I am enjoying Guild Wars in a non-focused way. I have not seen much of the game, but I have been enjoying what is around. I feel absolutely no pressure except maybe that I might want some Hall of Monuments points by the time Guild Wars 2 comes out, assuming those do something useful for me.
I started a Ranger in the Nightfall campaign. I picked up Monk as a secondary profession, but given how I’m playing, I think I’ll switch that to Mesmer at the first opportunity. (Monk/Elementalist alt?) I am up to three hero companions, one of which I don’t have much use for yet (the suicidal Dervish), but this works nicely, bringing along my own tank and healer. I have not yet grouped with anyone.
Most of what I am doing I would consider “grinding” in another game. Either Guild Wars does not have that feel (at low levels; I can see how maxing titles gets grindy) or the low levels always feel like something new and shiny. I take my small band into an explorable area, we clear a quest or two, I attack suspicious groups with a Sunspear bounty on them, and I warp back to see what collectibles I have in my inventory. I have been playing in roughly one-hour bursts, which feels like a good little rampage through a zone.
I don’t feel like I am to the “real game” yet, but this is a pleasant interlude. Annoyance with “the real game starts at 80″ hastened my departure from World of Warcraft, but here I am looking forward to horizontal progression. I do not see level 20 as jumping onto a new treadmill between gear resets. A short leveling curve with scattered goals feels like a nice mix of theme park and sandbox (right now), and it makes me concerned about the level 80 cap in Guild Wars 2. It should be easy to hit level 20 with a month of casual play, unless this leveling curve gets much steeper. I get to see the cap as “opening everything up,” kind of like City of Heroes without the altoholism.
I don’t have many Ranger skills, and I have not felt compelled to buy them all at the trainer. I have enough to fill a bar, plus more options than I need. That’s sufficient. I recall fondly the Van Hemlock series on “here’s my new skill combination this week,” so I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with my different abilities at some point. Until then, I am not using many. I have an idea of how this trap should work, but I don’t really know how it does, and most of the enemies are up with the tank anyway. I don’t have a use for these stances yet, and I am rarely excited about short-duration buffs.
The tutorial had the basics of play, which are pretty much what I am using. I presume that I’ll need some quality time with the wiki if I want to maximize my character or even understand much of what is going on.
I’m building up a small stock of insect legs, copper shillings, and such. I don’t presume that these will be useful at the level cap, but I am holding onto them until I do that wiki research. There are many collectors about.
My hero companions may need some advanced “don’t stand in the fire” training, along with “don’t repeatedly run back and forth in the jet of flame” training. I didn’t see that on the hero skill trainer.
I have a playful flamingo pet. As I understand it, flamingos fight just as well as wolves or warthogs. It likes to stand in my torso during cut-scenes, which is amusingly dadaist.
The main thing I like about the lack of subscription fee is that it gives me more trust in the developers. They have no incentive to drag out the leveling game and add grinds and treadmills. I presume there are some to come, added in response to player demands. I’m not worried about bad things that have been added to the game to get you to pay to remove them.
I enjoy the lack of mob respawn (until you zone). One of the reasons it does not feel like grinding is that I cannot farm a single spawn endlessly. I could actually wipe out all the monsters in a zone. Granted, it will reset when I zone rather than 60 seconds later, but you can have a (false) sense of progress.
Is there a button for putting names over NPC heads? In town, that would be helpful for finding out who is a merchant without mousing-over everyone. (Commenter says: hold Alt. It works!)
I can suspect how things might pall with repetition. The first few zones have a small set of enemy types, and I am using a small skill set. Then again, despite being around level 10 of 20, I have only explored a small percentage of the map and have most of the plot ahead of me. There must be much more to see and do, to say nothing of multiple expansions.
Is there much guild warring going on? I haven’t seen much evidence. Pre-release, I was expecting GW to be a heavily PvP-focused game, but I haven’t seen much about that over the years.
Have bow and flamingo will travel.