Games

What a Burro’s playing – January 2017 update

Hello dear reader, it’s been around 18 months since I last posted one of these and a lot has changed. I’ve moved away totally from PC gaming now (my beloved computer room has become the domain of my 10 year old son and his Roblox addiction). So, what am I playing these days?

Elite Dangerous: Nope. Still not been back other than to look at the occasional Beta release. There simply isn’t enough in here to grab me yet. I am beginning to doubt there ever will be.

Guild Wars 2: I’m now on one of my semi-regular long-term breaks. I still love the game but I just don’t want to play it right now. Sometime in the next 12 months this will have changed 🙂

MCPE: Oh boy, this has really taken over right now. This is what I think about throughout the day, it’s what I play when I get home, it’s what I dream about when I sleep and watch on YouTube when I get up. This level of obsession is normal for me and won’t last forever but when this type of mania grips me I have learnt to lay back and let it have its oh-so-sweet and wicked way with me… Follow my adventures with this tag: MCPE

Ingress: This one flared up in the summer of 2016 and is still bubbling away – hell, even my missus is playing it. We all tried Pokemon but that didn’t stick, even with the kids.

 

No Man’s Sky: Urgh… I had such high hopes. Still, maybe after a few updates this will be like a Minecraft in Space and I can finally have that space-based game I’m looking for. I won’t hold my breath though, eh?

That’s it for me right now. What about you? What are you playing, enjoying, not enjoying, waiting for? Leave a comment below.

Advertisements

Meanwhile, in Tyria… A Burro once more muses on what he wants from Guild Wars 2 and this time sets his ill-informed sights on storytelling, more or less.

So, in my last musing I mused about what I want from a game and whether or not it is possible. I’m sure it didn’t adequately cover everything I want and it certainly didn’t tell me if it was possible so that post could, in the eyes of a sane and rational person, be seen as abject failure. Luckily I’m a blogger and therefore such measures as sanity or rationality don’t apply to me. No, that last post wasn’t a failure but rather another bright spot the spectrum of my unfolding selfhood, an oasis on my journey to joyous enlightenment, a shining star right in my fundament. Oh yeah, each of my posts are just that good so hold on to your hats because here comes another one, you lucky buggers.

OK, in that last slice of awesomeness I toyed with the idea of multiple story lines happening around the world that players could get involved in at will and it’s this I want to expand on here, partly because I like to think about a game world where this could happen, partly because I like to sound of my own voice droning on and on and on, but mostly because I’m hoping one of my three readers might offer so cool insights into this idea that my baked bean sized intellect hasn’t been able to grasp so far.

Let me start with Kryta and those pesky ponies… *cue wavey dissolve*

Grrrr! Those pesky ponies!

Grrrr! Those pesky ponies!

The centaurs that currently plague the humans of Kryta have nothing to do with Zhiatan and everything to do with humans and centaurs beating on each other. This means stories could be played out there with no harm to the Personal Story that drives new characters towards a final (disappointing) fight with the Big Bad Zeester. Obviously there are stories playing out there but let’s take a broad brush look at them:

Heart Quests: Whilst these add flavour and some background & lore to the area they can hardly be considered stories or adventures. They are fun diversions at best, slow drags at worst and they have no impact on the world or character other than a XP boost and opening up some trinkets for sale.

Dynamic Events: Now these start to get closer to what I’d like to see and I have waxed lyrical many-a-time about just how much I love GW2’s DEs but as far as I can see the devs see them a resource sink that takes them away from developing more (increasing poorly named) Living World* story updates.

Dungeons: What can I say? The staple of adventuring and they have been abandoned by the devs in favour of raids and fractals. What a total waste.

Living World Events: Occasionally a living world story arc will see a zone become the focus of an attack but these are usually nothing more than zerg-fest fights which are fun but pointless.

So the in-game offering isn’t exactly ideal. It’s not conducive to making the world feel alive. There’s the big old Dragon story or nothing. Well, nothing but trivia instanced and disjointed, which is a real shame given how detailed the world and the lore can be.

Instead of just the above, what I‘d really love to see is three-fold:

  • (More) Dynamic events that lead to dungeons with both being changed and updated.
  • A ‘Bulletin Board’ system in local towns and taverns where players can pick up jobs, some of which would lead to the events in item 1 above.
  • The ability for players to create and run their own adventures in game via the ‘Bulletin Board’ system in item 2.

Now there is a lot there expressed in those three points so let me explain a little further:

Dynamic events leading to dungeons is easy enough to understand and if you’ve ever experienced the dynamic event thread in the Harathi Hinterlands that leads you to face off against the boss Centaur then you’ll know what I’m getting at, only I want them to go further. No other game does dynamic events as well as GW2 (at least as far as I know) but they could be so much more because by now the DEs in game feel more like they are endlessly repeating without any reference to your actions. I want the experience of running past a villager running in the other direction and for them to tell me their village is being attacked only for my defence of the village to coincide with an army push into enemy territory to bring down one of the biggest enemy strongholds around which someone is using as cover for a robbery of an ancient artifact from the dungeon below the stronghold, etc. etc. etc.

Many other games have a ‘Bulletin Board’ system (hereafter called a BB as I can never remember how to spell Bulletin!), most notably for me the Elite games, and I love them! I want to head into the town square or pub and look for a list of jobs in need of brave/stupid souls. In the example above the BB could advertise for guards to defend the village or for militia to march on the enemy or even for thieves to delve into the dungeon. These jobs could be generated by the game to match a DE or they could be player generated.

Player generated? Are you mad, Burro? Well let me explain. You see, if there were a system that allowed players to create adventures such as the one above (and many more far more interesting and better thought out than that poor example) then just imagine how much content would be created for free by the community. Star Trek Online has just such a system with The Foundry and whilst I have not played it and I’m sure it will have issues, I can’t help but think that allowing the players to create BB jobs and events and dungeons for other players to participate in would be amazing. Sure you’d have to also implement a moderation system to filter out inappropriate content, and yes you’d have to manage the loot and XP and other rewards, but none of these things are insurmountable. If the player tools were good enough to allow talented creators to design adventures for other players then Tyria would be a far more dynamic place full of roleplay and storytelling. Hell, you would even have the best GMs designing their own seasons that people would follow, possibly with more interest than the main Living World story line.

So there you have it. This is one way in which I’d open up GW2 to help it feel more alive but I’m interested to hear what you think so leave comments below.

 

 

* I’m not sure that the Living World story actually makes the world feel alive to me. Phasing of locations would do that so that if I took my characters through story seasons out of order the locations would not look like they do for everyone regardless of the period. The little town of Prosperity in Dry Top is a great example as no matter when you visit it looks like it does after the Mordrem vine attack, even if you play through a chapter that takes place before that attack! That’s not living.

Meanwhile, in Tyria… A Burro further muses on what the hell he actually wants from a game and does it resemble the moon on a stick.

moonstick

Over the years I’ve used this blog to try and work out what the hell I want from a game. I’ve ranted about systems that I hate, raved about those I love. I’ve condemned mechanics I can’t wrangle, commended those I can. I’ve groaned about ideas I hate, gushed over those I don’t. Ultimately I’ve been guilty of being an armchair dev and backseat world builder, teetering atop my own rickety soapbox whilst I fill the air with the sound of my own ill-informed droning and whining about ‘the perfect game for me’.

I see no reason for this to change, do you?

Good. Buckle up as I once more bellow impotently into the void and try in vain to describe just what the bloody hell I want from a game.
First off though, you may ask why am I covering this old ground again? I mean, wasn’t all that waffling on about world building in 2014 enough? Didn’t all the musing in 2015 lead me to some form of Nirvana? Well, in a word, no. In more than a word; no because a) nothing has changed, b) I still haven’t found what I’m after, c) I’m not even sure I know what I’m after, d) even if I do I don’t know if it exists or can exist.

I’m not sure anyone can help me with the first two of those but at least I can try and make sense of what I’m actually looking for in a game, even if the result is to confirm to me that it doesn’t actually exist and won’t until extremely clever computers exist. Still, I won’t know until I try so here goes.

A Manageable Illusion…
I always thought I was looking for open, but given that I had totally open in Second Life and hugely open in Elite Dangerous and I have left them as both left me bored trying to make my own entertainment I am pretty sure I don’t really want an open world.

Equally I’m not all that enthralled by closed worlds. The list of games I have never finished is staggering and shows me that although I like the initial thrill of a new game I get bored and stop playing. From single player games like BioShock to MMOs like LOTRO & Guild Wars 2 I simply never complete the story arcs and never feel bad about it, after all I can always find out what happens from Wikipedia and YouTube. From this I am pretty sure I’m not after some huge storyline that takes me all over a grand world.

So maybe I’m looking for a small but highly detailed world, one that feels a bigger part of something alive and connected. A manageable illusion of vast openness. So far Guild Wars 2 has come closest with its limited Tyria play area although my recent brush with Elder Scrolls Online has shown me another version of this in Tamriel. Both worlds feel similar to the worlds I drew as a kid hooked on playing Tunnels and Trolls. Both are manageable slices of a much larger world, worlds in which I think I can have an effect.

Big fish, little fish…
There was a video released by Arenanet prior to GW2’s launch, part of its manifesto, that talked about your effect on the world. People in villages you saved would remember you, things you did would impact on the world, and ultimately you and your actions would matter. Unfortunately, like so many of their early claims, this never came to be. In the same way that choosing your story path at the start of the game makes no real difference to your path through the game, saving a village in Tyria has no effect on your character. At the same time I’m railroaded into following a career path I wouldn’t take in any game, that of ultimate hero and saviour of all. So on one hand I can save a village and never be remembered whilst on the other I somehow become the Pact Commander in charge of the greatest army ever assembled. I’m both a minnow and an orca when what I’d rather be is a basking shark, or a seal, or a gull, or a… well you get the picture. My brain simply can not resolve being the most important person alive and also the least, especially when I don’t want to be either.

In the game I want to play I want to choose my own path and I want it to have consequences. I want to be remembered for saving that village, dammit! If, and this is a big if, I want to fight in the army I want to choose how instead of being artificially (and through no more skill of my own than key clicking and wiki-reading) promoted to Commander in Bloody Chief.

Career Advice 101…
Something I have come to like better in ESO than GW2 is the fact you can be anything in the former. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Engineer class in GW2 but I’d rather like to play a mash-up of an engineer, a thief, and a Mesmer but I can’t. In real life I’m doing a job that combines lots of different skills and also holding down family & social lives that involve others. In all the time no one has said to me that I can only use a limited set of skills from one aspect of my life. Games have conditioned me to accept this limitation in their worlds and I’m rather sick of it.

The flip side to this is Elite Dangerous’ ‘do what you want’ ethos. Fancy being a trader? Fine! Want to try out being a pirate now? Also fine! Bounty Hunter? Miner? Assassin? All fine, do what you want! Except who the hell actually does that without consequence? Who joins the peace-keeping, law-enforcing Navy only to then be a trader for a week and then a bounty hunter and then a pirate and then back to the Navy?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily looking for a game I can be a pirate in as I enjoy playing the hero far too much, but rather I’m looking for a game where I can use all of the skills I want to use to follow the path I want to follow without artificial barriers blocking me.

Never a dull moment…
Do you know what raises a good games master above the crowed of OK ones? Adaptability. A good GM will see how an adventure is going and adapt to keep the energy flowing. A good GM will be able to see an opportunity to create a story out of thin air and run with it. An OK GM just sticks with a pre-planned path and never veers off. This is currently my biggest bugbear with GW2. Unless there is a Living World story out (and they are few and far between) there are no stories in the game. Sure there are dynamic events, although these have proved hard to maintain, update and add to so they offer just repeating loops of the same thing. Yes there are dungeons and fractals and puzzles throughout the world but again they are endlessly repeating fights.

What I’m looking for is story everywhere, not just in one area. After all, we know that [insert name of current Living World threat here] isn’t the only threat to Tyria but it’s the only one we can concentrate on and the only one we are allowed to participate in. Very much like the fact I’m forced to be the Pact Commander, I resent the fact I’m forced to deal with X dragon threat when what I want to be doing is helping the Seraph investigate a burnt out farm, or the Lionguard retake Claw Island, or the Priory recover Orrin artefacts, or the Nolan Village council find a lost cub in the catacombs. Anything and everything other than fight another bloody dragon. Or rather, than only be able to fight another bloody dragon.

Better together…
One aspect I really can’t fault Arenanet and Guild Wars 2 for, except for the fact they have ruined every other game for me going forward, is the focus on ensuring other players are not seen as the enemy but rather as friends who can help out. This has, so far, been my biggest stumbling block in ESO with its non-instanced nodes, shared XP for kills, and lack of ‘down levelling’. In GW2 I will tell people if I see a node, I look forward to people diving into a fight with me, and I never feel hugely over-powered if I’m in a lower level zone with lower-level friends. GW2 makes me want to play with people whereas all the other games I’ve played have either been single players games (Borderlands, BioShock) or MMOs that feel like they are (LOTRO, ESO). I can only really feel at home with a game that is as inclusive and other-player-friendly as GW2.

In concussion…
Previous posts in this ‘series’ have talked about how I wanted the world of GW2 to feel more alive with cities that have daily cycles, working shops, player housing, and an assortment of festivals and celebrations. I don’t think this post is really any different in that what I’m looking for is Guild Wars but alive and living. I want freedom to follow my own storylines in my own way and with my own character built in my own way but with other people.

I have a (pipe) dream that I log into GW2 and walk out of my house in Divinities Reach right into a night time parade for a celebration of the gods complete with dancing and singing and food. I move through the crowds and contact any guild mates who are online whilst at the same time checking the local newspaper. There is a report of a farm burnt out south of Shaemoor and the family have vanished so I suggest to the guildies who are on that we go and take a look, especially as the Seraph are offering a small reward for details. Three of us meet at the pub in Shaemoor and to the outside observer it is impossible to tell what class we are. We set off to the farm and start an evening of investigation, puzzling, jumping, and fighting that leads us back to a hidden bandit cell in the city and a fight that scales up as people jump into help. The next night we do it all again but this time heading out to the Shiverpeaks to uncover an ancient book that was thought lost and can teach one of us a key new skill, if only we can get past the Dredge army that have camped on top of the location ahead of an attack on a large Norn homestead.

Now that is a game I’d want to play more of for the sake of playing it rather than logging into to complete my dailies but I suspect I’m asking for the moon on a stick…

Meanwhile, in Tamriel… well it sure ain’t Tyria!

Update (23/03/16): Elde has posted her thoughts on this topic here: https://starshadow.me/2016/03/23/eso-vs-gw2/

In my last post I talked why I’ve drifted away from Guild Wars 2 and into Elder Scrolls Online and now in this post I want to talk about the new shiny responsible for turning my eye, the world of Tamriel, and how I currently feel about both GW2 and ESO.

First off I should say that I’m a creature of habit and as such when I bond with something I can find it hard to open up and move to something else. It was the same moving from Second Life to LOTRO and then LOTRO to GW2 and now GW2 to ESO. Each move is strangely emotional time full of conflicting feelings of loss, regret, and bitterness but also excitement, fun, wonder. I have found this move both the hardest and the easiest of them all.

It’s been hard because in the past I’ve generally left games at the end of my tether so I’m looking for something new, but in this case I was (indeed, am) not looking to leave GW2 as it is still a game I love and enjoy.

Conversely it’s been easy because of my mate Elda. She is an experienced ESO player and loves the world of Elder Scrolls as much as I love the world of Guild Wars. She has eased the transition from Tyria to Tamriel greatly and is proving to have no end (well, no visible end) to her patience with my questions and running off and jumping on things like a sugared up 9 year old.

The two biggest problems I have faced in moving from GW2 to ESO have been around the aesthetics and the lore. Putting it simply the look of the game is not entirely to my tastes and knowing nothing about the world made it hard to care about it.

With regards to the lore, I have found an easy and satisfying fix on YouTube by watching the lore videos of ShoddyCast who has done a brilliant job of making me fall in love with the world & lore of Elder Scrolls.

The other issue of the games look is a little harder to get over and in truth only time will help me with that, but at least it’s not a deal breaker (although it very nearly was in Coldharbour, the fugly starting area, as that was very nearly a ‘no sir, I don’t like it!’ quitting moment. Gods! Who sets their opening segment of the game in the ugliest part of the whole world?).

So, seeing as comparisons are inevitable, I guess I should look at which do I prefer? Well in truth both have aspects I find more attractive than the other. Let me explain by way of a list, the contents of which are entirely personal and subjective and presented in no particular order…

Graphics: Both worlds are lovely (the shithole of ESO’s Coldharbour aside) with ESO having better weather and atmospheric effects and GW2 having a more delicate feel. This is hard to quantify but ESO’s world looks and feels bigger and blockier than GW2, with Tyria feeling more attractive. This is even truer of the character models.

Characters: I can not say this enough – there is nothing ‘wrong’ with ESO’s models (and in fact I prefer a lot of their outfits as they have a nicer ‘real’ feel than GW2’s god-awful spike obsession) but I have yet to see an attractive ESO character. The faces are… well… just not attractive. GW2 is guilty of going the other ways in that you can’t make an ugly or old or scarred character, but it’s more than that and ESO characters all look far better with their faces covered up! Both GW2 & ESO have non-human characters but ESOs are basically a human torso with a cat or lizard head popped on top and it looks wrong, whereas GW2 got it right with the Char and the Kodan races. And give me a walking plant made up of overlapping leaves and flowers and bark, over a spoon-faced dark elf with piggy eyes and spindly limbs any day.

Races and Classes: Dead simple – I like GW2’s races better than ESO, hands down and no contest, but I like SO’s flexible class system better. Except for the Engineer. GW2 Engi beats all. GW2 Engi is fun and flames in equal measure. Nothing comes close to GW2 Engi.

Animations: ESO has a huge range of beautiful emote animations that far surpasses GW2’s pathetic efforts so it’s a huge shock to witness the bloody awful animations your character has for running and walking. My guy is part cat yet he runs like he has a broom handle up his arse! It’s only a small thing as ESO has tons of other great animations but it’s the one I have to look at the most and it makes sad inside every time.

UI: GW2 wins because it is lovely. ESO is awful until you use ‘add-ons’ and then it becomes OK.

Gameplay: Hmmm, this is a biggie. I love the concept of ESO allowing me to make a character I want to and play in a way I want to but I dislike its old quest system (icon over an NPC’s head, pick up quest from them, do quest for them, turn quest in to them). GW2’s dynamic questing system feels more fun but looking at how even GW2 is moving away from that in favour of larger ‘meta events’ maybe it’s just too hard to implement. Other than they both feel similar in gameplay term – explore, quest, level, complete a story.

Combat: So far I prefer GW2 but I strongly suspect this is because I understand it. ESO combat has been ok so far but I don’t have the first clue what I’m doing. In short, the jury is out.

Controls: I have to say GW2 wins for me but again this is because I am so new to ESO that I don’t really know my way around. I’m finding the ‘action camera’ style a little hard which is why I never used it in GW2. Again, jury is out. Again I suspect this will be a non-issue.

Mechanics: I’d say that GW2 does a damn good job of removing barriers at the cost of immersion whereas ESO adds immersion back in. Case in point is selling stuff. In GW2 I can sell anything in my bags on the trading post wherever I am. In ESO, as far as I can see, you have to be in a trading guild and that guild has to ‘bid’ for a place to plop down an in-world stall and only then can random folks buy from you by walking up to the stall and interacting with the NPC running the stall. That is both amazing and faffy and I have no idea if I’ll like it or not yet.

Crafting: ESO looks more like LOTRO then GW2 and that can only be a good thing. Crafting in GW2 is horrible turned up to 11. And it’s boring. And shit.

Lore: Both are fun. Both are derivative. I’m enjoying both. Draw 😉

Fun: Tricky one. GW2 feels more fun right now whereas ESO has a po-faced feel about that El assures me isn’t true. I think it’s down to it being, as Gkaruk calls it, a ‘grown up’ MMO. It feels like D&D and MERP did to me when I was a kid pen & papering it with my mates. It feels… old. I don’t mean that in a bad way. GW2 feels new and looks all shiny. ESO feels… chunkier and slower and more bedded in. GW2 still feels like it’s trying to find out who it is whereas ESO has the confidence of middle-age.

Anyway, I’ve waffled on enough. What it all boils down to is:

  • I like both. I’m going to keep playing both.
  • GW2 looks better and feels more easily accessible fun. Also Engi.
  • ESO feels like it has more depth to it.
  • As long as I have the mates I’ve made through the GGG Guild to play with I’ll be having fun 😀

ancient_map_of_tamriel_by_andrewscrolls-d3lad0h

Meanwhile, in Tyria… well it sure ain’t Tamriel!

I’m not entirely sure how I got here. One minute I’m gloriously happy in Guild Wars 2 and then the next I’m exploring Elder Scrolls Online and I can feel the bonds to Tyria once again slipping away.

I will write more on my ESO experiences in my next post but right now I ‘blame’* Elda in part for her cool thief video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnfuzGShEXc) which made me nostalgic for one of my favourite games ever, Thief. Yet Elda’s temptations are not at the root of the issue.

For me, and I think for other people, Guild Wars 2 has stalled a little and now knowing there will be no more Living Story for months and months in favour of PvP and raid updates. Sure I have a lot to do in the world but little in the way of reason to do them right now as I’m mainly a story-driven player.

Now this has happened before, after all I dropped out from Nov 12 through to Feb 13 and then again from about June 14 to June 15, but I don’t want this to happen again to that extent, especially now I have friends there in a Guild I help run. No, I want to manage my time and my obsessive gameplay nature better and I want to live in more than one game at once.

To that end I’m going to try and do two or three nights in each world a week (with Tuesday totally off) so that I don’t leave Tyria, and my friends, again.

tyria_mollweidedfjo9

* I don’t blame her at all but you know what I mean. She is the catalyst for a heap of fun 😀

Life in Tyria: Several funny things happened to me on the way to the way point…

Last night in #GuildWars2 was really good fun yet I got nothing done and don’t care that I didn’t. Let me explain.

I logged in later than normal due to family stuff and found there were only three of the “All the Gs” guild online, me, +Cmdr Paws & +Alex Hartmann. We chatted in TS for a while and it was apparent we were all doing our own things. I wanted to start the next part of my personal story and both guildies offered to join me for back up, an offer I was delighted to accept as I knew I’d be walking into a fight in the next step.

But we never got to that step and here’s why.

The guys came to me but neither had been to my area before so they had a fun run through a lot of bad guys to get to me. Once they reached me in the Skritt caves we decided to explore and found a Hero Point guarded by a Veteran spider and lots of rapidly re-spawning spider minions so we had a blast stomping them before we found a small Skitt camp with a spider-stomping training stage complete with painted wooden spiders that drop down 😀

On the way out we decided to cut across a mountain to get to my personal story entry point and ran slap bang into a Jotun camp with another Hero Point and Vet. Commence a serious fight as Jotun are a lot tougher than spiders and both Paws and Alex were under powered for the zone, but we won! We then exited by leaping down a cliff face like three drug-fueled goats and dashed off to climb another mountain guarded by griffins. We did this because at the top was a Vista that afforded us a lovely cinematic of the area. At this point Alex and I became part-goat again but Paws decided to see if he could survive the fall. He couldn’t but by the Six Gods the dent he left ion the road was impressive!

At last we could set off for the personal story point… except I saw a lonely Charr by a cave so went to investigate instead. He asked us to go inside and help his colleagues save the Skriitt from the demons so we did – we are heroic and noble like that, you see. In the caves we found the whole area full of foul yellow mist and glowing crystals and the poor Skritt were under attack by Imps galore! We set about smacking down the wee winged swine and soon came across a Sylvari scholar, a colleague of the Charr outside, who needed us to gather some of the crystals so she could open a portal to send the imps back. Only the portal then started to spew lots of them out along with a Veteran Imp. Cue another damn big fight!

On the way out of the caves and finally heading towards the personal story point we go split up and Paws & Alex began to fight for their lives as they fled some big Bad Nasties crossing a huge rope bridge. I also found myself in hot water as I stupidly took on a column of Grawl bad guys who were trying to break into a Priory camp. I fought them off as best I could (mostly by setting the buggers on fire and applying my mace to their skulls) but had not Paws, ales and several other passing heroes joined in and turned the tide I would have been Grawl food!

As we left the scene of our victory-snatched-from-defeat we passed another Priory camp called Camp Landslide Lee. It was named after their colleague who camped there despite advice to the contrary and seemingly enjoyed a good yodel of a morning. He is missed by his fellow scholars to this day.

Now we were definitely on the road to the personal story point. Except we saw a Svanir running into a cave and decided to investigate. Turns out we’d found a hidden camp full of the objectionable sods and set about showing them the error of the ways with gusto. Any chests of loot we found in the cave were legally seized and can be considered spoils of war, so don’t go starting that!

We left the cave, determined to get to the personal story point… but first a slight detour to a camp to collect a reward and sell some junk in order to lighten my load.

At which point it we all realised it was time to log off as we are all old men with jobs to go to the next day! So we never got into the personal story and yet managed to have an entire session of fun just zooming around responding to the dynamically running world around us. And that, ladies and gentlebumps, is why #GuildWars2 is so bloody amazing 🙂

Life in Tyria: A Guild Wars 2 Primer for joining in the fun!

Over in the Google+ community “Good Guys Gaming” I have tempted a few people into playing GW2 and buying the Heart of Thorns expansion and so to help those totally new to the game I wrote this very brief primer on getting started – I thought I’d re-post it here just in case anyone wants to check out #GW2HOT and join in 🙂


 

A Guild Wars 2 Primer for the Good Guys Gaming G+ Community (updated 27th July 2015 – originally written 21st July 2015)

Buying the game. First thing to know is that the game is buy-to-play so you buy the game and never have to pay a sub. Ever. Most updates are free with only Expansions requiring payment (also the Living Story episodes if you miss them when they are released) as Arenanet make money from their cash shop which sells cosmetics and ‘quality of life’ items. When you are looking at buying the game there are currently two main options each with three sub-options:

1) The Core Game only – this will give you everything you need to play up to the Heart of Thorns Expansion that is currently in beta. The only exception is that you won’t have access to the Living Story Season 1 (no one does as they haven’t yet found a way of making it available) or Season 2 (you can buy access to the story episodes in the store for a couple of quid each). The three variations of this version offer additional cosmetic and QoL items that are nice but you don’t need – if you are a budget get the cheapest one (currently about £15 via http://www.g2a.com). Last thing to note is that is you buy this version you will have to buy the Heart of Thorns Expansion separately (which has the core game bundled in – see next).

2) Heart of Thorns Expansion – this bundles in the Core Game (see above) and grants access to the HOT content once released. As above there are three versions offering increasing levels of cosmetic and QoL items but the bottom line is if you can afford £35 then the HoT Standard edition represents the best base content value for money as you get Core & HOT together. You can get it from here:http://buy.guildwars2.com/

Choosing a Server. As we have just found out (sorry Max!) you can’t play together across the Pond – EU & US servers are totally segregated and so if you want to play with the GGG players and join the GGG “All the Gs” guild you need to select Piken Square in the EU server farm as your home server. This might give US players a 100ms to 500ms lag according to various Reddit posts, but many GW2 players play across the divide with no lag effects at all. One thing to note is that changing servers can cost about £20 so choose wisely.

Joining the GGG Guild. Simply whisper one of us in game or ask to join in the GGG G+ community and we’ll add you to the list – once added you need to open your guild panel and accept the invitation with a small button at the bottom. The GGG guild is called “All the Gs” and once you accept and ensure you are representing the guild (you can be in 5 guilds but only represent one at a time – again see the guild panel for the represent button) you’ll have the following tag after your name [GGG].

Choosing a race and profession and crafting skill and… ARGH! It’s a wee bit beyond the scope of this post to advise you on that so I would suggest you check out the following resources first but bear in mind the game is well balanced so race doesn’t give you any real benefits and professions and skills are going to be situationally useful rather than over-powered. Choose what you like and enjoy 

Story Telling. When you start you will be in a small story instance that sets you off on your quest to save the world. After that you are treated to a new episode in your Personal Story each 10 levels or so – the Personal Story can be great at times and totally awful at others but Arenanet have learnt a lot about story telling in the three years the game has been live and it does get a lot better. Arenanet release a season of “Living Story” each year (or more) and these are episodes released each two weeks or so over a two to three month period. You are free to ignore all aspects of the story and just adventure through the world, but you’ll need to complete the Personal Story to defeat the big bad boss of the core game.

Resources:
Arenanet’s introduction videos to GW2 (a little dated now but still good):https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDCvogxNKN3mGOwjcP9FgfYH89UIiOh6d

Arenanet’s Living Story videos:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDCvogxNKN3kbJT9ljubaYM15p34suHnr

Arenanet’s Heart of Thorns videos:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDCvogxNKN3nGKOHQs_7mq9ipI13bpnCm

Arenanet’s Points of View (PvE) videos:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDCvogxNKN3nCrcluAuZPGIsF_ygcbnJk

Arenanet’s Ready Up (PvP) videos:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDCvogxNKN3nmdmYoblp6T3Pz44t5bCI4

Arenanet’s profession guides videos (again, dated but good for an overview):https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDCvogxNKN3mUgCRQ2CuOLpNq57ARjvHj

Wooden Potatoes – UK YouTuber who’s played GW for 10 years now so knows it inside out and provides tones of lore and insights as well as updates, news, views and comment:https://www.youtube.com/user/WoodenPotatoes

Guild Wars Reporter – Under the MMO Rorter banner, a great and friendly weekly podcast about the state of the game:http://mmoreporter.com/category/podcast/gwreporter-podcast/

Races of Tyria: https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Bestiary

Official GW2 News feed: https://www.guildwars2.com/en-gb/news/