Guild Wars 2: Your First 10 Levels

  By Shamus   Sep 17, 2012   232 comments

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So you’ve got Guild Wars 2 and you’re ready to get started. You’ve heard this game is a little different from other online games, and you’re wondering what you need to know. Or maybe you don’t have the game because you’re a big meanie who hates innovation, but you want to know what sorts of vibrant new ideas you’re boycotting. Whatever, I’m not here to judge. Here’s how it starts…

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I’m not going to cover race or class selection. That discussion is messy, complicated, and prone to heated debate and chest thumping. This early in the lifespan of a game, you can find criticisms of every class. And for everyone saying class X is too weak, there are a dozen people claiming your’re just playing it wrong.

“You died fighting Murdaar the Murderer, the Legendary Elite Champion Veteran Badass Boss King? Pfft. I solo’ed that guy last night. When I was three levels under him. Using starter weapons! Naked! While drunk, both in-game and IRL! It was piss easy! You must really suck.”

Just remember that this game does away with the long-standing Holy Trinity. While not all classes are equal, they should all be able to deal damage and heal damage to some degree. Everyone gets a self-heal. Everyone can deal area damage. Everyone can do burst single-target damage. The classes are radically different, but they’re all self-sufficient. Just pick one that sounds good and get on with it.

You have to pick a few bits of information about your character background. Some of these are minor or cosmetic, while others will have a significant impact on your personal questline. Sometimes you’ll get to choose a bit of gear. None of this is a huge deal, so don’t sweat it. By mid-game all the personal stories generally converge, so what you’re really doing is selecting your starting quests. As of this writing, I’m not aware of any mechanical difference between these. It’s all about flavor and, possibly, a very mild dash of actual roleplaying through dialog. Try not to freak out.

Tutorial time. You get dropped into the world and it should look like this:

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Weapons Skills: Five attack buttons. That’s all you get. You’ll have five buttons at level 2. You’ll have five buttons at level 80. You don’t spend the game acquiring new concurrent abilities until your screen looks like the dashboard of the space shuttle. You change these powers by changing the type of weapons you’re holding. This fixes the problem of the overabundance of toolbars and buttons, thus keeping your focus on the middle of the screen where the action is taking place.

A warrior with a two-handed sword will have one set of abilities, but if they switch to a sledgehammer they will have five different ones, and if they use a sword and shield they will have yet another set. The two-handed sword might focus on raw damage output while the sledge might feature knockdowns and knockbacks. You don’t choose your weapon by looking at the pure damage numbers and picking the higher one, you choose your weapon based on what you need to be doing at the moment. For an elementalist, the staff has lots of long-range powers that you’ll use if you’re fighting dangerous foes at a distance, while the smaller scepter has close-range attacks that are usually good for mopping up mooks.

Note that in the case of one-handed weapons, powers 1-3 are for your main hand and 4&5 are for the off hand. This means that using a sword and mace is different from using a mace and sword.

The same five powers? All the time? Doesn’t that get boring?!?! No, for the same reason that Batman: Arkham City isn’t boring with just four combat buttons. Complexity is not depth.

Self Heal: You start the game with a simple heal. Later on, you’ll gain access to other healing abilities. However, you can only have one slotted at a time. Perhaps you want to have a strong heal. Or the heal that will restore modest hitpoints and cure poison, fear, blindness, or whatever other hoodoo the bad guys put on you. Maybe you want a heal that gives a boost to running speed to aid your escape. The first one is good for “all-in” type players who generally fight to the death. The second is good for fighting exotic foes, bosses, or for PvP situations. The last one is for cautious players who hate dying. It’s more about strategy and playstyle than using the “best”.

Utility Skills: You’ll unlock these slots as you level up. You’ll have lots of possible powers to choose from, but you’re only able to slot three of them at a time. Again, this solves the control panel problem by making you choose the powers that suit your playstyle. You can slot passive abilities, add more attacks, or maybe give yourself some type of escape ability.

Elite Skill: It’s another utility slot, but for a more powerful sort of ability. Most of them are focused on “Summon or transform into something AWESOME” with a long cooldown. I can never remember to use this.

There’s no reason to linger in the tutorial. It’s specifically designed to ding you level 2 when the tutorial ends, so there’s no benefit to killing extra guys. To my knowledge, this is the only place in the game where it restricts you like this. Just kill the guys, do the thing. Watch the cutscene.

At the end of the tutorial you’ll have a boss fight. This fight is easy, but you should pretend its hard anyway because this is your big chance to get a grip on the combat. See, other online games – and World of Warcraft in particular – have taught you to play wrong. In other games, you hold still, stare at the cooldown timers at the bottom, and fire off the best powers as fast as possible.

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In Guild Wars 2, you need to watch your foes. Like, you need to look at the part of the window with the graphics in it. Foes will wind up for a big attack. Red circles will appear on the ground when some area attack is about to drop. You need to run around the field, avoiding these attacks and hitting the dodge key at the right moment. You don’t really babysit cooldowns. Some powers are better than others, but choosing powers is more about waiting for the right situation. Examples: An attack for plowing through a line of guys. An attack for putting up a flame wall. An attack to knock one foe down and interrupt the big swing they were about to perform. An attack to scatter guys. An attack to stunlock one guy for a few seconds. An attack that hits everyone in front of you in an arc. And so on. You have to get to know your class and their different weapons to really make use of it.

The point is, if you’re looking at the bottom of the screen, you’re doing it wrong.

Once the tutorial is over, an NPC will chat you up and give you a gentle shove out the door, suggesting that you go out and do some stuff.

Now you can start playing Guild Wars 2.

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If you open up the map you’ll see yellow hearts spread around. These hearts are goals, which everyone just calls hearts because why would you call them goals? I’m just saying. Hearts have replaced the idea of finding quest-givers with an “!” over their heads. Instead, as you enter the quest zone a description and progress bar appear in the corner. There are always multiple ways of progressing a quest like this. Kill the bad guys. Recover the stolen widgets. Set fire to the piles of bad-guy stuff. Steal plans. Basically, you’re either killing stuff or clicking on stuff. Actually, usually you can do either one. If you need to kill guys to loot items, the drop rate is always 100%.

One the progress bar fills up the quest-giver becomes a vendor. You can stop by for some post-job exposition, sell off your crap, and see what they have for sale. Usually every quest giver has something different.

As you do this quest, you’ll find yourself running past other players. You’ve no doubt seen other players in online games before, but your relationship to them is different in this game. If you see someone in a fight, you can just jump right in and help. You’re not “stealing” their kill because it’s impossible to do so. You both get full XP and a chance at loot, without needing to group up and bicker over drops. If the quest allows you to feed cows, then another player picking up a bag of feed doesn’t deny you the chance to get it, and if they feed a cow you can still feed it yourself. If someone dies, you get XP for reviving them. If you die, you’ll save on equipment repairs if someone revives you.

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The worst thing a player can do is not help you, and the incentives are all pushing them to help you as much as they can. They more they help others, the more XP they get.

This means that players tend to form transient little ad-hoc groups. They run around together killing stuff, because it’s faster if other players are helping and there’s safety in knowing there’s someone nearby to pick you up if you go down. As people begin working on the heart they’ll join the cluster, and as other players finish they run off. It’s all seamless and nothing is there to break the flow.

As soon as you’ve got a couple of silver to your name, look for a vendor selling this sort of stuff:

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You’ll want a salvage kit, a sickle, a wood axe, and a mining pick. I know in other games you’re limited to gathering certain things and you need special training. Here, anyone can harvest anything. Harvest plants (yields cooking supplies) chop trees (yields stuff for crafting weapons) and mine ore (stuff for making armor) even if you don’t plan on doing any crafting yourself. This stuff is worth a good bit of money and experience.

You can use the salvage kits to break items down into raw crafting materials.In some cases, it might be better to sell the item itself. In others, the crafting materials might be worth more. As of this writing, Jute – the lowest-tier material for tailoring – is suffering from an incredible shortage, and you can make a lot of money by salvaging cloth armor. Leather? Not so much. This will all change as they tweak the drop rates, I’m sure. Maybe you’ll want to stockpile supplies in hopes of doing some crafting yourself. Maybe you’ll save the materials to sell them at the trading post. Whatever. You’ll have to experiment with this to see what works for you.

Sooner or later your inventory will fill up. Probably sooner, since you’re a new player with a new character and thus you’ve got the storage capacity of a an Altoids canister. Before you flog all of that random stuff at the vendor, look for this button:

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That will magically transport all of your crafting materials into special sorted slots in your bank space. You can do this at any time. There is a special slot for every crafting material in the game. There are a lot. These slots look like this:

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That’s a picture of the slots just for food. There’s another bank of slots for raw building materials, another for the odd knickknacks needed to make magic items, and so on. Basically, raw crafting materials can be stored for free without devouring your general store space and they can be magically sent into storage at any time. Sick of hauling around materials in other games? Did you ever get back out in the field in WoW and suddenly realize you’ve got 4 bags full of engineering crap? Get sick of moving stuff in and out of inventory when you want to transition from crafting to questing? Not a problem here. When you’re done crafting, just click that button to dump the stuff into the bank. Also, crafting tables can draw materials from the bank without you needing to move them to personal inventory.

Heads up: The general bank space you DO have is NOT large. And is shared between all characters. Use this to trade items between your chars.

Eventually you’ll hit a bit of a gap, where you’re level X and the only available heart is X+2. That’s doable, but if you keep going eventually you’ll face X+3 and X+4, and sooner or later that will halt your forward progress.

The thing is, we’re used to the idea of “do all the quests in this area and you’ll be ready to move on.” The trick here is that there is more to the game than just doing hearts, and that is taken into account when awarding XP:

Do story missions. Story missions are instanced adventures, meaning they take place in your own private zone and not in the open world. They tell the story of your character, eventually sweeping you up and carrying you along to take part in the larger conflict. There is always a green star on the map, showing you the way to the current story mission. One annoying thing with story system is that they go up in level as you progress, and if you’re too high it doesn’t scale you up. This means that you’ll reach other end of one quest where King Fancypants tells you to hurry to the village of Bumpkin, where bandits are about to burn down the kitten orphanage. Hurry! But that’s the next quest in the chain, and it’s two levels higher than you. So you go back to the open-world adventuring and faffing about until you’re high enough.

The bad guys are sporting enough to wait, but it can really take the momentum out of a quest line when this happens.

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Other starting areas. Somewhere around your home city you’ll find this purple stargate thingy called an Asura Gate. Jump on through to teleport to Lion’s Arch, the hub city of the gameworld. From there you can jump to one of the other species cities, and do their starting area. The leveling curve is gentle, and you can still make great progress at level 8 if you’re doing level 3 quests.

Do events: Events continue to pump out XP, so if you find one you like then just hang around and do it. In the human areas there’s a set of pipes. Sometimes bandits come to put poison in them. If you fail to hold them off, there will be another event to gather materials to cure the poison. (You get XP either way.) If you succeed, the bandits will try to blow up the pipes. If you succeed they might try the poison again, while if you fail you’ll have another event where you defend the repair crew. Hang around as long as you like, fighting the bad guys and gaining XP.

Crafting. According to the folk-knowledge of player chat, mastering a crafting profession is worth ten levels. If you’re completely new to the game you probably don’t have the materials to get rolling on this, but it’s an easy way to grab a few levels once you’ve built up your supply.

Exploring: You get XP for finding “Vista Points”, which are these floating icons tucked away in hard-to-reach locations. You get XP for harvesting raw materials. You get XP for visiting new places. You get XP for beating various bosses that lurk in the corners of the map and who give out skill points that you can use to unlock new stuff for your utility slots. Basically, get out there and do stuff.

So that’s your first ten levels. By this point you should be able to tell if you love the game or if you want to curse me for hyping it up so much. And if you hate it? Well, they have Kung-Fu Pandas in World of Warcraft now. Maybe that’s more your thing.


A Hundred!A Hundred!2012232 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. Zagzag says:

    This is an absolutely excellent guide the the early game, explaining what is so different and good about it. If anyone reading this hasn’t tried out the game yet, this might well give you the incentive to do just that.

    Also you might want to get this fixed. It seems like half a sentance is missing: Jump on through to teleport to Lion’s Arch, the hub city of the gameworld. From there you

    • ACman says:

      Well that’s why you need to go through to Lions Arch and hit up some of the other race’s starting zones.

      Though it really would have been nice if the game had given a little guidance advising that you could do that earlier. I spent a lot of time faffing about in the Charr (The only interesting race) starting area. I admit I was mostly farming materials for crafting but it would have been nice to check out some other areas earlier.

      • Mari says:

        Gah. Having a human character I started out in a lovely little country-side setting. Eventually I ported to LA and explored all the cities and then did all the other starting areas. I learned that I despise the Char areas and have to bribe myself into completing them by alternating them out with other, less post-post-apocalyptic areas. I’m in stupid Blazeridge Steppes right now but I keep getting sick of it and going over and doing Timberline Falls just to give my eyes a break from the desolation for a while.

        • Robyrt says:

          I had the same feeling. “Why didn’t anyone tell me I could ditch the Charr starting area for something much less Warhammer?”

        • BlckDv says:

          Reading posts like this makes me respect how clever ArenaNet has been with the game design. I *love* the Charr starting area, but while I admire the aesthetic cohesion and look of the human area, it does nothing for me and I want to get out of it ASAP (after pausing to slaughter a few dozen centaurs. DEATH TO CENTAURS!) . I flee to Charr and Sylvari areas. But, I see many other players bemoan the looks of the Charr or Asura areas, and express a desire for a more “natural” fantasy, and praise the human areas. AreanaNet has made a game where we can all be happy, for the relatively minor hassle of hustling through a pair of portals if you have a strong drive to play a race that jars with the look you want.

          • Mari says:

            LOL And I love the LOOK of the Asuran areas (well, except the capital city – Rata Sum gives me vertigo) but I kind of hurried through Metrica Province because, to be honest, the map chat going on there was really getting on my nerves. It was apparently where all the elitist “if you’re not soloing mobs ten levels above you you’re just a lame loser” types were hanging out at the time.

            But, yeah, you have to admire that ArenaNet really succeeded in “something to keep everyone happy” in terms of the visuals. I totally get why a lot of people would love the Char areas – I mean, post-apocalyptic wasteland is kind of a HUGE cinematic and literary genre for a reason. Then you have the frozen wastes of the Norn areas, the pastoral beauty of the human area, the delightful “nature fantasy” of the Sylvari, or the interesting contrast of the Asuran “techno-jungle.” It was a very smart move on their part and I think it’s panning out well for them.

            • krellen says:

              Just turn off map chat. You’re not missing anything.

              • Mari says:

                But I would be missing something. Occasionally in map chat I’ve learned how to hit difficult vistas and skill point challenges and even POIs that I’m not sure I could have found otherwise. Like the sewer one in Lion’s Arch. Picked that one up in map chat. Several others, too. Granted, it’s balanced with random stuff that I definitely wouldn’t miss like gold-farmer spamming (yes, I report), and the occasional troll, and the folks that were hanging around Metrica Province.

  2. Joshua says:

    I can also strongly recommend picking up the crafting tools like the sickle, axe and mining pick. Do *not* have the attitude of “Well, I’ll just play the game for a bit and then when I get settled in, maybe I’ll go back and start working on that crafting stuff. Even if you’re not planning on using the crafting items you make, you’re still getting xp for making them and advancing your craft.

    Do not vendor crafting materials, especially trinkets. After awhile, you may have more than enough iron ingots, but you’ll seldom have too many totems, venom sacs, etc.

    Do not advance your crafting by just constantly churning out one recipe over and over again. It is almost universally better to advance your crafting by discovering new recipes.

    I am glad that Shamus pointed out the issue with questing not bringing up enough xp. Most other games will have issues where you begin to out-level the quests in an area, because you don’t have to do *all* of them. In GW2, I did all of the quest hearts in Queensdale and otherwise got 100% in the zone, did a healthy number of events, and maybe even dinged my daily score. By the end of that, I was level 12. In a level 1-17 zone.

    Working on your crafting and personal story quests will help make up this gap.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      OTOH, spending karma profligately does limit things later in the game. You can start using special “cultural” weapons at level 40, and boy-howdy are they expensive to buy. You CAN buy them, but you’ll need nearly 10,000 karma points for even the starter ones, which is what you’ll likely acquire in the entire journey to level 40. Yes, points mount up faster later, but it’s still a chuck if you’ve spent most of the points on mining picks and bell peppers for crafting.

      The point about XP capping out before the area levels do is true. But there’s one of those areas *for each of the five races*. Queensdale done? Caledon, Metrica, Wayfarer Foothills or Ashford are five minute of running and teleporting to reach and you’ll be level 30 before you’ve finished the third area.

      • Ateius says:

        “Yes, points mount up faster later, but it’s still a chuck if you’ve spent most of the points on mining picks and bell peppers for crafting.”

        Worth noting that all harvesting and salvaging tools can also be bought for normal coin, not just karma. In the human starter zone, talk to the merchant in the Shaemoor inn. There’s usually a similar NPC in each town/fort.

        I am a proponent of spending your karma at heart NPCs to upgrade your accessories and rings every 5 levels or so, though, since those things have a drop rate of like 1/1000000.

        • Nick-B says:

          I find that, however, rings and amulets and accessories are far behind the same trinkets you can make using jeweling (Jewelcrafting? Jewelry?). Not only can you pick the stats you want on it, it also comes pre-inserted of the gem with the exact same stats too. I find I never buy anything but weapons and very rarely armor from the vendors, and have even taken to not even doing that any more.

        • Grampy_Bone says:

          I’m pretty sure accessories don’t drop from mobs at all. If you don’t take jewelcrafting then you are supposed to buy accessories from karma vendors after completing their heart.

          Also, the karma weapons you buy in town are not worth the effort. Heart vendors will sell you decent gear to keep up with the mobs while you level for much cheaper, and there are easier ways to get better exotics at 80.

          • Vipermagi says:

            I actually found a ring on a monster. Once. Note: I have two characters over level 50 and one at level 10 ish.

            Agreed on the karma weapons. However; appearances are important, and Cultural weapons can have some pretty badass skins :P

          • Canthros says:

            I’ve found a couple rings and amulets over the course of play. Not a lot, though, and it was much more reliable to buy or craft them.

  3. Zukhramm says:

    The same five powers does seem to get boring to me, and only three utility slots with very few skills to choose from doesn’t make me more excited. At 25 I hit the “have I really experienced all the game has to offer or is there more?”-point. I don’t know if I have or not, I won’t bother playing until I have a new computer anyway.

    A tip on saving money: Buy salvage kits with karma. Actually, buy anything you can with karma. Karma is essentially the quest-reward replacement.

    • Thomas says:

      And the combat in Arkhum Asylum definitely got boring by the end of the game too =D At least for me, and it bored my friend enough that he didn’t complete it (I’ve got no idea why the story wasn’t a big enough draw for him. He didn’t complete Deus Ex: HR either :( )

      • cyber_andyy says:

        I didn’t complete Deus Ex due to the stupid second boss fight.

        • Nick says:

          If you want to revisit it, I recommend the Typhoon upgrade – on normal difficulty, two Typhoon blasts will kill her. The Typhoon is basically a ‘skip the bossfights’ button. There are videos on youtube for doing all the bossfights in under a minute each – and I really enjoyed the gameplay in DE:HR, so I think it’s worth another shot.

          But yeah, I can see how you’d get annoyed at that bossfight :)

        • Incunabulum says:

          That’s exactly where I dropped the game to. After the first boss fight I said to myself “that sucked but the rest of the game is fun, and I did beat him even if it was more happy accident than skill and planning (ok, way more luck)”. After the second time the second boss jumped out of stealth and beat me down inside of 30 secodns i decided that the rest of the game wasn’t enough fun to be worth fighting through these checkpoints.

          The bossfights left such a bad taste in my mouth that even after getting cheatcodes for the pc I didn’t want to play again.

    • Vipermagi says:

      I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 at all yesterday, which was a first since release. I miss the pool of over one thousand skills to choose from, which is present in the first game.

      Traits allow you to specialise in specific areas, such as Staff skills, or you can make your Shout skills heal allies. They can quite radically alter your build, honestly… But it’s not enough to sate that appetite for me.

      Here’s an example, for the Necromancer. The Necromancer’s profession-specific ability is to enter Death Shroud. You gain Life Force from nearby kills and specific abilities. This Life Force bar is used in stead of your health bar when you enter Death Shroud. It drains over time when you’re in Death Shroud. Return to your normal form, and it recharges for 10 seconds.
      You get four skills in Death Shroud:
      -Life Blast. Single target, huge damage.
      -Some weird skill that I never use. Inflicts Freeze and teleports you.
      -Two-second Fear
      -Life Transfer. Deal damage to all nearby enemies and gain Life Force per hit.

      With Traits, you can reduce the drain over time. You increase the size of your Life Force pool. Reduce the recharge on DS skills. Boring, but effective.
      Life Blast can be traited to grant Might, and to inflict Vulnerability and pierce enemies. Those two traits alone make LB very deadly.
      You can cast Enfeebling Blood when you enter Death Shroud (deal damage, inflict Bleed and Weakness, if memory serves). You can halve the recharge so you can cast Enfeebling Blood more often.
      Life Transfer can be traited to heal allies as well.
      Critical Hits can grant 1% Life Force.

      The build focuses on using weapon and utility skills almost solely to charge Death Shroud.
      It’s a pretty fun build… But you’re still using the same weapon skills. Eh.

      I seem to be the only person in the guild to suffer from this though.

  4. Pearly says:

    That’s mean, Shamus. My computer won’t even run Guild Wars 2.

  5. Thomas says:

    Unless healing and abilities are exactly equal for all classes, you will always eventually have Healer and DPS roles. In an MMO there’s always a group of people pushing for the highest difficulty possible and the very highest difficulty will always require maximum efficiency, so unless exactly equal in output, you’ll have healing classes and damage classes.

    Tank was always more of a design choice it seems to me, but if you have calcuable agro then eventually tanks will appear.

    It’s not as cut from game to game and their are lines on the difficulty before you need people in those roles, but they’re basically fundamental to hitpoint conflict. You can widen it to support and crowd control but unless you don’t have hitpoints, there’ll always be tank and DPS.

    WoW has lots of classes all working different ways with different abilities, it’s only thought of as Tank/DPS/Heal because they’re how fighting works. I mean look at League of Legends, they have all that variety, huge arrays of skills and advantages and differents ways to move and use the battlefield, and people still talk of AP Carry, Tank, DPS and Heal (maybe Push too)

    • Zukhramm says:

      The thing is, even those classes that can heal other do not have very many healing skills, and most are not very effective. I know it was intentional, but I actually enjoyed playing the healer, and I’m sad to see them gone.

      • Aldowyn says:

        The best I’ve seen so far is the ele, but all of the healing skills I’ve seen from them are over time heals – geyser and rain (water attunement staff skills) are both HoTs I believe. It’s just a bit of extra sustain, really.

    • Skyy_High says:

      Certain classes do have “heal other” types of abilities, but these abilities are always on very long recharges and/or heal for positively TINY amounts compared to your health pool and your self-heal. Basically, it is flat out numerically impossible for any class, even the “supporting” classes, to keep someone alive indefinitely just by using their heal skills.

      Aggro seems to be based on a number of conflicting factors, and right now it’s nearly impossible to predict. The one thing that we know to be true is that no matter how defensively you spec your character, you cannot run a dungeon as “the tank” who gets hit all the time, because you will not survive.

      @Athan: that’s only true for thieves. For everyone else, slot 3 is solely determined by your mainhand weapon.

    • Vipermagi says:

      You can build full-tank in GW2, but you’ll be quite underpowered. Sure, you can take a few hits more than your allies (literally a few), but monsters just ignore you because you are not a threat. Bosses still throw AoEs on the clusters of “DPS” who all suddenly explode because they have zero toughness/vit and forgot to dodge out of the danger circle. Then the boss melee’s you four times and you’re also dead. In the mean time, you’ve dealt a paltry amount of damage. Everyone’s dead and you did jack shit to stop it.
      (this is assuming a dungeon run, by the way, which is the only situation in which anyone should ever think of going “tanky”)

      My guild (of four) did an Explorable Mode run of Ascalonian Catacombs. Our Guardian was specced for both damage and survivability. He had a bunch of armor, but Guardians have low health (just the way it is). I, as a Necro, had a similar spec. High toughness, but as a Necro, I get tons of health too.
      He could summon a dome that absorbs all incoming projectiles, or cast a boon on all of us that blocks the next attack. He has two Blinds, which causes the next attack to miss. Alongside that, his damage skills actually dealt damage, because he didn’t forget to spec damage. My skills allowed me to deal a lot of damage to a wide area (Staff), and deal more damage to large areas (Well utility skills). I guess I also had a one-second Fear?

      What I’m saying is, being a “tank” means using your skills to prevent damage, not simply standing next to the enemy and hoping he’s too stupid to one-shot the damage dealers.

      As for healing abilities: we actually have someone specced for Healing. It’s really noticable. However, that is taken over the duration of a fight. He spews forth Regeneration and Heal over Time with the Elementalist Staff skills. As others pointed out, the direct heals aren’t strong compared to your maximum health and damage output on monsters. You really need to spec Healing Power to make them useful at all. Alongside that, he of course specced damage output because we are not dumb.

    • Shamus says:

      Some will focus on one thing or another, yes, but you don’t get stuck in pre-determined group-design like in WoW. If you’ve got five people for a dungeon, you can do the dungeon, without saying, “Crap, we have to kick Bob and find some random stranger, because we need someone to tank for us.”

      • Thomas says:

        My logic was faulty anyway, Tank and Healer are both designed into the game, so the only one it would have to be is on the highest difficulties everyone has to play the most optimal DPS, because if they can manage with Bob in a non-optimal DPS then it’s easy to do it with him in optimal DPS.

        … but if most of the classes are fairly DPS equal then really it’s just not the sort of game I was thinking of. And you can still have fun team strategy if you balance the numbers so people in support classes are roughly as useful as one person doing more DPS. So I was really talking nonsense :D

      • Nick-B says:

        Coming as a cloth wearer who only plays co-operatively with my friend who is a plate wearing guardian, I can attest that there is essentially a “tank” in this game. Here are a few insights:

        I can kill things faster than him. Admittedly, he did experiment a bit with a ton of +vit and +toughness gear and spec, and he does take a while to drop, but there is no way I can take the same amount of hits as he can. Plus his self healing (I still can’t seem to get him to explain what heals him) means I don’t have to go water as staff all that often (elementalist)

        Monsters do NOT have a predictable aggro table, but generally favor melee first. One time, my friend went afk. To protect him, I started firing at a drake that was off to the side, might have attacked if he wandered too close. I had it to half health by the time it got in melee range of us, and COMPLETELY IGNORED ME. It instead decided to start biting my afk friend who hadn’t even touched him, and eventually died from my fireballs to it’s back. Sometimes, a monster will just focus on me, totally ignoring the 5 or 6 other guys attacking it in melee, while I take use of cripple effects and dodges to avoid all damage.

        Long story short, it seems that tanks (or high armor/toughness/vit characters) sort of exist in this game, but “healing” is pretty MIA.

        • krellen says:

          Guardians have a virtue – class ability, the function key things – that grants them continuous regeneration while recharged. They also have several healing abilities, the strongest of which seems to be their healing signet, which removes conditions while inactive and heals a giant share of health when activated.

        • Skyy_High says:

          “Sometimes, a monster will just focus on me, totally ignoring the 5 or 6 other guys attacking it in melee, while I take use of cripple effects and dodges to avoid all damage.”

          That’s why, as you noticed, you can’t take as many hits as your guardian friend: as a cloth-wearing ranged character, you have a ton of CC to keep monsters away from you. If you were to swap to dagger-dagger, you’d get a bunch of shields and blinds that would allow you to have comparable melee-range survivability. Either way, you use your skills to make up for your lack of armor. Your guardian friend has about the same amount of base HP as you do, though, and he’ll drop just as quickly as you to stacked conditions.

      • Grampy_Bone says:

        I have been doing Citadel of Flame runs lately and I can attest that the single greatest impact on your success/failure in the dungeon is player skill. I play thief and I have done runs with all squishy characters (elementalist, mesmer, engineer) and no one dies and its super easy. I’ve also done runs with tougher tank-esque characters like guardian and warrior and they drop every single fight.

        Its important to know not just how to dodge but which of your skills have evade frames. I rarely go down and never die in these runs, I guess maybe not a lot of MMO players are Devil May Cry fans? :D

    • Incunabulum says:

      And the aggro is wierd – everyone aggros from proximity but you’ll see some mobs break off and jump on the guy in the back stacking conditions no matter what the “tank” does to keep their atention.

      I find that its incredibly easy for my thief to get a boss’ attention simply by running up and dropping caltrops – a moderate DOT – in the middle of a furious melee. Then I get to run in circles while it hobbles after me.

  6. Athan says:

    “Note that in the case of one-handed weapons, powers 1-3 are for your main hand and 4&5 are for the off hand. This means that using a sword and mace is different from using a mace and sword.”

    There’s a wrinkle to this. Actually MainHand only chooses slots 1 and 2, Offhand chooses 4 and 5, the combination chooses slot 3. You can also choose specifically to only equip mainhand, and that may (it doesn’t for Warrior with Sword) give a different slot 3 again (the offhand is called ‘light’ when you have none).

    i.e. a Thief with only a Pistol equipped has:

    1 – Vital Shot
    2 – Body Shot
    3 – Repeater

    Add a 2nd Pistol in off-hand and you have:

    1 – Vital Shot
    2 – Body Shot
    3 – Unload
    4 – Head Shot
    5 – Black Powder

    Change the Off-hand to a Dagger and you have:

    1 – Vital Shot
    2 – Body Shot
    3 – Shadow Strike
    4 – Dancing Dagger
    5 – Cloak & Dagger

    • Zukhramm says:

      That’s actually just a special thief mechanic. For everyone else, mainhand determines 1-3.

    • Mephane says:

      This applies only to the thief profession. All others have slots 1-3 tied stricly to the main hand weapon.

    • JFink says:

      Yeah, Thieves are weird that way, but for the other classes*, it’s Main Hand 1-3, Off Hand 4&5.

      *Note I have only played at any great length Mesmer and Ranger, and dabbled a bit with Thief, Guardian, and Engineer. So I can’t say for certain that it’s only Thieves that are odd.

      • Moriarty says:

        Well Elementalists are “odd” as well, because they can’t change weapons in combat, but have four different elements they can attune to, which changes all their weapon skills.

        • Vipermagi says:

          Engineers also don’t get a weapon swap, but their heal and utility skills include Kits, which replace weapon skills. My tip? Grenades.

          • Lovecrafter says:

            Actually, I’d nominate the flamethrower as the engineer weapon kit of choice. High and continous damage in a moderately-sized cone plus several utility skills to help out in a tight spot. Plus, if you max out the Firearms trait, you can get an ability that gives you a whopping 300 extra toughness if you have a flamethrower out.

            • Vipermagi says:

              The grenades get you two AoEs per attack, and a good attack rate. With a Grandmaster trait, you upgrade that to three AoEs per attack. For enemies you can line up effectively, the Flamethrower is astonishing, but the grenades are just more convenient for more spread-apart groups :P
              (and, well, range means you can ignore any and all defense and only stack damage/crit)

  7. Athan says:

    “Basically, raw crafting materials can be stored for free without devouring your general store space and they can be magically sent into storage at any time.”

    Caveat, this is not true of the Rare/Exotic crafting materials. You’ll need to use conventional bag/bank space for those and actually go to a bank NPC if you want to put them in there.

    “Also, crafting tables can draw materials from the bank without you needing to move them to personal inventory.”

    Currently true for actual crafting, but not yet for Discovering (the method of finding most new recipes in a craft, and the best way to get XP in it). You’ll actually have to withdraw things to do Discoveries.

    • Aldowyn says:

      It’s just SPECIFIC rare ones, as far as I can tell. Some yellows go in, some don’t. It’s irritating.

      And withdrawing things for discoveries isn’t really that big a deal since you’ll be mostly using intermediate components that don’t go into collections anyway.

      • Skyy_High says:

        Sadly not true for cooking, nor for potion making (artificer).

        • Aldowyn says:

          artificers can make potions? I didn’t know that.. :/

          It’s GENERALLY true, but a lot of people seem to like cooking :D

          • Skyy_High says:

            Check out some of the ostensibly “cooking” ingredients; some of them say that they’re useful for artificers too (sage comes to mind). These things are used to make potions. You also use fine crafting ingredients like shimmering dust and vials of blood, and always at least 1 jug of water (purchasable from the master artificer for copper).

            The potions, as far as I can tell, all do things like +x% damage against certain enemy types. Not nearly as useful as cooking, but they are very helpful when you’re trying to level artificer through discovery mode.

  8. Mephane says:

    That’s funny, for a moment I wondered how Shamus got access to my bank and cooking materials. Mine look (behold, I have chili) almost exactly the same, including the outlyer of a handful of oranges surrounded by yet-to-be-discovered ingredients.

    In regards to story missions outlevelling you – I have never had this situation. Which is not so odd considering that I spent far too much time running off the path doing weird stuff like jumping puzzles above the clouds or spending a night just exploring all of the major cities. On my main char, I am usually about 10 levels above my main story quest, which does not make it easier (you are downscaled in story instances), but allows me to complete several in a row and then taking a break from them during a moment that I find appropriate, not creating a cliffhanger for myself.

    Now for something completely different; I disagree that the annoying shuffling around of crafting materials is gone. Particularly for cooking, you will get a lot of in-between stuff like various types of dough, salt+pepper (this is its own type of item, and there exist salt and pepper as separate items, too), herb mixtures etc.
    These tend to pile up, they cannot be stored in the special “crafting material” bank, but take up that valuable and limited regular space, and when you are not just producing a set amount of a given recipe, but experimenting and discovering recipes (which is both advisable and the intended way to level up all crafting professions). Also, you cannot experiment with materials from the bank, although if I recall correctly that is a feature slated to come soon, and just did not make it in time.

    • Shamus says:

      It’s true the in-between cooking steps eat bank space and can be annoying. I actually upgraded my bank space because of this. However, this has only been a problem in cooking so far. I didn’t get into it because I was trying to stick to stuff that was relevant to the first ten levels.

      • Mephane says:

        You are right, it would have made the post digress too deep into detail not relevant at the start, and mostly moot for even longer if you’re not going to learn cooking.

      • Mari says:

        It’s also true to a lesser extent with weaponsmithing. My actual bank space is divided into roughly thirds. One third is meta-game stuff like transmutation stones, mystic coins, the stupid buffs I keep getting out of Black Lion chests, etc. One third is in-between cooking ingredients that can’t be stored in the materials pane and I can’t yet use them to make the next progression of a recipe(either level is too low or an ingredient is not yet available to me). The last third is the huge variety of wooden dowels that are an in-between weapon-making item and an assortment of things called slivers, fragments, and shards that appear to come in four tasty flavors (onyx, molten, destroyer, and crystal) and are apparently for use in weapon-crafting as well but it takes two of the same kind to do anything discoverable and I only have one of each.

        • Aldowyn says:

          Why do you have all the dowels made? I try not to make dowels unless I can make the final item to limit exactly that problem :/

          • Mari says:

            On one occasion I made a huge stack of dowels because I wasn’t paying close enough attention and thought I was making planks. On another occasion I made a small stack of dowels because I was getting XP for making them and was incredibly close to my next crafting level so I pre-made some. The small stack I ended up using but the stack of like 80-odd soft wood dowels that I inadvertently made I ended up just selling on the trading post for next to nothing to clear out the inventory space since I was crafting well beyond that level already anyway.

        • Skyy_High says:

          Don’t make dowels unless you have the materials to make the full weapon, and sell your slivers if you are running out of space / don’t need them / don’t care to discover the recipes. Low level slivers only make weak sigils / runes anyway, nothing you’re going to die without.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          This is really funny when you think about it. Imagine going up to the safety deposit agent in some old musty stone-arched building. You’re carrying a basket, which contains a lump of rising dough, covered lovingly with a red and white cloth.
          “Hello Ma’am, how can I help you today?”
          “Oh, I’d like to pop this dough in my box if you please?”
          “Of course Ma’am. A special occasion?”
          “Well you could say so. You see, I just know I’m not skilled enough of a baker to do this dough justice, but I’ve got an idea in mind…”
          “It will be waiting for you whenever you return Ma’am.”

          Two months, and one lump of fetid dough later…

          • Mari says:

            Or better yet, “You might say so. This is my best batch of dough yet and I want to use it for something very special. I’m going on a world tour to find some artichokes and eggplant to put in it. I’ll be back for it in a couple of months, once I’ve found a place where I can buy them.”

  9. Tuck says:

    I want this game. :(

    But I can’t afford it, since I’ve already bought the Riders of Rohan expansion for LOTRO…so I’d best play that instead.

    (and to be honest there is still tons and tons of content in LOTRO that I’m keen to play through)

  10. ENC says:

    So many issues though, especially latency related if a zone reaches even half capacity. Speaking as an Aussie here anyway.

    Balance is somewhat of a mess, quests are more competitive than ever with so few spawns and so few quests in each zone. When you’re leveling to 80 you will essentially use more than 7/8 of the quests, whereas in something like WoW you may use 2/3 tops.

    But it is a nice game to play if I’m feeling bored from Dota 2, FTL, or Metro 2033 on the weekends.

  11. Dragomok says:

    Speaking of Mists of Pandaria, what sets monks apart from other classes? I heard that Blizzard initially wanted them to have no auto-attack but scrapped the idea. And turned them into one that fulfills different path of Holy Trinity depending on specialisation.

    • Adam P says:

      The monk has a two-resource system: chi, and energy. If you’re the healer specialization (Mistweaver), then you use mana instead of energy. You use abilties that consume energy (or mana) to generate chi, then you use abilities that consume chi. When you keep debuffs up or meet certain conditions, you’ll sometimes get a proc that lets you use your chi-based abilities for free.

      There is the tank spec (Brewmaster) that is essentially playing a drunken master. You’ll get more abilities that mitigate damage* and your survival is now based on how well you play instead of your gear.

      There’s the healer spec (Mistweaver) that comes in two flavors. You can stand back at range and heal like a traditional healer, or you can get up in melee and, by way of procs and whatnot, heal just as well (if not better) when you’re punching the Bad Guys in the toe.

      Then there’s the DPS spec (Windwalker) that sort of plays similarly to the Monk class in Diablo 3: punch dudes, use utility skills, keep punching dudes.

      The cool thing about the monk is that they have a lot of mobility. They can do a “flying serpent kick” that is essentially like the Warrior’s Charge ability, except the monk can choose if they want to overshoot their target or stop short. Monks can also roll in any direction, and you get 2 charges for the roll; rolling works like the teleport skill from the now-defunct Shadowrun FPS, where the direction you are moving is the direction you will roll.

      * Every class has some sort of damage-mitigation ability and some sort of self heal now, so you can do dungeons from 15 to 80 without a dedicated tank or healer. You’ll need to exercise caution if you do this, and bring lots of food and bandages.

      • Dragomok says:

        That… sounds really good.

        And a lot like an attempt to monkey TERA or Guild Wars 2 without changing core mechanics. Not that there is anything wrong with borrowing ideas, but still…

        • Kavonde says:

          Borrowing ideas and making them cooler is pretty much Blizz’s stock in trade. All the negativity coming their way really came about because WoW became so monolithic that everybody spent most of a decade copying Blizzard instead of coming up with new stuff for Blizzard to copy from them. Now that the genre’s innovating again, WoW’s improving, too.

      • Moriarty says:

        There is the tank spec (Brewmaster) that is essentially playing a drunken master. You’ll get more abilities that mitigate damage* and your survival is now based on how well you play instead of your gear.

        Yeah, they tried the same thing with the deathknight at first. Unfortunately basing your damage migitation on skill use doesn’t scale, so to keep things balanced with the traditional tanking classes you can never surpass the other tanks by much, but it gives you the option to screw up when you’re distracted and miss a skill.

  12. GreyDuck says:

    After watching the rest of “our” CoH group wander around for a week or so and all end up in GW2 one by one, I gave up and bought the game Saturday.

    It’s… different. Note that my entire MMO experience is CoH for *cough* years followed by a few weeks in Rift, and I’m spoiled by a number of things in CoH (travel powers, among other things). Even so, I’m rather pleased with GW2. (Sigh.)

    The best part is, I’m nobody’s idea of a power gamer and I still picked up most of the concepts and tricks from this post all on my own. The game’s very good about getting across the “no really, just go DO STUFF” meme.

  13. StashAugustine says:

    As someone with very little interest in MMO’s: Is GW2 anything special in the plot/writing/acting/setting department?

    • Mephane says:

      Nothing extraordinary, but also not bad. The only particular thing is the fact that your character’s main story actually branches at several points depending both your choices at character creation and decisions during those missions. Note however that the different stories will eventually converge and branch of a new from time to time (I have experienced one definite point where it happens, maybe others are more subtle).

      It’s funny that in GW2, even though you have only very few decisions to make during your story, it feels like having a more meaningful personal story than SWTOR, where this has been one of the main advertised features.

      I would not recommend getting the game if story is the only thing you are interested in. Maybe try out The Secret World instead, if you are looking for a story-heavy MMO.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I might check it out when there’s a price drop and less to play then. And when it comes to SWToR, between ME being light on the impact of choices + KOToR having ‘darkside’ be ‘laughably Stupid Evil,’ I know I’m only going to get a) David Hayter b) lightsabers and c) Jennifer Hale out of it.

    • Leviathan902 says:

      Like Mephane said, it’s mostly inoffensive. The decisions you make at character creation can impact the story (For the Norn race, picking “I got drunk at a moot and can’t remember what happened” leads to an amusing story quest chain) and you can often branch by choosing how to tackle the next one, but you’re not getting Mass Effect level stuff here.

      As for the writing and voice acting, it varies. The writing can be generic and boring, but then you get some weird off the wall quest option that freshens everything up. The voice acting ranges from bad to acceptable, splitting the difference fairly evenly.

      Regarding the setting: I actually find it to be quite interesting, but it’s not a highlight of the game and they don’t shove it in your face. If you want lore, you have to go digging for it

      Overall, story/plot/writing are not the reason to play this game. I’m kind of a story first gamer myself (this is my first MMO and had no interest previously), but find the gameplay to be compelling enough to keep me interested. Hope this helps!

      • Joshua says:

        I’d also have to add that the story seems to focus on you being a very Lawful Good/Paragon/Enthusiastic type of character. At least it did for me with the human character that’s my main. I have no problems with being fairly nice to the straight-forward and decent characters you deal with, but it would be nice to get a chance to be snarky with those who are talking down to you. Of course, I also do cringe when my character is so gung ho about doing the right thing.

        • Abnaxis says:

          Both the human and the sylvari literally make me cringe quite often (human Hero with the “I grew up on the streets but I will nark on my buddy’s gang leader without regard to the consequences at the first opportunity!” and sylvari’s Nightmare Court with “we will corrupt everything without giving any justification because we are Evil and that’s what Evil does, and you should totally join us because we asked!”).

          However, what I’ve seen from the other three races is much, much better. Not award-worthy, but tolerable at least.

    • X2Eliah says:

      In short, not really, no. If you applied the same critical lense that people direct towards, say, Mass Effect 3, this game would spontaneously combust.
      There’s no real big moments, the cutscenes are… Well, basic. Voiceacting is roughly average, the plots and especially their convergence is quite disappointing and can and *will* conflict with your origin later down the line, the npcs’ plans make little sense even on the best of days, and there’s a massive disconnect between you doing your segmented story instances and you just going and playing the game itself with people around, in no rush, and so on.

      So, yeah, no, this game is not a game about story.

    • Mari says:

      The biggest problem I’ve run into with the writing is that I feel like the writers relied too heavily on the notion that EVERYBODY playing the game would have read the three paperback novels of “between GW1 and GW2″ literature and all the other extraneous information on the setting and backstory. I’ve got this whole section of story arc about Destiny’s Edge and their break-up and trying to get them back together with no explanation of who they are or why they’re important (they’re REFERRED to frequently in-game but unless the answer is held in some in-game tome somewhere because I really haven’t spent much time running around the world reading books) it’s not explicitly explained (and don’t tell me because I do know, I’m just looking at it from the POV of someone who doesn’t).

      Then there’s stuff like the point in the storyline where you choose which of the three groups to join. You’ve gotten a small taste of them but you’re not really given enough information to make anything like an informed choice. The choices really boil down to “do you want to be a spy, a soldier, or a scientist?” with no good notion of which one might effect positive change in the world.

      But overall, no, the writing isn’t bad at all. Is it super-deep? No. But it’s so much better than so many games I’ve played that I’m not complaining.

      • krellen says:

        I’ve run across kids acting out the Destiny’s Edge stuff in-game, including the trio of kids on the steps in Lion’s Arch before you witness their first failed attempt at reunion that gave a fair indication of what happened with them. And I don’t know this stuff.

        I think the Norn get a better grounding in why fighting the dragons matters than the Charr do, though.

        • Stranger says:

          . . . then there’s the Sylvari, who have the Risen undead on their doorstep from DAY ONE playing in the world. So you kinda have it cemented “these things are a threat” at low levels.

          As opposed to Humans, where Kryta (the last kingdom standing, and human characters’ hometown) being much more preoccupied with smaller problems than “the dragons are coming”.

          I have not played an Asura, but they seem to be lost in their own world *ANYWAY* pursuing science for giggles. I do say the Norn get a good grounding in “the dragons are a threat, and their servants are worth fighting”

          . . . while the Charr very much are “we have our ancient homeland back, and first and foremost we are *keeping* it, anyone else be damned”. Most of their quests are handling threats or encroaching forces in that homeland rather than the dragons.

          All this said? The main plotline of the “personal storyline” is decent and I can stomach it. The fun stuff in the game would be the little NPC interactions which are sprinkled into the game. Hang around a few cities and see what I mean.

          • X2Eliah says:

            On the other hand, I as a sylvari completely failed to link the zombielike enemy things with the tutorial boss, and that with the entire thing about “holy hell, undead dragon is making zombies attack us all” – I just.. Idk. I totally missed the link between the dragon and the zombies, and the urgency of it all.

            • Aldowyn says:

              The connection between the Risen and the dragons is tenuous at best as far as I’ve gotten. Certainly no explanation as to how they’re connected, just “Oh no these dragon minion zombies are attacking!”

          • Mephane says:

            Yepp, asura start off pretty occupied with themselves, crazy science competitions and a lot of bickering between krewes. Personally, I loved that the race does not start with a “omg the bad guys are coming, we are doomed” scenario, but only get to learn later what is going on with the dragons, and even the reasons for stepping into the bigger game are more along the lines of “dragons consume magic, we need magic, therefore destroy dragons” than anything truly altruistic.

        • Mari says:

          Yeah, I got those kids around Shaemoor, too. But they still don’t address issues like “Who the heck are Logan and Rytlock arguing about anyway? And who is the dead guy that the chicks are fighting over?” I mean, you definitely get the sense that Destiny’s Edge is an important group of adventurers but so far I’ve not come across a single mention of, say, how they factored into the Char-Human treaty in the Ascalonian lands or why they broke up beyond “everybody’s mad at everybody.” I’m supposed to help get them back together but I have no real motivation to do so beyond “the story tells me to” and no idea HOW to do so beyond “what the little lines of directions in the top right corner say to do.”

          Granted, maybe the answers lie in those stupid “dungeons” I’ve been “invited” to explore via the game’s mail system but haven’t explored because it requires partying and I don’t have any friends with whom to party playing and I’m not keen on joining up with strangers who shout “LFG – need guardian not fire build” in map chat.

          • krellen says:

            Having played no dungeons and learned no lore outside the game, here’s what I know:

            Snaff, the original Asura member of Destiny’s Edge, died. He was important to Zojja. His death MAY have been caused by the dragon Destiny’s Edge failed to kill.

            Logan Thackery abandoned the battle with the dragon because Queen Jenna of Kryta was in some sort of danger. Rytlok thinks this makes him a coward. Zojja thinks that lead to Snaff’s death (maybe?)

            Eir used to lead Destiny’s Edge. She made a decision that the rest of the guild now disagrees with and thinks led to their defeat. What that decision was is unclear.

            Caithe is a complete mystery to me, but I think she’s SUPPOSED to be (unless maybe Sylvari get a bit more insight).

            I have played up to the first dragon invasion as a Charr, and up to Destiny’s Edge’s fight in Lion Arch as a Norn.

            • Mari says:

              Interesting. As a human that has played up to saving Lion’s Arch from the first dragon invasion and uniting the orders I’ve learned the following about Destiny’s Edge:
              It is a group of heroes made up of Logan Thackary, a Char named Rytlock who hates Logan and thinks he’s a coward, a Sylvari named…something or other, an Asura named….something or other, and a Norn named…something or other. The Sylvari lady wants them to reunite. The Asura and the Norn hate each other over a person named Snaff who is either dead or has run away or something. The Sylvari called them all together in Lion’s Arch to talk about reuniting but within seconds they were all arguing and fighting and then wandered off again. And apparently the Sylvari is now working behind the scenes to settle everyone’s personal squabbles. And she’s apparently attending a party at the Minister guy’s house that Logan and Queen Jennah are going to be at.

              The reason I know Rytlock’s name is because the hubs is a big geek and bought the CE of the game for the Rytlock statue (swear to you, that “mini figure” is fapping huge – like you could leave it atop your upright piano as a conversation piece kind of big). The reason I don’t know any of the chicks’ names is because they didn’t make similar plastic statues of the chicks and the only time I’ve seen the names mentioned in-game was when I watched that meeting in LA and the sub-titles told me the names of the people speaking.

              Although technically I DO know the rest of the story because I got tired of feeling stupid and broke down and asked the hubs to explain it to me since he’s read the books. At the same time he helpfully explained to me that Aurra (too lazy to look up the spelling) is the old capital of Orr. Apparently it’s my destiny to march there and confront the dragon – but the Pale Tree left me to infer where it actually, y’know, IS. And then he explained why Orr is even on the map since, y’know, it SUNK in the last game. Although in my last story mission (level 62) the game did finally get around to explaining that part, too.

              • Kavonde says:

                Having played through the first three dungeons now, I think I can safely say the following:

                Logan sucks. Oh, he sucks so bad. He is just the suckiest person who has ever sucked in the history of sucking. If there were an award for sucking, and it could only be awarded once a generation to the suckiest person in the entire sucky world, Logan would hands-down be the suckiest contender for the sucky trophy. If Logan sucked any harder than he already does, it’s entirely possible that the entire world would be pulled through the vortex he created and consumed in a universe-destroying unholy amalgamation of pure, concentrated suck. In fact, I’m willing to bet that Logan’s secretly the game’s main villain, and once you defeat the other elder dragons he’ll reveal himself to be the gargantuan, world-shattering, nigh-omnipotent Elder Dragon of Suck.

                Seriously, you guys, he’s just terrible.

                • Mari says:

                  I kind of don’t doubt you a bit. Logan was my “contact” in the human area once I ditched that toff they stuck me with in the first few story missions. I did everything I could to end-run around him and deal with the busty assistant instead. When I had to pick a second to fight the minister? Yeah, my choices were “English noble wannabe” “Fabio wannabe in plate (aka Logan)” or “Logan’s assistant with the tatas” (sorry, never dragged my eyes much above the level of the leather bustier to see her name). Guess who I picked?

                  • Kavonde says:

                    Ah, yes, Lady Cleavage, Duchess of Boobs. Actually a pretty awesome Mesmer, too, it turns out. Good call!

                    • Mari says:

                      It was a good call. That fight was pretty much a cakewalk. Alas, I never saw Lady Cleavage again. Or the toff. And I haven’t seen Logan since he had a big, nasty fight with Destiny’s Edge and stalked off to pout on Queen Jennah’s shoulder not too long after that fight. I’ve been much too caught up in secret spy missions and drug trips with the Pale Tree for those losers. :-P

              • Zukhramm says:

                It does sound a lot like WoW, where the developers have the game be about their favorite NPCs with the players just being in the way.

          • X2Eliah says:

            Completely seconded on the whole dungeon thing. Also, the guys who mostly do them in [dXX] – good souls that they are – are often using voicechat client. I.. I just don’t like to do that. But Some of the dungeons are so stupidly hard that voicechat is practically mandatory.

            • Kavonde says:

              Honestly, we don’t use the voice chat all that extensively, even when we’re on it. Mostly it’s used for warning people that something just aggro’d, or complaining about how hard a boss is, or talking about how much Logan sucks. (See above.) We could probably get by with text just fine.

          • Abnaxis says:

            What got me about the human quest I got was the complete “what country are you from?” question that came out of nowhere. Logan asks “you’re from Kryta, right?” and you have four choices for your country of origin, and not a single one of these countries is ever even vaguely mentioned in the game (except Kryta, and maybe Ascalaon if you’ve done any Charr). I had to log out and go read the wiki to answer it in the manner I wanted to.

      • Duneyrr says:

        I have never played GW1 and I haven’t read anything about the story outside the second game, yet the character interactions and little side conversations throughout the game pretty much spell out what happened. I have had no trouble getting a good picture of the Destiny’s Edge situation.

        Saying that, I’m sure if I knew about all of it, I’d be thinking they are leaving a ton of information out. But I guess it’s kind of like seeing a movie without reading the book it was based on, you can get the basic plot even if you miss out on a lot of events.

    • Adeon says:

      One thing that did kind of bother me about the story is that it does a poor job of tracking who you do and don’t know. There were several missions where you get introduced to characters that you already know.

      Now they do potentially need to have the introduction since you don’t automatically know them (depending on your race and what story options you picked) but it would be nice if the story could remember who you’ve met and select between dialog of “I’d like you to meet Character X” and “You remember Character X” based on whether you’ve met them before.

  14. Vipermagi says:

    “This fixes the problem of the overabundance of toolbars and buttons”
    It’s a cheap fix when you compare it to what they did in the first game.
    Your primary profession is set in stone after character creation. Wait, primary? Yep. You get a second one too! And this can be literally any other profession, and you can use every skill from both professions. One attribute line from your secondary (out of four or five) cannot be specialised in, but you can still use those skills (some are zero-point wonders).
    All in all, you have access to literally hundreds of skills. If you bother to unlock enough, you can have over a thousand on just one character.

    You can still only pick eight at a time though. Questing is not done alone; you’ll just die a horrible death. Instead, you set up a team of four to eight (or twelve in two specific areas). If you use Heroes for those slots.. They have the same skill and profession selection. Now you have up to eight skill bars to slot as you desire.

    That extreme flexibility in skill use is what kept me playing for a LONG time (/age says 5745 hours over 84 months. 1769hrs on my main over 80 months). I’m already noticing my desire to min-max the crap out of my build in GW2, but it doesn’t grant me the fine-grain control I desire. Honestly not expecting to spend nearly as many ages in the sequel, sadly. Great game, regardless.

    • Jeff says:

      They had massive problems with balancing class combinations though…

      I do miss my ranger/assassin firing critical poison arrows. Or was that an assassin/ranger? Hm…

      • Vipermagi says:

        A/R, definitely. Assassin primary and “Fear Me!” are the only reliable ways to get high crit chance.

        The fact balance was difficult made PvP very dynamic; the playerbase finds a powerful combo, you add a counter to that in your build. Either more people run counters and the combo dies naturally, or (if it really is overpowered) ANet adjusts skills in the combo and people find something new. The metagame was constantly shifting. Some roles didn’t change much (Rangers rarely are not poison/DShot, and Infuse Health is a staple to counter spikes), some change every other patch (midline).

        • Cineris says:

          FWIW this is one of the reasons why PvP in Guild Wars was rather unfun for me. You win or lose based on your deckbuilding moreso than on any skill.

          • Zukhramm says:

            But deck building is a skill!

            • Cineris says:

              Oh yeah. My previous comment was probably poorly worded. I agree it does take skill to build good decks. But it’s a bit disconnected from the actual “gameplay” of Guild Wars. And from what I remember, most of the Guild Wars PvP was blind matchmaking best of one format, which means that off-the-wall gimmicky builds were really rewarding because there is no way to counterplay in a best of one when you can’t change builds within the match or even try to predict what your opponents will run (since it’s just blind matchmaking).

              That may not hold true for the ranked GvG formats, I never played that, but for pretty much all the other ones (Jade Quarry, Fort Aspenwood, Alliance Battles, Hero’s Ascent) it was. The one thing I really liked as an idea was the Codex format, with a rotating limited deck selection. That format was actually quite fun due to the limitations in skills meant that gimmick strategies were dramatically less impactful.

          • Vipermagi says:

            Partially, sure. However, if your monk has low situational awareness, he won’t see the war moving in on a squishy, subsequently being too slow to Prot the spike. Down goes one player. Having bad Energy management skills means any prolonged fight (ie. every fight in HA and GvG) is nigh on impossible to win. Knowing when to snare a Monk and when to snare a Necromancer are key skills in landing your spike.
            Not to mention the skill to interpret actions of the enemy. One of the best Rangers I’ve ever seen can fairly consistently interrupt skills with 1/2 second activation times, using Distracting Shot. Which takes half a second to land.

            Having a functioning and synergising build is essential, but player skill is also a great factor. Just because you’re running Lichway doesn’t get you an automatic win against a basic SH/Axe spike (although Lichway is probably long gone, but you get the idea). All those SH/Axe spike builds will be carrying Verata’s Aura to turn your army of forty minions into an army of three – on their side. Without player skill to compensate for the lack of a minion army, you’re toast.

      • Zukhramm says:

        It was worth it though. Sure, most of my builds were unplayable, but they were mine. A Dervish summoning spirits? A monk using a scythe? You can do pretty much anything, most of it useless, but the fun of the concepts outweighs any balancing issues for me.

        • Skyy_High says:

          Until you tried to join a group and you couldn’t pull your weight. Your spirit-spamming dervish might have been cool for you, but in anything remotely difficult it would have been completely useless.

          GW1 may have given you access to a lot more skills, but easily 90% of them were merely average, or strictly inferior to the stand-out skills of the class. Speccing into more than 3, maybe 4, attribute lines was almost never optimal, which meant that entire attribute lines were useless in one game mode or another. And, let’s be serious, the sheer number of skills does not directly translate to a huge number of different playstyles; the difference between a Flame Burst and an Inferno is tiny compared to the drastic differences between scepter and staff eles in GW2.

          Don’t compare just the difference in the number of skills. Look at how you can mix and match weaponsets; a warrior with a rifle and longbow plays much differently than a warrior with a rifle and a greatsword. Look at how traits can drastically affect your playstyle: a single Marksmanship trait turns my longbow from a single-target DPS weapon into an AoE machine by letting my arrows pierce targets. Then look at all of the neat effects you can get by using different sigils and runes in your armor and weapons; equipment in GW1 was never this varied or interesting. That’s not even touching all of the ways you can buff your stats with equipment now, which was impossible in GW1; either your damage was modified by a skill, or it was the same as everyone else’s damage. Now consider combos: two separate skills coming together to generate a different effect. How are you going to use that blast finisher? That’s up to you and how you build your party. Even dodging should be taken into account; it’s basically a 1-second instant-cast prot spell that everyone has on a ~5 second recharge, and it can be traited to give its own set of effects.

          What I’m saying is that you have a huge amount of customization available to you in GW2. It’s just not all directly on your skillbar, and I think that’s just fine, because GW2 is built around collaboration and playing with every random person around you. If you brought your dervish spirit-spammer build to a DE and scaled it up without contributing much, people would be telling you to get away from them. That’s not the response that ANet wanted, so they ensured that at bare minimum the skills on your bar will make you useful to everyone around you, and you can only improve yourself and specialize your build further from that good starting baseline.

          • Cineris says:

            This is a really good analysis. I’m not entirely sold on the system Guild Wars 2 has adopted (I don’t own the game, so I can’t honestly say.) but from all appearances it drastically cuts down on the number of false/trap builds. There really was a lot of chaff in Guild Wars 1 and it was a balancing nightmare. I’d rather have quality over quantity.

          • Zukhramm says:

            As I said, the fun of making them up outweighs any problems with them being useless for me.

          • Vipermagi says:

            The only content where spirit spamming doesn’t work is the fringe cases, such as Hard Mode Master difficulty dungeons and crap like that… And it’s not like anyone is going to run a bring-your-own-build PUG there anyways; it’s always a specific build, probably from PvX.

            GW2 has neat customisation, but it’s all very… linear. Fixed. IF you’re using Rifles, you’re going to take the “Rifle skills pierce” trait, because it’s one of the few traits for the Rifle. And it’s not even that good, because the bullets are really, really narrow.
            The game decides what stats you invest in for specific traits; the Hammer trait is in the Toughness line, tier 2. Maybe I want to use Hammers and skip all the defense crap because I’ll just knock-lock and kite enemies? Nope. ANet has decided that it’s locked behind 200 points of Toughness and Healing Power, which are then not put towards dealing damage, which is what I was looking to do. Either I’m stubborn and substitute the huge damage bonus vs. CC’ed enemies and cooldown reduction for Power/Crit traits, or I’m stuck with Toughness.

            Yeah, there’s a whole slew of runes and stuff, but 90% of that is just stat-stick anyways. You’ll probably pick one rune and slot that in all your gear to get the full bonus, because it’s largely the most effective method. I personally don’t find it much more exciting than getting the default +X armor insignias and +Y attribute runes. Stat-sticks. I wasn’t really excited by them.
            The weapon sigils are more interesting, with stacking buffs or a heal on crit.

            “And, let’s be serious, the sheer number of skills does not directly translate to a huge number of different playstyles; the difference between a Flame Burst and an Inferno is tiny compared to the drastic differences between scepter and staff eles in GW2.”
            No, two PBAoE attacks aren’t very different. Duh. Two auto-attacks from different weapons also aren’t particularly different (oh, but this one does Bleed instead of Might!). You’re comparing two similar skills to two different playstyles, which is an utterly unfair comparision.

            So, the GW2 ele has Staff, Scepter, Dagger for main hand, and Dagger and Focus offhand. They all have different uses and playstyles, from long- to close-range. You can play damage or support. The Staff is, in my opinion, quite the winner for support play, but it’s probably possible to play support with other weapon sets too. You have one Underwater weapon.
            The first game has close-range Fire, long-range Fire, AoE Air, single-target Air, close-range Air, Blind-spam Air, defensive Earth, offensive Earth, overkill-defense/tank Earth, Wards, snare Water, AoE Water, single-target Water, melee builds. Prior to a change to Thunderclap, the most hilarious bow build. Orders, support Smite, offense Smite, Ether Renewal Prot/Infuse, Discord, Discord caller, Bear/Wolf/Raven Mode, AoE Mesmer snare.
            If I actually sifted through my list of templates rather than just try to remember them all, I can probably find more builds that I run on my Elementalist.

            Hmm. Well.

            • Skyy_High says:

              Regarding traits: remember that you have 70 points to work with. If you want to drop 20 points into a line to get a specific trait, you’re not going to gimp yourself on damage, because you can still drop 30 points into the +Power line and 10 points into whatever else you want. Also, traits are not the only way to get additional stat points. And this is ignoring the fact that in GW1, you had NO WAY of changing your stats (with the exception of runes of vigor and some small weapon buffs to armor and health). The customization runs far deeper in GW2 when it comes to base stats.

              If you think runes are 90% about stat buffs, you haven’t been looking at them hard enough, OR you’ve only seen the minor runes (which are, admittedly, mostly about stat buffs). Check out the major and superior runes, either in the Mists or on the Auction House; the stat buffs on runes are what you get in between the cool effects (like 10% chance to trigger a fire nova when hit, innate health regen, 10% extra swiftness duration, etc). Compared to the runes you could put on your armor in GW1 (+1/2/3 to an attribute, +health, or -20% condition duration for specific conditions, that basically sums it up), there’s no comparison, you get a lot more customization from runes in GW2.

              My point with comparing Flame Burst and Inferno was that GW1’s “thousands of skills” is bloated with skills that are incredibly similar. I could list hundreds of skills that are nearly exactly the same. How many sword attacks are there, and how many are just a variation of “+dmg, and a little more +dmg if X”? Choosing one skill over another in that situation isn’t really all that meaningful, and hey, GW2 has a little bit of that kind of customization anyway with traits that make certain types of skills behave differently. My point was mainly that giving up that skill bloat doesn’t significantly impact the number of kinds of builds that you can make, so direct comparisons of the number of skills in one game vs. the other aren’t very informative. There are basically no skills in GW2 that are near-duplicates of each other (not on a single class, anyway), and the game is better for it.

              Eles are probably not the best profession to do this build comparison thing with, because their whole schtick in GW2 is that they can and SHOULD be swapping between the 4 elements during combat. You can specialize in one or two elements (for example, if you spec heavily into condition damage, you’re going to mainly be using fire and earth attunements) if you want, but most of their builds use all 4 of their elements for different situations.

              So let’s look at a more focused class. The warrior makes this comparison very easy. In GW1, you could run AoE knockdowns, single-target knocklock, AoE axe damage, single-target axe spike, sword bleeding pressure, stance tank, and…that’s about it. You could do things like run Conjure Lightning on your axe warrior so you could do a little elemental damage while also speccing for a Shock knockdown, but those are utility skills that don’t change your overall build (and besides, you have utilities in GW2 as well).

              In GW2, you have bleed pressure (sword mainhand + offhand), AoE damage (greatsword, axe offhand) single-target damage (everything, but especially axe mainhand), aoe + single target knockdowns/stuns combined (hammer, mace offhand, shield offhand), defensive “stances” (mace mainhand, sword offhand, shield offhand). It’s not entirely fair to bring these up, but you also have long-range single target and AoE options (rife and longbow) now. So, all told, you have basically all the same options…but this time around, you can use two of them at once, and swap between them during combat! Suddenly you’re not just doing single-target DPS, you’re also packing a hammer for knockdowns in your 2nd set and bringing it out when necessary. You’re swapping to a rifle when your target starts kiting. You’re grabbing a shield to protect yourself from the big nuke that’s coming. That is a kind of customization that was unheard of in GW1.

              All of the roles from GW1 are still here (except dedicated healing/protting). They’re just streamlined so you can’t utterly fail at making a working build, while allowing you to customize your character by mixing and matching at least 2 roles at once…plus stats, traits, and gear choices. They’ve replaced some of the more banal choices (Standing Slash vs. Galrath Slash) with more interesting choices (“Do I want a rifle or a hammer in my 2nd set?”)

              Oh, and as I said before, this was necessary to make the open world, everyone-join-in-together-and-be-happy-about-it gameplay work. It was very, very easy to make an incredibly terrible build in GW1. I prefer the system where 100% of possible builds are at least useful and viable in the open world, over the system with more possible builds, but only maybe 10% of them are worth ever using.

              • Vipermagi says:

                As for traits: It’s still 20 trait points in a line I didn’t want. 20 out of 70 is a lot; more than 25%. 25% of my trait points put towards a place rather left untouched. Yes, I can still max Power, but I cannot go deep into Crits or Burst anymore if I do that. Whichever way you cut it, it’s limiting my options.

                Runes: +/- Condition/Boon Duration is also just stats. Regen is just a stat (and Dolyak only has +vit/toughness otherwise; exciting). There are procs like shouting Yarr! when you get hit (and gain Might), but you get one per rune if any. It’s ~better than GW1, sure, but it’s still limited and tbh shallow. You pick a rune that best fits you spec (“I went full damage, so I pick a defensive rune”. Pick one of.. three that fit your build), you socket it in every armor piece.

                The effect runes have in GW2 is probably larger, but they’re not more interesting, at least not to me. I’m a highly mechanical player. Getting +10 Armor insigs in GW1 is the same as getting Dolyak runes in GW2. Either way, I become less squishy so I can put all my attribute/trait points in damage related trees. (unless I want specific weapon specialisations anyways)

                I recall the fire burst being a weapon sigil thingummiewot, and I already mentioned those were solid. There’s too many +x% vs. Y, but there’s also enough options besides that. GW1 doesn’t hold a candle with its +x% damage while Y and +5 Ene.

                “My point with comparing Flame Burst and Inferno was that GW1′s “thousands of skills” is bloated with skills that are incredibly similar. ”
                (1235 of ‘em, so a singular thousand :P )
                The reason there are similar skills, is to facilitate the plain existence of those builds. Especially prior to NF/EoTN, any PBAoE fire nuker rolled with both Inferno and Flame Burst. You didn’t have much choice otherwise, now did you.
                Even then, Flame Burst has a higher Energy cost and strikes a larger area; Inferno deals some of the highest single-hit damage in the game, but in a tiny AoE.
                The damage difference is too small to matter nowadays (I think it used to be larger); Flame Burst is de-facto better unless you really, really need that five Energy.

                So yes, there’s some skills that are kinda similar. There’s still way, way more than in GW2, and you can pick which you do and don’t want. GW2 will always decide what three skills I get with my main hand sword. In GW1, I can choose a bunch more crap, and none of that has to be even remotely related to my weapon. On that note:

                “In GW1, you could run AoE knockdowns, single-target knocklock, AoE axe damage, single-target axe spike, sword bleeding pressure, stance tank, and…that’s about it.”
                You think that’s all a Warrior can do? Hahah. Wow. One build for swords.

                Axe (7); Crit stack/tank (“Fear Me!” + Soldier’s Stance). Evis. Triple Chop. Whirling Axe (stance denial). Battle Rage. Cleave. Steady Stance.
                Sword (5); Crit stack/tank. Battle Rage. Cripslash. Hundred Blades. Dragon Slash.
                Hammer (7); Backbreaker. Earth Shaker + Single-target. AoE. Dwarven Battle Stance. Enraged Smash. Forceful Blow. Battle Rage.
                Spear (2); Stunning Strike/support. Cruel Spear.
                Scythe (2); Warrior’s Endurance. Reaper’s Sweep.
                Bow (1); Barrage (Weapon of Fury + Zealous for 2 energy per hit).
                Caster-stick (3); Contagion bomb. Star Burst (combines nicely with Energy-heavy attack skills, opening up f.e. Axe builds). Volfen Blessing (IAS buff that applies to all nearby allies (party, minions, NPCs) -> awesome!).
                Other skills I once planned to build around, but never did (4): “Coward!”/Bull’s Strike harrass (axe, for the crit damage?). “Charge!” support (sword or axe). Skull Crack (sword maybe?). Magehunter Strike (scythe or hammer).

                I have a lot of weapons and a lot of builds to fit those weapons. As such, I run a whole lot more builds than you managed to sum up. Skipped a number of specialised builds such as FoW farms and Venta Cemetary rush (8 melee, one heal, one mission), or variants on builds (DSlash with a different IAS/IMS combo for example).
                Even the two Battle Rage builds serve different purposes. On Axe, it’s naturally a high-damage build. Sword, spam Sever/Gash on absolutely everything. The two scythe builds function differently; War’s End is raw damage, Reaper’s mixes in a great knockdown. The Sword variant for Soldier’s Stance has more defensive shouts (you’re speccing Tactics anyways, might as well use it). Evis is spike damage, Cleave is sustain.

                Wars in GW2 can also go big on support with either Banners or Shouts (Shouts can be made to heal effected allies), probably combined with a Warhorn. Add that to your list, and that makes.. er. 8. Counting the ranged weapons, naturally; I counted those for GW1 too. I have nearly as many builds with just one weapon, and most of those builds don’t even use a secondary profession per se.

                GW2 has a plethora of options, but each weapon is only one option, and you don’t get every weapon. The Warrior has the largest range of options, and the GW1 Warrior crushes it.

                One of my favorite GW2 ideas is skill substitution. You start unlocking sidegrades for your weapon skills at some point. Instead of Gash causing a bleed, it deals bonus damage based on the amount of bleed stacks on a target. You lose Bleeds, but you (can) gain direct damage output. Savage Leap has a greater range and a short cripple, but deals lesser damage. Better support, but lesser damage.
                That is essentially what you do in GW1. You’re a DSlash warrior, but want better AoE? You take Hundred Blades instead, trading in the single-target sustain.

                “Suddenly you’re not just doing single-target DPS, you’re also packing a hammer for knockdowns in your 2nd set and bringing it out when necessary.”
                The GW1 hammer does both anyways. *shrug*
                (Earth Shaker, Renewing Smash, Whirlwind Attack, Crude Swing, Auspicious Blow, IAS, IMS, free slot)

                The weapon-swapping deal is quite nice, and inarguably in favor of GW2. That gives you more freedom at a moment’s notice, but I’m talking bottom line. The bottom line is what matters for the longevity I seek, the variety that leads to, literally, more than 230 days spent online.
                GW2 could do a whole lot worse on customisation, but the first game is king.

                • Skyy_High says:

                  You’re being far too kind to the number of builds you could run in GW1, compared to GW2. I was listing general archetypes and roles, you’re listing specific builds that generally can be described as filling one of those roles; how many of those builds that you listed can effectively be summed up as “single target melee damage”, “AoE melee damage”, or “single target ranged damage”? Quite a few of them, by my count. There are multiple ways that you can build a “single target melee damage” warrior in GW2, but you’re acting like there’s only one because I just said “axe mainhand”, as if that sums up all of your options. You’re including all of the different variances of builds that you can make in GW1, and failing to account for all of the way that combinations of mainhands, offhands, secondary weapon sets, traits, sigils, and runes can affect your build.

                  And I seriously reject your notion that runes are “just stat buffs”. Go here and scroll through your options. It’s not just a matter of picking a stat that you want to stack and grabbing 6 of any random rune; in Power runes alone, you have 15 distinct options, which can give you abilities like adding a burning effect to your heal skill; a chance to buff all nearby allies with fury, might, and swiftness when hit; lifesteal to a percentage of your attacks; a fire shield at 80% health; a chance to generate a fire nova when hit (see, not just a sigil); and there are 57 options for superior runes to use….and you don’t have to use 6 of a set if you prefer the 4+2 buffs of two different sets. In short: these add more to your build than choosing which +dmg sword attacks your warrior brought in GW1.

                  You’re stuck looking at your skillbar, and I’m saying there’s way more to build making in GW2 than just your skills.

        • Xinem says:

          This is why I still play Guild Wars. Beating the game with off-the-wall concepts and builds.

  15. Canthros says:

    Lots of the really good things in GW2 have unfortunate exceptions.

    There are crafting materials that are account-bound (why?). There are rare crafting materials that have no slot in the ‘collectible’ storage, so you’re going to use bank slots for Destroyer Slivers, etc. This is quite apart from the kind of obnoxious intermediate stages needed in almost every crafting recipe (why can’t the discovered recipe shortcut all of that and just consume the same amount of raw or refined materials?).

    Although most heart/Renown quest objectives that don’t have health bars are sharded, not all are (I don’t know if this is a bug, or an intentional design thing).

    It’s not quite the case that the ‘worst’ thing another player can do is nothing. Having somebody kite past with a half dozen enemies that attack you on their way back to their patrol point is pretty obnoxious, though I’m not sure it’s intentional griefing.

    But, on the whole, it’s a huge improvement over the likes of SW:tOR.

    • Mari says:

      I’ve had that happen a few times too and I’m quite sure it wasn’t intentional griefing in the cases I experienced. Not that shelling out to go back to a waypoint because they were too oblivious to notice what they were doing hurts any less when it was an accident. I’ve found it more than made up for, though, by the number of incredibly friendly and helpful players that have taken the time out to rez me or help me figure out how to get to the next vista, or jump into a skill-point challenge that they’ve already beaten because they noticed my butt was getting kicked doing it alone.

      • Canthros says:

        Actually, it is really, really cool that other players are encouraged to help (though I get the impression that large chunks of the player base haven’t clued in, yet). However, it’s created a kind of perverse feedback loop.

        Whenever you’re defeated, a piece of your armor is damaged. If your armor takes enough damage, you no longer receive any benefit from it until it’s repaired, and it will no longer show on your character model. Now, if you should leave your character AFK in a dangerous area, strangers are encouraged to rez you (after all, they can’t tell you’re not there!), which provides a new opportunity for your armor to be damaged.

        End result: if you’ve been wondering why you occasionally stumble across somebody in the middle of nowhere, standing around stark naked …

        • Mari says:

          Yes you do. I’ve run across one of them. Of course I’ve also BEEN one of them. Not from going AFK but I often wonder what people must think when I suddenly zone back into the map from an instance and I have no pants on (due to constantly dying and restarting in the instance).

          But yeah, I know what you mean. Then again, last night I rezzed a random stranger lying on the ground in the middle of nowhere. He thanked me and then proceeded to inform me that he had been taking a pee break and apparently got killed and cursed biology. It was all I could do to stop myself saying, “Yeah, thanks for updating me about your biology, random stranger.”

        • Mephane says:

          Yeah, if GW2 really tought me that except for the main cities, the only safe place is the character selection. I tend to just log off into that when I have to go afk for 10 minutes and are out in the field.

    • meyerkev says:

      I must admit to doing that a few times. It’s usually when I’m underwater, and 5 or 6 enemies show up (which is all the time. For some unknown reason*, my elementalist has never killed anyone under the water), so I go look for a group to fight them with.

      *It’s that the default underwater powers are terrible, and I had no clue about the dodge thing, so I have trouble fighting one guy, much less 6, so I can never kill anyone to level up my powers.

      • Aldowyn says:

        trident water is pretty amazing, especially against melee. A HUGE tip when fighting melee enemies underwater is just constantly circle-strafe.

        • Mari says:

          Thanks for the tip. I’ve had trouble underwater, too. Possibly in part due to the fact that I just realized yesterday that I still hadn’t upgraded from the basic aqua-lung that you start out the game with. But also due, in large part, to the fact that I keep having crazy stuff happen underwater where I keep getting “stuck” either directly below or directly above my foes and can’t see what the heck I’m doing. Hopefully this will help.

          • Vipermagi says:

            Something else that helps unlocking underwater skills; take utilities that murder everything for you. I’m somewhat sure Arcane Wave works underwater, and that deals a ton of damage around you.

    • Stranger says:

      “There are crafting materials that are account-bound (why?)”

      Because a bunch of people discovered they could buy the ingredients with Karma and turn a profit greater than ArenaNet wanted them to have. A few in specific, but it was part of the massive overhaul which made butter, chocolate, and oranges highly pirated goods (as in, “pirate dropped loot bags have a lot of this stuff in it”) . . .

      . . . which could almost make sense. Oranges would be kept around, chocolate would be a luxury good . . . pity they don’t drop grog or rum for flavor purposes.

  16. The Other Matt K says:

    The big thing I recommend is, once you get about 10 levels in, take a good look at whether you are enjoying how your class plays. By that point, you should have unlocked all your weapon/elemental powers and gotten a sense for your options. You don’t have many skills or traits yet, but those mainly double down on the core mechanics of the class, rather than unlock anything new.

    I mainly point this out because I started out with an Elementalist, and was really hoping for someone who could blow stuff up, and had lots of control effects to keep enemies away from him, and was willing to accept being very squishy in return. For some reason, though, the Elementalist never quite clicked for me, and I played through level 35 before deciding to try out something else – a Warrior. And instantly found it was tons more fun to play (for me), and seemed to outclass the Elementalist in both damage, durability and control of enemies. And I haven’t touched my first guy since.

    I’m sure others have figured out the Elementalist’s tricks and have a blast playing him – I’m not saying to avoid the class. Just that, if you feel faintly dissatisfied a few levels in, it might be worth trying out a few levels of something else to see if it is a better fit. I kept expecting the Elementalist to radically change as I levelled up, but that really doesn’t happen in this game, at least over the levels I played.

    • Jeff says:

      Reading up on it, the Elementalist seemed to require a crazy amount of micro, casting spells and switching aspects to cast other stuff while spells are on cooldown.

      • Vipermagi says:

        Most professions gets a second weapon set, and to be a truly effective player, you will probably be switching weapon sets often.
        Necromancers get Death Shroud, which replaces your skill bar.
        Engineers don’t get weapon swapping, but get Kits instead, which replace weapon skills.
        Elementalists have four skill bars/attunements, but no weapon swapping.

        You can be effective by utilising three out of four attunements, which puts you on par with both Necromancers and Engineers.

        It’s not an extreme leap from the rest, really :)

        • The Other Matt K says:

          Yeah, it wasn’t completely overwhelming (though was still complex enough it wasn’t an especially smart starter class to begin with.) I tended to swap between Fire, Lightning and Earth, but part of the problem was that screwing up the sequence was often very unforgiving. Whereas with a Warrior, I can stay with one weapon, and simply swap to my alternate weapon when the situation is right – while the Elementalist very much seemed to require a pretty constant rotation through the Elements. (And tended to result in much more of the ‘watch the bottom of the screen’ that GW2 otherwise tends to avoid.)

          Again, I don’t think the class it inherently played – it just wasn’t for me, and I shouldn’t have expected that to abruptly change when I got access to more traits, or an Elite skill, or the like.

        • krellen says:

          Pfft. Guardians need no weapon but the Greatsword.

          • Mari says:

            Actually I like playing my guardian with a long sword and a torch. It augments the guardian’s natural ability to “set stuff on fire” which is a favorite skill of mine. Of course, it kind of sucks when you’re fighting destroyers (fire immune) but otherwise it’s worked out well for me.

            • Mephane says:

              A friend play a guardian with scepter and torch, plus staff alternatively. He is basically a huge towering norn mage wearing plate armor.

              • Gildan Bladeborn says:

                I don’t tend to keep a staff equipped on my guardian since the auto-attack for that is a close ranged wave rather than a true “ranged attack” (as I prefer to mostly do melee anyways and thus have the alternate set around for situations where I want to hang back around the fringes and not die like all the melee folks I’m inwardly laughing at during certain big events, ha ha), but the way my guardian holds her staff when I equip her with one does make me want to use it more often, because it clued me into something that I never really realized bothered me before: most games where casters have staffs (the original guild wars included), they just hold them horizontally at their side.

                In GW2 guardians at least hold theirs upright, and it’s awesome – we’re like full plate-wearing Gandalfs, shouting “You shall not pass!”, which is appropriate considering that’s pretty much the #5 staff skill in a nutshell, heh.

  17. The Rocketeer says:

    I’ve had ten blasts rolling around with the Eikosi League, raiding, riding, trading, styling, blasting, casting, rolling and tumbling, chain-ganging, stump-bobbing, baking, taking, bashing, cashing, sieging, diving, and just doing that old scrapyard thing.

    Always up for doing stuff, and much thanks and praise to my mates Preenleaf, Muppsi, Lovecrafter, Irontwister, Calzin, Nike, Fungari and so many I can’t remember how to spell.

    Stay [dXX] and speak up when you want free food.

    -Horace Auralius VIII, guardian, raconteur, and dandy norn-about-town.

  18. Graham says:

    It seems like for every cool part, there’s an annoying downside. (Note I’m basing this all on your post and the comments here.) The weapon-based skills are cool, but what if you love 4 of the 5 greatsword abilities, and they match your playstyle great, but you never use one of them? The fact you can’t swap it out kind of sucks.

    I love that nobody is forced into a specific role, and you don’t need those roles to survive. But what if you like playing the tank, or the support cleric? The fact you can’t, or at least not well, is disappointing.

    The fact that the salvage kits/etc are all limited use, as they were in the first game, is annoying again. Those were always a pain in the ass to keep track of.

    But more than any of that, I hate that you can go through an entire area, do everything it has to offer, and not be ready for the next area yet. I don’t want to be over-leveled either, but how many times are those bandits going to try to poison that well? Having to stop progressing and redo things you’ve already done, or sit and craft, before the action continues just seems tedious to me.

    Maybe I’m not the audience for this game. I may end up getting it, but probably not until the price goes down. I wonder how full the starting areas will be in December. Will I be wandering through a wasteland?

    Does anybody want to correct me on anything I said above? As I said, I’m basing it only on what I read here.

    • Leviathan902 says:

      Graham,

      Regarding the point about 4 of 5 greatsword abilities: i can understand not liking one, but they all serve a purpose and are designed to be effective in that purpose. There’s a right and wrong time to use each skill, hopefully you learn to ID the right time to use that 5th skill.

      Regarding salvage kits: yes, it’s annoying. *Shrugs*

      As for the “completing everything in a zone and not being leveled enough”, All i can say is that’s never happened to me. If all you did was the Heart “quests” that might be the case, but between dynamic group events, harvesting, crafting, exploring, rezzing people, and landscape viewing, I find it highly unlikely that you won’t be ready for the next area. Also, if you’re bored with your starting zone, just hop over to another races and do their starting content. Problem solved.

    • X2Eliah says:

      “Not ready for the next area” – small correction: that is quite unlikely to happen, unless you deliberately ignore events and discovering stuff.
      Also, *if* it happens, you can just pop through Lion’s Arch portals and do stuff in another race’s appropriate location instead. The areas do converge, but at the start you have 5 1-15lvl locations, 3 or 4 15-25 locations, 3 or 4 25-40-ish, then probably 3 40-50 and 50-60, and then it narrows down to two.

      • Wedge says:

        I have the opposite problem — I enjoy 100%ing areas so much that I end up being perpetually under-leveled for whatever area I’m in. This isn’t so much a problem due to the level-scaling, though it does mean that I’m always behind on the crafting materials I need.

        • Mari says:

          Welcome to my world. It’s a strange and lonely place but the views are amazing. :-P Yes, I’m level 68 right now and exploring level 40-50 areas because Must. Explore. Whole. Map. I have about 65% of the world explored currently.

      • Graham says:

        I’m only basing things off what was said above:

        Commenter Joshua:

        “In GW2, I did all of the quest hearts in Queensdale and otherwise got 100% in the zone, did a healthy number of events, and maybe even dinged my daily score. By the end of that, I was level 12. In a level 1-17 zone.”

        Shamus:

        “Eventually you’ll hit a bit of a gap, where you’re level X and the only available heart is X+2. That’s doable, but if you keep going eventually you’ll face X+3 and X+4, and sooner or later that will halt your forward progress.


        The trick here is that there is more to the game than just doing hearts, and that is taken into account when awarding XP:”

        Fair enough, and I’d do story quests, and events once. I don’t know whether I’d want to do other starting areas (rather than save them for other characters to do), but I’d probably have to. But I’m not the endless explorer like Shamus, nor am I a heavy crafter.

        If you could attain the required levels through ANY of these means, I’d be happy. But if you’re basically required to do ALL of them or grind on events? That’s not so cool.

        • Wedge says:

          >> But if you’re basically required to do ALL of them or grind on events? That’s not so cool.

          The alternative, as people have mentioned, is going through more than one area appropriate for your level. Fortunately, this is easily available to you from the beginning of the game–go through the asura portal in your home city to lion’s gate, go to some other race’s home city and do their starting area.

    • Drew says:

      I guess part of the issue is that the idea of a “next” area doesn’t seem to be something they want to foster. There’s a progression of where you need to go for your personal story, but otherwise, you can just go places and do things which are fun. One solution that might make people happier would be if it took 5 times as long to complete each heart, and then it rewarded you with 5 times the xp. It would ensure that doing hearts is all you need to do to progress to higher-level content, but it would put you in a grind mode. I think most events and hearts in the game are designed to be short enough that you do something and once the novelty has worn off and it risks becoming tedious, it’s over. Of course, I’m playing a necromancer who’s level 26 and hasn’t left the “starter” zones, so maybe I’m not the typical player.

      I should also mention that there are a whole lot of activities that aren’t part of the “main content” that are just fantastic. Sharkmaw Caverns is a very well hidden area in Lion’s Arch which falls under the category of “jumping puzzle” but is much more than that. It’s a blast. Keg Brawl is a lot of fun, even for someone like me, who has no real interest in “traditional” PvP. And there are plenty of other off-the-beaten-path kind of activities that are rewarding and fun. The general philosophy really seems to be “stop worrying about leveling and go do something you enjoy”. It really is about the journey.

      • Graham says:

        “just go places and do things which are fun”

        See, I think this is where I have my problem. I have never been able to play sandbox games, whether video games or tabletop. I’ll play for a few days, have some fun, stagnate doing “whatever”, and then put the game down because I have no solid direction.

        I would like to be able to follow the storyline, do the side things as I come to them, and progress through the game. I don’t even care about leveling, just progression through the game.

        It sounds like I can’t do that in this game. Am I correct?

        • kanodin says:

          You can mostly do that. There is a very clear and directed main story that you can follow all the way to the end of the game. The caveat is that in general each story mission strongly suggests you be about two levels higher than the one before it.

          So the go do whatever you find fun part is just you getting those two levels before you can return to the more directed main quest. Further the story is generally good at moving you across the map to new areas where you can fairly quickly level up.

          The problem in my experience mostly comes in when the main story is moving from one major zone to another. The level jump tends to be a bit steeper and you usually don’t have a lot left to do in the zone you were in. I say this as someone who has 100% in every major area the story has taken me to and I take part in any event I sees. This is where the going to a different zone or crafting or whatever comes in, which I think is fine but you may not like.

  19. Irridium says:

    I do wish the story missions took into account your class. Playing as an elementalist is pretty painful. What with all the respawning. The least they could do is have whatever NPC is accompanying you “aggro” all the NPC’s. So you actually stand a chance.

    Side-note: Got the ability to TRANSFORM INTO A BEAR as my Norn. I don’t care how “good” the skill it, I can now transform into a freaking BEAR. So happy.

    • Canthros says:

      I’ve been getting pretty badly mauled in some of the later ones (level 35-50, I think), which seem to involve throwing large waves of bad guys at you in a few places. I have a warrior NPC with me, but he doesn’t do very well as a distraction, owing to the way aggro works in this game.

      I think I’m going to start dragging friends into my story instances, if I can.

      ETA: It’s my understanding that the race-specific slot skills are mostly kind of underwhelming compared to the class-specific skills. (This may not be true!) OTOH, ‘Hidden Pistol’ has an *awesome* tool belt skill. And ‘Charrzooka’ is a bazooka. So, whatever. Fun is fun. I’ll take fun over optimal effectiveness.

      • Jarenth says:

        It’s my personal experience that this class-beats-race holds for everything except Elite skills. The Charr Summon Warband power is so vastly superior to every Engineer elite skill in existence it’s not even funny anymore.

        • krellen says:

          Supply Crate has saved my butt more times than I can count. The Warband doesn’t last long enough.

          • Vipermagi says:

            I haven’t used the warband, but I can vouch for the Supply Crate. That thing is amazing. Even just the stun+damage on landing and the many health packets are great. It then also deploys turrets for an age and a half. Lovely skill, that.

            Since we’re on the topic of Elites anyways:
            Plague, on the Necromancer, is positively absurd. For twenty seconds, you can Blind and Poison everything around you, every second. You also gain Stability and nearly double your health pool. Basically, you round up All The Enemies, put the Blind on auto-attack, and not die.

            Alternatively, you can choose to Cripple or Bleed instead of the Blind, but if you want damage, just use Lich Form for about 1000 damage per second on lv40 ish (seriously, that autoattack is overpowered).

            • Friend of Dragons says:

              On the Ranger, Entangle is another awesome elite skill. It traps all the enemies around you in roots, and does insane bleeding damage unless the roots are destoyed. Additionally, NPC enemies don’t seem to target the roots, so a decent amount of the time, they’ll just sit there and bleed to death unless they have aoes which destroy the roots. If I want to just take down a group of enemies with minimal hassle, I’ll just run into the middle of them, entangle, and drop my 3 utility skill traps. Usually enough to take down a whole band of enemies, especially if I then follow up with an arrow barrage while they’re still rooted.

              • Lachlan the Mad says:

                My Warrior actually has the Signet of Rage as his main elite skill, and I hardly ever pop it. This depresses me slightly because it almost always feels like a wasted slot, but when I take it out my adrenaline gauge just doesn’t fill fast enough. My build is focused around stacking massive amounts of vulnerability and using the burst skill as often as possible, so it IS the right choice, but it makes me feel a bit of a tit.

            • Lovecrafter says:

              Put up another vote for Supply Crate. I’ve tried all my elite skills (Charr Engineer), and this is how I’d rank them:
              1) Supply Crate
              2) Charrzooka
              3) Warband Support
              4) Elixir X
              5) Artillery Barrage
              6) Mortar

              • Jarenth says:

                I guess my experience with Supply Crate in PVP is not representational. Let’s put that down as the next skill to unlock.

                I did get the Charrzooka yesterday, and it’s at the very least a lot more fun than the Warband.

        • Mephane says:

          The asura 30 point elite, the big stone/crystal golem, is also very powerful. I use it whenever I have to do one of those skill challenges which are obviously meant for two players or more (like veteran +2 adds) – drop the golem, then start the even, AoE-Nuke the hell out of everything while they attack the golem, switch to water, drop a few healing spells, back to nuking. The tactic works also great for the rich ore nodes guarded by veteran mobs.

          OTOH – the battle suit is totally useless. You are actually worse at killing stuff with it than without.

  20. X2Eliah says:

    One thing I will say about this is that this is an amazingly good tutorial.

    Another thing. Hm. It is interesting to acknowledge, but frankly my most favourite, most played and most identifiable character I have started out as a joke/pun (Egolas Preenleaf as a parody of Legolas Greenleaf), but this is just my main character now, and I absolutely enjoy the looks/concept/playstyle it has.

    Third comment: This game has completely atrocious plot mission design at places. I can practically hear the mission designer cackling in his cubicle, going “HAHA, YOU DON’T PLAY A WARRIOR? WELL F.U. BUDDY!”. There’s many instances where you are up against unfair odds, insta-kill monsters, super-tight locations and so on that really screw up those characters who are not into heavy armour, durability, and greatswords.
    It is amazing how disconnected and unfitting they are compared to the PvE content the game has otherwise.

    Well, aside from a certain dungeon or two.

    • Mari says:

      I’ve gotten that same feeling. In fact, there was a particular story mission that I was stuck on for like 10 levels, unlocking new skills and getting better armor because the ginormous fire-resistant boss surrounded by mobs of fire-resistant mooks in the tight space kept killing my butt before I did ANY damage to it. In the end I eventually beat it but I was virtually naked by the time I did so. Meanwhile my NPC partner who was SUPPOSED to be doing ranged damage mostly stood around and stared, nearest I could tell.

  21. Wedge says:

    I love the game, but it took me until about ~25 to figure out all the stuff you’ve said up there. ANet really should pay you for this guide, because right now it has precious little in the way of tutorializing.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Huh, really? It’s short on telling you about crafting, I will definitely acknowledge that, but everything else up there had at LEAST one tutorial window specifically for it… Oh, it took me a while before I found the “automatic deposit collectibles” button.

      I suppose that might be because I was following the game before release and I have significant experience in MMOs..

  22. Urs says:

    Ah, man. Farewell blissful ignorance!

    Now I’m intrigued. And, oh, look! No subscription fees? This might just be my return to the world of MMOs.
    I would like someone to explain to me, though: how exactly does the combat work/feel? Because, I remember Age of Conan back then and all my time fruitlessly spent in the settings desperately trying to find out how to grow an extra hand or at least a couple of extra fingers.

    • Stranger says:

      You want to know about the combat feel?

      “Dodge!”

      Learn this well, and you should be able to go far.

      • Mari says:

        I dunno, I tend to take the “heal, heal like the wind and RUN AWAY” approach to combat. Possibly because I haven’t yet grown the extra fingers necessary to move, use skills, control the camera, AND dodge. Plus, your dodges are limited and you have to wait for them to re-charge before you can use them again and I inevitably manage to accidentally waste one of my two hitting the wrong key when I’m trying to move.

        • Aldowyn says:

          *shrug* wasd to move, mouse to scroll the edges of the screen to turn, v or double tap to dodge, 12345 for main abilities and 67890 for heal/utility/elite.

          Am I missing anything? .. nope. So you might need agile fingers to use skills while moving in certain directions, but that’s it.

          • Vipermagi says:

            I rebound my utilities to Q-E-C, and A-D are strafe (turning is way too slow anyways, so those are unbound). Quite comfortable, really :)

          • Mari says:

            Yeah, it doesn’t work that way for me. Right hand is for mouse turn/camera control. Left hand runs WASD for movement, V for dodge, space for jump, tab for target, and 1-0 for skills plus F1-F4 for additional guardian skills. I’ve been contemplating getting a game pad for all the lefty stuff just to have it all clustered better and to maybe have a tactile indication of where my fingers should be since the keyboard on my laptop lacks the tactile “home row” cues and with my hand flying all the heck over the place I’ve discovered that I often “land” one key off.

  23. ACman says:

    Shamus….. SHAMUS…. If you havent already you should try out FTL on Steam, Shamus… It’s a roguelike where you Captain a spaceship, Shamus.

    Open your airlocks to put out fires Shamus.
    Fire your missiles into the enemy’s weapon-control-module Shamus.
    Stay ahead of the rebellion Shamus. You carry vital information Shamus.

    Kill the aliens, subvert their crews. Kill the slavers, free their crews.

    For the good of the Alliance, Shamus.

    Cruelly die Shamus, as oxygen is used up by fires that block your crew from reaching the oxygen regeneration module to repair it.

    Win gloriously Shamus, as you teleport crew to take the vessels of the enemy.

    Play FTL, Shamus. Be a Captain of Space.

    • ACman says:

      Note: I have no affiliation with the developers of this game but Shamus has removed his suggestions section and I want him to try it.

      And you should try it. It’s very oldschool but it’s good for a turn or two. Or Several turns really. Then you die and have to start again.

      It would be really ace if it made it to mobile platforms because it really is ideal for that while also being compelling in longer doses.

    • Jeff #3 says:

      Is it just me, or does this post look a lot like some script generated message where the name of the blog is put in the blank fields?

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen the words ‘Shamus’ used that many times in the same post before.

      Apologies if it’s not, but it looks really weird.

      • ACman says:

        Play FTL Jeff Number 3. Be a Captain of Space,

      • X2Eliah says:

        I just assume it is some meta-joke I didn’t get.

        But yeah, it is very weird.

        • Jeff #3 says:

          It reads like Alarm Point sounds when it tries to pronounce a non-word as a word. There’s nothing like a phone call at 3 am in the morning, that when you pick up a robot tries to tell you that P99JU32W is down, and all you can wonder is ‘what is pea-nuh-nuh-jew-thirty-two-west?’

      • Aldowyn says:

        I got the distinct feeling that it was supposed to sound like a form of brainwashing. DO THIS SHAMUS. SHAAAAMUUUUUS!!! :P

        Also FTL looks cool, I watched TB’s WTF is for it.

        • rrgg says:

          From what I’ve seen it does look right up Shamus’s alley. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to convince myself to spring for it on account of A. I’m not so sure about paying money for a rouge-like and B. this looks like the kind of game where I would really like to mess around and experiment with all of the different ship types, layouts, crews, starting weapons, etc. yet you are limited to only a single option in the beginning with all the others only unlock-able once you complete certain achievements (such as winning the game). I don’t want to end up with the feeling that I am playing the game just so that I can play the game.

    • Irridium says:

      What he said, only I say buy it off GoG.

  24. Drew says:

    I think the biggest thing I’ve had to re-learn for this game is that if you’re casting a spell or using another spell-like ability with a cast time…DON’T STAND STILL. You don’t need to stand still while casting, or channeling, or anything like that. Big bad monsters that will smash you to bits if you stand there and cast might not be able to hit you at all if you kite and dodge. And really, it just doesn’t make sense to see a guy/girl in a robe/dress/tunic standing there chanting while a massive ogre beats on them with a club, which is what is going to happen if you stand still while casting. Allowing you to always stay on the move is a huge difference from many games in the genre, and it takes quite a while to get used to it. Once you do, however, you’ll find yourself a lot more capable.

    • Aldowyn says:

      it depends on the skill, there are (a few) exceptions. For example ele staff fire attunement’s 5 is a meteor shower that has about a 2 second channel for it to continue going after you stop channeling.

  25. Jarenth says:

    Man, Shamus, you didn’t even get into Combos. That might be because you don’t know about them; the game certainly doesn’t make any effort to tell you about them. They’re still cool, though.

    There’s a little more complexity to crafting than ‘wood is for weapons, metal is for armor’, but you’re absolutely right that everyone should just gather all the time. One interesting thing, though, is that the Collection tab space is limited. But then that’s what the Trading Post is for.

    As a final note, the Ascalonian Tombs instance is terrible and everyone should do it only once, for the ‘story’. And the boulders.

    Edit: And while you make a fair point about Guild Wars 2’s mobility, most World of Warcraft dungeons and raids from the first expansion onward focus a high degree of movement and a low degree of stand-still-and-shoot too. There’s still the skill bar overload, but if you don’t learn not to stand in the fire, you won’t do incredibly well in that game either.

    • AncientSpark says:

      Ascalonian Catacombs is terrible on either mode. Cadaceus Manor is a joke on story, but awful on explore, etc. The dungeons are all pretty grueling in one way or another.

      • spelley says:

        My coworker and I ran through the dungeon with a few random people. By the end, most of us (especially us) had broken all our armour. I was a female Mesmer who had no shirt or pants, but had shoulder pads :P

    • Vipermagi says:

      Twilight Arbor on Story was tons worse than AC. The final fight against Faolain and Destiny’s Edge that actually deals damage, and way too much at that was downright impossible for our four-man team. If we could even get one down, Faolain just jumps in and resurrects them as we explode against the enormous damage output of those Censored. AC, we completed with three casters, with comparative ease.

      TA also has the most boring boss. Not even going to spoiler tag this one. He summons Nightmares that explode for some damage and Poison. OVER AND OVER. He can also Fear for a few seconds, once every few minutes it felt. That is literally all he ever does. You just circle strafe the enormous packs of nightmares and auto-attack the bastard for an age and a half.
      We were with three at that point. Only one of us had the fortitude to bother kiting him after what felt like fifteen minutes. The Guardian had no ranged weapons so he was useless anyways (going into melee meant the nightmares gang up on you and just kill you). I was bored out of my mind and just offed myself eventually.
      Fun fact: the Warrior has Healing Signet, which passively heals you. Greyah never had to heal during the fight, because the boss just dealt way too little damage if you, you know, *walk casually*.

      Nothing in the Catacombs (story mode) was nearly this stupid. Nothing in AC bored me, and only the (now-nerfed) Spike Traps on the Rangers felt cheap.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        Eeeeheeeheee, I love the healing signet, especially since I spent 30 trait points in healing power. I am literally immune to bleeding and poison because I heal faster than they damage me :)

  26. Adam P says:

    Shamus, I sense some derision when you say WoW has pandas. I shall contest that with one simple fact: pandas have been part of the Warcraft universe since 2003 (Brewmaster Chen Stormstout in The Frozen Throne)and Kung Fu Panda did not come out until 2008.

    I’ll also say this about WoW: Since 2005, end game raiding has gotten more complex than “stand here and stab this dragon’s toe until it dies.” Movement has become more and more important in the years since then. At 85, all Cataclysm bosses (and any dungeons revamped for Cataclysm) telegraph their big-hitting attacks so that players can move to avoid them, or pop their survival cooldowns. Keeping a firm gaze at your action bars to watch cooldowns WILL get your character killed, sometimes slowly, sometimes instantly.

    WoW still uses the tank-healer-3DPS model for dungeons, but every class has survival, damage mitigation, and self-healing abilities. I said this in a previous comment, but you can run every dungeon up until level 81 without someone specialized in tanking or healing. With the recent talent overhaul, that gap has closed even further. The lines between tank, healer, and DPS is only one of formality; tanks get more damage mitigation and survival abilities, healers get more healing spells (classes that can heal, like Priest or Paladin, get at least one friendly healing spell even if they’re specced for DPS). Everyone can do damage, and it’s even encouraged. Healers get enough hit rating for their damaging spells for free so that they have something to do when nobody is dying. Tank damage and healer damage is comparable with DPS damage.*

    As far as dungeons go, the next expansion (the “Kung Fu Panda” one coming out next week) will introduce scenarios, which are sort of like dungeons. They’re basically one-part story mission (in GW2, obviously) and one-part dungeon. You go in with whatever you have. You can do 3 DPS and do just fine. You can do 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 DPS and do just fine. Granted, these scenarios are only available for players at level 90, so the grouping problem isn’t mitigated for lower level players. (Luckily, the Looking For Dungeon tool DOES mitigate that problem. You can have a group built for you in less than 15 minutes, depending on when you’re playing.)

    Questing is largely unchanged. Low level quests are more interactive event-type stuff though, instead of just “kill 10 dudes.”

    * In an end game raid (Dragon Soul, level 85), tanks and healers are able to put out about 16-20k DPS, while a (good) DPS player can do 28k-36k. It’s not truly comparable, but tanks+healers are capable of doing about 25% of the damage on most boss fights. (In 10-man raiding.)

    EDIT: And while I was writing this, it turns out that 25 Death Knights cleared heroic Dragon Soul (hardest difficulty for the last raid of the expansion). No healers! http://wow.joystiq.com/2012/09/17/all-death-knight-team-clears-25-man-heroic-dragon-soul/

    ADDENDUM: I hope my comment doesn’t come off wrong. I’m trying to point out that many of Shamus’ criticisms about MMOs (and WoW in particular) aren’t as valid now. Things in WoW have changed and are changing quite a bit, and the scene looks quite different at end game than it does while leveling.

    • X2Eliah says:

      I shall counter your panda-lore knowledge with the basic premise that giant walking fluffy panda ninjas/samurai are inherently ridiculous and, to great extent, a farce. No matter if it was in the official lore or not.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Pandaren were a popular joke :/ I don’t mind them being in the LORE, especially since Warcraft’s had those little silly things for quite a while, but basing an entire expansion around them? Compare it to the previous ones – the Burning Crusade. DEMON INVASION. Wrath of the Lich King. UNDEAD HORDES. Cataclysm. DEMIGOD DRAGON.

        Mists of Pandaria…

        Pandas.

        I believe my point is clear.

        • Adam P says:

          Burning Crusade had demons, Wrath of the Lich King had undead, and Cataclysm had a dragon. That doesn’t mean that is what those expansions were about. That would be like saying Borderlands is about guns, Mass Effect is about blue space chicks, and Call of Duty is about grey.

          But yes, the pandas were originally concieved of as a joke. Which is a shame because WoW is so serious. There’s an entire zone that plays out as an homage to Indiana Jones, not to mention the super-saturation of pop culture references: Linken, Lario and Muigi, references to numerous songs, a Plants vs Zombies mini-game, a Joust mini-game, plenty of Monty Python references… the list goes on.

          • Aldowyn says:

            I guess it’s because my favorite part of WC was always the setting, and they seem to have run out of actually relevant things to base the story in the expansions on.

          • spelley says:

            I argue that Call of Duty might in fact be about grey. I think the main issue people take with it isn’t that it exists, it is that the primary focus is clearly on the pandas and regardless of source, it clearly is going to immediately invoke images of Kung Fu Panda.

            Some people like their lore (mostly) serious. Focusing on one of the silliest aspects of the game just turns some people off. Personally, I am a GW2 man and have very little experience with WoW (just not my cup of tea) but that seems to be the main issue people have with it.

      • Adam P says:

        Far more ridiculous than the walking bovines, werewolves, and space goats, I take it? Or the naturalist bipedal bears? The tiny, uncoordinated fish-men that decimated an advanced tribe of trolls? The treehugging elves that can shapeshift into a bird, bear, cat, or tree? The tiny goblins that manage to make (and employ) suicidally explosive inventions AND be highly successful business tycoons? Or the diminutive, fleshy gnomes that evolved from mechanical constructs?

        There’s a lot of ridiculous stuff in WoW, is my point. Pandas aren’t the first and won’t be the last.

        If you think the pandas are ninja/samurai, perhaps you should see what real-world samurai look like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRGm_Zv0ZeY

    • Shamus says:

      Not really derision. I think the pandas look charming, their starting area looks beautiful. I don’t know anything about it beyond that.

      I mean, I like GW2 better than WoW, but that doesn’t make WoW terrible.

  27. daemon23 says:

    It may be worth noting that it’s not just five powers in the first five slots. Every class has the ability to swap out those weapon slots, though combat will impose a cooldown timer on the swapping. Most classes will be able to switch between two sets of equipped weapons, while the Engineer can choose to equip one of seven kits as one of their utility skills (which swaps between equipped weapon and kit) and the Elementalist chooses from one of four attunements, each with its own set of skills.

  28. Heron says:

    I tried to buy GW2 last week, largely because Shamus seems to like it.

    My American Express didn’t work, and I got a fraud alert e-mail from American Express a few minutes later. My Mastercard didn’t work either. (I got a fraud alert e-mail from Bank of America the next morning.) I tried Paypal as a last resort, but the website just gave me a very unhelpful error message.

    So, I don’t have the game yet.

    • RTBones says:

      Funny, had a similar thing happen to me. While I was moderately interested in the game, Shamus’s article here combined with a little more thorough research convinced me to give it a try.

      Try as I might, the GW2 website would not accept my credit card. Tried Amazon, and though there was a little faffing involved, that seemed to do the trick.

      In the download process now….

  29. RichVR says:

    You get dropped into the world and it should like something like this:

    FYI. Think you meant ‘look’.

  30. Aldowyn says:

    This actually reminded me of my own post, Shamus. I wrote a blog post talking about the questing system and what makes it different from typical MMOs like WoW. Planning on talking about combat, but you covered that too :/

    Ah, I probably will sometime this week anyway.

    • Dasick says:

      This has been covered before, but WoW is really changing it’s formula. The trope of “kill x of y” for low-level quests is actually something they’re phasing out in favor of more interesting quests.

      Granted, they’re more about throwing content at the player as opposed to having mechanical depth, but your statement is not entirely true.

  31. Sean Riley says:

    Dear Shamus,

    Damn you for making me salivate; salivate damn it!(1) for this game. It looks amazing and I want to play it.

    Dear NCsoft,

    Bring out a Mac client, damn you!

    Dear Inevitable Commenter,

    Yes, I know about Wine. Not interested in mucking around with all that trying to make it work.

    (1) I also have a coffee. The coffee may be what’s making me salivate.

  32. Incunabulum says:

    “According to the folk-knowledge of player chat, mastering a crafting profession is worth ten levels.”

    I think this is an average over all 8 crafting professions and all 80 levels. I’ve taken a level 2 character to level 15 while doing artificing (0 – about 375) – doing the same thing with a level 38 character only got me to level 45.

  33. Mechakisc says:

    I’m still going after Garrosh on the weekends, but it’ll be awhile before I get around to leveling a kung fu panda. Leveling my thief in GW2 as a pistol-dual-wielding-musketeer is way more fun that leveling in WoW.

  34. GTB says:

    I wish I could sacrifice a utility or weapon skill to equip another one of my heals, or vice versa. I don’t mind a limited pallet to work from, but I feel like I should be able to choose my own paints.

    Other than that, i don’t have any complaints at all about this game. It’s rock solid. I’m not sure its really “innovative” as Shamus says though. I think it just out-WOWs WOW: It takes all the best stuff from the fantasy MMO genre and puts it together into one game. There isn’t anything really new here, it’s just really well implemented.

  35. Amarsir says:

    They’re doing a lot of things I like, but this:

    “While not all classes are equal, they should all be able to deal damage and heal damage to some degree. Everyone gets a self-heal. Everyone can deal area damage. Everyone can do burst single-target damage.”

    is something I’ve traditionally considered a negative. While it no doubt helps the developers to balance the game, I’ve found it makes things same-y and hurts the replay value that you should get by having multiple classes.

    • GTB says:

      That’s true. Turns out, some people (like me) like playing healers and support classes. And it could be argued that with this system any class could become a healer or support class by taking the appropriate skills and equipping the appropriate weapon, but nobody really specializes in it.

    • Gildan Bladeborn says:

      You’re looking at it wrong, or that wasn’t phrased optimally (take your pick), because classes are very different from each other. The move away from the “holy trinity” was about making each class generally self-sufficient, not making them largely inter-changeable with the differences amounting to “fluff”. My mesmer doesn’t play even remotely like my warrior or guardian do, even though they can accomplish the same things by themselves; the way they go about it is what sets each class apart.

      • Joshua says:

        True. My Guardian plays more differently in terms of decisions I have to make about what to cast when and where based on whether my second set of weapons is Sword/Sword or Scepter/Focus than my typical Blaster vs. Tank do in City of Heroes, despite their having two or three trays of up to 10 powers each (plus some trays of once-in-a-blue-moon power). The interaction of position, facing, and combo powers is much more complex than the typical waiting and watching for the cooldown of the best powers.

  36. Zaxares says:

    Some excellent tips you have there, Shamus! :) Personally, I wish I’d known that harvesting materials gives you XP earlier; I ran through several levels before thinking, “Oh, I guess I’ll go harvest some mats now so I can work on crafting later.” I now regret that wasted opportunity for the extra XP (and money if you’re not interested in crafting. Prices for raw materials is crazily high right now!)

    Some advice I have for new players regarding harvesting, salvaging and crafting:

    1. Don’t bother using higher tier tools on lower-level nodes. For instance, don’t use a Steel Mining Pick on a Copper Ore node; it doesn’t give you any additional copper ore or XP, so you’re just wasting your valuable tool.

    2. Salvage Light and Medium Armors, but NOT Heavy Armors or weapons of any kind. As Shamus pointed out, Jute has an incredible shortage right now. It’s consistently been the #1 demanded item on the Trading Post since release. However, the only reliable way to get Jute scraps is by salvaging low-tier Light Armor and certain salvage items like “Shredded Garment”. Likewise, the only consistent way to get Rawhide scraps is by salvaging Medium Armors and occasional hide drops from animals. Wood and Ore, which are needed for crafting weapons and Heavy Armor, can be easily obtained by harvesting Tree nodes and Ore nodes, so don’t waste your Salvage Kit uses on them.

    3. Shamus is wrong about one thing when it comes to storing crafting materials in your Bank. The Bank only has slots available for BASELINE crafting materials. For example, while there’s a ton of slots available for Food, you frequently need to refine those baseline ingredients into higher ingredients (e.g. A Ball of Dough needs 1 Jug of Water and 1 Sack of Flour, but there is no slot to store Balls of Dough). As such, feel free to collect ingredients by the boatload, but avoid REFINING the baseline ingredients into higher items until you’re ready to perform the actual crafting in order to save valuable space in your Bank or pack.

    In short, don’t start cooking until you’re ready to make the final product, and don’t refine other crafting materials beyond Bolts/Planks/Ingots.

    • Rack says:

      Low level (1-15) heavy armour almost always yields a greater value in copper ore than its value in selling to vendors and usually by a very large margin. 12 cp in tools and salvage normally yields 20-60 cp worth of copper ore.

      The other thing I’d add is that you don’t have 5 weapon slots, most classes have 10. Swapping weapons is a big deal and too many people consider themselves a Greatsword Guardian or a Staff Mesmer.

  37. guy says:

    Stop telling me about these awesome things!

    I am in college and have no money :(.

  38. Amazon_warrior says:

    “Or maybe you don’t have the game because you’re a big meanie who hates innovation, but you want to know what sorts of vibrant new ideas you’re boycotting.”

    …or maybe you’re backpacking in SE Asia with only a laptop and a Kindle for company, and you’d love to give GW2 a try when you get back to civilisation and a brutally powerful desktop. ;)

  39. Dev Null says:

    I would play this game just for the “Deposit All Collectables” button. Sometimes I just sit in a quiet place and click it, over-and-over…

    • Kian says:

      I didn’t know about those buttons, and had to return every once in a while to a crafting table to deposit things when my backpack filled up. I love that button now.

      I’ve mostly been ignoring the trading post, but I may need to start watching it more carefully if I want to start making enough money for traits by the time I hit 30.

  40. Xodion says:

    Damn it you guys. I never played Guild Wars, I don’t know anything about the world or the story, I rarely bother with MMOs (I played Runescape, because it wasn’t all about combat), and I’m generally misanthropic and anti-social when I am online.

    But I want to give this a go now. The game and the community sound so well built, so much better than anything else we’ve seen, that I have to give it a try, especially given the no-subscription model. How is the Twenty-sided guild coming along, and is it as friendly and accepting as people on here tend to be?

  41. Solf says:

    Here’s another opinion on what GW2 is (and isn’t). I largely agree with that:
    http://syncaine.com/2012/09/14/gw2-dead-on-the-inside/

    By far the biggest problem I have with GW2 is that there’s just no motivation to level — you most likely aren’t get anything new (ability-wise) that is going to significantly alter your play style after first 10 levels or so. Heck, even getting level 5 fireball vs. level 4 fireball would be an improvement, imo.

    In this way, I view GW2 skill system (also Diablo 3 skill system which I find similar) as a failure (for me).

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