I finally play through Guild Wars 2. Took me long enough.
Seeing Ken go through his experiences with Final Fantasy XIV inspired me to do the same with a different MMO. For a few days I pondered to myself “which MMO should I actually try?” Then it dawned on me. “Hey, I bought Guild Wars 2 the day it launched and have only made it to level 20 with a character.” So that‘s what I decided to do. I booted up Guild Wars 2 for the first time in probably a year, downloaded an insane amount of updates, and created a new character.
Now, I’m not really a noob when it comes to the game, but I have never actually experienced all that the game had to offer. I had only seen early game stuff, so why not actually play a game that I had purchased back in 2012? Well here we go.
First off, what did I want to play? Well, the first character I had ever made was a Sylvari Guardian. I didn’t mind the character and it had some really cool abilities, but I wanted to try something a little different. I decided to go rather standard and created a male Human Warrior named Lifty Fernandez (I name all my characters that. Homestar Runner for the win.) What I didn’t know was that the Human male character is voiced by Nolan North, so at least I was familiar with that. I created my back story for my character, who was a man of noble birth who had a sister that was killed while fighting with a military group. I was never able to recover her body. This is all done in menu choices. After making him handsomely goofy looking, I started my adventure.
The opening has Lifty fighting off an incoming band of Centaurs that are trying to invade the human area of Shaemoor. After learning a few things for controls and battle systems, I was off to fight the first story boss of the game. Yep. At level 1, I fight a boss. It’s rather easy. Afterwards, I was then taken to a small home in Queensdale, and looked at like a hero. Not much of one, but still, people see potential. While resting I was told a buddy of mine, another noble by the name of Faren, had stopped by to check on me and that I should probably visit him in the capital city of Divinity’s Reach. Before that, many people in Queensdale needed some help, and I should talk to them to possibly help out.
As you can see, Guild Wars 2 is a rather story driven game. That was just the introduction. As I set out to help out the people of Queensdale, these served as quests I could complete that would offer up a large amount of experience points along with some money to use. These quests (I call them Heart Quests since they are represented by a heart on the map) are not just your regular fetch quests. There are some but what really makes things interesting is there are multiple ways to take them on. There would be three or four things that I could do to complete the quest; someone may have me kill enemies in an area or find missing items to bring back. I could kill some guys, pick up some items, and do other things in the quest that would all go to filling up the heart. It kept it from getting monotonous.
After hitting level 10, I was then able to start the first chapter of my personal story. This was a major change from the first time I had played the game. Originally, they had it to where I could always go to the quests, even though I may not be a high enough level for it. Now they hide them until you are ready to take them on. During this time, the game points you in the direction of the next thing that could gain me experience points: quests, new areas to explore, vistas to climb and view, and public events.
Guild Wars 2 handles parties in a special way. The standard party system is still here, but public events will occur that will allow anyone near them to help out. So an event may occur where we have to defend an area against an invasion of Centaurs, and everyone in the area can rush in to help. We basically become a makeshift party for that event, where buffs and other abilities we use can affect the people around us. It is a really interesting feature and one I had never seen in an MMO before.
After exploring and hitting level 10, I was able to go to Divinity’s Reach and start the next portion of the story involving corrupt politicians, kidnappers, and a full on trial by combat. All of this is completely voice acted and very well done.
Along the way, through leveling up and completing story quests, I’m obtaining new gear to equip and new abilities to try out. The abilities are all tied to what weapons I have equipped at the time. I started with a sword and shield, but have recently gravitated to either sword and mace or sword and axe. All these combinations are handled differently, mixed with the abilities I can learn for my Warrior class. The Warrior has special stances, shouts, and physical abilities that can add buffs to myself and allies around me as well as add stacks of debuffs and other status effects to my targets. There are tons of different combinations I could try out all depending on the build I wanted to play. On top of all that, at anytime, I could switch to a 2nd set of skills and weapons I had set up as a secondary loadout by hitting a single button. So I could change from a sword and axe setup that bleeds and cripples enemies to my secondary loadout that has me using a giant hammer that can knock back foes and stun them. Since the combat is very much action based, having the ability to change my skills on the fly for each situations makes strategy important and fun.
The last thing I want to mention is the public world bosses that show up. I had never actually done one of these before. I did always notice there was a large group of players standing around but never actually figured out what they were doing. What they were doing is waiting for the world boss to appear. These bosses spawn at particular times in a certain area are serving much like an event raid. I decided to try one of these bosses out right before hitting level 20. I took on the Shadow Behemoth in the swamp area of Queensdale. It was a level 15 boss, so lower level players could help out to kill it. I was completely surrounded by other players almost to the point of not really knowing what was going on. There had to have been at least 60 characters there taking it on. It took around seven minutes to kill and afterwards we were all rewarded with a giant chest full of loot. It was a cool experience, but I don’t think it was implemented very well.
I ended the other night at level 20, which then begins the next chapter of my personal story. So far I’m having a fun time actually learning the ins and outs of the entire game while getting some decent loot here and there. Levels 14-20 take a bit of time to progress, but it does a good job of showing where I should go to find more heart quests and explore. It is a very changed game from the first time I had played it back a few years ago. Let’s see what the next levels have in store for me.