Last time I ignored crafting in beta, and I vowed that this time around I would make it a focused feature to my press dump. On my human thief I chose to go with cooking and leatherworking as my two active crafting professions. It should be noted that a single character can become persistently skilled in all the crafting professions, but only two can be active at a time. Switching costs gold based on the level of the crafting professions the character is switching to.
Anyway, a thief uses medium armor so leatherworking would tie in well with that, but I really wanted leatherworking for the additional bag space to make it easier to hold the gross of ingredients for cooking. One of the initial recipes a leatherworker gets is an 8-slot bag. Each bag requires 20 leather scrap items, with most of the low-level armors salvaging at 2-3 leather scraps. Getting four 8-slot bags took time and consideration, but I had these 32 extra inventory slots well before I hit level 10.
The gear-crafting professions are rather easy to understand. Base-level ingredients form refined ingredients, such as copper ingots, or component ingredients, such as a leather strap or an axe handle. The refined or component ingredients are then combined to form the piece of gear. The experimentation usually happens when combining component ingredients. For example, an enemy trophy, like a scale, combined with cloth will provide an insignia for leatherworkers. If two components can be used to create leather shoulders, a crafter can add the insignia to “experimentally” create a new recipe. They might be leather shoulders with added power due to the insignia.
It’s really quite easy to formulate the gear for each character’s needs. If I wanted my thief to be a precision-buffed crit-monster, then it was easy enough to figure out how to make plenty of precision-buffed gear. I believe that finding the new recipes gives much more crafting experience than re-creating an already known recipe. Even though I might not want power gear for my thief, it is beneficial to make some for crafting leveling. Plus, the power gear can be salvaged in to base-level ingredients.
I also really liked that each gear-crafting profession had a use for non-primary base-level ingredients, like metalworking using leather or metal weaponry using wood. With two active crafting professions it is possible that there will be a use for almost everything a character can collect in the field. Plus gathering gives about as much experience as killing one or two mobs so it is worth it to stop and chop the roses.
Cooking is the crafter’s crafting profession. This is the one for people that like to go insane juggling and sourcing ingredients, experimenting to find new recipes, and outputting some really tasty buffs. I feel that the cooking products are also going to overshadow any cash shop “convenience items” as far as adding power. Many of the cooking profession products can be bought from vendors, both karma and shopkeepers, around the game, but the top chefs will be able to output some amazing buffs.
Starting the profession I was given a few recipes of my own. I could make dough and piles of mixed spices. Once I found those base ingredients (the trainer sells them on the karma tab), I finally was able to make those recipes, which lead to more recipes. This was well into my cooking exploration, and I was pretty frustrated up to this point not finding the “tutorial” ingredients. They were sitting next to me nearly the whole time. I still had plenty of ingredients to play with anyway.
For the experimental recipe page I would place once ingredient out of four in the crafting box. The UI at the bottom would tell me how many recipes I could find and the crafting level required. In one case I think I happened upon perhaps caramelized onions from 0-level ingredients (onion, oil, and salt), but it was a crafting level 75 “experiment” so I couldn’t make it yet. The unusable ingredients would black out based on the ingredient(s) in the crafting box. If I had a Slab of Red Meat in the crafting box, then Blueberries would likely black out as there were no recipes that I could find using the two components. It was experimentation, but guided and restricted. There are also unlockable recipes. So apple pie might not be “experimentally” achieved, but a karma-trade with an orchardwife in Queensdale will get a crafter the recipe.
With the ingredients that I had carefully stockpiled through my thief’s persistent and personal gameplay, I had already come up with two recipes on my own. I created a Bowl of Red Meat Stock from water (bought), a slab of red meat (mob drop), an onion (bought or gathered), and a carrot (bought or gathered). The stock was a buff that lasted 15 minutes to give a 10% chance of Might on a dodge. It was also clearly a component for some higher level recipes. I also made a Grilled Mushroom from a mushroom (gathered), a jar of olive oil (bought), and a packet of salt (bought) which gave me a buff of +10 condition damage for 30 minutes. These items felt rather complex to the easier gear-crafts.
I was pretty proud to find those two I found, but also upset that of all the ingredients I had gathered in Queensdale and at the local market (sans the karma items the trainer sold I would find later), I had only found two recipes. Parsley was out of the question being a crafting level 50 ingredient and blueberries seemed to be out of my league too. I didn’t like sourcing ingredients I couldn’t use at the base level.
However, once I did find the “tutorial” ingredients in the karma tab of the cooking trainer things changed quickly. My crafting level for cooking skyrocketed on just a few of the tutorial recipes. So even with parsley having a crafting level requirement of 50, it wouldn’t take long at all to use it. Cooking felt like it would level much more quickly than the gear crafting professions, and my pyramid base of usable ingredients would be expanding at an exponential rate.
I had a lot of fun with cooking. I feel with a tad more guidance my rough start would have been much more straightforward and fun. When I finally came upon the karma vendor items, I made a two-tier recipe by finding and making bread, and then adding red meat to the bread to make a hamburger. I realized that bread had been on sale by merchants in the Queensdale area, and I wondered later if it would have been wise to try and reverse engineer some of the food items they sold.
I feel that, yes, there will be the wiki after launch. Getting a leveling guide for crafting is going to be easy, and if all the player wants is a means to an end, it will be available. That’s missing a lot of the fun. The experimentation process is fun and straight-forward. Things start to make sense and patterns begin to form in the process. There is something to be said about doing it yourself versus just running down a checklist. I think I will also start with cooking at launch. I love making my own buffs, and I feel a lot of fun will be had in making crafted cooking items. Be warned though, the storage space required is going to be mule worthy especially since I found a crafting level 200+ recipe using a slab of red meat, which is a 0-level ingredient.
The bottom line is that crafting in Guild Wars 2 is familiar and fun. It does not stray too far from a vanilla MMO having a click-to-make-recipe UI, but it also gives some freedom. It made me feel like I was the crafter instead of the recipe doing all the crafting for me. I will be very interested to see how crafting professions progress as they get to higher mastery levels. It was nice to craft basic armor, but it will be really cool if I can craft some style in to it too.