Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s already the end of August, nearly a full year after Guild Wars 2 came out. On one hand, it’s a case of “has it really been a year already?” and on the other…”has it really only been a year?”
I remember how, at this time last year, the excitement for launch was through the roof. Headstart was only a couple of days away, with the official launch only a couple more after that. The night of headstart, I remember sitting on ventrilo with several other members of my guild, everyone hammering on the “log in” button for the game client, since it had been teased that the game would possibly go live a few hours early. The flurry of excitement and cheering when we finally got in. And then the dead silence as everyone hurriedly made their characters and locked in their names.
Those are fond memories, and that initial rush of “OHMYGODTHEGAMEISLIVE” is something that we’ll never see again.
Of course, there were issues that night (and the first few days of release). The lag was so bad that I crashed multiple times just trying to get my baby mesmer (my main) through the sylvari starting instance. Guilds wound up breaking so that leaders would show that they weren’t in a guild, and could not receive invites. It took weeks for the trading post to finally be up and running full-time. Parties broke frequently and trying to get everyone in the same overflow (yes, this was when all of the starter zones always had overflows and you could cheat the lack of guesting with this) could be dicey.
But no game launches perfectly, and all things considered…the problems were ironed out quickly.
The very first night of headstart, a few of us decided to take a trip to Orr. We were all low-level – as in, under level 5. But hey, why not! It was a completely ridiculous and, to be fully honest, rather terrifying thing to do. Things could one-shot us with a glance. I know that those of us that did it amused everyone else on vent with our panicking at enemies seeing us. We didn’t quite make it – I got lost somewhere in Sparkfly Fen and was eaten by the champion risen megalodon. But it was a lot of fun.
We tried it again a bit later, when we were all a bit higher in level. We made it all the way to Lone Post Waypoint in Straits of Devastation before we simply could not get any further. We were slightly disappointed at this fact…as we did not realize at the time that Straits was part of Orr. Now, because of this, low-level Orr runs has become something of a guild tradition.
Within those first few weeks, we did a lot. Leveling our characters. Exploring zones. Testing out different things (one of my favorites was meeting up with Opt in a zone and him asking me to stand at the bottom of a cliff so he could see if Death Shroud would let him survive the fall. It didn’t). Starting the story mode dungeons. Doing jump puzzles. Dabbling in crafting. Dancing anywhere and everywhere.
You’ll notice that in most of these screenshots, I’m with other people. This game has done something that no game has ever done before – make me actually enjoy and want to play with others. I’m not a social person by any means. I am a very quiet, shy, reserved introvert most of the time. But through a combination of chance and luck, I’ve made an amazing group of friends because of this game. My guild is amazing, and several of the members – my co-leaders and several of the officers – have become such good friends that not having them in my life is a bleak thought, and I am so very grateful that I have met them.
Time went on in the game. New content was added – Halloween, the Lost Shores (good in theory, fell short in execution), Wintersday, and then we reached 2013. With the new patch in January, Flame and Frost, we began to see a new story take shape, and to see what ArenaNet was planning on doing. The Living Story has gradually picked up speed over the months, now going to a biweekly update, and the quality has only increased as time has gone on.
Guesting was finally added, though imperfectly – it is limited to servers on the same data center, which means no NA-EU guesting. I keep up hope that one day that will be added in. Fractals were added, similar to dungeons, and with it came Ascended gear. Guild missions became a thing. Several updates have been made to dungeons themselves. A good number of quality of life changes have gone in (first dungeon tokens becoming account bound rather than character bound, and then the removal of physical tokens in favor of the account wallet, rotations for dailies, rewarding of karma for dailies, guaranteed rewards for meta events, champion kills, and dungeons), each making things just a bit better.
In the past year, I’ve leveled up 8 characters to 80 – one of each profession. I’ve crafted the legendary longbow Kudzu for my ranger. I am currently in the process of crafting the staff, Bifrost, for my mesmer. I’ve completed Master Crafter and Dungeon Master. I’ve spent far too much money on armor (I have two full sets of T3 cultural, and a third worth of pieces scattered across various characters). I enjoy theory-crafting various builds and then seeing how well they work in practice (my favorite was being told my engineer build was “just so crazy it might work”…it works quite well!).
Back in March I was able to attend PAX East, which was an amazing time for so many reasons. It was the first out of state convention I was able to attend. It was a nice vacation. Several members of [TWIT] also went and we all got to meet up and spend the weekend hanging out in person. And we also managed to spend time with two ANet devs, Jonathon Sharp and Jon Peters.
Needless to say, this past year has been great, both in-game and out of it, and I can only look forward to what the next year(s) will bring!