Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's Gonna Be A Long, Hot Summer : GW2

It's horribly hot and humid and I have a head-cold. Not ideal conditions either for playing or posting but I plan on doing both all the same.

It's still too early to begin to disentangle GW2's Entanglement without spoilage and in any case I've only finished it on the one account so far. I'd like to take another pass and maybe fill out some details while I chip away at a few achievements before I get into any full-on textual analysis.

Ravious gives a good account of the type of activities on offer in the ever-expanding Dry Top region. Mrs Bhagpuss wasn't all that interested in the first set of rewards (the ones Jeromai decided must all be his) but this installment several of the skins caught her eye and she's rarely been anywhere else all week.

A Charr can look at a Queen - if it's a T4 Map.
After the initial day-long session she was distinctly under-impressed with the amount of geodes she'd collected and had some choice words to say about ArenaNet's increasingly elitist-without-the-infrastructure-to-support-elitism development ethos. When I came home from work the following day, however, she'd discovered the LFG tool (something I quite literally forgot GW2 had) as a direct result of which she'd been in T4 maps most of the day and, once, even T5. Domestic harmony restored.

Much though I like the new events and the area that contains them I haven't spent all that much time there doing them. After getting multiple Light and Heavy versions I gave up on trying to get the Medium Cleric's Spectacles and Medium Adventurer's Scarf the honest way by opening chests. I just bought them from the Trading Post since prices have dropped. Finally, headgear for a Charr Ranger that doesn't look positively awful.

Snout hankie with attitude
That was the main thing holding me back from playing the new character I started last weekend (that makes eleven). Other than that, when it comes to a choice between repeating new content for currency to buy new stuff I don't especially want and repeating old content to acquire old stuff I don't particularly need, well it's no contest.

That's a very unfair and inaccurate description of what's going on, though. Every time I level a new character, regardless of having played through the maps many times before, I see new events, fresh content, extra detail. Despite having map completion on Metrica Province, for example, and having, as I thought, meticulously combed every corner well beyond the required tick-box map items, my new Asura warrior hadn't been there more than five minutes before he found a whole underwater cave I'd never seen. On top of that, within half an hour he'd done several unfamiliar events, one of which had me squawking with laughter.

I'm not saying Dry Top isn't good. It's really good. Moreover, rather than just appreciating any new content I welcome this particular, visually spectacular, entertaining, highly re-playable new content. It's more that I'm not going to let this much-needed rain, after the long, long drought, trick me into mistaking Dry Top's focused, purposive drive for the kind of deep, nested, organic complexity of the original maps. But, hey, I'll take what I can get, especially when what I already have is still there and still doing such a great job too.

It's only while I'm playing up a new character that GW2 goes back to feeling like an MMO, or what I expect and want from an MMO, at any rate. It's fortunate, then, that it's so remarkably replayable. I've often said that I wouldn't consider that anyone could claim to really know an MMO until they'd played all the race/class combinations available to maximum level but it's always been more of a thought experiment than a blueprint for gameplay. I think even I would lose patience and affection for EQ or EQ2 if I tried to enact that principle there.

Who you calling shorty, fatso?

In GW2, however, it almost feels like a realistic proposition. Leveling's so very fast and easy; each class plays radically differently from every other; there more than enough paths to max level to keep the journey fresh and fun; all of that is true, but there's more. The races genuinely play very differently one from another even when playing the same class, more so than most MMOs I've played at least since Vanguard half a decade ago.

It's not just the size differences and the radical shift in perspective those supply. It's that each race has an entirely different set of animations and voice samples and boy are there a lot of them. I never particularly warmed to the Guardian when I did eighty levels as a Sylvari but going the distance as a Charrdian was a hoot. She's now one of my favorite characters both in personality and gameplay.

 You might say that was predictable given my predilection for the Charr race but I never really got on with my Charr warrior, who has languished after reaching eighty, skulking around the low-level World Boss circuit wearing the same Rare gear she was wearing a year ago,. My new character, an Asuran Warrior, bounces around like a superball, looking like the rough sketch for an Animaniac that got thrown out at the script meeting for being too ridiculous. I can already tell he's not only going all the way, he's not going to stop there, either.

Time is tight. I still haven't used the generously-donated WildStar guest passes, I haven't signed up for the ArcheAge closed beta, I probably won't find time to pop back into FFXIV on the "come back, all is forgiven" weekend offer. I haven't managed to visit The Secret World for the Gaea re-run even though I really like those big events. I still can't find a window for The Hammers End. I barely manage an hour here or there in CoS:Arkadia, Everquest, EQ2 or Landmark. That's not even mentioning the dozen or more other MMOS on my desktop I kinda, sorta want to play.

All of that stuff's not happening and yet I can come home from a long, hot, day at work feeling very under par looking forward to an evening of leveling up yet another Asura mostly just so I can watch him jump about. Either they really nailed the things that matter or I'm easily pleased.

Probably a bit of both.


  1. It's also because you can't roll a Lalafell in Tyria so... yeah, some nailing has been accomplished on the part of Anet. (Is there such thing as too many Asuras? Doubtful.)

    -- 7rlsy

    1. I wish MMO companies did crossovers like comics companies occasionally do. I'd love to see all the short races in one place together.

    2. aaaaack! yes!

      For example, I can see a delegation of Asura visiting Tinkerfest.


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