A cautionary tale warning not to pick up things that don’t belong to you.
Guild Wars 2 launched for those who pre-purchased this past Saturday and, once the connection issues and launch day bugs had been ironed out, hundreds of thousands of players started exploring this new world. Hats have to go off to ArenaNet for sorting out the launch woes as quickly as they did, having the occasional connection problem was no big deal and I am sure that players quickly forgot any frustrations once they entered the game. It is beautiful.
Even on my lowly, slightly aged gaming machine, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the detail and quality of the environments. The Human city of Divinity’s Reach, where I spent a lot of time exploring in my first few hours of the game, is a sight to behold. Even those who are not interested in sight-seeing will have no choice but to enjoy the views as they hunt frantically around each map, trying to find the usually difficult to reach Vista points. These points, marked on the map with what looks like a pair of red mountains, give a short cut-scene for players to enjoy, and must all be found if the player wants to complete the given map.
In fact, finding everything for a given map becomes slightly compulsive. Along with the Vista points, there are points of interest, skill point challenges, heart quests and waypoints to find. Finding everything within a given map will reward the player handsomely, so it is well worth the effort.
So, there I was, with my Human Ranger, examining the view and trying to decide what to do next. I have already created four other characters, of different races and professions, but a Human Ranger was the first character that I maxed out in the original Guild Wars, so it seemed only right that this would be my first character in Guild wars 2. Despite the many changes that have been made to the game, it felt very familiar as I began my journey.
Anyway, I digress. I had followed the main story for my character, found all of the highlighted points in both Divinity’s Reach and the first area, and my path was taking me to the next. I slipped through the portal to have a look and quickly reconsidered my actions. I was at level 14 and the native wildlife in the new area seemed to be at level 21. It is not that I am a coward – so far in the game I had taken on most tasks at a lower level than was recommended. But I am also not stupid. Death in Guild Wars 2 is surprisingly moderate, with the player being able to make a last stand and try to rally once they go down. Also, if they are “downed”, they can respawn at a waypoint, for a price, and only suffer with some damaged armour. Constantly being “downed” will result in the armour eventually becoming useless, but it is not too much of a big deal. Either way, I didn’t want to throw my life away too cheaply in the game, so decided to wander and try to get a few more levels before venturing into the new area.
During my wandering, I came across a woman who declared that she was very good at fishing, but couldn’t fish because of a giant monster in the lake. I declared that I would love to see her fishing and ended up having to accompany her to a nearby cave to collect bait. Not a problem, with my awesome bow skills and my big cat at my side, I can help gather some grubs.
It turned out to be a bit more involved than that. After killing about eight of these very aggressive bugs (why she couldn’t fish with worms, I don’t know), I took their remains to the lady who declared that she needed more. Then I spotted something out of the corner of my eye – a Rune Stone. At least, I think it was a Rune Stone, everything happened so fast after I tried to pick it up. The next thing I know, a massive champion Troll bursts in and basically pounds me. Quickly.
In the Trolls defence, the Rune Stone may even have been labeled as belonging to a Troll. Still, I was not deterred by simple ownership. I respawned at a nearby waypoint and ran back towards the cave. By this time, another player had turned up and was also rapidly losing to the Troll, who was now outside the cave. We both died. By the time I returned for the third time, the Troll was wandering the fields fighting with about six other players. I joined the fray, but bodies were flying everywhere and I only managed to last a little while longer this time.
Fourth times a charm. I returned again (and I said I wasn’t stupid!) to find around 16 players battling what had become a real “pain in the butt” Troll. It took some time, but we eventually took him down and all went on our merry ways. It was the most intense battle I have seen in the game thus far, but after discovering an event like this, I am exploring everywhere even more intently and looking forward to being beaten to a pulp in other great instances.
I would like to apologise to all of the heroes who lost their lives due to my greed. I haven’t actually learnt any lessons, I will still take anything that I find in the game, but they didn’t ask to be mashed to a pulp by an angry Troll. Still, it was bloody good fun.
“What about the poor woman waiting for here fishing bait?”, I hear you ask. Well, by the time I got back into the cave, she had buggered off. I went back to where I found her only to get caught up in the epic battle with the giant monster in the lake. There is never a quiet moment in Guild Wars 2.
Which I think is what makes the game so damn impressive. Beyond the easy to understand mechanics, beyond the quests, vista points and skill point challenges, beyond the sheer scope of the game world and beyond the fact that this world looks so gorgeous, there is always something going on. A giant worm in a field, a pack Ox that needs to be escorted and protected from roaming Centuars, and even an angry Troll who only wants to keep his Rune Stone – Guild Wars 2 has launched and once you start playing, you won’t be leaving any time soon.