On the first week, I was around level 40 and appreciating the new PVE system that rewards you for being adventurous. On the second week, I managed to get the last 40 levels of the game, played a bit Structured PVP, did a couple of dungeons, and downed a few elder dragons. I’ve done a lot in the world of Kryta and loving every minute of it.
The last 40 levels of Guild Wars 2 were just about as easy as the first 40. Easy in a sense that it didn’t feel much of a chore. Usually in an MMORPG, the second half of leveling a character to max can give you that repetitive feeling. This was not the case for Guild Wars 2. You always find yourself doing something different. You get sidetracked one way or the other, but you are still moving forward.
Dungeons can be a pain
When I hit 50, I finally decided to try out dungeons. A bit late since the first dungeon was unlocked at level 30, but since you get scaled down, it wasn’t much of a problem. There are two types of dungeons in Guild Wars 2; Story mode and Explorable Mode. Story mode is the basic part of that particular dungeon with a story involving one or two key characters in the game, while Explorable Mode is a more difficult version of that dungeon with three new paths.
Ascalonian Catacomb is the first dungeon. Since only one mode was available, we went on with Story mode. It was pretty simple halfway through until we hit this particular boss that until now, pisses me off by just thinking about it. I won’t spoil the fight since I want you guys to be as frustrated as I was when I first tried it, but I will say this – Pay attention to their abilities displayed below their life! They are placed there for a reason. Anyways, that encounter stressed the hell out of me and my group. But it made me realize that this isn’t the usual MMO dungeons I was used to. Without the holy trinity (Tank, DPS, and Healer) present in Guild Wars 2, it becomes a chaotic real fast.
I’m still not too sure if it’s a step backwards or a step forward. This is definitely something new. It seems you need a lot more skill and coordination to pull off a smooth run. This game is not gear dependent at all, so even level 80 characters can get their ass whooped if they don’t pay attention.
So that experience was a wake-up call. I did a few more dungeons like Caudecus’s Manor and Twilight Arbor which was a bit easier than the first dungeon (Weird I know) but they still required you to bring you’re A game. Then I tried Explorable Mode in Caudecus’s. Well, let’s just say that what I experienced in the first dungeon was nothing compared to what I went through here. It’s not impossible; we are just not used to it. ArenaNet states that Explorable mode can be done at lower levels. Ok sure, but from what I’m seeing, you need some serious coordination and specific skills to pull it off.
I finally took some time off PVE and jumped into sPVP. sPVP is completely separate from your PVE, meaning that your PVE gear gets replaced with basic PVP gear and you get bumped to level 80. All your skills are unlocked and you can reset your traits anytime in the PVP area. The PVP scene is completely different from PVE and WorldvsWorld but thankfully I already had an idea for a PVP build thanks to the third beta weekend. There were two choices in sPVP, public matches which are 8v8 matches, or tournament matches that are 5v5 with brackets. I gave public matches a shot and have yet to try Tournament matches (I want a group I know, no pugs).
There’s only one mode in Guild Wars 2’s sPVP. The objective in each match is that each team must take control of the three nodes in the map to generate points. First to 500 wins. It’s Domination mode with a twist. Each map has an extra element that could give a team an advantage if done right. Like on one map, each team gets a Trebuchet placed on their respective sides. These can be used to defend or attack nodes either in your control or in control by the other team. I’ve experience matches that resulted in us losing thanks to proper use of Their Trebuchet. These added elements can really turn the tides if used properly, which keep the tension high even when you’re in a comfortable lead.
sPVP is all about skill. It’s not based on gear here. Gear is still important but all it does is tune your character on a specific build.What matters is how you execute certain skills, when to dodge, and being a team player. It’s really “Structured” PVP.
You earn Ranks, and as you go up in Rank you are rewarded with a chest with random gear. All the gear earned is only for sPVP and is just for looks, that’s it. The epic looking weapons you could earn is just as strong as your starting gear. All Sigils, runes, and starting equipment are unlocked for you so it’s really all about how you build your character. This is done to keep PVP balanced, and it shows. I spend a couple of hours with sPVP, and it was a lot of fun. Right now, it has only 4 PVP maps which is a problem at the moment. Matches are pretty quick that I could see players getting bored playing on the same map. An issue that could be fixed on updates, but they should have at least included two more maps into the mix for release.
After sPVP, I went back to PVE. I continued with the usual, completing Tasks, Group Quest, and hunting for those hard to reach Vistas. I try to keep my personal quest close to my current level, but I kept getting side tracked that I see my main quest always 5 levels behind.
After establishing myself as a hero in my chosen race, your personal story starts to focus on the main plot of the game – Battling the Elder Dragons that’s terrorizing Tyria. You are given three orders to choose from. The Durmand Priory, Order of the Whispers, and the Vigil. Each order has different views on how to deal with the Elder Dragons. I chose the Vigil, since their answer to the Dragons was brute force, and it was a no brainer for me.
After doing a couple of Vigil quests in the main story, one quest gave me my first Dragon encounter. While it looked epic, it was a pretty easy fight.
The next one though blew my mind. I was finally a few levels away from level 80 and as I was walking around, doing Tasks left and right, I stumble upon a 3-part event. Apparently an Elder Dragon called the Claw of Jormag dropped these huge ice shards that spawn creatures. There were three shards far apart from each other and was tasked to destroy each one.
After that was done, to my surprise I see Claw of Jormag land right in front of us, and all of a sudden I was in a middle of a battle against a dragon with 50+ players. This was one of the best boss fights I’ve encountered in the game thus far.
After a couple of phases, we saw ourselves just a few seconds away from killing the beast, until ArenaNet reminded us that this game was an online game, a new game build was announced..
What does it mean? It means you need to restart your client to download the latest changes done by ArenaNet. They had the perfect timing to do so. We only had 3 minutes until the client forces us out of the game to download the new build. I decided to close early, patch real quick, and hopefully be there when the dragon’s HP hits 0. Sadly, when I went online again, the encounter was refreshed. Very disappointing. But we put that behind us because the group event leading to that epic battle started again, and we just did it all over. In the end, we got him, and to reward us, a huge chest appears out of nowhere. The chest contained items for each player that participated and is based on your level, so I earned level 77 items.
I was three levels away at this point, so I focused on getting the last three levels. And just like that, I was level 80.
It took me two weeks to get to the max level, and I’m not even done with my main story, or even experienced all the dungeons. I've only encountered a handful of those epic boss fights shown above so far, so there’s still a lot for me to do. Gearing up to 80 gear is another thing to worry about, and World vs World is still something I need to spend more time on.
Now since I’m 80, you must be thinking it’s time to try out end-game content. To be honest, I think I have been playing the end-game content. ArenaNet wanted players to experience what’s considered “End-game” right when you start controlling your character for the first time. They actually pulled that off.
After hitting 80, I helped out my friend who was at the time level 37. Me being scaled down to his level kept the content challenging. I did have an advantage thanks to my gear and being just two levels higher than the required level in that area, but not only was I forced to take it seriously, I was not ruining my friend’s experience. I was not carrying him, I was simply tagging along. What’s amazing is that if I haven’t explored the map he’s in ( There’s still a lot I have not explored), it's considered new content, and I still have a chance of getting level 80 loot.
I never thought I’d consider committing to an MMO again. Guild Wars 2 is simply an amazing game. It has its flaw and has tons of bugs that needs fixing, but these issues can easily be forgiven because they just got so many things right. I see myself still playing this game in the next few months. I've also started my second character which is a human thief and yes, I’m planning to get him to level 80 as well.