Wow, it’s been a year already! Guild Wars 2 launched one year ago yesterday to a storm of fantastic reviews and rabid fans. I remember, as a player of the original game, hearing about the sequel years before release. It was like waiting 5 years for Christmas to finally arrive.
Like I said, I was a player on the original Guild Wars. I picked it up late, but played the heck out of it once I got going. I wound up buying every expansion and sinking hundreds of hours into exploring every nook and cranny of the game. I tried, but never made it to GWAMM status, but I think I made it to a respectable title. Like most players I had several characters, but I always fell back on my favorite, a necromancer named Merith Naprein. You might recognize that name if you are a frequenter of this blog. After years of waiting, hearing rumors, and getting tidbits of information the day finally came that we could play the beta.
I was stoked. The beta had most of the features the developers had teased over the years, but it was a bit disorienting. I had played a few other MMOs when they were free, but nothing, not even Guild Wars 1, prepared me for what I was about to step into. The first few hours of Guild Wars 2 almost made me worried about my pre-order. There was so much going on, so many people, NPCs, events, map icons, I eventually had to step away for a bit. I went back several times during the beta but I never seemed to get my footing, part of which was due to the problems with the party system at the time. I had a few friends in the beta as well but because of overflow, party problems, and communication issues we could never play together. I had it pre-ordered though and I was determined to give the full game a chance. I’m glad I did.
When the full game released I sat back and took my time, built a character I really liked (a necromancer named Merith Naprein go figure) and paid close attention to the tutorial parts. They are there, don’t ignore them. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t spoon-feed you the game like most with a long, drawn out tutorial section, but the learning tools are there if you watch for them. In no time I knew what the icons meant, how to look for events, and how to filter the cacophony of stimuli into something I can process and enjoy.
It’s been a great year and thanks to ArenaNet for giving it to us. I ran a guild for a time, fought in massive world vs. world battles, and got Merith to level 80. I’m not quite a casual player but I don’t spend full days in game, so I only have one character to 80. I also haven’t completed her personal storyline yet. I’m having so much fun in the exploration of the world, but I’ll get to the end of it eventually. That’s what’s really great about the game. I don’t feel pushed to follow a set path of events and quests to get from beginning to end. Even in the original your exploration of the world was directly tied to you moving from quest to mission from beginning to end. In GW2 you can experience all of the world, all of the side quests, events, and exploration areas without even touching the storyline. That’s such a huge part of why I love this game.
I am now in a new guild, and have taken to playing a little more often than I did before. I’m pushing to max out my crafting, which requires exploring and questing for materials and money. It’s fantastic how one aspect of the game relies on others to encourage you to experience all it has to offer without really forcing it. We’ve seen the world change with the living stories, new powers rise, and fall, and a major celebration in the largest city in Tyria. Honestly so much has happened over the last year there’s no way to cover it all in one post.
Let me just say, if you aren’t playing you should be. Wondering what sets this game above the others? How about the fact you can’t have your loot stolen in combat, or all crafting nodes are personalized so everyone can get the same materials from the same node at the same time. Events are part of the world, so if someone runs into a cavern to take on a boss you don’t have to wait outside until they are done and the boss respawns, just run in there with them and help. How about, it’s free! Not just free for a bit, or free to a certain level, or only free with the most basic equipment, it’s ALL free. Nothing you can spend money on will make you any better than anyone else. That’s just a few of the things that make GW2 the top dog in my opinion. Come join us in Tyria, the ale’s cold, the destroyers are hot, and Captain Thackeray dances a mean Carlton.
**UPDATE** This article was picked up for the Guild Wars 2 Magazine Blog Carnival here. Go check out the other great articles.