Saturday, September 8, 2012
All Roads Lead to Orr
I'm 80. And dear God is there a lot to do. I finished Honor of the Waves story mode and all of my personal story, explored the entirety of one of the three zones of Orr, and steadily "gearing up". In WvW I feel significantly stronger than most of my opponents, but I must confess I am very fragile. I have two pieces of Order of Whispers level 80 gear costing me nearly 2 gold each. Before you judge me, know that it looks absolutely amazing. I finally hit the 5 gold at one time mark, and I am definitely considering mailing it to a friend to burn the temptation of spending it. Within two days of leveling to 80, I have all level 80 gear and am steadily moving up the color wheel with everything. And this leads to a small but noticeable observation that I found startling.
In structured PvP, I will say that gear is very balanced across the board. Your skills and build (for the most part) determine the outcome of a battle. In WvW, it's rather different. There's definitely a power spectrum, but I will be the first to admit, it feels pretty decent. At level 80, you can definitely take down most of the lower level enemies you face, but don't think for a moment you will be one shotting people. Though, if you pop your elite such as Thieves Guild, expect them to drop relatively fast.
And then you have your fellow people at level 80. I was always under the belief, possibly mistakenly, that in Guild Wars 2 there would be a power plateau at the top. I'm not sure how true that is. If you take a look at an equivalent the level 80 blue, green, yellow, orange, and eventual red (though they are extremely rare atm), there's definitely an increase in damage, armor, and/or stats. If you want the most powerful gear in WvW or PvE world, there's a significant grind you will have to go through mostly by accumulating various currencies.
This so called "power level" difference between level 80s doesn't feel significant, at least at the moment. One of my greatest dislikes of World of Warcraft was the dislike of feeling weak once you reached the level cap. Instead of feeling stronger upon reaching the end, you suddenly feel like the picked on kid begging the bully not to take your lunch money.
Well, you will be happy to know that doesn't happen in Guild Wars 2. And the fact that I could already get several orange pieces of gear cancels out most of my concerns. I want to be clear that this isn't a complaint, just merely an observation that I found a little disorienting. To me, Guild Wars 2 was marketed as the "better skills wins" game, I just didn't realize that only meant sPvP. If there was a "grind" it was merely for aesthetics.
However, this is an entirely different level of grinding than World of Warcraft, and I am startled to find it comfortable. I've always hated grinding, but this feels relatively decent. After all, while it's a "grind", it's definitely not a gear treadmill. I'm not farming dungeon gear, to farm heroic dungeon gear, to farm raid gear, to farm heroic raid gear. I'm simply at the peak if I get enough of a currency to get an orange piece of gear with the stats I like, it just may take a while to get that piece of gear.
I think it definitely adds a goal to end game then just aesthetics without resorting to needless grinding simply to be relevant. It provides a fair balance that does not feel restrictive or malicious.
However once I get those orange pieces of gear, will I feel obligated to continue playing? That is a fair question, and my answer is no. Will I still play then? And the answer changes to a resounding yes. Some may ask why, and I will simply say it's a huge amount of fun. I'm having fun running dungeons, doing jumping puzzles, exploring the map, learning about the lore, temporal grinding for better gear, WvW, and sPvP. At 80, the game continues to be what it always has been. And that is why ArenaNet replied that end-game is level one.
On a side note, I haven't been to Arah yet, but I am starting to hate Destiny's Edge. The only decent person on that entire team is Caithe. The rest are just simple-minded idiots. Snaff's dead people, get the hell over it. The world needs you, there are bigger problems than if Logan put on hairspray today.
Oh by the way. If anyone in your party ever wants you to do the jumping puzzle Griffenrook Run. Say no. Getting that bomb to the chest at the end took my friend and I nearly 3 hours. I'm saving you a lot of pain, just trust me. Even if it was truly mean by ArenaNet, I will be the first to confess I had a metric ton of fun.