Guild Wars 2 – Things I do and see different now
I’ve been immersing myself quite a bit back into Guild Wars 2 over the last month and one thing I noticed was: I play games very differently today than I did five years ago. Partly because I learned a lot more about MMO mechanics in the meantime, and even though GW2 does quite a bit different compared to other MMOs there are enough constants that I notice where experience makes things easier to understand. (Progression, gearing, group content etc.)
But apart from that I noticed that some of the reasons I stopped playing were due to me not entirely understanding how this game works and how flexible it is. The absence of quests confused me back then and I treated the Renown Hearts as quest replacements basically – running from heart to heart doing mostly unimportant tasks was less than thrilling and got old pretty quickly.
When I came back this time around I had a better idea of how to spend my time in game. I simply started walking around, discovering things, catching events when I randomly found them and oh what a surprise: I levelled faster and with much less frustration than I did last time. I took my time exploring areas I had never been before, stumbled over interesting bits of story here and there and found myself in some hilarious situations both from an in game and a meta perspective.
I also realised that some classes just instantly click while other take their time and quite a bit of experimentation in play style for me. The good thing about the flexibility of most classes is: something as simple as switching to another weapon combo and going for another trait line can change the way you play your class almost completely. I went from not being interested in some classes at all to having one of each now.
Also something small but impactful: Animations. Don’t like the movement/running animations of your character? They are race specific and another race might be a game changer for you. As is the voice acting. I personally found myself quickly annoyed by the voice acting for the female Norn but I am absolutely in love with the Sylvari one.
Another nice thing to do if you absolutely hate the thought of levelling: If you bought either Heart of Thorns or Path of Fire you will get a free level 80 token. You can use it to boost any character to max level. GW2 does this in a really nice way. All your abilities are completely unlocked and the character gets a decent starting build that is easy to understand and comes with a complete set of good gear. You get to try it out as much as you want, for days even – as long as you don’t leave the area you got boosted into. If you leave you can make your decision to keep the level boost or to revert back to your former level and try again with another character. Meaning you can easily try out if you like the play style of the class at max level or not.
If you are worried about the level 80 character being too complicated: You can just take it and o back to the start of your personal story and play that all the way through, without having to worry about your level. It is a good way of learning to play your freshly boosted character step by step.
Lastly a few tips if you have trouble finding a class that works for you: (And these are not any meta recommendations, just my personal opinion and experience, mostly based on how easy they are to play while levelling up – not while doing end game content.)
If you like playing a mage I found the Necromancer to be the most durable one while levelling. And this is an understatement, from level 25 upwards I already felt nearly unkillable, doing some group events on my own without ever fearing for my life.
The Mesmer became fun for me when I decided to equip a Greatsword – it may feel odd for a magic user but it is tons of fun and good damage. It plays a bit like a duelist archetype for me and the clone mechanic is both fun and beautiful to look at.
The Elementarist remains squishy, whatever I do but makes up for it in versatility. I levelled her with dual daggers instead of a staff because it felt more dynamic and less like playing a caster. But you really want to make good use of the dodge function and learn how to kite if you want to stay alive.
If you like an insane amount of abilities that you can swap out anytime you might want to play an Engineer. Versatility is their middle name. The learning curve feels steep but you can be the person who can do literally everything – almost at the same time. I am still learning this, and I’d already advise to try and learn one special thing (kits for instance) at a time because otherwise it gets really complicated.
The Thief is probably one of my favourites when it comes to animations. It’s very fast paced and looks beautifully acrobatic. Also feels kinda squishy from time to time but so worth it. The Daredevil Specialisation at max level is a thing of pure art. (For extra awesome make it an Asura!)
The Ranger is my go to character for exploring everything – collecting pets is fun and it is insanely easy to play efficiently while levelling up. Equip a Longbow and a Greatsword, pick armour with power stats and never worry about dying while levelling up ever again.
The Warrior is probably the most straightforward class for me. If you want to rush into fights and hit everything this is the class. I am most fond of the axe/shield combination with a ranged weapon as a secondary. (A bow seems to have more utility and use, but Rifle is just fun.) Simply slamming into the middle of a bossfight with your shield and dishing out damage while being in the middle of the action is just very satisfying. The warrior also seems to have the most possible weapons available.
The Guardian meanwhile is perfect for all my tank and heal needs really. That class can still do good damage but it plays less aggressive than the Warrior. Guardians have a lot of defense and support abilities than can make them really tough to kill. If you want to be the last one standing or the one popping out shields and heals all the time the Guardian is for you. I find it somethimes a bit bothersome to play solo because I keep thinking of all the support that I could put out if I had someone with me. So far I liked every weapon combination I tried, but Hammer was definitely the most fun.
Last but not least the Revenant: The Hearts of Thorns exclusive class. Even though it’s a heavy armour class it felt surprisingly squishy to me at first. But that got better level by level. And the unique resource management system it has took a while to get used to. While levelling I’ve grown fond of a combination of dual swords and a staff, together with the Legendary Assassin + Demon stance. The animations of this class are absolutely amazing.