Three and a half weeks later I’ve reached level 80 and 100% map completion in Central Tyria. I whipped through Southsun Cove as well for good measure. At the end of all of it there’s a certain sense of satisfaction mixed with a measure of relief.

Proof of heroics. Achievements optional.

We’re taking a break, Snow White and I, from the heady bustle of completion and exploration and combat and gorgeous scenery with varying degrees of ambient lethality. She’s a persona all her own with no back story to speak of and no character empires to rule over: a ronin Chronomancer. Our uninstalled break will last as long as it feels like it should. In the meantime, I have other depths to plumb to see just how much I like being in love with Lovecraft and Halloween. Is monogamy back in vogue? Only one way to find out.

She’s entirely from scratch. I used only what I earned during my leveling adventures. I did cheat once by buying an underwater spear off the Trading Post during a statistical drought; otherwise, supernumerary boosts were eschewed. I started off with my standard sword/pistol and greatsword combination. Somewhere in the mid-30s I switched out the greatsword for sword/sword. Thereafter, I forced myself to melee everything.

If I had a bow like this, I wouldn’t melee either.

Hearts and Hero Points involving combat thus became fora for improving my visual parsing and timing memorization skills. I’m better at the former than the latter, on the whole. Nevertheless, I was only downed thrice and never defeated. One of those flirtations with defeat occurred when my guided exploration path took me straight through the middle of the Claw of Jormag event. I ran out of invulnerabilities and couldn’t remember the mechanics, so plop! I went onto the ground and lay there until someone ran over to revive me. They then flopped over and it was my turn to resuscitate them, thereby perpetuating the circle of life.

I’ve never been much for condition play, so scepter, torch, and staff went unused. The stationary wardens generated by a focus offhand were too much of a damage loss to offset the speed boost generated by #4. In any case, Signet of Inspiration (passive: random boons, i.e. swiftness, every 10 seconds) worked well enough until the very end when I had enough Hero Points for Time Marches On in the Chronomancer trait line (passive: 25% increased movement speed). Signet of the Ether allowed me to recharge my phantasm summons, Signet of Illusions made them tankier, and Signet of Humility made the really annoying loss of control mechanics slightly less annoying.

As things wrapped up, I started to become a bit lazy (except in Orr) as once I forced myself to pay attention to the world around me and did not succumb to fatigue, the vast majority of adversaries were no longer threatening. Obvious exceptions would be champions whose health bars require extensive whittling and anything with lifesteal spam, of which there are more than enough in Cursed Shore.

Impossibly beautiful and improbably clothed. It’s the human female meta.

There are plentiful opportunities for screenshotting no matter what you’re doing or how long you intend to play. One item of note that I had forgotten about during my three-month absence was the extent to which the variegated, handcrafted landscapes of Guild Wars 2 surpass those of every other MMO I’ve ever played. There is simply no comparison.

A lesser scene among the pantheon of milieux.

I’m setting it aside again for a while, at least until I wear out the trappings of The Secret World and play through the rest of Life is Strange and then eventually find myself wandering back to the same place I always seem to come home to.


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