Gaming roundup

It’s been a while since an MMO has really grabbed me. I’d poked a nose into a couple of launches (or free-to-play relaunches), tried to revisit a couple of old favourites, but nothing had particularly stuck. After wrapping up Mafia II I was at a bit of a loose gaming end, though, and when Van “Tim” Hemlock mentioned the Tuesday N00b Club were contemplating another outing in Guild Wars 2 I thought I’d get it patched up and give it another try.

Guild Wars 2, huh; what is it good for? Allowing a disparate collection of players to gather together and co-operate with relatively few restrictions and barriers (good god y’all). Rampaging around the Sylvari starter area was rather fun, and the game offers an increasingly shiny bit of loot merely for logging in each day so I started doing that. Then there are rotating daily achievements for gathering crafting materials, participating in events, viewing vistas and such, with gold on offer for completing any three of them, and what does gold make? A number two hit for Spandau Ballet, of course, but it can also be used to buy dye and outfits from the trading post in order to look fabulous, my main motivation. A month on and I’m fairly hooked, playing daily, and really enjoying it.

Though GW2 has been regularly updated since launch I don’t believe it’s a fundamentally different game to the one I bounced off a couple of times before, or indeed fundamentally different to many other MMOs out there at the moment; I wasn’t even particularly aware of having an MMO-itch, but I guess there was one and GW2 is providing a thoroughly pleasant scratching post with its wide array of activities: exploration, world events, character story, dungeons, crafting, structured PvP and the like. Melmoth and I were exploring a fun little mini-dungeon and encountered a simple place-rocks-on-pads puzzle; I started out in full Crystal Maze mode (“I’m in a room with some pads and some rocks! I’m going to pick up all the rocks! I can’t hold all the rocks! I’m going to jump up and down on all of the pads!”) until Melmoth pointed out a giant stone head with a glowing green clue on it, and after a couple of false starts we got the door open. Flush with success we promptly busted out our finest self-congratulatory dance emotes, a celebration marred only briefly by the newly-opened door swinging shut after 30 seconds or so, forcing us to redo the puzzle…

I still pop into War Thunder for a quick battle most days; the recent 1.63 update added a few more planes and tanks, always welcome. I also grabbed Tabletop Simulator, and on a rare free Friday managed to pop along to the regular virtual boardgaming session for a round of Lords of Waterdeep, a most pleasing alternative when physical gaming isn’t possible. When fully grabbed by an MMO it doesn’t leave much too much room for other games, though, so Guild Wars 2 should keep me going for the next few months.

One thought on “Gaming roundup

  1. Crumskull

    Guild Wars 2 is pretty darn good. I’m not much of a video-game player, but I’d always fancied the MMO: the large-scale coordination, the persistent world. I played WoW for a couple of expacs, but it grew stale (most everyone I knew quit and I got sick of the grind). I tested the waters in numerous titles that appeared — SWTOR, FFXIV, Wildstar, and others beneath mention — but none of them hooked me, whereas I am still a regular in GW2.

    The open world is non-competitive (e.g., if you see a resource node, everybody can harvest it; there is no “tagging” mobs, anyone who hits it gets credit, grouped or not), and this seems to foster a comparatively genial community (there will always be bad sorts, of course; it’s the Internet). Since “casual” is usually a pejorative in MMOs, I will say that it’s a game one can play casually without falling behind. There is no progression gear-grind; max-stat items are fairly easy to obtain. The grind that exists is a matter of election: It is a game that greatly encourages the creation of alts (you will eventually be drowning in free level-up items), the creation of different sets of armor, different builds, etc. You can play one thing and stick with it, but you’re missing out on part of the picture.

    The expansion that hit one year ago introduced new 10-person raid content. It is fun and well-made, though as a note since it has to be designed in such a way as to be a challenge of skill and not gear, if you are an experienced raider it is not terribly difficult. Unfortunately, years of simplistic PvE have engendered a base that is distressingly bad at it, so the pug experience can be rough. Still, if you’ve got a gang of regulars with you, and you enjoy PvE, I’d recommend that as a goal.

    It features what is hands-down the best PvP I have played in an MMO. Whereas in other titles I would dabble in PvP, here I am more of a PvP’er than PvE’er.

    For my money, the real endgame was WvW, the realm-vs.-realm mode which features big battles, small skirmishes, PvPvE, etc., and is the mode in which the complexity of the stat and build system really shines. Unfortunately, the mode has seen little love or serious support from the developers over the game’s life, and it is quite descended from its peak.

    Also, it looks wonderful, if you’re a fan of that sort of thing.

    It’s far from perfect, of course, and I am not intending to oversell it. The expansion featured a lot of misses, and the near future should tell whether the developers learned from the errors or are going to compound them. Still, it is a slightly different flavor of MMO, and it rightfully has a lot of supporters. Welcome.

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