Guild Wars 2: Initial Review

24 Jul

Note: This review concerns only Beta Weekend 3 (BWE3) as I did not take part in any of the others.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I had initially written off every trying Guild Wars 2 because everything I had heard about it indicated that it was focused on PvP which means my wife would never play it. After some information sharing from our friends on twitter though, we found out that it actually has a good deal of PvE content as well.

Last Thursday we decided that we would take a look at the game and by Friday both my wife and I had invites to the BWE3 event. We played it for most of the weekend from the time that we finished eating after work on Friday until we went to sleep last night. We both missed the world event at the close, so you won’t get any GW2 Hunger Games information here, but I will be talking about everything that I did have a chance to actually experience.

I was working on renovating my kitchen all weekend, so I only got to play late at night and early in the mornings, but I got to experience a fair amount of content including solo PvE, solo-queued PvP (both varieties), and group PvE. My wife had more playtime during the day than I did, so you can read her thoughts about the game at Fynralyl’s Pen.

Pre-Character Creation
Since we’re still in the beta phase for another month, I’m not going to go too much into detail about things prior to character creation. Not that there is much to talk about there anyway, but you never know what they might change about fairly minor things such as loading screens, server select and so forth.

You will see the cinematic art style that they have in the game during this time, which doesn’t appeal to me personally but I know it is totally a matter of personal tastes and you should not take my saying that to mean anything other than my personal taste lies elsewhere in terms of cinematic and art.

Do note that the art style you see there is not indicative to what you will see in the actual game play. You will see scenes with art that is similar to that, but the actual game world is much different. You can see an example of that style of art in the Elementalist wallpaper below. I don’t think it looks bad, it just isn’t a style that appeals to me personally, and it is not at all what you see in the actual gameplay. It’s like a pseudo-watercolor that just looks weird to me rather than appealing.

Character Creation: General
After you select which server you’re going to play on, it’s time to get into character creation. The creation process is pretty typical for MMO’s that are out right now. The major difference you’ll see with GW2 is that there is no faction choice to be made because there are no factions. You pick your race, then your profession (class), and then you answer a few multiple choice questions about your character’s background. [Note: I have seen some veterans mention that you choose a faction at a later stage, but it’s not a faction in the typical sense, like Horde/Alliance or Sith/Jedi, but more like earning reputation with a certain group was in WoW. It’s more involved than that, but it’s not a player splitting faction from what I’ve heard.]

I will cover races and classes in just a moment since those are a bit more important. The questions that you answer about your background supposedly have some impact on your character’s class quest, but from the information I have been able to gather of the last few days there has not been a confirmation of that. Some people said that they had quest text refer to their choices, but it’s possible that those were just coincidences. Hopefully I will be able to find out more information about that soon, either through further research or by rolling alts like crazy to see if I can find out for myself.

I really liked the amount of customization that they allow in the creation process. I love being able to make my character short/tall and fat/skinny without those two traits being directly linked. If I want a short little fat guy, then dang it I want a short little fat guy! GW2 doesn’t have as much control over looks as I would like to have in that area, but they do a great job regardless. I didn’t feel like any of my characters were forced to take on features that I didn’t like just to enable features that I did.

Character Creation: Race
The only complaint I have about the race selection is how little information there is about the race on the selection screen. You get a quick little blurb that’s one or two sentences long, and that’s it. I don’t expect a ton of information on them, but with only five races to choose from and so much empty screen space to play around with I think they could have done a better job of presenting the races to us and given a better idea of who they are. Other games don’t have as much of a problem with that because a lot of their races are typical for fantasy genres. For example, you don’t need much explanation to know what a dwarf, elf, gnome, goblin, or troll is. GW2 has four races that are completely different from the norm, and since I never played GW1 I had no idea who any of these non-human races were beyond what I could imagine based on looks (Sylvari being obviously influenced by elves, for example).

Guild Wars 2 has five races for you to choose from: Charr, Human, Norn, Asura and Sylvari.

Charr: the token monster race, they are a freaky mixture WoW’s Tauren and Worgen races. They run on all fours when they do not have weapons drawn, and they did a fairly good job of that animation in my opinion. Theirs is one of the starting areas that I experienced the least, so I don’t know much about them or their story beyond what I’ve read on their official page.

Human: the race that needs no explanation. Humans are humans are humans. Humans are Charr are the two races I played the least, getting both to only level 2.

Norn: These are essentially a larger, more barbaric version of humans. They are have a belief system that revolves around revering animal spirits and according to lore they are shape-changers which I assume is a change into the animal spirits. From what I saw through the game play, their shape-shifting quality is not something you can use in game but I suspect that you will probably see it at some point in your character’s story. The Norn starting area and the story that goes along with it made them easily my favorite race in the game. I had a fantastic time experiencing their starting area and look forward to rolling a real one.

I wish I would have thought to grab a screenshot for you, but to tell you just how large these people are, when I rolled my Norn and then looked at him on the character select screen, the top half of his head wouldn’t even fit on my monitor so all I saw was his beard.

Asura: the token small race, the Asura can look quite cute and cuddly or they can look freaking psychotic. I’m usually not a fan of playing small races because their cuteness makes it hard for me to take them seriously, but that was not the case with the Asura for me. I enjoyed their starting area and their story, though part of my enjoyment is based on my class selection as well since my Asura happened to be my favorite class so far as well. They are similar to the Gnomes in WoW both in size and because they are technologically advanced, particularly in the creation of golems.

Sylvari: the token tree-huggers, the Sylvari are humanoid plants that resemble elves. They have a beautiful starting area and their story was pretty fun once we got it moving as well. My Sylvari Necromancer was my highest level character during the BWE3 event at level 12, and I enjoyed him. Some of the quests in their starting area were really annoying because they took forever to complete, but those are minor issues that can easily be fixed in-game if the devs take our feedback to heart.

Your race determines your starting area, but there is nothing keeping you from leaving your area and joining that of another race right after rolling your character. There are no racial abilities, and I didn’t notice any racial attribute bonuses either.

The one non-vanity impact that your race does have is that it defines your character’s quest story. I have not experienced enough of the game to comment on character quest stories other than to say that I’ve enjoyed the small amounts of them that I have seen so far. From what I’ve heard over the last day and a half, those stories really start to take off and get a life of their own somewhere around the level 20 mark.

Character Creation: Class
In Guild Wars 2 classes are called Professions. That has taken a lot of getting used to for me since I have always associated professions with crafting in video games. You will likely see me make several incorrect references to GW2’s Professions as being Classes and crafting as professions until I get myself retrained on the terminology.

GW2 offers eight Professions (classes) to choose from: Elementalist, Warrior, Guardian, Engineer, Ranger, Necromancer, Thief and Mesmer.

Elementalist: is a spellcaster class that has a good balance of single target damage, AoE damage, and a fair amount of healing thrown into the mix as well. Of the classes that I was able to try out, the Elementalist proved to be my favorite and I loved him as much in PvP as I did PvE. Elementalists are the only class that does not switch between weapon sets during combat because they switch between four different elements worth of spells instead. Elementalists still get new sets of spells for each weapon or weapon/off-hand pairing, and each of those different weapon choices also has a whole new set of spells for each of the four elements.

Warrior: is one of the two classes that I had no experience with at all during the beta. I saved it until the end intentionally because warriors are such a staple in any type of MMO that it doesn’t take much to imagine what the play would be like. I don’t even recall facing one in PvP, so I really can’t say anything at all about this class.

Guardian: represents the typical Paladin class concept as a heavily armored holy warrior. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed playing the guardian, particularly as a healing-focused character who also kicked some major butt in PvE content with the very same spec. My Norn Guardian was one of my favorite experiences of the BWE3 event, second only to my Elementalist (and not by much). Guardians have a nice mix of single and multi-target damage spells, great buffs and healing for your whole group, and some fantastic survivability.

Engineer: of the classes that I did get to play, I played my Charr Engineer the least as it was the last character we rolled on the first night and my wife wanted to go to bed and pick them up the next day where we instead got caught up in playing other characters. I did get to play with and against several Engineers in PvP though, and it looked like they were going to be an incredibly fun class to play with various gadgets and spells that worked off of random rolls. If this were WoW, then Engineers would be Hunters that traded their pets for Shaman totems, and who loved the Engineering profession.

Ranger: is about what you would expect in an MMO, a class that deals well with both ranged and melee attacks and has an animal companion. I didn’t get to play my Ranger as much as I had wanted to, but I did get to have a little fun with one, and I know my wife really loved hers. I saw tons of Rangers in both PvE and PvP, and either my eyes were playing tricks on me or Rangers are able to have their pets revive them which adds a whole new level of wicked coolness to PvP if your opponents don’t take the time to finish you off. There is a large list of pets that you can tame in this game, and I think people who are fond of this type of character will have a lot of fun with them in GW2 as well. The only problem I had with them was that I couldn’t figure out how to rename my pet, so I’m not 100% sure that it’s even possible in this game. I sure hope it is, but I couldn’t find it.

Necromancer: is a lot better than some of the other options for Necros in the MMO world. My Sylvari Necromancer was my highest level character over the weekend, and I really enjoyed him. Necromancy has always been one of my favorite schools of magic to play with when it’s offered in a game that I’m playing so I was eager to check them out. I like having an undead army to command, and I was disappointed in the relatively few options Necros have for minions in GW2. However, they did at least have minions so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and the minions had interesting abilities like being able to sacrifice them for healing effects or for explosive AoE damage.

Necros have a special feature where they turn into a shadowy being with a spell called Death Shroud. Activating it gives you four new spells (eight if you count the change to underwater spells) and you get a new health bar that’s also the duration bar for Death Shroud. Taking damage simply reduces the duration of Death Shroud, so it’s sort of like having an extra life bar when you need it. I’m not a huge fan of Death Shroud, but it is a cool concept and it saved my butt more than once in PvP. As far as I could tell, you only get access to those four spells for ever in your Death Shroud form, so it will get boring over time, but at least it still has its uses.

Thief: is the other class that I had absolutely no experience with. I really wanted to roll one of these and give them a shot in PvP, I just didn’t have time. From what I read, Thieves are a lot like WoW’s Subtlety Rogues combined with Diablo II’s Assassin class, so they’re able to do a lot of powerful moves using stealth but also have traps that they can use for damaging or controlling opponents, or for additional utility.

They do have the ability to Steal in this game, but instead of actually stealing an item you instead get a one-use special ability from “stealing” something from the target and then using it against them. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I guess that will have to wait until after launch when I’ve had a chance to try it out for myself. I saw a video of a Thief stealing a large club from one giant and then using it to bash another giant, but that’s about all I can tell you right now.

Mesmer: is an illusionist which I found incredibly intriguing when I first read about it. I only got my Mesmer to level 2, but I ran him through several PvP matches to test out the max level abilities and get a better feel for the class. Overall I wasn’t thrilled with how the class actually played, but I know that a fair amount of that is due to the fact that I didn’t have time to learn the class through normal play before I jumped right into PvP.

Mesmers have a lot of really great utility to them, but I found them very awkward. From the reviews I’ve seen on twitter it looks like this is one of those classes that you either love or you hate, and right now I’m undecided. I’m looking forward to taking another shot at the Mesmer after launch, so I’ll keep you posted. Mesmers can use their illusions as temporary pets or sacrificial cannon fodder, they can enter stealth to confuse their opponents, they have good damage and (I think) healing abilities.

One of the minor things that turned me off of Guild Wars when I first looked at it way back when, was the graphics. I think the livestream that I was watching had someone viewing one of the cinematics and the art turned me off. It wasn’t until last week that I actually took the time to look more closely, and that’s when I found out the graphics for this game are actually really good. They might not be amazing, top of the line graphics, but they do a good job of mixing realistic with cartoonish fantasy, and the end result is something that I find appealing.

I have mentioned a couple of times now that I’m not a fan of their cinematic aspect of their graphics, but with everything else I think they did a great job of making a world that is visually appealing, realistic enough to really encourage immersion, and there is some absolutely gorgeous scenery. I’m very action oriented in my playing, I don’t like staying in one place and not really doing anything, but this game really has a lot of fantastic things to look at, and I didn’t mind spending a little time in some of the places that we visited.

I like how much this game encourages exploration, and that they did their part in making that exploration worth while in both rewards and eye candy.

User Interface (UI)
The GW2 user interface is pretty simple. It’s not super customizable as far as being able to move things around the screen, but a lot of the screen elements did have the option for you to enlarge or shrink them which is something at least. With so few spells that you have access to at a given time, it’s not a big deal that there be action bars all over the place or anything, but it would still be nice if we could move them to fit personal taste.

There are some things that I wish were a part of the interface. For example, you have to buy new version of your gathering tools because you wear out their durability over time, but there’s no indication that you’re getting low or that you’ve run out until you try to gather something and suddenly find that it’s gone. You can pull up your hero screen and see the number, but that’s annoying and unnecessary if you ask me.

The one thing that bugs me about the UI is that I get so little information about my target. I want to see how much health they have left, what class they are, and whatever other information you can squeeze in there. Instead, all I see is a bar, a name, and a portrait. And I hate the location of it too, because I can’t keep as a close an eye on it with my peripheral vision.

Otherwise, I think the UI does a decent job of showing you what you need to see. Messing with your keybinds takes away the range notification on your spells, but that’s a known issue and one that will likely be resolve before launch.

The “Holy Trinity”, or Lack Thereof (Roles)
This was an interesting concept, and one that I’ve understood the existence of but wished for a fix for quite a while. Guild Wars 2 has done a good job of getting rid of the traditional holy trinity of Tank, Heals, DPS. However, they still have an effective trinity of their own which is Heals, DPS, Control.

That being said, most players won’t actually fall into any of those three roles fully. You can set up your spec and your spells so that you’re character is very dedicated to healing, but there is no healing spell that doesn’t have a cooldown that I’m aware of, or if there is it doesn’t have enough healing that you could literally sit there spamming heals all day long. Similarly, not class is so packed full of control spells that you could do nothing but that.

Can you be a healer? Yes. Can you just be a healer? No. Not unless you want to sit there doing nothing while you wait on your cooldowns. Not all of those cooldowns are long, some are just 10-15 seconds and others 30-45 seconds, but there’s enough cooldown going on that you can’t just spam heals so you’ll need to fill in your gaps with damage spells or focus on Boons (buffs) or…whatever word it is they’re using for offensive debuffs in this game.

Even the DPS specs though have healing abilities and buffs that they can use. Everyone in GW2 is able to heal, but not everyone will be using the spec and/or the weapons required to do more than one healing spell every 30 seconds or so. This game is packed full of spells that offer variety, and there’s not a single class or spec that literally cannot fill more than one role.

Some people feel that by creating their own version of the trinity that GW2 has failed to actually eliminate it, but until you’ve actually experienced the difference for yourself I urge you to reserve that judgement until you’ve seen it for yourself. One of the videos that I watched while we were looking to see whether or not GW2 would be a good fit for us mentioned the new trinity and it had me concerned that it would basically be the same thing all over again, but even playing characters where I specifically set up my spec to be a healer I did way more than just healing and I definitely noticed a difference.

Dynamic Events and Heart Quests
Dynamic Events are a lot like the rifts and invasion events that I loved about Rift. They seem to be triggered primarily off of the number of players active in an area, but some also have triggers for the players. The game does tend to get a bit more boring during off peak hours (like 5:30 am *cough*) because those that are triggered by population just do not trigger, but the others are still there for you to trigger by interaction.

I really loved how some areas had DE’s that fed off of one another, where finishing one changed something in the world that forced another one to trigger. My favorite DE’s that I found during BWE3 were in the Norn starting area. I loved how they flowed from one place to another and how many of them would trigger another one after it finished. It was really a ton of fun to go through there and look at everything that their starting area had to offer.

Heart Quests are similar to DE’s in how they work, but they are more static and some of them can be repeated. Finishing a Heart Quest also turns the quest giver into a vendor who sells special items for a type of currency that’s specific to heart quests. I want to say this currency is called Karma, but don’t quote me on that since my memory sucks. I found that in general the items that the vendors sold were typically on par with other items I already had, and the biggest advantage that I saw from using karma vendors was that you could often find items for slots that you didn’t otherwise have access to gear for. For example, you can get some early…accessories, I think they were called. They’re sort of like your trinkets from WoW except that they just have stats on them instead of on use abilities or chances to proc something. I found one karma vendor who sold a cooking recipe, so I assume you will likely find other recipes later in the game as well, and most likely for more than just the cooking craft.

Overall, I would say that I enjoyed the DE’s more than the HQ’s, but I think they both serve their purpose and do a decent job of keeping things moving and directing you around the map. They also do a good job of keeping you invested in the stories in many cases. Some DE’s are fairly minor so you don’t really notice anything difference after having done them, but others have a real impact on things going on in your area of the map.

Below is a screenshot of one of the mails that I received after completing a fun heart quest that made me really look forward to getting into some of the other quests. It’s nothing huge, but it was fun and made me smile so I was looking forward to doing other things as well.

PvE Gameplay
I really enjoyed the PvE content overall. There were some quests in particular that I didn’t care for because they didn’t make sense to me or they had you doing things where the resources for completing the quests were too few in number so you had to wait for respawns, but for the most part I enjoyed the stories that I saw and I liked how many of the quests had some amount of impact on the world around you.

I thought that the combat system was very interesting as far as spells were concerned. I like the idea of certain spells being tied to certain weapons and being able to swap weapons to switch between your spells. I don’t know that I love the system, but it was definitely something new and interesting. Let me explain –

In Guild Wars 2 you have access to 10 spells at any given time: 5 tied to your weapon, and 5 tied to your class. The first five spells are tied to your weapon(s), and you can have two sets of weapons equipped at the same time to allow you to swap back and forth on most classes. Of the other five spells the first one is your heal, the next three are based on how you spend your skill points, and the final one is a heroic spell that’s tied to your class and I have no idea at which level you officially gain access to that one. (Each of the classes that I played also had access to a varying number of other spells tied to the class, but each class is different so I’m not going to cover them here.)

You have no control over which spells are tied to your weapons, they just are what they are and that’s that. You do have control over the other five spells though the first is always a healing spell and the last is always a heroic spell of some kind. The remaining three in the middle can be chosen from a decent list of about a dozen spells once you’ve spent the skill points to unlock them.

The Elementalist class is unique because they can’t swap weapons in combat. Instead, they have four schools of magic (Fire, Water, Air, Earth) and each of those four schools has a different set of five spells for each of the weapons that an Elementalist can use. This gives them a great deal of versatility in their spell selection as they effectively have twice as many spells to choose from as everyone else.

I did have a lot of fun with the PvE content, and I did enjoy the spells based on weapons system. However, I do still wish that I had full control over which spells I could cast. I love the versatility it brings and the idea of switching to the weapon that’s best suited for the task at hand, but years and years of playing MMO’s where I had access to my entire spellbook must have spoiled me. I still had a blast with the game, so I’ll deal with the limited spell selection and do just fine, I just wish I had the option to pick and choose more.

I also like that there are so many things in the world that give you experience. Story quests, heart quests, dynamic events, vistas that give you experience on top of a great visual scene, crafting, gathering, killing things, and so on. There might not be enough experience available for every different type of player to do exactly what they enjoy the most to get all the way up to level 80, but there’s enough going on that you can certainly focus on what you enjoy most and then supplement that with other activities that you still like to do.

There wasn’t anything that particularly comes to mind as far as things that I disliked about the PvE content. I have a few things that I’ll talk about down below, but those are mostly bits and pieces of the game overall that didn’t thrill me. If I had to pick out one thing that I didn’t care for on the PvE side of things, it’s that the Effective Level system is forced on you rather than being something you can toggle back and forth. Not that it’s a bad thing necessarily, I just wish I had control over it for those times that I want to be able to to be at full strength in a low level zone.

PvP Gameplay
I found the PvP in GW2 to be a lot of fun. With everyone being at an equal level of gear and with all skills unlocked, I think they really hit a home run with their PvP concept. By raising everyone’s effective level to 80 they’ve accomplished what SWTOR was aiming for with their PvP, and by leaving out PvP gear that further increased the power of already higher skilled or more experienced players they’ve managed to avoid the pit that SWTOR fell into after Patch 1.2. By keeping a completely unnecessary PvP stat out of the game, they have established PvP to be a straight forward match up of skill versus skill (versus skill in WvWvW).

There are two types of PvP in Guild Wars 2, known as sPvP and WvWvW. The sPvP matches are much like battlegrounds and warzones, where it’s the red team going up against the blue team. All of the maps are the same right now in concept as they are all control point style matches.

Strategic PvP (sPvP): One big difference in these matches versus other games though is that the number of people there has no influence on how quickly you get control of the flag. Whether you have one person there or five, the flag changes hands at the exact same speed. It’s not a contest of who has the most people here, it’s a contest of who is here and who is not. If even one person on each team is on the flag then ownership does not move, you have to be the only team in control of it to make establish ownership.

While the objectives are very simple, the gameplay is more than just capturing and controlling nodes. One of the larger differences is that some maps include siege weapons that can be used to attack nodes or even to destroy buildings that block the terrain. By removing buildings on your team’s side of the map you can open up new paths for your team to go through, and you can attack enemy players directly with the siege weapons as well. You can also attack your opponent’s siege to remove them, though they can be rebuilt.

Other maps include mini objectives like NPC bosses that spawn at intervals and award bonus points to the team that kills them. So if you find yourself in a close game you can rally some troops to go take out the bosses while everyone else defends and see if you can gain an advantage that way.

World vs. World vs World: I didn’t get to spend much time at all doing this, so I don’t have a whole lot to say here. I did have fun doing it, and I liked that there were gathering nodes and things so that people who don’t like PvP a whole lot can still go there and have things to do besides just fight people. I didn’t fully understand the concept of everything that was going on, but basically it’s one huge map that has three different teams in it. The fight goes on for two solid weeks before it resets, and it’s a constant battle to see who can control the most caravan routes (I think) for the longest period of time. The more bases you control, the larger your supply chain, thus the more supplies you rack up over time.

Since this is an epic battle both in size and time frame, you should be prepared to see a lot of people here at once. I know when I was there I had my graphics turned down to the medium range and I was lagging like crazy with the number of people present and how much AoE was being thrown out there. So be prepared for lag if you’re not using a high end machine. Another option would be to travel there with a smaller sized group like some of your guild members and focus more on being a quick strike team rather than hanging out with a massive zerg group.

There are vendors here where you can buy things to make siege weapons if you have the right professions (I think that’s how it works), and those can make assaulting the keeps themselves significantly easier. We had over 50 people in the group that I was attacking in and we were all attacking the walls to a keep with horrible results until the siege was set up effectively. I was focused on AoE healing and throwing Meteor Showers, and I was having a blast every eight seconds or so when I could actually see things happening because of the lag. Whether or not I can overcome the lag will be the deciding factor in how much WvW I end up playing.

One nifty thing I want to mention about PvP is that the rewards you get for doing it and acquiring different levels of Glory can come in really handy for your PvE as well. For example, the first two times I gained a level of Glory I opened the chest that was my reward and found 8-slot bags in both of them. At the time, the only bags I had been able to find from vendors were 4-slots, and though I could craft the 8slot with my tailoring profession, I didn’t have nearly enough mats to make more than just a couple.

Crafting Professions
I did not want to spend too much time on crafting professions in the beta because I knew it was only open for one weekend and I knew that I would be having to deal with kitchen renovations for several hours each day too, so I wanted to spend my time where it really mattered. However, I really love crafting in MMO’s, so I made sure to at least try it out a little bit.

My favorite thing about crafting is that after making just a few of a specific item, every copy of that item in your queue gets progressively faster. So the first one might take like 1.5 seconds, the second 1.25, the third 1 second, and then all the rest after that are faster and faster. So making things in large quantity will go significantly faster than any other MMO that I’ve played.

I also like that you can change your crafting skills easily and that doing so does not strip you of your progress in the skill, so if you drop max leveled Tailoring to pick up Weaponsmithing and decide you want to be a tailor again then you can just switch back and still have your maxed tailoring. I didn’t bother testing that feature out, but my tweeps inform me that it is true so I’ll take their word for it. I have been known to drop maxed out professions several times in both WoW and SWTOR, and I really look forward to not having to bother with excessive amounts of farming to get around all of the professions in the future. It also means that I can, if I so choose, have a single character dedicated entirely to crafting who can just bounce around between all of the different professions as needed. (/lightbulb)

The one thing that I didn’t really care for about the crafting system was that many of the items that you can craft require you to craft other items and then turn those into the finished product. I would rather they just combine the total material cost and let me make the final products in one go. It does add some flavor to crafting, so maybe it will grow on me as I get more time to mess with the system, but just trying it out for a few minutes I found it to be more annoying than it was anything else. Annoying might be too strong of a word there, actually. Let’s just say that I didn’t care for that feature a whole lot in my limited testing. I did see that there’s a special discovery screen or something where you can randomly pick various items and throw them all in there to get a random item made, so maybe all of those component items will prove to be really cool when mixed together like that?

Another one of my favorite things about crafting is that making things gives you experience. I don’t know which genius thought of that, but whoever they are they deserve a raise and two week paid vacation. Make it happen, ArenaNet! I’ve always had an obsession with crafting, and I’ve always had an obsession with leveling. Mash those two together and you’ve got yourself a paying customer in me.

Things I Missed Out On
Because of the many hours I spent rebuilding my kitchen from the ground up after that damn mouse chewed through the water line, there were still several things that I didn’t get to try at all or that I tried only a little bit because of the time constraints.

Auction House: I don’t even remember the official term for it in GW2, that’s how little time I spent with it. Since this was beta and only a weekend opening of the beta, I did not want to bother with things that would not let me experience the gameplay itself. As such, I never bothered to even attempt listing items for sale.

World vs. World vs. World PvP: Known as “WvWvW” or “WvW” for short, this is one of the major draws to the game from a PvP perspective. I did get to participate in one of these for about 20 minutes, but I had no flipping clue what I was doing besides following other people and killing things that I saw. I knew the common sense stuff, like clearly we’re attacking this gate because we don’t control the point, but supply caravans and such I had no idea what to do with those. There was also some insane lag going on when I was in a huge group of people with AoE’s flying about so I didn’t especially enjoy the time I spent there compared to other activities.

Dungeons: I do not know if I just never saw them because I was too low level, or if I was just in the wrong place, or…

Not Thrilled About
There wasn’t a whole lot that really turned me off in this game, but there were a couple of things that sort of bugged me.

Content-based Effective Level: This is one of my favorite features, but it’s also one of the things that bugs me the most. When I want to play with my friends, I love the fact that I can go to where they are and my level will be dropped to be equal to the content so that we’re not just facerolling everything. Rather than going in and wiping out everything for them, I get to actually play with them and enjoy it. However, effective level seems to be forced on you no matter what you’re doing. If I want to go to a low level area to farm some materials for crafting, or if a friend is struggling with a strong enemy or something, then I do want to be able to go there and faceroll the content. I really wish that the effective level was something that you could toggle on/off in different situations.

Grouping: The biggest thing that bugged me about GW2 was that being grouped up with my wife while playing gave us very little benefit. When we were on the same heart quest or dynamic event, almost nothing I did impacted her progression through the quest. The one thing that grouping did for us is if we both attacked a mob that gave us credit, then we both got credit for it, but if I tried to help her by killing more of the mobs or gathering extra items then she got nothing for it and instead I was actually robbing her or resources. When you’re playing a class that has pets in an area where mobs agro on you, sometimes you can’t help stealing those resources from them.

You also have no indication of the progression of your group members. If my wife wasn’t literally sitting beside me, then I would have had no idea how close she was to completing the quests without having to ask her. Also, since the only indication of your progress is a bar you can’t really say how many more of something you need to do. “How many more undead do you need to kill for the quest?” “How should I know? A quarter of my bar worth, maybe?”

The only thing you can really complete together is bits and pieces of your character stories, but even then some of the quests you have to do twice because you made different choices in your backstory so the quest information isn’t exactly the same for both of you. And since there is no indication of whether this will be a quest you can do together or that you need to do separately it was pretty annoying to have both of us go in to complete something only to realize after it was completed that we would have to go back in again for the other to do it.

Controls: I use a lot of different movement options in MMO’s, I don’t like to limit myself to just one when I have the option of being more versatile than that. I found that some of the controls in GW2, particularly turning with the keyboard felt very sluggish. I’m usually a mouse-turner, but when I’ve got something to eat or drink in my right hand then I need to be able to move about easily with my left and the keyboard turning really sucked in my experience with it. For a game whose combat system is built around mobility, I think they need to speed up the keyboard turning or add a slider bar similar to the one they have for camera turning speed to allow users to adjust it as needed.

Vague Quests: Some of the quests have incredibly vague information in them about what you’re supposed to do. We found a quest on our Sylvari that wanted us to hunt down special monsters in the area. It didn’t tell us who they were, or even what they were, or where we could find them and it didn’t show us an area to search in either. The only thing we knew was that there was “still one more special, unique monster” out there that we needed to kill for it. We searched for quite a while in the area where we got the quest, but neither of us could find any indication of who or what needed to die.

Gathering Tools: GW2 uses gathering tools, which is all fine and good since most other games do too. However, GW2 has not only multiple versions of the gathering tools, it also has a durability number assigned to each one that isn’t repairable and simply wears out over time. The higher level your tool is, the higher your success rate is for finding rare materials which is cool, but having to constantly replace them sucks. In terms of durability, I gathered just about every node that I came close to and I had to replace my first mining pick and lumber axe around level 12. If I were playing during the week, on the same character, then each tool would last me for probably 3-4 weekdays, or a single day on the weekend depending on how much time I had to play.

Personally, I think the durability concept is total garbage. Having different versions of the tools that give a bonuses is a great idea, so that part I really enjoyed. Having versions that increase chance for rare mats, increase total mats, increase effective gathering level, and things along those lines are all great examples of how they could have made gathering really cool, but the durability concept just kills it all for me. I could understand durability on the special ones, even, but not on the base model. I think players should always be able to gather once they have purchased tools to do so.

Personal Mail: You can’t send mail to yourself. You can send mail to someone else instantly, but you can’t send your own characters jack. You can run around until you find yourself a bank to deposit things into and then jump on another character and run them to a bank to withdraw, but that’s it. This bugs me way more than it reasonably should. I hate this feature more than I care to tell you in words. Getting items from one character to another should be just about as simple as you can possibly get, and this makes no sense to me at all. Luckily, I can mail things to my wife and then have her instantly mail it back to me on another character, but that’s still ridiculous.

Five Character Slots: Let me start this one off by saying that I’m aware that they plan to sell us additional character slots. That being said, there are only five character slots in a game with five races, which would be fine on its own, and eight classes. Five slots, eight classes. Can I get a “GRRRRRRR!!!” up in here!??! Thankfully, we will be able to purchase additional slots. I don’t know how much they’re going to cost and what kind of limitations they’re going to put on there as far as how many you can buy and so forth, but not having enough base slots available to even try out the entire character roster is incredibly frustrating to me. I know, I know. We can fix it with money, but still.

Single Server Selection: This one kind of ties into the one above, and it’s possible that I just couldn’t figure things out correctly – From what I can tell, you can only have characters on a single server. You can add friends from other servers and play along side them, but your own characters can only be on one server. So those five character slots are your five character slots and that’s all there is to it. In SWTOR we can get around the character limit by rolling additional alts on other servers, but with GW2 it looks like there is no way to work around the character limit, you simply have to purchase the additional slots with cash. I don’t like it, but I can live with it.

Happy Surprises
These are some of the things that I really liked about GW2. Some of them I knew about before hand, so they weren’t necessarily “surprises”, but this is the list of things that I really enjoyed.

Effective Level: I love that there’s this sidekick system in the game that allows you to have your character’s effective level reduced so that you can play with your friends no matter what your level differences are. That was always one of our stumbling blocks of playing with friends in WoW and SWTOR, because we don’t share the same time zones or amount of available play time with the majority of our friends, so it’s very easy for you to get out of sync in levels and then being in the same group just nerfs the experience of the lower levels and you just sabotage yourselves even more. I think more games need to adopt this concept, though I did have some concerns as I mentioned in the section above.

Persistent Grouping: A feature I totally wasn’t expecting, that kind of blew my mind to be quite honest was that grouping up with someone keeps you grouped until you break the group. We played our Sylvari characters, then rolled some others, then went back to the Sylvari and found that we were still grouped together. We went back to the other pair and they were still grouped up too. It was a great touch for people like us who typically play together. When I logged in for some solo PvP time, we were still grouped even though she wasn’t even logged in, and when she did log in later she just joined right up with me and we carried on. That was a very nice touch in my opinion, and definitely something that other games could adopt. It would be nice to have a setting that you could toggle on and off since I know some people would rather not have it forced on them, but I really enjoyed having this.

Mail From Anywhere: I love that you can instantly send mail from anywhere in the game. This is a fantastic addition to any game, and one that I would certainly like to see more games adopt. Now if they would just make the freaking mail system allow you to send mail to yourself…

Auction From Anywhere: Just like being able to mail things no matter where you’re at in the game, you can do the same with the auction house. This making inventory management very easy and you don’t have to worry about things like a bank alt or storing auction items in a certain bag until you get back to town or whatever.

No Rested Bonus: I like that GW2 doesn’t bother with any incentive for you to log out in a specific place in the game (at least not that I’ve found). While I enjoy bonus experience as much as the next person, I enjoy freedom to play when and where I want to even more, and not being tempted to return to a city every time I want to log out is a big plus. That also means there’s no stupid logout timers that have to count down when you log out somewhere other than a city.

Overall Impressions
Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed my BWE3 weekend with Guild Wars 2. I might not have loved every aspect of it, but I did have fun from start to finish and I really wished that I would have been able to log in again on Monday evening after work.

My assumptions proved to be true, that Guild Wars 2 would offer enough of what we love about SWTOR and enough other features that we enjoyed from other games that we would have fun playing it. It doesn’t have the same level of character development (story-wise) as SWTOR does, so it won’t be able to fully replace SWTOR, but it’s certainly fun enough that it will be added to our collection of games and played frequently.

In its current state, SWTOR has a finite amount of enjoyment that we’ll be able to get out of it, and once that has been reached I think GW2 could potentially become the primary game. Right now the few things that SWTOR does have over GW2 it definitely has over GW2, so it’s still the primary game of choice. Guild Wars will be knocking out Diablo III and Starcraft 2 as my secondary games, though.

I’m looking forward to the official launch of Guild Wars in August, and I’m pretty sure my wife and I will go ahead and pre-order our digital deluxe editions soon™.


Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Guild Wars 2


35 responses to “Guild Wars 2: Initial Review

  1. Moxie

    July 24, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    FWIW, you can indeed rename your hunter pets. Above your regular hotbar is a small pet hotbar, and one of the buttons there is your pet management screen. You can rename your pet there as many times as you like. :)

    • fynralyl

      July 24, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      Huh. I wish he would have mentioned it to me that he didn’t think you could. Renaming my pet on my Ranger was one of the first things I looked for and found. Super easy!

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      In my defense, Ranger was one of my least played classes of those that I rolled. ;)

      Thanks, Moxie.

  2. ILikeBubbles

    July 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    -Different selections during your character creation do, definitively, change your personal story (in more than just mentioning it).

    -You do actually gain the shape shift ability in game for Norn.

    -You can rename your ranger pet, however, each pet does not get a unique name. Rather, you get four slots (2 land, 2 water) and each slot can have a different name, but if you use more than those four pets, the game isn’t going to remember all your other names for you. It sounds weird when I think of all my WoW pets and names, but they swear they can’t change it right now, so. Weird thing to live with.

    -Each fully leveled profession should give you 10 levels by the time all is said and done. This means that you can level a character–if you do level each crafting professions–without ever going out and killing anything.

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      I’m glad to know the decisions actually matter. That fuels my altoholicism even more though (see “only 5 character slots” above).

      I’m going to have to find out how to cast those shapeshift abilities to check them out. That could easily solidify them as my favorite race.

      Naming pet slots, but not pets themselves…that’s just friggin’ weird!

      So I could gather mats and powerlevel a toon from 1 to…60? strictly from crafting?!? Hmmm, in a game that scales your level to the content I just might have to try it.

  3. Imakulata

    July 24, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    The personal story does change based on your changes when creating the character. I never got a character to the end of 2nd arc but the 1st arc was different based on the 1st question (legion for charr, college for asura etc.) and the 2nd arc was based on the 2nd question (father for charr etc.).

    As for racial abilities, there are some but they’re indistinguishable from class ones unless you roll multiple characters and compare their abilities.

    If you click a player, the profession shows as an icon on their character portrait. Monsters have no professions so there’s no icon for them.

    The mail issue bothered me as well. It’s possible to exchange items using a bank (which is shared between characters like Ragnarok’s Kafra storage) but banks are only in major cities and it feels annoying even with instant teleport. Unfortunately, although it’s possible to deposit the crafting materials (“collectibles”) from anywhere, depositing other items or taking anything requires you to talk to the bank NPC.

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      In BWE3 you could access crafting mats from your bank at the crafting tables themselves, so that part at least was an improvement over the previous beta weekend. Hopefully that part stays in for live, though I would much rather have SWTOR’s system of having the game simply pull from all storage available regardless of where you were.

      • rowan

        July 30, 2012 at 4:09 PM

        That would be nice, though the premise of Crew Skills in SWTOR lends itself to the “draw from anywhere” crafting.

        • Psynister

          July 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

          That’s a good point, but if I can deposit from anywhere then why would I not also be able to withdraw from anywhere?

  4. Brax Kedren (@BraxKedren)

    July 24, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    I have to agree on the Necromancer thing. Once I got my Sylvari rolled its was som uch fun I couldn’t stop playing.

    Get a Staff and it has some of the better skills for Necros if you played a Warlock in Wow and like to dot everything to death.

    I took my Necro to the Mists and tested out the max level version and you can effectively have 3 pets out at the same time and this makes playing really fun.

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      I found the Staff to be my favorite weapon on basically every character that could use a staff.

  5. Manglehaft

    July 24, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Wow, that’s a lot of words Psyn; I enjoyed your insights. I’m adding notes as I read, no order.

    – On the mail thing, I totally agree about what you are saying in regards to coin. I am waiting for the final utopia that is a universal bank account. Let me have all monies on all toons please. On everything else though, let me tell you whey there’s no need to mail items to your toons. “Deposit all collectibles”, it’s an option under the icon at the top right of your bags. Hitting this transports all collectibles, including gathered materials and trophies, into the second tab of your account-wide bank. This tab is accessible from any crafting station on any character (not in beta).

    – In WvW any profession can make any siege weapon.

    – On Necro, look at the utility/elite options, a minion-master build at 80 has 5-6 perma pets.

    – The first dungeon is at level 30. Each dungeon has a normal story mode, and then a much more difficult explorable mode, supposedly up there with raiding in difficulty (I’ve not done either).

    – The AH (Trading Post) functions as a real exchange, like the NYSE or the Nasdax, In addtition to the typical “sell orders” like in wow, you can also do a “Buy order”. You can place an order for x number of sprokets that I can then fill at any time to get immediately paid. The difference between the Sell and Buy prices are the “Spread”, and with a game-wide trading post, I’m expecting a fairly respectable spread on most items. The narrower the spread, the more efficient the market, which is good for everyone.

    – I agree with you that the all-around implementation of gathering tools is not up to par. This blunts the pretty awesome revelation that all professions can gather all items. In wow taking up a spot with a gathering profession on a Main was always a let-down.

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Being able to store your mats from anywhere into a shared bank space is great, but what about when I find a great weapon for my Ranger while I’m on my Necromancer? Being able to mail that item to my alt is something I’ve been able to do in every other MMO, but here I would have to either find a bank to deposit it and then find a bank on the alt to withdraw it, or I have to mail it to a friend and then have them mail it to my alt. For that instance, this feature really sucks.

      I really like that any profession will be able to make siege weapons. I’ll have to pay more attention to that part once we go live.

      Level 30 for the first dungeon just seems odd to me. Am I alone there?

      I’m going to end up spending a lot of time in an AH like that, I think. Feeding my professions addition is serious business.

  6. anexxia

    July 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM

    So glad that you got the chance to try it out– I knew you two would enjoy it! Looking forward to playing with you next month!

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 4:08 PM

      Now if the next four weeks could just instantly leap passed us…

  7. Kadomi (@Kadomi)

    July 25, 2012 at 1:21 AM

    Just a note about the server thing:

    You initially have to pick a home world. This is the only server that you will be able to PvP on, as you are representing that home world. You can however at any time ‘guest’ on any other server with your character, doing PvE and afaik even being in guilds over there. In GW2 you can join multiple guilds. This means that you can do PvE with friends on other servers with your main character at any time. It’s only for WvWvW that you need to be back on your own server.

    I wouldn’t worry about the mail thing. Just put stuff you want to transfer in the bank. The bank is account-wide and shared on all your characters.

    All the character decisions you make early on in the game will be reflected in the personal character story. As example, there are three different origin stories for each race: commoner, street rat, noble for humans, or the three different krewes for asura. Then after level 10, you get one of three different storylines in the next step. For humans they involve if you wanted to join the circus, find your long-lost sister or…don’t remember. Around level 30 you have to choose which organization to join, of three available organizations, and so on.

  8. Erl

    July 25, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    Basic gathering tools dropped for me from mobs (or was it from bags, that drop from mobs), so I never felt lack of tools. But that was during one of previous BWEs.

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      I never had that happen to me in BWE3, so either my luck was low or that’s something they removed.

      • rowan

        July 30, 2012 at 3:47 PM

        Heck, I was just happy to find that all I needed to gather something was a tool. No Skill required to pick a flower, or chop down a tree. It’s nice to hear that crafting skills learned are not lost.

  9. rowan

    July 27, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Woah, finally able to sit down and read this novel. Great job, very thorough. Most of the things I would comment on have already been covered, I wanted to highlight your comments about group questing. I totally agree that there should be more “synergy” in the cooperation of grouped players. When I have completed a heart quest we’re both on, my fellow party members should be done, too. Especially since most of the quests are like farm chores or gathering eggs for Raven. Things that entail a cooperative effort. It’s strange that the Dynamic Events have this cooperative element among ungrouped players, but the heart quests don’t. I’m told that the focus really is on the DEs, and the HQs were really put in to help player figure out where to go to encounter the dynamic quests.

    • Psynister

      July 30, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      That’s what I’ve heard too, but I don’t think that really makes up for the whole “grouping gets you nothing” thing. Even the things that grouping does help with, like both of us killing the same mob gives us both credit, doesn’t really matter if you’re grouped or not since you would both get credit for doing that even if you weren’t in a group.

      It’s almost like grouping up isn’t encouraged at all. Not that it’s necessarily discouraged, just that they couldn’t care less if you want to play with other people or not.

      • rowan

        July 30, 2012 at 4:06 PM

        Exactly, which is why it’s actually a little strange to see the innovation of account-based grouping.

  10. JJ

    August 6, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    Couple things that it seems might have been overlooked.

    Keep in mind that you retain your full set of skills and traits when being affected by content based level. So in a sense, you will still be slightly more powerful when you’re looking to go farm lower level areas since you will be substantially deeper in to your respective trait trees.

    Which brings me to the next thing – Every level requires the same amount of experience to level. This does two things for you, first it makes the need for rested experience pretty insignificant, and second, it removes any experience penalty for being “down leveled”.

    Regarding weapon switching – weapon layout plays a key role in the play style, or “spec” of the class. For example, a mesmer wielding a staff plays nothing like a sword/pistol mesmer. However, building two weapon sets that suit your preferred play style and compliment each other well is amazingly fun and satisfying. The nice thing about this game is that skill > class/gear. Ability spamming is a fast way to get yourself killed :) Also, picking up a new weapon and incorporating it into your characters arsenal can often give you a new character/alt feel due to how different it makes the play.

    Grouping I’ve found is best suited for when you’re running a dungeon or for socializing/questing/wvw’ing with friends. At first I was put off by this, but I found it to build a friendlier community during the betas since there was no kill/resource node stealing as a result. You’ll quickly see that people don’t have to group up to willingly help one another.

    I was a huge skeptic of this game at first, but I’ve played all 3 BWE’s and I can’t wait for the launch. I love how they have focused on fun over grind and still maintain the sense of character accomplishment. I’m old now, with a family. I don’t want to spend 20 minutes traveling to the part of the game world I want to pay in, I don’t want to wait in a line behind 3 other people to kill a quest mob. I’m excited to finally be able to play a quality MMO without a monthly fee; I thought it couldn’t be done!

    • Psynister

      August 7, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      I’m aware of the skills and traits from higher levels being active in the lower levels, but I don’t think that’s actually make a real difference in your power in low level areas. What’s the biggest buff you see from the skill points? +10% damage? +20%? Part of the problem comes from us just not being able to really see how it works because of how the BWE’s were handled and characters reset.

      I noticed in BWE3 that taking my characters who were in their teens into lower level areas (level 3-4) I got less experience than if I killed the same mob when I was actually level 3. So there is an experience penalty when you’re in downed content. I wish I would have kept the numbers so that I could give you the actual figures, but I don’t remember now what the difference actually was. It wasn’t significant, but then again I was only about 10 levels higher than the content and didn’t get to test doing it with an even higher level character to see if the difference grew further.

      I’ve definitely got the GW2 itch going right now, as I’m really excited to see it and counting down the days until launch. With SWTOR in its current state, MoP still not thrilling me, and most of my other games just not able to hold my attention I can’t wait for GW2 to get here.

  11. JJ

    August 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    You may be right on the experience penalty in the lower areas. I didn’t pay too close attention to that in all honesty. All I noticed was that I was getting experience at level 28-30 in the level 5-10 area while I played with a friend, and it made it a lot more fun and productive (for both of us). I’ll gladly take a 20%-50% exp penalty if it means I can experience content with friends, regardless of our level deviation!

    As far as additional skills in lower areas, I can speak from experience of a low level 30’s character since BW1 characters were not reset in BW2. Believe it or not, it does start to become noticeably easier in lower level areas. Maybe it’s the play experience you’ve gained at that point, or the encounters themselves aren’t as challenging as appropriate level areas. Though, I’m still a believer that there is definitely an advantage to the trait trees in those situations. For example, at level 30 as a warrior in the arms tree, you would have +200 condition (additional bleed dot damage) and +200 precision (crit) plus the 4 “talents” (2 selectable/2 static) you get for every 5 points spent in a tree, perhaps additional crits, conditional damage or faster channels/CD’s. It’s subtle, but if your playstyle/weapon layout play well off of your trait selections then you start to take notice at how much easier those lower level areas feel.

    Glad you’re looking forward to giving it a try. I was pretty unreceptive to it at first, admittedly for some silly reasons.

    Thinking B2P/F2P couldn’t produce a quality game world or regular updates. Reading up on how well Arenanet has maintained GW1 and how well they listen to their community has gotten me over that fear. And frankly, SWTOR has shown me that a subscription model, even with the best IP around still doesn’t guarantee a first rate game engine or frequent updates.

    Second, I have a long history of enjoying raiding and I wasn’t excited about the idea of no real stat based gear progression in the form of tokens/commendations and raid drops. But then something clicked in me (maybe it was after my 500th black hole daily)…Games are supposed to be…FUN! I realized that my biggest gripe with TOR PVP was that amount of available time to grind gear > skill in most cases and that’s why 10-49 was so fun, and that’s why PVP in GW2 much more enjoyable.

    At the end of the day, if I only have an hour to login, I’d like to be able to do some crafting, grab a DE or two, and then maybe do a little WvWvW. Without having to worry about a long travel time, 4 loading screens and a queue. That’s what it’s all about for me now that I’m older and have a family.

  12. testguy

    August 16, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    the biggest thing you didn’t get and is hard to understand if you haven’t played non WoW like MMOs is the scaling systems.

    vertically scaling games like SWTOR and WoW are essentially gear grind models. the more you advance in the game, the less content there is for you to meaningfully experience.

    why? because the game forces you to grind in new areas and finally raids for better gear.

    once you’re max level, 99% of the game world is essentially lost to you.

    that’s why people rush for max level and then complain that there’s nothing to do.

    guild wars 1 and 2, just like EVE online and a few smaller titles are horizontally scaling games.

    guild wars 1 had 20 levels you could get to in a weekend. this was 1% of the game. the rest of the game was all at max level.

    then they added hard mode which turned the whole gaming world into a nightmare, even for max level, max gear characters.

    so you got 100% of the game world available to farm, get loot, get gold and have fun in.

    once you got to max level and max gear, the game got broader, harder and more interesting, NOT smaller, narrower and boring like in gear grind games.

    this is the reason for the “oh so forced down-leveling”. levels essentially are smoke and mirrors in GW2. they only limit access to new content, not old one.

    once you’re max level (and they will NEVER increase max level) all of the game is max level.

    the whole point is NOT to allow you to have a piss easy time farming in low level zones, or roflstomping “low level” bosses. nope, they’ll roflstomp YOU if you’re not careful.

    the point is to give you MEANINGFUL and challenging access to the whole gameworld, NOT just to your level range of content.

    so much of your complaints is aimed at things that will eliminate the WoW effect of no-skill gameplay and utter boredom.

    like the “I feel spoiled with having access to ‘all’ my skills at the same time” bullshit (excuse my French, but you never did, if you actually think it through):

    in SWTOR I’ve used 2 skills 90% of the time, 5 skills 99% of the time and the 40 other I never used to keep gameplay challenging. same like wow. as a frost mage I used ice lance (was that the name?) almost exclusively. and maybe 2-3 other spells.

    why bother using more? it was too easy anyway, and the usefulness of other skills was highly questionable.

    and both games forced you into “specs” which eliminated roughly 66% of available skills from your class FOREVER until you paid a hefty re-skill fee.

    so you never had access to all skills.
    and you never needed more than 5 max (unless you sucked, pvp excluded, but pvp was never balanced anyway, which it was in guild wars 1)

    the point in GW (and EVE) or similar games is to limit the things you can do at the same time, but give you thousands of viable specs you can switch in real time without any cost (if you own the ship already in eve).

    so you get 10 skills, i.e. up to 25 actually if you pay attention, at the same time, but you can respec on the fly to a completely different build that feels like a new class.

    the skills you get are DISTINCT, not the copy pasted stuff swtor gave my sniper. they are focused and specialized.

    there is no info about enemies, because that makes it too easy. you have to learn visual clues about enemy skills and behavior.

    GW2 and 1 already forces you to play the GAME while SWTOR makes you play the UI.

    asking for more UI is what is killing wow style games.

    you never look at the world, your friends or your surroundings in gear grind games, you look at the ui, your 500 skills, your raid help addons, your “who got acceptable gear” addons, your “what spell is the enemy using” addons.

    you know what skills enemies are using by watching them, not watching your UI.

    same with your “grouping has no benefits” complaint, which is not only false, but surprisingly stupid.

    if you’d be killing a monster in real life with 10 other people, and you’d only know and be freinds with 1 of them, why should that influence the outcome, the loot or the damage the monster takes or deals?

    grouping is for communication, NOT in game boni. it’s mindboggling how damaged we’Ve become by wow style games that we expect a lollipop up our ass, just because we’re in a “group”.

    in GW2 EVERYONE is always in a traditional group with everyone around him.

    the “group” system is an addition that additionally allows group chat and a few minor things I’ve actually forgotten…

    you are in a group all the time, if someone is with you. everyone gets loot, xp, can buff and heal you, can rez you just not “group chat” with you.

    so there IS an advantage in grouping, it applies to far far more people than in other games.

    what you describe as a detriment is your own narrow-minded viewpoint. what else would you want except a unique and easy way to strategize and communicate with /p chat.

    I’ve played these games since meridian 59 ^^ so I’ve got a different perspective and I didn’t want to offend you… but it is kind of frustrating how these complaints, these things you wish to be in the game are exactly the things that kill games and make people hate MMOs

    • Psynister

      August 17, 2012 at 12:12 AM

      Scaling System: I didn’t fully understand the scaling system when I wrote this review, so at the time I really didn’t get it. Having done way more research and played in each of the stress tests since BWE3, I now have a firm grasp on what it is and how/why it works the way that it does. That being said, I still stand by my statement that my personal preference would be to have the option to toggle it on and off because sometimes I do want to roflstomp low level content. Make no mistake, while I have played WoW and SWTOR I am an altoholic who eats, sleeps, and breaths low level content. End game in those games doesn’t do jack for me, so don’t take what I’m saying about the scaling to be a “I wish this were more like WoW statement” because that is not at all what I’m saying. A perfect example of why you don’t fully grasp what I’m saying there is your comment about 99% of the game being closed to you when you reach max level – that might be true for you and your playstyle, but it’s not the case for me even in WoW.

      Access to Skills: I think you’re way too focused on thinking that I want GW2 to be more like WoW, which isn’t what I’m saying here at all. My point there is, while I love the versatility and impact that having weapons-based skills has on the gameplay, I would personally like to have access to some of the spells on my other weapons. You might have only used two spells on your Frost Mage, but I used four action bars worth of spells on my Frost Mage. You say that indicates that I suck? Meet me 1v1, your Frost Mage against mine and let’s see who sucks. This isn’t WoW vs. GW2, this is your playstyle and preferences versus mine. Also note that at the time I wrote this, the majority of my playtime was spent beween an Elementalist and a Necromancer, two spellcasters. For me, as a long time Dungeons & Dragons player and a huge fan of fantasy literature, magic has always been tied primarily to the caster (admittedly, many worlds/systems do have some spells tied to items but very few have the entire system based on them). So having all of my spells tied to my weapons felt very odd to me. During the stress tests since BWE3 I have focused more on the non-casters and the system feels much more realistic and genuine now to the point that even on my casters it no longer bothers me (much). To say that I suck if I cast more than five spells? I can’t tell you how much I’m facepalming at that comment right now.

      UI Changes: Again, you’re thinking way too much about WoW rather than what I’m actually saying. Did I say anything about wanting to see what spells are being cast or what gear another player is wearing? I don’t have any problem learning visual queues, enemy behavior, or even which spells are associated with which weapons on each class so that I know my opponent’s entire spellbook and gameplan at a glance. I’m fine with all of that. However, I do prefer to have hard numbers in front of me. Not because I want things to be easy, but because I have a mathematic mindset and personality and number crunching on the fly is something that I enjoy doing in games. In regards to the UI, I’m not asking for more UI features so much as I am asking for more control over placement. I would like to have some added functionality and features, but what I’m most interested in is actually controling where things are displayed.

      Your comment about me never looking at the world is what tells me that you didn’t understand that, and that’s probably my fault since I only put one sentence about it, “And I hate the location of it too, because I can’t keep as a close an eye on it with my peripheral vision.” The whole point of me wanting to be able to customize my UI, in terms of moving things around, is so that I don’t have to stare at the UI rather than watching the screen itself. I don’t want my target’s information displayed at the top-middle of my screen because I’m going to be watching that area like a hawk if I’m playing builds that focus on boons, conditions, or healing. Things that force my eye to move away from what’s actually happening on my screen go directly against what both of us are looking for in a UI. I want to see what’s actually happening just as much you, but I really like PvP and being able to keep track of who has which boons and conditions and what their current health pools are is important to me in PvP. A lot of the boons and conditions have visual effects when they’re applied, but not all of them.

      So to stress – I’m not looking for WoW’s addons, I’m looking for more phsyical control over what already exists in the game. Would I like more information displayed that there is? Yes. But don’t take that statement to the extreme.

      Grouping: o.0 Did you actually read that section? You might need to go back and take a second look, because you basically just said the exact same thing I did but your comments supported me rather than you in the context of my post. So to borrow a line from you – your reply was not only confusing, but surprisingly stupid.

      I never said grouping should have an impact on loot, give bonuses, or cause you to deal more damage. That’s not even related to what I said about grouping. The point I made in the grouping section was that being in a group is essentially pointless.

      Your example: “if you’d be killing a monster in real life with 10 other people, and you’d only know and be freinds with 1 of them, why should that influence the outcome, the loot or the damage the monster takes or deals?” Should it influence the outcome? Nope. Loot? Nope. Damage the monster takes or deals? Nope. Your example then looks to be pretty good, except – what the crap does that have to do with being in a group or not in a group? With 10 people fighting one thing, it doesn’t matter whether you’re grouped or not, therefor being in a group is pointless.

      Your statement: “in GW2 EVERYONE is always in a traditional group with everyone around him. the “group” system is an addition that additionally allows group chat and a few minor things I’ve actually forgotten… you are in a group all the time, if someone is with you. everyone gets loot, xp, can buff and heal you, can rez you just not “group chat” with you.” So again, being in a group is essentially pointless because everyone contributes to the overall goal. Your statement is only situationally true, though. I’ll get into that in just a second. Group chat is literally the only benefit that there is to being in a group. You say that’s a good thing. I say, bullshit.

      Let’s apply it to some actual quests here so you can understand my point.

      Kill X Mobs: In a quest like this, you’re told to go kill 15 Centaurs. If this is a DE, then everyone contributes and as soon as 15 of them die then we all get credit. However, if this is a HQ or CQ, then no matter what I do, my actions have no impact on my friend’s progress (not always true for CQ’s). If the point of this were to impress a nobleman to let his daughter marry the person who slew the most Centaurs in the shortest amount of time, then yeah we all want our own kills to count for us and us alone. But, if the point is that 15 centaurs have attacked your neighbor’s farm then the two of you killing them to speed up the quest would make it go by faster. Is that an in-game bonus? I wouldn’t say so, I’d say that’s a perk to having friends. “But,” you say, “you get that same benefit from other people around you in that case! Trollololol, you’re wrong!” To which I reply once again – what then is the point of having groups when you get the exact same benefit from never grouping that you do from always grouping?

      The same concept applies to gathering quests and quests that have you destroy items or hazards in a certain area. In a DE everyone contributes, thus there’s no reason to do it in a group with your friends versus doing it solo (beyond being social). In a HQ, participating in this type of quest can actually be harmful to your group because the resources for these are not instanced and shareable like gathering nodes are, they are finite and have respawn timers. In the example I gave in the post, my wife and I were playing in the Sylvari area and I was finished with my requirements for a HQ, but my wife was not. While wandering around looking for the thorns that she needed to click to destroy, I kept getting agro from monsters in the area which were also a part of the quest, and by killing those monsters before she could hit them because of her location or because she was gathering while I was killing and the fact that I was on a Necro with pets out, I was robbing her of resources for the quest.

      This is like your mom telling you and your brother to go clean your rooms before you can go outside and play. I finish mine in 2 minutes because I’m fast and I’m not a slob (I wasn’t when I was a kid, anyway), but my brother is going to have to spend 10 minutes cleaning his room. My effort can only influence my own progress though. If I want to go help my brother clean his room, because he’s in my group, any help that I try to lend only hinders him. By picking up his laundry I’m not putting it in the basket where it goes, I’m moving the basket to the opposite side of the room so that he has to spend even more time getting to it. You can’t help your friends, and to that I call bullshit. By joining your group I’m saying, “hey buddy, I want to help you!” Group chat can go die in a fire for all I care. I join groups to play with and help my friends. GW2’s grouping system provides no benefit (read that as “helping your friends”, not “get bonus loot”) that it doesn’t also provide to not grouping. What else would I expect from a grouping system? As I said in the article, I’d like to know where my friends stand in their quest completion so that I know when I’ve finished but they haven’t that I need to help them scout out two more raven nests and kill six more tar elementals instead of wasting time looking for as many as I can.

      • rowan

        August 17, 2012 at 9:08 AM

        I completely agree with you on the grouping thing, as I mentioned above. I think people who do not group habitually the way Fyna and you, or Sctrz andI, do, find this hard to wrap their heads around for some reason. The benefit is not about shared loot, it’s about helping your teammates. Every game I’ve played has had some quests where a group helped (kill X Y) and others where being grouped was a bit of a hindrance (gather X Y). Newer games and x-pacs tried to make sure quest loot dropped consistently, but often there were resource nodes that you still needed double of, so it was a little inconsistent. I think GW2 is a great game that I plan to play, but I think despite the pleasant innovation of account-based grouping, that the different types of quest are systematically broken from a group-play perspective: Group benefits with no need for grouping in the DEs, and not benefits but hindrances for groups in the HQs.

  13. testguy

    August 16, 2012 at 9:56 PM


    league of legends only allows a handful of skills, so thinking 4 skills in shroud mode would get boring is shortsighted.

    it’s a skill based game, not a gear based one.

    so you don’t need your skills to entertain you, your enjoyment comes from winning/succeeding.

    because you need skill, not better gear, since max gear is instantly and easily available at max level.

    there are no servers.

    there are “servers”.

    in gw2, you can chat in real time, mail, and even meet people on other servers easily.

    for PvE, it’s basically 1 server for all, like gw1, but to play on another server requires you to log out, guest on your desired server and 5 seconds after you logged out, you’re online on the new server.

    WvW is what server names are for and you cannot WvW on a guest server.

    it’d be silly to allow you to have a char on one server, listen to their attack plan, log back into your main and tell your guildies about their plan.

    it’s the faction model of GW2.

    even the auction house, the trading post, is cross server.

    so again, instead of noticing the advantages, you call these things weird or bad, because WoW taught you how “servers” work and that’s what you expect.

    I really enjoy the idea to chat with someone on another server, have cross server guilds, be in many different guilds at the same time, send mail and trade with people from other servers and never have a broken server economy.

    • Psynister

      August 17, 2012 at 12:37 AM

      I play LoL too, and to say that having 4 skills doesn’t get boring is a direct contrast to my experience with it. What do you know? We have different taste in games!

      You would have to be familiar with me and my playstyle to fully understand my point about servers. But, your point about being able to spy on other servers for WvW is spot on and what that I didn’t understand at the time when I wrote the post. What I was actually going for in the section about servers was that in other games being able to roll on multiple servers was a way to get around the character limit which is a big deal for someone like me who is an altoholic. In GW2, five is all you get without paying for more slots and to me that is an important piece of information for potential players to know.

      I meant to include the benefits of how they have servers set up in the Happy Surprises section, but apparently I forgot to. That was a huge oversight on my part, so I’ll try to get that added in tomorrow. I can see why you thought I was so negative towards the servers because of that, but rest assured that’s actually one of my favorite features of GW2 and one of the things that I hate the most about every other MMO that doesn’t handle servers that way.

  14. testguy

    August 16, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    having re-read my posts, I come across a bit rude sometimes…

    wanted to add that I’m just so pissed off at the WoW taught style of thinking, not you in particular.

    I think you did an amazing job considering you’ve only played for a few hours on a weekend

  15. testguy

    August 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    and in WvW they did have a serious bug that caused the lag. I had zero lag in stress tests even and in BW1 and BW2.

    even with 50 or more people on screen

    • Psynister

      August 17, 2012 at 12:40 AM

      I did some WvW in one of the two most recent stress tests and had zero lag as well, with well over 50 in that one. I didn’t see anything about it being a bug, but I’m glad they fixed it.

      I do plan on doing a more in-depth review soon that will enhance what I’ve said here now that I’ve had more time to play and more time to research the game, and many points (like WvW) will be changed or enhanced quite a bit.


Leave Me a Note

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: