Monday, September 17, 2012

GW2: The Existential MMO

I don't know what I'm doing. Three weeks out from launch, Level 80 already. Dressed in leathers I sewed myself, blue in quality, cinnamon in color. Wielding weapons prized from the hands, paws or possibly stomachs of my hapless victims. Studded with jewellery lovingly handcrafted by Mrs Bhagpuss, also mostly blues. Nothing in my upgrade sockets but fresh Tyrian air.

This is not great gear. It's not end-of-leveling gear, let alone end-game gear. I could buy better on the Trading Post for pennies. It looks fantastic but I haven't even matched the stats, let alone chosen them for a particular purpose. I don't, in fact, have a particular purpose. As I said, I don't know what I'm doing.

Gear's not the half of it, either. Look at my Traits. Look at my Skills. When I hit 80 I had over 50 Trait Points and 58 Skill Points unspent. This morning I tried to spend some but I didn't get far. It isn't that the things I could buy with them aren't useful or interesting. It's that I don't need any of them.

Yah! Stupid catapult can't hit me here!
As I type this I'm logged into the game, tucked safely on a ledge below The Colonnade. Three events ticked past as I was typing and I got Gold for two of them and Silver for the third. If I contributed anything I have no idea what it was. Except when it isn't, GW2 is easy. Very pleasantly, enjoyably, comfortably easy. All you have to do is turn up. Sometimes not even that.

I was there! Kinda.
I'm easy with easy but easy doesn't offer much in the way of a plan. Levels drift by like dandelion clocks on the Queensdale breeze, events give out rewards whether you win or lose, and though the gear you have and the skills you've chosen do make a difference to how you perform, how you perform doesn't make a lot of difference to how much fun you have.

There, that's the nub. It's far too easy to enjoy yourself. If it's all fun all the time, where's my motivation? That's something with which some people are having a hard time coming to grips.

My contribution
It certainly wasn't worrying me until I hit the level cap and it's not worrying me now. Puzzling me, yes. Mrs Bhagpuss and I had a long discussion about stats this morning. That's not normal. We do not talk about stats. We were talking about stats on a Monday morning because on Sunday afternoon, while we romped across Malchor's Leap and Cursed Shore, knocking the Risen back down and filling our pockets with Orichalcum, somewhere along the way we bumped into the Karma vendor who sells a full set of Exotic Quality Level 80 armor for 42,000 Karma the piece.

That's a lot of Karma. After 80 levels during which I have barely spent any Karma at all, I have enough squirreled away to buy the coat and one leg of a pair of pants. If you're going to try to collect another quarter of a million Karma points to get the set, you want to be quite sure that what you buy with them is what you really need.

Stats? Who cares? I got a giant matchstick!
Which is how Mrs Bhagpuss got to be thinking about stats and asking me what were my thoughts on the matter, which in turn is when I realized I didn't have any. I've just been living in the moment, going with the flow, doing my own thing. I only tend to start thinking about stats and builds and gear when I hit a roadblock that stops me doing what I want to do and in GW2 there are no roadblocks. (Outside of Dungeons, that is, and I don't plan on going in any of those thank you very much).

So where does that leave us? Confused, mostly. Confused, directionless and happy. My current plan, if it can be dignified as such, is to fiddle about with a few "builds" and see if I can tell the difference. That's always fun. In The Secret World, tweaking my build changed things up hugely in a way I wasn't expecting. Maybe that will happen in GW2.

First of all I need to work on, guess what, bag space. If I'm going to try out different combinations of stats I'll have to lug around a load of gear. GW2 doesn't provide much in the way of convenience for holding or swapping gear sets, unlike TSW. I quite fancy running as a Condition Damage ranger, and as Heal/Support. A Trap/Spirit build could be interesting, too - Natural Engineer I could call that one.

There. Now I have a plan but I still don't really know what I'm doing. Perfect!


  1. lol I have this weird 'cant beleive he beat me' reaction to this post. I feel like i've been rolling diwn a 45deg slope in a semi with my foot fully on the brakes when it come to levelling in GW2. There is no stopping it!! I've done the first two dungeons 2x ea, and at level 47 on my personal story but at level 65 already!

  2. I haven't entered a new zone that I haven't already outleveled in AGES. There's so much to do in the lower zones (plus crafting), and so many I need to get map completion on, I just can't stop the exp from coming in.

    I didn't start paying attention to builds and runes/sigils until around lv30 (because I didn't want to be a weak link in any dungeon groups). I've found I'm really loving playing as a Support Engineer, so that helped me figure out what stats to prioritize.

  3. Well, I tried a Condition Damage build yesterday and it was a lot of fun but not very practical. Quite a lot of the damage seems to rely on the mobs staying in one place (i.e. where you put the trap) and they aren't very co-operative. Since some of the traps are TAOE and some PBAOE it involves a lot of running in, dropping a trap then backpedaling. I died a lot more than I usually do.

    Think I might try something related to Precision and Crits next.

  4. I hear you on bag space! I am not trying different sets of gear yet but my bags fill up so quickly with junk even with depositing my crafting items that I end up throwing stuff out if I am too far from a shop! (PS. I wanted to thank you for the link, I appreciate it. :) )

  5. Welcome! Blogrolls are strange things. There must be a point where adding more actually makes them less useful. I ought to pay mine more attention and swap the dormant ones for people who are actually posting now and again.

    I finally began cooking in GW2 tonight and that brings a whole new meaning to Inventory Full !


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