A Week In Tyria…

It’s been just under a week since I got back from Canada & jumped into Tyria (and just over a week since I missed the early access launch – dammit!) and I am taking a night off to put my thoughts about it in order.

First off I can confirm that as expected I am not in the same grip of mania I was in this time last year with LOTRO. I can also confirm that I’m very, very happy about this. My fall for LOTRO was too fast and too deep as I was on the rebound after ending a long term relationship with Second Life. I could see nothing other than shiny new and ignored all the bad bits until I burnt out on the endless grind Turbine seem to feel is necessary in a game. Now my transition from LOTRO to GW2 has been more carefully spaced, less of a rebound and more of an evolution. I’m addicted to the game, but in a deeper, richer, more controlled way. But enough about me, you came here to read about the game, didn’t you? Righto then, let’s start at the beginning…

Pre-Launch & Launch.
As I’ve said before, my holiday meant I missed the three-day headstart my pre-purchase afforded me but, honestly, I wasn’t bothered. When I got home on the morning of the 28th I didn’t rush off to patch the client or anything, nope I just waited until later that day before I got around to it. I created a Human Engineer (Jurak Gearwright – friend me) and despite a client crash that wiped him before completing the creation process I was able to get right in and start blasting Centaurs in Shaemoor on my second attempt. It was nice to see that the betas meant my key bindings were ready to go from the outset and the whole experience was smooth like butter. True that for a while I came up against what I had feared from the betas, namely the feeling that I was simply retreading old ground, but once out of Shaemoor and deeper than two chapters into my personal story I passed the limits of my previous experiences and everything felt exciting & new ๐Ÿ™‚

My System & The Beauty of Tyria
Let’s not beat about the bush, my nearly three-year old computer with its AMD 3-core CPU & creaky nVidia GTX260 is not up to the demands of GW2. And yet, even with that old rig and the outdated drivers I have (the GFX card won’t take the latest ones) the damn game still managed to look 3 times better than LOTRO & 10 times better than SL. Still, there have been odd glitches and crashes that I’m fairly sure have been down to my old card so I’m splashed out and ordered a new gaming rig just so I can see the glorious beauty of Tyria with all the settings maxed out and it should be here any day now – expect some stunning looking screenshots ๐Ÿ˜€ (this is it, by the way, a freaking 4GHz i7 for gawd’s sake! Hell, I’m even going to overclock the bugger!)

Queensdale & Levelling
As I mentioned above, I had done some of the Human starter zone before in the first & second beta weekends, but this did not stop me enjoying a third trip through the beautiful region of Queensdale. I have found the levelling process really well paced, so much so that I was just over 15.5 when I left for the Kessex Hills, a the next area and a 15-25 area – how’s that for being right on the money? It’s worth noting that in GW2 the levelling structure is designed to feel very secondary to everything else and it really does. Yes there have been folks who reached the level cap of 80 in a day or so (I’m not sure how long, but it was really quick) but it is, as far as gameplay goes, meaningless. You see in LOTRO if you were at level 65 and you went back to the Barrow Downs outside Bree then you could simply one-shot any critter there and nothing is a challange to you whatsoever. In GW2 a level 80 revisiting Queensdale is levelled down to between level 1 and 15 again and suddenly everything in that zone is a threat to them. This means you never become a boring God-like character but rather you are always wonderfully, excitingly mortal and your level is just a number affecting stats. My plan is to never out-level content, at least not with Jurak, as I want to experience the whole of the PvE game just the way it was designed.

The Personal Story – Beware! Here Be Spoilers!
Ahhh, the personal story. In the betas I stopped this around two chapters in and boy am I glad I did because then one of the two central pillars of the game has been preserved for me (the other pillar being, for me at least, dynamic events). Still, I have to say that I’ve found some of the aspects of the story to be a little jarring and a tad disappointing for me (I’m a narrative junkie above and before everything else). For instance, in my story as a street-rat who lost his sister to Centaurs, I spent a lot of the early levels getting my friend Quinn out of trouble and foiling Two-Blade Pete’s plans to poison the city’s water supply but when I brought the news of Pete’s plot to Logan Thackery I was presented with a choice: stop the bandits poisoning the water or leave to save Quinn. What? Me, a man on his own, stopping the who bandit group when, correct me if I’m wrong, Logan is in charge of the local police force? Of course I’m going to save Quinn – the bloody Seraph can stop the bandits, surely. Apparently not! I seriously hope the writers don’t butcher them the way Turbine turned the Rangers of Middle Earth into clowns and half-wits just to crowbar the player into events. Look, my ego is not so fragile that I need to destroy all narrative credibility just to feel important so please don’t ask me to make daft choices just so I can feel all study – just write me into a damn good story ๐Ÿ™‚

Exploring & Those Beautiful Dynamic Quests
Ahhh, exploring… how I love to explore in games, to wander off the beaten track and find exciting, beautiful places. SL was great for this because you never knew what you’d find except you knew the people in the game had made it themselves and therefore they could be pug ugly at times. LOTRO was a different kettle of fish because even though the the whole (sort of) of a very beautifully realised Middle Earth was there for you to explore, assuming you were a high enough level, there was never anything to do once you got wherever it was you were going. Oh there might be something there, a beautiful ruin or an interesting cave, but there was nothing happening there. In the end all exploring in LOTRO boiled down to was postcard collecting.

Now in Guild Wars 2 exploring is pure fun because no matter where you go (assuming, as in LOTRO, you of are high enough level) there is always something happening! Dynamic events unfold in the world around you and you can jump right into them as you explore! So many times I’ve set off for location A and ended up no where near because I’ve been pulled in by an event chain that just started as I ran past!

In Summary…
Quite simply Guild Wars 2 is the best game I’ve played. Well, mostly. Anyway, buy it & play it.

P.S.
I’m on Piken Square – drop me a line in game (all Tyrian mail is picked up and delivered by pigeons… really.)

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6 comments

  1. “Iโ€™m addicted to the game, but in a deeper, richer, more controlled way.”

    ^ I was happy to read that you are in the same ranks as so many others I’ve talked with after their first experiences with the full version of the game. My own playstyle has altered considerably from the hectic pace employed during the BWEs, and I’m enjoying myself a great deal more as a result.

    My alt addiction has kicked in full force and with a vengeance! Six different professions, and 5 of the 8 crafting disciplines all being worked on at various times as the mood strikes me… thus far, Thief and Necro have received the most hours of my playing time, but I’m still really enjoying engi, warr, ele, and guard also, and will continue to play them as well. Jeweler is my favorite crafting discipline so far, but I’m really enjoying all of them, and would probably spend even more time working on them except for the supply of materials required. (Which is a huge surprise to me, as I have never been an enthusiastic crafter in previous MMOs.)

    As predicted, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time just in the PvE portions of the game. The sPvP and WvW will still be there when I’m ready for them, but right now I’m just enjoying the exploration and lore of the PvE world too much to step away from it for very long.

    One of the other surprises (for me) was the uniformity of race selection for my characters. I will eventually have a single character slot that I will use to experiment with different personal story lines from other races, but all of my six characters (to date) are asura. In another surprise, it seems the ears of asura trump the tails of the charr, because Mrs ArcherAvatar selected an asura for her character as well. I have no idea how much damage we’re doing to folks with the overwhelming cuteness of two little asura running around together exploring the world, but I apologize in advance for any ruptures which result from excessive smiling or laughter… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    No ETA yet on when “guesting” will be available, but my earlier offer of a partner for shenanigans and adventures stands when it is enabled. My thief is named Archer Avatar (I know… shocking! And, “yes” he does use a shortbow quite often just to stay on good form) and I will send a message to Jurak via the in-game post just to touch base.

    I’m not in any particular hurry to level up any of my alt army very rapidly, but as you stated, that is absolutely not essential to the enjoyment of this game, and I’m simply having too much fun just playing, to be worried about things like “caps” and such. Hopefully I will have at least one of my characters at a level where they will be of use in any area you’re interested in exploring… as of this writing my Thief is level 30, but I’m still taking time to improve his Jeweler and Huntsman disciplines, and also playing my Necro quite a bit.

    1. Hi Archer (and Mrs Archer) and sorry for the delay in replying but I’m back at work now & up to my nose in emails & urgent tasks ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      When guesting goes live, expect a visit from a human engineer looking to learn some Asuran tricks of the trade ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. It’s so cool….I don’t even realize that I have levelled. There is so much to do and see that I simply forget all about reaching level cap. As of today I am lvl 33 and so far the ride as been pure fun. It’s amazing how easily you can get drawn away from the path you’re following to do something else.

    The thing I love the most though is how events can lead to the most fun experiences. I make it a point to stick around when an event is over because it always leads to another and sometimes the end result is just so much fun that I find myself staring at my screen like a complete dork, repeating a litany of disjointed words to express my utter surprise and joy! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I’m finding the crafting a bit tough, it seems to be taking me a while to reach a high level in crafting. I chose Huntsman and Leatherwork for my ranger. It takes a bit to work on both professions.

    I would love to work on my alts and I don’t know whether to stick with my Ranger and level her to 80 and then work on the others later, or if I should work on the others at the same time as my ranger.

    ……and the jumping puzzles?! Oooh won’t talk about them! ๐Ÿ˜€ …..and then to see two animals down the road fighting each other…..how real is that!

    Honestly, GW2 is the best game I’ve played in a very long time. So relaxed, so casual. I haven’t even touched on sPvP or WvWvW or dungeons yet. The list goes on and on! ๐Ÿ˜€ ……and it’s only been the first week! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I was thinking about this reply today, about not having time to reply back (grr, work!) when it struck me. Even though some folks think the dynamic events system leaves them rudderless in the world, I’ve actually found myself with much more of a sense of purpose than I ever had in LOTRO and it comes down to this: I only have a very few hard targets in so much as I’m following the personal story. Everything else that appears in the quest tracker (for want of a better description) is a transitory, area based event or heart and when they are done they are gone leaving me with a very clear path. Now in LOTRO I always had 30 or 40 quests cluttering up my log and I never felt I was in charge of it – it was a tangle of inter-crossing lines that just depressed me.

      Yet another reason I’ll never play LOTRO again ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. True. I used to have a whole list of quests to do in LOTRO and they used to take me forever and they never really seemed to be linked to the lore…..and I mean to have a game so rich in lore…..there is so much that can be done. To think if LOTRO had been built the way GW2 has been built!! Well, enough said!

        1. I often day dream about a better LOTRO but I don’t think such a thing could happen as an MMO – the lore is simply too restrictively handled by the estate. Now back in my youth when I table-topped MERP games I did all manner of non-legit stuff like haunted house runs because I was free in a way Turbine wasn’t. Still, just the grind they have coded into the game upsets me. You’re right, if only Arenanet had made LOTRO…

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