I find that there’s this special window of time that happens when you return to an old favorite MMO that shouldn’t be missed. It’s only about the first week or so in coming back that you have this sort of mini-honeymoon revival. You are reminded of those details and features that you had forgotten, and you get really enthusiastic about them all over again.RIFT and DDO, for example). And since I’ve returned to Guild Wars 2 this winter, I have a running list of such details that help to make this title special. They might be old hat to many of you, but it never helps to take them for granted, either!
I’m going to kick off with a truly insignificant detail, which is the fact that many of the NPCs of the game move around and engage in vocal scripted chatter with each other. This, to me, lends itself more to the formation of a “living world” than a story chapter. I love to eavesdrop in on the virtual lives of these people with their jokes, dramas, and awkward flirting.
Those weird little map lines
Any praise for Guild Wars 2’s map system is not enough, in my opinion. But there’s one little feature that I want to point out because it’s both useless and cool at the same time. And that’s the fact that the map tracks where your character’s roamed that game session. Seeing the little dot-dot-dots of my meandering journeys increases my sense of involvement in the world itself, for some reason.
I could probably write an entire column on the mounts, but instead I’ll point out one discovery I made that probably everyone already knew for years now, which is that you can dye your mounts’ colors just like armor. It’s such a great and painless feature that it makes me wonder why all MMOs don’t include it. That way we’re not all riding clones of the same beasts of burden!
No patch day downtime
When you come from pretty much every other MMO, you fully expect there to be a day of the week when you might expect Guild Wars 2 to be taken offline for maintenance and patching. Except… nope. There’s no downtime. The game virtually never goes down except for server hiccups, as it’s patched on the fly. That’s underappreciated, in my book.
No expiration dates for gear
It’s been several years since I played this MMO seriously, and yet the exotic/ascended gear I had on my old characters is still just as current and usable today as it once was. The studio’s commitment to keeping power creep out of gear like this is laudable and another feature that vastly sets GW2 apart from the rest of the pack.
Being able to post to the TP from anywhere
I swear that every time I come back to this game, I learn about a feature or two that I wish I had known a long time ago. One of example of this is recently discovering that, no, I didn’t need to physically haul my character to a trading post character to post my goods — I could simply right click on an item to do that. Now, to collect goods we still have to travel to an NPC, but this feature is a great help to managing bag space out in the wild.
Slash command for wiki
The Guild Wars 2 community leans heavily upon the official wiki for information, guides, and schedules, which is why it’s terrific that there’s a way to access that from within the game itself. Sort of! By using the slash command “/wiki” and then followed by the search topic, you can pull up any quest, the events timer, or anything else you need to know.
On the fly build tinkering
While acknowledging that optimal meta builds are very much out there, I love that Guild Wars 2 still allows for all of us to experiment as we adventure in the field. We can change our builds, swap out weapons, and pick different skills as we go along. That encourages a lot of tinkering to find one’s preferred playstyle (unless, of course, your playstyle is doing what someone else tells you is best).
Gliding never stops being fun
To me, gliding in Guild Wars 2 was what double-jumping and hoverboards were in WildStar. Mounts are fine and all, but I love being able to propel myself off a cliff and soar toward my destination like the graceful sky-swan that I am. The feel of gliding is really well-done and makes traversing vertical spaces (at least downward) a fun experience.
The world event zerg
While there’s seemingly no end to the content in this game, what I end up being drawn to time and again is the simple and almost mindless fun of joining the world event zerg. It’s thrilling to bounce from world boss to world boss with a huge group of players who are all lifting each other up (sometimes literally, when a player dies) and getting high off that feeling of epic combat without a lot of the headaches and precision of raid fights.