Played Lately: Some Thoughts From The GW2 Headstart Weekend

August 27, 2012

In a word, my experience during the Guild Wars 2 headstart weekend was awesome!

One of the things I love about GW2 is the fact each race has its own starting area. Maybe you make multiple characters of the same race, but you don’t want to do the same starting area over and over again. Maybe you love a particular race but hate their starting area or vice versa. It wouldn’t matter one whit, since you can move to any of the other starting zones pretty much right off the bat. It’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about World of Warcraft, and really missed about some of the recent MMOs like Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic or The Secret World where all of us are funneled into pretty much the same zone or limited areas on start up.

This weekend, I only did Caledon Forest because I was a Sylvari and their starting area was the only one I’d never seen, as I had purposely saved it for live. In the future, I’ll likely start in Queensdale all the time, because while I dislike the look of the human models in GW2 and will likely never roll one, I love their lands with their fat cows and little pink hearts.

Ultimately, I achieved 100% completion in the zone, collecting all the Waypoints, Vistas, Skills Points, Points of Interest, and Hearts in Caledon Forest as well as in The Grove. Since GW2 doesn’t have a real quest log, exploring entire maps will do nicely to satisfy my “checklist syndrome”. The was rewarded some nice loot, including a nice chunk of experience as well as a Black Lion key, allowing me to open my locked Black Lion Chests, which led to more loot and more keys. The result was a pile of gear, tonics, and a whole bunch of boosters like the ones you can buy from the store. Better be careful, Arenanet, I want to spend money on your game, but I see you’re not going to make it easy.

The weekend was not without its hiccups. Though I was mainly unaffected, a chunk of downtime occurred on Saturday morning and server errors abounded. Methinks that a few years ago, the quality of this launch would have been hailed as amazing, but the near-flawless launches of some of the aforementioned MMOs in recent years have no doubt raised the bar. The GW2 launch was no where near the best I’ve experienced, but then I have been through worse, much worse.

My weekend was only marred by a few negatives — there were the little ones, things like a non-functioning trading post, and then there was the HUGE one — the wonky overflow system. An otherwise great concept, ironically it sure made it hard to let you play with your friends. As longtime readers know, my husband and I place a lot of importance into playing together, especially during an MMO launch. Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.

We experienced the worst luck of never being placed in the same overflow instance. Sometimes one of us would also log in first, but enter the main world last. We tried every trick, logging out and logging in together, entering cities and exiting together, partying up and not partying up, but we never did manage to find a consistent way to work around it; there just didn’t seem to be any rhyme or rhythm. What we ended up doing was tackling our personal story quests, entering and leaving those solo instances until we randomly happened to end up together. When that happened, we took care not to zone again, which explains why I’m finished with Caledon Forest but still way behind on my main quest line there.

I expect many of these issues would be ironed out by Arenanet, or even disappear altogether once launch hype winds down and the zone populations start to spread and even out. In any case, I still had a great time playing this weekend and hanging out in guild vent parties. Being part of the greater gaming community while everyone is playing is my favorite part of a new game launch; the company and the fun I had made up for any and all obstacles I encountered.


  1. well it’s excellent that you had fun and GW2 looks like a lovely game, I look forward to giving it a try sometime in the coming month!

    Any tips for a newbie? I plan on going Sylvari for my main and ‘dark’ Asura for my alt.

    • Hmm, tips for a newbie…I’d say the biggest difference in the gameplay is the questing system. Do dynamic events whenever you see them, and when there aren’t any, use the “hearts” on your map to guide to where you need to go next. Otherwise, if you’ve played many MMOs in the past I shan’t think you’ll have any problems figuring things out, it’s really not as confusing as some people make it out to be 🙂

      • Yeah, I will agree on that. If you watch how much XP the Dynamic Events and “Heart” Quests give, you’ll see it is quite significant over grinding (just killing mobs). And more fun!

      • Oh, and the other things is gathering resources and crafting… Gathering is a HUGE source of experience and loot. I believe they said something like every crafting profession will give you ten character levels. When you throw gathering in the mix, it is not impossible to get over 25% of your character experience just through crafting.

      • Yep, I noticed that pretty much anything you do will give you more XP than simply killing. Rezzing players and NPCs also gives you a good amount, so I try to do that whenever I see someone down. Also just hitting all the features on the map, completing all of them in a zone etc. will give you a good chunk.

  2. I ended up picking this up and really enjoying it over the weekend. I am on Jade Quarry server with my Guildmates, but feel free to look me up in game. My characters are under Adaram.7106 – not sure if you can find me that way, though. 🙂

    • It should work, I’ll be sure to add you to my contacts. Mine is Caylinn.6459 🙂

  3. That was an initial concern we had with TOR when we were working on our instancing/overflow mechanism. What we ended up doing is using Guild and Friend Lists to pair people up.

    So if you were being logged into an error that was being instanced (outside of raids, class quests, etc) the system would look to see if you had anyone from your guild and/or friend list in any of them and would try to push you there.

    We always kept wiggle room in all of the instances so we could push more in there if needed. For example, the normal cap of an area could be 100 but really the area could take up to 150. So if there were three areas up and the one with your guildies was at 105, you could still be put into it.

    I’d imagine the same thing could easily work in GW2.

    • It must have been an oversight, maybe something that didn’t come up during any of the betas or stress tests (I don’t recall encountering this problem then, anyway) because you’d think putting group members/guildies/friends together would be expected and pretty standard. The process you described is something I noticed right off the bat about TOR, and I definitely liked that about it.

  4. When you’re in a party and in different overflows of the same zone, you right click the members name and choose join. Apparently it’s been buggy for some people though.

  5. My best friend online picked up this game, he said I should get a sitter and dive in. Sometimes I’m bitter that life isn’t more carefree so that I could get lost in there, it sounds so amazing!

    • After you pay the box price it’s free to play after that, so without a sub you can really play at your own pace. Myself, I only get to jump into games when my little one naps or goes to bed for the night 🙂

      • It’s so far beyond tempting! I did it with Guild Wars 1; I’m afraid that if I do something like this I’ll get lost, I’m not sure if I can afford to get lost just yet. I didn’t realize you had a little one.

      • Six months old today 😀 All these games are hard to fit into my schedule, I’ll admit if GW2 had had a sub I wouldn’t have gotten it. But as it doesn’t, I totally caved even though I really have too many games on my plate right now 😛

  6. I may decide to cave and go ahead in downloading GW2 later tonight. Been a bit of a pain to get to this point on my MacBook without GW2 not having a Mac Client for Mac users. I had limited space on my partitioned drive for Windows Bootcamp partition as a 2nd drive to use for playing Windows based MMO’s with no native Mac Client which I overall prefer.

    I can play both WoW and EVE using a Mac Client. To play Rift, STO, I had to play in Windows Bootcamp mode. To play TSW drive didn’t have enough space so dumped both Rift and STO forever off my drive and redid it to allow install of TSW at launch. Only enough space on drive to hold that one MMO. Not to play GW2 that has no Mac Client I would need to install it on the Windows Bootcamp drive that only had about 8 gigs left on it after installing TSW at launch.

    So on the weekend in order to cave and get GW2 I had to remove the partitioned Windows Bootcamp drive on my MacBook and make it a much larger partitioned drive to hold a few MMO at least. Had a few issues forming partitioned that ended up making me backup files and completely wipe and redo my Mac OS drive, geez! So did that reinstalling Mac OS
    completely. Then was able to make a new Windows Bootcamp partitioned drive that’s much larger without much issue, though took along time to install so many updates to Windows 7 just to get up to date then reinstall Mac Bootcamp drivers over it on drive to get my Mac really drivers functional. That all took all Sunday and Monday when had time.

    So now somewhat up to date now. Haven’t yet had time to reinstall TSW on the reformed drive. Plan to buy and digital download GW2 maybe later if can. Also have to download WoW new Mist patch from today. That’s 3 games there with TSW, GW2 that plays in one mode and WoW patch today to download in regular Mac mode. Really hate having to keep switching modes just to play one game or the other all due to not having a Mac Client.

    Long way to get around just to make room on my PC just to play GW2, but should get there soon.

    • Glad you’ve decided to take the plunge into GW2! Not so glad about the hoops you had to jump through to get it to happen though.

      This is why I will probably never own a Mac. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love one…but when considering price and specs, I know I can always get a PC with better performance for less. And as a gamer, the fact that the majority of the games I play do not release a mac client version on launch, or ever, pretty much is the deal breaker. I know about Bootcamp, but that has issues too, some of which you noted above.

      Anyway, welcome to GW2, I hope you’ll be joining us!

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