The ultimate ding in Guild Wars 2

, | Games

I’m an MMO dilettante. I’ve played a lot of them. But I can count on one hand the number of MMOs I’ve played in which I’ve leveled a character to a number higher than my age. Make of that what you will. And I would still have my thumb, pinky, and ring finger left over. The point is that I wasn’t sure what to expect in Guild Wars 2 after the ultimate ding.

There isn’t any more ceremony when you hit level 80 than when you hit level 2. In fact, there’s more ceremony when you hit level 2 because at that point the game is still keen to explain stuff. But by level 80, it knows you’ve pretty much figured everything out. So you’re liable to not even notice when you hit level 80. Nothing changes. You don’t look any different. No angels sing hosannas. You don’t ascend to demigodhood. Just another splashy light effect, no different from the effect you’ve seen 79 other times.

When it happened to me, I was busy clearing out the icy waters of Frostgorge Sound, diving underneath one of those majestic kodan settlements that’s half iceberg, half massive sailing ship. Me and another player, a level 79 guardian named Quite Eyes, had hooked up in that way Guild Wars 2 players hook up. We were just tagging along with one another, helping each other out, neither of us leading, neither of us following, one of us eventually inviting the other into a party even though it’s not at all necessary. Remarkably enough, we both hit level 80 from killing a veteran undersea assassin called a largo. We swam to shore and stood there at the edge of the sea.

We looked out over the water. I imagined we were catching our breath. I imagined our breath steaming in the cold. For all I know he was dinking around in his inventory with whatever bone fragments or scales he’d collected. But in those places in an MMO where my imagination fills the gaps in the actual game, we were like two guys who’d just finished a marathon or reached a peak at the same time.

He dove back in the water after a moment, but I excused myself.

Thanks for the party, I said. It was one to remember.