Editorials

10 Ways To Survive a Content Break

You know what this is. Most of you have experienced it in games with scheduled content updates. The long break before the next hype season, it’s a real problem in MMO communities, but it is a survivable one. “What, how?” you might ask, “you can’t be serious” you might say. As it just so happens, I have some serious and not-as-serious (but still mostly serious) solutions to your dilemma while we wait for the next big thing from Guild Wars 2.

1: Try content you wouldn’t normally play

A month or so back, I hopped into an unranked PvP match for a PvP screenshot contest with my second ranger. To my surprise, I actually did pretty well. I spent most of the match running around, laying traps, and capturing points. Sure, I died too, but I felt pretty helpful and my team won that match. For someone like me who has spent about 97% of their time in PvE, that victory felt like a fresh reminder that even though I don’t like intense competition, PvP can be as enjoyable in small doses. Plus, I took some good post-win screenshots of my ranger and won that screenshot contest. World versus World, on the other hand, has a good mixture of PvE and PvP elements, but focuses primarily on two types of groups: zergs and smaller strike teams that capture and defend various outposts. I would only recommend WvW if you have fortitude and patience for the constant running around, capturing, and defending between getting mowed over by an enemy zerg.

For those who don’t often venture into PvE (which is hard for me to imagine as it would mean avoiding the largest area of the game), I would be remiss not to suggest playing through the Personal Story or Season 2 of the Living Story. It is true that some chapters aren’t nearly as fun or as engaging as others, but the story is littered with characters with some rich personalities and some equally good character banter (as far as MMORPGs are concerned).

The Winning Shot

The Winning Shot

2: Play a new race/profession combination

Speaking of trying out PvE, people often have their favorite races and professions; that’s often pretty normal for MMOs. For an alt-aholic like me, it means having a lot of almost everything, but even I could benefit from my own advice. If I could make a new character, I’d make an asura as I currently don’t have any – while I have had and adored them in the past, I’d usually delete them for a new human, charr, or norn character that I like more. In terms of story, the first thirty or so levels for each race are some of the richer and more unique stories of the game. Further on, there are the three Orders of Tyria and I recommend everyone join each at least once. Forgal, Sieran, and Tybalt (especially Tybalt; pick Order of Whispers now and thank me later… THROUGH YOUR TEARS!) are some of the most memorable personalities from core story. As for professions, I have at least one of each, but for those who don’t, give something new a shot. Some professions take some more getting used to than others, but I haven’t found a profession yet that I didn’t find a way to enjoy. Yes, even the engineer.

3: Upgrade your account with Heart of Thorns

This only applies to players who don’t have the recent expansion pack. If you can afford it, consider taking a leap, deep into the Maguuma Jungle. Aside from the tight and fast-paced story that ends with a memorable boss fight, the Gliding Mastery is definitely a big part of this suggestion as Heart of Thorns opens up a new and pretty entertaining way to explore all of Tyria. There’s a definite thrill to soaring through a tight canyon, or jumping and sailing from the top of a mountain. You’ll reach places you couldn’t reach before and find places that aren’t intended to be found. Try not to get stuck in a hole, though. The only way out of those are through waypoints and guild hall travel. Safe travels, heroes!

In addition, there are the new elite specializations that build upon the mechanics of the exisiting professions to create some unique and heroic experiences. They do take a good amount of hero point gathering to unlock, but the end results are generally worth the effort. However, with the arrival of the Spring Quarterly Update, all current and future owners of Heart of Thorns<also receive a unique max-level boost that sends any character up to level 80 with a full set of max-level exotic gear as well as a few more consumable goodies. I used mine on a second necromancer I was leveling to eventually unlock the reaper elite specialization, which I cannot wait to take for a spin.

Some of these new profession roles are especially effective in raids, which were also introduced with the expansion and are great for those looking for a truly challenging PvE experience (and for those who enjoy headbutting a wall, just one guy’s opinion *whistles*).

3: Use and abuse the new guild halls

These suggestions are aimed at larger community guilds who’ve managed to brave and survive the material sink that is the guild hall system. Feeling creative? Organize an in-guild hall decoration contest! Who among your members has the finest or wackiest interior and exterior decoration styles? For those who pride themselves as masters of combat, maybe an in-house dueling tournament is your cup of tea? One-on-one, teams, free-for-alls; let the halls drown in red! Looking for a less bloody form of competition? Hold a relay race around the guild hall, with gliders even! Are you a cheeky prankster with access to guild hall decorations? Build stairways to nowhere, trap your guildmates in 8-bit clouds, or build a cage around the hall’s center waypoint.

5: Help out a new player or play through the game with a friend

Speaking of community, sometimes just having a friend to re-experience the game with can make all the difference. Much of Guild Wars 2, especially the story, can be done solo, but there’s something unique about being able to show a new player the ropes, or reminiscing with a friend over old lore. As someone who’s had friendships make the jump from the original Guild Wars series, some locations, lore text, and even sounds bring back a lot of great memories. Reliving those memories, or helping introduce them to a new player, can be be a pretty fulfilling experience.

Sometimes helping a new player one day leads to friendships that last years.

Sometimes you never meet the people you help in-game again, but sometimes you make friends and years later, here you are.

6: Work on some achievements that are close to completion

Honestly, it’s easy to play through the game several times and forget that a good chunk of your actions usually count towards some achievement’s completion. Even if you’re not one of those people that make it a priority to achievement hunt (and I know I’m not), occasionally I’ll give my achievement panel a look over to see if there are any that are close to being completed and I’ll make an attempt to finish it, especially if I’m close to unlocking an achievement reward chest or a meta achievement that has an item that I want.

Achievement completion certainly isn’t for everyone. It can appear incredibly overwhelming to those who just want to jump into the game and have fun without having to plan their fun around certain activities. If willing, the way I handle this is to find ones that I want to complete (e.g. unlocking the final forms of the elite specialization weapons) and work on the required collections or tiers a little bit at a time. It’s important to set small and realistic goals for what you’re willing to tolerate, but it pays off and prevents game “burnout.”

7: Get good… at fashion

Yeah, I said it. Guild Wars 2 isn’t the first game where I’ve invested more time on how a character appears than learning to effectively use them in combat, which isn’t to say that I don’t, but let’s be honest, this man’s got priorities and one of those is that my fantasy fashion game is on point. Take some time to peruse the wardrobe and try out everything. Sometimes an outfit combination (not the assorted closet of two-piece masterpieces and messes sold on the gem store) that doesn’t look quite right on one character can inspire the creation of an entirely new one.

Once you have your perfect look in mind, make it a project and hunt those pieces down. My greatest advice for starting this path is that an outfit means so much more if it’s built around the character that wears it. Their history, their crafts, and even their personality; some of my characters have sets that represent entirely separate things, and while they may look different, they are always true to their identities.

Strut. Yo. Stuff.

Strut. Yo. Stuff.

8: Roleplay

It’s not the easiest activity to get into, especially for the first time. It’s something I’ve done in a couple of MMOs, but usually only with people I trust. For me, I have a personal “canon” I’ve developed around my characters and how they fit in the story, which usually doesn’t make room for other players. It’s as narcissistic as it sounds, but it’s important to me nonetheless. I will say that there is a certain thrill in attempting to assume the identity of one’s character, especially when you idealize much about your own character’s personality. It can be hard to separate your own social quirks from your performance at first, but it get’s better with practice, much like acting in real life. Who knows? You may eventually find it to be a fulfilling and adventurous experience. Just remember to always be respectful of people’s characters and consider the work they’ve put into them.

9: Start an in-game band

I have zero experience with this, and I know that there are game extensions that allow your character to play beautiful music with their in-game instruments, but what’s more impressive than one player playing the songs you love? That’s right! A whole bunch of players playing the songs that you love. Five hours of the “Song of Storms” please.

10: Do other things

Of course, sometimes the best way to survive a content break is not to survive it at all, at least, with regards to finding more to do in-game.

Walk your pet dog/cat/snake/goldfish, go to a movie, meet a friend for lunch, draw a picture, write some poetry, play some other games, clean things, bake cookies, bake a cake, write a scathing Logan and Rytlock romantic fanfiction (don’t look at me like that; everyone has thought about it at some point), write a banterful Canach and Countess Anise romantic fanfiction, tell a developer that they’re wonderful and great, and maybe even rearrange your living room. I don’t know; I’m not a life guru. Do whatever floats your siege turtle.

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