And that's how I found myself dashing madly through the Shards of Orr.
For those of you who aren't familiar (and you make up an endearingly large portion of the Guild Wars 2 early adopter base, so go you!) with the Shards of Orr, here's the skinny: It's a dungeon in the one true expansion in the Guild Wars collective, Eye of the North. Specifically, it's a dungeon with a chest that has a tiny chance of dropping a high-value staff (also, inhabited largely by the undead), which means that a bunch of very clever people found a variety of ways to run that dungeon over and over again with minimal expenditure of time and effort. I'm a big fan of those kind of people.
This is the point where I admit that I'm one of those people that keeps the RNG alive and well in MMOs. Go ahead, throw tomatoes and stones and other unkind things. Speed clears and farms account for an unseemly amount of my time logged into Guild Wars. They kind of have everything that I like in an MMO: They're often intensely social (I spent the better part of a year in a guild devoted entirely to the idea of having enough people on hand at any given time for a full party for voltaic spear farming), they have a relatively low entry barrier and relatively high complexity limit (if you have the skills and gear, you're in, but there's a lot of room for skill to make a tremendous difference), they have a reliable payoff and a chance for enormous reward, and all of that means they're fun. I'm not saying that this is the one thing that I find fun, but it is A Thing. To me, MMOs at their heart are a way to interact with other people, and that's where a lot of the fun I find in them comes from. Sure, I may enjoy beating a new boss all on my own, but not nearly as much as I'd enjoy re-doing a mission for the sake of a friend who's behind me in the storyline or running through a dungeon several (dozen) times with cool people. It's the social experience, for me, that shapes the fun of the game.
Also, the torture of trying to find someone selling the weapon mods I need has me totally ready to throw my arms open to Guild Wars 2 just on the merits of its trading post. You may not be thrilled about the weakness of player-to-player individual trading this time around, but I hope we can all agree that it's still a net win.
The other bit was about replayability of content, especially in light of the dungeon reward system. As mentioned above, I don't particularly mind the RNG reward system, mostly because it leads to cool interaction, but I'm not going to put on sack cloth and powder my nose with ashes if that goes the way of the dodo because I know that I'll still get my interaction elsewhere. I've played Guild Wars 2; I know it fills my needs in that respect.
I don't believe the previous stress test had a finale-type event, but this one evidently will. According to the official Guild Wars 2 Twitter, the closing event from the most recent BWE will also round out our time in the stress test. That's good for a couple of reasons. To begin with, I'm not totally sure the event worked as intended last time. For another, the timing of this event should be much more European-friendly, which means that more people across the pond will hopefully be able to partake without contorting their schedules overmuch.
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.