Guild Wars 2: My Opinion, Experience and Thoughts

Here are my experience and thoughts on the game I have spending my last two and a half weeks on, Guild Wars 2I added wiki and video links to the some of the topics where you can read in detail about it rather than me spending another few pages explaining exactly how it works. I also added some other videos from ArenaNet and some pictures I took in Guild Wars 2.

Back Story:
Back in 2006 I got Guild Wars, my first ever MMO. It was something totally different to me, especially since before that I only played single player games and the occasional LAN with friends. This opened a whole new world to me and I enjoyed Guild Wars for several months which was also the start of me making machinimas with this slideshow. I made some great friends there and enjoyed several adventures through the world of Tyria with my Elementalist and his pet, Phoenix.

Then a few years back I heard rumours about Guild Wars 2 being developed and I started following the trailers, waiting patiently until the release date was confirmed and I could pre-order it.

I admit there was the fear of hype. I have seen several games these last few years, building up hype just for the game to release and you realise it was just that, hype. Well, I can gladly say Guild Wars 2 is not like that.

My Character:
From the first trailer I saw for Guild Wars 2, I knew that I wanted to play as an Asura, so as soon as I logged in and selected Aurora's Glade as my EU server, I started creating my male Asura. Character creation has more than a few options to make your character as unique as possible, especially with detailed customization on the faces. This adds the ability to fine tune every part of your characters face like the nose size, eye shape, height and color, mouth width, etc.

After spending a good amount of time creating my Asura, I selected Engineer as my profession and then selected a few Personal Story options (more on this below). Last was my name and I was ready to enter the world of Guild Wars 2.

A few people mentioned this and I agree, at first it can be very chaotic. In the area I started off, there was characters running all over the place, fighting stuff and me standing there trying to figure out what I have to do and where I have to go. ArenaNet obviously wanted to start of the game with with a bang, which is great, it just takes a bit getting used to.

My Asura Character with the Human city, Divinity's Reach, in the background.
My Asura character with the human city, Divinity's Reach, in the background.

Exploring has been improved big time from the first game, especially since you can now jump and swim as well. There is a lot to see, secrets to be found, point of interests, vistas and so much more.
The areas look beautiful and the buildings architecture is very unique to who build it like Asura usually have pyramid-type inspired builds with use of blue glass, where the Sylvari have all their houses build (or grown?) out of plants.

Some areas also depend on the time of day, for example; a lake during the day might look beautiful, but at night it is covered by mist and bats roam the area. This gives a nice experience when exploring.

Jumping Puzzle
Very Fun Jumping Puzzle.

What I really enjoy is jumping puzzles that can range from some easy to more challenging, to some where jumping miss might result in your death (I have screamed a few times loudly when I slipped). Rewards range in all kinds of forms and several times there is a jumping puzzle to reach a Vista.

Then there are the cities... I visited Divinity’s Reach, the main city of the humans, one day and it is absolutely massive and feel so much like an actual city that is alive. It has market stalls, people walking around and doing stuff and another reason why it probably feel so massive is because a huge portion of it is explorable and not just backdrop. What you usually see in games are that cities feel more like small towns or it is massive with backdrops, but the explorable area is just a small portion of it. So far I have been really impressed with the cities and villages I have seen.

Small Oceanside Village
Small Oceanside Village.

And of course, I cannot forget about the underwater areas. It is beautiful and offer so much for exploration. Other than the facts that combat changes (read below), it is so fun swimming around and interacting with what you can find.

Swimming with the fishies.

Combat is similar in the way that you have certain skills on certain number keys; the difference is the fact on how much emphasis is set on moving constantly. Standing still and just attacking is usually a great method for getting yourself killed very fast. Moving, dodging and knowing when to hide behind objects will keep you alive for a good time.

Depending on the weapon you use depends on the skills you get. For example, having a dagger and pistol in each hand is complete different skill than a two handed sword or even switching dagger and pistol around. Also with your weapon skills, you have skills you can unlock as your gather skill points. For example as an Engineer the first skill I chose to get is a gun turret that I can shoot at targets.

Combat & Event
Bodies everywhere.

As mentioned above, combat changes underwater with the fact that you use a different weapon and with that you have different skills too. It can take a bit to get used to the underwater combat as it works vertically as well, but it adds to the game so much. Some of your own skills might not work underwater where others will work differently.

Events are one of the greatest things that has been added to Guild Wars 2 and made me see questing in MMO’s in a totally different way. Instead of walking up to an NPC, get a quest, do something and return it, these events happen from time to time and usually even leads on to something bigger. For example, one event is a fort being attacked and you can help defend it. After that, the people there send a runner to go tell another guard some distance away about who the attackers was... now you can escort that runner to his destination. After reaching it, you can attack the initial attackers... That is three events, none that you talked to NPC’s and you’re not locked in a quest at all.

Another event I really enjoyed was when I was standing around one day, watching NPC’s and sorting some inventory. I heard one NPC talking about combining some stuff to make something incredible... next thing the NPC goes “oh oh” and runs away with a huge blob appearing where he was standing and starts attacking everything it sees. What followed was a huge battle where several other players joined in to defeat it.

Escorting Allies.

These events do repeat from time to time, but even with that it does not feel boring at all. It feels a lot more like a world that is alive with stuff happening all over the place where it is up to you if you want to help or walk away. Awards include experience, coin and karma, another currency used to buy items from some vendors that offer it.

Personal Story: Official Video
Usually in other MMO’s you are told something like “You are the only one that can save this world”, not mentioning “You and the other thousands of players playing this game”. This is what I like about Guild Wars 2, because the story feels unique to you and changes depending on your choices you made with character creation and throughout the game.

Another thing that I really like is whenever there is a story type cinematic (as seen in the picture below), your character actually has a voice and you watch the story unfold. You can also bring party members with you on your personal story where they can help and watch these cinematics with you.

Story Cinematic
Dialog Cinematic

ArenaNet several times mentioned making this unique to each player and in most cases; it usually is, as far game limits go.

Crafting: Wiki
So far in crafting I have been having a lot of fun and have actually spend more time on it than I thought I would. There are several types of crafting, but you can only focus on two at a time. It is easy to switch though by paying a small amount coin and your progress will not be lost with the one you switch out.

I decided to go with Leatherworker and Jeweler. Jeweler has been a lot of fun so far, and I have created some really nice rings with great boosts.  Leatherworker on the other hand I am still working on as it is a bit harder finding leather or I haven’t found a spot where I can get it easier.

Crafting items gets stored in your Collections tab(all crafting items stack up here nicely organized), freeing up space from your inventory and your bank slots. You can craft straight from both your collections and bank slots although discovery (method of discovering new recipes by combining items) is at the moment limited to what you have in your inventory, but is said to be fixed to work directly out of your bank and collections too. Haha of course the same day I post this, ArenaNet releases update notes that it is fixed.

Bank slots can store items that is then available over your account, meaning you can log into any of your characters and the bank is shared. This bank is also accessible from any crafting areas so no need to run directly to the bank each time.

Sorting out inventory after crafting several stuff.

Trading Post: Wiki
I have sold and bought a few stuff with the Trading Post so far and it works really well now. Initially after the launch there were major issues with it and mostly it was offline while they try and fix things. ArenaNet have fixed these problems a while back and it is working great now although the economy needs to stabilize a bit. Since it was offline so long, there was a surplus of items people wanted to sell, bringing in a huge supply for low demand. It have been getting better over time now and it is pretty interesting to see how this all works out.

Gems are another currency that can be used to buy special stuff in the Gem Store like mini pets, boosters, bank slots, etc. You can purchase Gems with real money or even use coin you make in the game to buy some and depending on the exchange, you might not have to pay too much for a few gems. Problem usually in MMO’s with in-game stores is the fact that people buy items that gives them suddenly an edge over other players. Considering the only thing that can give you a bit of an edge is boosters (which you can find in world too) and the fact that PvP auto levels you to level 80 for fair combat between all, I cannot see the Gem Store having that problem.

Guilds: Wiki
A few days ago I created a guild called Tyrian Serenity with my girlfriend. We have a website up now, so check it out! So far it has been pretty fun with the guild and there are some nice things that can be upgraded. Not much else to say on this topic for now.

Sitting in a plant!
I'm so small, I fit right into this plant... which can actually be a Sylvari pot...

 I haven’t spend much time on these yet but the little I did play has been fun. As mentioned above, when you go to PvP or WvWvW, you are automatically levelled to level 80. PvP is your usual player vs. player games where two groups also try holding as many points on a map as they can to reach a target score. WvWvW is massive, and the little I played was pretty fun but a bit confusing... then again I didn’t spend much time reading how it works, so will be trying that out more in detail another time.

Music & Audio: Official Audio Video
Music in the game is by the same composer as Guild Wars, Jeremy Soule. His music really makes some scenes perfect and there is a few other games I have played that had him as the composer like the last three titles of the Elder Scrolls series, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim.

Audio in general is well done and voices sounds great, especially when you hear someone outside a building your standing in and it is muffled. Even if you hear another character with the same voice, it isn't always so noticeable. Also there is some great voice actors for some of the voices like Felicia Day, Steve Blum, Jennifer Hale and more!

Here is a video of the some of the Guild Wars 2 voice cast. Note that this video was created back in 2009, just for incase you are wondering why Felicia Day says its her first video game.

The only problem I had so far with audio is that sometimes there is a difference in the voice when one NPC talk to another than when you select to that NPC to talk to them directly. Also there is the issue that some event voices is way to loud when your standing far away from them, but I have seen this being mentioned a few times and most likely will get fixed in the future.

Posing with Yardlie
Posing with Yardlie

Then there are the smaller things that really make the game that little bit better and that a lot of game companies do not even think about. One example is when I was out exploring; I found this building where young Asura is learning. While exploring around there, I found a desk, and selecting it the text read “Braclo”... it was my desk from when I was studying there!

Another example is something a few people have mentioned, and that is the way NPC’s interact with each other. One of the ones I saw is two Sylvari talking about a Charr that just arrived and they are wondering about war in general. They actually then walked over and talked to the Charr, which in turn kinda scares them hehe. Most games when it comes to stuff like this usually have the starting scene and then the characters fade off or just go about doing something else, forgetting what they were talking about two seconds ago.

The animations are really well done too, especially when it comes to the small detail. As an Asura, if I run sideways for a bit and stop, my character does a little jump to the that side on one leg; Or when I jump and land, I kind of land in a almost-falling-forward manner. The emotes is really well done and each race also has their own dance. If you don’t mind seeing each dance of the races, watch this great YouTube video.

The overall art look of the game is really nice touch as well. At first I was not sure if I would really like the artistic route they are taking, but I am really liking it so far. The user interface usually have a brushes drawn type of look to it with even some ground textures have that brush look. If you like concept art, be sure to check it out on the official Guild Wars 2 website.

The Asura city, Rata Sum
The Asura City, Rata Sum

Guild Wars 2 is a fun, exciting, living world that is full of adventure and exploration and has become my favourite MMO ever. Big thanks goes to ArenaNet and everyone involved for making an amazing game!

To quote Mike O'Brien with what he said in the Manifesto Trailer
If you love MMOs, you'll want to check out Guild Wars 2, and if you hate MMOs, you'll really want to check out Guild Wars 2. 
See you in-game!

Dusting off the blog again!

Wow this blog gathers dust fast!

First off, sorry for the long break since my last post. A lot has happened and is still happening, so here is a quick update.

First of all I was on a three week holiday and after I returned, decided to spend some time more on gaming, waiting for the release of Guild Wars 2. Since Guild Wars was my first ever MMO, I was really looking forward to this release. It has been about two weeks now since the release and I am still enjoying the game a lot. I will write a separate post about it sometime.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am working on a new project for Second Life. I haven't touched much of the code since my last post, but tonight I went over some of the ideas for it and decided I am going to shelf a big portion of the code for another time. Since I started this project, it became more and more complicated than what I initially wanted for it, making some options almost impossible to deal with.

Most of the code for the initial idea is already written, so I made a backup tonight and going to soon start stripping out some of the unnecessary code. When done with that, I'll finish of the code that is needed, designs that still need working and add some stuff here and there and launch it with a blog and maybe even a trailer.

In any case, that is a quick update of what I have been doing.
Will hopefully post some info on the project before this blog attracts more dust!