Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.
(Let’s just get that out of the way first. It was solely my own decision and my own damn fault to do this.)
Despite very careful attempts at saving world content for future alts (I haven’t done full world completion for that specific reason,) I find myself getting bored wandering the open world and doing PvE content on alts past the teen levels.
It’s more than a little strange on my part because I’m capable of circling a small area on my level 80 and killing every single yellow or red mob in the zone for an hour or two, humming merrily to myself. And then perhaps diverting off and getting into whatever trouble catches my eye.
Still, I fear a combination of factors shoved me across the boredom point.
1) Even downleveled, a level 80 in exotic gear hits a lot harder and withstands more than a lowbie.
It’s very obvious when I’m playing the exact same class again. It just feels a lot more tedious to carve one’s way through mobs when one knows it could be done faster and more efficiently… if only one could wear better gear with higher stats…
2) The open world is generally more devoid of leveling players, leading to monotonous heart to heart grinds.
The first time around, it was all new. It was exciting to keep wandering around the next corner and uncover the map and find out what’s here. Other players moving in and out of your field of view made things interesting and broke up the monotony. More players meant more events constantly triggered and stumbled across, not just stuck waiting for one lonely individual to find and start it.
It’s also a little grating when your lowbie has difficulties with an event you’re convinced your level 80 could solo, even downleveled. In my specific case, that’s group events and champion mobs, and those end up being left alone as untouched content instead after having gotten steamrolled a couple of times.
I admit to even being somewhat frustrated at the lack of tenacity of the newer leveling players. Perhaps it’s natural that beta and game launch would harbor the highest numbers of ‘hardcore’ players who stick with things, throw themselves at giant mobs repeatedly until they figure out how to defeat it, and so on.
I complained before about my last experience with the Font of Rhand, where I witnessed a whole bunch of vanishing players failing to figure out its puzzle.
Then just the other day I answered a call to arms to take down the champion Ketsurak in the Gendarran Fields. There were two other players, a downleveled warrior and a on-level ranger, I think. I was on my on-level guardian.
Now Ketsurak is a champion risen Abomination with all the annoyances that implies. He hits hard with his club if he connects, the club knockbacks and interrupts, he frenzies for more damage, and hell yeah, does he charge. He can charge so far into the back of his cave or out into the swamp that he might leash (like others in Orr.) And he has regeneration.
First try, we got smacked around pretty quickly. Second attempt was a lot more promising, with all three of us kiting, we brought him down to half health and I was starting to get the hang of his attack patterns. Then the ranger got run over. I had aggro, so I immediately kited Ketsurak a little away from the other two and was dancing in circles around him. The warrior made a move towards the ranger, but for whatever reason decided not to rez and rushed the champion, where upon he got smacked down, and left me with no choice but to attempt a rez with Ketsurak on my hiney – not the wisest of plans. Squish went my lil Asura beside the downed warrior.
Third time’s the charm, right? Except no one else showed up, having presumably given up after being smacked around twice. Come on.
Not one to back down from a fight, I engaged him solo, and dodge-tanked him for five to ten minutes for my own satisfaction to prove it was possible. Alas, a dinky scepter and an on-level guardian does no significant damage whatsover to a champion with regeneration, though I did eventually make a 5%, then 10% dink in its health bar when I started throwing radiation (a poison) field and kiting him around in it. That was a little too slow for me to continue, so I ambled off wishing one other person had stumbled along – that would have been all the damage necessary.
3) One ends up wishing one had all the skills previously at one’s command.
At one point I wanted to use the skill sanctuary. Whoops. Need 6 skill points to unlock it. Oh crud, that’s a lot of running about the open world to do. Or… need more levels, dammit.
4) One keeps looking forward to the end point, to the original purpose of leveling an alt.
Now if your purpose was to experience the world of Tyria from fresh eyes on a new character at one’s own leisure, then this might be less of a problem.
In this specific case though, I keep dreaming of experimenting with new exotic gear stats and new traits and testing it out in groups and in WvW. That was the whole point of leveling an identical class, because I’ve just gotten too comfortable with the place my 80 is in and don’t want to switch it around to potentially less optimal while looking for better or different playstyles.
At level 29, my patience finally wore down to a thin thread.
I’d patiently gone through Metrica Province with a fine completion comb, exploring all the things. But it was very quiet and lonely.
I’d gone through Brisban Wildlands with a bit less dedication to completion, leaving stuff in the corners untouched and mainly doing the personal story as the primary entertainment, slooowly doing hearts in between the missions.
I wandered through Gendarran Fields – a place with which I was -very- familiar, having gone through it previously twice – with no particular plan beyond filling hearts and gathering.
I wound up staring at the Fields of Ruin, which promised to be just as deserted as Metrica Province beyond one or two RPers in Ebonhawke, and couldn’t take it any longer.
It gets a bit ironic because I’m not terribly familiar with that entire map yet, but I just have no patience at the moment to explore every nook and cranny and talk to the NPCs there. My attention is currently taken up with the WvW scoreboard and getting involved with the war effort.
I didn’t remember having this much trouble leveling with my main before, so I thought very carefully about what was different between then and now.
Besides possibly wandering around new corners more and garnering some exploration xp, it boiled down to two things – crafting and WvW.
I had been organically crafting up armorsmith on my main, with a side of artificing, and it must have bolstered me without noticing. Since my spare guardian was not part of the original five with whom I had spread out two professions, there was no initial plan to level any professions on him.
That turned out to be a mistake.
Which makes sense, when you remember that each crafting profession up to 400 actually nets you enough xp for 10 levels.
Except frankly, you only want to make shit that uses up 15 fangs or 15 claws once ever. Those things are expensive.
So after a moment’s consideration, I decided the safest two professions that I might have repeated use for, would be cooking, then jewelry.
Falling down the slippery slope of efficiency, my hunch got checked out on GW2crafts, which is the most sophisticated “crafting guide” I’ve seen in a while – not just a simple soon-to-be-potentially obsolete couple words of text detailing do-this-then-that, but listing estimated costs and suggesting stuff to buy off the trading post and what to craft or discover, taking into account current pricing on the TP.
Sure enough those two seemed the cheapest to level up, at only 2-3 gold max, something more conceivably affordable than the 8-10 gold of the other professions.
I tried faithfully following the suggested guide but noticed that the random critical crafting success chance of one’s home server was potentially throwing off the number of suggested things to make. Being a cheapskate packrat, I also didn’t bother buying anything off the TP and tried to utilize whatever I had banked in my collectibles instead. Except I plainly hadn’t made it to several hearts and was missing things like coconuts and peaches.
So I improvised here and there, which stuffed up the continuity somewhat as the guide had been assuming I had a stockpile of previously cooked food with which to layer another ingredient on. Oops.
Ah well, I was running out of inventory space anyway.
And had made it to level 31.
Which, to be honest, isn’t the BEST level to go WvWing in. That little green arrow makes you a tasty target, and you are undeniably just squishier than you would be at level 80 in exotics. But I was BORED. Out of my skull.
So I did the next best thing and trawled the TP looking for the absolute best equipment of that level range. Which turned out to be very cheap (1-3 silver a piece) green masterwork loot drops that already came attached with fairly decent stats on their runes, decked myself out in armor, jewelry and weapons, noting with some pleasure that all four stats wound up being fairly balanced in the end. (I went for power/precision on the armor and toughness/vitality on the jewelry.)
Since I had a bunch of spare food, I picked up some sharpening stones to use as well. (Lowbie needs every last scrap of stats available, eh?)
Then I hurled myself into the Borderlands trusting the upleveling to… more or less, make me, I dunno what’s the right word – viable? survivable? presentable? not instantly squish?
I gotta be honest, just comparing my staff damage, I appear to do about half that of my level 80 in exotics and he’s not even traited to specialize in that. If you’re looking to kill anybody in WvW, I wouldn’t do it on a lowbie.
Fortunately, WvW encompasses a lot more ground than straight-up killing. I wouldn’t be interested in it otherwise.
Following along in a zerg, one can still provide swiftness boosts with nearly the same effectiveness as a level 80. And I was discovering creative things to do with combo fields and blast finishers and warding lines/rings and helpful immobilizes while getting the hang of the hammer I want my new guardian to carry as his main melee weapon. And one can still carry supply, build stuff, tick siege, man siege, rez people, finish people, report enemy movements and run dolyaks.
With some amusement, I also note that by sheer fortune of guardians being very tanky and defensive, I can even soak some attacks by looking like a good target (GREEN ARROW, SQUISHY, RRAARRR, wtf invulnerable, healed, ran off back into the zerg, “……”)
Doesn’t work in cases of the whole place being carpet bombed with AoEs or being completely outnumbered or caught alone, of course, but there was still opportunity for fun.
Before I knew it, I was level 38.
One just has to focus on other things than xp bar watching in WvW, which makes the leveling significantly easier. And there’s all the event completions ticking along at fast rates as stuff gets taken.
A brief break out in the PvE world to catch up with the personal story, and I hit the level 40 mark, which seemed a good time to re-upgrade all my gear to yellow rares now. And back into WvW we went.
Danger, Will Robinson…
At level 46, with WvW cranking down, I sat in Lion’s Arch feeling the siren’s call of temptation. I had two crafting boosters sitting in my bank from black lion chests opened with free black lion keys that either dropped, came from personal story or map completion. It was the end of the week with WvW crafting critical successes as high as they would possibly go.
I chugged one and finished leveling cooking to 400. I wasn’t terribly organized about it, so it took the whole hour of the booster, flipping back and forth between a website and the game.
All of a sudden, level 55.
Now I’m sitting here contemplating the other crafting profession and wondering just how far down the dark side I want to go with this.
I probably won’t take the other crafting booster. If I do, then I’ll end up looking at the store and thinking 150 gems for yet another booster might very well be a bargain for the next alt. Just 3 gold in exchange, after all!
If I level up jewelcrafting now, I should be able to hit level 65.
Which isn’t 80.
How long before I start looking at the next cheapest profession, artificer, and think – about 3 gold, I can afford that? (Which would bring me to level 75, pretty damned close.)
The only thing stopping me is that I don’t want to have to switch back for 40 silver – I already picked the two professions I wanted to be using on this character. If I’d thought it through in advance, I would have leveled artificer first, and then dumped it and taken up the next profession.
(Of course, a little voice in my head whispers, you haven’t finished leveling jewelcrafting yet. You’re barely at 100 in that. You could drop that, take up artificer and finish that, then switch back more cheaply to jewels and finish THAT.)
What a clever way to make sure crafting materials are always in demand.
And if I ever do this once, I don’t know if I can stop myself from doing it again for the next alt.
And the next.
And the one after that.