I was thrust upon the Guild Wars 2 bandwagon when the game came out. Diablo III fought for my attention at around the same time. Though I much preferred to parade around with my Witch Doctor than jump into the shoes of a nubile Necromancer, I bit the bullet in order to see what the fuss was all about.
Being someone of World of Warcraft pedigree who only heard faint whisperings of ArenaNet’s subscription-less nirvana, I was skeptical of what the game would offer me. For me, the most memorable part of my faint stay with the first Guild Wars was that it didn’t have the z-axis, meaning that I had to make do walking to places instead of my preferred mode of travel, hopping.
But hey, Guild Wars 2 stepped up its game by offering me a use for spacebar other than making my ramblings in general chat more coherent. I hopped into the game and leveled my Necromancer astutely, never quite sure what exactly I was trying to accomplish. Guild Wars 2′s open-ended leveling schema was as much refreshing as it was confusing. Sure, every encounter wasn’t a pushover, because it downclocked my levels to match the zone, but I lost the sense of feeling stronger as I leveled. Gearing itself proved to be fun but getting accustomed to all of the currencies and tokens left me scratching my head, asking me to do some homework online or just be left in the dark.
After 39 levels of wandering and Vista-gazing I quit the game, happy to do so because there was no subscription fee to wag a finger in my face, holding some pennies ransom, promised to another holder.
Every other other week I would find myself back in the game, trying to understand it in a new light, ultimately frustrating myself at how convoluted crafting seemed and pushing me away onto the blockbuster of the time, whether it was Borderlands 2 or Far Cry 3.
Last night though, while contemplating what games to tackle in my comprehensive backlog, I thought to understand the game more, you know, to give it the attention I should have afforded it. I watched YouTube videos and researched the reasoning behind the game’s flat gearing system and took note of what attributes really mattered for what I was trying to accomplish. In the end, I came out with a better understanding of my underpowered class of choice, Necromancer, and what it took to make my character the best it could be. On that same note, I finished my first set of daily achievements in more than three months and completed a zone that previously left me bedazzled with boredom.
I wonder if the game will take this time or if I will just spiral into another pool of boredom. One thing’s for certain, I don’t feel obligated to it, which gives me some relief. I do have an addictive personality after all.
A few days later..
OK, remember how I said I don’t feel obligated to it? That part is still true. What’s changed over these past few days though is that I am genuinely excited to log into my Necromancer every day. Since the game world has stabilized (meaning there isn’t a huge zerg of players doing the same quests over and over), I have greatly enjoyed the game’s dynamic event system which felt frankly broken at first.
Guild Wars 2 is a huge game. But not only is it huge, it’s also meaningful at the same time. Everywhere I wander, there is something to do, another player to save or a band of NPCs to follow into a cavernous mine.
Because of the downscaling that the game is known for, it’s plain fun to slaughter mobs on my way to a destination. The trade-off is that the game doesn’t provide a sense of overwhelming power. Even if you’ve cleared a zone 10 levels ago, it won’t be mind-numbingly easy. That is a good thing but it is annoying that mobs still aggro to you and hamper your attempts at gathering resources.
I now have this longing for the massive WvWvW action that Guild Wars 2 offers. In earlier months, my computer was far too sluggish to enjoy the mayhem properly, but with a recent upgrade and the comforting notion that I’ve almost hit level cap, it’s time to once again step into the bloody fray.
Guild Wars 2 is a success whether you play it or not, and since it requires a one-time fee to play forever, it’s easier to treasure instead of loathe as a burden. Not only that, you’ll never see a gaming headline that announces the game’s switch to a free-to-play model, because Guild Wars 2 will never need to do that. The game won’t ever have a shadow like that looming over it.
As with any polished MMO, there’s a lot to look forward to in the long run with Guild Wars 2. But there’s the added benefit (boon if you will) that I don’t ever feel like I’m missing out on something because I didn’t log in.