Quash: First two weeks of Guild Wars 2 - Part 1

Guild Wars 2 has been officially out for one week now and I won’t lie, I’m hooked. I pre-purchased the game to be part of the first batch of players flooding the world of Tyria. So far, it’s been a great first week. I never thought that I would be satisfied by an MMORPG again.

On the day of the three-day head start launch, I woke up around 8AM, all ready for servers to go up at around 3PM PH time. Since I needed to kill time, playing a couple of Dota 2 matches was the perfect game since when I checked my clock after a few matches, it was 12 noon. There was three hours more to kill. I took a break, stood up to get lunch and started checking the usual in the internet until I noticed an “IT’S LIVE” post on Facebook on my soon to be GW2 guild page. Live? Apparently ArenaNet decided to bring up the server 3 hours earlier. Instead of wondering why, I quickly turned on my Guild Wars 2 client and true enough, I was in.

Character creation was pretty fast for me. Since I participated in the last beta weekend, I used that time to pick how I wanted my character to look like. So it roughly took me 10 minutes to get everything right. I went for a Charr Engineer on the Isle of Janthir server and named him Quashx. I was on Skype with some of my friends when we logged in the first time, and while I was doing my introduction quests, they were still at character creation for a good 30 minutes. Can’t blame them, the Character creation was pretty deep after all.

One Thing I noticed right off the bat was the connection. It was launch day after all, and that was my biggest concern. It was laggy during the first two hours of the game, but playable. I was expecting to get kicked out to the login screen ever so often as servers get stressed, but it never got to that.

On the third hour I noticed there was no more lag for some reason. So I continued playing for seven straight hours until I got disconnected. Servers were brought down because of some login error. Just when I thought it was turning out to be a smooth launch, this happens. Pretty impressive though. ArenaNet was able to keep the game stable for seven straight hours without any hiccup, and in the end it was only a two-hour down time. When servers were up once again, I continued playing like a madman and was able to reach level 12 at the end of the day.

Working with strangers can be fun too!

There was One thing that was completely new to me when I was leveling, and that was seeing almost 30 players running together going from point to point. We looked like an army of Charr stampeding all in our path. It was so much fun for some reason. The experience started racking up fast and we kept going until we reached this world event that pretty much halted our advance. The event was to kill this giant that was attacking a town. I suddenly saw everybody charged in thinking it would be done in a few seconds. Well, that was the other way around. Everybody that fought this giant up close was instantly killed by his stomp, and just like that I saw my unstoppable force flee in different directions. It was hilarious at the same time interesting.  Strategy was needed. This is when I realized how important the dodge feature in this game can be in fights. pressing the dodge button during this giant’s stomp skill will have your character avoid the damage is key. With the endurance (needed to dodge) bar enough for just two rolls, you need to time it right. back off when you don’t have endurance, and get in when you do.

When we finally figured out what to do, we acted like a unit again and finally took him down. Note that all of us in that bunch were talking in the open chat discussing how to take care of this giant. That’s rare. We were actually working together, and we weren’t even grouped together. We just started sticking together a couple of quests back. I had no idea who they were.

The questing is addicting and fast. I kept going that I completely forgot about my personal quest. With each character having his own story, and with the option of doing it or not, I was behind. I was 10 levels behind to be exact, so I went on and fixed that.

The personal story has these choices that is said to “shape” your story. Still can’t say how much change there is with the choices given to you since this is my first character, but these choices got me thinking. Should I join this order? Should I attack the camp head on or find more information first? The story and characters were compelling enough for me to care about what I pick. Along with the great voice acting, each cut-scene made me not press that skip button.

As I progressed through the levels, I noticed that combat was getting more intense as I move forward. With more skills at my disposal and all 9 skill slots unlocked, it can get crazy, just as crazy as an MMORPG with multiple skill slots. This game requires so much movement than MMORPG I’ve played and requires you to execute the proper skills at the right time. You even see a good number of possible builds as you progress, that I saw myself constantly switching skills each fight to see the perfect combination. Experimenting with different builds are loads of fun for me. With the Engineer having kits, and tool skills, I was going crazy with the possibilities. There are also traits to worry about, that is another way to shape your character into a certain build, which I haven't decided on (I keep resetting my traits!)

Game isn't bug free.  I was able to break the game at one point. When I tasked to destroy small chicken coops (don't ask), one chicken coop suddenly spawned right on top of me, leaving me stuck. After moving around and jumping to get out of the coop, I fell through the world. Want to see how Guild Wars 2 looks below?

The world is actually floating! It's an easy fix though. All you have to do is just fast travel in any waypoint and your out.

After a couple of personal missions and more “exploring”, I hit level 40. I’m now halfway through, and this was already me taking my time. Whatever you do in the game rewards you with experience, so it’s not hard at all to level up. Exploring the world, working on your crafting, joining world events, doing World vs World, mining and chopping wood, even resurrecting downed players, they all give you experience. Whatever you do in PvE, you are rewarded one way or another. The only part in this game that doesn’t provide you with experience are structured PvP, which I haven’t touched.

Getting rewarded for exploring is the way to go

There’s also this one feature in the game that I always find myself doing every time, and that is reaching Vista points in each area. Vistas are objects placed on high places that require you to do some climbing in order to reach. Once you reach it, you can interact with it and trigger a cinematic giving you a clear view of the area around you. It’s similar to the leap of faith points in Assassin’s Creed games that give you that awesome view. Reaching these vistas also earn you experience and can be challenging at times. You can tell that the developers spent some time to find interesting ways to reach certain vistas. There's currently 266 vistas in the game, and I've only reached 78 so far.

These Vistas is a must get for me each time I spot one. I get this urge to figure out how to reach it. Together with the urge to get all Vista, I also find myself trying to complete some areas of the world map. Doing so earns you a huge amount of experience and a chest filled with loot. So there’s a lot to get sidetracked, but since you are constantly getting rewarded in everything you do, you’re not that behind in leveling. For the first time, exploring also helps you progress.

I can’t say much about World vs World just yet since I’ve only done small skirmishes here and there. But it’s going to be loads of fun when I start investing time on it. But I did have one epic battle. Only 12 of use defending a keep against 40 attackers. With a couple of us manning the cannons, one manning the hot oil pot, and others using what supplies we have left in the camp to repair the gate, we were able to fend of the attacks for a good 30 minutes until they decided to back off. It was an awesome feeling, but it would have been a different story if they actually brought siege weapons with them. Thank god they were poor enough to not have a single one to support them.

Money is an issue for me in this game. I’m probably the poorest Charr player on my server. With repair bills, waypoint costs, and buying trait training books, it’s hard to stay above 1 gold. With the online trading post offline for the whole first week, selling my hard-earned gear is a bit tricky at the moment. Selling them to vendors gives some silver, but I know for a fact some of the items I've salvaged or sold would have sold more at the trading post.  I was hoping that money would be a lot easier as I got higher, but cost for services and items also went up. So far my highest amount of gold on hand was around 3 gold, so hopefully when the online trading post is fully operational, I could have more than that. Should play a little bit smarter too because constantly dying doesn't do well for my repair bill.

Check in next week as I add my inputs on the game’s dungeons (Which is a bitch), my week 2 escapades, more about World vs World, and maybe some Structured PvP if I get the urge to try a few games.