As you know from the last several posts I have made on the subject… I have been playing a shocking amount of Guild Wars 2. I am still a little surprised myself considering how many years I just did not like this game at all. Something clicked in my brain and I am honestly happy that I stuck around long enough for that moment to happen. It’s weird just how much of what we like and dislike happens is related to the experiences we are ultimately comparing it to, and our present frame of mind. One of the things that I am finding shocking right now is just how damned active the game actually is. My frame of reference there has been mostly World of Warcraft, where not too long ago I spent some time on low level characters namely in the Ashenvale area. When pushing up my Orc Warrior I could go the entire night without seeing another single player. It legitimately felt like I was the only person in zone most of the time, and even if I made a trip to the Crossroads… it was a bit of a rarity that I actually encountered anyone there either. The weird part about this is the fact that I play on Argent Dawn and for the most part have every other role-playing server blended together… including the extremely high horde population Emerald Dawn server thanks to Alea Iacta Est and their presence.
Conversely while running around in Guild Wars 2 there is rarely a moment when I don’t have another player on screen. Last night I spent a good deal of time in Snowden Drifts which is a third tier zone in the Norn area, so not exactly a hub of the game. However each and every time I started to engage with an event or a hero challenge… moments after starting there were a slew of other players hanging out and doing the content as well. Now I gave the WoW reference not to somehow prove that game is dead… but just to highlight how vastly different the two games feel right now. Admittedly with World of Warcraft… the vast majority of the players are simply not leveling characters because if they are like me they have a stable full of post 100 characters in various states of completion. Guild Wars 2 has something else going for it though in that it serves to make every bit of content relevant by allowing the world to scale. Why this becomes interesting is the fact that if you do any major event… you have droves of players that show up to participate. The above event screenshot is from a random Ley-Line Anomaly from Gendarran Fields a level 25-35 area. By the time I saw the server message… and ported over there were already hundreds of players fighting the Anomaly. What makes this encounter so interesting is the fact that every so often it straight up kills a handful of players, and like clockwork there is always a chunk of players that stick around and rez the fallen before catching up. Thankfully in the case of this fight the mob drops these beacons that will allow you to leap ahead significant distances to try and keep from penalizing those community minded players.
One of the cool parts about Guild Wars 2 as well is the fact that at some point in the recent past they decided to open up the base game to everyone. Now you can pick up the “Standard Collection” for $49.99 which includes the base game, Heart of Thorns expansion and the as yet to be released Path of Fire expansion as well as 2 level 80 character boosts. That is pretty cool but if you are just wanting to dip your toes in to test the water, you can play the game for free with this registration link. In truth I suggest that option first given that it has legitimately taken me five years to reach a point where I am finding that I really truly do love this game. Now that free account has a bunch of restrictions on it, which thankfully they outline in a support article. Namely it seems like this is the standard protecting the environment MMO fare of limiting communication options. However there are a couple that are going to be annoying… namely the limit of 2 character slots and only 3 bag slots given that the game I feel has too small of bags in the first place. You are also limited to only the starter zones until level 10… but given you were probably going to stay there regardless that is not a big deal. Unlocking of Lion’s Arch around 35 is I believe about when you would normally go there through the story quests. Regardless if you decide you like the game you are probably going to at least pay the $50 to unlock the two expansions. The biggest annoyance to me would be Living Story Season 2 and 3 which are treated as separate purchases if you were not around to unlock the content when it was initially available. Now they go on sale periodically, however to purchase them outright would be around $16 per season. That said I have yet to complete Season 2 or in truth really get started in earnest on it, so that isn’t that big of a deal. The seasonal content helps you understand the lore of the world and the events that are going on around you. If you just want to smash things in the face with a hammer like I often do… this becomes optional content.