Wintersday Reflections

Originally today I was planning on writing something up about the Wintersday event in Guild Wars 2, but there will be a large number of people doing that already, and I don’t see myself being able to add anything new that, especially when I haven’t yet tried everything. I have some lore stuff I want to ponder through, but not right now.

I did realize, though, that the game has been out for just under four months now. Crazy, right? It’s been that long. It feels, to me, like it’s been out forever…and yet there are times where it still feels brand new, like it released last week. It is also the end of the year, and that’s always a good time to look back and reflect on things. So today I am going to look back over my time in-game over the past few months, and talk about my favorite parts of it so far. There are flaws to the game, of course – a great number of them. But those will be left aside for now. It’s time to talk about the good.

So, what do I like best about Guild Wars 2 so far?

The game makes me enjoy playing things I normally dislike.

The fact that I’m even playing Guild Wars 2 at all is testament to that. I am not an MMO gamer. I do not like MMOs. I have tried pretty much every major one that’s released over the past decade, with none keeping me interested for more than a month. The original Guild Wars I fell in love with, but that was because it was so different than the standard MMO – so much so that it could barely be called one. I was very apprehensive about Guild Wars 2 for a good, long time, because of the fact that it was taking on so many parts of standard MMOs that I dislike – part of why I loved GW1 so much was because everything was instanced. I’m not generally a social gamer, and usually, I don’t want to see other people around when I’m playing.

And yet…in GW2, it’s completely different. I’ve gone from not liking other people being around, to being indifferent, to actively wanting to play with others. Whether I’m partied up with some friends/guildies, or just running around and finding another person or group doing the same things I’m doing and going along with them for a while…I enjoy there being other players around me. The game doesn’t punish you for playing with others, like so many MMOs do. It’s truly cooperative in a way that most MMOs will never manage, and I love it.

So, I like playing a game that’s a genre I dislike, and I like playing it socially, which normally I do not. I also find that I enjoy playing roles that normally I am not fond of. Ordinarily, I hate support and healing types. I can’t stand it, because in other games you spend so much time just watching the UI instead of actually participating in the fight. And yet, my second character that I got to level 80 was a Guardian. A Guardian that is, in fact, specced fully for healing and support. And I love it. I love playing her. I can’t do huge amounts of damage in a fight, but I love that a well-timed virtue can protect people from potentially being one-shotted if they don’t dodge in time. I love that so many of my skills are fields that combo to remove conditions, as condition removal is not nearly common enough in the game. I love that I can pile on pretty much every boon in the game. I love that almost everything I do will grant healing in some manner. I love that I’m still capable of fighting and doing a good amount of damage if support isn’t needed at the moment.

And more than anything else, I love that sitting there and watching the party UI is not something I can do, but instead I have to pay attention to the fight and move around as much as if I was playing my Mesmer.

The game can be utterly ridiculous sometimes.

There are so, so, so many silly things you can do in this game. And if it can be done, we’ve probably done it.

Take Feedback, for example. It’s a skill that I think should be stapled to every Mesmer’s bar, because it’s just so useful…it also lets you do some pretty ridiculous things. Such as creating yourself a small army of graveling babies to fight with you in the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon. Or giving the Defiler in one of the Twilight Arbor explorable paths the status effect of “Bees”. Or knocking off half the health of the Dredge Mining Suit in one of the Fractals if you time it right.

There’s also the fact that it’s an Ethereal combo field, so if you use it with pistol off-hand and also have a Thief in the group that’s dual-wielding pistols, it’s very possible to build up 25 stacks of confusion on an enemy…

Outside of playing with skills, there’s a ton of other bizarre and hilarious things you can do. Not long after Halloween, we decided to do the pirate jumping puzzle in Lion’s Arch all in our Halloween costumes…which mean riding our brooms throughout the puzzle. Last night we decided to take things one step sillier, after having all managed to craft Wintersday endless tonics…and did the LA jump puzzles like this:


Why yes, that is a plush griffon, princess doll, and toy soldier, with minipets.

And then, there’s the fact that occasionally the game bugs out. And sometimes, these bugs are hilarious and awesome. Such as having a hovering shark running through Lion’s Arch.

Why hello there, Nom Nom, nice to see you out of the water.

Why hello there, Nom Nom, nice to see you out of the water.

So yeah, the game is definitely big on silly sometimes.

I love my guild.

I am the leader of I Can Outtweet a Centaur! [TWIT], and…honestly, my guild is great. It started out in BWE3 as something silly for the GW2 twitter users, and while the core of the guild is still that it’s the unofficial twitter community guild…it’s grown so much beyond that. We’re open for anyone to join that wants to, and as a result we’re a mix of tweeples, offline friends and family of members, and guildless players we’ve run into and played with out in the world.

It’s also grown in size far beyond where I ever thought we’d be, which is amazing.

There is also a real sense of community within the guild, that I enjoy and I’m so happy exists. Very often I see people offer up items in guild chat that they got and think would possibly go to better use being given to someone else than being sold. We have a packed guild bank. A large number of us exchanged in-game Wintersday gifts. One of my favorite recent things was Optimus saying in vent that he was a few gold short of…something, I don’t remember what, and the rest of us in vent/the party proceeding to bird-bomb him with a couple of gold each. At the exact same time, without planning it at all.

There’s also the fact that we are quite silly, as was shown in the point above this one. Those screenshots? Things we did last night. We tend to do things like turn everything in the world we can jump on into a jumping puzzle, including dungeons. And that includes dragging NPCs with us in the process.

And guild chat can be extremely entertaining as well…as this screenshot shows…

I was trying to map WvW when this happened...

I was trying to map WvW when this happened…

Yup. That’s my guild.

The game is absolutely beautiful, and they put a ton of work into it.

People point this out all the time, but it’s worth saying again. The game is gorgeous. Wintersday just proved that over again, with Lion’s Arch covered in snow and decorations, as well as the maps and art for Tixx’s Infinirarium, the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle, Bell Choir, Snowball Mayhem…it’s just lovely.

There’s also the fact that ArenaNet isn’t going to just sit back and rest on what they have already, but still work like mad to add new things to the game. I can’t remember who it was, but someone said on twitter that they put more work into their holidays events than many games do a full expansion…and really, I agree. I had high hopes for holidays in Guild Wars 2, being as I loved them in GW1. Halloween raised the bar for Wintersday even higher. And when the update arrived? Shattered right through that bar.

Also, did I mention the game is amazingly pretty? I’m pretty sure I did. But to be sure I made the point clear, I’ll just leave this screenshot of the scene you see when entering Winter Wonderland.


ArenaNet cares about the playerbase and community.

I can’t talk about the things I like about Guild Wars 2 without mentioning the dev teams behind the game. They really do care about and love their game, and care about the playerbase. They care about the community that the game has. They listen to us when we have things to say. They own up when they make mistakes, and take steps to try and fix them. They participate in the community themselves.

And if you’re on any social media channels, you quickly realize that they are not a faceless company, but made up of people who are just as down to earth and fun as anyone else. They are a great bunch of people talk to, as well as to play with in-game.

They also acknowledge their fans, which is great, and not something many companies do. There was the Fan Day event, where they invited fans to visit the offices. There were the giveaways over the summer, where a number of fansites and blogs (this one included!) were given keys for the BWEs to give away. There’s the fact that fansite interviews with members of ArenaNet are fairly common.

And I can’t forget what a number of fans, myself included, received in the mail this week:


Best card ever? Why, I do think so.

The game isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of things with it that can be fixed, or that should be in but are missing. But there’s far more good to it than there is bad. And what is good about Guild Wars 2, is absolutely amazing. I could write all day on what I enjoy about it.

Happy Wintersday and a lovely New Year to all!