I started playing this game approximately 5 years ago. In that time I have had many ups and downs and have scattered my gameplay to about 1500 hours. I just wanted to make this post about my experiences and feelings over the 5 years i have been playing, to hopefully share the memories this mmo has brought and thank the Devs and Anet for this gem of a game.
Entering the game 5 years ago I was a free server WoW "refugee". The subscription based model mmo was just a bit too much for my pocket and the free servers were as broken and toxic as I can remember. A friend of mine recommended I should give this cool looking new MMO that was at the time, extremely pretty, and had quite a fluid and quick combat system. That's where it all started.
Creating my first Norn Guardian Character and exploring this amazing new world was quite the experience. I enjoyed the renown hearts system (I'm crazy I know), loved the basic meta events, took in my surroundings with vistas and I even enjoyed the annoying JPs. Hoelbrak became my home away from all the action and levelling was such an enjoyable experience for me. I still remember just going along, doing some basic renown heart when I suddenly saw a mass of players gathering. I was curious so I decided to stick around to see what all the fuss was about. All of a sudden, a massive black creature spawns (Shadow Behemoth) and I was like "what the heeeeeeell is thaaaaaaat!!!!!" We killed it, massive chest appears, players leave. Im left standing there trying to process what just happened while looking at all my new shinies. This was the beginning of world boss events and gw2temple being my best friend. Don't even get me started on my first experience of Tequatl.
Anyway, I had started the game in season 1 round about the Twisted Marionette cluster of an event and man was that something. Working together with tons of players in the world on a crazy "Boss" that was not an instance was something I had never experienced before. I think it was 5 lanes, each with it's own strategy and every section needed to be finished to successfully complete the event (not that you guys don't know). But this way of playing blew me away, something we are so used to by now. I remember hearing about Ley-lines and being so confused as to what the hell was going on, and of course meeting my favourite character, Taimi. Also this was before the mega-server existed so you had to make sure you were there 15min before the event started or you wouldnt have a full group. Being half way through the event, only to dc and come back on an empty map made me want to punch the wall. oh and also no mentor tags, think about that...
Then came one of the most "traumatic" events to this day. The destruction of Lion's Arch!!! This made the Living Story actually feel real and impactful to the environment around me. I know a lot of people hate the new Lion's Arch but the fact that some people still feel like we lost something was the whole point in my opinion. Scarlet is still my favourite villian (Fight me!). That epic last fight was great and the idea that a dragon had been woken after the battle was extremely exciting.
Other than the Living Story, one problem I had noticed at the time was how easy most of the open world content was (personal story especially). I was a Guardian and I finished pretty much everything with...a sceptor. Traits didn't feel like they did that much and was obviously not as complicated or as important as WoW. Then came the amazing Crown Pavilion arena. Still my favourite event to this day. I remember finally having to gear my guardian properly and changing my traits to be able to complete certain bosses. After dying 237 times, wanting to pull my eyes out or throwing my keyboard across the room, I finally defeated Liadri (I was still a noob ok). Still the most joy I have ever felt completing something (even more than SAB tribulation mode). I still show her as my mini and my Blazing Light title to this day.
Anyway, I followed and played through Season 2 and my main memory from that was Silverwastes. Once I decided I wanted the legendary sword Twilight, I spent many many many hours farming that place for mats and gold. The whole meta of that event was great and the increase in difficulty was very welcome. The news of an expansion made me leap for joy (not literally) and I had no idea what to expect. At this time I was trying to get into fractals (Remember having to do 4 in a row) and really enjoying Wintersday and Halloween. I wont go into detail about those events.
I then stopped playing for a long time. Real life needed my time so I put the game in the background hoping I would one day return. By the time LS 4 dropped, I finally had the time to invest in the game again. I entered HoT and wow...the map was insane. Multiple layers, a mastery system and gliding!!! This is what I call an expansion. VB was insane. The open world difficulty was ramped up so much that if you didn't pay attention you were dead (kitten pocket raptors). Gliding was incredible and I couldn't believe amazing it felt to just fly through the sky. Then the meta-events. It made you feel like you were a part of a war, trying to survive snares of the forest. It felt like a foreign land that you didn't belong in and it didn't like you being there. At this point I decided that I really needed to immerse myself in this world and its lore. I read tons of wiki pages on the main characters in the game and finally understood why and how they were there helping or opposing me. This honestly changed the game for me, I was hooked, I needed to keep going. the tragedies that awaited me in the story and the new revelations felt more impactful and the final meta boss battle with Mordremoth felt epic. It was a real fight and grind (Nothing like Zhaitan lol).
After HoT, season 3 had me at the edge of my seat, wondering who was the next major enemy. Honestly this was where I was most into the story. And then i hit PoF...mind blown again.
Another new world outside Tyria, but a semi civilised one with their own political issues. More masteries, and of course....mounts...they finally did it...mounts (obviously i had seen other people on them when playing in HoT but still). My first raptor mount felt so fluid and easy to manoeuvre. I was also really impressed with the maps. I mean the crystal desert is stunning, with Amnoon being my favourite place. Again the story had gripped me. The only issues here was that I felt that the meta events were quite poorly attended. They didn't seem to have the same amount of importance as HoT maps and was sort of in the back of my mind the whole time. But anyway, I carried on my journey, exploring every inch of the maps, playing along with the story and getting each mount as I went along. By this time I had finally finished my legendary weapon so I was high on that accomplishment while smashing sand sharks and hydras and then running away because they hit hard. But again, GW2 had me enjoying my whole experience.
Long story short, I am now on LS 4 and coming to the next climax of the story and thinking about all the experiences I have had up to this point and I just want to say THANK YOU GW2/Anet. I have not regretted a single moment of playing this game. There are many more experiences I have left out but I just want to say I appreciate everything this game has brought. Is it perfect? Of course not! Is there a lot Anet could have done and still do to improve the game? Obviously! I am no veteran by any standards and I don't speak for the entirety of this community and I don't claim that guild wars 2 is better than any other game but I will say it has been my favourite MMO experience and one I will always remember. Also thank you GW2 players that have made this game an amazing experience. I am so proud to be a part of this community