August 26, 2012
The reason this post is a day late is the same reason this post is being written: the Guild Wars 2 Head Start has begun. For the first time ever, I got up before 2 AM to play a new game. My guild, so active and loud in Ventrilo the night before, were all in Vent‚ but dead silent. The servers had come online three hours before the announced hour, and everyone was in game. Guild Wars 2 is, bar none, the best MMO I've ever played. Jumping into the game, I decided against trying to claim a bunch of names, and instead created my main character - Kolbrandr Ulffson, the Norn Ranger - and logged in. Since I played in the beta weekend events prior to this, I was ready to go and knew exactly what to do first. I went through the early part of my personal story, but after reaching a certain point in that (involving havrouns, if you're familiar with the story), I left off and started exploring. If nothing else, Guild Wars 2 is absolutely gorgeous. I fully explored the Norn starting area, and then the Norn city of Hoelbrak, getting the full-clear Achievement Chest for that area. Yes, you get boxes of awesome loot just for exploring and doing incidental side quests! The weapon-based skill system works beautifully. In no time at all, I was happily switching on the fly between my axe+torch skills and my longbow skills, lighting things on fire, chopping them up, and most satisfyingly, knocking them backward several yards with a well-placed arrow. Sadly, you can't use the arrow knockback to send mobs off cliffs, but ah well. Can’t have everything, I guess. The jumping puzzles (called "undiscovered vistas" in the game) are just hard enough to be a challenge without being frustrating. There was only one that I did where I fell four or five times before completing it. I think the most striking thing about Guild Wars 2 is how the gameplay encourages strangers to work together. For most of my playtime yesterday, I was constantly running around with groups of people I didn't know, cooperatively completing events and earning tons of experience, loot, and karma. It works wonderfully! And on that note, I'm going to jump back into the game. See you next week, on Saturday as usual.