My main goal for BWE2 hadn’t really been leveling, so maybe I should have curbed my frustrations about the leveling curve a bit. What I wanted to do instead was to delve a bit into crafting in Guild Wars 2, from what I have experienced so far. I am not exactly passionate about crafting in MMOs, but if a game has a crafting system, I try to use it and pick something I find appropriate for my character. Crafting hasn’t been mentioned in many blogs so far, as people focus on the big things in the game, WvWvW or the dynamic event system. Zubon at KTR posted that you could actually level to 80 as crafter, doing not much else. Interesting concept. But I am getting ahead of myself. I’ll nitpick my way through the crafting system, with tons of screenshot. Maybe it’ll help others understand the crafting concept, because at first I had issues with understanding how you actually advance. You can click on any screenshot for the full size version.
There’s a total of eight crafting disciplines in Guild Wars 2. I am not calling them professions, because that’s the term that’s used for what other games call classes. I get so easily confused here.
Anyhow, eight different crafts, here’s the run-down:
- Armorsmiths: heavy armor, inventory boxes and runes, which are stat bonuses for armor. Yup, bags are for the weak, real warriors lug around metal boxes!
- Artificers: magical weapons like staves, foci, scepters, tridents and sigils, the weapon equivalent to runes.
- Chefs: fooooood. Magical buff food. Not for the faint of heart because wow, there are a lot of cooking ingredients. Supposedly, each recipe is based on real dishes. Wowza.
- Huntsmen: ranged weapon like long and short bows, pistols, rifles, harpoon guns, etc. Additionally they craft off-hand items like torches and warhorns, and sigils.
- Jewelers: gems and other jewelry, and refining gems into better stones.
- Leatherworkers: medium armor, leather packs and runes. The leather version of the armorsmith.
- Tailors: light armor, bags and runes. The cloth version of the armorsmith.
- Weaponsmiths: the happy place for fans of any melee weapon, and the matching sigils. Also, shields. Can’t miss out on shields. I am channeling the WoW Kadomi here.
Not a bad spectrum of choices, if you ask me. You can learn a maximum of two crafting disciplines at a time. If you really like cooking, you can’t just take that on the side, like in WoW and Rift, it would be one of your dedicated two disciplines. The good thing is that if you decide to unlearn a crafting discipline and pick a new active one, you do not lose the progress you already made in the old one. You can switch back to it at any time. It also means, like Zubon pointed out, that you can max out any craft, drop it, and pick up the next one. Eventually, you could be the master of all eight crafts, on one character. Not bad, eh? If crafting’s your thing.
The first beta I was in, you were on your own when it came to crafting. There was zero guidance. In the recent incarnations, town criers approach you and are all ready to tell you everything you need to know about how to learn a craft. What crafts there are, where to locate the trainers, and where to locate the crafting stations. Off I went this BWE, and picked up tailoring and artifice on my mesmer. GW2 uses a method I am not very fond of. You can only ever craft at a matching crafting station. It irritated me in Rift, and it does a bit in GW2 because it’s inconvenient. It forces me to run back and forth in a town. It forces me to only craft when I hit a town with a crafting station. On the human map of Queensdale, the only crafting stations are in Divinity’s Reach and in Claypool. Maybe also in Beetletun. Of course you can always use the waypoints to quickly hit up those places.
All my examples are based on tailoring, from hereon out. Once you have picked up the craft from the trainer, the only reason you’ll ever have to speak to her again is to buy supplies. Once she’s initially trained you, you won’t be able to learn anything else from her. You get the basics from her, and the rest is up to you. You have no idea how many times I returned back to the trainer when I first messed with crafting, not understanding that there was nothing else to learn. It just doesn’t work that way. What you learn is how to make four forms of light armor: coat as chest piece, gloves, boots and leggings. Furthermore you learn how to make bags, and how to craft the individual components for the armor. As novice tailor, your basic materials to craft things are jute and rawhide leather. You get those items either as drops, either as scraps or from salvaging. The first thing I did as tailor was to turn some of my jute scraps into bolts of jute.
The great thing when you have craploads of materials: even if you have a hundred bolts to make, it takes very little time. After the first few, crafting production greatly speeds up. You won’t have time to make a cup of coffee and a sandwich like, say, in Rift. While you make stuff, the experience bar at the top moves and you gain crafting levels. Four bolts of jute took me into level 5. The maximum is 400, btw. Every 25 levels you learn more stuff automatically, without the aid of a trainer. In addition to gaining crafting experience, you also get experience points that affect your character level. You really can gain quite a bit of experience here. If I had spent more time crafting instead of roaming around like an idiot, I probably would have been less frustrated. Just as example: I also have a weaponsmith character of a bit higher level, and managed to get a full level on her via leveling weaponsmithing from 73 to 141.
As I mentioned earlier, for tailoring, but also huntsmen and armorsmithing you require loads of jute and leather, which you can acquire through killing mobs. Loads of centaurs, e.g. They often drop tiny saddlebags which are full of crafting materials. Artifice, like all the weapon crafts requires wood and copper. Those you can also salvage using salvage kits, and you can gather them. Gathering in Guild Wars 2 is interesting, and something I highly recommend for anyone, even those of you who have no intention of crafting whatsoever. Gathering is nice and easy experience, and you can make some money selling the raw goods to people who like to craft. All you need to buy is a tool appropriate for your current zone. They are sickles for cooking ingredients, axes for wood and mining picks for ores. The vendor-bought ones have 100 charges before you need to buy new tools. Of course it sucks when you run out in the middle of the wilderness, but it’s a moneysink that I can understand. It’s quite awesome that you have no competition for ore or trees in this game. If there’s a node of ore, it’s available to anyone who sees it. It won’t go away if someone else tries to mine it at the same time. There’s no competition. It’s quite liberating.
At the vendor you also buy the salvage kits. Salvage kits are similar to reverse engineering in SWTOR or the recycle process you had in Rift. You can salvage a -lot- of things. Basically any armor or weapon you find, but also specific salvage items for leather and cloth. The salvage kits have 25 charges each, before you need to buy a new set.
One of the absolutely most amazing things about crafting in GW2 is one that I hope every MMO with crafting will adopt in the near future. That’s how awesome I think it is. Crafting means you sacrifice bagspace. Your bags are full of ore, wood, leather and then also the fine crafting materials that mobs drop. In a blink the bags are full. But not in Guild Wars 2. It has the handy feature that you can right-click any crafting material, select ‘Deposit Collectible’ and it lands straight in your bank vault. Incredibly handy. The bank vault in Guild Wars 2 is shared between all your characters. You have a main bank window, and then something called Collectibles. In my example screenshot, I only have some wood in the bank, and some fine crafting materials, like Tiny Totem, Tiny Venom Sacs and Radiant Dust. IIRC, you can have a stack of 250 each in your bank.
If you love to alt it up, you can have your army of alts fill up your crafting vault at all times, without ever setting a foot in the bank. How handy. And yet…it could be so much better. My ideal bank system would combine GW2 and SWTOR. I love the latter for accessing your materials in the cargo hold when you send off your minions to craft for you. In Guild Wars 2 I still need to drag ass to the bank, get everything I deposited into it out again and lug it to the crafting stations. Imagine you could skip the part where you need to get your stuff out of the bank. *dreamy sigh*
Got some mats? Ready to get your crafting on? As novice tailor, you can make a total of 5 things as I mentioned above. Four pieces of armor with the Mighty prefix, which means it has +power on it as stat. In Tyria, might is connected with blood, and so you will always need a vial of level-appropriate blood to make it. Said blood is one of the fine crafting materials, farmable materials that drop off specific mobs. Vials of Weak Blood drop off harpies, bats and skale, e.g. Each piece of armor has three components. Two crafting components and a fine crafting material. In my example, I wanted to make some shiny new gloves.
The first time round that I tried crafting, I was rather confused. I made mighty pieces of armor until they were grey, and then I couldn’t make anything else and the trainer ignored my confused looks and didn’t teach me anything else. The crafting UI also had a discovery tab, but everything that I tried to combine didn’t work. I was stumped. Until I pondered why I can make insignia, and it took off from there. When you start out, you can craft three insignia: Festering, Mighty and Vital. Mighty we already got covered, so I went ahead with Festering. For a Festering insignia, you need a Tiny Venom Sac which drops off any poisonous creature, like spiders, and a bolt of jute. The crafting components for gloves are rawhide wristguard straps and jute wristguard padding. What if you combine them with a festering insignia?
Yay, Festering Embroidered Gloves. In addition to crafting something new, you also get a lot of crafting experience for discovery. Once you get to 25, you learn three more insignias. At 50 you learn three more insignias, and using those will create green gear. To mess with our heads, what would be green gear in any other game is blue in GW2, and what’s blue in other games is green here. Mindfuckery, I tell ya! Finally, once you get to 75, you will move up to the next crafting material, in the case of tailoring that would be wool and thin leather. In the beginning, you will need to experiment a lot because it’s not always clear from the names of the insignia what exactly they’ll be doing. At higher levels, you will get more exotic stats like +power and +magic find. Diablo just rang. Just saying. 😉
In theory, crafted gear is supposed to be a lot better than what you find out there, but I found that if you regularly upgrade your gear with karma stuff, especially beyond the first zone, it will be quite a while until your crafted gear pulls ahead. It took me til about weaponsmithing 125 to finally get better weapons than what was already available as random drops or karma gear.
Dedicated crafters like to min-max, which is why powerleveling profession skills are such popular websites for major MMOs. Through experimentation, I found the best way to min-max is to simply craft refinement like bolts of jute and leather until they’re grey and no longer provide you with any experience. Then you make as many insignia/inscriptions as you have the mats for. Only then will you start working on discoveries. If you have no use for the gear you are making, salvage them, reuse the mats, discover more. Eventually you will break the 25 point mark that teaches you more things. Make the new insignias/inscriptions, and then repeat this process for the next step. Alternatively, you can also head to Lion’s Arch and toss four of your crafted items into the Mystic Forge, hoping that whatever comes out will be superior.
Is crafting in Guild Wars 2 fun? I think so. I like it can be used as leveling alternative. I love the storage system. Discoveries keep the system fairly exciting, because when you get a new insignia, initially you don’t know what will be coming out exactly (until the item databases and crafting sites have dissected the system). Could it be better? I think so. I am actually quite fond of the SWTOR crafts, and wish that the bank use of mats was available. I will definitely be crafting after release and am hoping the system has a few more surprises in store at the higher levels.
Did anyone else try the crafting? Loved it, hated it? As always, interested in other opinions. 🙂