Guild Wars 2 Column: Feel the Rush!

So I finally beat Liadri, the Concealing Dark last week. I needed a specialized build and had to remap my keybinds for efficiency. It took me somewhere around 20 tries – 10-ish each on my necromancer and engineer – which isn’t that many to hear some people talk about it, but it was still a thrill when I finally got her down. My hands were literally shaking at the end, and it took me nearly a minute to calm down to the point where I could type again.

It occurred to me that I haven’t really had too many of those moments in Guild Wars 2. MMO-wise, the closest thing I can compare it to is taking down a raid boss with your guild after weeks or months of trying. (Oh no! I used the “r” word!) But unless you’re on the cutting edge of trying to beat new ultra-difficult world bosses, which are few and far between, there isn’t a whole lot that GW2 offers along this same path.

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I think it’s OK to admit that GW2 is a more lighthearted, fun – and yes, “casual” – game in most aspects than most MMOs. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you’re willing to accept it for what it is and are fine with moving to something else when you want a different, or more robust, challenge.

That doesn’t mean guild wars 2 gold doesn’t have its moments of accomplishment, like the Liadri fight, that you feel a supreme sense of pride and a rush (the other “r” word) of adrenaline for overcoming. You’ve probably got your “Hell, yeah!” moments, too. Here are mine:
My first dungeon. So it wasn’t exactly top-tier raid difficult, but my first dungeon – Ascalon Catacombs story mode – was a challenge I’d looked forward to since before the game was even launched. It didn’t disappoint. Nowadays, I’d run through it with a guild group of fully decked-out 80s in record time, but for me at level 31 and a variety of other mid-level characters (with one 80), it was an adventure.

At that level, and with no experience in the fights, it was tough. The troll popped up from out of nowhere and ran me over like an 18-wheeler loaded down with Quaggan Stix (coming soon to your supermarket’s freezer aisle). The one 80, a patient type who dealt gracefully with us noobs, guided us through the two-hour run without the slightest complaint.

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Sure, finishing a dungeon and seeing that shiny chest pop up is now as routine, and usually as easy, as falling out of bed, but the first time still stands out in my mind. Is it possible to get nostalgic about a game that hasn’t even been out for two years? I guess so.The Winter Wonderland Jumping Puzzle. I like to say I do just fine at jumping puzzles, but I’m awful at timed jumping puzzles. I gave the Wintersday puzzle a shot in 2012 and results were… uninspiring. I utilized several innovative swear words that were not at all in line with the spirit of the season.

When it came back around in 2013, I resolved to… well, suck less. Actual completion was only a pipe dream. So I got back in, doing about 10 runs per session, and on my third of fourth day… success! Triumph! Jubilation! A smattering of achievement points! (It’s about giving, not receiving, I figured.)

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I know that this jumping puzzle is considered fairly easy by many folks’ standards, but I didn’t let that dull my thrill upon finally managing to complete it. The added checkpoint was a nice feature, but I didn’t even use it on my successful run. I spent 10 minutes hanging around the end area just because I could – and maybe because I figured it was unlikely I’d ever get there again.Mad King, I’m coming for you and your Clock Tower next…The giant in Nageling. I’m pretty sure this was my first fight against a champion, and it was everything I expected it to be. I was just wandering around Diessa Plateau with a friend and suddenly there was this… thing. And it was huge! And there were so many people fighting it! And it was killing them!

This was the essence of Guild Wars 2, in my mind: a random huge encounter that several heroes had to band together against to defeat. We pounded on that thing for a solid five minutes, avoiding its stomp attacks and getting our shots in when we weren’t feared or dodging a rock. Well, I avoided them, at least; my minions, as well as several other players, weren’t so lucky.

As with the dungeon, the difficulty might have seemed a little greater because of everyone’s low levels and relative lack of skill, but that fight seemed more interesting than about 3/4 of open-world champion fights nowadays. Yeah, I was disappointed that I got something like two blues after it was done. (Nearly two years later, ArenaNet’s still struggling to figure out proper rewards for beating champions.) But back then, before I was quite as loot-driven, it was the sense of achievement that mattered. I sort of wish we could go back to those days.

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Beating Giganticus Lupicus. Like Liadri, Lupi was a battle that I’d heard ominous rumor of long before I experienced it myself, the first time I ran an explorable path in Arah. Even though I was in an experienced guild group, we wiped three times before finally taking the big dog down. As with Liadri, I had to significantly mix up my build against him, going with more mobility and survival while taking a few ticks off my DPS.

The funny thing is, even after a year-plus of running Arah, Lupi’s still a challenge. Sometimes we beat him in the first try, and sometimes we need two or three wipes before taking him down. So he’s still a major accomplishment, even at this point, and always worth a sigh of relief every time he’s vanquished.World completion. Maybe it’s not the most skill-based challenge that Guild Wars 2 has to offer, but for the sheer magnitude of it all, map completion was still a big deal for me. Seeing that completion number inch up… 60%… 70%… 85%… 97%… week after week offered a tantalizing and tangible goal that I couldn’t wait to finish.

OK, so technically I did wait to finish it, in the strictest sense. I tried to do as much as I could “naturally,” through leveling and basic exploring, but eventually I got to dedicated “zone runs” that I’d do for an hour or so each night and typically completed after three nights. Finally, after all 2,008 waypoints, POIs, skill points, and vistas had been visited, I got a piece of paper that I later fed to a djinn in a fountain to get an overflowing beer stein. That only makes sense in an MMO.

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