For the final day of the event, I had a few things I still wanted to do, including try out at least one more of the professions, and do some WvW in a situation where my server was able to be competitive (last time I tried PvP, my server was losing by around 100:1 and there didn’t seem to be anyone else there on our side).
Up to this point over the BWEs and stress tests, I’d played a Ranger, a Guardian, a Mesmer, an Engineer, and a Necromancer. I’m more of a kill-from-a-distance kind of player, so of the three remaining professions (Elementalist, Thief, and Warrior), the Elementalist seemed to be the obvious choice, so I created an Asuran Ele for my final BWE3 character.
Asuran Elementalist: A Short Bundle of Explosive Fun
The short version: it was lots of fun. An unexpected downside of playing an Asuran character: very low camera height. The whole time I played my Asuran character, I kept feeling like my chin was glued to the ground.
The expected downside of playing an elementalist: long, long weapon skill learning time, because each weapon has different skills depending on the attunement you use. Swapping attunements gives you a whole different set of toys to play with, but it also means you’ll be spending four times as much of your early game time unlocking weapon skills (“I swung a sword…“). While I didn’t find this to be too bad, as the “you learned a new skill” message gives you a fairly steady sense of progress, I could see it being a bit frustrating if all you want to do is blast your enemies (the second skill in the fire attunement is the Dragon’s Tooth: that’s a very satisfying visual effect as you drop a huge, sharp, exploding tooth on your opponent).
I was lucky to get a good quality scepter from an early drop, so I stuck with the scepter and a focus while levelling up my Elementalist. As I only got her to level 7, I didn’t actually miss the weapon swapping ability at all: the attunement switching more than compensates for that.
The Completionist Urge
I had to log out for a few hours, so when I got back online in the evening, I switched back to my Human Ranger and tried to finish off all the remaining activities in Queensdale. I had three renown hearts to do, four points of interest to locate, and two vistas to fall off repeatedly find and view. Two of the points of interest were down in the southeast corner, crawling with Tamini archers. I tried to sneak as close as possible to the first PoI, avoiding combat as much as possible, when I was kicked out in the middle of a minor skirmish. I was suddenly staring at the login screen with a stupid expression on my face.
There was no error message or crash notice, I was just logged out.
When I logged back in and was put into overflow, I’d lost some of my progress toward the PoI and had to refight several of the same creatures I’d already fought on the way in. When I had gotten close enough to see the PoI, I picked off a couple of the nearest Tamini and then just ran to register the point and skedaddled back out again. My brave pet died to let me escape (he’s very good that way: I gave him an extra helping of bear kibble afterwards).
The remaining renown hearts were pretty easy, as I’d already accumulated some credit toward each of them, I just needed to finish them off. The last Point of Interest was hard to find, because I’d done the nearby renown heart, but hadn’t quite activated the PoI. I think I pored over the map a dozen times before I finally spotted the missing location.
I noticed that if you’re in the overflow server and get switched to the main, you seem to lose some of your most recent progress. For example, I was in Beetletun on the overflow server and used a waypoint to go to the Vale Waypoint near Altar’s Windings in the southwest area of Queensdale because it was near both of the vistas I needed to see. Almost the same moment I arrived, I was given the chance to leave the overflow and go to Queensdale proper. I chose to leave the overflow server, but when I arrived, I was in Shaemoor Village, not at the waypoint I’d just landed at.
The first of the two vistas was easy to find, but the first time I’d been there, I missed the (quite obvious) path to get up on top of the fisherman’s hut to activate it. Once I noticed that, it was easy. I nearly missed helping a downed player who was actually calling me by name in the local chat (I tend to get quite wrapped up in what my character is doing, so I sometimes miss anything other than direct whispers). I’d finished the vista and was headed north to the final one before realizing someone had been trying to get my attention.
The final vista had eluded me earlier: it looked like it was up on top of the hill south of Shaemoor Fields, but having gone all the way around the hill earlier, I hadn’t seen any way to climb up the rocky face. By process of elimination, it had to be down inside Bandithaunt Caverns. I went in alone, but a group had just come out ahead of me, so the bandits hadn’t fully respawned. This allowed me to get more than halfway toward my goal before I had to fight any enemies. I got into the immediate area, but by then the bandits were back in force and it took me a while to get right up to the vista. I activated it and got the completion reward, but then needed to be rescued by another party because as I turned away from the vista, I got into range of the bandits at the top of the rock and promptly got downed.
The Queensdale completion reward was quite generous: some silver coins, three basic transmutation stones, some crafting materials. There was a fourth item, but it was getting late and I don’t remember now. Not a bad reward at all (even if one of the vistas is actually hidden deep underground…)
World vs World: Agh! You Got Me!
Conveniently for me, I finally got the message that I could travel to the Eternal Battlegrounds a few minutes after finishing Queensdale. I’d switched over to Lion’s Arch to do some crafting, and I was given the choice to stay where I was, rejoin the queue, or get into WvW. If you remember I said it’d be nice to go into WvW and not already be pre-stomped? It wasn’t quite an even fight: Crystal Desert had built up an insurmountable lead over the other two servers, but our margin of loss was far better (only a 4:1 stomping, not the 100:1 obliteration of BWE2).
I joined in a couple of fights, but at level 15 I was little more than a minor inconvenience to all the enemy ranged fighters. I got downed several times, got experience points for several kills, and realized I was probably going to have to level up a long way to be more than below-average cannon fodder.
I assume from the name of the area we were transported to for the end event that it was based to some degree on the book and/or movie The Hunger Games. I’ve neither read the book nor seen the movie, so I wasn’t really clear on what we were supposed to be doing — other than tracking down and eliminating the opposing teams. Being given a ranged weapon but almost no ammunition felt rather cheat-y, especially since we were told in the warm-up to go fire our weapons and get familiar with them (I don’t think I actually hit any of the targets I was aiming at … just wasting ammo).
I was clearly in the minority over the closing event, most of the chatter in my local area was full of enthusiasm even when my team was the first to hit zero.
I hope you didn’t get the sense that I don’t like the game from the number of minor complaints I’ve had: it’s still the best game I’ve ever played, and I’m very, very eager to get into Tyria once again. Almost none of my issues are all that serious, and I mention them more because they were so rare — and therefore more distracting because the rest of the experience is just so good.
The end of the final beta weekend is bittersweet, however: it was lots of fun and I enjoyed it immensely, but now we’ve got to go back to watching the leaves on the calendar slowly turn while we wait out the next month. Thanks to the wonders of word-of-mouth advertising, we’ll have lots more people joining us in the headstart who didn’t take part in the beta. We’ll be hearing all the same complaints all over again from folks who expect Guild Wars 2 to be just like their previous MMO, and are bitter and angry that it’s not.
Try to be nice to those folks: change can be hard, and they’ll eventually come around.