Struggling with Guild Wars 1

Last weekend I picked up Guild Wars again. I had this vague idea that maybe I could accumulate some Hall of Monuments points for Guild Wars 2 (which, like so many others, I dutifully pre-ordered as soon as I could). It’s probably not a fair way to approach a game: I’m playing it to squeeze something other than fun out of it, after all.

So my first goal, according to some guides I read, is to complete all the campaigns, starting with Eye of the North. I log in, head to Lion’s Arch and jump into the crevasse. Off I go!

Now I am admittedly playing Guild Wars as a solo game, with a full team of heroes backing me up. I’m playing a Ranger currently, so mostly I stand back and pew pew arrows into the fray. Except I go through energy like a redneck goes through Old Milwaukee on a hot Saturday night. So I do a lot of waiting for energy to accumulate. Still, with this swarm of characters the difficulty isn’t too bad, unless we get adds.

But here’s the thing. One of the strengths of Guild Wars is there’s almost no leveling curve. Experienced players, I’m told, hit level 20 in 7.8 seconds or so. It took me much, much longer than that, but I’m at level 20 even though I’ve yet to complete any of the campaigns.

Today’s MMO players, I’m told by some, don’t like leveling…they like the end game, and Guild Wars is all about the end game.

But for me, leveling is damned fun! I love progression. It needn’t be levels. It could be skill points or something. But I like pushing some indicator forward. I know that’s shallow, but it’s what I like to do. Hey, I know people that squee with delight when you give them a sheet of bubble wrap and tell them they can pop all the bubbles. People are funny animals.

So I’m working on helping out the Asura in Eye of the North. Mostly I’m traveling. I don’t have any of the map explored so I gotta walk. And of course fight.

And here’s where Guild Wars grinds me down. I fight through a couple zones and then I do wipe. Actually things go totally to shite and I die and res and die and res a few times in a single fight before we wipe, so now everyone has a big fat death debuff. I look at the clock and it’s getting late and I have to be up early tomorrow. I have no idea if I just need to get to the next zone line or if I have several to cross yet.

And so reluctantly I fast-travel back to the Outpost I’d most recently vacated and shut down for the night.

And I feel kind of like I wasted my evening. The combat wasn’t very interesting, I didn’t get any levels, the loot that I found was mostly odds and ends to give to Collectors, or cheap weapons that I’m not sure what to do with. I just feel like I made no progress. Next time I play all those mobs will be back and I won’t be any stronger, or any better equipped, or any richer.

Now I get it. That’s what a lot of people LOVE about Guild Wars. For them, this is when it’s time to tweak out character builds so those fights are easier this time around. This is the SKILL involved in Guild Wars and is what makes the game so unique.

My problem is I dunno how to do that. I feel like, for my main character, I’m using all the skills that I have and that are worth using. And for my 6 heroes I’m frankly kind of overwhelmed. Mostly I dump most of their points into 1 specific attribute and 1 generic attribute (Expertise or the Energy one for mages that gives more mana) and then load up the skills associated with those attributes.

Studying the Wiki, trying new ways to arrange my skills and charging back into the fray to see how it turns out this time well.. it kind of feels like work to me. I just want to go out, kill stuff and get experience points and cool loot and get more powerful that way. I’m a simple guy. I play games for fun, not for challenge. My job is challenging…when I get home I kind of enjoy turning off the thinking cap and relaxing.

Lucky for me there’re 8,023 MMOs that let me go out and get experience points and cool loot and not think too much about it. I’m not faulting Guild Wars and for the people who love developing the perfect build, I’m really happy Guild Wars exists; those people don’t have many options.

But me, I’m just struggling. I need better gear and I’m not sure how to get it. I think my Ranger needs skills I haven’t found. He’s so dead dull to play at the moment. I want to get more powerful so I can slice through these mobs like a hot knife through butter so I can finish the endless quests these Asura want me to do, not replay the same zone over and over, coming away from it empty handed every time.

I just want my HOM points, darn it! And like I said at the start, that’s probably the single most unfair aspect of my relationship with Guild Wars. I’m not approaching it like a game now. I’m approaching it like a chore I have to get done before Guild Wars 2 comes out.

8 thoughts on “Struggling with Guild Wars 1

  1. I’ve been blogging about this – exactly the same thing happens to me in Guild Wars. I can typically take playing it for a week or two, then I need six months off.

  2. I remembered reading your Guild Wars Frustration post the other day but I couldn’t remember who’d written it. /facepalm. But yeah, I read it and really could relate. I’m in pretty much the same boat.

  3. It’s funny, I thought I was weird or something for so long because I felt exactly this way. Which is why I am not really looking forward to GW2. I think it’s going to be a fantastic game for those who like this kind of thing, and those people who do are not me.

  4. I’m on my third or fourth, maybe more than that, Ranger in GW1 now. And by “now” I mean “created 2 or 3 years ago and haven’t played since.” I often like ranged classes but the GW1 Ranger never really “clicked” with me. The really cool UberRanger builds you can find on PvX don’t fit my playstyle. I did keep one of them as a PvP character for one of the PvP modes that don’t require other players (yeah, I know… “huh?” right?) and it does indeed kick butt just like they say it will, but it’s not my preferred playstyle whatsoever.

    Here’s my tip(s): GW1 was never designed as “an MMO.” Now, today, the way “MMO” has (d)evolved, it probably is one. But just reading this, you’re focused on “leveling up, gearing up,” and so on. Don’t. Want max armor, just go to one of the armor crafting NPCs in one of the hub cities and give him the materials for it. It should automatically be your level (it’s been forever, but I don’t recall them selling lowbie gear, only what was appropriate for you).

    The “progression” isn’t XP, though XP comes in abundance; you never stop earning it. In a sense the “progression” is skill points, since you need those to acquire the real progression: new skills themselves. You can’t try all these cool builds unless you have the skills to create them with. Each class has a few hundred skills, and I’m assuming since you’re level 20 that you’re dual-classing now? Not to mention you (I forget how and when you gain the ability to do this) can switch to every secondary class in the game; you’re not stuck with the original secondary you chose at low level. Your Heroes can only use skills in their builds that you have; that’s a whole other progression right there.

    Just play it like a game. The designers wanted a sort of marriage between Diablo (kill shit and loot shit!) and Magic: the Gathering (collectible skills, only use so many at a time in your skill “deck”) but in 3D like was becoming popular with MMOs. Play it like that and forget applying the “MMO” label the designers never wanted attached to it.

  5. @Scott — I don’t have the Rare materials I need to get better armor. I get those by salvaging drops, right?

    Do you keep earning exp/skill points after you hit cap?

    I actually am NOT dual-classed. Maybe that would shake things up some.

  6. Egads. I’ve heard it was possible to continue playing without being forced to choose a secondary but I never did just because having the one secondary to level with gave me options for gaining new skills.

    Yes, you continue earning XP, and you even “ding!” every time your XP bar fills again. The game keeps a running total of your XP even though the “20” never increases. Every time you ding again, you earn another skill point. Skill points become a currency to purchase new skills from vendors or even end-game consumables in Eye of the North. So there is actually constant progression happening, it just doesn’t take place in the form of constant “leveling up and gearing up.”

    I know you balked at this before because you wanted to do it on your own before doing co-op but seriously if you see me on Raptr shoot me a message. I’d love to have a compelling reason to refamiliarize myself with GW1. I have a Monk and at one time I was a relatively decent healer type. 🙂 It’s been forever and I don’t have all the content memorized so I can just tag along like a self-motivated Hero and heal.

    And yes, most of the rare materials come from salvaging. However, there are also rare materials vendors (usually located in the world rather than a city) where you can barter normal mats for rare mats for those armors. Use the wiki to check all the Ranger armors out there and maybe run around some hub cities to see if you can check them out live (keeping in mind the game renders everyone else in low-rez textures; only you get rendered in hi-rez) plus the wiki gives a list of what specific mats are needed.

  7. @Scott — Cool, thanks.

    This probably says something about my mental health, or lack thereof, but knowing I was gaining experience towards another skill point in my aborted attempt to get to the next outpost last night makes me feel better about the whole gaming session!

    I’ll ping you on Raptr if I see you. Thanks.

  8. Honestly Guild Wars is not a solo game. The least fun solo game you’ll ever encounter. Find a guild, do stuff with them, stop worrying about progression and the HoM for a while.

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