Coming Late to Early Guild Wars

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.

: Zubon

27 thoughts on “Coming Late to Early Guild Wars

  1. Me

    “Pre-release, I was expecting GW to be a heavily PvP-focused game, but I haven’t seen much about that over the years.”
    That is a common misconception about GW. In it’s first months, the devs intended PvP to be the endgame content, but since most of the players didn’t care about their intentions and stayed in PvE, the game got more and more PvE-heavy.
    To get in contact with PvP go to the Battle Isles (accessible via Ship on “M”-Map) or, if you just want to watch a guild vs. guild fight, hit “B” and choose a map to watch.

    Concerning your class:
    you got yourself the probably weakest class in whole GW, but unless you go into hard mode, you won’t really feel that much of a difference. And it can still be fun, of course. My Main is a ranger, too.

    Concerning levels/treadmills:
    I also am quite a bit worried about the levels raise to 80 in GW2, since I really liked that GW makes you hit max Lvl. in Factions and Nightfall pretty much when leaving the starter area, Istan in your case. But well, we’ll see.

    1. dndhatcher

      “I am also worried about the levels raise to 80 in GW2″

      The thing is, in GW2 level doesnt really matter that much anyway. With all the sidekicking up and down, you will be able to go anywhere a higher level friend is playing and will be able to have fun playing with lower level friends in their areas. You get bumped up to 80 in all the PvP venues. You dont have to grind to level 80 to participate in any kind of content so grinding levels is not going to be an important thing to do. You level will just increase about every 1-2 hours of gameplay pretty much regardless of what you are doing (assuming its not just socializing or maybe crafting). Level is more of a marker of time spent than character capability in GW2.

      1. GLN7

        That is not entirelly true, since ArenaNet pointed out that being kicked down, you will still be strongern than the average regular player in this area and being kicked up, the opposite applies. So it’s not like there is no difference.
        I did not want to say that grinding levels will be the case. I simply don’t like levels and feel disappointed by ArenaNets decision to grant them more influence.

        If you ask me, there is no need for a level anyway. To me, this is only something for the people who like flash games like upgrade complete or coinbox.

    2. Melf_Himself

      “That is a common misconception about GW. In it’s first months, the devs intended PvP to be the endgame content, but since most of the players didn’t care about their intentions and stayed in PvE, the game got more and more PvE-heavy.”

      I disagree with this quite a bit. In the first few years of the game’s life, PvP was extremely popular and a massive focus, both for the casual and hardcore players. Random Arenas and then Alliance Battles were extremely popular with the former, while Guild vs Guild and Hall of Heroes offered a more competitive slant for the latter.

      The pioneering ideas they had gave the game very strong appeal in the “super hardcore” competitive e-sports scene, eg
      – mechanics that require active use of skills to prevent damage
      – co-ordination of the team to “spike” down a target
      – observer mode for all high-level games
      – no reliance on grinding to achieve power
      More prize money was up for grabs at the high point of this than had previously been offered in any competitive game.

      But you are right that PvP is not as big of a focus now. Interest died off with each expansion because more and more skills and classes that did not fit with the fantastic balance of the original campaign devolved the metagame into “Build Wars”. Eventually all the high profile players moved on.

      Hopefully they can get back to the core principles in GW2 and create another fantastic PvP experience.

      1. GLN7

        I never said PvP was unpopular. I said that the interest in PvE-only was much higher than ArenaNet anticipated, so they shifted the balance from PvP as endgame to an also-PvE-Endgame. As polls showed, around 60% of the players back then did never set foot into PvP, because it just wasn’t their format.
        It may have looked popular, especially when they moved the arenas onto the battle isles, but compared to the numbers staying in PvE, it was no focus.
        And as to see why people played alliance battles, take a look at the update where Jade Quarry and Fort Aspenwood got their payout raised. Suddenly, AB was empty and these two games were full. So most people who played it did not care about the battle itself, but for the luxon or kurzick points.

        And GW-PvP never really got into being an e-sport, if talking about popularity outside the game itself. For that, it is much to complicated to watch and the mechanics are not easily visible.

        Also, “high profile” is a bit exaggarated, since nearly nobody outside of the pretty small (when seen as percentage of all the Guild Wars players) PvP-Community knew any of these PvP-players.

        You are also wrong in saying that PvP was killed by becoming more and more “build wars”. GW has, aside from it’s starting days where noone had a clue, always been build wars. May I remind you of things like IWAY, which was played ages before even Factions came out? There are many reasons why PvP got less popular, some of them being:
        – synch-joining, which killed random arena for casuals
        – rolling and RR-days, which forced ArenaNet to close hero battles
        – more pay for other areas of playing (speed clear rather than AB or the other two factions PvP arenas)
        – demanded title tracks, which made it nearly impossible for newbies to find a group for HA after some time
        – a bad ladder system for GvG, forcing inexperienced guilds to lose their way down the ladder until they were with guilds of their level (many people quit GvG before coming to this point)
        – there are simply much less players in the game, making the already-unpopular-compared-to-PvE PvP arenas even less populated

  2. darkeye

    A good skill to pick up for a ranger with pet is ‘Never Rampage Alone’, it’s a PvE skills and can found at ‘Hero Skill’ traniners under ‘show me sunspear skills’, and not the normal skill trainers.

    PvE skills are (only part?) where some grind sneaks into the game, the skills scale with reputation rank with various factions. Some PvE builds work better with one, but plenty of bars can avoid them and some classes (mesmer, dervish) have so many good (overpowered!) skills they don’t have room for them.

    ‘Never Rampage Alone’ is a +25% attack speed for the ranger and pet, the part that scales is duration not magnitude but it can be kept up fully with minimal rank, and there is a small regen that scales too but that part doesn’t matter much. If there is a guide that recommends ‘Save Yourselves’ or ‘Pain Inverter’, it’s really not worth going out of the way to get them at this stage, looking for better hero builds is the key to complete the game on normal/hard difficulty.

  3. bhagpuss

    I found the Nightfall beginning very difficult and quite dull compared to the original. The pre-Searing introduction is my favorite part of Guild Wars.

    Of course, as previously established, you and I have very different takes on what does or does not constitute grinding and, indeed, on whether or not grinding is or is not a Bad Thing, but I would agree entirely that however the gameplay in Guild Wars is described it is eminently suited to pottering around doing not much in particular.

  4. Longasc

    CTRL, ALT, Print Screen, Shift-Print Screen, Ctrl-Shift-H, Shift to prevent running towards the enemy by accident when you shoot your bow, CTRL-click to “call” a target.

    “X:Guild WarsGw.exe” -image to force a complete download of the game and to prevent streaming/loading when changing zones.

    Explore the starter zones of all three campaigns, start a different char in eac area. You will notice how GW evolved. Eye of the North costs still quite some cash and well, it’s worth it once you got the hang of GW. It’s a bit GW 1.5.

    Also, take time to find your class. For instance I really never got into Necros till Factions released, my Necro was the 5th class I created and lo behold, she became my main char and replaced the rather generic Warrior/Monk. I prefer Curses, but by now my bar is mostly filled with rather imba “PvE” skills.

    The game gets better and better the more you think about your build and read up about GW mechanics and all that. There is a lot to do once you are level 20 – because everyone is level 20 early on. Tons of skills to unlock and capture, lots of missions everywhere.

    The “titles” are indeed often very unworthy stupid grinds, the consumable titles (drinking, party, sweets) and treasure hunter and stuff are just stupid. They even violate the “no grind required” Mantra of GW. They got added very late to GW, when GW2 started development shortly after WW1, to bridge the time till GW2 release in 2020.

    I wouldn’t bother with them – just play, capture skills and you will soon be so advanced in many title tracks that you can focus one one or the other and get a lot of unlocks for GW2.

    For PvP I suggest Fort Aspenwood / Jade Quarry and the Alliance Battles for starters. Random Arena is a bit too random and a proper Guild War or to participate in the Hall of Heroes tournament needs a guild and some experience you might gain where I suggested.

    Enjoy! I am not sure if I would manage to get into GW this late in its lifecycle and it will be interesting to see how you will do.

    P.S. my favorite Necro Hero companions are Volley/Heal As One Pet Rangers! One of the best GW PvE players I know was often our “Ranger tank”. For some reason I preferred to play a Ranger in PvP and favored other classes for PvE.

  5. melianos

    Have fun with GW.
    I personnaly like Prophecy story most, as you get your butt kicked pretty much through all of Tyria till the end, which made for a somewhat refreshing story, when you think about it :D

    As Me said, GW has a very good PvE part, so many people (me included) never did any PvP.

  6. ArcSlade

    I would also like to welcome you to the club. I’m sure that you’ve noticed that levels have very little to do with game play. To me the more skills I obtained the more I enjoyed the game. Literally, half the time I was playing Guild Wars, I spent on my skills window throwing builds together or modifying my armor to make a build work the way I wanted it. This experimenting is where I derived enjoyment from the game. With hundreds of skills and and nearly limitless combinations of builds, Guild Wars becomes and experimenter’s dream. I agree with Longasc in that the Necro was my favorite class. But unlike what you may have heard, there is no weak class in Guild Wars. They all just serve different purposes.

    Alas, if you really want to enjoy the game you’ll have to get on the wiki. There is such a large amount of content and build purposing that you are putting yourself at a ‘fun’ disadvantage by not consulting wiki. If you really do not want to entertain the hours researching on wiki, then join a guild! At this point in the game’s life Guild Wars is literally filled with guilds that want to do nothing more than to help out people who are willing to play the game.

    I cannot stress to you enough a point that Longasc made. Take the time to feel out other classes. Every class has its own rhythm, feel, and proficiencies. If the ranger isn’t your thing, then try out that suicidal dervish. Who knows? Maybe you’ll figure out how to make that dervish shine in the middle of 12 enemies.

    1. GLN7

      Nah, it’s well known fact only denied by the most hardcore fan of a class that there are several classes that are weak compared to the others. Currently seen as the weakest in terms of hard mode usability are elementalist (which will probably change soon, since the monster’s armor in HM is going to get lowered, which will give the Ele more firepower. I do not count an Ether Renewal Bonder/Infuser as a real Ele, although it’s a great display of the dual classing’s possibilies.), Paragon and Ranger. Both ranged physical fighters suffer from low firing rates and little armor ignoring damage as well as a lack of AoE-attacks.

      Speaking of the ranger, there simply is no area in the game where he is not outclassed by the others. His armor-ignoring damage is comparibly low and even if you manage to get one or two heavy shots in, the recast will still kill off your DPS.
      His interrupts are to few, not AoE und prone to blocks. One Mesmer can shut down a group better then three rangers together could – and while being at it, he will kill them too with heavy hitters like cry of frustration, ineptitude or mistrust.
      His conditions are pretty much useless, since degeneration is way less effective than simply beating the hell out of the enemies with pure damage, and it will get even less effective when the hitpoints get heightened coming next month. And for defensive conditions like blind or daze, other classes or PvE-skills are still way better.
      Traps are mostly useless, rituals too in most areas.

      I do not want to badmouth the ranger. It’s my main, too. I just want to be clear about his possibilities. Of course he can be a lot of fun. Running around with four or five beast masters is a cool experience. But in his current form, he is not even remotely en par with the leading classes.

      Still, I wholeheartedly agree with the advice of simply testing each class out and then choosing what suits best. Since there is nearly no emphasis on levels, it’s way more common in GW to have a whole set of alts of all classes, since you can easily get one or two characters to lvl 20 on one weekend if you know how to do it and are out of the experimentation and discovering phase.
      Rolling an account full of alts is also the best way to understand how other classes work – which is the best way to know how to fight them in PvP or how to customize one’s own heroes.

      Whatever, just enjoy the game and don’t rush things. And don’t worry about making mistakes! Except for the main class, nothing’s written in stone, you can change about anything on your character.
      Which is pretty great considering with what kind of builds I ran around in good old Prophies back then, until the southern shiverpeaks forced me to finally stop using that crap I thought a build was. *snickers*

      edit:
      Oh, and about the hall of monuments-thingy:
      They are not going to be “useful” to you or anything. They will simply grant you access to some weapon and armor skins as well as a few pets and miniatures. It was made clear by ArenaNet that they will not give the veterans any advantage at all.

      1. Vorsakan

        So I wasn’t the only noodle running around with a preposterous build until the Southern Shiverpeaks!
        N/R – barrage and a pet wolf. ^_^
        And then I captured Spiteful Spirit…

        @ Zubon
        Casting another vote behind the alt suggestion; each character you start will pick up a nice bundle of skills very early, and that unlocks those skills for ALL heroes across ALL characters.

        If you purely try alts for the experience, I heavily recommend the Factions starter experience; it takes place in a monastery with an examination structure, where you are drip fed a medley of skills and given corresponding tasks to fulfil with them (tailored to each class).

        It’s quite a unique MMO learning experience, plus there’s a skill vendor in the monastery itself who allows you to unlock a few more skills of your choice for an absolute pittance (the first skills purchased for any character are dirt-cheap).

  7. xsplitdivision

    Start up a guild! If you’re missing out on a group, I’m sure us adoring fans have plenty to say about it ^^

  8. Shaun Nox

    Nightfall had a few grindy titles, but I think they only force them upon you once – get beyond that level and you never have to touch it again.

  9. Roq

    Played Guild Wars for longer than any other game. Although I did do the campaigns, I spent most of the time tootling around and playing with builds and hero builds… Am playing TOR right now and you can’t even respec without dropping vast amounts of cash. Anyone thinks that a good idea should be locked in a cave and forced to play Guild Wars until they see sense.

  10. gwj

    Level 20 in a month? Try 6 hours.
    Nightfall is one of the slower campaigns, and it definitely shows on Kamadan. I dunno how long leveling takes if you book it there, but in Factions I’ve done it between 6 and 7 hours of gameplay (shifting the character over to Prophecies at around level 15, admittedly). The quests there give a lot of experience and come one after the other.

    1. Zubon Post author

      It was a first character, and it did take about 20 hours. That’s not hardcore, “must level now!” play, and it was surely not optimized.

      1. gwj

        I’m not saying you should rush, I was just noting. =P Although leveling in NF was much slower and more annoying to me after playing so many Factions characters, in addition to the fact that certain parts of the story actually require you to level.

    2. Curuniel

      As someone said above, playing all the campaigns allows you to see how GW evolved (or we can just tell you what we think :P). Prophecies is designed so that for a casual player like me playing through mostly the main plot, it takes most of the story to reach level 20. Factions focused on PvP a lot more and all quests give you a ridiculous amount of exp by comparison, so you can reach level 20 before leaving the starter island if you want to. Nightfall attempted to balance these two options – it takes some time to reach the cap, but you’ll be at it long before the halfway point of the missions.

      There are lots of features which make more sense when you know what came before and after them, and as Longasc said Eye of the North introduces a lot of the ideas they had for changes in Guild Wars 2, although to be fair it was released very early in GW2’s development by current standards!

      1. gwj

        I wasn’t by any means suggesting that OP is doing it wrong, just juxtaposing. =P

        I’ve played GW nearly since the start so I know how the campaigns go. And because I’ve played the game for so long, Nightfall is the most annoying for me, because at various spots it simply blocks you from progressing until you’ve raised your level or Sunspear rank to a certain point, or makes you stop and do this tutorial explaining something you already know how to do. I’ll get to the point where I have to either scrounge for quests to get more exp/points, or farm. It’s not that I want to level as fast as I can, it’s that the game requires it.

        EotN just felt (and feels) to me like a mess of grinding and repeated dungeons though, to be honest.

  11. Van Hemlock

    When you get a bit further in, try this one out:

    R/N, 12 Blood Magic, 16 Expertise (Runes and Mask), Melee Weapon and Blood Magic Offhand.

    Vampiric Touch,
    Vampiric Bite,
    Offering of Blood,
    Dodge,
    Zojun’s Haste,
    Throw Dirt,
    Whirling Defense,
    Signet of Capture (Or anything else)

    Touch Ranger – you charge about spaming point blank health stealing mostly. It’s a riot and works surprisingly well! A fun change of pace from the usual plinking with bows!

    1. GLN7

      Another great melee possibility would be R/A JFD (which stands for the three attack skills) with daggers.

      Dagger Mastery 12, Expertise 12+X (depending on your hitpoint preferences, I prefer superior runes)
      Zealous Daggers for energy

      Jagged Strike (Lead Attack)
      Fox Fangs (Off-Hand)
      Death Blossom (Dual Attack)
      Expert’s Dexterity (IAS – increased attack speed)

      The rest is pretty much up to you to choose, depending on your preferences. Utilities, be them offensive or defensive buffs, another attack skill, IMS (increased movement speed) or a shadow step, you can take whatever you want. Later in the game, you will appreciate such room in your builds for putting in the strong PvE-Skills.
      For starters, Antidote Signet and Dash may be a good choice. You can also take your pet (and pet skills) with you if you prefer, lowering your dagger mastery or expertise a little bit for increasing pet power.

      Give one or two of your heroes splinter weapon and strength of honor (which you order him to cast on you) and there you go, ripping enemies to shreds.

  12. Reggie

    Enjoy the ride. You will find that the natural progression will eventually push you toward more complicated builds, e-management, maxing runes and weapon attachments, etc. It’s kind of a surprise to see how much more effective a character is with just a +15% damage mod or with +10 armor but you will find all of that out as you go. The real joy here is: there is NO WRONG BUILD. There’s no penalty for trying new skill sets, you can reset them in town anytime, no charge, no penalty.

    In the meanwhile, enjoy the eye-candy. That, to me, was what set Guild Wars apart from everything else. There is always something new or shiny around the next corner.

    Oh – and keep the black dyes. They’re worth a small fortune. Whites are also worth a bunch, but black’s where it is at.

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