Guild Wars 2 – A Look Back at 2 Years of Changes

Nipp Holding the Birthday Blaster
Nipp Holding the Birthday Blaster

Characters rolled in Guild Wars 2 two years ago during the game’s head start received their 2nd year birthday gifts yesterday. Almost a ritual now, this stems back to birthday present mini-pets and tonics given to characters every year in the original Guild Wars game. Back then, it was one of a group of randomized minis. GW2 does things a little differently.

GW2 2nd Birthday Gift

This year’s present includes:

Note, the experience scroll levels any character up to level 20. This isn’t the same as adding 20 levels to any character, however — which most people agree would be much more useful. Birthday Boosters are always nice for leveling. The Skill Point Scroll awards 5 skill points to any character.

And the Birthday Blaster is the gun pictured above. It shoots out birthday cakes. These cakes provide the following buffs:

+40 to All Attributes
+10% Karma
+15% Magic Find
+15% Experience from Kills

I suppose we shouldn’t grouch about birthday gifts given out for free. The blaster is pretty cool looking, is fun to play with and better than the throng of Mini Jennahs we got last year (really, what was the thinking, or lack thereof, of that?). I do wish the Experience Scroll was more useful, however. I’d be all over it if it could help push some of my alts, who are stuck in the mid thirties, closer to level 80.

My History With GW2

Zznaf in Living Story Season 2
Zznaf in Living Story Season 2

I decided I wanted to take a look back at the changes in GW2 over the past two years. I’ve always been of the mind that a new MMO doesn’t really come into it’s own until about its second year. This has given it time to fix systems that didn’t work as hoped, clear out bugs, work on balance and add new content.

I was along for the ride with GW2 since the first open beta event. I was there at midnight on pre-launch. I played the heck out of the game daily for about 3 months, loving every moment of it. Over time, GW2 and I grew more distant, however. Some of that had to do with changes that caused guildies to fall out of interest. Some of that had to do with my own lukewarm feelings towards the Living Story and the burn-out pacing of content release.

Though I feel the Living Story Season 2 has improved on the system, I still don’t see GW2 as my “main” MMO anymore. Despite the fact that I’ve written fan works (RP and short stories), drawn fan art, and even launched Tumblrs within the fan community (which is more than I’ve done for any other MMO), I just can’t seem to get re-invested in GW2 overall now days.

A Look Back: Like, Dislike, Mehs

The following is a list of changes that GW2 has undergone over the past 2 years. By my opinion only, I’m categorizing them based on my feelings. Your mileage may vary.


  • Costume Brawl – It’s just fun. 🙂
  • Mad King’s Labyrinth – Still fun and still looking forward to it this year.
  • Guesting – Yay! Could finally meet friends!
  • Daily Achievements – I like the idea of dailies, and tend to do them when I decide to play for an extended time.
  • Laurel Rewards – I like being able to get ascended accessories and other items for daily rewards.
  • Culling Changes – Nice.
  • Super Adventure Box – Still one of my favorites!
  • Zephyr Sanctum – Hope it comes back. 🙁
  • Achievement Point Rewards – I love getting gifts as I earn achievement points. I remember back before this was released, we all wondered what that achievement number was good for.
  • Luck System Change – I know it’s probably not worth anything to work up my luck, but I like the idea of the system.
  • Account Wide Wardrobe – I wasn’t sure how the transmutation stones would transition into the wardrobe, but now that we have it, I really like it.
  • Remove Cost to Retrait – Long overdue.
  • Remove Cost to Repair – Thank you.
  • Account Wide Dye System – It was like this in beta. Should have left it this way.
  • Living Story in Journal – I like that they’re using the character journal for Living Story now.
  • Instruments – I can’t play them at all, but I like that they exist.
  • Dry Top – I enjoy the area and most of its mechanics. Just wish it was bigger.
  • New Hair and Facial Styles – I’m really surprised at how much customization has been added since launch.


  • Southsun Cove & Event– Meh. Karkas.
  • Living Story Season 1 – Meh with a few good moments.
  • Newer jumping puzzles – Mostly too difficult and frustrating to me. I’ve given up on trying them.
  • Fractals – Meh. Played it once. Not interested in this.
  • Tequatl Changes – I guess folks needed a raid. I’ve never seen him beaten since, though.
  • Destruction of Lion’s Arch – The first part of the event was okay. I still don’t like seeing the city in ruins.
  • Fall of Zephyr Sanctum – More destruction of something lovely in the name of the Living Story. Oh, well.
  • Trait System Changes – Not sure how I feel about the changes. I didn’t see them as particularly bad, but I don’t like that we don’t get traits until level 30.
  • Megaserver – I like some aspects of this. I can see issues with it, too.
  • Mad King and Bloody Prince – I was a HUGE fan of King Thorn from GW1 because he was just silly and fun during Halloween events, as he should be. GW2 spends so much time digging into his past and making what was once a fun character into someone really dark, nasty, gruesome and all around hard-to-like. Introducing the Bloody Prince last year wasn’t funny… it was just… making it worse.
  • Edge of the Mists – I’m not going to WvW no matter how much they want to try to nudge me into doing it.
  • Crazy Craftable Backpieces – I guess some people like them. I just don’t bother.
  • Weapon Skin Sets – Locked behind RNG Black Lion chests. It’s okay. Most of them looked pretty meh to me anyhow.
  • Charging for Missed Living Story Episodes – Still not sure how I feel about this.


  •  Waypoint Changes to Dungeons – Pretty much ruined dungeon play for me. Haven’t really touched them since, and when I do, I don’t enjoy it as much as I did before the change.
  • Guild Missions – A breaking point for our little guild. We were looking forward to activities we could do as a whole guild. Didn’t know we’d have to be a much bigger guild to get results. Our guild kinda fizzled out after this disappointment.
  • Crown Pavilion Changes – 🙁
  • Possibly No More Super Adventure Box – From the sound of it. 🙁
  • Ascended Weapon and Crafting Above 400 Grind – Didn’t even bother with it.
  • Removed Dye Drops – I used to enjoy finding random dyes. There was just something enjoyable about making the choice to open it for the chance of something good… or sell it for a little profit.
  • Black Lion Chest Keys – I refuse to buy these things. I also refuse to farm for keys.
  • Holiday Items in Gem Store – In GW1, you join the celebration and you got a cool hat. In GW2, you’re lucky if you get the hat. The cool things are in the gem store for you to buy. 🙁
  • Atherblades – They annoy the crap out of me.

I’m sure there’s something I’ve missed over the past two years. Keep in mind, I don’t PvP or WvW, so I don’t even read that part of the patch notes!

Do you have anything you’d add to the list? 


  1. Wow, that’s a really fascinating list. Great job collating all that information. Don’t be surprised if I use it as a resource and a bouncing-off point in the future!

    Laid out like that it looks like a lot but I am absolutely certain that if I was to summarize two full years of patch notes from most other MMOs it would show at least as much activity and almost certainly there would be a higher proportion of solid, permanent additions to content (as opposed to systems).

    On the whole I agree with most of your assessments of these changes. There are a few where I’d feel strongly otherwise but not many. I really liked the Karka event – I wish they’d held their nerve and continued with big, one-off events. That was how I always envisaged GW2 being – I love “be there or miss out” content in MMOs even when I miss it. Southsun itself as a map, however, is indeed meh.

    I’d put Edge of the Mists in “Dislike” even though I love WvW. Or, in fact, because I love WvW. Whatever they meant it to be, EOTM is pretty much pure PVE zerg nowadays. SAB I’d put in “Dislike” too, although only for me – it’s a fine addition for the game, just not one I want to use.

    Looking at the whole list, though, on balance, even though a lot of those changes are net positives in theory and I like and use them all the time, I don’t think the game as a whole is “better” than it was at launch. I was fine with no rewards for Achievements, no dailies, no Wardrobe, paying for retraits and repairs etc etc. I’d give up virtually all of those quality of life tweaks for half a dozen good, new PvE maps.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this! I know I must be missing some features, but looking over the list of feature updates in the wiki and scrounging from my memory, this is what I came up with.

      The karka event was okay. I wasn’t bothered by the one time or miss it thing, but I don’t feel like it was as organized as it could have been. Mostly because it was their first time launching something like that. The instance I was in took way over a hour (and many zone-wide wipes) to finish it — that didn’t include the buggy stalling from not launching on time, etc. And friends who got disconnected (or had to leave because the fight was taking far, far longer than expected) couldn’t get back in to get their rewards… which was a big bummer, especially if they contributed a long time to a fight they couldn’t finish due to technical or timing reasons.

      I’m mostly meh about karkas in general, though. Not a fan of fighting them — they just feel ponderous to me. 🙂

      I agree. I’d have loved to see more PvE maps open up, and maybe new weapon types, if not a new class. I’m not sure if the Living Story method is a good exchange for the traditional GW1 expansions. It sure seems to be what the team is sticking to, however.

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