According to thefreedictionary.com, the word "impress" comes from Middle-English, impressen, "to imprint", which then comes from a derivative form of Latin, in-premere, "to press".
My point being Guild Wars 2 has brought me to the root of the word. I has impressed me, imprinted something on me that no other game in my 14-year history of a hardcore gamer has ever done. I'll talk about my past experiences with MMORPGS in the few previous years then I'll get to the point where I'll explain the life-changing part Guild Wars 2 has been playing since Beta. So for those who don't like long stories or reading at all, I'll use headings.
The past experience and uneasiness
I had been moving from MMO to MMO much like a monkey does, unsatisfied by some core aspects games have been presenting to me that seriously hindered my experience.
The classic game that has struggled to occupy the number one place in my list was no other than the world's daisy, World of Warcraft. Don't get me wrong, World of Warcraft has provided me with many epic moments. But there is a reason why I used this sentence in the past tense. All about WoW wreaks of past. Even the newly added textures, even the DirectX11 support that makes physics in the water so eye-candy - and so paradoxal when put next to a Draenei's cloak floating about one palm above his tail.
Amidst all that are plenty other games on the race that would just not do well in the end. Terraria had been deliberately abandoned by their fathers, Lord of the Rings Online has the most decent lore ever, but fails doubly to deliver when it falls into the Free-to-play model, charging for just about 70% of an experience that isn't even technically or graphically satisfying. DC Universe Online proved powerful graphics and enviable lore cannot sustain themselves with poor controls that were obviously poorly ported from a console. And don't get me started on character customisation.
I thought I had settled with RIFT's stunning graphics, innovative lore and grouping system as well as its generally polished design so much I was willing to overlook its serious absence of content. I must be honest when I say I don't feel comfortable with seeing high-level characters wearing the same armour as me, just as much as I believe high-level characters would be pissed when they saw me wearing the same outfit they worked so hard for.
Why, a game focused so much in aesthetics should at the very least care about wardrobe variation. You are, after all, trying to express yourself in an immersive multiplayer game and the only way to do so - especially when you are faced with few races and classes with little face customisation - is by altering your outfit.
Just as I was settling down with my MMO, I saw Kevin VanOrd's preview of TERA's amazing character customisation and I pondered. The beta was out there and it was free. I figured, why not? I was previously disappointed with Forsaken Worlds and Perfect World, and Lineage II before that. Since I was particularly excited with ArcheAge, I figured I should give a chance to the Korean games. I created my account and was startled with the size and the time TERA took to download. It bode well, though. I was always in favour of a game that takes a lot of hardware space and delivered content, graphics and gameplay.
When I launched TERA, that was the impression I was having. Its dynamic combat is unrivalled on an MMO of that proportion. I always dreamed about having World of Warcraft with Mount & Blade's, or Skyrim's controls and there it was right before me, with impressive graphics and a satisfying gameplay.
Only there was a veiled, almost unconscious distaste for the oriental design. The female clothing (or lack of), the exaggerated ornaments in just about everything, the creepy cat-girl, the metrosexual male elves (to be political), the 8-bit-like-repetitive-uninteresting soundtrack, the crafting system...
None of that appeared when I pre-ordered TERA. Until I saw on TERA's global channel that someone was just trying out TERA while they waited for Guild Wars 2 beta. Then I got curious about it and tried it out. And it was complicated, at the very least.
The Avant Garde
I had been waiting for Guild Wars 2 for a while too. In my first MMO crisis I opened up a few MMO websites to look for something appealing and the most appealing games I saw were in production. Guild Wars 2, The Secret World and ArcheAge. Well, I tried Guild Wars 2 this weekend and it is impressive. I'm normally very critical for games. I evaluate the smallest details and when it's rare for me to hate everything about a game, it is equally rare (or even rarer) for me to love everything about a game. That wasn't the case with Guild Wars 2. I recall asking myself "My God, what game is this?". That might sound weird for foreigners, but in Brazil that means roughly "is this game even real?".
That is my question, still. I haven't ever touched Guild Wars, but the second installment of the game seems so intriguingly genuine that I was impressed. I kept asking myself how could the developers have thought about everything? If you are a peaceful player, you can level up by exploring and helping NPCs without ever touching a weapon. If the opposite you can level up just by killing everything in your path.
The character customisation is robust to say the least. You can create a very personal character and while there is still a timid number of hairstyles and face sliders (let's agree, this is not The Sims), the rich number of colours you can choose to paint your character and your armour, as well as the number of channels you can dye your armour in helps you create something that stands out and makes you feel unique. Of course it opens the doors for distasteful less serious people who are in the game with the clear intention of having people laugh at them. So eventually you will stumble upon someone with a blue afro over his purple eyes. Although this is very rare, hopefully developers will open a roleplay server with boundaries for naming and looks on characters so other people who are trying to have a serious medieval roleplay session won't feel uncomfortable. But that is another talk.
The game innovates in just about everything, so what I found very appealing was combat. It's all very dynamic, very strategic and very personal. You can choose when and whether to heal or support or damage. You don't die often and when you do there is almost instantly someone trying to revive you. Community seems to be very friendly and all that coupled with the living world of instantaneous events happening all the time, and people walking in the streets and NPCs fighting mobs or running away from them makes you feel a gigantic sense of belonging.
Basically the only downside I could find for Guild Wars 2 was the lack of a more blunt path to level. That might be because I'm so used to NPCs telling me what to do and when to do it that when I'm faced with freedom I just don't know what to do. The personal storyline is interesting, but it also makes you want to play the game by yourself more than with your mates. I know because I play with my friend for life and at a point I was a Nord and he was a Human and we had completely different personal storylines, so we had to choose which one to follow. We chose his, and at any point when I got to my home instance I felt a warm feeling and also sad because at the whole time we were playing his campaign, it was his campaign. I felt like a decorative lamp or a mercenary who would kill for him when the time came.
Also, the pre-order items weren't worth it, in my opinion. They are temporary. I would have a personal banker for five days and then it would vanish. I don't think extra 10 dollars are worth 3 temporary benefits.
But that is a small part of a detail a very critical person found. It is nowhere near a ruining experience.
The problem that day was it was Beta Weekend Event. Meaning it would end. And I wouldn't have Guild Wars 2 anymore. When that moment came, when I woke up on Monday and I couldn't log on (yes, I tried. I know many of you did too) I almost cried. I spent the day asking myself what would I play? What could I possibly that would satiate my hunger for Guild Wars 2? Well, I still don't have an answer. All my other games feel shallow and uninteresting.
What I can say is that Guild Wars 2 hasn't even launched and it's already my number one MMORPG. The one I want to spend years on. The one I want to promote and bring my friends into, and wear T-shirts and draw.
Today after refreshing Guild Wars 2 front page and stalking the twitter account, after watching the MMO manifesto and teaser videos, and reading everything I could about it, the only thing left to do was write about it. And here I am.
I can only hope that the next Beta Weekend Event isn't too far. And the launch date too.
Perhaps what I want most right now is be a part of this world.