Things I Love About Guild Wars 2
The Heart of Thorns expansion hit today in the single-digit hours of the morning, and continuing from the design issues that confound me, now things I actually like about the game. This is where it gets mostly gushy, sugar warning.
What it Doesn’t Expect of You
One of things I like so much about it, is that it doesn’t expect you to play that much. It’s not assumed you will be dedicated in playing it, things are easy enough to dip in and out of, and this has only been reinforced with more comparatively recent changes, such as shuffling daily achievement rewards mostly entirely into daily log-in rewards, so simply by logging in on a day, you are immediately rewarded with something, instead of having to do some menial tasks for stuff. They don’t even need to be consecutive days. These often throw free level-up items at you, and you can easily stockpile them if you want to make new characters and drag them in high-level areas quicker if you wish.
This on top of the fact it doesn’t have a subscription service of any sort, it’s very happy with you simply not playing for a while, not forcing any sort of obligation onto you.
You Can do Whatever you Like Doing
There’s usually multiple ways to get most things, there’s usually a most ‘efficient’ way, but what good is that if it’s no fun? Don’t like dungeons but want the dungeon armour or weapon skins? You can do PvP instead and get those as a reward. It gives you a fair amount of flexibility in how you approach things, so you’re not necessarily stuck grinding away at a brick wall that you’d rather not be at.
This even extends to places in the world. You can instantly travel to any of the five races starting areas from the beginning, and even if you go into an area you’re higher level than, you’ll get downscaled somewhat so enemies aren’t a total pushover and rewards, including all experience and most loot, will be scaled up to your level, so you can go where you wish in the world and still progress at mostly the same rate. It can even be quicker if your equipment isn’t keeping up with your enemies’ levels. Not to mention instead of quests handed out by NPCs, you just have to help them out with whatever they’re doing, killing things being a common helper, but also can involve less murderous tasks like looking after animals or even solving minor puzzles.
Although another reason why you can freely do whatever you like is because…
There’s no Endless Loot Treadmill
Only one tier of equipment has been added post-release, Ascended, and the amount of statistical improvement over the previous best level, Exotic, is actually very minimal, and exotic gear itself is fairly cheap to acquire by this point. In addition, ascended equipment isn’t tied to characters, it’s tied to your account, so you can swap things like trinkets around very easily, and can be earned in multiple ways. The trinkets themselves can be bought in various ways, some far cheaper than others, or drop from different places, while the weapons and armour can drop very rarely from almost anything in boxes which allow you to freely their select contents somewhat, or can be laboriously crafted. Although unless used in the one place where ascended drops are the most frequent, Fractal dungeons, they actually aren’t worth the effort in crafting for the most part due to the minor stat improvement. Fractals only use them because of a confusingly named property the gear has so it’s possible to do higher-level fractals for better loot without being instantly killed. Otherwise nothing assumes you have ascended equipment at all.
Instead the “endgame” of Guild Wars 2 is seeking nifty weapon and armour skins because you can, and doing whatever you enjoy doing.
The Art Direction is Excellent
It’s very nice to look at
Freely Switching up Your Skills
Considering the game’s restrictive skillbar, typically you can only have two sets of five skills determined by your two equipped weapon sets, weapon skills varying by class, a healing skill, three utility skills, and a long cooldown Elite skill. Although you can change any of these provided you’re not in combat. Same with your passive trait trees, being able to swap them out whenever you want outside of combat. It means you can changes things out to better fit situations, and with your stats being determined solely by your equipment, you can even change those around if you have invested in spare sets. This allows a fair bit of customisation in what you want, so you can differentiate yourself from others of your class, and can often slip into multiple different roles depending on your setup. Some classes are obviously better at different aspects than others, you’ll rarely see a low-health, lightly-armoured elementalist trying to soak up damage, but you can do things like run a warrior whom heals allies a bit whenever using a shout-type skill while swinging away at things. Although the balance can certainly be wonky, and often swings far into extremes, at the end of the day, the game doesn’t really punish you too much provided you know how to use what you’ve got, even with the most unlikely combinations.
You can dodge things, everyone can pull up to two dodge rolls in a row, but they take a while to recharge, so you can spend them too frivolously. This sort of ties into a lot of combat animations not rooting you in place, making battles somewhat more mobile affairs than most. Although you’re still whacking away at large healthbars at the end of the day, so it can feel a bit floaty. TERA this is not, but it’s a bit more involved than rolling dice at stat spreads.
This seems like an odd one, but you’ll always be glad to see another player, due to the fact you get your own full experience and loot drops from any enemy you damage, they can help you if you get downed in a fight, and you can benefit from any group affects they end up using, even completely unintentionally like dropping down a fire field you use to sometimes set enemies on fire with your own attacks, or envelop yourself in a fiery shield. Enemies always scale up or down during events relative to the number of players, so they generally stay manageable but can get hectic. Speaking of events…
Events Throw Spanners in Everyone’s Works
Random events crop up, often on obvious loops if you stick around long enough, but many of them have little event chains that can change whether past events succeed or fail, and these can vary as much as the tasks needed to help NPCs, Sometimes you wander into the middle of battles, or are greeted by the panicked cries of farmhands attempting to round up escaped livestock. Some of the larger chains can lead to large pitched battles or more time-dependant chains lead to fights against impressive-looking, although often massively-outnumbered, bosses. They look neat the first time anyway, repeated fighting with the hordes of players following them around tends to reduce them to gigantic punching bags of hit points. Although unexpectedly stumbling into one is still often a nice surprise.
Being Able to Play With (Almost) Anyone at Any Time
The concept of servers being closed systems just does not exist here like in many of its ilk, you can play and interact with people of any server, except in World v World, because that’s where you’re trying to fight the other servers. So you can get a nice loose community going, even though the game still tries to put you into instances with mostly your server if it can, it’s pretty far down its priority list. The exception is that different regions cannot interact with each other, for logistical reasons, even though the North American and European game clients are the same. Although they do share a marketplace for buying and selling goods to one another, meaning there’s one ‘global’ economy, for good or ill.
You Can Beat Things up With Grapes
Why would you do this? No reason really, but it’s an option! Along with a bunch of other random assorted objects you can pick up off the ground.
Tying into the true end game being chasing cosmetic skins, any colour dye you unlock can be infinitely applied to armour for free. Changing the base model of armour and weapons to something else you have unlocked in your ‘skin wardobe’ curries the minor cost of a transmutation charge, but you tend to get those thrown at you for free. I’m sitting on a hundred at the moment, and I’ve not even been attempting to hoard them.
Did I Mention it Looks Pretty?
Although What is This?
Seriously, how are you meant to tell elementalists and engineers apart from that?
Okay, honestly now I’ve mostly gotten distracted, possibly by pretty pictures but you can’t prove anything! I’m off to get wilfully lost in all the new stuff, bye!