Guild Wars 2: What’s Different?

  By Shamus   Aug 29, 2012   204 comments

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I’m a few days into Guild Wars 2 at this point. I’ve tried about half the classes and all but one of the races. I’ve played enough that I’m ready to start making bold proclamations with regards to gameplay. Specifically, this game is my new gold standard for how an online game should play.

Maybe it’s too early and the game is too young to go around making blanket statements like that. If it all turns to frustration and tears later I suppose I’ll regret being so nice. I’m willing to risk that eventuality.

Some people are accusing this game of still being grind-y. Let’s get our definitions straight. Or at least, my definition, since I’m the one writing this thing. I consider grinding to be doing something inherently boring in order to make progress. This intersects a bit with what Chris has said in the past about motivation in his video on gamification. If you set your rewards improperly, then the gameplay becomes a means to an end instead of a source of entertainment. Grind is an even more severe case of the problem, where the gameplay is fundamentally un-engaging no matter how you structure the rewards, and the game has to resort to Skinner Box systems to motivate you to proceed.

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But here’s the thing…

Nobody* complains that Team Fortress 2 has too much grind, even though people have been playing the same few gameplay modes on a small pool of maps since launch. Repetition itself is not always bad. Or rather, it’s okay to repeat something that’s varied and interesting. I’m not going to claim that Guild Wars 2 mob-killing is as unpredictable as fighting human players in TF2, but it’s closer to that than it is to killing any of the 33 flavors of wild boar in World of Warcraft.

* Almost. Virtually. Practically. Very likely only the deranged.

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If you’re on board with my particular definition of grind, then Guild Wars 2 is basically grind-free. Yes, you’ll be sitting in the same area and killing the same mobs for a while, but instead of aimless slaughter you’ll be playing group-based battles with goals and time limits. There are waves of foes and the battle tends to be mobile and dynamic. You can jump in and join the battle at any point, and you can wander off whenever you like. You’ll have to do several of these matches to get to the next level, but you can choose which matches you want to take part in.

When the match is over you get a reward based on your participation. It doesn’t matter how you participate. You might fight. You might grab important quest objects. You might run around reviving downed players. (There are no fixed healer classes. Anyone can revive anyone else.) It’s all good and the game rewards all approaches. It doesn’t grade on a curve, so you don’t have the Warhammer problem of few players getting good rewards and everyone else getting trash.

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I have no idea how the game grades your participation, but it seems to be very smart and fair about it. I was AFK for a whole match and got nothing. I participated the whole time and got the gold reward. I half-assed through a match while under-leveled and got silver. I entered the match in the last few seconds and got bronze. Rewards are a bundle of XP, money, and whatever they’re calling the “renown” currency in this game. All of them are respectable and I haven’t ever felt cheated by what I was given.

You don’t get items as a direct reward for participating in the event. Loot comes from killing foes. I suppose if you stick to non-combat activities you might get a little shafted with regards to gear. Then again, if you’re not fighting directly then gear is probably less of an issue for you.

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I am on record as saying that level-scaling is stupid, pointless, self-defeating, and basically misses the point of having a leveling system in the first place. I’m going to attempt something very difficult here. I’m going to try to make an exception that doesn’t end in charges of hypocrisy.

Fingers crossed.

If you return to previous areas, you are level-scaled down to the given area. You’ll still be a little overpowered because you keep the powers and gear you’ve unlocked, but you’re never going to be so overpowering that you can stomp on all the foes and ruin everyone else’s fun. The important thing here is that you get XP appropriate to your actual level. This means I can take my level 15 character into the newbie zone and do the level 5 matches, and I’ll level just as quickly as playing in the level 15 zone.

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It’s worth noting here that the leveling curve doesn’t do much in the way of actually curving. Levels seem to take somewhere between a half hour and an hour, and so far level 15 doesn’t seem much slower than level 3.

The upshot here is that gaining levels increases your choices. When you gain a new level, you get access to the next tier of events. Maybe right now you’re chasing bandits off a farm. Then you get a couple of levels and you try fighting centaurs in the next town over. Centaurs are fun, but the bandits are better, so you go back to the bandits. Oops. You just gained another level, and now you have access to an event where everyone gangs up on a single gargantuan troll.

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The rhythm of the game goes like this: You do an event. Then there’s a couple of minutes of downtime. The group scatters and everyone does leveling up stuff, visits the vendor, fills in the local map waypoints, does some open-world questing, or gathers raw materials. Then another event begins. Maybe it’s the same event again. (The troll attacks again.) Maybe it’s a new event based on the outcome of the previous one. (If you repelled the bandit attack, maybe this is a counter-attack on their base.)

When the new event is announced (there’s a little ding! message to everyone in the zone) the players all gravitate towards the action. Since some are closer than others and the game supplies foes based on number of participants, this naturally creates a system of rising action. The first round of the match will be just one or two nearby players versus a couple of mooks, and by the end everyone will have arrived and it will be a massive battle.

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Online games have this obnoxious dissonance in their mechanics. If I’m in World of Warcraft on the Alliance side, then other Alliance players should be my allies. But in reality they’re my rivals. I have to compete with them for harvesting resources, for mobs to kill, and for treasure chests to find. Having “allies” around is a frustrating liability, and the only way to mitigate it is to formally get married to these strangers by forming a group. Even then, the game penalizes you by giving less XP. This is true even if your group-mates are AFK and not making the battle “easier”, which is what the XP penalty is supposed to address. This sort of PUG is almost universally recognized as a bad thing. Other players are strangers, they don’t care about you, your goals don’t always line up, and arguments over loot are a frustrating time-sink that often leads to injustice.

This is not what cooperative play should look like.

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Guild Wars 2 basically fixes this by turning allies into a net positive force. Everyone who helps kill a mob gets credit, and everyone gets their own loot roll that is unaffected by what the other players did. If I harvest a resource node, it’s gone for me, but still present for other people. With world quests we can combine efforts even more.

Here is how an open world quest works: (I made this one up.)

I walk into the graveyard. Without needing to talk to the quest-giver, I get a notification in the upper right telling me what needs to be done in this area. I’m supposed to run around, find the freshly-dig graves, and put flowers on them. Sometimes this results in a zombie crawling out of the grave. I get credit for placing the flowers. I also get credit for killing the zombie. There are generally a nice mixture of combat and non-combat tasks, so you can actually play as a pacifist if you like.

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Now, if another player comes along, I also get credit for helping to kill the zombies they uncover, and they get credit if they help me with mine. So we can both put flowers on the same grave and both kill the zombies that appear. In a really crowded area I might not even have to place flowers. I can just run around killing the zombies everyone is digging up. Compare this to the shameful mess that was the Mr. Zombie summoning circle.

Having more people around makes the game more fun. Why did it take game designers so long to figure this out?

Also, I don’t know if you people are aware of this, but the game is really pretty. Seriously. You should find some screenshots or something.


A Hundred!A Hundred!4204 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. Gravebound says:

    That second screenshot is really pretty. Nice, bright analogous colors. Much better than ugly, single-color, full-screen filters washing everything out.

  2. Chargone says:

    does the game lag horribly when those battles get on the larger end?

    because that was something CoH never fixed with their world events. everyone piled into one place to deal with the big invasion (and if everyone piled into one place the invaders all showed up there too) and the entire thing just became and unplayable Mess. part of it was graphics, so a better machine on your end Helped, but part of it was the server keeping track of everything, from memory. was never fixed, and when they introduced actual end game content it had the same damn problem. too many people in too small a space = graphics hell. which actually lead to a lot of players actively Avoiding the world events <_<

    i'm hoping GW2 has less of an issue with that?

    • Mephane says:

      I don’t really know what the largest was that I have ever experience, but the game seems very stable performance-wise. I usually have about 30 FPS with medium settings (which still look like high in other MMOs), and it does not seem to drop too much below that even in intense event battles.

    • Zaxares says:

      Lag did get pretty bad during the Beta weekends, but those were situations where you had upwards of 30 or 40 players all crammed into a small area, with the game pumping out an equivalent number of enemies to keep things challenging. Add in all manner of flashy spell effects going on and you had a recipe for a lagtastic carnival.

      However, things seem to have settled down now in the official release. The newbie areas are still pretty populated, but the servers seem to be a lot more balanced now. You might still see some slowdown if there’s a lot (like 10+ players all taking part in an event) going on on screen, but it likely won’t be enough to disrupt your gaming experience if you have a decent gaming machine.

      • GreyDuck says:

        Hmm, if “10+” is “a lot” then you’re still in COH-type performance territory. League events can go up to three 8-person teams for a given “trial” and that can still get a bit hairy on the performance… but for the most part it’s plenty playable on several-year-old hardware.

        Then again, the COH graphics engine has only enjoyed one major overhaul since the game came out *mumble mumble* years ago.

        All that aside, however… this write-up series is sorely tempting me to try GW2, and I’ve not been tempted by another MMO in AGES.

        • ps238principal says:

          How many other MMOs have even had a single graphics overhaul? I ask because I honestly don’t know. I figure that the more you upgrade a game’s graphical functions the greater the chance that you’ll be alienating veteran players of a game because their machines won’t be able to keep up with the new requirements. This is beyond the labor of actually re-doing most of the game (in CoH’s case, adding stuff like mouths or fingers, for example).

          • Blackbird71 says:

            Off the top of my head, I can only think of two games that have done full graphical overhauls: Asheron’s Call and EVE Online. I believe WoW makes occasional improvements, but I don’t think they’ve done anything extensive enough to be called an overhaul.

        • Xinem says:

          Just to illustrate my previous comment on YMMV, I took part in the “bandits attacking the farm” event a couple of days ago and generally kept 20-30 fps with, (guessing) 40 fully-animated players and game-generated bandits moving, plus a couple of cows and NPCs. Again, 20-30 isn’t GREAT, but it’s not horrible, either.

        • Brandon says:

          You and me both, I’m really liking the look of GW2. :) Might have to pick it up.

          In an unrelated but kind of related note, City of Heroes is actually shutting down soon, announcement just came out today.

    • Hitch says:

      I can only offer my subjective opinion. I haven’t carefully studied my FPS under various conditions. The game runs very smooth for me. When I’ve checked it seems to be running between 40-60 FPS. I’ve been in large chaotic PvE battles with so many spell effects going off that it was really hard to see what was happening, but the graphics still looked smooth. I was too busy to check the actual numbers, but I’d be surprised if it dropped below 30 FPS.

      I do have a decent, but not exceptional, computer. It’s basically an off-the-shelf Dell — i7-2600 CPU (no overclocking), 12GB RAM, and I added an nVidia GTS-450 (the poor man’s dx11 video card). So I would say the game does not overly tax a gaming computer.

    • Mari says:

      I’ve experienced more lag in empty areas than in heavily populated ones (random lag, nothing I can say “doing X is laggy”) so I’m going to go out on a limb and say “no” to your question. The only real problem I’ve had with huge battles is that, like real-world huge battles, it can get a bit chaotic. Everyone’s running around slashing at foes, foes are running around slashing at my allies, flaming balls of death or giant ice crystals are falling from the sky, some people are short-range teleporting here and there to get closer to foes, and basically I find myself stepping back and thinking, “I have no idea what is going on here except HIT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT UNTIL IT DIES!” But, yeah, I’m willing to guess that that’s what real-world warfare probably looks like anyway (well, not magical death from the sky although I guess an argument can be made for bombs and IEDs and such).

    • Fleaman says:

      “CoH Mess Helped Avoiding GW2″

      I was just wondering if there was any meaning behind your capitalization quirk.

    • zev says:

      I experienced no noteable lag in WvWvW (the huge battles).

      I had pretty significant lag in the charr (giant catpeople) starting zone for 30 minutes to an hour.

      I have not gotten Wintergrasp (giant WoW PvP area) levels of lag, or anything approaching it. Even cities are smooth, although they take a bit longer to load.

      The game handles a lot of this through overflow realms, where they dump you (and your party) to an alternate server if the main one is full, and put you in a queue to join the main one automatically. Once it has space it gives you the option to switch to the main realm, or get at the end of the queue again.

      For WvWvW they can’t do this, so the objectives are spread, with minor objectives filling in the gaps between major ones, and there being mechanics to encourage players to split into smaller groups.

    • LinkageAX says:

      Being an Australian player I can attest to the lack of a noticable latency. The only time I had a major amount of lag was on launch night in WvWvW. I’m assuming it was a server issue of some kind, because I no longer get any whilst in that zone.
      Also, Shamus, turn the bloom off or down to low, the game is slightly brighter on low.

    • Winter says:

      In WvWvW things can sometimes get laggy. Mind you, i have settings turned down so i’m getting 160+ fps in “normal” areas. Typically rolling with 20-40 people or so in WvW it’ll drop down under half of that (still above 60, though no longer delicious 120 fps). In massive spam fests it probably drops into the 20-40 range, which is unfortunate. Controls start getting unresponsive under 50-70 fps for me, so it kills some of the fun when i’m fighting with input lag. However, it’s still not bad.

      If you’re struggling to hit 60 fps normally, however, you might want to think about adjusting your graphics configuration before hitting WvW.

    • KC says:

      My fps averages anywhere from 5 to 15…and I still love playing it. Makes large battles hardish, and the jumping puzzles grueling, but it doesn’t bother me all that much. Of course, that could be because I’ve grown accustomed to playing with high lag. I can actually execute a 3-key jump and my toon won’t even start moving before my fingers are off the keyboard. XD

    • Rosewire says:

      For myself, I’d say yes, a little bit to the lag thing, but not much. I’ve only had lag hit me one time so far, and it wasn’t too bad. My computer is about a year old now, so not exactly cutting edge, if that gives you some idea.

  3. Stormkitten says:

    I really like the co-operative atmosphere in Guild Wars 2, as Shamus describes. The per-player harvesting nodes is a huge thing. The way they have designed the PvP just adds to it. No factions on the server, everyone on your server is an ally (and in the story, a good guy/hero). The rivalry comes against different servers, and can be ignored if you don’t PvP.

    • Jarenth says:

      As an addendum: I don’t know if you fight your server-mates in the instanced PVP scenarios, but one thing I did sort of like was how between rounds, the teams are randomized. While that does make it harder to play with friends (though not impossible) it does mean nobody in your scenario group is a permanent enemy, and you team up with and face off against everyone over the course of a few matches.

      This does not, however, extend to the vile cowards of Maguuma and Sorrow’s Furnace (or Sea of Sorrows, I can’t remember), who should be driven off the Eternal Battleground post-haste. For the Henge!

      • Kojiro says:

        Ahahahaha, you mean you guys have gone and made enemies with the goons? Oh boy. That won’t end well. (And yes, it is Sea of Sorrows, unless something changed since I last checked.)

        Also sucks for me because I’m an SA member and also a fan of the stuff here, and while I don’t have the game yet I have been looking into it and thinking about things; one of the choices I’m trying to make is which server to choose for my main one (since I can guest to other ones and join both the goon guilds and the one here; brilliant design decision, since we’re talking about those, by the way); while it only really matters for WvWvW purposes, it’s still a big choice.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Oh. Wait. Hold on a second.

          The goonswarm is going into Guild Wars 2? *the* goonswarm from SomethingAwful?

          If so, I won’t touch that game with a 10-foot stick. I definitely don’t need assholes ruining any fun there is.
          You might just have completely convinced me to stay away from that game, so thanks.

          • Jarenth says:

            Different server than us. You’ll only run into them if you do WvWvW PVP.

          • Kojiro says:

            Goons play every online game ever, that’s not a new thing. Seriously, SA has over a hundred thousand members, there’s no way you’ll find a game they don’t play.

            However, in terms of “the goonswarm”, assuming you mean EVE Online-type goonish antics and stuff, I can say that they won’t be there. That sort of thing is actually discouraged there; for example, I played MechWarrior Online with some of them, and they actually said not to go and teamkill terrible random players that get stuck on the goon teams and such. They are notorious in the game to be sure, but that’s for two different reasons: One, they have a sense of humor (they like to remind people of a canon MW book all the grognards pretend doesn’t exist, they claim that Alt-F4 changes you to third-person view, etc.), and two, they are actually good at the game. They group together, because that’s what goons do, and then, because they’re on a coordinated team rather than a bunch of random guys (not) working together, they stomp 95% of the teams they play. They also think it’s hilarious that they’re viewed as the villains of the game when they really don’t do much. (On that topic, they’d probably find it really amusing that they got someone to not play the game by simply being there.)

            Which, actually, is what I’m getting at here. They’re not a threat because they’re asshole trolls who will ruin the game for other people (which wouldn’t matter because the GW2 mechanics actually make it almost impossible for you to hinder someone you’re not fighting in PVP), but because they’re the biggest organized group in the game. Or, organized groups, really; there’s three goon guilds and I’m pretty sure each one has a significant number of people in it, and at least two of the three are on the same server too.

            But, anyway, goon presence in a game is not a reason to avoid it; sure, they run riot in EVE, but that’s a game where the developers condone people utterly destroying the economy and stealing everything from people, they’re just a bigger group there. In a more normal game, they’re just dangerous because there’s a lot of them and they’re good at what they do, but there isn’t any good reason to hate them. As a great example, in Star Trek Online, the goon guild Starfleet Dental (which is also in GW2) has a habit of crashing cybersex roleplaying parties, which of course has the cybersex RPers hating them. They don’t, however, go around breaking the rules and griefing other players, and the same thing has extended to games like GW2; unless having uninterrupted cybersex orgies in public is necessary for your enjoyment of an MMO, I doubt you’ll get much grief from the goons.

            Or, of course, you could just stay on a different server from them. As stated, they’re mostly on Maguuma.

            • X2Eliah says:

              *shrug* Their public image certainly is “bunch of assholes”, with Eve obviously being the prime example, yes. If goons from SA forums in GW2 are different than goons from SA forums in EVE, well.. Sorry, but Idk if I can believe that. For one, there’s the self-identification as “goons”, for me that already says a lot – that word has almost always been used in equivalence with ‘griefer/asshole’. If that’s not the case, then frankly you have a lot of PR to think about, because that *is* the prevailing image.

              As for servers. Well, hopefully. Is there are assurance there won’t be server-hopping, though?

              As for “not being able to grief”, well, hah. Yeah right. If it has any kind of multiplayer, griefing is possible. Even something as blandly crass a world message spam / price manipulation.

              For final comment, I’ll mention this: literally the only people whom I’ve ever seen saying anything nice for these goons are self-proud goons themselves. Think about that.

              • Kojiro says:

                Well, considering that I admitted to being an SA forum member (aka. a goon, since that’s what the term means; it’s a joke referencing when some guy who was threatening Lowtax accused him of siccing his “goon squad” on him, the name just stuck), you’re not really saying much or being clever with accusing me of being a goon, since I basically introduced myself as one. Heck, that was my whole point in the first post, I want to run with both the guys from SA and the ones here, since both generally seem pretty cool, but I can’t decide which server I want for my main.

                (Never played EVE though, that game looks like a nightmare, and also pretty boring. Am part of one of their World of Tanks clans, though, joining in on the getting Nazi-apologists there banned, driving Reddit out of Europe and Africa, and so on. Even made one of the clan logos.)

                Anyway, they don’t really care about their PR. I mean, I don’t care about their PR; I’m saying all this because GW2 is an awesome game and I don’t think people should be giving it a pass for such a ridiculous reason, not because I care what random people on the Internet think about the forums I post on. However, thinking about it again, I really shouldn’t care about that either; if people are going to deny themselves a great game because us bogeymen of the Internet are there, well, that’s fine. Heck, it’s hilarious.

                If you want to avoid everything the goons have touched, though, you’re going to have to stay away from more than just MMOs; they also were part of a lot of game-making teams (Fallout: New Vegas, for example; the YCS/186 gauss cannon’s name is a reference to subforum Your Console Sucks, forum ID 186, and one of the Wild Wasteland things is a reference to a weird game idea some crazy guy there proposed that became something of an in-joke), a bunch of webcomic and video makers are members there, the whole Let’s Play thing was started by an SA member, and I’m even sure that at least one of the Spoiler Warning crew has an SA account, if I recall correctly. Beware, the goon menace is lurking around every corner. Boo.

                • X2Eliah says:

                  Accusing? I’m not accusing. You’re spot on, you explicitly said you were a goon and I acknowledged it. What is the whole “don’t think you’re being clever” thing about? I don’t get your point. If you mistook the ‘self-identification’ bit, then all it meant was that most people who take pride in calling themselves ‘goons from SA’ are more often than not assholes/griefers. *shrug* Not my fault if you are an exception going against my past experiences.

                  “Heck, it’s hilarious”. *snicker* now where have I heard that sort of saying before, I wonder.

                  Do I want to avoid everything the goons have touched? Heck no, don’t be ridiculous. I quite clearly said I just want to avoid playing an online game with them running amok, that’s all.

                  So get off your high horse of arrogance, kid. If you really didn’t care, you wouldn’t have made several insanely large replies.

                  • Skyy_High says:

                    Sorry mate, you’re the one who’s sounding a wee bit arrogant here. You’ve:

                    a) brushed off the fact that the SA community is on a completely different server from us (and while server transfers are free now, they will soon cost about $20 to go into a high-population server, eg ours).

                    b) maintained that goons = baaaad, in spite of the fact that a “self-professed” goon has been arguing with you about this point, and *you* are the one who’s gotten nasty about it, not him.

                    c) also maintained that griefing is possible, in spite of the fact that you’re arguing with people who have played the game. No, it’s really not possible. Mobs are on tight leashes, leveling scaling is in effect everywhere, there’s no such thing as kill stealing, the market (when it is available) will have price trackers for all items so as to avoid people getting scammed by people gaming the system…there are a few points in the game where mobs can be dragged to a skill challenge maliciously, but other than that, speaking as someone who’s spent WAAAAY too long playing this game for the last few days, I haven’t seen evidence of nor seen any opportunity for griefing in the PvE world.

                    Not playing an online game because there are “goons” present is, in itself, a fairly silly stance to take (since, as the other poster said, that would basically preclude you from playing *any* online game). Bad people are out there, that’s just a fact of online gaming. To say, “Oh I was going to play GW, but after hearing that THOSE people are playing it to, well, I’ll have none of it,” in light of all of the above points…that’s just terrible reasoning.

                    • Shamus says:

                      Okay, this thread has gone on far enough. Let’s just drop it. Right or wrong, sixty bucks is a lot to spend and nobody has the right to tell X2Eliah what to do with them. This is too personal and not really useful as a discussion of the game itself.

                      Let’s just move on.

                • krellen says:

                  He wasn’t accusing you of being a secret goon. He was pointing out that the only people that defend goons are goons, meaning you don’t have anyone supporting you as something positive outside your own group.

              • Volfram says:

                I am NOT a SomethingAwful forum member, and never will be.(That place scares me)

                The Goons are why I started playing Eve Online, though, and really the only reason they’re as “bad” there as they are is because Eve Online promotes that kind of behavior instead of trying to deter it(also why I joined). Griefing in most MMOs is a really good way to get yourself banned and waste perfectly good subscription money. The Goons wouldn’t do that. They want to play, and they just want to have fun. They just happen to be a little more into schadenfreud than most other people.(though I sincerely suspect they’re just more honest and most other people are lying about it)

                • krellen says:

                  I don’t think most people lie about not enjoying others’ pain. It’s almost offensive to me that you do.

                  • Volfram says:

                    Highly contextual, but it’s well-known that pain is among the base sources of humor. That’s why American’s Funniest Home Videos ALWAYS has a stream of nutshots somewhere in an episode.

                    • Blackbird71 says:

                      Let’s set aside the fact that I stopped finding that sort of humor amusing a long time ago.

                      There is a huge difference between finding humor in seeing someone doing something stupid to themsleves, and intentionally inflicting pain upon others for your own enjoyment. The first is an immature reaction at worst; the second is the very definition of sadism.

                      Unlike Krellen, I don’t find the implication that I enjoy other’s pain to be “almost offensive,” rather I find it to be highly offensive and insulting, and I’m afraid the fact that you beleive this of most people reveals a lot more about your character than anyone else’s. Believe it or not, there are people in this world who are more concerned with the well-being of others than their own gratification.

                    • Shamus says:

                      Like I said elsewhere in the thread (I know it’s quite tangled by now) but we’re done talking about the goons and trying to let everyone know what horrible people they are.

                      Let’s just move on.

              • atomfullerene says:

                >As for servers. Well, hopefully. Is there are assurance there won’t be server-hopping, though?

                The problem with this line of logic is that, while there is no assurance that the goonswarm won’t hop servers on a game they do play, there is also no assurance they won’t start playing a game they don’t play, at some point.

          • Blackbird71 says:

            Agreed. If the professional griefers have set their sights on GW2, then the game community has a tough road ahead of it, and it’s just one more reason for me to stay away.

            • Kojiro says:

              Ye gods, it’s like I didn’t write way too many words on how the guys from SA are not in fact griefing everyone.

              Seriously, I’m reading the SA topic on GW2 right now and it’s obvious they want this game to succeed. They love this game. Just because there’s a lot of drama in EVE, a game that by design encourages people to screw each other over as hard as possible doesn’t mean that every game a goon touches is unsalvageable. Heck, “goon” is the nickname for an SA user, not specifically the EVE Online group; unless all hundred thousand people on those forums are hellbent on ruining everything good (I don’t believe that I am, although I could be wrong), the amount of panic spread by simply saying the word is ridiculously over the top.

              • Blackbird71 says:

                I’m sorry, but your words are meaningless when my personal experience has shown me otherwise. You can write as much as you want, but mere words will never disprove what I have seen in action. I have seen far too many who identify themselves as goons who have carried out actions against other players while stating that their sole intent was to ruin the game for others and to drive as many players as possible to quit. It’s a pretty sick and sadistic bunch of people who take their pleasure from others’ misery.

                I’ll just offer this one bit of advice: if you don’t like the reputation a group has earned for themselves, maybe you should reconsider your association with that group.

          • Freykin says:

            With the way Guild Wars 2 is set up, there is no conceivable way for them to ruin your day on there. Well, unless they buy out the entire auction house, maybe, but you can’t kill steal or ruin quests for other people the same way you can in say, WoW or Everquest. All the PvP is completely opt-in, so you will never encounter it if you don’t want to take part in it.

          • Infinitron says:

            At least they’re not Codexers.

            ;>

        • Winter says:

          The goons got ganked. And crushed. And stuff. I can’t think of other good words that start with “g”.

          Short version: Randy/Josh clearly picked the serious time WvW server because right now, Henge is dominating. (I notice CND–part of the massive Titan Alliance-is on there.)

      • Skyy_High says:

        Have you seen the WvW scoreboards this morning? We own literally 95% of the map.

      • TMC_Sherpa says:

        Let me start off with I am not a goon before I jump into this.

        Assuming (and I know with goons that may or may not be valid) they are playing by whatever rules are in place, what makes their preferred play style less valid than yours? They pays their money just like everybody else.

        Sure not everyone can field a horde of indeterminate size but, and this is the trick, if the devs are paying attention to what they do the goons will find the broken bits, the corner cases, the sploits, the design faults, stuff the devs never thought of, what objects could be arranged to represent genitalia …you get the point. If the boys with the clipboards find and fix that stuff everyone gets to play a better game no matter what server you’re on.

        • Sumanai says:

          I don’t think Jarenth is being serious about them being “cowards who should be driven out”. I think he has been fighting against them in-game and decided to be melodramatic about it for the sake of humour.

          If you meant to reply to X2Eliah: His problems seems to be not that what the goons do is “the wrong way” but rather that their way can ruin his way, so the game isn’t worth it to him. The same way someone doesn’t want to play football with people who are known to find their fun in kicking people in the crotch during play.

        • Blackbird71 says:

          “what makes their preferred play style less valid than yours?”

          Have you ever heard the expression “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose?” The goons, by self admission, find their enjoyment in online games by intentionally hampering and interferring with the gameplay of others, to the point that they get the greatest joy if they can force people to log out or even quit playing altogether. These are people who pay for the game just as much as the goons, but they are being forcefully kept from enjoying what they have paid for; it is definitely harrassment, and essentially amounts to theft. Sometimes this is effected through exploits or bugs, but typically it is done through superior numbers and abuse of valid game mechanics, twisting those mechanics to purposes they were never intended to accomplish. Either way, there is nothing valid about intentionally destroying the experience of others; that’s a fast way to bring any game down to ruin. The goons represent some of the worst characteristics of humanity, and as far as I’m concerned, anyone who condones or defends that type of behavior is just as degenerate as the goons themselves.

          • Phantom Hoover says:

            The goons’ antics don’t seem to have dragged EVE down much, and that’s where most people know them from. They’re being ruthless and cutthroat in a game which draws its main appeal from the ruthless and cutthroat PvP and suddenly they’re the worst of humanity?

  4. Mephane says:

    Had I not bought the game on the weekend, I would get it now. I can confirm from a similar amount of experience, Shamus is spot on with everything there.

    He even picked up my initial gripe, the auto-downscaling of players, which I also usually find a bad thing, but once in the game and getting a feel for it, I think this system is absolutely necessary in order to keep these dynamic events fun and engaging (otherwise one high level player could just AoE-onehit everything), and you still feel relatively powerful in the lower area while not making everything so trivial that you don’t care about foes and ruin the experience for everyone of a lower level. The fact that you get XP and loot appropriate for your actual level, not that of the mobs, totally sweetens the deal.

    And you still get that feeling of being more powerful. Like, when I stumbled into one of the earliest events, spontaneously decided to stay and help, but I was the only one capable of summoning an ice elemental towering over all my little fellow Asura. (The elemental was properly downscaled, too, of course, and so did zone-appropriate damage etc, but it was a cool sight, both proverbially and literally.)

    The combat feels fun and engaging. Other players appear as potentially helping friends, but never as competing annoyances tagging mobs and harvesting recources just a second before you do. You don’t need to form a party and still feel like everyone is working together. Placing a huge healing rain into a fray of complete strangers fighting a horde of mobs has never been more fun (and quickly gets you into the gold medal range for events; healing is rewarded properly here).

    There is no Tank/Heal/DPS setup either. No dedicated healing class. When I was downloading the game, I said to myself no way am I going to play a healer, I don’t want to stare at green bars again. I ended up as a hybrid between healer and damage-dealer, without ever looking at any health bar except my own. Most healing is AoE, and a lot comes from additional effects of attack spells and skills.

    Tanks don’t hold aggro. They stand in the way of enemies. Projectiles use realistic physics, i.e. if a Charr towers before you, that arrow destined for you will bounce of his shield (or hit him in the eye), not you. To mitigate groups just hiding forever behind a wall tanks, there are of course skills that rain down from above and cannot be blocked that way (but evaded by dodge-rolling out under them).

    I have the feeling that a lot of thought has gone into the minute details of each skill, and the combination of skills available for any given combination of class, weapon and other stuff (like the attunements of elementalists).

    Apparently, there is some semi-open-world pesistent PvP complete with castles and siege engines. I have not yet tried it, but if this is done as well as the PvE part of the game, they have single-handedly outdone the entirety of Warhammer Online with just a single game mode (there’s is also regular instanced PvP).

    As I said in a comment to the other thread: Guild Wars 2 is the first game that truly gives me a feeling that this is, finally, a real “next-gen MMO”, not just a minor iteration of the same flawed formulae or a rehash of old, bad ideas.

    • Abnaxis says:

      Gah! I want this game. I actually enjoy being a support character (it’s fun to me to try an force-multiply to the point I feel that the heals/buffs I give make the slot I’m taking up worth more than one ‘player’, using whatever metrics available to me). This always winds up with me getting less experience, even if I am (in some cases) the most valuable asset on the team. But in GW2 you get XP for it?

      Sign me up (as soon as I get the darn PC built…)

      • Mephane says:

        You get even XP for ressurrecting players and I think even NPCs (those are treated as players in those events, they fight, can die, can be healed, buffed, rezzed etc).

        • Joshua says:

          Yep, you absolutely get XP for reviving downed NPC allies. They even show up on the map if you want to wander the battlefield offering succor after an event.

          • Abnaxis says:

            So, is there any reward for trying to be a team player beyond the odd picking up of other uncapped players, or is it limited to rezzing? Can a player participate in a battle (as in, on the front line, not just putting out fires in town) without fighting and still get rewards?

            • Joshua says:

              You can get “Gold Level” participation (highest rewards possible) without laying a single point of damage on an enemy, as far as I can tell. All the events I’ve seen, though, don’t really separate neatly into front line and rear echelon… if you’re putting out fires you’re trying to do it while combat swirls around you.

              • Abnaxis says:

                I don’t think I am being clear. There’s probably some MMO terminology that I am not using because I don’t actually play all that many MMOs…

                My usual philosophy is this: if I am in a party with eight other people, if I can make everyone else do 50% more damage and live 50% longer, the force multiplier I contribute makes us scale to a twelve person party, even if my character personally does crap damage overall (which is usually the case). In most cases, this means I get crap rewards, as rewards are normally meted according to hp damage done to enemies or to whoever got the killing blow. This is annoying because I contribute at least as much, if not more, than anyone else on the team.

                For example, I play dungeon defenders (kind of a mixed tower defense/MMO) with my wife as a Series EV, which has an ability I use, almost exclusively to any other, multiply the damage her defenses do 2-3 times. As a result, she does all the massive, massive damage and I level up about half as fast because I’m not killing stuff directly (I make up for it by buying XP with in-game currency).

                My question is: can I expect the same if I play this way in GW2?

                • Mari says:

                  You’re talking about buffing (or in GW2 terminology “granting boons”) and yes, you still get the same rewards for buffing others as you would for dealing damage. I recently did an event where all I did was stand near the biggest crowds and trigger my buff skills. It kept them from taking damage, increased the damage they did, and generally made life a little better for everyone on my side. I still got a gold award for the event though I never landed a single blow nor rezzed a single player.

                • Joshua says:

                  No, in fact you don’t even have to be teamed with them to get credit for buffing them. Provided you do enough of whatever it is you’re doing to qualify for the participation (and that doesn’t seem to be hard, even for Gold level), your rewards are completely independent of theirs, not scaled by damage done, number of people participating, level, etc. Actually, if you’re over the event level and scaled down, you still get level-appropriate drops and XP. Looting fallen foes is also instanced; there’s no “ninja-ing”… everybody can pick up their own drops from it. I’ll have to double-check, but I seem to recall that I’ve had loot drop for me off a nearby foe even when I was just putting out fires, not even buffing.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’m not really an MMO person, I don’t buy into a number of the “usual” mechanics, and I’m usually put off by most communities surrounding them. That said Shamus, and a few other people, are really making a good sell for this one. By now I’m starting to ponder if I’d be buying it if I had the monies, next step would be starting to think if I could pull the cash from some other expenses in a nearby future.

    • Kojiro says:

      You know the best thing about the level-scaling? You can play with lower-level friends without making an alt. No putting aside hours of work just because your buddy got the game a few days later than you did. It’s actually a really, really good decision when you think of it that way.

      • Duneyrr says:

        I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you are right! That’s fantastic!

      • Zagzag says:

        This is mostly what I’ve been doing for the last couple of days, and was the first thing I thought of when I heard about it. It makes so much difference not having two characters; one you solo, and one you go on with someone else. It gets worse when four or five of you play together, which is often the case with me.

      • Mephane says:

        Yeah, my better half still needs to get used to the fact that me being higher level (because I started 2 days earlier than she) has no effect on our ability to do stuff together. She always tells me I don’t have to slow down for her, and I always reply that indeed, in this game it is not necessary to slow down just to play properly with someone of a lower level.

        It’s astonishing how many obnoxious concepts of the genre this game has brazenly thrown overboard, and quite interesting to observe how players only slowly start adapting to not having to do some kind of annoying meta-gaming just to play with their friends.

  5. psivamp says:

    I read the PC Gamer’s “Review as it Happens” and he points out a lot of the same things.

    One thing he pointed out was that the game is very free with how you level. It lets go of you at points between personal and overall story arcs and if you’re too used to WoW and being told what to do that can be confusing. But you can go and do almost anything to level. Explore, that levels you. Kill random crap you see while exploring, that levels you. And it’s super pretty.

    I hate MMOs. The only one I enjoyed for a little while was Vindictus and that wasn’t really cut from the same cloth at all. I’m sorely tempted to get Guild Wars 2 from everything I’m hearing about it. Unfortunately, I’m up to my eyeballs in classes and work.

  6. Jarenth says:

    One thing I’d like to point out that while you don’t have to talk to quest givers to get credit for the heart/renown quests, you can choose to talk to them to get some backstory on how what you’re doing helps what they are trying to achieve and how that fits into the bigger picture. I thought that was pretty neat.

    Also, flamethrowers and poison-gas guns are neat.

    • Mari says:

      There is an occasion or two when you do HAVE to talk to quest givers to do their quests, but it’s for a good reason. Not too deep into Sylvari (plant people/”we’re not elves!”) territory there’s a neat heart quest that I had fun with yesterday where you talk to the quest giver and he transforms you into a dog to do the quests in his area so that you can understand and “talk to” the dogs that he tends. It was so much fun to be a dog that I ran around for an hour like that.

      • Jarenth says:

        Oh yeah, I remember that. There’s more quests like that, though I don’t know how many.

        • Mari says:

          It will probably be a long time before I find out. I only have one character I’m playing right now (human) and was only in the Sylvari area scouting for unusual crafting ingredients for my chef profession. Rumour had it that there were lemons to be found in the Sylvari area and I rather desperately wanted to try making a blueberry pie, which required lemons. I wish I could get as excited about my weaponsmithing as I do about cooking. I’m thinking of seriously trying to play the game as a “Kindly Pie Granny” now. :-P

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        I finished that heart without being turned into a dog, because the dog kennels got attacked by a *really* huge number of spiders, and I got credit for killing them.

        The transformation events usually live or die based on how good the transformation is though; in the 3rd beta I did a quest in the Asura starting area where you got to ride in a hazmat golem with pretty lackluster skills, and the quest suffered a bit because of that.

        • Mephane says:

          I finished that heart without being turned into a dog, because the dog kennels got attacked by a *really* huge number of spiders, and I got credit for killing them.

          Now that you mention it – it is really noteworthy how in GW2 not everyone is automatically allied with each other as soon as you show up. Different species of wild animals, tribes etc. might fight each and thus give you a chance to make a surprise attack killing them both before they fully realize what happened, heh.

          • Lachlan the Mad says:

            My strategy when seeing two “enemy” creatures fight is to draw a greatsword and smite them both with a single blow. I’m not sure how the game programs which enemy NPCs will fight other enemy NPCs; the only reliable thing I’ve seen is that predators will attack herbivores (I often see deer fighting panthers around Metrica, for example).

            Also, the coats on panthers are gorgeous.

  7. Gilfareth says:

    Dangit, Shamus, I just put in money for another timesink of a game (Terraria). Stop making me want to buy other games! *Shake fist, grr grr*

  8. Piflik says:

    The more you write about GW2, the more you make me want to buy the game (and upgrade my connection, because lag is bad)…

    Anyways…STOP PLAYING GUILD WARS AND POST SPOILER WARNING ALREADY!!!

    …sorry…didn’t mean to yell…I am just suffering from withdrawal…

  9. Sagretti says:

    You know what I really love about this game? One of the major parts of their design seems to be “Let’s make an online world that isn’t a cesspool of bile, trolling, and abuse.” Like Shamus point out, The gameplay mechanics encourage cooperation without punishing those who want to go solo. Even better, the developers are going zero tolerance on trolls and abusive players. They’re even taking down names that are offensive beyond simple profanity, which shows it’s more than just a filter flagging the obvious problem cases. Hopefully they can keep up that level of enforcement.

  10. A friend of mine and I were making this very same tentative point last night — World of Warcraft has been our benchmark for “MMO done right” for a long time now. Last night we started talking about all the things that WoW *doesn’t* have, and we realized we might have a new benchmark on our hands. :)

    • Hitch says:

      Only time will tell, but it looks like ArenaNet are the first ones since Blizzard to get the balance between innovation and copying right. Look at what’s worked in other MMOs (WoW in particular) polish that as much as you can, then add just enough new stuff to make your game stand out, but most of all concentrate on making everything work. Maybe not perfectly and every choice they made won’t appeal to every player, but overall it seems they got enough right to please most people trying the game. Now we’ll see where they’re at 6 months to a year from now.

  11. Tom says:

    I guess I’ve just gotten too old, but I’ve feel at sea with this game. I pre-purchased so I’ve done a couple of the beta weekends and played some over the weekend. My problem is that it just throws new powers at me too quickly. Probably sounds awesome to most, but it makes it hard to understand what I’m doing other than button mashing. It’s cool that every combo of weapons has different powers, but that’s just more stuff being thrown at me. I have no idea how they’re supposed to work together. When you die, you have a mini-set of powers to use as well. That’s cool, but I don’t really feel like I have time to read each one to figure out what I ought to be doing. I’m just spamming buttons. I feel like a slower-paced tutorial is in order. That or I need to go back to Pong, maybe.

    • Joshua says:

      I agree a better tutorial would help, but mouse-over will tell you what the powers do and, at least with the powers that I’m familiar with, most of them after the first are situational, which saves it from being a button-mashy babysitting of cooldown timers. Once you know what they do, it becomes pretty obvious that you don’t necessarily want to fire them off as soon as they become available. Plus that first attack is actually powerful enough to be useful, not just a time waster.

      Lots of things you pick up give you a new temporary power tray, and it’s always worth mousing to see what the powers do. I thought the renegade slimes in the Asura starter area were way overpowered, until I took the time to read what the rod’s powers did and found out that if you used the “weaken” power first–and held it long enough to get a good charge bar–the other powers just tore into the slime instead of dinging it. I started following other players around to soften the targets up for them, and it went from being “Geez, what’s with this area” to one of the more interesting.

      Same thing with the Fight to Survive! when you’re downed. You have a little while before you’re really defeated in most cases, and if you’re defeated it’s not that big a deal, so read what the different powers do. The first will usually hurt the enemy and if the enemy is defeated you rally, the second will defend, the last will start to restore health you but is interrupted if you take new damage. All professions have Bandage, the others vary.

  12. Daimbert says:

    Guild Wars 2 basically fixes this by turning allies into a net positive force. Everyone who helps kill a mob gets credit, and everyone gets their own loot roll that is unaffected by what the other players did. If I harvest a resource node, it’s gone for me, but still present for other people. With world quests we can combine efforts even more.

    Okay, I’ll admit it … this sounds interesting. One of the main problems in SWTOR for me is this sort of problem, where essentially players are competing against each other for these sorts of things. This is bad because if there are a lot of players in a zone, then you keep spending your time rushing to the next thing that spawns and have to wait longer because there’s less available, and also bad because when NO ONE’S on then you end up with an area flooded with mobs that you have to watch out for and fight even if you just want to cross the damn thing. DCUO had this even worse than SWTOR, which is one reason that I stopped playing it.

    CoH, on the other hand, usually didn’t have this because it used instances for your missions more often, and so except for a couple of quests you could usually easily find the enemies you wanted or you had them all to yourself.

    One question about the deleveling: does that mean that these enemies will thus still attack you? ‘Cause that could be annoying if you really just wanted to walk through a zone you finished and events you’re tired of, as you get sucked into it again just to walk across to the event that you actually want to participate in.

    • Mephane says:

      They still attack you. Travelling from town to town, however is painless as a) roads are mostly free of mobs and b) you can instantly teleport for a small fee to any discovered waypoint (and every minor place seems to have one).

      If you want to run around gathering resources, however, you will have to fight stuff, but you are “de-levelled” to the maximum level the area was designed for, +1, so you are already slightly above the top of the food chain in that zone, plus you keep all skills not attainable at that level, they only also deal less damage/healing/etc appropriately.

      • Daimbert says:

        Hmmm. This sounds like it’ll be a bit annoying, but not a reason to not get the game. In January. Or whenever it is that I get around to it [grin] …

        The nice thing about other MMOs is that once you outleveled the mobs, you could go to any site you wanted without having to fight. Thus, you could join costume contests in Atlas Park in CoH without having to fight or without taking out mobs that you didn’t care about but that someone else might. And one of my favourite moments in DAoC was coming back to my starting village and just looking at it. With this more dynamic system, it sounds like you might want to do that more often, but some of the things you want to look at might be off the waypoint path.

    • Shamus says:

      “One question about the deleveling: does that mean that these enemies will thus still attack you? ‘Cause that could be annoying if you really just wanted to walk through a zone you finished and events you’re tired of, as you get sucked into it again just to walk across to the event that you actually want to participate in.”

      I’m not sure. This game doesn’t have the same evenly-distributed coating of foes that other games do. Given the usefulness of roads and the abundance of waypoints, I haven’t run into situations where I needed to push through trash mobs.

      Then again, I’m only lvl 16 and the cap is 80 and I’m really only familiar with the human area.

      EDIT: Ninja’d.

      • Mephane says:

        P.S.: Would you mind telling us your handle in GW2, so we may add you to our friends list? Or do you prefer it not to be known publicly? (I would also be happy with an email, of course.)

        :)

    • Mari says:

      Not ALL will still attack you. Generally lower-level foes have let me pass with relative impunity. But some critters like Ettins still follow me a way with murder on their mind – although I’ve gotten decent at just continuing to move and they lose interest and wander off after a while.

    • Vipermagi says:

      If you pick up a Swiftness (33% movement speed) skill, you can run past trash mobs with ease. You don’t get the in-combat slowdown until you take damage. If you avoid hits, which is easier with Swiftness, you’re much faster than monsters are.

      Most professions have easy access to Swiftness; Necro warhorn, Ranger warhorn, Warrior warhorn (it’s a Thing warhorns do :P ), Elementalist Lightning attunement, Engineer healing skill. There’s more that I’m simply not familiar with :)

  13. Lame Duck says:

    Wait a minute, this sounds awfully familiar; didn’t you already write an article about how MMO quests should be that had similar ideas to this. I’m pretty sure there was an example to do with building a boat and the main thrust of the piece was that all quests should do be doable solo and playing with others should simply speed the process up.

  14. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Damn it. I start a Masters degree in three weeks. I can’t pick up a MMO…

    • Skyy_High says:

      No sub fee, same price as a console game, you’ll get rewarded for your time even if you only have 20 minutes to play. If you have time/money for any game, you probably have time for GW2, because it really doesn’t follow the normal MMO rules about time (eg, traveling between cities is instantaneous, no griffin rides). You’re not going to get to max level very fast, but you’ll have a lovely adventure exploring a world inhabited by real people.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        ……

        ………

        DAMN YOU

        I am playing Diablo III, and feel rather underwhelmed. DAMN YOU

        I KILL YOU!

      • Hitch says:

        I don’t know because I’m still low level, but it seems with the down-scaling when you enter a lower level zone, a common activity for level cap players might be exploring previously unvisited low level zones, or replaying ones you’ve been to before. They will still be a challenge. You can’t just stride through like an unstoppable force afraid of nothing.

        • Lachlan the Mad says:

          The game explicitly suggests that this is what to do after the level cap; you have a “Map completion” gauge at the top left of your map, which shows you what percentage of every permanent goal in the game (waypoints, hearts, vistas, a few other things) you have completed. My level 10 character has reached about 3%. If you wanted to fill the gauge, a lot of your time would just consist of going to the level 1-15 zone for all of the other 4 races and cleaning those out.

    • Midnight on Mars says:

      I know what you mean. I start med school in a couple of weeks. Shamus’s posts and my fond memories of playing the original Guild Wars are making it really hard for me to resist.

  15. BlckDv says:

    My wife and I just started playing Guild Wars 2 last night; we’ll have to send requests for Guild invites.

    That said; the game is great fun, but very overwhelming coming straight over from a long chain of WoW/CoH/Champions/LotR/Rift/SWTOR. Breaking existing mental conditioning is hard, and the games much praised wide open options keep triggering stress responses as I go “Oh no.. another thing I’m supposed to be doing and I haven’t finished stomping noxious plants yet!”

    I see a lot of good things in breaking the mold; but I’ve got to get my mind to realize that we’re outside the box before I can enjoy them.

    I’m also frustrated by an odd mixture of overzealous and lacking new player tutorial support. I get flooded with annoying popups telling me to press “I” for Inventory or press “H” to see my character, or that I now have a “Condition” most of which is either really freaking obvious or the sort of thing I’m going to play with out of combat when I can afford to press a wrong key or two.

    But I run into plants for crafting in the world and just get an “No Gathering Item” error; My in game help window says nothing about crafting either… Why not a “Learn a Craft Skill at Blah location” tip? Likewise I’ve now had random NPCs run up to me and seem to be giving me a quest; I *think* I’ve figured out they they just highlight the zone events, but I thought the quest giving was failing for the longest time. I guess to me what they think needs tutoring and what they just take for granted seems very odd.

    Right now my biggest block is figuring out the economy. With the assorted special currencies, I have not yet gotten any good feeling of what good prices are and what kind of income to expect; It makes me afraid to buy things from Karma vendors for fear I am wasting a tight commodity.

    That said; I’ve had loads of fun with both my Ranger and my Engineer, and the game is gorgeous once I got my graphics settings properly turned up.

    • tzimcasius says:

      Karma is pretty easy to come by and so far, it appears that the vast majority of things you’ll spend it on are crafting recipes. I guess it just depends on how quickly you’d like to expand your crating trade. I’ve purchased quite a few items from karma vendors and am still sitting on a fair share of excess, however I haven’t really done a huge amount with crafting yet either.
      There are few gold/silver/copper sinks, so I think that’s all pretty easy to manage, much easier than most games. There are other forms of currency, but I’ve had little exposure to them yet.

    • Vipermagi says:

      The obnoxiously obvious tips only appear once; I only got them on my Elementalist (first character), and have been leveling an Engineer and Necromancer too.

      As for the gathering tools; there are three slots for these in your inventory; a sickle, axe and pickaxe. You buy these tools from Merchants. You don’t need to learn a crafting skill for gathering.
      (this is one of those things that warrants a tutorial but doesn’t have one. Go ANet)

    • Hale says:

      As for tutorials, they have added one to the Guild Wars 2 site. I haven’t used it myself but maybe it could be helpful to you.

  16. nmichaels says:

    Damn you, Shamus. It’s still nice outside. I can’t get into a new game that’s this involved until it starts snowing. Plus, it’s windows only, so I’ll probably have to get a shinier computer just to run it under Wine. And I’ll have to do the same for my wife. *fist shake*

  17. Clint Olson says:

    > Or at lest, my definition, since I’m the one writing this thing.

    You probably meant ‘at least’.

  18. Steve C says:

    Your review made me buy the game. I’m jealous of your experience. Mine has been so bad I’m on the phone right now with visa trying to get my money back. The game simply doesn’t work.

    Everyone I’ve heard with a working copy has gotten GW2 via the beta, or pre-release or direct download. Has anyone gotten the discs to work in even the tiniest way?

    • Joshua says:

      This may be a dumb question, but can you use the code from the box to activate your account and just download the client from the account management page? Or does the boxed version somehow tie account creation into running the install successfully?

      • Steve c says:

        There is no possible way I know of to download the client directly. (I’ve looked hard.) It is possible to download the setup launcher from the account management page. The launcher then attempts to download the client. It fails. It’s possible to workaround that issue by manually moving around files, renaming some, and retrying until it starts to download the data file (gw2.dat). And I’ve read multiple reports that fails at 99%.

        However there’s a bonus issue. Downloading cannot be interrupted. If it is, then it won’t restart unless you wipe everything and start from scratch. For me it’s a 30 hour download. I didn’t want to download it in the first place. A patch is one thing but didn’t want to download everything. That’s why I drove 30mins to buy the discs instead of buying it online and getting a direct download.

        So it’s a 30 hour download that requires some retarded workarounds to start, cannot be interrupted, and may or may not work when it’s done. And the only way to find out is to tie up your internet and computer for 30hrs per attempt. I prefer to take my money back and buy some other game.

        • Chris Robertson says:

          I have no direct experience, but from what I have read (http://forum.winehq.org/viewtopic.php?t=15121#p75325) the download client is quite prone to crashing, but continues from where it left off (even thought it’s not clear about that: http://forum.winehq.org/viewtopic.php?p=75406&sid=0526a92395dea198c4bfbf9ebda3c999#p75406).

          What I have is old, second hand information, so I apologize if it’s countermanded by what you are directly experiencing.

        • BlckDv says:

          First hand info here that this is not universal.

          I’m sorry your experience sucks so much, and hope the frustration is over for you soon.

          My wife had her key, had disc issues, and was able to download the client and play. Went to the account manager page, selected “Download Client” it downloaded a small exe that downloaded the launcher, that then started a very big download. Her connection died mid-download around 35% (ISP issue), she restarted and it picked up where she had left off. It them froze at 99% 2 files left, and she re-booted, restarted and it finished in seconds, and she was in. Don’t know what caused the 99% freeze, that may have been GW’s fault, but it picked up fine and neither of us has had any connectivity issues playing, did not have the dreaded Error 9 that I do understand was somewhat widespread.

          • Steve C says:

            What happened to your wife happened to me. So it may be universal. It’s not 100% that you will not be able to restart a download in progress. I started and stopped it a few times before it crashed due to stopping it. I then reproduced the error (that doesn’t generate a log) a couple more times but not every time. So I’ll clarify, if you interrupt the download there is a high probability (~30-50% chance) you will have to start from scratch. Not good odds when it’s at the 20hr mark and you want to use the computer.

            But it’s definitely GW’s fault. 2 DVDs in a box should be more functional than url… but they are less. It’s not even the game. It’s a download. Files transferred over the internet. That’s it. That’s what GW is failing to accomplish. It should not be possible to fail at that and that’s the reason why I’m so angry at them. They chose to create their own special download manager and it didn’t work. It’s not acceptable.

            • Adeon says:

              I also bought the boxed game but I was able to install it from the discs with no problem (although I did have to download a ~2Gb patch so I guess they’ve updated it a bit since they sent the discs to be printed). So it doesn’t seem like it’s impossible to install from the discs although that doesn’t rule out the possibility of some discs being bad.

              That being said though I think that they are having server problems of some sort. When I logged on it would only let me select European servers despite the fact that I’m connecting form the US and purchased a US copy of the game (no clue if that makes a difference or not). If they are having server-side issues that may explain why you and BlckDv have had issues.

              • The Rocketeer says:

                Well I’m glad to have the game now but after half an hour of three different installers, downloads, and account registrations I remember why I haven’t bought a PC game in years. And I thought console games were becoming a pain in the rear! How do PC folks deal with this crap?

                I actually won’t be able to try the game until later tonight. I’m really excited about it, though!

                • Entropy says:

                  Hey now, a brand new MMO is not representative of all PC Games. MMO launches are the worst.

                  • X2Eliah says:

                    That said, a lot of PC games really are that terrible to install. Especially the ones that have multiple DRM systems – like gfwl+securom+steam or so, including updates etc..

                    It really can be a supreme pain.

                • Abnaxis says:

                  PC gamers deal with it all the time. We deal with it at install, we deal with it when we download user-made mods, we deal with it when we’re downloading our PC-only content…

                  I guess we’re just used to downloading fun stuff :-p

                • Tse says:

                  It’s not that bad for non-MMO games, just hit install, select directory and wait several minutes. (You may need to do that several times if you’re forced to install social club, steam, origin or some other pile of useless code eating at your RAM.)

    • Entropy says:

      I got the discs to work. No problems, other than some account making shenanigans

  19. Adam P says:

    When I played in beta, there was an event in the Norn area where a fort (in the level 13 area, I think) was under attack. In the fort there were NPCs that, if all were killed, you’d “fail” the event and have to fight to reclaim the fort later (instead of staging a counter-attack). Good news: you could revive the NPCs! Bad news: if that was all you were doing then you’d get no credit for participating in the event.

    Does anyone know what event I’m talking about? If so, is it still unfair to support players?

  20. hborrgg says:

    So is there any SW this week? Or did you guys meet up and get destracted. . .

    • krellen says:

      I would not be surprised if there were no Spoiler Warning this week.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      I’m wondering if any of them are going to play the Leviathan DLC. I just got through it and a couple reviewers are saying ‘this fixes so much of ME3’s ending!’ I’ll post my thoughts on it on the next Spoiler Warning, but MY GOD do they bog down their already convoluted plot with more nonsense.

  21. Robyrt says:

    For me, GW2 felt “grindy” under a different definition, because I had to do everything multiple times before progressing. This soon after launch, the population of the server is so high that you have the Mister Zombie queue problem with area quests and group events: the heroes control 100% of disputed territory, there are no boars alive for your Kill 10 Boars quest, and much of the content – story missions, crafting, etc. – is gated by your level. How is this gemstone level 20? Is it really sharp and an inexperience jeweler will cut their fingers on it? Et cetera.

    • Mari says:

      But very few quests are “kill 10 boars.” Most of them are “kill boars or water cows or investigate suspicious bushes.” If the boars aren’t spawning fast enough just water the cows or investigate the bushes – both of which are exclusive to each player so it doesn’t matter that five other people just watered the cow – it’ll still drink the water you offer it and the bush will still let you investigate even if it was investigated a second and a half ago.

      And none of the story content is gated. They do SUGGEST levels that would be appropriate for that section of story content but I’ve easily ignored those suggestions with no significant problem.

    • Skyy_High says:

      “Level 20″ gemstones can be used in crafting by low level characters. You just can’t equip them. Fine point, I know, but if your crafting skill is that high and you just want to keep going (to make stuff for alts, or to sell on the auction house) you can do so.

  22. AncientSpark says:

    Actually, the funny part is that even while playing an explorer, it’s still reasonably easy to get gear. See, when you do the quests and events, they give you karma (the “renown” you were talking about). But, when you complete a quest, you can talk to them and they become a good shop to spend your karma on. And when I mean good shop, I mean the gear there is usually blue-green level (white means common, blue means uncommon, green means “masterwork”, and the highest level I’ve seen is gold, which is rare), which is very serviceable. Not only that, but each race gets their own “cultural merchant” which sells higher level gear…and the weapons they sell are yellow items that can be bought with karma, which means you can even get pretty rare items.

    Another interesting note is that apparently, the first person that got to level 80 in GW2 used crafting exclusively to get his last 20 levels. Now, this was with a guild that was basically throwing everything they had at him, but still…that’s a pretty good sign that GW2 supports “varied ways of leveling.”

  23. moriarty says:

    Okay, you got me. I’m buying the game. Just one question before i buy another game at full price: how relevant are the special edition bonuses? Im don’t like that you get a companion thats going to be relevant in more than just aesthetics.

    • Trevel says:

      The wolf? You have to be level 30 before you can use it, it maxes at 30 seconds (240sec cooldown), and it takes the spot of one of your most powerful skills.

      It’s … not the best deal in the world. You will probably prefer the ability to turn into a hurricane, turn into an avatar of the god of death, or play with the flow of time itself over having a pet wolf.

      The other items are pretty much one-shots or otherwise unnecessary.

      • Vipermagi says:

        Yep. The Hero’s Band is neat and all, but the bonuses are entirely spread out (not desirable) and very small. Not hard to replace once you get more levels under your belt, and it’s not obvious who has it and who doesn’t. The aforementioned elite skill is just neat to have, but balanced like a Racial (inherently slightly weaker than profession-specific skills). Hence the lengthy recharge time, for example. I’m quite happy with how they handled these bonuses.

  24. X2Eliah says:

    Oh, one thing. There’s all this talk about autolevelling your character to enemies and to pvp.. Well, how is it different from the levelscaling in Oblivion? From what I understood in the posts & comments, your character is always roughly at the same relative amount of danger from monsters irrespective of their supposed level.

    • Shamus says:

      I can’t say about PvP. Never touch the stuff myself. As for PvE:

      In Oblivion, it’s impossible to meet something above your level. Roughly the entire world is populated by rats at the start, and Daedric Lords by the end.

      In GW2, the mobs above you are still above you. If you walk into a level 20 area with a level 5 character, it doesn’t level-scale you up and you will get pancaked. So the level-scale only goes down, and it doesn’t impact your power selection or gear. More importantly, it scales YOU, not the WORLD, which makes the world seem less absurd. Also, it scales you down to “local level”+1, so you CAN go bad and be a badass with your higher-level gear and powers. Having said that, you do lose the ability to find something 10 levels under you and 1-shot it for giggles. Since this is also a vector for griefing, it makes more sense here than it does in single-player Oblivion.

      So the two systems are very different. It might not be different ENOUGH, and some people won’t stand for level scaling of any kind, but I’m willing to go with it because of what I get in return.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Ah, I see. Thank you for explaining it :)

        • Skyy_High says:

          Also key for the system working in PvE: if you’re a lvl60 scaled down to play in a lvl10 area, you’ll get weapon drops and XP that are actually useful to you as a lvl60. You’d get better drops if you went and played in a lvl60 area, but your time spent in the low level area won’t be wasted; you can actually level to 80 just by staying in the starter zone if you want to, it’ll just take a while.

    • TheZoobler says:

      There are two types of PvP, Structured PvP and World vs World vs World. You can enter either PvP area after completing the level 1 tutorial.

      Structured PvP: You are set to level 80, you have all trait points (talent points), you have all skills unlocked, and maxed armor/upgrades/weapons. You can do anything you want and build yourself as you please, with max gear, at level 1. This type of PvP is small, 10v10 control point matches with random teams and many maps where you earn PvP rank (shows how good at PvP you are, an aesthetic level) and PvP Glory (points used to buy cool gear skins). You don’t gain experience points or loot for PvE.

      WvWvW: Big open-world siege warfare where your team is your entire server. You have the base stats of a level 80, but you do not have your Trait Points or any skills unlocked for you: you are still technically the same level as when you entered (so if you went into WvWvW at level 11, you’d only have 1 trait point and however many skills you unlocked thus far). You gain xp and loot from players as if they were monsters, and each control point you take gives you as much xp/gold/karma as a Dynamic Event of your level. You can level up in WvWvW and find gear. You just have the base stats of a level 80, so that you can still contribute to fights. All monsters in the zone are level 80.

      Hope that helps!

  25. newdarkcloud says:

    You can jump in an join the battle at any point, and you can wander off whenever you like. (Shortly after the second screenshot)

    Should be “and”

    I really hope I’m not too bothersome with these.

    • Shamus says:

      Not bothersome. I’d rather fix it now than have annoying stuff like that sit around in the archives for years and years. The early stuff on this site was written before I had a browser with spelling highlighting and before I had enough people willing to catch errors like these. Always hurts to realize I’ve had some awful mangled sentence up for six years.

  26. Aldowyn says:

    How did no one notice/remember the “proclimations” spelling error at the beginning? Should be proclamations, with an A.

    ANYWAYS, I just finished downloading and am going to go play now, after I figure out what server the guild is on (don’t bother telling me I just need to look at the eikosi league post). I think the best thing I’ve heard so far is that cooperative aspect that pretty much completely eliminates the annoyingly competitive nature of questing in MMOs like WoW and SWTOR (which, admittedly, usually solve themselves with a bit of time. Only really an issue at launch when areas are really crowded)

    • Shamus says:

      What really sucks is that my spell checker didn’t highlight it. When a word feels wrong or if I’m uncertain, I look for the red underline. I just edited the post to fix the error, and it STILL wasn’t flagging the original word as bad. When I right-clicked it gave me the proper spelling, but what happened to the red underline?

      Very peculiar.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Hm. Some kind of rendering bug, possibly. From my own experience, the in-browser spellchecker in Firefox is way, way less reliable than the stuff you would see in MS’s Word or LibreOffice’s Writer – and not just in terms of dictionary size / sentence recognition, but purely in this often-not-displaying-redlines-or-bluelines-right.

        I don’t fully remember if you ended up with some sort of writing program that has spellcheckers or not (iirc you switched them a lot) – if you do have one, it’s always safer to copy/paste the text into one to give a quick spellscan in there. Ofc it does take extra time, a bit, so.. well, ofc up to you. I’m just saying – in-browser stuff is problematic.

      • Piflik says:

        My browser (Opera) does mark it as wrong.

  27. Ateius says:

    I’m in full agreement about how the grind isn’t really grind. Last night, I was farming river mobs for crafting materials. About 30 minutes in, I realized, “Hang on a minute. I’m farming mobs for crafting materials.” But I didn’t care, because playing with the underwater combat was so enjoyable in and of itself that I happily let Mr Skinner continue to tinker with his box for another 30 minutes before going to do something else.

    Something very important about GW2’s quests not seeming grind-y is how they’re set up. Specifically, no heart region overlaps another heart region. When I played RIFT, I quickly became irritated by a quest NPC sending me to region A to do X, then sending me to region B to do Y (which necessitated travelling through region A), then back to region A to do Z. “Why are you being so inefficient!” I cried in frustration. “If you want me to do all these things that necessitate travelling in or through the territory of the Green-Bellied Leafeaters – genociding their entire unnaturally aggressive species en-route – give me all the jobs at once!

    In GW2, you don’t have that problem. Once you finish all the objectives in a heart region, you won’t traipse over to the next one and be told you actually need to go back to the graveyard and put slightly different flowers on the doorsteps of the mausoleums. Each one takes place in a distinct area, usually with a different mixture of enemies.

  28. Kevin J. says:

    Well, NCSoft can thank you for another sale- just ordered it overnight from Amazon :)

  29. Amarsir says:

    A nice observation about “allies are really rivals”. I cut my teeth on CoH which had all meaningful content inside instances, so fighting for resources was always a drawback I associated with the shared world. Splitting credit on generous terms is a solution, though I think it could make completing any quest feel less significant.

    (I’ve been playing DCUO lately and it sort-of does that, meaning I sometimes got quest progress for something I’m pretty sure I didn’t do.)

    But I do like the design around area events. However, if too much of the game is that, you risk lacking critical mass once player populations move up. (Though you said it scales, I’m assuming these things lose a lot of appeal when you’re alone.) As boring as the “get 10 boar tusk” grind quests are, they do have the benefit of being solo’d or groupable.

    • AncientSpark says:

      That’s somewhat true. Anet has attempted to rectify this a little by making incentives to go back to previous areas. Level scaling is one, but also, going back and exploring the area entirely gives you bonus stuff.

      Also, in terms of events, you’re right in that some of them are plain ridiculous without a zerg mob rushing in to help you. Most of these events are marked as “Group Events” though, for convenience, so you can maybe get some people to help you out. And outside of group events, I think the rest of the events are probably soloable; I’ve done a lot of them solo or with some random person coming along.

    • Mari says:

      Yes, I’ve started to hit a few spots where there aren’t a gazillion people hanging around when an event starts up and some ARE hard without much help – but it’s pretty clear very quickly when that’s the case and I either backtrack out of the area until the event is over or in a case or two where I know there are people not tooo far away I’ve put a shout-out on the world chat and had more arrive quickly.

      And the biggest incentive I’ve seen so far for back-tracking to previous areas is resource-gathering. I’ve not progressed terribly well in my weaponsmithing craft and keep having to go back to starter areas to gather up resources to keep advancing there and inevitably get drawn into group events while doing so. Which is also nice for my daily achievements since they’ve been resetting every time you log in for a few days now and I’ve been taking advantage.

  30. daemon23 says:

    Much agreed, Shamus–this game is hitting a lot of excellent points. I am really enjoying the way weapons create a character’s tactical role to an amazingly broad extent–I tend to play my thief with sword-and-dagger, mostly, which pushes skills into a solid melee damage fighter with a nice flanking attack power, but can swap to the dual pistols for a single-target ranged combatant with some pretty solid damage. Or if I’m playing an event which it seems better, use a bow for more of a support-combatant role and the ability to strike multiple targets. The variety available makes the game much, much less of a grind than anything else I can think of.

    The only thing I don’t like are the little intrusions of the real money store things into the game. Every so often you get a special chest drop from a mob that can only be opened by special keys, and yes you get some during the story missions, but at this point I’ve got a dozen chests and no keys… unless I want to spend like $2 on a key. That just grates a little.

    • AncientSpark says:

      Yeah, Black Lion Chests are hella annoying. I got kind of a spree where one of the items in a Chest can randomly be another Black Key, so if you get super lucky, you can end up opening all your chests and have more XP boosts than you know what to do with.

      More often than not, though, you get items like Resurrection Orbs; very valuable items that are so much so that you just put them in your bank and never consider taking them out.

    • Vipermagi says:

      I also dislike the Black Lion chests. Currently holding onto 12 of ‘em, and they just keep on dropping :/ Still:

      You can buy gems for in-game gold, and map completion can also yield a key. Wouldn’t be surprised if loot chests can also hold keys, but these are surprisingly few and far between. I suspect that later on in the game, the first option is rather likely to rid of excess chests.

  31. cannibalguppy says:

    SPOILER WARNING!!!! COME ON!! :p guildwars is an mmo and therefore=boring

  32. Blake says:

    Be careful Shamus, you’re almost getting me to try out my first MMO.
    I don’t know if I have time for that kind of commitment! =o

    • Bryan says:

      I know I certainly don’t. (Plus the issues that wine may or may not uncover.) But yeah, I’m really wanting to look into this from these posts. :-/

      Figures that the first game that’s doing this in a long time is an MMO. Sigh. :-)

  33. The Rocketeer says:

    A lot of this makes me realize how ahead of its time a lot of concepts from FFXI were. I never played it myself, but my brother was a huge fan and I learned a lot about the game from him.

    The fruitless struggle of getting together a level-appropriate group was such a problem for a long time, Square eventually implemented a system were the whole party could scale to the level of a single party member. (If they were higher level; a lower-level player would stay as they were.) This functioned much like you describe it here; the scaled players’ stats and gear would scale down proportionally, and their abilities and spells would be limited by their effective level, and the characters would earn experience from mobs according to their scaled level. After seeing what a massive improvement this was over the old system of putting up a LFG flag and praying, I could never get my head around why no other MMO was doing this. I’m glad to see that at least one is.

    Another familiar concept is these world/group events, which seem to function like a Besieged event from FFXI. In Besieged, an enemy invasion force would attack the city, scaling to however many people were there, and everyone could work together to fight it off without needing to group into parties. Just a massive beastmen-versus-mercs free-for-all. Victory or loss in these events would affect the next round of events in some way, centering on who controlled whatever magic doodad they were fighting over. But the main parallel is that you would get experience from Besieged according to how you contributed, ie, warriors get exp from fighting monsters, mages from casting, healers from healing and raising or buffing or whatever. It was a neat system, but apparently the rules for how much exp. you could get were sort of byzantine and arbitrary. From what I heard, though, it more or less worked, and gaming the system was more trouble than it was worth.

    FFXI was a schizoid monster. Half of its ideas were uniquely progressive and innovative. The other half were the worst excesses and shortcomings of MMO’s cranked up to… well, to XI, I guess. The way everyone that has played it has described Guild Wars 2, it sounds like all diamond and no rough. I REALLY need to try this game out.

    • Joshua says:

      FWIW, City of Heroes has also had this for a long time (since about issue 3, released in Jan 2005, iirc). It started with being able to pull lower-teammates up to the a partner’s level in terms of combat stats (still with the same unlocked powers), then they added the reverse, where you could “exemplar” down to their level, lose your powers past that level and get double rewards but no XP. Eventually they removed the need to pair up, and everybody became set to the mission-holder’s level with normal XP rewards even if you were exemped down, and you could keep powers up to 5 levels above the mission. So you can pretty much team with anybody anywhere in the game, no problem… though a team of starting characters with one high-level might have some trouble with the high-level missions just because they don’t have all their good powers yet.

      I agree with you that once one MMO has done it, it seems like a blindingly obvious feature for MMOs to have.

  34. Pickly says:

    You almost talked me into getting this game as well.

    Unfortunately, about 1 hour per level (It was estimated at 1.5 hours per level back when I was following development) is still a really long time to spend leveling up, especially given the way I enjoy these types of games (playing most of the character classes to try the options.) That leveling time slows down the elements of the game I’d like significantly, which will make it a lot less fun.

    Its really too bad they stretched out the number of levels so much compared to Guild Wars, and than didn’t even include up-scaling, since there is a lot that seems cool in the game, and a big advantage of Guild Wars was the fast opening up of skills and areas.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Skills are not tied to your levels, except elite skills which are only available after level 30. Weapon skills unlock as you use the weapon and utility skills are bought with skill points which you gain either from leveling or from “skill challenges” found all over the world (there’s 3-7 or so in every area). The skill challenges can range from just visiting a place, to defeating an enemy to drinking some ancient ale.

      The number of slots you have for utility skills is limited by level though, one at level 5, two at level 10, and three at level 20. Put it’s the weapon skills you’ll be using most of the time, and if you want to test something out you can always go to the PvP training area.

      • Pickly says:

        I know how the skill system works, (have been following the game closely until a few months ago.) The limits on utility skills are a bit high, plus the limits on areas to explore, and other skill point and talent limits, push this into a “no buy” category.

  35. SyrusRayne says:

    Is anyone else unable to choose an American world to join? I only see European worlds in the list. Maybe the servers are down, or something, but I can’t really tell. It doesn’t even show “America” in the drop-down list.

    This wouldn’t really be a problem. If Canada were a part of Europe. (Spoiler; It’s not.)

  36. Trevel says:

    The important thing here is that you get XP appropriate to your actual level. This means I can take my level 15 character into the newbie zone and do the level 5 matches, and I’ll level just as quickly as playing in the level 15 zone.

    This seems to no longer be the case; at least, at level 32, I get ~300XP from level 3-8 events, rather than the ~1000XP I get from level-appropriate events.

    This doesn’t seem all that bad, but it’s not the same leveling speed at all.

    • Vipermagi says:

      You can generally complete the low-level events faster, too. Regardless, true.

      The statement was true for the beta far as I could tell, but it seems ANet scaled the rewards. You can still reliably level in lower level areas (map completion, yay), though.

  37. BlckDv says:

    The current bugs have managed to annoy me greatly. It may seem odd, but one of my great joys in MMO games is sharing. Both experiences and stuff. As of when I logged out last night, there was absolutely no way for me to give my wife the pile of crafting materials I had gathered for her.

    1. The game intentionally (from what I read), has no trade window. Which I could forgive except:
    2. The Trade Port (Auction House) has been broken for a while, meaning any sales have to be done via asynchronous mail with no way to verify you are not getting ripped off, but wait:
    3. In game mail has been now been disabled indefinitely.

    Leaving no method to transfer goods from one person to another. you can’t even drop them on the ground or allow someone else to have access to your loot if you don’t want it. I know no one here has anything to do with the game development side, but I needed to grumble a bit over what I see as a major failing for a social experience. I’m much more into “gifting” than “business” so the trust factor on the mail is more a theory issue than a major gripe for me, but I do see it as legit.

  38. Rack says:

    To me grinding is when I’m doing something I don’t enjoy in order to get the reward. I spent a couple of hours “grinding” in Space Marine multiplayer in order to get a feat for my chainsword in the co-op mode.

    This is where I say Guild Wars 2 is very “grindy” I play one of my faction quests which ends on a cliffhanger. The follow up quest is 2 levels higher. I have to spend 2 levels doing the open world stuff in order to get access to the next quest. Normally I spend an hour or so happily roaming around doing open quests, wandering around the map and participating in events, but this will only get me about half a level.

    The other problem is a real paucity of content. If you do all the hearts in an area, plus the dynamic event at each that will get you a third of a level. If you want to you can play all of the maps in Team Fortress 2 a couple of times as each character and that’s it. Following the Guild Wars 2 model you;d have to play each map 50 times before you were allowed on the next one. I can guarantee that a lot more people would call that grinding.

    Also apparently xp does not scale when you do lower level content, so no going back to content you enjoy in order to level up.

    • TheZoobler says:

      I keep on seeing people with experiences like this, and I still wish I could think of some way to help them.

      Right now my mains is level 30. I have only been to two zones: The Sylvari level 1-15 zone, and the Human 15-25 zone (Kessex Hills). I have 100% completion of both maps (all hearts complete, all landmarks discovered, all challenges met). I’ve been doing my story along the way (just finished my level 28 story step, with my next one being 31). The only really special thing I’ve done is a lot of crafting: I mine/chop/gather every resource node I see, and craft it all into bags or armor (gathering and crafting both giving xp). I’ve never had to visit any extra zones or do any PvP, and I’m 5 levels above the zone I just finished.

      I know for a fact that doing every heart in a zone will give you far more than 1/3rd of one level. That seems to be a misconception/exaggeration.

      But I do understand not really feeling like the levelling is paced right. You just kind of have to do two things. One, you have to realize that they just designed the story missions to be staggered by several levels. I think it sucks, because I love story, and I just want to do my story with no interruption from 1 to 80, but they designed the game intentionally to disallow that. Which does suck. But it’s not gonna change lol.

      So the second thing is figuring out how to overcome those roadblocks once you reach them. The answer is just to do whatever’s fun. Whenever I’m too low level for whatever I want to do next. Do I need more bags, or feel like just relaxing and gathering ore? Go craft. Do I feel like zergy siege PvP? Go WvWvW. Do I feel like exploring? 100% a zone/city. If I want to do events/hearts, do I go to the ones that are around my level for fastest xp, or a lower level area that sounds more interesting to me for slightly slower xp? I mean, the xp doesn’t fully scale, but the items do, and so far as a level 30 downscaled to level 3 I get about 60% of normal EXP for doing a low level event (400 xp for doing a level 3 event, 700-800xp for doing a level 30 event).

      I mean, sometimes you do have to change things up and do something different than you have been doing (crafting instead of eventing, PvP instead of PvE) but I’ve barely had to deviate from what I enjoy at all and have never taken longer than 45 minutes to level.

      I guess I just wish I had some way to help people who feel like they are levelling slowly, because there are always a thousand things you can do to gain xp, and gain it quickly.

  39. Vekni says:

    I don’t know that I’d say it took so long to figure out, I’d say it’s necessity of design:with no subscription cost, they’re invested in getting you what you want out of an MMO as quickly as possible. No wasted gear drops? Great! You’ll probably run that instance far less than with RNG, saving them pennies on server cost. It’s about making you feel better so that you play less overall.

  40. Rack says:

    Ahh no, doing every heart and one event in a zone gets you a third of the levels that zone is designed for not a third of a level. That’s not hyperbole by the way that’s from the official wiki.

    Unfortunately since I don’t enjoy crafting there doesn’t seem to be an option. I want to do story content and events, with the occasional bit of exploring. If I’m not doing that then whatever I’m doing ends up being grinding by my definition. I might kind of want to explore a city but I’m really doing it for the experience points more than the experience. That’s grinding by my definition but it only gets obnoxious when I’m hanging around a completed heart waiting for an already completed event to respawn.

    • TheZoobler says:

      Mmm :(.

      I know it isn’t a perfect solution, but have you tried 100%ing a map if/when you are in an exploring mood? Getting all the Points of Interest, Skill Points, Vistas, Waypoints, and Hearts?

      The little boost of xp you get from seeing a new vista or POI might not seem like a whole lot but it really adds up, and the treasure chest you get from completing the zone usually has half a level’s worth of xp over again, along with a lot of silver and a cash shop item lol. Plus, the Points of Interest in particular introduce you to some pretty interesting areas you may have overlooked, like a secret tunnel leading to an underwater frog-person village or another awesome waterfall.

      And maybe wandering around aimlessly would be better for discovering events than just sitting in one spot waiting for one to spawn: you might find ones that aren’t near any heart (lots like that) and are new to you or at least be mobile instead of stationary lol.

    • BlckDv says:

      I’d love to see more data on other people’s experiences. I’ve got two characters to level 10+ (no big achievement there) but had very different early “feel” leveling them, and have wondered if it is a matter of dumb luck or a real difference in starting areas.

      My intended main, a Sylvari Hunter, has leveled almost effortlessly. I have frequently been green arrowed (aka down leveled), and have always been at or above my story mission levels by the time I get to the icon to run them.

      By contrast, my Charr Warrior has been defeated a lot, and is usually fighting foes above his level. He got into crafting sooner than my Sylvari, but I still felt a need to run around killing random hostiles in areas I had completed before I felt safe going on to the next quest area.

      I am perfectly willing to accept that it is idiosyncratic to me, or a result of my playstyle that I have had two such different feels to the leveling curve, but It does make me wonder how much your race (and thus starting area) affects this feel.

      I have still been enjoying both, but the play of the Charr has had more of a “grind” vibe to it.

      • TheZoobler says:

        Yeah the levelling experience seems to be so radically different for veryone that I don’t know what to make of it. I’ve gotten a Charr Engineer to 12, a Norn Elementalist to 12, a human thief to 13, an asura necro to 15, and my Sylvari Warrior to 31 all in their respective starting zones (plus a level 15-25 zone on my sylvari).

        I haven’t felt slow or grindy on any character in any zone, and my engineer/thief don’t even craft. I think people just have different approaches to the game and different thresholds defining when the magic wears off and you just feel “grindy”. I am constantly excited to unlock my next skill, or see over the next hill, or gather a resource node, or experience a new event nearby, or complete an achievment…..etc etc etc lol. I enjoy everything so much I never even see my experience bar. People who watch the experience bar instead of the game seem to come off disappointed.

        I do think there is some luck involved though. Events give the best xp by far, spawning metric tons of enemies for xp and loot and giving a big fat reward at the end, with more events following after. If you see a lot of events in a small amount of time, huge levels. If you take time between seeing events, slower levels. If you are in the middle of slower levels and paying more attention to your xp bar… it must feel like a real drag lol.

        Edit: Does anyone have any idea what controls the little avatar you have in these comments? I had the frowny square ever since I first posted on this site and now I’m a happy triangle. Whaaaa? Lol

      • Adeon says:

        Well I started a Asura Engineer and have been leveling him up in the appropriate starting area. I’m only level 9 so far but I haven’t really felt like it was grindy at all. I did get a few cases where I repeated an event which was a little annoying but none of them were terrible.

      • Mari says:

        I’ve only got my main (a human guardian) so I’m probably not qualified to say too much on this but one thing that has seemed worth noting is that with her I made it to level 29 pretty well effortlessly. I mean, I really never even noticed my XP bar or level at all and on the rare occasions my eyes flicked to something level-related I was always amazed to note I was downleveled for the areas I was in. Then around level 29 it slowed down significantly for me. I’d fully explored most of the major cities, fully mapped the human starter area (Shaemoor) and the next area (Kessex) and the next (Gendarran Fields). I didn’t have ready access to any new crafting ingredients to unlock new recipes. I had been getting my “daily” achievements at least once a day and sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. But suddenly my personal storyline handed me a quest that was of a significantly higher level than where I was with no easy way to gain the difference. I could grind back through old areas or I could explore new ones and the next human area was also several levels above where I was right then. I’ve spent all day today crafting in my spare time and exploring Divinity’s Reach as a variety of transfigured animals (I got tired of all the stupid transfig. tonics taking up space in my bank and discovered that there’s something even more magical about D.R. when you’re flying just above the head level of a maxed out Norn.)

        • Vipermagi says:

          There’s an Asura Gate in Divinity’s Reach, Rurikton district. It leads to Ebonhawke in the Fields of Ruin, which is lv30-40 (or 45? Not sure). That’d be a good alternative to completing for example Diessa Plateau, the second Charr area.

          • Mari says:

            I was actually considering exploring the Diessa area anyway because apparently there are new-to-me cooking ingredients to be gotten there. LOL Cooking ingredients are what has fueled a LOT of my exploration.

        • Zukhramm says:

          Yeah I don’t even know how I leveld up. I haven’t completed a third of the first human zone but I made it to 20 with just playing there and two times in WvW.

    • Vipermagi says:

      Probably the best option is simply going to a different same-level area and completing the renown hearts there.

      Those numbers you pulled from the official wiki are rather deceptive. They don’t count kills nor any exploration, so you end up with a lot more experience than that. Additionally, it’s the ‘official wiki’, but the data is still only gathered by players :) Just like wikipedia, it won’t always be accurate.

    • Skyy_High says:

      Well, if you only plan on playing one character, you should be able go to all of the other race’s starting areas and level up there. Or get 100% in a zone or two. Run around and find some side events that are rarely seen; a lot of events or mobs only spawn when a person talks to a specific NPC, kills a specific mob, or picks up a particular environmental object (for example, just last night I was surprised by two (!) completely separate champion mobs just for wandering into an area and killing a few normal-looking grunts).

      Alternatively, there’s WvW. It’s not exactly story-focused, but there’s a lot to explore and it gets you great XP.

  41. ps238principal says:

    I think this is a pretty powerful review of the game: It’s brought this site to a “grinding” halt for two days now.

  42. This is completely off-topic, but it highlights some of the reason why “PC” ports suck.
    http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2914056

    Look at that changes list, kudos to the devs for listing what the path changes.
    But these changes should have been there when the PC port was released.

    Why is this so important? Because if somebody has completed the game then they are unlikely to start all over to experience it “like it should have been”.

    The same goes for any post release patches really, you first impression remains your first impression, so even if patch x.x make it all perfect the player has already had their first impression, a patch might mitigate that, or it might piss them off more.

    But back to that changes list. When porting from a console to a PC, wouldn’t ensuring that keyboard+mouse gameplay is working great be the highest priority? The gamepad stuff should already “just work” unless it’s broken.

    *shakes head in bewilderment*

  43. Venalitor says:

    The… the pic changed. Why did the pic change!?
    Awesome. Nothing, not Warhammer nor peer pressure, has gotten me to want to play an MMORPG as much as this review. Its *sniff* so beautiful. Now actually playing it depends on finances, which all things considered would probably be better spent on music and other recent titles I’m missing out on. Hmmm. back to Shogun 2 I guess. Gotta love those steamy sales.

  44. Dreadjaws says:

    Wow, wow, wow. And no, this is not a World of Warcraft analogy. I’m just really impressed by what I’m reading about this game. I almost feel sorry for having purchased Sleeping Dogs instead of this one.

    Almost, Sleeping Dogs is still awesome. You haven’t tried it yet by any chance, have you, Shamus?

  45. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Heya Shamus,

    What I’d really like to see from your blogzorz (fingers crossed) is something like this here article what you wrote on World of Warcraft. That is to say; What’s your favourite class/race? What tactics have you discovered in playing the game? What particular areas of the world do you particularly like?

  46. Steve C says:

    Here’s a great GW2 quest event. It’s pretty funny. It’s a very minor one and easily missed. It’s amazing how much effort was put into designing this given how unimportant it is.

    I found it myself by chance but also by chance it was completely bugged and stuck. I never knew how awesome it was until I watched this video. The relevant section is 10mins long.

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