Cheating on WoW: Guild Wars 2 Revisited

Ah, Guild Wars 2. There’s a game I have an odd history with.

My thief taking a rest in the tropics in Guild Wars 2It was a rare case of my drinking the hype Kool Aid before launch. Once it finally did release, I hopped on the bandwagon immediately, and I had a great time… for about three months.

The game lost its luster quickly. Despite its many merits, some major stumbles drove me away from the game, and once I started on The Secret World, Guild Wars 2 faded into my rear view mirror.

But it’s always been in the back of my mind. My fond memories of the game taunt me, and I did get very attached to my characters in my time with the game. I’ve often been tempted to give it another try.

So I finally did. I hopped back in during the climax of the first season of the “Living Story” and spent a few days getting reacquainted. For my full thoughts, see my article on the topic over at WhatMMO:

Revisiting Guild Wars 2

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“If I was to describe Guild Wars 2 in a nutshell, I’d say that it’s a great game that is utterly ignorant of its own strengths. The Living Story seems designed to focus on all of the things ArenaNet cannot do right – like story and group content – while rejecting the positives of the game, such as accessibility and freedom.”

My mesmer taking a walk in the woods in Guild Wars 2It should be noted that there was a delay in getting this article published, so some of what it discusses is old news by now. However, most of my thoughts remain relevant.

It should be said that the recently started second season of the Living Story does — from what I hear — address some of the complaints I have. It does feature a new permanent game zone, albeit one I’m told is fairly small, and it seems like the Elder Dragons are taking center stage again.

However, I fear it may be too little, too late for this player.

It’s a shame. There’s much about Guild Wars 2 that I do truly love. The sense of freedom it offers is incredibly liberating, and it’s probably my all-time favourite game in terms of visuals. Perfect balance between realism and stylization, and the graphics are just gorgeous, especially on my new computer.

But when I don’t care about the world, there’s nothing to disguise the grind at the heart of all MMOs, and I just can’t seem to find the motivation to keep coming back.

My Charr engineer in Guild Wars 2* * *

It occurs to me that continuing to call this segment “Cheating on WoW” is growing increasingly inaccurate, considering I haven’t played WoW for the lion’s share of a year. It should probably be “Cheating on TSW” now.

Doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.

TSW’s Second Anniversary + Review: The Chaoswar Saga: A Crown Imperiled

As of today, The Secret World is two years old. Of course, that’s a great accomplishment for the game, but more importantly, it’s time for us all to drown in a sea of free loot.

Players defend Harbaburesti during the Guardians of Gaia event in The Secret WorldThe Guardians of Gaia event is back, bringing with it buffs to double or at least greatly increase the acquisition of ability points, black bullion, AEGIS XP, and… pretty much everything else in the game, really. There’s also an all new world boss in Tokyo, with new loot and new lore.

Also, there will not be a golem in Fusang Projects this year. That sound you hear is everyone in the Secret World breathing a sigh of relief.

I don’t really see anything topping last year’s Joelzilla Incident, but I fully expect awesome times ahead. TSW puts on fantastic world events, but none have quite topped Guardians of Gaia, in my view.

Today also marks the release of the first additional mission pack added to Tokyo (much sooner than I expected): Sidestories: Love and Loathing, which features five new missions from the various Tokyo NPCs. More Daimon Kiyota can only be a good thing.

Review: A Crown Imperiled

If you follow this blog regularly, you may have heard me say in the past that mediocrity is very hard to review. Without any brilliant moments to praise, or any monumental blunders to rant over, there isn’t much to say.

You may also remember my review of the first book of Raymond E. Feist’s Chaoswar Saga — itself a continuation of the enormous Riftwar Cycle, which tells the story of the embattled world of Midkemia — about two years ago.

I finally got around to reading the second book of this trilogy, A Crown Imperiled, and it is a very hard book to review.

It’s doubly hard because Feist’s writing has become so consistent and predictable that I feel anything I could say would just be repeating what I’ve already said many times before, even if I’ve technically only reviewed one of his other books on this blog.

Cover art for "The Chaoswar Saga: A Crown Imperiled" by Raymond E. FeistIn short, A Crown Imperiled is a classic example of the rut that the Midkemian novels have fallen into. Feist has created a world full of rich and memorable characters, terrifying threats, and fantastical wonders.

And he all but ignores them in favour of the mundane, the generic, and the predictable.

Every new Midkemia series splits its attention between the longstanding characters who have carried this series from the start — like the godlike magician Pug and the Dragon Lord Tomas — and new characters introduced for that series.

Two things invariably hold true: The new characters are nowhere near as interesting as the old ones, but they get the lion’s share of the attention.

The majority of characters in the Midkemia books are the very definition of forgettable. As in I had literally forgotten everything about most of them right down to their very existence in the time between reading this book and the last one. The only reason I remembered Ty Hawkins was that he has the same nickname as me.

So that’s a major knock against this book out of the gate, and the plot suffers from similar issues. There are some very interesting things going on, but they are not the focus of the story. The side-dishes have crowded out the entrèe.

Martin and Brendan — whom I could not tell you anything about — are digging in to halt the Keshian invasion, a war that the book makes abundantly clear is just a distraction for some other nefarious plot. I swear half the scenes with these characters were just them discussing the logistics of preparing for a siege. Or that’s how it felt.

Meanwhile, their equally nondescript brother Hal ends up running through the wilderness with the fugitive princess of Roldem, which ultimately accomplishes nothing other than providing an excuse for a very generic romance arc.

A map of Midkemia's Triagia continent, setting of the Riftwar novelsThe most interesting part of this book involves the return from the dead (sort of) of Miranda and Nakor. I was never the biggest fan of Miranda, but Nakor is awesome enough to make all the other tedium of these books worthwhile, and the fact they’ve returned, and the method of their return, raises some intriguing questions.

There’s also a potentially interesting plot involving a Dark Elf chieftain, but it’s largely abandoned after a few chapters because reasons.

Unfortunately, the mind-blowing twist at the end of the last book is largely ignored.

In case it wasn’t clear by now, I wasn’t very impressed by A Crown Imperiled.

It may be that I am being harsher than the book deserves. Certainly, it’s still a well-written book in the technical sense, and it’s not without its thrills. But it’s hard to ignore how much potential is being completely wasted.

At least Nakor is back. That almost makes all the other stumbles worthwhile. That guy is amazing.

Overall rating: 6.5/10 While the last few books felt above average for the flagging Riftwar series, A Crown Imperiled is a return to form, and not at all in a good way.