Or maybe described more accurately as the tales of the noob and the vet. I managed to convince my MMO virgin friend to try out Guild Wars 2. I had ranted to him for probably months on this game, so by now he probably tried it more to shut me up than out of interest. Nevertheless, after winning a beta key for him, we ventured forth into Tyria together with much anticipation.
I was personally extremely excited to see his reactions to everything in game. I wanted to be there for each of his discoveries, and see him fall in love with a genre of game he had refused to touch. After all, it was in the immortal words of ArenaNet’s Manifesto “ If you love MMOs, you'll want to check out Guild Wars 2, and if you hate MMOs, you'll really want to check out Guild Wars 2.”
My friend was extremely kind and granted my one request, that he write down his experiences in the beta.
“So, I came into this beta weekend very apprehensive. I spent close to twenty minutes designing my character to be just how I wanted, went through the intro questions, started the game, and then quickly became confused and disoriented."
ArenaNet has something precious here, and I think it’s quite evident in my friend’s writing. The world is compelling and it begs to be appreciated and explored.
He elaborates further on the controls of the game and genre.
“Which leads me to my initial problem with this (or possibly all) mmo(s): I feel like it expects me to know how to play them. I didn’t know that “Q” and “E” let me strafe, or even that holding a button on my mouse allowed me to rotate the screen. Which lead to a VERY painful first 30 minutes or so. Even after learning what all the buttons do, using my 3 fingers (I haven’t learned to use my pinky) to move around 11 buttons while fighting takes a long time to get used to. I can’t tell you how many times I meant to hit 3 and ending up strafing to the right. Or meant to dodge to the right and just turned the camera twice.”
It’s quite revealing on how far this game has to go before it can truly introduce players who have never touched the genre before. I must admit, I had to take a step back and recount my first MMO experience. I recall it being a rather disorienting experience, and I remember having to learn the controls on the first day or two. However, I do want to emphasize my friend knows his way around video games, but has always been a console gamer. I thought it would be like learning a controller for an unfamiliar system, but for some reason PC games seem trickier.
I joined him later on the first evening. He was close to level 10, and we participated in the jumping puzzle in the Sylvari zone. He even surpassed my platforming skills and managed to complete the puzzle before me. By this time, I thought he would be ready for a change of scenery. I suggested WvW, and thus we charged headfirst into a painful affair.
I expected him to be able to have a decent judgment of his character and controls. And to be honest, I now realize how vastly I overestimated his ability to be by then. It was a learning experience for both of us, and I would place most of the blame on me.
“One of the first things he did was to throw me into WvW in a kind of sink or swim type exercise. And I fully admit to the fact that I drowned…quickly and pathetically lol. By the time Entombed left he was frustrated with my frequent death and I was ready to accept my failure at MMOs.”
I would love to say I was a kind and patient teacher. But, if I am truthful, I was not. I wanted him to know when to engage, when to run, and when to stagger back defensively. I’m not sure if we were equipped to deal with the battles presented to us. He was playing a guardian with a scepter, and I was on my thief. Admittedly these professions play extremely differently. When he tried to mimic my “hit and run” techniques, he would die. Part of this was truly my lack of knowledge of the guardian profession. I’m not sure how guardians play WvW, and how they can escape from a fight? I suggested he pick up a staff the next time he died, but he didn’t know where the vendor was, nor did he have any of the skills unlocked. It was a painful experience. We all have met players in-game in PvP that we realized had no clue what they were doing, and I have always wondered how the hell they got there in the first place. It may have just been because a friend threw them in. I was hoping my friend could pick it up and learn from his mistakes. However instead of building each other up, we sort of crumbled under the repeated failures. Teaching and learning is a two way street, and I think we can both admit we weren’t completely receptive to each other.
However, with the sort of resilience that a new player has, he resumed playing, this time in the comfort of PvE. I left him to his own devices for a quite a while, and I think we only rejoined each other right before the final beta event. His adventures are as follows:
“After taking a break for a few hours, I decided to try again. I went back to PvE and began with the basics. I quickly got sidetracked by just walking around the forest and town, talking to people, and doing the heart quests. Then dynamic events started popping up. My first memorable dynamic event was to kill fire flies to collect luminescence for the organic light posts. I joined the zerg of players roaming together and we conducted a great massacre of the local firefly population. Upon finishing, I felt rather accomplished and I even stayed a few minutes to admire the lights. Suddenly the NPC lady comes up yelling that mosquitoes are swarming the lamps and that we needed to clear them away. I remember thinking to myself ‘Hell no! I worked too hard to get these lights up for bugs to be ruining them!’, right before savagely attacking the nearby mosquitoes with all the might of a level five. That’s when I realized I was really enjoying myself. I liked finding random things to do and feeling like I made a difference in the world. I really liked simply hiking to the top of a mountain, fighting the occasional eagle raptor, and just looking at the gorgeous views.”
“Once while exploring I began to fight a veteran basilisk. While fighting, I accidently attracted the attention of 2 little basilisks and was cruelly mugged by the 3 of them. Just as I died a random warrior arrived out of nowhere, killed a smaller basilisk allowing me to rally, and together we finished the other two. At that point another revelation hit me: The people running around are real people. It really is quite a strange concept coming from console gameplay. We started to talk and decided to team up to gain a skill point that was in a centaur camp. We recruited an elementalist to join us, and together we charged into the base. I’ll admit, I almost yelled “Avengers, ASSEMBLE!” as we barged in. I have to say that was one of the highlights for me of the weekend. The team disbanded after we thoroughly defeated our foe, but I know, that when the world needs us again, we will reunite.”
Once again the game mechanics shine. Name another MMO where this could happen, my friend may not realize that this really is a new concept to MMOs, but I think we can all appreciate it.