Guild Wars 2: a noob’s journey – part two

Monday, 3rd September 2012 13:49 GMT By Dave Cook

Guild Wars 2 has been out for a week now, and in that time VG247′s MMO novice Dave Cook has embarked on a quest to further his understanding of the gene. This week he tries to be more sociable, with varying results.

I’m new to MMOs, but I’ve always understood why people enjoyed them. Part of the appeal is in collaboration, conversing with others and carving out your status online. I understand that, but once upon a time I used to view the social aspects of games like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars as a dangerous time sink.

As I mentioned in part one of my Guild Wars 2 journal, I use games as a way to unwind, and the thought of having to meet friends online at specific times to tackle quests felt too much like a job to me.

Back in my uni days I used to share a flat with three major MMO players. They had an absolute blast on World of Warcraft, but despite their best efforts to get me to try it, I couldn’t be convinced.

Which was stupid of course because my mindset back then was basically this: ‘Silly MMO players with their social interaction, time commitment and need to be places at specific times to do things. Oh hey, I’ve just put 120 hours into Final Fantasy XII alone in my room over a few months instead of studying, that’s awesome.’

Yep, stupid isn’t it? I actively avoided the MMO genre back then but today in Guild Wars 2, I’m making a conscious effort to open my mind and really get involved in the game. It’s working too – I’m having fun and really get into the spirit of it.

My story continues here.

Saturday 1st September: Charr warrior, Levels 8-15

Last week I got to grips with the world of Tyria, and created my Charr warrior Fastrez – my user name is fastrez.5140 on the Gunnar’s Hold server if you want to say hi. I levelled up a lot, explored much of the Charr homelands and basically had a lot of fun.

But I was still dodging the social aspects of the game for fear of entering into some kind of unwritten contract that says I have to be readily available to a guild as specific times. So over the past week I’ve thrown out my fears and tried to be as social as possible.

Note the size of my sword in the above screen grab. One of the things I’ve noticed this week is that you don’t have to grind all the way to Guild Wars 2′s level cap to get gear that looks awesome. Even low level weapons look impressive, and I guess that’s a smart move on ArenaNet’s part to make the ‘little’ guys feel special too.

In fact, the game does go to lengths to make everyone feel special, even socially-reclusive players like me. As I’m now venturing into areas of the Charr homelands that are swarming with tougher enemies, I’ve found I’m rezzing downed players more often, and vice versa.

Guild Wars 2 makes players work together, even when they’re not actively in a group or guild, and that is an uplifting thing to be a part of. Without saying a word to each other, players can come together to tackle events or bring down tough enemies. Everyone gets XP and loot, everyone has fun.

It’s appealing sure, but it’s missing the point of the social power of MMO games. Sometimes you can get more out of a game like this by opening chat window and actually talking with people.

Like this:

That’s me down and defeated while some random player kindly brings me back to life. All I did was say thanks, they said thanks back and then we went off into an ogre cave for a while and slaughtered a pack of higher level enemies. That’s a new experience to me.

I mean, I play Call of Duty online more than any other multiplayer game because I love it – as unpopular as that may make me among some circles – and sure, if you work as a team properly in that game you can utterly demolish the enemy team, but even that level of interaction feels faceless compared to MMOs.

In Guild Wars 2 it’s a level of interaction that is – although this may sound trite – simply heart warming. Well, aside from the time one guy openly stated that people using the chat window in any language other than English should be outlawed. He was just a f**king moron.

So I used the chat window a lot to speak with people, said thanks for help, answered questions new players had regarding the game’s mechanics and more. I said often in last week’s post that Guild Wars 2 makes you feel useful and yes, that sentiment has only gotten stronger this week.

But still I was guild-less:

Gutted. However I received two guild invites as I booted up Guild Wars 2 on Saturday – one from a guild formed by UK game journalists and another created by one of my close friends. I joined both and was surprised to see that guilds aren’t just a grouping mechanic, they’re a whole new level of gameplay.

You have to remember that I’m coming into the MMO genre cold so this may not be news to you, but in a Guild you all contribute to the cause, be it saving up funds, collectively earning bonuses or upgrades and fast travelling to member locations, unlocking parts of Tyria that would otherwise take weeks to explore on foot.

I partied up with my friend’s guild first and he fast travelled to meet me in the Charr homelands. Suddenly he had all of this new potential, all of these fresh new quests to tackle, and even though I had already done them all, I accompanied him on a few of them and levelled up a lot in the process.

But I was happy to do it as we were both helping each other and growing our characters as we went. We then ventured East – further than I had ever done before. There we battled our way into the haunted depths of Ascalon City, discovered hidden vistas for XP, and even took the time to dance on a cliff edge before stupidly falling to our deaths. Oops.

So what overarching truth have I learned about Guild Wars 2 and MMOs this week? Well, I now prefer adventuring with a second person as it’s fun. You can share in a laugh, support each other and generally get more done. I’ve removed all stigma from getting stuck in and collaborating online.

But that said, if the notion of meeting up online to do stuff at specific times ever does get too much for me, it’s comforting to know that I can tackle the whole game solo if I wish. Truthfully however, I think those days are gone:

Here’s to teamwork.

Come back next Monday for part three of Dave’s Guild Wars 2 journal, in which he fast travels all over Tyria to see new parts of the world.



  1. DSB

    Yup, it definitely does inclusion better than any MMO out there.

    Part of me is dreading how casual it is though. I used to be one of those WoW guys who had to be certain places at certain times, and that was essentially what got me hooked on MMORPGs in the first place.

    Banding up with 50 other guys, brainstorming strategies and taking down bosses as a coordinated 25-man unit. It was massively rewarding.

    I don’t see Guild Wars 2 as really having that. Once you max out you’re just going to be a bunch of guys talking crap and grinding, like you do in most other MMOs, but without being able to progress as a team.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Puggy

    I think one of the problems is, that you do not have to brainstorm strategies to get down a boss. If you show up for a raid, or however you want to call it, most people expect you to already know the Layout of the dungeon, the boss and the loot by heart. Read up, watch youtube videos and so on.

    So there is little actual exploring to do and everyone just goes there to get the next piece of equipment.

    I do like the automatically working together aspect of the game though. That, as well as the absence of quests and quest chains. So you do not have to wait for someone to get up to your phase of the quest or they have to wait for you. You band together and do something, no matter what, both of you will get rewarded adequately for the time invested.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Giskard

    @2 That usually happens when an MMO is slightly older, as is the case with WoW now. Back before Naxx, you pretty much went with your gut, mostly. At least my guild did. Now, everyone’s expected to know everything before the content is even out on the servers.

    Guild Wars 2, however, is still fairly fresh, and me and my friends are having a blast trying out the dungeons and mechanics, sometimes failing miserably on easy things.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. DSB

    @2 Right, I think it just comes down to the amount of work involved.

    For people who feel that raiding was way too much effort, Guild Wars 2 is going to be unmatched. In WoW they were pretty much forced to come up with their own fun, when everybody else did raiding.

    And I pretty much agree that the level grind was just “hard labor”. It did give people a basic understanding of their class, but it wasn’t until they started hitting the dungeons that they were actually learning.

    Still, it’s a purpose that I’m gonna miss. I read somewhere that Guild Wars 2′s endgame will be focused around world bosses, which essentially puts it on the level with Everquest.

    @3 Yeah, that differs from guild to guild. Our approach to strategy was a mix of military style briefings and science :P

    I know a lot of others just winged it, but we were all about preparation.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. OlderGamer

    I have to say the game has been growing on me. Just a few things to work out like the overflow stuff. But it still releativly new.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Takeshi

    Great articles, Dave. Just read both of them.

    I too was like you and I haven’t quite been deep in a MMO yet.

    Probbaly due to the frowning upon the genre as stupid as it is. Now I just don’t care, though video games are a lot more socially acceptable now than they were 5-10 years ago.

    I did play a bit of TERA before giving up on it simply because it has a subscription. Otherwise I’d probably be playing it, and the fact that GW2 only has a pay-once-to-play is the only reason I am interested in playing it. Time? Sure. I am already playing a lot of video games. But money? No way. I’m still a student. Also, like to unhock myself from time to time regarding video games, and I don’t want that feeling of having to do something because I want to get my money’s worth.

    I’m also not keen on talking to people online. In RL I’m also not the most social person, but I LOVE helping people. The feeling you get when you help someone recover in a video game is completely awesome. I can’t what beating a boss with a couple of other players will do to me. GW2 is definitely the game for me to try the MMO genre. I’ll probably play with my friends mostly, but it could be fun to see what being in a guild is like. I’m watching an anime called Sword Art Online which is also the reason why I am now interested in MMOs more than ever. MMO fans should check it out.

    Too bad I got no money whatsoever to buy GW2 with. Only in 2-3 weeks… =(

    #6 2 years ago
  7. GrimRita

    The Q Dave is – are you going to dive in to PvP and WvW?

    @6 The great thing I have found with GW2 is that you dont feel like you’re grinding just to level. So many things yield XP – especially craft(oh some HUGE numbers here, especially if you add a crafting bonus). So being late to the party, you wont be missing out.

    I have spent hours and hours in WvW, in long pissing Qs to get in, tired of the Trading Post saga – its been up and down more than a pair of Pat Butchers knickers in a ‘love’ triangle.

    Yet I simply am loving the game – spent close to £90 on gems(most to get storage and weapons for WvW) but once the TP starts to work, money will be easy to come buy, especially as you can exchange in game money for gems(just look at the exchange rate – managed to exchange 10silver for 38 gems!! WHOOPIEEEEEEEEE

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @6 many thanks, glad you enjoyed them and that I’m not alone :)

    @7 not yet, but I will soon, and will probably write about it :D

    #8 2 years ago
  9. GrimRita

    @8 – ‘write about it’? Thats SOOOOO 80s. Get Bandicam or something and give us a little video as well ;)

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @9 :P I’m buying Fraps soon, so maybe I can do that

    #10 2 years ago
  11. DSB

    @7 I don’t know, I mean I’m pretty aware that I’m grinding 90% of the time. Most of the events and quests are basically “Kill 10 rats” or “Babysit the NPC”.

    More importantly though, they manage to attract everyone so you’re doing it with a bunch of other people. So it goes from “I’m doing menial labor” to “We’re doing menial labor” which is just a lot more fun :P

    That’s really the core strength of the game in my opinion. It takes those very common elements, and then it sets them up the way it should’ve been done all along.

    All it’s missing is an option to automatically hop into parties with people doing the same quests in the same zones. That would really nail it.

    But right now the login server is down… Great game, but not a stellar launch.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. TheWulf

    The problem with raiding is that it was never brainstorming or strategy, it was just doing what a bunch of addons told you whenever they told you to. I had a friend who was in one of the big goon guilds, and he let me in on pretty much all of it. I know some people like to talk big to make all their wasted time in WoW sound important, but really, it all came down to waiting for something to pop up on your screen, and then reacting.

    You were essentially playing the UI, rather than the game. It was like playing with a spreadsheet, occasionally values would change, so you would change other values to compensate. If you knew what value to change in order to react to X value changing, there was absolutely zero room for failure. It was just exceedingly dull, it was entirely scripted, and everyone was just following their assigned duties.

    As I understood it, raiding was the most monotonous experience ever, and when said friend came down from it, he said that it was just something he did to be around people, to have some kind of social interaction. Because even if he was just sitting there, pressing a button once in a while, he was sitting there with a large group of people, even if what they were doing was much the same.

    And guess what? Said person was my roomie. I had a hell of a lot of trouble getting him to kick that addiction, because it was making him unhealthy. He was spending most of his week grinding for pots, which was necessary for every raid, putting in four days or more of solid, non-stop grinding a week was absolutely necessary for the high-end raiding he was doing. And the raids were long slogs, too.

    In GW2, you don’t have to do that. Is that a good thing? I think so. A lot of the game in GW2 is reactive because it’s more about keeping on your toes rather than letting an addon tell you when you should push your aggro button, or push your heal button. There’s no aggro or dedicated healers there, it tosses that out the window. And really, there’s no grind there, either, unless you choose to grind.

    But someone coming out of WoW would choose to grind, and that’s what I think #1 is doing. I’m just having fun and exploring, personally, that’s how most of my time is being spent. I’m doing it with other people, as well. I’m seeking out vistas, troves, and meta-events, I have a group of people whom I do this with. If they’re on, we team up. We don’t need to set aside four days a week for solid grinding. We just play.

    That’s the difference between GW2 and WoW. In WoW you have to do those days and days of solid grinding, then you get into a raid which is just ‘push button when addon says.’ I don’t think that’s playing. In GW2 you get in there and you just play.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. DSB

    And thus TheWulf launches himself into a detailed criticism of another thing he’s never actually played himself.

    Clever trousers ;)

    I’d be inclined to think that anyone who thinks that Guild Wars 2 isn’t entirely scripted hasn’t played that either. It’s the exact same building blocks, merely applied better.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. TheWulf


    Yes, but what you’re leaving out is the variety. I know you like your intellectual dishonesty, but I’d love for there to be one article where you don’t mislead people. The idea was never that it wouldn’t feel like you were doing things, of course you’re doing things. You do things in every game, you do similar things in Darksiders II and Fall of Cybertron, but what makes it different is the feel of it.

    For starters, you have the living environments and storylines. There’s stuff always going on and NPCs chatting, I absolutely love it when a dynamic event rolls by because that’s never like ‘kill 10 centaurs who’re standing around in a field’ a la WoW (you can thank Colin Johansen for that one), but rather something more involved.

    Let me give you an example of a dynamic event: At one point, I’m in a camp which is invaded by ghosts. I help them fight off the ghosts, which involves remaining in a perimeter and ensuring the ghosts don’t delve too deeply within that perimeter. Once the invasion has been forced off, a number of charr there decide they want to mount a counter-attack.

    So you’re lead off a band of charr into the ruins of an old abbey, you clear the place out with the guards, who’re very capable (there’s no baby-sitting there as they could handle themselves, in some cases better than the players could, who were dropping like flies). At the end of the abbey we’re ambushed by a boss.

    That feels more like a single-player game because of the dialogue, and the NPCs. The fact of the matter is is that they would have run off and invaded that place even if the players hadn’t joined in. The world goes on around you and you sort of get swept up in it a lot. And no, it doesn’t feel like grinding at all. If it does, then you’re so cynical that you’re hollow and all single-player games have to feel that way, too.

    But let’s be more charitable and look at renown hearts. Even there it doesn’t feel like typical MMORPG grinding because of the variety involved. Instead of just killing stuff, you can:

    - Collect items.
    - Set traps.
    - Repair things.
    - Destroy structures.
    - Resurrect guards.

    All of which counts to the renown heart of the area. Every renown heart has multiple ways of doing things. And in some cases you’re given special items with which to do renown hearts, special weapons which replace all your abilities.

    There’s so much variety on offer, and there’s so much life to the world, that if this really feels just like old MMORPG grinding to you, then you must be the most bitter, cynical old bastard I’ve ever known. And that’s coming from me.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. TheWulf


    “And thus TheWulf launches himself into a detailed criticism of another thing he’s never actually played himself.”

    I didn’t say that I hadn’t. That’s just you making an assumption. (And you know what assumptions do, right?) I just used that as an example of high-end raiding, which I actually watched even if I hadn’t played. And I have done some of the 15-man stuff.

    I know more than enough to make an informed opinion.

    But my oh my, look at you getting panicky at me having an opinion again. It does seem to absolutely terrify you that I do. As I said in another thread, I think I give you trouble sleeping at night. :P

    #15 2 years ago
  16. DSB

    I don’t know. I write five short paragraphs on your darling (which I’m actually playing) and you respond with a novel assuming all kinds of things about my personality.

    Sure, I’m the desperate one :P

    I think the only thing you give people trouble with, is enjoying Guild Wars 2. There’s really nothing like fanboys to discourage people from actually trying something.

    Lastly I think it’s kinda weird how you managed to play a 15-man raid in WoW, considering that those don’t exist.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Kabby

    What is there to do at level 80?

    #17 2 years ago
  18. DSB

    The short answer is not a lot. PvP and dungeons I gather.

    The whole idea is that the game would be one long endgame, so you’re constantly getting tossed into events, and Everquest-style world bosses while you’re levelling.

    None of it is really as demanding as a conventional endgame MMO, but then that was never the idea. The idea is to get people playing together, without a bunch of demands, like Dave and Takeshi touch on, and it does an impressive job of that.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Giskard

    @18 PvP, WvWvW, Crafting. Dungeons to some extent, but really the real end game gear is getting all the sweet looking social stuff :p

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Kabby

    So essentially nothing of note aside from realm v realm pvp?

    Seems like the ideal game for people who only play dps characters in the more traditional MMO’s.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Tiffania

    Really fun article!
    I played Guild Wars 1 for like 4 years so I’m used to MMO’s, and still, Guild Wars 2 made me confused at some points.

    And you’re right, the social aspect is a huge part of the game.
    I did the Ascolanian Catacombs last night with 2 friends on teamspeak and to two random players. Only thing they did was saying how great they were and how bad we did. It had a huge impact because everyone got mad and scolded each other.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. KC

    @21 Well, and I’m beating a dead fish here, but really every class is dps in GW2 in one way or another. No pure healers or tanks, just some traited 2ndary healer/support toons that can’t do it very long anyway. But yeah, no gear-grind if that’s what your asking. Although personally I’d rather craft buttons all day than do that. XD

    @22 I did the same dungeon last night for the first time with a pug group and it was obvious(to me anyway) I was the weakest link. Fortunately my group was keen to not abruptly ridicule, to throw me some pointers, and let me learn as we went. Sorry for your experience, sucks when that happens. FYI, GW1 was no mmo…sorry but it bugs me when I see that. Multiplayer? Yes. Online? Yes. Massive? No…the whole game(minus towns) was instanced. That said, great game on its own merits with high replayability.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. DSB

    The idea that players of X game subscribe to Y values really only makes sense to the fanboys who want that to be true.

    They do it with consoles, they do it with shooters, and they do it with MMOs.

    Considering that I’ve played something like five different MMOs over the last 12 years, I imagine I’d fuck up that equasion quite nicely at any rate :P

    The guys in Guild Wars 2 are the same guys you find everywhere else. My experience is that the bigger the group gets, the bigger your chance of a revive or an assist becomes. It’s really no different than any other MMO.

    Sometimes you run into a helpful person, and sometimes you run into a fuckwad.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. viralshag

    I imagine the majority of GW2 players are WoW, TOR and other MMO players. I imagine most MMO players will buy a lot of the decent looking ones that come out.

    GW2 is certainly enjoyable but it does feel quite grindy still. Sure, there is variety and I like exploring as much as I like questing but every heart is pretty much kill this, collect that, click on this thing – with regards to the hearts I’m pretty much going through the motions in the hope one of the events starts.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Kabby

    Show us some screenies of your toons, guys :)

    #25 2 years ago
  26. viralshag

    Because I’m sad and bored waiting for this event to start I gave in to your request:

    Here is me chilling like a boss:

    Here is me doing the robot:

    Here is me with a special dance move:

    #26 2 years ago
  27. DSB

    I’ll bite :P

    The jpegs pretty much screwed up the quality, but here’s the charr, charring stuff:

    And here’s the asura, being a thief:

    And here’s what they both aspire to be:

    #27 2 years ago
  28. viralshag

    Hahaha. Great.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. absolutezero

    Beloved Merciless Gladiator!

    I was talking to my mate on vent at the time when I tamed my pet here, I allowed him to name it.

    Also add me on Steam if you so wish.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. DSB

    Oh, that’s not Merciless Gladiator, it’s Deathmantle :P Full, I might add.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. absolutezero

    Its the shoulders and the mask I guess.

    Oh wait this is WoW its the same model. Although it is lacking the giant pink swords that clipped through the ground I was carrying about at the time.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Kabby

    A lot of heavy gamers seem to be going Asura. Any particular reason?

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Phoenixblight

    Reason why I picked an asura is because of the aesthetics and the steam punk theme totally sold me.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. viralshag

    It could be their size in PvP or WvW, it’s kinda easy to sneak and flank the opponent being smaller. Much easier than a norn anyway.

    Also it might be because, in my opinion at least, jumping puzzles are far easier with them than any other race. I find it much easier to see what I’m doing.

    I would be surprised if it was story related as I don’t think theirs is a strong one in comparison to the norn or the charr.

    Edit: or because people think they look cool, of course. Bit stupid of me to leave that one out… :p

    #34 2 years ago

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