I feel like there comes a point in every gamer’s life where they’ll try out an MMORPG for the first time and it will either show them a magical new world of gaming… or traumatise them for life.
I started with the more traditional World of Warcraft in 2012. An obvious starting point, I believed, so I went out and picked up the starter set for £10 and away I went to Azeroth.
The first few weeks were pretty incredible. I thought the vastness of the map was amazing and I enjoyed meeting actual people instead of being surrounded by NPCs.
However, it wasn’t long before I became bored with the base game and looked to buy some add ons and DLCs. They were all fairly expensive, though, so I ended up leaving it and forgetting about the game altogether. I always wanted to get back into it, but the repetitive nature of the tasks never inspired me to load it up again.
Two years later, an (ex) boyfriend told me to give League of Legends a go. I wanted to impress him and had nothing to lose so that evening I found myself downloading a gold and blue “L” on to my desktop. Unfortunately, I found the gameplay tricky to get the hang of and the community of players to be toxic towards me (an apt parallel to that particular relationship, too I might add).
In the end I laid my MMO hat to rest and figured they just weren’t the thing for me.
That was until I bought Guild Wars 2.
“The real kicker though, and the most exciting thing about the game at that point for me, was that everyone has a different ‘personal story'”
It had been recommended to me a couple of times, but I’d often just reply: “yeah, I’ll check it out” without ever actually venturing to the website. Until one day an ad pops up that says there’s a big sale on at ArenaNet. Guild Wars was half price, which I found incredibly reasonable and decided to buy it, in some kind of coming of age moment, and attempting to leave past experiences out of my mind.
To start with, I have to be honest and say I wan’t all that fussed. I started out as a Sylvari Thief – which is basically an elf rogue in RPG terms. There are five races to choose from: Sylvari, Human, Norn, Charr and Asura, plus several classes consisting of engineer, thief, mesmer, guardian, necromancer, ranger, elementalist, and warrior. They’re all pretty basic plays, and all commonly found within most other RPGs.
The real kicker though, and the most exciting thing about the game at that point for me, was that everyone has a different “personal story”. Once you are happy with your race and class, you must make certain decisions in regard to your character’s personality and traits. This gives every player a unique story that they will follow consistently throughout the game.
Mine told the story of Caithe, the leader of the Sylvari, and a white stag that I essentially needed to track down to help my people, in addition to going to war against the Nightmare Court, and save the Sylvari realm.
Because the stories are unique, it really made me feel like I was within the game. I felt like Caithe was talking to me directly, and that my character (“Ilexith”) was just an extension of myself.
I came back to the game fairly often, and Ilexith is now in the mid-thirty levels. I revisit her every so often to gain some XP here and there but my Sylvari Thief is no longer my priority.
This year I took the leap and bought the only Guild Wars 2 expansion: Heart of Thorns. I had been playing GW2 for about two years at that point and figured I needed something more from the game.
Turns out, it was a life-changing decision.
“Suddenly my MMORPG world was turned upside down as I began playing in the big leagues”
Heart of Thorns, or “HoT”, was almost like playing a whole different game, just still within Tyria. Now I play as Vixalia: a level 80 Norn Revenant, which is a brand new class ArenaNet released with the expansion.
Suddenly my MMORPG world was turned upside down as I began playing in the big leagues. My personal story was completely different and now I worked for a new leader: Ms Eir Stegalkin, a beautiful Norn redhead, with a pet wolf and a dragon-slaying bow, who made me her commander in the war against Jormag the dragon, who forced the Norns out of their home in the Far Shiverpeaks.
Eir inspired me to go on and learn all about the lore of the game and I quickly discovered the character’s roots, where the personal stories came from, and all about the history of the land I was playing in. It was magical to see how my perception was entirely changed after seeing the true depth and beauty of such a wonderful world and game.
Tyria itself is bathed in a long and complicated history, while it turns out Caithe and Eir are part of a team of warriors called “Destiny’s Edge” which includes all the leaders of every race, and is, in fact, lead by Eir.
Suddenly this whole world came to life. I met more and more people I could go off adventuring with, or battle alongside, or journey through distant lands with. I got better armour and more personalised weaponry that was worth a lot of money in some cases. I built a character that was not only an extension of me, but also the version of the me I would be, were I in Tyria myself.
Finally, I realised why people pour their hearts and souls (and often real money) into these games. I am completely obsessed and I imagine ArenaNet only have more amazing things to offer in the future, which also means I will be playing for a long, long time.
I feel like the game has completely revolutionised my whole view on the MMORPG genre. From WoW to League, I never found my place, but in Guild Wars 2 I have found my home.