FFXIV has entered Beta Phase 2, which is the game pad phase. While I can’t go into any detail on what I’ve experienced, I am glad to see they’re trucking along to the release date, whenever that will be. Looking at the beta test schedule we might see a date of sometime in June or July for release. It sounded like a nightmare to think of that happening back in November when I was expecting a December/January release, but now that we’re into April, a couple months doesn’t seem so bad. I’ve been keeping up on all the latest news on the Lodestone and I can’t wait to see what happens in phase 3.
So in the meantime between the beta test schedules I’ve been working on Guild Wars 2 some more. I made it to level 18 on a few characters. It isn’t too far into the game yet, but since it is not subscription based and there is a lot to explore I don’t mind taking my time a bit on it. I’m really impressed with the detail put into character variation in GW2. Not only can each class use several different weapon sets, but a weapon set on one character’s class will be completely different on another character. For example, both a warrior and an Engineer can use a rifle as their main weapon, but the weapon skills they gain while wielding a rifle is different. I find this very enjoyable how no two classes are alike, even with the same weapons.
Having played some more with the different characters, I also appreciated how in GW2 multiple characters on the account are still tied together in certain ways. When you’ve selected a server to play on, that account can have up to five different characters on the server. However, because they are tied to the same account the game doesn’t treat you as a stranger to the server when switching characters. If you’re in a guild on character 1, when you log out and log into character 2, you still retain that guild membership on the new character – which I think is awesome.
Another perk for multiple characters is that the bank and collected items stored on the account are shared throughout all characters. If you’re playing your level 25 thief and find some unusable cloth armor for level 10 – you can put that in your bank, log out, and log in as your alternate level 10 mage and wear that armor. This is a huge benefit for people who like variety in their character creation and like to try different play styles. In a way this kind of account/character system feels similar to how in FFXIV you could have multiple classes on the same avatar. Granted you have to log out and back in on GW2 to switch classes but you don’t lose everything and it provides an incentive to explore other character options.
Now, there are some things that don’t transfer between characters on an account that I wish would have been included. Crafting levels don’t transfer. Each character is allowed two crafting classes at any given time and each character’s crafting experience is unique. If I am a rank 134 with my cooking craft on one character, and take up cooking on a second character, that rank would not be based off of the original character. This does mean though that if you have three characters which can each have two crafting classes, you’re able to use that to your advantage. Instead of being limited to the two classes, suddenly you can be working on four, six, or eight different crafting specialties. Depending on how much time you have to sink into GW2, this can be great for making money, helping out guild members, and getting some great gear.
Map exploration also doesn’t carry over between characters on an account, which I did not like. It was amazing to unlock all the points of interest and vistas and skill locations on a map to get 100% completion, but having to do it a second and a third time became very dull and uninspiring. It was nice to re-visit all the lower level locations again and know what I actually had to do the second time through, but still upsetting.
The final thing I wanted to point out about GW2 that I’ve been noticing is that it is much more empty compared to other MMORPG’s i’ve played. I haven’t been all over the map yet, but I’ve been to some very common locations where people should have been and found not a lot of people there. I’ve been down many roads and participated in many real-time events. It isn’t nearly as crowded on the server as WoW or Tera (or FFXIV was at times). I don’t know if this is by design or if there is a population issue going on as the game becomes more saturated into the market. It feels more realistic to not run into so many people, but it also feels a bit lonely. My guild is fun when there are people online on evenings and weekends, but if I try any off hours, I often find nobody online to talk to.
It will take more time to get into the feel of GW2. I am much more comfortable than when I started out, but there is still so much I’ve yet to learn and explore. For the month of April they have an ongoing event called the “Super Adventure Box” which looks like all sorts of fun and shows the developers and community are both alive and well. The graphics in GW2 are still very well done and the world still feels fresh and inspiring wherever I go. I think, even though I am a fan of FFXIV always and forever, if for some reason I didn’t like the Final Fantasy series, GW2 would be my favorite game to hang out online and live out my dream of adventures.