Crafting, Pets and a Jackalope
The last time I played Guild Wars 2 was 2 years ago, in Köln during the GamesCom. That was an hour only, standing, in a very crowded and noisy area.
This time, I was sitting behind my own (elderly) PC, with only my cats to bother me (told my husband I wouldn’t be available for the entire weekend). I also didn’t really follow any news about Guild Wars 2, about skills, weapons, armour, and such. Only basic gameplay. So, I’m writing this as a person who has a lot of Guild Wars 1 experience and hardly any knowledge of Guild Wars 2.
So, when the mail came with the download link, I downloaded immediately. The download was not bad, exactly the same as Guild Wars 1: an .EXE which downloaded the .DAT file. This one turned out to be around 11.5Gb (naturally, all these things can and probably will change between this beta and the final release!) The “installation” of Guild Wars 1 is one of the best in the games industry, so I loved the fact that they re-did it for Guild Wars 2. Made the “installation” on the laptop also a lot easier (simply copy/paste the folder and start it again!)
Once the entire file was downloaded, I started the client (this was halfway the week, so the servers weren’t open yet, but, you never know!). You start at the login screen, again, same idea as in Guild Wars 1 (why change something that is good already?). But it’s mesmerizing! I watched it for about 30 minutes straight (the fire and water parts especially are awesome).
And then the long, long, wait started… I believe we were allowed to tell others that we were in the beta (being press and all), but we decided to keep mum (just to keep on the safe side)
Then the servers finally opened on Friday (my) afternoon. We could create a charr, a human or a norn. I started with a charr, as I figured I wouldn’t play that race when the game went live and nothing would get too much spoiled (and how wrong I was!). Gender: female. Profession: ranger (how’d you guess!). Then the choices you get changing your character’s looks: colour of the eyes, colour of your fur, colour of the spots… But also size and form of the horns, size and form of your body, size and form of your snout… I think I might spend the entire next beta trying to find a few potential character layouts in order to not lose any time during the early access… I finally settled on a finely made female charr, rather dark in fur and spots. And green eyes.
Then the game finally started. Not knowing the keys and thrown right in the middle of battle didn’t help there. Later on I also created a human ranger and I preferred that starting area. It was more clear what was happening (help, centaurs are attacking!) I still don’t know exactly what was the first quest you do as a charr… I barely figured out what controls to use! Luckily, as I found out, they were almost the same as Guild Wars 1 (default binding), except for a few changes (notably the space bar, which selects stuff in Guild Wars 1 and is bound by default to the jump feature in Guild Wars 2).
The personal story line quests are comparable with the missions in Guild Wars 1. Now, as this was a beta and I don’t know exactly what was changed to give people the best feel for the game, I don’t know if you must advance your personal quests before you can move to other areas in your home land (like Factions), or more like Nightfall where you can move between your home areas but not to other race areas, or more like Prophecies where you can roam at will and only your level will stop you as you simply are too low level to survive (like trying to get from the Northern Shiverpeaks to the Southern Shiverpeaks on a lvl10 character in Guild Wars 1). I really hope it’ll be the latter (that’s how it was during the beta at least, and I must say, I loved it!)
Exploring, questing, dieing
So, I got past the first quest and decided to follow my personal quest line. Let’s talk about that for a bit. Personal quests, as I said, are comparable with the missions in Guild Wars 1. They advance your personal story and you through the game. They’re also solo (instanced) and linear. And you don’t enter them automatically (as quests and events are added to your quest log automatically). The dialog options vary, based upon the choices you made during character creation. If you said you were a basher, you’ll get a completely different dialog from the ones that say they’re suave and talkers. For instance, at one quest, I needed to get some charr to leave a bar. I had chosen a stealthy character, so I simply annoyed them so much with my “drunken” talk, they got tired of me and left. A basher would have demolished the bar, maybe, and get kicked out together with those charr that needed to leave. As they’re instanced they play in the “same” area as the normal game, except you’re not free to roam. If you move out of the designated area, you will be kicked from the instance and must try again. I haven’t tried dieing there…
At one point, my personal story line hit a snag (errors… the ladybug [nifty feature that, sending bug reports from in-game! but I think it’ll be removed when the game goes live] was used) and I had to find something else to do. So, I went out and started to look seriously at the other things you can do.
And those are plenty! In fact, I think there might even be too much. One event hadn’t even finished and the next started… Or the first restarted again. In my opinion, ANet should look at that a bit more, tweaking the repeatability of those (more time between them?). Those events and quests can be so distracting that you can completely forget your primary storyline! (as I said before, not sure how important they are in regards to your advancement on the map). You can also do the quests and events in areas that aren’t your birth area.
Now, I know there was some discussion about the fee required for returning to a waypoint and the fee required to repair your armour. The closest waypoint is never expensive to return to. As a matter of fact, as you’re fighting, you’re probably helping with some quest or event and you’ll get a reward for that (even if you have moved out of the area when the event ends). Both quests and events are repeatable by default. Armour only gets bad if you actually die. Not if you revive. Reviving can be done by anybody who is passing around. And you’ll get rewarded (with a title) for reviving anybody. Not only party members, but also completely strangers and NPC’s. Actually, reviving NPC’s can even be part of a quest or event.
And as far as I could see, there is no “keep X alive”, as you can simply revive X if he dies. And if multiple people start reviving a fallen friend, the reviving will be much faster! Those that worry about that res orb, I really think they are really that much of an asset, as reviving is almost natural and simple to do. I’ve done the Ascalon dungeon and though I had a horrible framerate (ranging from 5 to 10 in the heavy action areas…), dieing wasn’t much of a problem as either the whole party died (party of 5 there) or people could take the time to res falling members again.
Quest rewards are given to you automatically. No need to talk to anybody (yeay!). Event rewards you get by email. (I heard that people hadn’t noticed that and had thrown away those emails without collecting the money reward that was attached to them)
Oh, a last thing, quest markers also give the advised level. So, you can see if you should level a bit more before you try that quest (or maybe ask a friend or two to be around in case you die…)
Those of us that love to seek out familiar landscapes, they are there. But you must remember, 250 years have passed and thus things have changed. I couldn’t enter Lornar’s Pass, but the Pass is still there in Guild Wars 2.
Gathering and Crafting
First a warning: if you go into crafting, be advised that that is a space hog! I decided I’d go cook. I started with about 5 ingredients and by the time the beta was over, I had around 100 or more… But before you start crafting, you need to start gathering.
Gathering is easy. You walk around the map, doing events, quests or simply unlocking waypoints and you’ll see those icons on your radar which point to various resources. Hoovering over them in your radar will show you what you’ll get. Once you’ve gathered what you can, the icon will be removed from your radar. Also, some things will be more scarce at some locations than others. I got most of my jute from the human areas and most of my garlic from the norn areas, for instance. (Unlike Gorani, I didn’t have a shortage of jute, as I managed to craft 4 8-space bags and even being able to send the rest to him!)
Some materials can’t be gathered or hunted for and must be bought, either with money (some really basic ingredients such as salt) or with karma (the more advanced ingredients, including flour and butter). Nice detail: there’s a “Hunter/Gatherer” title.
*Apparently, you can’t change the picture that is shown on youtube videos, but all video’s beyond this point will go to their relevant part!
Once you’ve your materials, you can start crafting. You can have two crafts active at one time. Changing it will cost you money, but you won’t lose your current progress in the craft you’re laying aside for the moment. Some materials are craft specific (I mean, an armourer doesn’t need butter) but a lot of materials are used by multiple crafts (think copper and iron, which can be used by armourers, weaponmakers, but also jewelers). I decided to go with armour-crafting (which was a mistake in my case, as my ranger had no use for the armour made there…) and cooking. It took me some time to notice that there were pre-made recipes, I started to experiment automatically. The pre-made recipes are generally making base ingredients out of other base ingredients, for example, making dough. You’ll stop getting crafting XP once the requirement for the recipe is too low. But you’ll get new recipes if you gain a “level” (a level was 25 points). XP can be gained by making pre-defined stuff, but you’ll get way more by creating new recipients (a.k.a. simply adding stuff together and hope they’ll make something). Or you take a look at your current recipes and start thinking.
I had made an armour, using copper and jute. You had to create an outer copper shell and an inner jute padding. Then add those two together. But I noticed there wasn’t any helmet in my recipe list. But there was a recipe for a copper helmet shell and a jute helmet padding. So, I created those. The rest of the armour had also needed some weak blood. So, I added my jute, copper and a vial of weak blood in my ingredient list, et voila, I had a matching helmet (and the recipe in my list). So, I started to experiment even more: what if I created that skin and jute and added another ingredient to it? And that worked as well and I got a different armour set that way.
But I continued with my cooking. I had some blueberries, and some dough. And crafted some blueberry pie! And later some blueberry cookies. And then I found some strawberries, so I figured, if there are blueberry cookies, why couldn’t there be strawberry cookies? So, I tried the same recipe, only exchanged the blueberries with strawberries. And got me another recipe: Strawberry cookies.
I finally ended up making a cheeseburger sandwich with fries, with some blueberry cookies as dessert. Didn’t have time to create an accompanying salad. I also wanted to create a pizza, but couldn’t find the recipe in time. Nor for my spaghetti bolognese… (with cheese). I did have some pasta sauce and dough, but I needed more… (including time). I managed to get 113 points this weekend (thanks in part to Gorani for providing the raw food!)
Storage… This will be a problem. Major problem. You do have your bank (no Xunlai as Cantha is closed, remember), but that too is ending. And it’s easy to fill it completely with the ingredients for one crafting profession. Very easy. Too easy, in fact… But, you can grab bags. The 4-slot bag can be bought at most merchants (not all merchants sell the same!), but what is 4 slots… Exactly, just enough to store some weapons! But no worries, you can always craft some extra bags. You default get the recipe for an 8-slot bag. At least, I know you get one if you go Armoursmithing and Huntsmen, so I presume you can also do it with at least tailors and leatherworkers. You’ll only get different kind of bags/boxes. As Armoursmith, I made steel boxes, as huntsman it was jute box. But it doesn’t stop there. With experimenting as an armoursmith, I also made two different kind of 8-slot boxes. One that would fill up before anything else, and one that wouldn’t be visible when selling at a merchant. Very nice for those that always sell the products they don’t want to sell! I’ll presume you’ll get more recipes for boxes with experimenting (for example, for larger boxes). But storage will always be a problem. Maybe it will get better once you’ve maxed your crafting profession and you know what you can craft…
Right before I logged out for the last time, I noticed there was a storage tab in my bank for minis, books and PvP stuff. You can remove the books and minis from there and read (use) them. Compare to the material tab in Guild Wars 1. All slots are for a specific item which you can then remove again. As I didn’t have minis, I don’t know if they can only be used by the person who got them (and first put them in there) but I really doubt that…
My favourite! Pets, I’ve liked them in all RPG games I’ve played, but I learned to love them in Guild Wars 1. But in Guild Wars 1, they are a seprate entity from you, yet not. You have to reserve space on your bar for your pet to be effective (even to take him with you!), otherwise you might as well leave it at home. And the controls are rather limited (attack and heel basically)
Not so much in Guild Wars 2. You still have attack and heel but there’s a third option. Attack my current foe and then return to my heel. Sadly, the controls didn’t always work (I blame it on the beta state!). And your pet has its own attack skill. Unlike Guild Wars 1, in Guild Wars 2 each variety of pet has its own attack skill (a bit like the mauling the brown bear’s got in Guild Wars 1) which you can control. I had a devourer and that one had a siege attack, while my ice drake had some icy attack. Also, another difference has to do with reviving. In Guild Wars 1, you can only revive another’s pet if you are also a Beastmaster, with a certain skill on your bar. In Guild Wars 2, the pet acts the same as any other player or NPC, you can revive him simply with the standard revive. Even the pet of another can be revived!
You don’t need to bring a certain skill with you to bring your pet. He’s simply always by your side. You can have multiple pets, but only one active at the time and one other “under the button” so to speak. You can switch weapons while fighting (with a cooldown) and you can switch pets while fighting (also with a cooldown). Two weapon sets, two pets. If your pet is dead, you can chose, revive him, or switch him. The new pet will be alive and kicking again. But if you took two pets with two different attack skills (let’s say one for the party boost, the other for the extra damage), you might get the wrong pet for the situation. Some pets can be used above and below water, others only below or above. You can select a completely different set of pets (and weapons) for underwater combat.
Your 5 major skills are always for your weapons, but you can bring one of the other skills that might boost your pet. There was one I really liked: reviving! My pet would revive a member of the party while I could continue shooting my arrows into the fray. I also gained plenty of healing licks from my pet while I was trying to rally…
Charming a pet is as easy as walking up to it, and press the “use” key…
The email system is rudimentary, sadly. You can send and receive emails, you can attach items and money to it. But you can’t archive those emails. A simple “inbox” and “read” folder-like structure would have been nice.
Falling of high cliffs can be deadly (though, if it’s not really shear, you can get down it without dieing, but be sure to not fall too deep!) but jumping off a high cliff into deep water is not. A diving visual would have been nice, but I think that might be a bit too much to ask (you simply fall with your feet down). And you can’t do a leaping jump.
And it’s easy to fall to your death if you simply jump over fences. I tried to get down in one part of the Citadel (never found my way down the offical way), so, I simply jumped over the railing. Didn’t survive though… Getting back to a waypoint in town was free, so no problems with that with falling to you death if you jump from the top to the bottom level. Finding your way in the Citadel is a completely different story though… That place is a maze!
Comparison classic MMO
1. You can’t kill-steal. Period. At one point I was in an orchard which had spider problems (it sounded familiar somehow…) Three or four others were already in that orchard killing stuff and cleaning those spider nests (I’ll come back to that later). In a classic MMO, you might as well move on as you won’t be able to get the requirements for the quest as you’ll have to share with those others. But in Guild Wars 2, you simply aid the ones already there. And you’ll get rewarded for your effort at the end of it, depending on the amount of work you put in it. If you stumble upon an event and that event is almost done, you can still join and get a reward (though, it’ll most likely less than the ones that were around from the start).
2. There are no “Kill 10 rats” kind of quests. I was wandering around Ascalon, when I ressed some NPC. Which apparently was part of a quest there to help some group of charr. I looked around and saw some traps, which I then defused. Also part of that same quest. Killed some critters, which also advanced the quest. So, there’s variety in the quest requirements.
3. You gathering isn’t blocking anybody else from gathering. Never be annoyed that somebody stole that rich silver ore in front of you!
4. You are scaled back to the level that is adviced for the area.
5. Gear is level locked and “soulbound”. You can’t even sell soulbound stuff to a merchant. Which can be handy as the salvage kit also gets soulbound upon first use. So, no more “whoops, sold my salvage kit back to the merchant”.
During my questing, I came across some familiar creatures. Not only from my years playing Guild Wars, but also some other mythical ones..
I appologize for the bad quality of my video, but sadly, my PC was’t really cooperating. As a matter of fact, hours after I managed to upload the video, it had given me so many freezes and blue screens, I decided to re-install it…