Guild Wars Too!
So here’s the rub. In order to write a blog post about how much fun Guild Wars 2 is to play, you have to actually stop playing Guild Wars 2 for a little bit.
I’ve been a gamer for over 30 years. In fact it still gets my back up when people whose primary gaming activity is being mysogynist fuckheads on X-Box Live act like they have earned the right to call themselves gamers because their parents have poor impulse control in the electronics department. I’ve played every flavor of boardgame, war game, video game or computer game. Except one. I decided early on that I was going to a avoid the Massive Multiplayer Online RPG’s.
When Everquest and World of Warcraft debuted at the end of the 90’s, I just didn’t see the appeal. The games I was really into at the time were party based RPG’s like Baldur’s Gate and games of its ilk, or big simulations like Civilization. They were games I could pick up and put down at my leisure. The MMOs seemed like they would eat me alive. It certainly didn’t help that a lot of the news I heard about MMOS was unflattering. Gold Farming, Grinding, and a reputation for sexism kept me away. (full disclosure, I did play Magic the Gathering Online for several years, only recently selling my collection to finance a new camera. MTGO certainly shared some of the issues that plague MMOs, just not to the same degree.) one side effect of my departure from my geek brethren in this respect is I don’t get any of the jokes on The Guild.
So why change my mind now? I was sold on Guild Wars 2 by blogger, atheist activist, and karaoke ruiner JT . Formerly at Freethought Blogs, JT now writes for the Patheos atheist portal under the title WWJTD, presumably because they pulled a dump truck full of money up to his house. A veteran MMO player, JT pitched the idea of forming a guild (the GW version of a clan) for atheists, agnostics and other freethinkers. The response was enthusiastic, even from N00bs like me, and thus Godless burst forth Athena like onto the Internet. After some initial hiccups, the guild roster swelled to 137 or so on the Gate of Madness server, with affiliated folks spread about the various GW2 servers. Yesterday a bunch of us gathered in Lions Arch for a group photo.
It was a grand afternoon (i spent the day walking from my end of the map, which was a blast all its own) as we played in that big fountain, danced and blew things up, chatted about the game and the football games going on outside in meatspace. Someone opined that one of the things that the atheist movement needs more of are organizations for having fun together and I firmly agree. It’s something that the churched do really well, from knitting circles to softball teams.
How does the game play? It has been surprisingly noob friendly. The world is very pretty, and the dialog is written very wittily. The gameplay is fairly intuitive, in fact standalone games like Skyrim or Borderlands have been converging with MMOs in terms of play style. There is a lot of crafting, and so far I have avoided the temptation of looking up recipes online and instead using the discovery system. There is an in game economy that is still settling down.
The Arenanet folks have a philosophy that encourages cooperative play, wherein players are encouraged to help each other out rather than compete for resources. And they have had a quick hand on the ban hammer, actively discouraging abusive language and creating a really friendly environment. What’s more, there is an incredible amount of material available for low level characters. At no time have I felt like I was falling behind. Also, every region has a level setting, so if you advance beyond your friends, the game automatically nerfs your character so that you can adventure with the n00bs. I’m having a blast, and I give a lot of credit to the developers, they made a game that converted this skeptic.