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.

Review: Defiance, “The Cord and the Ax” + What Makes an eSport?

“The Cord and the Ax” is another strong showing from Defiance’s second season.

A promotional image for DefianceIt’s a busy story, with major developments for pretty much every character. Alak learns that he is soon to be a father, which brings his personal crisis over his role in the family business to a head. Irisa continues to be tormented by visions and compulsions apparently from the Irathient goddess Irzu, driving her to the breaking point.

Meanwhile, Amanda’s adreno addiction worsens, Datak learns that Stahma has left him to rot in prison, and Mayor Pottinger uses Yewll’s severed finger to uncover the secrets left in her office.

There’s a lot going on, but it doesn’t feel too scattered. Everyone seems to get a fair level of attention appropriate to their plot, but some did stand above the others.

I continue to thoroughly enjoy Alak’s growth as a character. His larger role really came out of left field, but against all expectations, it’s turned out to be a very interesting direction. He’s clearly being torn in two by his duty to his family and their Castithan traditions, and his desire to be a kinder and more just person than his parents, and to protect his budding family from the dark legacy of the Tarr clan.

His plot also gave Rafe McCawley the opportunity to once again be a complete badass. If I have one complaint about this season so far, it’s that Rafe hasn’t gotten nearly enough screen time.

Graham Greene as Rafe McCawley in DefianceAnd then there’s Datak’s contribution to the story. I won’t spoil anything, but… wow. That last scene.

Once again, I am blown away by the sheer intensity Tony Curran is able to portray.

I also quite enjoyed the continuation of Irisa’s struggles. I’m still not the biggest fan of Irisa’s character, but this episode made the best use of her strengths, giving the viewer insight into how tortured she has become — and she was pretty tortured to begin with.

I also liked how it continued to show the friction between her and Nolan. Nolan truly loves her and wants the best for her, but as Amanda is quick to point out, he’s just not that good of a parent. He’s never truly understood Irisa, and so he struggles to control her when she needs an ally and not a guide, or a warden.

“The Cord and the Ax” also offers some glimpses of what’s really going on with her, and just what is buried beneath the gulanite mines. Not enough to fully understand, but enough for me to be thoroughly intrigued.

This is one thing Defiance does very well: They maintain their mysteries just long enough to keep you intrigued, but not so long that you’re just being strung along without a clue. They hit a perfect cadence for parceling out new information.

The town of DefianceIt’s really amazing how much this show has improved since its shaky beginnings.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

New article:

eSports are exploding in popularity, but did you ever stop to wonder what determines whether or not a video game will be an eSport? It’s quite a tall order. Just as only a tiny minority of gamers will ever achieve the skills necessary to play competitively, only a handful of games have what it takes to become a sport.

In my latest article for ADANAI, I take a look at just what is necessary for a game to become an eSport.