cthreepo: Yep. But the unfortunate reality is, if they stack the deck too hard then they’ll be bored camping border keeps the whole time.

  • @Cthreepo: also keep in mind that the free transfers are available for a limited time only, and that servers matchups are rebalanced on a regular basis. If people flock to the winning server then they will find themselves with a tougher matchup next time things rotate. For example, my server absolutely crushed the first pairing — we had like 90% of the territory. Then the matchups changed and now we are fighting a very close battle — our server has maybe 35%, opponent 1 has maybe 40% and opponent 2 has maybe 25%, give or take.

    General comments on GW2: I love it so far. I have never played an MMO in this way before. Usually I feel the need to rush a little to stay competitive and get that gear grind going early. I’m never one of the first to level cap, but I’m usually part of the first big wave to hit cap. In GW2 however I feel absolutely no pressure. If I want to be competitive I can min/max my SPvP toon and bash all day long. But in PvE, I am taking my sweet time and even being a bit of an altoholic. I have a level 23 warrior, a level 16 guardian and a level 14 necro. I enjoy playing all of them and to combat is really fun. I’m noticing myself getting better at it because my skill is improving — not because I am getting twinked out. That feeling is quite rewarding.

    I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth already after just a week, and I still have like 90% of the map to see, dungeons to explore, legendaries to build, crafting and trading to dabble in, and of course tons and tons of PvP.

    I haven’t enjoyed a game this much since my first days in Everquest or WoW.

  • -Just curious, and apologies if you’ve went over this type of thing before…

    When i read your postings, i envision you as a gamer bewteen 17-25 years of age, and as someone that has a lot of “i’m really excited this is awesome” moments followed a few weeks/months later with “this blows don’t bother” realizations.

    I understand that may be unfair/inaccurate, but i don’t read you every day so it is what it is.

    Putting that on the shelf, have you ever compared your critiques/first impressions on games? for instance, i am curious how these intiial posts compare in impression/rhetoric to your postings on SWTOR, WoW, GW, non-MMOs, and whatever else you’ve dived into. No real agenda behind the request, but as someone who is known int he blogger community, i wanted to ask this of you even though i wish i could ask it of all ‘net bloggers.

    Happy hunting.

    Jergis

  • My experience thus far of the Second Coming:

    -Zerg DEs.
    -Die to arbitrarily hard hitting attacks from both normal monsters and DE bosses that are either completely unavoidable but just do a shit ton of damage or aren’t telegraphed clearly enough when there’s a big crew of sentient particle affects with weapons.
    -Stare in disbelief at how little I can actually make from my mined materials (inevitable WoW comparisons of: this would’ve got me at least 30 levels in Blacksmithing, all I’ve got is 5 levels in Armourer…).
    -Queue for WvWvW. Just queue, mind you.
    -Try and create characters. Find out that to ANet my router and/or firewall settings have changed since logging into the game and trying to creating my character. Can’t create character.
    -Try and delete characters. Be unable to do anything other than exit the game, with the character still remaining.
    -Think about doing some Mists PvP, then remember I have LoL installed and that MOBAs are far better at 5v5 combat than MMOs. Go play LoL.
    -Wander around again, only to go looking for a skill challenge rather than fill more yellow/orange bars. Either find the map woefully unhelpful in signifying anything other than the cardinal direction which means I have to take a stab in the dark as to which zone the thing is actually in, or find the challenge surrounded by mobs that instantly respawn. No amount of dodging can stop a death.
    -This is particularly annoying: getting sick of the fucking “I AM THE MASTER OF LIFE” whenever I mine a rock, “GREATNESS, I AM BECOME GREATNESS” whenever I harvest a plant, or the ever wonderful “*Might* makes me *right*”. What kind of moronic sound director thought these added anything other than me wishing all player characters were completely mute, rather than listen to this clichéd bollocks that breaks my immersion completely.
    -Start to imagine how good mounts would look.
    -Realise that the game is actually a quasi-open world, in that all zones are actually just instanced playfields.
    -Feel sad that the genre is so shit at the moment that people were getting so hyped up about this game.
    -Watch LoL streams, documentaries about the French Foreign Legion and the ever enjoyable House.
    -Wonder if I’ve set up my payments for gems on the offchance I need to buy them. Remember that registering my key was a minefield of catch-22s and that I had to register a new account but have no idea how it relates to my old NCSoft Master Account, my beta account or my GW1 accounr.

  • @Jergis: I’m 27 and have been playing MMO’s since 1996. Yes, I alpha tested The Realm when I was under something like 12. I am a self-proclaimed expert in the field of giving people my opinion about MMORPG’s. I call it like I see it, and when I see it wrong I come back and correct myself.

    You bring up a fair question, and I take no offense to it at all. I’ll do my absolute best to answer it succinctly.

    I ride the roller coaster of enthusiasm with the best of them, but my track record is sound. When a game has issues, I call them out immediately; When I love something I let you know. I was among the first ever to criticize Champions Online and Age of Conan. Back then, people would accuse me of being a hater then return months later to tell me I was correct. I’ve called out free to play conversions as the point in which a game will take a turn for the worse, been slammed for it, but ultimately proven correct.

    I wasn’t blogging when WoW came out, but I’ll give you a few thoughts on some recent releases and my general tone towards them. You can read my archives for proof or first-hand info.

    Rift – In beta I knew it was a themepark, clearly told people it was a themepark much like WoW, but never went far. Rift was always a polished game, but I didn’t get past level 25 in the beta. By the time I was level 40, I knew I was bored because it felt generic to me. My tone with Rift was always “good game, but not good enough.”

    SWTOR – Cautious. I pointed out what I liked, but also what I didn’t like. I was one of those “we’ll see” people. I bought the game, hit 50, raided, and the unfortunately reality set in that my gut was right. Good story, but single-player game, but not a MMORPG. A true “3-monther.”

    Non-MMO’s you’ll find us writing reviews here. We have positive and negative reviews.

    GW2 – I was in the skeptical camp longer than most. My biggest point of contention with fans of GW2 is dynamic content. Still, to this very second, I know this content is not dynamic. These are scripted events that run then reset. Anyone telling you otherwise is a liar. That doesn’t mean they aren’t fun, though. I was skeptical about WvW until I tried it in beta — it’s laggy, but it’s amazing fun. I give GW2 an A- overall right now.

    I’ve been called a hater, a fanboy, a hyper, and pretty much everything there is to call someone who writes their opinions so openly as I do. I always reserve the right to alter my opinion, as anyone does, and I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong (Warhammer Online).

    If you have any specific questions about how I write

  • We can talk roller coaster expectations all we want but let’s face it after 2 years of disappointing launches ArenaNet hits one out of the park.

    1. My time is valued in GW2. Within 2 minutes of deciding to play GW2 I am in an amazing world killing amazing stuff with a ton of other people. An awesome design accomplishment…only Rift comes close.

    2. Everything I do is valued in GW2. Exploring. Crafting. Questing. PvP. Everything I do in game is rewarded in a way I find very satisfying. GW2 is a skinner box extraordinaire. Another stunning display of design savvy. It is incredibly difficult to balance different play mechanic rewards.

    Now if ArenaNet would not be under the evil umbrella of NCSoft. But credit to their team, it took a game this good to forgive my personal NCSoft boycott. I just wish I didn’t have to feel this twang of guilt as I play. But grats ArenaNet on making a game good enough to make me deal with it.

  • @ Dril

    The Second Coming sounds like it sucks. I’m playing Guild Wars 2 right now. It’s pretty cool. You should check it out.

  • I am currently playing off hours due to living abroad and be in the zones under populated really hurts the inertia. Also it seems like there are a lot of broken events which really hurts inertia. I kind of wish they would advertise events map wide and give a little more of a heads up for people to get to the events location.

  • @Keen – Many of the events don’t just run and reset – there are several types. But, the overarching events are arranged into chains, where a victory or loss leads to different events occurring depending on whether you are moving up or down the chain; the human/centaur chains being a common example. Victory/Defeat does really lead to changes in the state of the world, such as whether bridges are down, villages occupied etc. Some of the chains are branching too. I give you that many of the chains aren’t too noticeable ATM, as they tend to get stuck and oscillate backwards and forwards, usually at an endpoint. That’s possibly because players have to really suck to lose an event.

    Not quite sure what you mean by events being “scripted”, how could it be otherwise? What would an unscripted event look like? Certainly GW2 doesn’t have anything like a dynamic ecology. But, making something like that work in an MMO is probably not feasible for a number of reasons – in RL humans have a habit of destroying dynamic ecologies, that would happen even faster in an MMO :).

  • @wufiavelli: As someone who is also playing more at off hours, underpopulated zones do indeed hurt. However, I think I have seen only one broken event so far in 60 hours and a bunch of levels on multiple characters. Granted, that one was broken pretty badly, and for about a full day, and it was the very first even in the Charr starter instance, so you didn’t have the ability to just drop it, wander off and do something else while you waited for it to get fixed. I had other characters to play, but I’m sure that was somebody’s first impression on their main and set a bad tone.

  • I started feeling so guilty that I was playing an actual MMO that did not horribly suck and leave me embittered and had given them absolutely ZERO money, that I bought some gems from the cash shop.

    Myck and I will be playing and every once in a while just randomly mumble “… and there’s no sub.” Still boggles our minds that they can do all of this without that guaranteed income.

  • @Rawbling: Oh they’ll guarantee it income! They’ll let everyone get to the end then release a $50 paid expansion. 😉 Great part about a good game is that people tend to buy expansions.

  • I am almost level 30 and I seem to be going pretty slowly (in the middle of moving back to the US!)…however, I do have fun if I play and if I sit down to play for a few minutes it usually turns into a much longer session…I do get bogged down by a need to complete each zone I level in.

    I havent felt all that useful in random WvW…I am playing a Guardian and I figured I play support and throw out heals and protections. I was all happy seeing the green numbers pop up until I realized that the numbers are like +100 to +200 on some of the heals and like 1200 on a bigger heal…when I saw that my health is upgraded to 10,000+ it felt useless. I know my character stats are at level 80 and I only get to use the abilities that I have but do the abilities not get the benefit of a level 80 or are those my level 30 heals? Otherwise, WvW is fun and I do enjoy it but once I started playing it hit me because I realized (again) that there is no reward whatsoever except +2% bonuses (who cares) and the joy of it…with our server usually being on the receiving end of a hearty butt kicking…I wonder how long that will be fun without any rewards.

    Defending a certain keep or area (while totally losing) may be fun ocassionally…is it something that would motivate me every day? Well, but I will keep enjoying the game and cross that bridge once I get there…maybe there are rewards that I dont know about (even cosmetic ones…fine by me) or they will come…?

  • ardwulf. i have come across broken events pretty consistently up until today when a lot of them seemed to be fixed. Some of the broken events were also part of the meta events so basically it stopped the meta event from happening in the zone.

    This is all better now though.

  • Hi Keen, am amazed to read that you are just 27. You write really well (mature, rational, experienced) and I enjoy reading your blog a lot.

  • I think the Charr areas might actually be a touch better than the Human ones. There’s still a little sameness to the enemies (Ghosts:Charr::Centaurs:Humans), but the writing is a little more fun in my mind as it’s not quite so traditional ‘Noble humans fighting against the invading hordes…oh, and bandits’, and I seem to run into more DE’s in the charr area than the human one (I had to go back and redo starting zones as a human to keep pace with the personal story, haven’t had that with the Charr simply because I hit enough additional DEs).

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