dam 4 Editorials

Gaming With No Time: A Guild Wars 2 Story


Guild Wars 2 was released just two months ago at a time of change in the real world: the seasons shifting with the seas of Tyria as Orr rose from the depths, bringing with it the undead hordes of Zhaitan. But in that month so many people have already mastered the art of PvP, scoured the world for secrets, and fought against the power of the Elder Dragons. Unfortunately, the changing seasons also meant that some of us had to go back to work or school, which puts a severe restraint on the amount of time available to save the world from evil dragons. I’ve definitely felt the burn myself, having been unable to even touch the game in a week because of deadlines constantly piling up. However, it’s not all bad as I’ve discovered. While it’s certainly not as good as being able to play the game on demand, I’ve found a few silver linings to the otherwise very dark storm cloud.

#4: You’re making the most of your time

MMOs by nature have a lot of dead space.  You get a quest, run across the map, complete it, and then turn it in.  Guild Wars 2 changes the formula up a bit by cutting out the ends, leaving you with the ability to just run around and complete objectives. But even then there’s a good deal of, for lack of a better term, faffing about involved when moving in between objectives and story points. You might decide to start helping some skritt gather supplies, then get distracted by a passing Vigil caravan before winding up in front of a suspicious sign that says “CAUTION: BIG DEADLY MONSTER”. There’s no real focus, and while being able to wander aimlessly around the world is certainly fun, there’s the possibility of realizing that you’ve spent five hours in the zone without completing a single renown heart or full dynamic event chain. When you have maybe one hour to play the game, you realize that you need to get things done or your one hour has been completely wasted. You might decide to complete a story mission, fill out a few renown hearts, or maybe just spend the time wandering around the area and discovering new things. Setting some kind of goal helps you feel like your time in the game, however limited, was well spent. And despite the fact that you’re essentially grinding specific events, at the very least…

#3: You’re not ruining the game for yourself

Tell me, how many times have you done this before: You just got the hot new game, and your weekend is clear. You have your neighbors look after your pets, bid farewell to your loved ones, and make sure at least three people know that you’re not dead or missing in case someone wonders where you’ve been. Then ten or twelve hours into your session you’re tired of playing the game so you put it in a box, stick it on your shelf and a few weeks later you can’t even remember you bought it. I’ve certainly been guilty of doing this in the past if my Steam library is any indication. Even in the case of Guild Wars 2 I had a bit of a burnout during the Beta Weekend Events, when I would spend the entire day doing nothing but charr-ing people in PvP and smashing through mobs of angry centaurs. I would have taken breaks or spaced out the play sessions, but due to the limited time frame I (like a lot of people) just kept going even if I was almost completely sick of the game by the end. Because of the limited play time allotted to people with busy schedules, they don’t have the ability to burnout on the game at all. In fact I’ve found that, if anything, it leaves me just wanting more every time. Which leads me to my next point…

#2: There’s always something around the next corner

Playing Guild Wars 2 evokes some of the same feelings that I remember from reading the first Harry Potter book when it came out 15 years ago. The magic and wonder that were presented to me kept me hooked, even when I wasn’t able to read because I was at school or doing homework or I was supposed to be asleep. But even during those times when I couldn’t read the book I stayed in that world, imagining the nooks and crannies that I had explored before and trying to think of what could possibly come next. I’ve found that a well crafted world has always had this power over the people who delve into it and, while I certainly don’t spend that much time reminiscing about my three-hour attempt at a jumping puzzle, I’m always left wondering what else there is to discover where I last logged off. Perhaps there’s a dynamic event that I didn’t see, or maybe there’s a hidden event that I could trigger with my next trip into Tyria. And on top of the massive world that already exists there’s always the promise of future expansions to old forgotten lands and even new content added directly into the existing game. And finally, keep in mind that…

#1: You’re playing Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 is, by design, supposed to be accessible to all comers, from the people that powered through to level 80 to the people that take their time exploring the world and leveling. Because of time constraints, it’s fully possible to not have even a single character at level 80 (as crazy as that might sound), which makes no real difference apart from determining what zones you would be adventuring in alone. The game advertises the ability to party with your friends regardless of their level and still have a good time, and guilds are actively recruiting all of the time if you want a larger group of people to play with (or have no friends). Structured PvP is designed so that nobody in the game has an advantage over anyone else regardless of level, and WvWvW levels you up to 80 so you can fight on the front lines with the rest of your world. Even the pricing of the game itself allows for people with time constraints, since there is no monthly fee forcing you to constantly “get your money’s worth” out of the game, turning it into a chore. So next time you’re feeling down because you’re only getting a few hours to play, just remember to do this: have more fun in the time you have than everyone else, and know that you’re not getting the shortest end of the stick.