Saturday, March 17, 2012

Snow, Bow, Off We Go: Guild Wars

Guild Wars seems to have snagged me again. I think it was the snow that did it.

Last time I tried I went pottering through Cantha. Marvelous architecture. Stunning scenery. More bamboo than you can shake a stick at. Not somewhere I wanted to spend much time, though. If it was a real place I wouldn't go there for a holiday. Too humid. Too many insects.

The time before the time before that, first time back, I started in Elona. A lot of savannah. Very ochre. Might have worked had I not made the schoolboy error of playing a Dervish. I used to use a scythe now and again when I was a schoolboy, as it happens. Tricky customer, Johnny Scythe but I still have both feet so I must have gotten the hang of it once. Sadly the skills didn't transfer.

Inbetween I ran through the Prophecies Campaign just far enough to get me to Lion's Arch. I love pre Searing. It looks remarkably similar to the countryside near here on some golden afternoon at the cusp as Summer turns to Autumn. I lingered so long that when in the end I did move on to  Ascalon City the war itself was easy going. A skip and a step and I was past the ruins  into the Shiverpeaks and all downhill to Lion's Arch.

Most MMOs if they've been around a while offer the same collection of climates. There's somewhere like the view from inside the head of an Edwardian author of books for the children of the upper-middle classes. There's some seaside with the village from the Popeye movie (I've been to that set - it's on Malta, an island where after a few days almost any distraction is welcome). There are a lot of forests with suspiciously little undergrowth and a preponderance of sunbeams. There will always be swamps, cold and dank, hot and fetid or frequently both, sometimes at the same time. You can count on a pantomime desert or two, all colored tents, camel salesman, flying carpets, genies and thieves. Somewhere there will be a land made entirely from flat rock, lava and steam.

Variety, spice etc. Just give me the snow. Falgarholm, Frostshard Lake and Northern Highlands on Telon. Iron Pine Peaks in Telara. The whole continent of Velious on Norrath. Forochel in Middle Earth. Siveria on that Allod where the gerbil triplets live. Even Dun Morogh on Azeroth. Yes, even there. I just feel settled when the snow crunches underfoot, the light goes blue-white and breath steams. 

Where you are matters but so does who. When the snow is falling and the wolves are howling out there in the pines, do you really want to be wandering around in a crimson robe, waggling your bare fingers in the bitter air, the hem of your frock sodden with snowmelt up to the knee and the wicked wind blowing your scooped sleeves back up to your elbows? How about a warrior, stumping along in full plate, such a good insulator? I think not. Do you still feel drop-dead cool dressed all in black with your scalpel-sharp stilettos stuffed down each soft-leather boot when the entire world around you is so white it hurts to look at and  there's no feeling left in your feet?

No! You want a massive axe, a fur coat with the head still on and layer after layer of cloth criss-crossed with a hundred feet of string. That's if you're a dwarf. Or you could go barbarian, lose the cloth and just keep the string so you can really feel winter on your skin.

Better yet, wear warm, comfortable, windproof leathers and a take a really big bow. And a wolf. Or a lynx. Even a raven or a hawk. Never leave the Last Inn without some kind of companion animal. Be a ranger. Or a hunter. Or a scout. Doesn't matter what you call it, just tame an animal, fletch some arrows and off you go.

So that's what I did. Went with Ogden Stonehealer to raise an army of Norns to help the dwarves beat back the Destroyers and ended up sorting out the mysterious Nornbear and rescuing not just a bunch of captured Charr but the entire Ebon Vanguard legion. And got a tapestry. Very important, that part.

Enormous fun. Very good storyline. Engaging cut-scenes. Lots of lore. Paced well enough that I managed to do every mission first time, albeit mostly with everyone on the full minus sixty morale debuff by the time the job was done. A lot of trekking through the snow and goggling at the breathtaking scenery later and here we are, level 20 with three tapestries and five points. Just got to sort out the Asura's little problem and coax my pet up to 20 too and that'll make six.

And largely thanks to the snow and the bow I'm playing Guild Wars qua Guild Wars, not just for the points and I think I might know what class I'm going to be when Guild Wars 2 arrives.

1 comment:

  1. That was a fun read, and some really great screenshots from several games to help set the mood of the piece.


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