Looking at getting into Guild Wars 2

I’ve been craving the MMORPG life again lately, but I really don’t want to return to the ones I’ve already tried (WoW, LOTRO, and some smaller ones). Of the newer available ones, right now Guild Wars 2 looks like it’s the most interesting.

But I have a few questions before I dive in, that I’m hoping you brilliant people can answer.

First, is there any reason why I should, you know, just… not? Like, has the game tanked in the past few months or otherwise been ruined in some way that I might have missed in my google searches? Or maybe there’s a WoW-killer that’s just a month away from release that I’ve somehow not heard about? Alternatively, is there a game that you play that you feel I’ve made a terrible mistake in overlooking by looking at GW2?

Second, is there any profession that I should definitely choose, or definitely avoid? Like, I’m thinking I went with hunter in WoW, only to find that in the end game, nobody hardly ever needed or wanted a hunter in their party (I managed to do well enough to be the top hunter on my server for a while, but, still…). I can probably get into and enjoy any style of gameplay, so I don’t want to hear, “just play what you like” - if I’m going to invest serious time into a profession, I want to make sure it’s one that people will say “yes” to when it comes to that.

Third, is there anything that a newb should definitely know about that isn’t included in the various “top tips for Guild Wars 2” guides out there? What piece of information would have saved you hours of frustration or grinding or whatever had you known it from the start?

This is my opinion only, and it is an unpopular one (judging by the high user review scores). I’ve played about 30 MMOs in my (wasted) life and Guild Wars 2 struck me as particularly overhyped and bland. There was a high emphasis on open-world, non-instanced world events where 40 people mobbed an enemy at once and then you got some minor reward from it, onto the next such thing, and then jump around a few times to click some item, rinse, repeat. The “individualized storyline” that was so hyped pre-release turned out to be rather cheesy and I stopped paying attention after the first few cutscenes. I think people who enjoy repetitive tactical combat (like in GW1 or Diablo) would like GW2, but it didn’t really feel like much of an RPG; felt more like a MOAB (think DotA) wrapped in a MMO, RPG-lite shell. I preordered GW2 with a lot of hope – too much, probably – felt burned by the hype after a few days of play, and sold my account out of spite. Again, however, this is my personal opinion only and most people on the Internet disagree.

Other recent MMOs (there’s always some wannabe WoW-killer on the horizon): The recently-released Elder Scrolls Online feels kinda like GW2, except with a more traditional, Western, swords-and-sorcery feel rather than the cartoonish fantasy of GW2 (not saying either is better). ESO has serious problems with bots, though, and very lackluster social functions.

Wildstar is coming out soon, but it felt like a more refined WoW, almost like SWTOR, and I played the beta for a bit and decided to skip it. But you should know about it because it’s much hyped, like GW2 was, and might be worth your attention if you’re not as jaded as I am about these things.

Of the half dozen or so MMOs I’ve tried in the last couple years, the only one that truly stood out was The Secret World, because of its excellent storytelling, complete freedom from classes, a rather unique, modern-day setting, very dynamic combat, and cool problem-solving “investigation” missions. If that seems interesting to you I can get you a 3-day trial key.

Not necessarily trying to steer you away from any of the above, but just… MMOs are often very hyped but usually come down to the same boring grinds, so just don’t want ya to jump headfirst expecting a revolution in game design or anything like that. And if you haven’t done so already, watch a few gameplay videos on YouTube or Twitch to see what the mundane portions of the games are like, because that’s what you’ll be experiencing 90% of the time, not the 10% that’s highlighted in trailers or reviews.

GW2 is currently the best MMO on the market. I played the ESO and Wildstar betas extensively and i simply could not support them after i realized they wanted to charge a sub fee for vastly inferior games. The game hasn’t tanked at all, the population is very healthy and the second season of the living story should be starting soon. For over a year GW2 has patched new content every other week, some has been duds but most of it has been highly entertaining and keeps the game fresh. Not only do you get the base game but every couple weeks there is a new event with multiple activities and goals to accomplish. All classes are viable, none are excluded, if you want an easier time as a newb pick warrior or guardian. Both are very effective and less “complicated” i guess. Specially warrior. As far as newb tips go i would just tell you to enjoy the trip, GW2 doesn’t have the usual “endgame” of gear farming to do raids that most games of this type do, if you enjoy doing something for the most part you can enjoy it as much at 1 as you do at 80.

I’ve played with a number of MMOs- Everquest, WoW, Age of Conan, LotRO - and GW2 is the only one I’ve played where I’ve reached the level cap. And I’ve reached the cap with 2 characters now. So, I think it’s worth playing.

It is different to other MMOs I’ve played, and this ties in with my answer to your second question - there really is no profession that people shun, or which people clamour for. They have ditched the Holy Trinity of Tank/Healer/DPS, and so you often get groups going through dungeons of any mix of classes. I remember early on a video of 5 Devs going through a dungeon, each playing the same class.
Having said that, the Heavy classes are the easiest but can be dull (that is, Guardian and Warrior), and the light classes (Mesmer, Elementalist and… the other one) can be squishy and can need more skill to play.
One piece of info I wish I’d realised earlier is the value of the Daily and Monthly achievements. It may seem like you don’t get much for them - just a boost to look and karma that goes up fine by playing the game anyway - but you get Laurels for them. You will want those laurels later - they are very much a time-gate.

I’ll be the counterpoint to Reply, if only for balance (and I don’t necessarily disagree with what he/she said).

I started playing WoW when it was released, and still pop in-and-out. I’ve also played EVE Online, LotR, CoH, and a few others. GW2 is my favorite, and here is why:

I’m getting old. As I age, I’ve realized there are two things I value among everything else: I want to be comfortable, and I don’t want hassles. Guild Wars 2 gives me that. Key points in that regard:

  • I can fast-travel from anywhere to anywhere I’ve already visited once; I don’t need to go to a gryphon or blimp

  • I can get my mail from anywhere; I don’t need to visit a mailbox

  • I can get resurrected by anyone, and I can resurrect anyone (and frequently, I can heal anyone, depending on skill choices I’ve made). I can always heal myself, at least.

  • I don’t have to formally “group” with people to participate in a pile-on or quest. If I wander by and want to get in on the action/quest, I just do it, organically - no quest-giver to find, no buttons to push; I just start combat or follow along, and I’m automatically part of it.

  • No subscription fees; a real plus for someone like me that plays games in cycles. One of the reasons I don’t play more WoW is not the $15, it’s that I have to go in to my account, re-activate my subscription, then remember to deactivate it when I feel I’m done.

  • I can mentor or help a lower-level character very easily and painlessly, and most importantly: not pointlessly. My level 60 can meet-up with a level 4 and help him, and we both gain XP and drops appropriate to our level.

  • Other stuff I can’t remember, but suffice to say it is convenience- and comfort-based. GW2 doesn’t hassle me.

Noob tips: I don’t have much to offer, but one super-critical, incredibly-important thing that wasn’t obvious to me until a couple of levels in: the weapons you have equipped determine what combat abilities you can use, but only the first ability is unlocked when equipping a weapon category (axe, sword, etc) for the first time; using the weapon for a few minutes will unlock the others.

Classes: I started with a hunter, because I loved my WoW hunter, and my hunter is enjoyable in GW2. But after getting her to level 20ish, I tried out the Warrior just for variety, and he zoomed past her to level 60+.

Professions: I like cooking; it is useful (make food that gives buffs), and you can find ingredients for basic recipes all over; but it takes a long time to level up once you get past 75 or so, as the ingredients become more specialized.

One thing GW2 does incredibly well is make you feel like having other people around is always a benefit. Stuff like gathering nodes are individual to you, you don’t have to worry about someone racing past you to steal your iron. Rezzing is as simple as clicking on someone to perform a short first aid, and it gives exp to the person doing it. Mob exp and loot goes to everyone who hit the mob, not split but fully, so there is no kill stealing and helping someone is always a benefit for both parties. Events and quests scale up to the number of people around so you are never lacking for stuff to kill even if a bunch of people are packed into the same area.

I think this is one of the best things about the game. I’m never unhappy to see someone else.

This killed the game for me in the end, though I did get my money’s worth of fun before that. But the fact you can’t play a healer or a tank or a crowd control class no matter what weapon you use and skills you choose makes every dungeon group just five samey dps guys. You can toss out some buffs and there’s a combo mechanic with other players, but even so I felt the absence of pre-defined roles, strong buffs/CC and tanking and healing makes groups boring. Add to that dungeons being rather hard and dropping mostly junk and at least I felt that there wasn’t much to do at the level cap.

Leveling up and doing events was fun, though. Well, besides the personal story that went from decent story to listening to the tree-Jesus blather on and on and killing zombies, endless zombies for the last 30 levels of it. I know SWTOR was quite a mess in many ways but their personal stories were so much better.

That is a valid complaint about the game, they removed the holy trinity and replaced it with basically chaos. It makes forming a dungeon group extremely easy, but the fights themselves are mostly hp bags and “max dps all the time” is almost always the only strat.

GW2 is basically 2 games. There is the PvE aspect which includes the personal story line, world events and dungeons. Then there is the PvP part of the game which includes sPvP and WvW. Somethings which work well in PvP may not work as well in PvE. ON the whole I think that things work fairly well and just minor adjustments are needed to switch play styles.

As far as getting rid of the ‘holy trinity’, it really isn’t an issue. When a party has the right comp, the players are all helping each other. I usually run a shout warrior. I can do some minor healing and condition removal and buffing for my party. However, if an Ele or a ranger puts down a water field, I can blast finish it for HUGE AoE healing.

All the classes in the game are fun to play and offer their unique benefits and challenges. Guardian class seems to be the most popular and versatile in the game. Warrior is a great profession to start with, because good armour combined with ranged and melee weapons. My least favourite class is engineer, mainly because I can’t figure out how to play it well, but the people who are good at it, love it.

The 2 best sources for GW2 information are, (IMHO) GW2 Wiki and Dulfy. Reddit also has a large GW2 section.

I’ve played various MMOs over the years (EVE, Everquest, DDO, GW1), Guild Wars 2 is my favorite.

GW2 went through a minor stagnation lull over the last year or so, but recently it has seen a lot of tweaks, events, and expanded content. The best, IMO, is that many “alt-friendly” features have been added so that playing through with alternate characters and classes isn’t as grindy or stale. Once you get one character up near max level, maintaining and leveling other alts is easy and allows you to test out many options without too much time-sink.

The only professions that seem to get filtered for high-level random PUG groups seem to be Thiefs (tend to be glass-cannon spikers that die easily) or Mesmers (too multi-function generalist), but being in a guild pretty much makes that irrelevant. My main is a Mesmer.

Newb tips…
…don’t bother spending money on merchant gear, you’ll find plenty from loot drops and low-level gear gets obsolete quickly.
…join a medium-sized guild right away, even if you just like to solo and won’t be involved. Guilds can add many account-wide buffs (e.g. +10% magic find, +10% experience, etc) that really pay off over the long term. I played solo for a long time and wish I’d joined a guild from the beginning.
…don’t try to craft in more than one or two disciplines until you really get the hang of the system and resources. Crafting materials are very scarce and shared across disciplines, I ran in to many walls running out of materials and wasted a bunch of money crafting random crap.
…it’s worth dropping 10$ or 20$ right away on extra storage/inventory.

You guys are awesome.

Thanks so much for the opinions and information. I feel pretty comfortable about giving this game a try now.

Feel free to contribute more newbie tips if you have a mind to do so. The resources mentioned in this thread have some good ones, but I’m sure there are other tips that might not be as commonly known.

While I agree that the bots are a problem- one that’s being actively addressed- why would you say ESO’s social functions are lacking? In what way, specifically?

If you really want to know… (spoilered to not hijack this too much)

The combination of a lack of overhead nameplates and a single randomly instanced world means you can never really bump into the same people again, by chance, unless you deliberately friend them. Organic communities that normally spring up in MMOs – when you bump into the same people around your level while you group and get to know them over time – doesn’t really happen in ESO because everybody looks the same due to low armor variance, nobody has visible names, and people just randomly vanish into other mega-instances, never to be seen again.

The megaserver technology that enables the above also means that every body can be in 5 guilds at once, with less time and loyalty given to each one. Normally, games have guilds where people get to know each other over time because that’s their in-group, and their alts will join the same guild, etc. In ESO, you can’t even easily correlate people with characters because most chats and in-game events use the character name, but the guild listing and chat uses the @account name for some reason. The friend list suffers from this same problem – I don’t even know who it is when someone asks to friend me because it pops ups (and then stores) their @account name instead of the character name I just grouped with for the past few hours.

The chat channels are near useless because of the lack of specificity. A while ago, 95% (no joke) of chat messages were gold spam. That got a lot better. But now 50% of it is still trade spam. I don’t know why they didn’t implement separate LFG and Trade channels like every other MMO has. It’s just so spammy it’s hard to hold zone discussions when every other line is WTB, WTS, or LFG.

There is no player housing or guild housing, meaning no feeling of a home base or places to congregate.

Many frontier cities are too well-equipped, meaning there’s not much reason to congregate at the “hub” cities, so players are scattered far across the world, doing their own thing, and while it’s not a problem in these first few months when there are a lot of players, eventually it will start to seem pretty empty.

The lack of a serverwide auction-house (to prevent runaway economic deflation) means that a lot of guilds are just “trade guilds” who solely exist to enable the use of the guild-wise auction system, giving them even less socialization.

The main storyline is mostly designed for soloing, and while you can get others to tag along, they’re mostly doing their own main quest alongside yours, and you just happen to kill the few occasional mobs together. It hurts immersion when you’re fighting the same quest alongside somebody but questgivers and NPCs just pretend like the other person doesn’t even exist. Grouping feels like an afterthought, kinda like those co-op games where one person advances the plot and the other person is just additional firepower. Compare this to the co-op centric questing of LOTRO or SWTOR (where even dialog is shared and grouped), it just feels unfinished.

The emotes are poorly documented. The music emotes, which are very awesome social events in games that have them, are very barebones in ESO (flute, lute, drums, playing sort of synchronized songs from a playlist of 2-3 songs) versus the magnificent ABC system of LOTRO or the abundance of instruments of games like Asheron’s Call.

On the positive side, group dungeons are nice and do work well. In general the game is very combat-centric. There just aren’t really any group quests beyond the group dungeons; you can group together and work on the same individual quests at the same time, but that’s just not the same thing because the combat balance and storyline progression weren’t designed with groups in mind.

On the whole, it’s just very obvious Zenimax has little experience with MMOs and focused more on making a combat-oriented action RPG with a story and pretty graphics rather than taking advantage of the social, addictive parts of MMOs.

Ok, so I’ve been playing for a little over 2 weeks, and I have strongly mixed feelings about this game.

Much of the game is great. I can only reiterate all of the things people have already said about this game, here and elsewhere, that make it unique and fun to play.

There are, however, a couple of very serious frustrations I have about the game.

Formost is INFORMATION. I have read countless guides on how to make money, how to build a character, the best way to… just about anything. Every single post I’ve read says something different, and all of it seems almost entirely pulled out of someone’s ass.

Part of this, I realize, is that due to various nerfs and other changes, the “best” way to meet any particular goal changes over time. But from the point of view of this new player, it is exceedingly frustrating when I’m just trying to get a good guideline as to what is the most efficient way to meet a particular goal.

But I also really miss the kind of critical thinking one can find on the 'Dope, or from Elitist Jerks (when I played WoW), where someone, somewhere, would actually test and compare and cite their information instead of just making opinionated proclamations with no backing.

The second major frustration I have is that I have spent a fair amount of time building a longbow ranger. Remember when I specifically asked you guys if there was any class that was particularly shunned or ineffective in this game? Well, guess what?

Admittedly, it’s not as bad as WoW was with hunters. Only a portion of LFG’s specify “No Rangers” (or accept only certain classes that don’t include Rangers).

However, my damage output, as a DPS in full Exotic 'zerker gear is a mere percentage of what I’ve seen support-built Mesmers do. Never mind warriors, who show up after I’ve been plinking away at a mob and grinding it down to 50%, and when they show up to help it melts away to nothing in two seconds. And pretty much all I can do is DPS, so when my DPS is lower than anybody else’s, regardless of gear… At least as a WoW hunter, when I got geared and learned my class, I could count on topping the DPS meter.

I don’t know. Maybe there’s a fix, or maybe I’m doing something wrong. In game (such as when I ask my guildies), I keep running into the “play what you like” philosophy. Well, yeah, that’s great. But WHAT I LIKE is to play a fucking effective toon.

And so I turn to the guides, all of which are outdated or unproven, and I wind up frustrated.

I sympathize about the guides - in general they were compiled back when the game really was first released and rarely updated since then,

I find Dulfy tends to have both decent guides and followers that post responses and updates. I particularly like the world boss timer and the slayer accomplishment locator [though I have noticed that I have found some better higher level locations for some of the mobs though getting the damned 1000 giants is going to be the death of me!]

If you want to specifically farm empyreal shards to make ascended weapons, this guide is best. You can farm the list once per day per level 80 character, just doing the first list can get me around 70 empyreal shards per run. I tend to go until I have 100-105 then I make an empyreal star.

If you are having trouble getting the exploration accomplishment, this guide helps you go through each map and finding where you skipped.

If you are into crafting, this guide is more or less the best for suggestions for leveling up - though you might need to tweak a bit thanks to any buffs changing your xp for crafing discoveries. If you want a quick and easy way to bump up in levels, you get xp from crafting, I accidentally put a character up 9 levels by crafting…

Pet location guide =)

One issue is that they have an active ‘living world’ thing, and right now the main city of Lions Reach is nothing like the guides because it was destroyed a couple months ago and is being rebuilt … sigh