I got into the stress test about an hour after the official start, so I may have missed any initial lagginess (although there were still folks loudly complaining about the lag when I got through the character creation process). While there were certainly occasional bursts of lag, and the odd rubberbanding event, I thought it was better than the first August stress test (but I can’t speak for Thursday’s test).
As I was planning to group up with two of my guildies, I created a Sylvari warrior (both of them were planning to explore the Sylvari starting area during this stress test). Once again, I didn’t spend much time doing character customization and skipped the cinematics leading up to the first combat. At one point, I thought I’d gone off into the weeds, as I clicked the skip button, but went to a blank screen for over a minute before loading into the initial awakened-from-the-dream area.
It took me a few minutes to find the right range to engage in melee combat, and found myself swinging at air several times until I got familiar with it. Then, having found the optimum range for ordinary creatures, I then had to reset for the boss, who towered over everyone. I didn’t get put into the downed state during the boss fight, but I was down to only a tiny bit of health when someone else got in the killing blow.
The Sylvari no-money blues
As with my first experience with the Sylvari, I found myself eternally short on cash. It seemed to be taking me longer to earn money from my adventuring than it had on my other non-Sylvari characters. After a particularly ugly dynamic event involving successive waves of Nightmare Court attackers, I was running around with no pants and the rest of my armour showing imminent signs of disappearing. Fortunately for me, one of the drops from that event was a rifle, so I could start doing damage from a slightly more comfortable distance (once I learned the skills). It didn’t take me too long after that to earn enough to get my armour repaired and purchase some gathering tools.
As I learned all the skills for each weapon and off-hand, I switched to the next selection (the drops were timed pretty well: I didn’t have to buy any weapons this time). I didn’t unlock everything, but I tried to ensure that I wasn’t limited to only a few choices. While I wasn’t totally useless with melee weapons (the greatsword is just as awesome for warriors as it is for the other professions that can use it), once I had the choice of ranged weapons, that was my preference.
Cooking can drive you mad
Getting towards the end of the scheduled testing period, I decided to go to Lion’s Arch and do a bit of crafting again. For the first time, I selected cooking as my crafting discipline. I don’t cook in real life (microwaving frozen food doesn’t count as cooking), and as a result I found myself constantly leaving the crafting area and buying cooking supplies from the Master Chef. I must have gone through that cycle seven or eight times, buying flour, then water, then eggs, then salt, and so on. Perhaps if I was more familiar with real world cooking I could have saved myself several of those trips.
I’d collected what I thought was a fair range of vegetables, herbs, meat, and other ingredients, but for each recipe I always seemed to be just short by one key ingredient or didn’t have quite enough onions or carrots or what-have-you. To be fair, they do warn you when you talk to the Master Chef NPC that cooking is the most expensive of the crafting disciplines. I ran out of money quite quickly, but the experience point rewards seemed quite high, too.
If I end up taking cooking as a crafting discipline after the game launches, I may just bookmark this page so I can minimize my shopping trips.
This is the end
After walking away penniless from the cooking station, I went for a swim in the area of Old Lion’s Arch and took a leap off the high diving board. While my guildmates and I had planned on teaming up, it turned out we were each on different servers and none of us had bought gems yet (and it was getting late anyway). It occurred to me to check my daily achievements and I only needed to kill two more types of enemy to get the daily reward, but the event ended while I was trying to find something different to kill.