Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ding 50! : GW2

The flat leveling curve was one of Guild Wars 2's several USPs.  For a while it seemed  it might take no longer to get from level 79 to 80 as it took you to reach level two after setting foot on Tyrian soil.  That always seemed a tad utopian. It turns out there's a slight downhill slope to the curve (if such a thing is topologically possible) as far as level 30, after which things do indeed flatten out.That's how it feels, at least.

GW2 is not an MMO where you study levels closely, but content is gated behind them all the same and levels do matter. Traits and skills come in tiers for which you need both points to spend and the right level against your name. For traits there's a third requirement: coin.  Your trainer doesn't just want to ID your level before he'll show you how to access your Major Traits, he wants a gold coin for the book that tells you how to do it.

No, you won't be the only Pink Moa in Timberline
I imagine this was considered a trivial sum in design, and now the Trading Post is finally up perhaps it will be. When my ranger hit 40 however, he had scarcely a gold to his name and rather than return to the rag-picking poverty of his cubhood he chose to wait a while before bankrupting himself to buy the book. By level 50 he'd scratched up just over two gold and finally paid up.

Without the Trading Post he's been relying on what he finds or can make for himself. An extended and highly enjoyable romp through Blazewood and Dredgehaunt Cliffs netted enough Claws, Blood, Fangs and sundry body parts to raise leatherworking to just shy of 225, start of the next tier. Astonishingly, this means he can now make Rare (yellow) quality armor to match his adventure level. Keen claimed recently that crafting was the way to go for gear. I was sceptical when I read that and Mrs Bhagpuss more so, but it turns out to be no less than the plain truth, at least if self-sufficiency is your goal.

Black Citadel branch of World of Leather
In beta I was mildly miffed with the speed of leveling. I felt it was too fast, not by much but by enough to notice. Of course, non-optional scaling forbids you from out-leveling anything or anywhere, which mitigates (not eliminates) any problem there might have been in leveling too quickly, but in any case, now that I have more experience than I had in beta (and more levels) I withdraw my reservations.  Leveling speed is fine.

It's fine because there really is a lot to do in Tyria. Tobold extrapolates a base 300 hours of PvE content from his play thus far, which may be true if you play one character systematically through all the content once, as Syp is doing. Normative MMO play would presumably be more recursive than that, although who really knows? Everyone presumably thinks his or her own playstyle is "normal". For those not limiting themselves either to a single character or a single visit to each location.  My plans, such as they are, are to play all eight classes. Whether all of them will get to 80 I doubt but it's sure going to take me a lot longer than 300 hours trying.

The belated appearance of the Trading Post is going to prove a mixed blessing when it comes to leveling up, I fear. As someone in my guild pointed out last night, a global auction house with upward of a million players pumping their drops and crafted gear onto it day and night is going to mean very low prices and very wide availability. Fine if you like to twink, which I do on occasion, but conversely debilitating when it comes to valuing your own efforts.

The thrill of seeing a rare yellow weapon drop is inevitably going to diminish when you know there will already be several hundred like it for sale at no more than a copper or two above vendor. Any pride in the gear you've cobbled together through graft and enterprise may be hard to maintain against the nagging knowledge that you could just open the TP and upgrade every slot for peanuts.

On balance I'd still rather have the Trading Post than not. Drops are all very well but the one you get never seems to be quite the one you want. It's only another ten levels to my ranger's Grandmaster trait manual and that gouging trainer wants two gold pieces this time round. Have to make some money somehow.


  1. Gratz on the 50! What was the best part of getting to level 50 so far?

  2. Being able to see more of the world! The only reason I level fast is to get to new places - I like to get the broad picture first and come back for the detail later. Timberline Falls, which is 50-60, is probably my favorite zone so far.

    Also the way events begin to stack more at higher levels and the amount of chaos increases is something I like.


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