GW2: Reloaded

I have tentatively begun playing GW2 again. After three years. Here are my (re-)impressions.

Getting back into the game, I am finally beginning to appreciate the concern designers have over the returning-player experience. Remember when Ghostcrawler and friends talked about not wanting to change too many things mid-patch? When I loaded into GW2 on even a low-level character, looking at the Skills page caused a moment of existential panic in which I desired to turn off the game immediately.


Just what I wanted: two hours of homework before playing.

Granted, I feel like the GW2 Skill system has always been convoluted nonsense, but it is especially weird now. Weapon skills are now tied to levels instead of weapon use – no more equipping a new sword and having to wail on easy mobs for 20 minutes to unlock everything, ala old-school WoW. So, that’s good. Less good is how the Skill system used to allow you to purchase skills from tier lists, but now they are unlocked in sequential groups. In other words, you usually have to unlock a bunch of crap to reach the skill you want, instead of picking it right away and then not having a use for skill points later. Then there are Specialization paths or whatever. Pick three of six specializations, each of which has three sets of three choices.

No doubt the system makes perfect sense for long-term players, but as someone logging back onto a level 80 character after three years… well, let’s just say that I fully understand why WoW was “dumbed down” the way it was.

Things are now a lot more account-based, which is also interesting. You still have to unlock bag slots per character because $$$, but now even things like gold are shared across all characters. Hell, the shop is even selling additional Crafting slots, so you can have more than the industry-standard two.


Things are looking a little, ah, different.

Magic Find was also turned into an account-wide deal instead of stats on gear. In a rather brilliant economic move, the only way to increase this stat is to destroy magic gear and consume the possibly resulting Essences of Luck in ever-increasing amounts. This neatly solves the Vendor+1c economic disaster GW2 had originally, all while providing an insatiable lust for dropped/crafted gear. Amusingly, it also squares the circle of the increasing amounts of Magic Find generating more magic items, as you simply destroy those too.

Actually, I feel like there is a entire post that could be devoted to this sort of design solution. Not necessarily the elegance of the Magic Find situation, but rather the kind of design which involves every player having a stake in consuming resources. I mean, look at WoW with all the junk greens and blues that drop. People vendor those all day, or possibly get them disenchanted and sell the resulting dust to either Enchanters or people trying to get cheaper prices from Enchanters. It’s easy to flood the market in those situations, because the demand is concentrated in just a small portion of the entire audience. And then, perversely, it’s nearly impossible to find usable gear at any given level because it’s never worth it to list on the AH due to low demand (and high fees). Lose-lose.

Meanwhile, the market for magic items in GW2 is effectively infinite – everyone has an incentive to get more Magic Find. And that’s a trick, because the majority of players will quit playing, never reach the cap, or whatever, but they have nevertheless drained the economy of those goods. It is the difference between everyone learning every crafting recipe drop they come across versus immediately putting it on the AH to be consumed by a much smaller fraction of players. The latter is the status quo, but the former neatly solves most of the issues that crop up in MMO economies without overt gear destruction.


In my brilliant foresight, I apparently cashed out all my gold before I stopped playing three years ago, so I have 1300 gems and like 8g. This is enough to apparently “purchase” Season 2 of the Living Story, which… makes very little sense to me. Did everyone have to purchase the second Living Story when it came out? Is it necessary to play? I’m assuming not, but who the hell knows in this weird-ass F2P Wild West. Given the horizontal progression touted by GW2, I’m not sure of the benefits. Skins, surely. Plus, you know, plot. But anything else?


Worth it? I’m guessing no.

It is actually kind of amusing, in a way. People gripe about all the planned obsolescence in MMOs like WoW, but GW2 seems to be the ultimate offender here. Lion’s Arch got destroyed or something, right? I’ve read about it, but I don’t think there is ever a way to see it. Unless it is in the Living Story bundle, perhaps. Someone might be able to breeze through the entire Mists expansion in WoW without leaving Jade Forest these days, but at least all that content still exists. In GW2’s sake, it is straight-up gone like a fart in the breeze.

The likelihood that I play GW2 long-term is effectively zero, as it is with any MMO I fear, but for now, it is something I’m playing. Luckily, I received something silly like twelve level 20 boosters and six level 30 ones, so I’ll be able to get a better feel for the classes without having to suffer through the painful low-level nonsense another half-dozen times.

And, hey, even if I stop playing, the game never had a subscription, so I could just revisit in 2019 and see (or not see, as the case may be) what’s new.

Posted on January 21, 2016, in Guild Wars 2, Impressions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. > And then, perversely, it’s nearly impossible to find usable gear at any given level because it’s never worth it to list on the AH due to low demand (and high fees). Lose-lose.

    The main difference is that in GW2 items stay as long on the TP as it takes them to sell. That makes it zero effort on your side to sell less sought after items. In WoW your item will return at least after 48 hours.

    In addition to that, WoW doesn’t have this convenient global economy but consists of mostly dead servers. Which means you will most likely not sell items like titanium within those 48 hours. And listing them for months is not what I consider fun. The last time I needed titan steel, to craft Jeeves, I would have easily payed thousands of gold per titanium bar but there were none on the AH. I had to dig out an alt and farm it myself.

    > Did everyone have to purchase the second Living Story when it came out? Is it necessary to play?

    LS S2 consists of 8 chapters, which were released every few weeks. You got the current chapter for free if you logged in during the time it was current. It’s basically the login reward from back then.


    • That’s a good point about the specific AH differences. That factor along with the ability to post Buy orders probably contributes more than I was giving credit for.

      Your Titanium anecdote is amusing, because that was pretty much how I was making money in Warlords: Titansteel, Living Steel, and even goddamn Arcanite Bar transmutes. It was never consistent gold though, as there was no way I was farming the mats myself, so I just had to keep an eye on the AH and snatch them all up when I could.


  2. You were granted each season 2 episode for free if you log on during the period it was current. I created my first character during episode 5, then started logging regularly and playing from episode 7. As a result I had episodes 5, 7 and 8 unlocked for free.


  3. I’ve been away from GW2 for quite some time too. In your opinion, is it worth giving it another shot? Are you having fun in this iteration of the game or is it just a nostalgia trip? Any other major changes of note?


    • Ha, “nostalgia.” If you click on the GW2 Category, you can see the rather brief trajectory of when I played three years ago, and how I was never entirely comfortable in the game. The main reason I picked this up again is because I got an insane urge for some unfathomable reason after playing TESO. I will say that the combat and movement system in GW2 feels the best out of the non-WoW ones I have played thus far. And I dig the aesthetics generally.

      That said, I’m sure I’ll write some additional impressions as they occur. At the moment, I am spending more time deleting characters and creating new ones (and boosting them to level 30 with my free scrolls) to actually play play the game. My goal is to find one of the other classes that I feel like I can stick with till 80 since I already had an Elementalist from last time. Right now, I’m leaning Mesmer or Thief. We shall see.


  4. The story has been improving in GW2 so Living Story 2 is better than past stories. Some prefer the style of LS2 to the new HoT Personal Story.

    The instances design are fine, there are a bunch of achievements, ascended amulets, etc. It will also grant mastery points for the expansion.

    LA was destroyed during Living Story 1.


  5. LA got destroyed during Season 1 of the living story, which due to being almost purely big open meta events, isn’t available for play any more. You can still see plenty of marks left over from the story though, and in LA’s case you might find it looking QUITE different from last time, as we recently got a fancy new version, after all the destruction.

    As for LS2, it’s by no means necessary to play, but it does have some interesting story parts, some fun instanced dungeons designed for solo play, and some actually quite fun and challenging achievements.


  6. If you wander on over to the PvP zone Heart of the Mists (via the appropriately marked south portal in Lion’s Arch, if you haven’t already unlocked the PvP shortcut key), you can try out all classes at level 80 using PvP builds.

    May save some of the effort speed leveling to 20 and 30 and hunting for appropriate gear.


    • Ah, good call. I completely forgot about that little feature. Definitely will be doing that, as I continue to be conflicted on class at the moment.


  7. I don’t think people salvage “magic” gear primarily for the magic find. That’s just a handy by-product. If you look at the TP you’ll see two things: many crafting mats are now worth a lot of money and so are many low-to-mid level green and yellow weapons and armor pieces. If you’re leveling up and money is of interest to you I’d advise checking each such item against the TP and then deciding whether to sell it to a buyer, list it yourself or salvage it and sell the mats.

    At 80 I long ago stopped salvaging for MF, which is largely useless anyway since it doesn’t apply to almost all containers, which is the way 90% of your loot appears at that point. Salvaging, on the other hand, makes me more money than I can find things to spend it on.


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