Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Played Lately: Guild Wars

  • I finally succumbed to the inevitable and started playing Guild Wars again. It's become my latest excuse for not posting regularly/at-all. The Eye of the North expansion was released at the perfect time, i.e. just when I got completely bored with World of Warcraft. (Complaints to follow.)

  • I got warmed up for playing (and Guild Wars needs a warm up) in the week prior to the preview by, of all things, farming the Ferndale region for Kurzick faction. I don't think I stepped outside of the area bounded by Lutgardis Conservatory at the south and House zu Heltzer in the north the entire time, except to peek into my guild hall. I did enough to earn the first level of the Kurzick Allegiance title, and with it access to the PvE-only skills.

  • Why not leave the dark environs for Echovald Forest, you might ask? Well, it comes down to the fact that I can't stand to drag another character through Nightfall again. I got my Kira through the game once and a paragon got all the way to the Realm of Torment before giving up on the game before and I sure as hell aren't going to do that again without a seriously imbalanced build. After playing the first half of the game, which includes the Istan and Kourna regions, I thought Nightfall might be the best game yet, with the Consulate Docks mission as one of the best in all three games. Then I hit Vabbi and the game started to suck. The Desolation lived up to its name and the Realm of Torment was more horrific to me than the god it was built to imprison. Don't even get me started on the Domain of Anguish. What a complete failure of a game!

  • Sorry about that rant. Turns out things look up with this expansion.

  • With the preview weekend only one week prior to game's launch, I didn't feel too bad about exploring as much of the expansion as I could. Especially since all accomplishments would carry over, unlike prior previews. So my brother and I (who long ago surpassed me in Guild Wars fanaticism) plunged head-first into the Far Shiverpeaks. It was like returning home, in a way. The Shiverpeaks were always one of my favorite areas in the original campaign and this excellence was only amplified by the years of experience the designers have accrued since the originals were made. While this branch of the storyline was the only one available for the preview, it was more that this was game I loved playing returned to me.

  • The Norn introduced me to the first reputation track of the expansion and I was hooked by the mechanical, just as I'm sure they expected it to. Ingeniously, you can take a challenge that earns you a single reputation for your earliest kills. If you hurry through an area, you won't earn much. However, it seemed to me that just when you got to where you wanted to go, the challenge increases its reward, earning three points per kill instead of one. Something goes off in my head at that points that says, "I can't stop now! I'm getting triple points per kill!" Further improvements to four points soon follows just when you think about turning back. Then, as is my usual luck, the final five point version usually happens far too late to matter. By then I've killed everything in the instance and have to move on reluctantly.

  • This is also where I earned my first PvE-only skills of the expansion. For my ranger, these Norn skills have proven to be the most useful. "I Am The Strongest!" and "You Move Like a Dwarf!" quickly found a home on my skill bar, adding much needed knockdown ability and additional damage. Once the preview weekend was over, I knew it would be a long week before I could get back the abilities I was now so enamoured with.

  • The Norn lands were also the setting for my first dungeon experience. In this case, that was the Sepulchre of Dragrimmar. (Okay, I had to look up the spelling, but I was close.) It was at this point that I realized the expansion was a winner. Here was something that, though not new by any stretch, gave the rush of anticipation like I had not felt for the game in about a year. I can see myself returning to those challenges often in the future.

  • Eventually the expansion finally launched and I got to play through to the end. Beyond a couple of very hard bits (clearly marked as Master level, so I was warned), there were no missteps with the difficulty as were found in Nightfall. I played through to the end and enjoyed every step of the way. If Eye of the North was Arena.net's way of bridging the gap with Guild Wars 2, I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

No comments:

Post a Comment