Art of Cooking in Guild Wars 2

The world of Tryia is dangerous and full of peril, and you’ll need to defend yourself from all manner of foes and nasty creatures. Sometimes though, you will be killing for less lofty ideals than personal defense or preserving peace for the greater good. Sometimes you kill for strawberries.

Guild Wars 2, like most MMOs, has a crafting system, and you probably know the drill already, a slew of items go in and a better one comes out. This is still true for the most part, but the developers have actually managed to create a system in Guild Wars 2 that’s rewarding enough to shed some shackles of being just another grind.

For me, this is most true of the chef profession, because I can be just as excited to find a patch of strawberries as I might be for a nice loot drop.
It all starts with gathering your ingredients. Harvesting vegetables isn’t another profession to grind; it is a separate system entirely. To get started, you just need a sickle, which can be bought along with the other harvesting tools from the merchants. There are some level restrictions to buying the very best tools, likely to combat bot farmers, but you’re otherwise free to grab everything in sight provided you have the tools. You’re not even in conflict with other players, as resource nodes exist separately for each player.

Chefs can also spend karma to buy many of their ingredients in bulk. Karma is the currency rewarded for completing quests in the world in lieu of traditional item rewards. In other words, if none of the karma merchants have any items you’re interested in, you can invest in some eggs, butter and rice.

Once you have your ingredients though, you’ll need to store them until you’re ready to cook. So it helps that Guild Wars 2’s crafting is designed around not wasting your time. Instead of dragging around all these items all the time, from anywhere you can click a button to instantly drop all your materials into separate and sorted collectibles section of your bank vault. This keeps you in the field and playing, and you go back to town when you want to, not when your inventory space dictates. The crafting stations even give you access to this collectible panel and your regular bank space, so you don’t need to schlep yourself back and forth if you forgot something or fill you bag space. It might sound a little petty, but items even craft faster than most MMOs. A whole stack of items takes a couple seconds, instead of wanting to alt-tab while your character knocks on an anvil for the next few minutes.

The more I dove into cooking, the more I seriously believed that some designer had a lot of fun putting the chef recipes together. Short of actual measurements, recipes are often painstakingly detailed in their ingredients. You’ll often even need to combine ingredients to form the base of many dishes, like a stock, dough or roux. What’s great is that many of these are still usable food items to the character. You could snack on that tasty buttermilk biscuit or whip it together with some strawberries to make an even better strawberry and biscuit dessert.

The real fun comes in through the discovery window though. While you’ll receive a few new recipes as you progress, like a true chef you’ll need to experiment and think about possible combinations in order to craft better dishes. In the discovery window you’ll have a big list of all the ingredients you have undiscovered recipes for. You can certainly click around until you find a new combination, but the real trick comes in from ending up with say three of the four items necessary and puzzling out what the last might be.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if your inner foodie can smile at an entertainingly detailed cooking profession if there was little game reward attached to it, Guild Wars 2 is still an MMO, a genre that basically lives on marrying incremental rewards with progression. For starters, you have the food itself which provides some hefty bonuses. The better food the more bonuses it gives. These could be anything from increased experience for kills, a chance to steal life on hits, bonuses on kills, better chances to find magic items or just the generic flat statistic increases. The other is just the experience gained from crafting; making items accrues xp just like completing quests and killing monsters and discovering new recipes will even net you a bonus.

I just find this incredibly endearing as someone that enjoys cooking in real life as it would have been so easy to half-ass a system together, but someone went above and beyond instead. Just because I play a shady backstabbing thief doesn’t mean he can’t make a mean chocolate chip cookie.

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