Guild Wars 2: GW2 and Me

Where do  I stand with GW2?  Playing it still clearly, and probably for some time to come before I exhaust the content, based on my current pace.  I have five characters, four if you only count the ones I’ve advanced.  They are levels 26, 12, 9, and 8.  Even the number of alts really doesn’t entirely explain my slow pace — but Glitch is still my main game, and there’s not a day of gaming that hasn’t seen me check into Glitch.   And not out of some sense of obligation — GW2 is a lot of fun and has some fascinating stories, but I feel much like I do standing in the center of a busy city.  All alone among thousands.

I’ve seen very few conversations come about in local chat — and map chat is absolutely inane and idiotic more often than not.  The game itself does not create compelling reasons to meet and interact, socially, with others.  Events create interaction, but without any social aspect.

For example, the other night I was killing undead something or other in a swamp with my main, a Sylvari Engineer.  Typical of a theme park MMO, I was solo, pulling enemies one or two at a time, working on a “heart,” the GW2 version of quests.  I could see one or two other players within “draw” distance, but while we would occasionally, and wordlessly, help each other out, we mostly stayed out of each other’s way.  Then, on the minimap, the swamp becomes surrounded by an orange line, and text, the equivalent of a quest tracker, comes up telling me the undead are trying to form an army, asking me to help break it.

Immediately, the two other players in my vicinity becomes 5, then 10, then tops out somewhere around 15.  And working side by side, we take out the army before it can form.  Without speaking to each other, without spamming chat with “lfm” followed by more strange acronyms, we have spent about 10 minutes in something resembling raid level content.  I say resembling because there’s no coordination, no lead on tanking, and no healers watching our backs.  But stories like this one pepper my play experiences with all four of my characters.  All of them have been part of groups taking down something big and dangerous before they even reached level 10.

That’s pretty damn cool.

Putting that aside, it works as a single player game better than any other MMO I’ve played, including SWTOR.  The questions answered during character creation have a real effect on how the story line plays out, including at least one question I thought would matter the least.  Allow me to explain:

With five character slots, and five races, it seemed natural for an altaholic like me to create one character for each race.  My second character was a Norn Thief.  I say was because I decided I could not stand the thief profession, and after reaching level 11 with him, decided to give him a quiet death and replace him with a Norn Elementalist.  Going back through the character creation process again, I answered every question exactly the same, intending to get the same story to be able to continue it once I caught back up.  When I got to the part about the character’s disposition, however, I answered differently, thinking little would be affected.  But while the story has followed a similar path, with the same problem to solve and the same characters involved, entire story missions have been completely different simply because I made this Norn prefer his fists over his charm.  The way he approaches the problem reflects that answer, despite that the actual elements of the problem have not changed.  I’m tempted to spend a lot of money buying character slots and make a Norn character with every possible combination of answers to the character creation questions, just to see how much variety can be found from a single character race.

Not going to happen: I have enough on my plate with the slots the game comes with.

Between story, exploration, and events, most people seem to be running about doing their own thing.  There really seems to be no obvious way to meet people in the game.  Seems my only option would be to join every guild spamming chat or sending random invites.  Those tend to be the guilds I don’t want to join, but at least with GW2 I can join all of them, at the same time, and check them out.

I had originally planned to apply to Inquisition and play with those folks, and I might still do that.  But I seem to be in this small population of GW2 players whose machines should be able to run this game without issue but are having a lot of issues.  I could run Skyrim at medium settings with respectable framerates.  I could run it at ultra and not crash or lock up, but animations looked a bit choppy as the fps would fall to around 20.

In GW2, no matter the level of the settings, even at the lowest, I am rarely getting fps over 20.   And in WvWvW, the element I assume INQ, as a PvP focused guild, is most fond of, I am getting even lower framerates. At one point, it actually said one.  One frame per second.  Someone could run a few circles around me and end up standing where they started in one second, and my screen would not even show them move.  Not really fun, at all.

I plan to give things a bit of time to slow down over there, then start hitting the support department with “hey, what gives?” emails.  I seem to not be alone and cannot find any consistency about the issue.  It’s not just Nvidia users, though we had it the worst until the latest drivers.  And it’s not just people with two year old video cards like me — I’ve read claims of systems with current generation video cards getting around 30 fps.  Given server transfers are free right now, I’ve wondered if moving to one of the new ones would show an uptick in performance, if the fps issue could possibly be related to the number of people logged in and playing simultaneously.  I have no idea if that even makes sense, but I’m loathe to leave my server knowing I’d be unlikely to get back to it.

In my next few entries on GW2, I’m going to have a bit of fun and just talk about my characters, their stories (probably with spoilers), and what I enjoy about playing with each.

Coming soon: probably a post about Glitch, and definitely a post, maybe even a series of posts, about my ideal vision of a “next gen” MMO.


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