One of my gaming resolutions for 2014 is the divide my time between games a little better. I tend to play in streaks: weeks/months of a game, then a long break while I play a different one. Not exactly “juggling” very well! If I were playing 2 games, the split is most definitely not 50-50, it is more like 80-20. The split for 3 games is more like 70-20-10 where 50-25-25 might be more reasonable… 33-33-34 is very even but also unlikely.
With that in mind, I decided to log back into GW2 and piddle around a bit. I have one level 80 char, an elementalist, but that didn’t quite click. I could get by, but to be a notch better requires attunement swapping, which in turn means remembering 20 skills instead of 5, and also remembering which ones are combo fields and which ones are combo finishers. The other thing the elementalist has against it was history: my favorite professions from GW were ranger and mesmer. The whole reason I went elementalist in GW2 was to try something different.
Anyway, so I logged into each char and surveryed their inventory. I had two that reached one year old and I received the first birthday presents on each, which included an experience scroll. Haha! So shortly after getting a level bump in LoTRO, I get two of them in GW2!
My mesmer was already level 39.5, so ineligible. I thought for a while and decided to use the scrolls on 2 other chars: a ranger and a guardian.
Then I did the logical thing and started a brand new warrior. 😉
I made an Asuran Warrior, and played with the goal of unlocking all the weapon skills. For people unfamiliar with GW2, the first 5 skills your character has are locked to weapon and/or offhand. Starting out you get the first weapon skill, and through killing mobs the others slowly unlock. The 2nd and 3rd skills unlock fairly quickly, but the 4th and 5th take longer. Since the warrior has access to many weapons and offhands, I was nearly 10th level before all the skills were unlocked. In fact, it was right about the time in every character’s leveling process that you finish up what is reasonable in the starter zone, but aren’t quite able to handle the rest of the zone. What I’ve done on every char is head back through the local Asura gate and warp to some other starter zone, to gain a few levels and then return. Since I’ve done the content in Metrica Province (the Asura starter zone) and Caledon Forest (the Sylvari starter zone) several times, I opted for The Plains of Ashford (Charr lands) for a little variety.
Ultimately, I decided I didn’t like the Warrior. Well, that isn’t it exactly, it is more the playstyle. Same thing with the Elementalist… yet I like the Mesmer and Ranger more. But not as much as I did in GW1. Hm… this puzzled me and I spent some time trying to figure out what it was before I finally hit on it.
The difference is, basically, getting directly hit in combat. That sounds weird since the fundamental content in every MMO is: kill the enemy while it attacks back. But there was something a little different for these games – what was it?
The answer is: more tactical gameplay. GW offered AI NPC’s, henchmen and eventually with Nightfall, heroes. The content was balanced for a group, and if you didn’t have enough players in your group, you could always add henchmen and heroes. That’s how I normally played, outside of grouping with friends or guildmates. There were various advantages, but the one I liked most was the tactical gameplay: I could call a target (i.e. send in the H&H to attack), hang in the back and do whatever I thought was best: interrupt/shutdown a particular foe, apply conditions, and basically plink away and direct combat from a distance and remain relatively safe.
GW2 doesn’t have henchmen and heroes. *sadface*. However, the next best thing is something else to attract/distrct a mob, which the ranger and mesmer do have: rangers have pets, and mesmers have clones. I think this is why I subconsciously gravitated towards the ranger and mesmer in GW2, and not so much to the elementalist, warrior, guardian, etc. When I play the ranger, I can detach myself from the mob while my pet attracts attention, and when I play the mesmer, I can create clones/phantasms that often (not always) let me do the same. Then when I’m not having something in my face I can choose how to continue the fight.
This isn’t a make-or-break issue with the game as a whole – essentially I’ve found that the ranger and mesmer fill (or come the closest of the available professions to filling) that preferred playstyle I have.
Since I worked this out, I might as well spend what time I play GW2 on leveling up my ranger and mesmer! I’ll still play my elementalist since that is my highest level char and can better join in on more content. Plus I want to get the attunement swapping down better, to be more effective at defense and offense.
As I mentioned, I boosted Glyneth, my Norn Ranger, to level 20. The weapon skills unlocked quickly and by following the storyline I advanced quickly. Plus, I used another present, the birthday booster, to get a nice xp/gold bonus for everything.
One fun thing about GW2 are dynamic events. They aren’t literally new and random and never before unseen, most are on some kind of timer. But if I’m near one when the announcement appears, I’ll make my way over and join in and do what I can. Many are staged: the first part is easy, then it gets tougher, and eventually you might need a huge number of players to zerg down the final boss.
I was questing around Wayfarer Foothills and joined in the early stage of a dynamic event. Eventually we fought a Champion mob:
Fortunately, many other players helped with the earlier steps and stayed for the final battle.
The screen looks busy because the fight was insane. It is basically a giant zerg fest where everybody just pounds every skill on recharge and maybe keeps and eye out for reviving downed players. Crazy but fun, in small doses.
A few levels later, I was exploring in the corner of Snowden Drifts near the Owl Lodge. I noticed a dynamic event waiting to trigger: an NPC priest needed protection while clearing up the area. I started it and this one was smaller – soloable as the final fight was against a Veteran. Still fun!
Later, I followed the storyline to Fields of Ruin, a zone I had never been in before. Cool! While questing around, I got the announcement that Scarlet’s forces were attacking Fields of Ruin. I did a double take – that’s where I was! And wait a minute – isn’t Scarlet Briar the new bad boss that swooped in after the initial undead dragon endgame stuff? I’m not sure since I’m oh let’s see, a year behind the latest content?
For me to have the current content arrive on top of me was funny; I’m so far behind the Living Story I don’t even pay attention to “current” events and only have a minimal awareness of the latest happenings. But this was different, the current content was coming to me.
This is really awesome that the design of GW2 allows for this to happen. Since a character will be downleveled to the current zone, the “end game” boss can pop around to earlier zones. Higher level characters can still be appropriately challenged (up to the what the game designers want) and a player such as myself, questing along at the ambient zone level, can join on in.
After consulting the map I ran over to join in some epic zerging. First, I spotted the renegade Sylvari herself:
I did not ask for an autograph. 😉
The large ball of players fought like a whirwind: target something and fight it, repeat. It was crazy but fun. After defeating several mobs, the focus would shift elsewhere and players would run across the landscape or use a waypoint. There were Veteran mobs galore, and several Champions too:
Good times. Eventually I got tired of zerging around and took a break.
I’ll be sure to play GW2 on a regular basis, aim for once a week as I better try to round-robin the various MMOs I want to play.