(What, you thought I was going to talk about Dragon Age: Origins? Okay, I could, since I'm finally playing a Bioware Fantasy RPG for the first time since Baldur's Gate II, but that's beside the point.)
It had been over a year since I last played around with the game on a free weekend, but I'd been thinking pretty hard about what should replace WoW* as my main fantasy MMO. Age of Conan is too grindy for me to use it as my main (although it is great in spurts of a week or two at a time), and while I like what Neverwinter is doing I'm constantly screwing up with my keyboard commands when I play the game.**
I can't justify another subscription for the time being, so that eliminates The Elder Scrolls Online. I've already outlined my opinions of Aion in two previous posts, and I've pretty much left LOTRO to the kids***, so what remained was ArenaNet's pride and joy.
|Shouldn't he be in a Dr. Pepper Ten commercial?|
I still have issues with all of the beautiful people around, but I've come around to liking the quest system there. While the "heart" system for quests is a bit head scratching at times, particularly when you're not expecting to read about "hearts" in an MMO (other than stabbing an enemy in the heart), but it does do a good job of moving you throughout a region without tying you down to a specific story.
The story questlines are reminiscent of Age of Conan, where they're triggered once you get to a certain level. The difference is that Age of Conan's entire starting zone (Tortage) is filled with both regular quests and your personal storyline's quests, whereas GW2 has you wait until the correct level (L10, I believe) until you can start up that storyline.
Also, much like Age of Conan, GW2 is very unforgiving when you attack an enemy a couple of levels higher than you. If you get three regular enemy on you and they're about 1-2 levels higher, you'd better hope that there's another player nearby to assist.
And that's the thing that surprises me the most about GW2, even this long after it dropped: people still come out of the woodwork for the (plentiful) group events. There's no need to call out for LFG; people magically appear and assist.
If this sort of behavior had been around in Wrath, Blizzard probably wouldn't have done away with almost all group quests in Cataclysm.
SWTOR has spoiled me on questline interaction and cutscenes. GW2 (and Neverwinter) don't have the lip movements in alignment with the spoken words, and that is more annoying than I expected. But one thing that GW2 is ahead of the curve on is "scout" method of pushing a player deeper into a zone. It's very clever, and while I expected it to be very "gamey", it turns out that I really do like the methodology.
|"So you've been out here for days, and you still look immaculate?"|
"Well, you're not exactly caked in mud either."
"Good point. Must be my magnetic personality."
Am I going to keep playing GW2?
Yes. I've already played GW2 more than I have Skyrim, so I don't see why not. While it might not completely take the place of WoW in my current game listings, it more than stands on its own.
*I keep getting bombarded with e-mails from Blizzard to Azshandra, saying she has a free week in Azeroth and that she should come and check out the game again. The similarities to a timeshare sales pitch aside, It's starting to make me wonder if my Rogue has indeed gone Rogue on me. I might want to scan my bank statements a bit more carefully in case she's been partying with my gold or something.
**I feel like a stereotypical keyboard turner when I play Neverwinter, and I hate that. In spite of those limitations, I do have a Cleric up to L22 or so, and I intend to keep playing it on a low key basis until I get at least one toon to max level. Since I tend to play MMOs solo, however, I don't know how much group content I'll be doing on Neverwinter, as I dislike not being able to pull my weight. And with a Cleric, you can bet that any drop off in healing would be noticed by everyone.
***That's not to say that LOTRO is for kids, but more that my kids play LOTRO enough that I've taken to thinking it as "their game". Plus, the color scheme for the UI still drives me nuts; I must be borderline colorblind or something.