It hurts a little bit to admit this in a public forum, but my Guild Wars 2 experience – when my computer allows it – has been extremely humbling.
No, I haven’t been failing when it comes to questing. I mean for god’s sake I actually did learn a few things when it comes to playing an MMO; you don’t end-game tank for years in WoW unless you can grasp esoteric bullshit like gear itemization, ability rotations, and not standing in the fucking fire like a retard. Instead my personal shame has come in the form of failing – and failing badly – at the crafting portion of the game.
Like any good time sink, GW2 has a grinding mini-game in the form of crafting professions. My experience so far has been almost overwhelmingly positive in this aspect, but it’s also been mortifying after realizing my own personal learning curve looks like someone sneezed on a piece of graph paper and then played connect-the-dots.
My own Magical Misery Tour began by wandering around for literally an hour before I actually found the crafting trainers in my character’s home city. The Grove is basically a giant goddamn tree, which will invariably draw comparisons to World of Warcraft’s night elf capital city of Darnassus, considering it’s built on a giant tree as well, but there are some major differences: where night elves have hollowed out trunks and constructed wood-and-stone buildings all over the place, the Grove is much more organic in that it’s all naturally growing chambers and tunnels. It’s also four goddamn levels, accessible either by ramp or by nifty little giant seed pod elevators that waft up and down on air currents like organic helicopters – so it’s basically like an enclosed warren of living passageways. Hell, even the damn section with the crafting trainers is tough to navigate at first.
Regardless, I finally managed to track down the profession trainers I needed. Here’s where I encountered the first interesting thing: you can have two active professions at a time, but you can switch between which ones are your active ones for an in-game gold fee. In other words, if you wanted tailoring, cooking, gemcrafting, and leatherworking, you can go ahead and learn all of them – but only actively progress your skills in two at a time. The others will remain dormant with your progress saved until you reactivate them.
This is a great feature, considering all the time I used to spend in WoW working on different characters with different trade skills. I’m sure many people can attest what a pain in the ass it is to have to drop a skill and start a new one , just to realize you’ve made a mistake and have to start all over again from level 1 upon re-learning your original skill – but with this system you don’t have to worry about it.
Gathering crafting materials is also handled much better as well, as you don’t need specific training to harvest resources from the several nodes spread throughout the game world. Instead, you simply need the right equipment – whether that be a mining pick, a harvesting sickle, or a woodsman’s axe, cheap consumables that you buy in stacks of 100 and degrade every time you collect something. It’s a solid system and it’s a welcome change from what I’m used to.
However, the actual crafting process is where I experienced my flailing failure as a human being and an MMO veteran. I picked up both armorsmithing and weaponsmithing (yes, they’re split, unlike in WoW where there’s just the general blacksmithing skill), and proceeded to stare at my crafting panes while scratching my head like a drunken ape. For someone used to the “so easy even a caveman could do it” WoW crafting panes, these looked like a t-shirt with the Standard Model of Physics printed on it… in very small print.
There’s an internal logic to crafting that makes a lot of sense to me. Instead of just taking a couple of bronze bars as a component and turning it directly into a piece of armor or weapon, you’ve got to craft the components of each item separately and then combine them together. In other words, you’ve got to forge a hilt and blade separately before combining them together into a weapon instead of clicking one button in order to make pair of enchanted salad forks or something. It’s also a lot easier to manage your crafting components, as you can access your bank storage directly from the crafting pane instead of having to run back and forth and back and forth if you keep forgetting something, which makes that relatively pain-free.
The big kicker here is that you don’t go back to your skill trainer every five crafting levels or so to train. Yes, there are some components that you need to purchase from them in order to make stuff – like chunks of tin to combine with your mined copper to make bronze – but you’re not going to learn new recipes from them. Instead you have to use the discovery pane on your crafting menu and basically trial-and-error shit until you come up with a new design.
Have you ever tried to figure something out that turns out to have such a simple solution that you wondered if you were borderline retarded for not seeing it? Well, that was me and the discovery mechanic. I actually had to go to the god damned wiki to figure it out, only to spend about 30 seconds reading it before slapping myself on the forehead and scrubbing at my face in a futile effort to wipe off the accumulated stupid.
It turns out that the discovery system follows the same internal logic that crafting does (at least as far as smithing goes). You take the two components of whatever item you’re looking to make and then add at least one more item that you can craft using basic materials. This third (or sometimes fourth) item is already in the list of things you can make, and there are different varieties depending on what sort of qualities you want to imbue your soon-to-be crafted item with, so all you do is pick one that works and see what you get; you make the item and gain a new entry in your list of things you can make.
I was happy as a dog with two dicks once I got this working. I made a kick-ass new weapon for my character, equipped it, and then set out to cleave some skulls with it.
Then my graphics card shat itself again. Figures.