I want to start with a bit of a confession. I’m a cooking junkie. Cooking is always my tradeskill of choice in any game that it is available. I’m a fan of cooking because I love the idea of creating consumables as a tradeskill, as there is always a built in demand due to their limited use. Other tradeskills must compete with world drops, but Cooks have only a very small amount of competition in this regard. Further exacerbating the competition factor in Guild Wars 2 is the fact that the Trading Post operates across all servers, and while all crafting disciplines will undoubtedly experience increased competition as a result of this, the built in continuous demand for consumables should help to keep the chefs of Tyria profitable.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to limit my discussion to Cooking, as that is the crafting discipline that I’m most interested in. However, it is important to note that each of your characters can have 2 active crafting disciplines, and you can switch disciplines simply by paying a fee of 10 copper per level of the discipline that you’re switching to. If you do decide to switch disciplines for whatever reason, your skill and recipes in your forgotten discipline are saved, should you change your mind at a later time.
Arenanet’s Linsey Murdock had this to say about the craft discipline cooking.
Originally posted by Linsey Murdock
Cooking is considered our advanced craft. It will cost you more money, karma, and time traveling the world than any other crafting discipline.
Pro Tip: Every cooking recipe in Guild Wars 2 is a real recipe for real food in real life (or a basic approximation). If you think you are close to figuring out one of the combinations, google a recipe for the food you suspect it might be, and odds are, you can find a bunch of recipes for things like that to try out.
After spending a good deal of the last beta weekend working on building my cooking skill, I can tell you that Linsey isn’t kidding when she says that it will cost you more than any other crafting discipline, and rightfully so, because some of the bonuses on the dishes are simply fantastic.
Ready To Begin?
Interacting with a Cooking Station will bring up the Production window. This window will give you a list of recipes that you currently know. New chefs will begin with a three recipes, all three of which are used to create components for more complex recipes. The bulk of the recipes that are used in cooking are discovered. There is a tab on the left side for the Discovery window, and when opening that window you’ll see 4 empty ingredient slots.
Discovering new recipes is as simple as dragging an ingredient from your inventory into one of the discovery slots. Doing so will cause two things to happen. First, a message will pop up at the bottom of your discovery window telling you how many possible unknown recipes can be made from your item and the skill required to craft your combination of ingredients. Second, some of the other items in your inventory will grey out meaning that these cannot possibly be used in combination with what you’ve selected. For example, placing A Slab of Red Meat into the discovery window yields the message 36 Possible Unknown Recipes, and the Blueberries in your inventory grays out. Because that is disgusting, and obviously they’re not used together in any recipe. However, adding an Onion to your Slab of Red Meat in the discovery window changes the message at the bottom to 3 Possible Unknown Recipes. And so the discovery process continues until the message at the bottom changes to This Looks Like Something! Craft the Item to Save the Recipe.
There will be times in which you have compatible ingredients, but the message changes to no unknown recipes. For example, this happens when putting a Slab of Red Meat and Parsley Leaves into the Discovery window. This is because that is part of a non-discoverable recipe that can be found somewhere else out in the game world.
There are a lot of items that can be used in cooking. Fortunately, Guild Wars 2 does an excellent job of making sure that players are aware of which crafting disciplines items can be used in. At the bottom of the item tooltip, any crafting disciplines that the item is an ingredient in is spelled out for the player, it also gives the approximate skill level at which that item would be used.
The Best Parts of Cooking
There are some great parts of cooking that are fun and make it an interesting crafting discipline to take up.
1. The wide variety of materials used in cooking gives crafters a wide spectrum of dishes to be made. This helps to keep the craft interesting, as you won’t necessarily have to craft the same thing over and over again to level the profession
2. Because of the large number of recipes that can be crafted, there are a wide variety of buffs that these various recipes can give characters. In my extremely brief experience in beta, I saw your typical +Statistic buffs, some buffs that gave you a %chance to gain something when a condition is met. For example 10% chance to remove a condition when you use a heal skill, some buffs related to the downed state like +10% health when downed, and some that are new to MMO’s, but players of other games will undoubtedly recognize. For example gain 2% Magic Find for 30 minutes.
3. The discovery system encourages players to actually play while crafting. Typically, I’m the type of person to use spoiler websites in order to progress my skill to max level. That’s because in the past, crafting has felt like the means to an end. A trainer gives me all of my recipes, and the only thinking I need to do is finding the most efficient path to the end. That doesn’t happen with cooking in Guild Wars 2, there’s something engaging about the discovery system, and I’m actually looking forward to finding recipes on my own.
Room for Improvement
I’ve mentioned that there are tons of ingredients in the game, and given the nature of the discovery system people engaging in the craft will want to have as many of those ingredients on hand while learning new recipes. The largest single complaint about cooking is about how much of an inventory hog the system is. I think that inventory hog may be a bit of an understatement, cooking is an absolute inventory monster.
The cooking vendor that will get you started in your cooking adventures sells 12 ingredients, and he also has another 15 different ingredients that he sells for karma. Remember when I mentioned that your initial 3 recipes were for components to create more complex recipes? Yeah, there’s a whole lot of that going on. This isn’t even taking into consideration other recipe items like Carrots, Onions, or Blueberries, which are gathered, or other components such as slabs of meat which are drops.
Arenanet has provided a partial solution. There’s a portion of the bank that is devoted to cooking materials, if your inventory is getting overwhelmed, just right click an item in your inventory and choose Deposit Collectible from the menu. I say that this is a partial solution, because items must be in your inventory to be used in cooking, so this only helps to clear your inventory while you’re out adventuring. There’s a slight problem with this though, if an item is a food item that can be consumed and used in more advanced recipes, it will not be stored in with your cooking ingredients, but instead in the regular portion of your account vault.
Cooking is definitely going to be my main crafting discipline, and so the only problem I’m going to have is choosing a secondary. Since all characters can gather, there are no disciplines that are needed to work hand in hand with cooking, and since cooking is the advanced craft, perhaps I won’t take a second crafting discipline at all. Fortunately, there’s enough here to keep me very busy.