Guild Wars 2 is iterative, but it's still great.

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Posted by Rorie (2987 posts) -

A quick note: I wrote a Beginner's Guide to Guild Wars 2 for GamesRadar last week/weekend, which is why I wasn't posting much. (On top of being generally under the weather.) Me being me, I wound up writing way too much about it, so it's being split into three different sections and posting over the end of the week. Hopefully you'll enjoy it, and feel free to check it out if you like! It was the first bit of freelance I've done since the old job, and the first game guide-ish thing I've written in four or five years, so it was interesting to work on. There might be more where that came from if the freelance fairy smiles upon yours truly.

Anyway, I've had plenty of time to play the game over the last month, between the (many) stress tests that ArenaNet ran and the head-start launch weekend, so I thought I'd put down some impressions. Obviously, this being an MMO (and a surprisingly full-featured one, considering the lack of a subscription model), so it's a bit premature to call this a "review," but I've had plenty of time to fiddle around with all of the basic mechanics, so I doubt my opinions of the game will change very much on the road to max-level. (The main caveat is that I haven't tried out the dungeon feature yet, which I'm looking forward to; I hear they're pretty tough.)

To put it succinctly, though, this feels like the first MMO I've tried in a long time that actually competes with WoW on a sense of world size and relative innovation. (Note that I didn't try Secret World, which I heard good things about.) GW2 feels iterative rather than revolutionary, but those iterations are almost uniformly positive, to the point where I constantly found myself asking "why didn't anyone think of this before?" (I'm sure that someone's going to point out that the features I really like are in another MMO someplace, but they're new to me, so be gentle.)

Perhaps the most obvious of those is the way the game emphasizes emergent cooperative gameplay by getting rid of the long-standing MMO staples of monster-tagging and resource disappearance. In WoW, for example, the first player to tag or hit a monster will be the only one to get credit for the kill and be able to loot the body, unless they're in a party with other people. In GW2, all kills are shared between everyone who managed to land a blow on an enemy; even if I walk up to the end of your epic fight and send a single arrow into the body of the minotaur you're tackling, I still get full experience and the privelege of looting. (OBAMA SOCIALISM GOOGLE RON PAUL, etc.)

It's entirely possible that this might wind up being exploitable in some instances (although the downwards level scaling in PVE eliminates the worst opportunities for this), but for the most part, it's a wonderful change of pace, since you no longer have to worry about waiting around for a quest monster to spawn or recruiting a bunch of people to help you with a group quest. Since anyone can participate in a group event and get credit for it, it's an entirely common occurance to see dozens of players coming together to take down a particularly tough objective. As a result, the developers felt free to make many of the tougher world bosses pretty damn tough, with some of them taking a few minutes of constant fire from what's effectively a raid group to take down. (There is a bit of an imbalance between ranged classes and melee classes here, as it feels as though the ranged attackers have a much easier time staying alive.)

That's a great change of pace from the usual "I gotta get mine" attitude of your general MMO player. Since it costs neither you nor the other player anything to help them out, and is instead almost always beneficial (leaving aside the chance of death), I find myself assisting almost everyone I see. (As an aside, I think the XP rewards for assisting a fallen player back to their feet should be boosted, as it's often a pretty risky thing to pull off. Heck, throw some karma in there as well; it's thematically pretty appropriate. Although, again: exploitable if people wish to take advantage of it.) I wouldn't necessarily say that I feel any great cameraderie with the mostly anonymous players that I fight alongside (there are too many of them to really get a feel for anyone's identity as you quest, and people often seem to take different routes through the content), but it's usually more fun to feel like you're a part of a living world rather than a lone adventurer off in the wilderness by yourself.

The other reason that that feeling exists is because ArenaNet did away with consumable material nodes. Again, in games like WoW and TOR, a collectible node (for ore or plants or what have you) is first-come-first-serve, with the first person to reach the node and tag it gaining all of the rewards, while anyone else who was fighting through a group of mobs to get there left with their hands in their pockets. Not so in GW2, where everyone can collect from a node; if someone else mines an ore vein before you get there, it'll still be available on your map when you reach the location. That eliminates one of the more frustrating experiences in WoW, where you'd see an ore vein on your minimap and make a beeline, only to see someone else scooting away as the ore vanishes in front of your eyes. (I am curious if multi-botting farmers dominate the economy as time goes on; if you can net together five warriors, you'll be getting five times the resources in the same amount of time. I assume Arenanet will take an anti-multiboxing stance for that reason alone.)

Those two major changes seem to have allowed the developers to pack many more players into one server instance than in any other game I can ever recall, WoW included; at times it feels like I'm on a Japanese subway platform at rush hour. Granted, it is launch week, and the player base will ebb over time (although the game should avoid the first-month player exodus due to the lack of subscriptions), but the world feels chock-full of players, all of which are fighting towards the same goals as you. That is almost always a positive thing, as you never need to spend time plaintively beseeching guildmates to help you with a tough quest; just wait around and someone will surely come along who needs it as well.

The drawback, so far, is a somewhat ironic lack of a community feeling to the game. Part of the charm of TOR and WoW is precisely the fact that it often made more sense to team up with other players in parties, which in turn made it easier to learn their names, chat with them, see what other quests they had to do that you might share with them, and so on. I've managed around 50 cumulative levels across my four characters in GW2, and I've only been in a party twice, and only one of those was strictly necessary. That makes the game world feel like a true massively-multiplayer experience, but one in which you're often just a cog in a great adventuring machine. That's not necessarily always a bad thing, though (and there's always guild chat to keep you entertained), and to me the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

The list of features that I love could go on and on, but I'd be remiss not to call out the "deposit all collectibles" feature in the inventory, which makes gathering crafting items a painless proposition, and the way the game encourages exploration by giving you a bevy of things to do in every corner of the map. It's a game that just feels extremely well thought-out from a design standpoint, and technically it's performed almost flawlessly as well, with a few hiccups here and there. (Get that auction house up already!)

My main concern for the rest of my time in Tyria is actually varying up the gameplay experience as I climb towards 80. You can unlock all of the weapon skills available to your character fairly early on, and after that the only customization that you can really do are change up your utility skills and invest in traits. Trait bonuses are mostly passive, as far as I can tell, and many of the utility skills have lengthy cooldowns, meaning that they don't really make a huge difference in the blow-by-blow of combat. All of which means that most fights see me using the same two or three skills (not including my autoattack) repeatedly until something dies. You can change weapons, of course, and even switch them in the middle of combat, but I rarely find myself doing so, as I generally go with a combination of a strong single-target weapon and one that's better at AOE fighting, and those elements rarely seem to mix all that much in any given fight.

In other words, I worry a bit about the game getting boring after the thousandth skirmish, and I sometimes wish the utility skills were a bit flashier or could be used more often. Even the class special skills sometimes feel underwhelming; the warrior's special is basically just an extra, more powerful attack, and the thief's stealing ability feels frustratingly random. They sometimes feel as though they were designed for flavor rather than for fun (and they're all thematically pretty spot-on), which is defensible, but I'd rather have a good balance of the two.

Anyway, as I write I keep thinking of things I want to laud in Guild Wars 2. The game, again, isn't a revolution in MMO design, but it does a lot of things better than any MMO that's come before, and really feels like the first one that I've played that can stand up against WoW in the long run. I'd still give WoW the edge in overall fun factor, simply because I like the combat mechanics better (given that you can bind and use dozens of actions in combat, rather than the limited options available to you in GW2), but we'll see what the future holds. For now, it's easily recommendable as a purchase, especially without the monthly fee structure.

What do you guys think of GW2 so far? It seems to have gotten more buzz than any PC game in recent memory, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

EDIT: I really wish I could respond to more than two comments in a row. Alas, I can't!

#1 Posted by Rorie (2987 posts) -

A quick note: I wrote a Beginner's Guide to Guild Wars 2 for GamesRadar last week/weekend, which is why I wasn't posting much. (On top of being generally under the weather.) Me being me, I wound up writing way too much about it, so it's being split into three different sections and posting over the end of the week. Hopefully you'll enjoy it, and feel free to check it out if you like! It was the first bit of freelance I've done since the old job, and the first game guide-ish thing I've written in four or five years, so it was interesting to work on. There might be more where that came from if the freelance fairy smiles upon yours truly.

Anyway, I've had plenty of time to play the game over the last month, between the (many) stress tests that ArenaNet ran and the head-start launch weekend, so I thought I'd put down some impressions. Obviously, this being an MMO (and a surprisingly full-featured one, considering the lack of a subscription model), so it's a bit premature to call this a "review," but I've had plenty of time to fiddle around with all of the basic mechanics, so I doubt my opinions of the game will change very much on the road to max-level. (The main caveat is that I haven't tried out the dungeon feature yet, which I'm looking forward to; I hear they're pretty tough.)

To put it succinctly, though, this feels like the first MMO I've tried in a long time that actually competes with WoW on a sense of world size and relative innovation. (Note that I didn't try Secret World, which I heard good things about.) GW2 feels iterative rather than revolutionary, but those iterations are almost uniformly positive, to the point where I constantly found myself asking "why didn't anyone think of this before?" (I'm sure that someone's going to point out that the features I really like are in another MMO someplace, but they're new to me, so be gentle.)

Perhaps the most obvious of those is the way the game emphasizes emergent cooperative gameplay by getting rid of the long-standing MMO staples of monster-tagging and resource disappearance. In WoW, for example, the first player to tag or hit a monster will be the only one to get credit for the kill and be able to loot the body, unless they're in a party with other people. In GW2, all kills are shared between everyone who managed to land a blow on an enemy; even if I walk up to the end of your epic fight and send a single arrow into the body of the minotaur you're tackling, I still get full experience and the privelege of looting. (OBAMA SOCIALISM GOOGLE RON PAUL, etc.)

It's entirely possible that this might wind up being exploitable in some instances (although the downwards level scaling in PVE eliminates the worst opportunities for this), but for the most part, it's a wonderful change of pace, since you no longer have to worry about waiting around for a quest monster to spawn or recruiting a bunch of people to help you with a group quest. Since anyone can participate in a group event and get credit for it, it's an entirely common occurance to see dozens of players coming together to take down a particularly tough objective. As a result, the developers felt free to make many of the tougher world bosses pretty damn tough, with some of them taking a few minutes of constant fire from what's effectively a raid group to take down. (There is a bit of an imbalance between ranged classes and melee classes here, as it feels as though the ranged attackers have a much easier time staying alive.)

That's a great change of pace from the usual "I gotta get mine" attitude of your general MMO player. Since it costs neither you nor the other player anything to help them out, and is instead almost always beneficial (leaving aside the chance of death), I find myself assisting almost everyone I see. (As an aside, I think the XP rewards for assisting a fallen player back to their feet should be boosted, as it's often a pretty risky thing to pull off. Heck, throw some karma in there as well; it's thematically pretty appropriate. Although, again: exploitable if people wish to take advantage of it.) I wouldn't necessarily say that I feel any great cameraderie with the mostly anonymous players that I fight alongside (there are too many of them to really get a feel for anyone's identity as you quest, and people often seem to take different routes through the content), but it's usually more fun to feel like you're a part of a living world rather than a lone adventurer off in the wilderness by yourself.

The other reason that that feeling exists is because ArenaNet did away with consumable material nodes. Again, in games like WoW and TOR, a collectible node (for ore or plants or what have you) is first-come-first-serve, with the first person to reach the node and tag it gaining all of the rewards, while anyone else who was fighting through a group of mobs to get there left with their hands in their pockets. Not so in GW2, where everyone can collect from a node; if someone else mines an ore vein before you get there, it'll still be available on your map when you reach the location. That eliminates one of the more frustrating experiences in WoW, where you'd see an ore vein on your minimap and make a beeline, only to see someone else scooting away as the ore vanishes in front of your eyes. (I am curious if multi-botting farmers dominate the economy as time goes on; if you can net together five warriors, you'll be getting five times the resources in the same amount of time. I assume Arenanet will take an anti-multiboxing stance for that reason alone.)

Those two major changes seem to have allowed the developers to pack many more players into one server instance than in any other game I can ever recall, WoW included; at times it feels like I'm on a Japanese subway platform at rush hour. Granted, it is launch week, and the player base will ebb over time (although the game should avoid the first-month player exodus due to the lack of subscriptions), but the world feels chock-full of players, all of which are fighting towards the same goals as you. That is almost always a positive thing, as you never need to spend time plaintively beseeching guildmates to help you with a tough quest; just wait around and someone will surely come along who needs it as well.

The drawback, so far, is a somewhat ironic lack of a community feeling to the game. Part of the charm of TOR and WoW is precisely the fact that it often made more sense to team up with other players in parties, which in turn made it easier to learn their names, chat with them, see what other quests they had to do that you might share with them, and so on. I've managed around 50 cumulative levels across my four characters in GW2, and I've only been in a party twice, and only one of those was strictly necessary. That makes the game world feel like a true massively-multiplayer experience, but one in which you're often just a cog in a great adventuring machine. That's not necessarily always a bad thing, though (and there's always guild chat to keep you entertained), and to me the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

The list of features that I love could go on and on, but I'd be remiss not to call out the "deposit all collectibles" feature in the inventory, which makes gathering crafting items a painless proposition, and the way the game encourages exploration by giving you a bevy of things to do in every corner of the map. It's a game that just feels extremely well thought-out from a design standpoint, and technically it's performed almost flawlessly as well, with a few hiccups here and there. (Get that auction house up already!)

My main concern for the rest of my time in Tyria is actually varying up the gameplay experience as I climb towards 80. You can unlock all of the weapon skills available to your character fairly early on, and after that the only customization that you can really do are change up your utility skills and invest in traits. Trait bonuses are mostly passive, as far as I can tell, and many of the utility skills have lengthy cooldowns, meaning that they don't really make a huge difference in the blow-by-blow of combat. All of which means that most fights see me using the same two or three skills (not including my autoattack) repeatedly until something dies. You can change weapons, of course, and even switch them in the middle of combat, but I rarely find myself doing so, as I generally go with a combination of a strong single-target weapon and one that's better at AOE fighting, and those elements rarely seem to mix all that much in any given fight.

In other words, I worry a bit about the game getting boring after the thousandth skirmish, and I sometimes wish the utility skills were a bit flashier or could be used more often. Even the class special skills sometimes feel underwhelming; the warrior's special is basically just an extra, more powerful attack, and the thief's stealing ability feels frustratingly random. They sometimes feel as though they were designed for flavor rather than for fun (and they're all thematically pretty spot-on), which is defensible, but I'd rather have a good balance of the two.

Anyway, as I write I keep thinking of things I want to laud in Guild Wars 2. The game, again, isn't a revolution in MMO design, but it does a lot of things better than any MMO that's come before, and really feels like the first one that I've played that can stand up against WoW in the long run. I'd still give WoW the edge in overall fun factor, simply because I like the combat mechanics better (given that you can bind and use dozens of actions in combat, rather than the limited options available to you in GW2), but we'll see what the future holds. For now, it's easily recommendable as a purchase, especially without the monthly fee structure.

What do you guys think of GW2 so far? It seems to have gotten more buzz than any PC game in recent memory, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

EDIT: I really wish I could respond to more than two comments in a row. Alas, I can't!

#2 Edited by Seppli (10250 posts) -

Pretty much spot-on with the praise and criticisms and fears. Good read. Gonna keep an eye out for your GamesRadar articles.

Any chance of you getting on RadioRadar? Podcast awareness boost is bound to do good things for your career. (Yep - TalkRadar is dead - RIP. Long live RadioRadar?)

#3 Posted by Malarkain (106 posts) -

I think Guild Wars 2 is the bees knees.

#4 Posted by Phatmac (5730 posts) -

Guild Wars 2 looks like on of the best MMO's out there so far. I don't have a great PC so I doubt that I could play it. From what I've seen I could probably enjoy it since I haven't played an MMO in a long time(WoW being my last). Without a subscription to pay it makes GW2 much more appealing.

#5 Posted by Pazy (2601 posts) -

Ive been really enjoying GW2. Its defintely not a revolution but its exactly what I wanted and expected. I am a big fan of the WoW style of MMO but GW2 takes that idea and smooths it out a lot. Theyr remove the absolute grind for better gear at all times and (a lot) of the dispartity between player levels. One of my major issues with a game like WoW is although its meant to be co-operative you end up having regiment how much you and your friends play to keep the levels similar, otherwise you cant play together without ruining the gameplay. In GW2 im able to play all zones with an appropriate level of difficulty and I can join in with friends when I like whereever they are.

It also fixes my major problem with MMO PvP, gear is so important. If you enter PvP the other players simple have substantially better stats to its almost impossible to win and to get better gear you need to be in there and killing people. It meant that really I never got to play MMO PvP, it wasent fun to die a lot to gain the ability not to do.

#6 Posted by Codeacious (960 posts) -

If you're worried about combat being a little too easy, go try an explorable mode dungeon. They're designed to be extremely difficult, and require the use of everything you can throw at it.

#7 Posted by SuperWristBands (2266 posts) -

I've put over 40 hours into Guild Wars 2 already and I've never past the 10 hour mark in an MMO before. Of course a lot of it has to do with the "more fun for me" design, like you mention, of individual material collection, the way kills are awarded but also and most importantly the way I don't have to go to a guy to take a quest. I LOVE LOVE LOVE not having to return to a person or even find a person to get my reward. It goes for the group/world events too. Just a notification on my screen and I'm on my way into the action.

As for weapon switching, that seems really important to me. You get to use the other weapon skills on your second weapon while your first is cooling down. It's like having access to twice the weapon skills. Or four times as many if you are playing an elementalist.

#8 Posted by hussatron (189 posts) -

The last MMO I played was Ultima Online. I can't say that GW2 has gotten me interested in MMOs again. I really enjoyed the utter chaos and the feeling of not being able to trust anyone (DayZ-esque I think). MMOs in general seem to have moved in the opposite direction.

#9 Posted by ajamafalous (12167 posts) -

I'll cry if you don't end up freelancing for/employed at GB. I know, I feel like it's something that if it was going to happen it would've already happened by now, but I still want to hope. I miss you Rorie :(

#10 Posted by Jack_Lafayette (3481 posts) -

Great blog, Rorie. The innovation in cooperation and convenience is absolutely one of this game's great design achievements, and I'm glad to see you took note of how important it is to the experience.

With regards to your concern over the skill and trait system, I have to disagree. The fact that the game forces you to think over the way you build your character for any given situation means that you have to make important calls about things like versatility versus depth, and whether you should sacrifice either your health, defense, or self-healing to get that little boost in critical chance needed to reliably proc a bleed with your dagger skills thrills me to no end. The reason utility skills have such long cool-downs is because they can have a large impact on combat. That's also why the vast majority of them aren't just direct-damage skills, to prevent them from being spammed immediately when off recharge. It feels like you have a limited set of tools instead of the entire Home Depot, but that also means you need to determine how to best use your tools to get through any given situation instead of throwing a variety of differently-sized wrenches at it.

By the way, if you haven't unlocked any elite skills yet, you should. Those are the big, showy game-changers you're looking for (with appropriately lengthy recharge times).

#11 Posted by Mento (2810 posts) -

Congrats on the freelance work. I'd love to be paid for one of my blogs. I'd also love it if it rained banknotes over my house, so I suppose I'll return to the real world for the time being. If you're thinking of easing back into game guide work, I believe GameFAQs still provides bounties for thorough walkthroughs for games as expansive as GW2. It's perhaps not the kind of high profile work you'd want (nor do I imagine it pays exceptionally well compared to freelance work) but it's something. I guess. I occasionally compose one to ensure that I can still write descriptively and concisely, as I tend to waffle elsewhere.

As for Guild Wars, I was never particularly interested in this sequel. The first sounded like the type of MMO I might have given a shot because of what it tried to do, but it's sounding like they scrubbed most of what set it apart to have a little more of a broader appeal. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not really my kind of thing.

Moderator
#12 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

I felt the sense of community came back as I played way too much and got to areas where other players were more scarce. Instead of 25 people steam-rolling their way through an area, it's you and some other guy carefully picking your way through together and helping each other out. Plus, there's always an opportunity afterwards to invite them to your party and continue questing with them, which is a very lovely and organic way to make friends in the game.

My only knock against the game is it's lastability, as you said. At lvl 34, I've kinda got what I'm gonna be doing to kill things locked down, and I already have an upper tier elite skill. I'm pretty curious what the next 40 odd levels are going to offer me to keep me interested. But even if it's more of the same, I think I'll still enjoy it - but perhaps not at the same feverish pace all the way through.

#13 Posted by Silvergun (297 posts) -

@Rorie said:

In other words, I worry a bit about the game getting boring after the thousandth skirmish, and I sometimes wish the utility skills were a bit flashier or could be used more often.

You know, on paper, you're absolutely right, but having put an absolutely dire amount of time into the game since launch, I'm just not getting tired of the combat. I can't put my finger on why this is, but beating down a group of 3-4 monsters at the same time with a giant hammer just hasn't gotten old. Also, there seems to be a couple jumps in combat difficulty as you level. The first is probably around 50-60, where you start dealing with much nastier special attacks, then once again after 70. I was fighting Jaguars in Straits of Destruction last night who attack in packs, vanish, and re-appear surrounding you and seconds away from doing a pounce attack that can do upwards of 10k damage if they all hit. From talking to a few 80 guildies who have gone all the way through Orr, the mobs there are no joke and you need to bring your A game or get shredded.

#14 Posted by Cincaid (2959 posts) -

@ajamafalous said:

I'll cry if you don't end up freelancing for/employed at GB. I know, I feel like it's something that if it was going to happen it would've already happened by now, but I still want to hope. I miss you Rorie :(

Yup. :(

#15 Posted by Bolt3 (127 posts) -

It's a shame GB didn't give you a opportunity to do write/record some content for GW2 on the site regardless of the GamesRadar gig (I'M JUST GREEDY). Fantastic read though, I've really been enjoying my time with it so far.

#16 Edited by Xeirus (1378 posts) -

@Silvergun said:

@Rorie said:

In other words, I worry a bit about the game getting boring after the thousandth skirmish, and I sometimes wish the utility skills were a bit flashier or could be used more often.

You know, on paper, you're absolutely right, but having put an absolutely dire amount of time into the game since launch, I'm just not getting tired of the combat. I can't put my finger on why this is, but beating down a group of 3-4 monsters at the same time with a giant hammer just hasn't gotten old. Also, there seems to be a couple jumps in combat difficulty as you level. The first is probably around 50-60, where you start dealing with much nastier special attacks, then once again after 70. I was fighting Jaguars in Straits of Destruction last night who attack in packs, vanish, and re-appear surrounding you and seconds away from doing a pounce attack that can do upwards of 10k damage if they all hit. From talking to a few 80 guildies who have gone all the way through Orr, the mobs there are no joke and you need to bring your A game or get shredded.

Yup yup. I was real worried about liking GW2, because I have just hated every MMO that's come out in year (also, Rorie, TSW is ok but it's not great).

Also, RORIE, we have missed you :)

Edit: Here's a welcome back present:

#17 Edited by altairre (1289 posts) -

I really don't know if I should buy that game. I love RPGs but dislike MMORPGs. The only MMORPG I put a lot of time in is TOR because I like Star Wars and I enjoyed the story but in the end I gave up on it and didn't finish the class story due to the repetitiveness of the quests and the combat system. The quests and the combat in GW2 look like they are a bit more varied than in TOR but I don't know if the overall story is worth playing through.

#18 Posted by Godak (166 posts) -

The Golden-est Duder! ^_^

We've missed you and your luminescent exterior. Everyone here wishes you the best in all of your future endeavors!

(Okay, there is probably at least one person who could care less, but we'll kill him/her if we need to.)

#19 Posted by Krakn3Dfx (2502 posts) -

@altairre said:

I really don't know if I should buy that game. I love RPGs but dislike MMORPGs. The only MMORPG I put a lot of time in is TOR because I like Star Wars and I enjoyed the story but in the end I gave up on it and didn't finish the class story due to the repetitiveness of the quests and the combat system. The quests and the combat in GW2 look like they are a bit more varied than in TOR but I don't know if the overall story is worth playing through.

GW2 feels more to me like an RPG than an MMO. Yes, there are other people running around in the world with you, but 99% of the game is supposed to be completely solo-able, so those people don't have to matter to you.

#20 Posted by jozzy (2035 posts) -

That was a good read, in line with what I gathered from the Quicklook. I am trying to hold of on buying this because I just got into Dark Souls again, now on the PC. And I have Borderlands 2 on pre-order. But I am really tempted to pick this up, trying to rationalize it with the no sub fee. On the other hand I rather wait a month or so for the initial rush to have died down in the lower level zones.

#21 Posted by project343 (2838 posts) -

I'm finding the Guild Wars 2 combat system to be infinitely more fun, complex, and skill-based than most other AAA MMOs in the market. But to each their own.

#22 Posted by Xeirus (1378 posts) -

@jozzy said:

That was a good read, in line with what I gathered from the Quicklook. I am trying to hold of on buying this because I just got into Dark Souls again, now on the PC. And I have Borderlands 2 on pre-order. But I am really tempted to pick this up, trying to rationalize it with the no sub fee. On the other hand I rather wait a month or so for the initial rush to have died down in the lower level zones.

That's not really an issue. There being a lot of people us more of a plus, because this game is built to avoid the complexities that come with that problem. Even if you aren't in a party you still get full credit for anything you do/help someone do.

Get the game man!

#23 Posted by PillClinton (3297 posts) -

@ajamafalous said:

I'll cry if you don't end up freelancing for/employed at GB. I know, I feel like it's something that if it was going to happen it would've already happened by now, but I still want to hope. I miss you Rorie :(

I am in agreement with this sentiment.

#24 Posted by jozzy (2035 posts) -
@Xeirus

@jozzy said:

That was a good read, in line with what I gathered from the Quicklook. I am trying to hold of on buying this because I just got into Dark Souls again, now on the PC. And I have Borderlands 2 on pre-order. But I am really tempted to pick this up, trying to rationalize it with the no sub fee. On the other hand I rather wait a month or so for the initial rush to have died down in the lower level zones.

That's not really an issue. There being a lot of people us more of a plus, because this game is built to avoid the complexities that come with that problem. Even if you aren't in a party you still get full credit for anything you do/help someone do.

Get the game man!

Damn you! I must resist...
#25 Posted by GalacticPunt (1112 posts) -

I don't really have much of an opinion either way about Guild Wars II, but I came here to say "fuck yeah" to news that Rorie's getting some paid work. This guy knows how to write about PC games, and should be paid well and frequently for it!

Tiny freakin' puppy!
#26 Posted by Deusx (1910 posts) -

Pretty much my thoughts, I'm worried what will happen when the world isn't so populated. There may well be a sequel to the game before that happens. It is going to get a lot of migrating WoW players. I'm having a great time with this game. It feels... for lack of a better word "alive".

#27 Posted by Xeirus (1378 posts) -

@jozzy said:

@Xeirus

@jozzy said:

That was a good read, in line with what I gathered from the Quicklook. I am trying to hold of on buying this because I just got into Dark Souls again, now on the PC. And I have Borderlands 2 on pre-order. But I am really tempted to pick this up, trying to rationalize it with the no sub fee. On the other hand I rather wait a month or so for the initial rush to have died down in the lower level zones.

That's not really an issue. There being a lot of people us more of a plus, because this game is built to avoid the complexities that come with that problem. Even if you aren't in a party you still get full credit for anything you do/help someone do.

Get the game man!

Damn you! I must resist...

No, you must buy it and join the GB guild on Yaks Bend! Over 300 members and counting!

#28 Posted by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

Daumn Matt Rorie back in the saddle!

Brilliant piece, to the point and spot on. Gonna go read up the guides on Gamesradar i just started yesterday and need some pointers with the various game mechanics. Looking forward to further impressions.

#29 Posted by Rorie (2987 posts) -

@Phatmac said:

Guild Wars 2 looks like on of the best MMO's out there so far. I don't have a great PC so I doubt that I could play it. From what I've seen I could probably enjoy it since I haven't played an MMO in a long time(WoW being my last). Without a subscription to pay it makes GW2 much more appealing.

ArenaNet is pretty great at making games that run well on low-to-mid PCs. Hopefully they'll have a demo out soon!

#30 Edited by SamStrife (1286 posts) -

Rorie, whilst I agree with 9/10 of your points, I must respectfully disagree with your views on combat. Whilst it doesn't have as many skills and utilities as WoW combat, the overall percentage of skills you use in GW is far greater. Every skill on the hot bar matters and there is no "rotation" to fall into like WoW. Each skill feels like it has its own use in its own situation. In WoW all you really need to do at high level is get 4 or 5 skills and repeat them until whatever you're attacking drops.

The real skill in the combat comes with positioning. Being at the right place and using the right skill is how you keep alive in this game and that can be a real challenge in PVP (and PVE) and it keeps the combat super fun (at least for me).

That being said some of the skills rely on random buffs or attacks and I can totally understand why that may frustrate some.

#31 Edited by Seppli (10250 posts) -

@Deusx said:

Pretty much my thoughts, I'm worried what will happen when the world isn't so populated. There may well be a sequel to the game before that happens. It is going to get a lot of migrating WoW players. I'm having a great time with this game. It feels... for lack of a better word "alive".

The game gets more challenging, both gameplay-wise and socially (like when you need to look for a group, rather than just joining in the tidal wave of players washing over the content right now at launch). In other words, it will take more effort and skill to progress, but it will also be more rewarding.

Played a bunch on empty BWE servers - so I know how it feels.

#32 Posted by Phatmac (5730 posts) -

@Rorie said:

@Phatmac said:

Guild Wars 2 looks like on of the best MMO's out there so far. I don't have a great PC so I doubt that I could play it. From what I've seen I could probably enjoy it since I haven't played an MMO in a long time(WoW being my last). Without a subscription to pay it makes GW2 much more appealing.

ArenaNet is pretty great at making games that run well on low-to-mid PCs. Hopefully they'll have a demo out soon!

A demo would be great!

#33 Posted by Humanity (10145 posts) -

Has anyone here played Tera? How would you rate the combat in that game to GW2?

#34 Posted by Sanj (2547 posts) -

Excellent write-up.

#35 Posted by Zithe (1040 posts) -

@Humanity said:

Has anyone here played Tera? How would you rate the combat in that game to GW2?

They're pretty different. GW2's combat is much more traditional in comparison. Tera almost controls more like a third person shooter than an MMO. You can't target enemies (or anyone, actually) in Tera. I only played it for a brief period of time but I think I might have liked the combat in Tera slightly more. I thought the lock-on skills in particular were fun to use. With those skills, you press the button then drag your crosshair across several targets and hit the button again to fire it off. The lack of targeting and the fact that the game was built to use your mouse for aiming and therefore turning also opens up more keys around WASD that you can use for skills without having to click or reach to use any of them. Q, E, Tab, etc were all tied to skills on my Tera character.

Having said all that, GW2 is the better game I think. Controls aside, Tera is extremely traditional when it comes to the quests and everything else. Guild Wars at least brings some new ideas and WvW is cool.

#36 Posted by Nicked (258 posts) -

That "ironic lack of a community feeling" seems pervasive throughout MMOs. It's a fascinating design flaw because the conceit of an MMO is that you're doing stuff with other people, but the gameplay tends to make teamwork rote. In the event-quest stuff in GW2 you're not so much 'fighting with other people' as 'fighting while there happen to be other people here'. I haven't found success to be limited based on help from others, just efficiency (w/r/t PvE of course, though I think the rule applies to PvP that 'more people' defeat 'less people' irrespective of the level of cooperation). Sorry that those are kind of wordy examples, but I hope it's at least a little clear what I'm getting at.

Additionally, if there were no multiplayer aspects, the game would be way less compelling, right?

I'm not trying to knock GW2 specifically, I just think this flaw is endemic to the genre right now and there's something uncanny about it. The game's cool so far, but even at my low level it doesn't seem like the amount of teamwork will become more involved. I do really like how casual the game is, but it's weird to me how most MMOs are designed by more or less ignoring the multiplayer aspects. That's probably the most profitable way to make an MMO, but it's probably also a reason that GW2 is iterative rather than unique or new and why the genre has been stale for a while.

#37 Posted by itsjoncharles (75 posts) -

The way I describe Guild Wars is that it remove the fluff. It removes the grind, subscription, creates an accessible game, and ultimately removes the perception of MMOGs being an intimidating genre. I played the original Guild Wars for three years regularly, and I came into its sequel with no hand-holding. I knew what to do just by exploring. The systems, like the eight skills, are simple.

#38 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7617 posts) -

@Nicked: Higher leveled areas also become a lot more difficult, particularly the world events, they still pretty much comprise of everyone doing their own thing, but you begin to notice a huge difference when you start co-ordinating effectively. Dungeons are high leveled content designed for small parties though, so they may be more the sort of thing you're looking for. Having even one person there not pulling their weight will end in failure, and running in spamming your skill bar won't end well.

Personally, they're the one aspect of the game I find extremely disappointing. Finding a group for them is a huge pain, especially since they're split between story and exploration modes, they're difficult, hugely time consuming and the rewards require a huge amount of grinding. Considering the amount of effort they've gone to keep grind/tedious gameplay out of the game, the dungeons feel horribly out of place.

#39 Posted by BabyChooChoo (4833 posts) -

My love of the game just took a huge dive.

What. the. fuck.

So apparently someone at ANet thought it would be a good idea to make you run dungeons about 75+ times to get enough fucking tokens for one motherfucking set of gear. Like, my mind is blown right now. I get that that stuff is for cosmetic use, but come the fuck on. At a certain point, it becomes absurd.

Well, ok fuck dungeons then. However, after discovering that little gem, I read a few posts of people complaining the requirements for lvl 60+ karma gear just gets retarded. Like "I'm lvl 70 and I can't afford lvl 60 karma gear" type of retarded. I haven't confirmed it myself and I didn't do too much more digging, but if this is, in fact, true, then I might just call it quits on all the pve content.

Just...just...whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat the fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck?

#40 Edited by Ktargo (100 posts) -

I'd like to hear your thoughts (or anyone else who wants to share them) on the crafting in this game once you've spent more time with it. That's the one major thing that keeps bothering me about the game. Coming from someone who played WoW for years, it really seems like when making this game, Anet took a step back and looked at all the systems they thought were "broken" or unnecessary in other MMOs and attempted to "fix" them. That's why it irks me that the crafting in this game seems to have such obvious... flaws, for lack of a better comparison. Allowing everyone to mine/harvest the same gathering nodes is obviously a huge step in the right direction, I don't think anyone could argue that. But some of the disciplines are so tedious to level or require such absurd amounts of materials, one couldn't possibly obtain without farming for them or having outside help.

Theoretically, one would want to keep their crafting skills in-line with their character level so they could craft useful gear for themselves as they level up. When I first choose crafting skills, I went with Leatherworking and Jeweler. Little did I know, there is no skinning equivalent in the game, so the only way to obtain leather is to salvage leather gear or to hopefully obtain it from enemies that drop loot sacks. The amount of leather you obtain through normal play while exploring the zones seems at odds with the amount required to level the crafting skill at a reasonable pace. What's worse is you quickly out-level the first tier of leather drops and start getting higher level leather drops that aren't useful to you until you go back and get a higher crafting skill first.

Leatherworking isn't the only culprit either. My friend took Armorsmithing and Weaponsmithing. Obviously those two use a lot of the same materials and were conflicting with each other, so he quickly took another skill in place of Armorsmith. Even with only one skill that used all the ore AND two person's worth of ore (I gave him all of mine since I stopped needing the same type of crafting materials as him) he could barely keep up with it. Jewelcrafting isn't much better. Were it not for him having no use for silver and gold ore, I would never have been able to come close to keeping up. Jeweler is, fortunately, fairly simple to level. You get a lot of experience for every discovery and craft due to the limited number of items you can make. But the only reason I even made it this far was thanks to having twice as much ore as I would have normally with my friend's contribution.

Obviously something like the trading post would be super helpful in this situation were it currently available... It just baffles me that they would design the crafting in such a way that it is nigh impossible to keep up with at a normal leveling pace, requiring you to choose either crafting or zone completion as a primary source of experience and not a combination of both. Perhaps it's just the part of me that wants to level as efficiently as possible and not "waste" time grinding out out materials but I'm coming away really displeased with the crafting. Sure, you could argue going back to low level zones for the materials and still obtain decent experience from doing the quests there, but the money rewards and loot drops are comparatively much worse than completing an appropriately leveled zone that it starts to negatively impact character progression. I worry the crafting skills will end up exactly like they most people treat them in WoW - ignore them for the most part while leveling and just grind it out once you're max character level. It defeats the purpose in my eyes doing it that way since 90% of what you can even craft with the skill is now useless to you at level 80.

I don't pretend to have the solution but I'm sure there is a better way this could have been handled.

Anyways, good read, Rorie. Nice to see you back in the saddle. I'm still finding the combat satisfying even as I approach level 60. Thief was definitely the right choice for me as I can't "face tank" enemies like the beefier classes or kill them before they get to me like the ranged classes. It really does require you to remain on your toes even only fighting a few enemies at once with the constant ballet of evading, stealthing, blinding, and shadow stepping. I definitely get where you're coming from with the "lack of a community" feeling to the game. In a lot of ways, it does feel like a more solo oriented game, lacking such basic features as sharing kills with party members. But that doesn't really bother me too much personally. I tend to keep to myself or a close-knit group of friends in online games, as ironic as that may be.

#41 Edited by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

Man this game looked promising at first. But after 2 days of play too many seams are starting to show. Sorry for the WoW comparisons but they are inevitable.

Personally, i 99% see myself abandoning GW2 already as soon as Borderlands/Torchlight 2 come out. It's just nowhere near the WoW level of subtle genius and as such just feels lacklustre overall. The loading screens for main cities, for personal stories, loading all over the place makes the world feel like an artificial MMO rather then an actual cool world to explore. Teleporters add to the tiny disjointed feeling. You can't even see some of the main cities from other zones properly. I have absolutely no urge to explore this world like i did WoW's back in the day, it just feels like game zones period. The game has no sense of pacing, overloading you on the front end but tapers off as it continues. Cities are just stupid huge, unnecessarily so. Character movement has a floaty unprecise feel to it. When a bunch of people start casting spells/skills in the same area it becomes a frigin mess. There are a lot of graphics on a technical level but it's usually just overwhelming with detail and colours and geometry as a result none of it actually stands out as hugely memorable. The balance is often way out of whack on a lot of the content, with most of the stuff being piss easy, then you come across a regenning creature that will heal faster then you can damage it at the same level, or one time i was in a personal story and a bunch of constructs that were supposed to help out with a large number of enemy got wiped in seconds and then the 3 npcs leaving me alone to deal with 8+ mobs that all leashed together and would kill me in a second. The public quests which seems as such a boon at first have started to annoy me more and more. Instead of quest lines all we get are little zones to do menial tasks in, or events with the same, yet there is still plenty of kill 10 boars remaining but what is absent is the flipside of interesting quest threads, (aside from the personal story). This system actively discourages grouping, reading of any quests text even more so then a standard mmo, making lore and story even harder to absorb actively then usual. And voiced player character seems like a cool feature but to me just takes me out of the game even more as none of the characters i made sound like i want or imagine them to sound. Slanted crafting progression. This is all just a rundown of a list a fast short verbal outpouring of feelings; all of these could be made into their own paragraphs if desired.

It is indeed just another MMO in the end (to me anyway), sadly it cant even get close to the game I already abandoned years ago due to boredom, and that was orders of magnitude more entertaining. I did not expect a revolution obviously but i also did not expect to start having to compare it to WoW so soon due to being annoyed with a lot of shit that has already been done better years ago.

Kinda bummed out, now i'm not even sure it will last me 3 weeks.

(PS: i really don't feel like starting prolonged written exchanges of arguments with anyone over my above points it would take an enormous amount of time and be effectively pointless anyway, these are just my current feelings on the game as they popped into my head, i'm sure plenty of other people are finding the game quite fun)

Now i'm off to bed /yawn

#42 Posted by shinboy630 (1194 posts) -

@BabyChooChoo said:

So apparently someone at ANet thought it would be a good idea to make you run dungeons about 75+ times to get enough fucking tokens for one motherfucking set of gear. Like, my mind is blown right now. I get that that stuff is for cosmetic use, but come the fuck on. At a certain point, it becomes absurd.

If you look at the AC gear, it takes 1200 tokens for the full set of level 60 gear. You get 30 tokens per run out of chests. That is 40 runs for the whole set. Or 75+, whatever, same thing.

#43 Posted by BabyChooChoo (4833 posts) -

@shinboy630 said:

@BabyChooChoo said:

So apparently someone at ANet thought it would be a good idea to make you run dungeons about 75+ times to get enough fucking tokens for one motherfucking set of gear. Like, my mind is blown right now. I get that that stuff is for cosmetic use, but come the fuck on. At a certain point, it becomes absurd.

If you look at the AC gear, it takes 1200 tokens for the full set of level 60 gear. You get 30 tokens per run out of chests. That is 40 runs for the whole set. Or 75+, whatever, same thing.

No need to be a smartass. I'm just going off of what people have told me. Point is it's still an absurd time investment whether it's vanity gear or not. No, I don't want everything handed to me and blahblahblah. I want to experience all the content and get all the cool shit.

However, there's a huge ass difference between giving the player a goal to strive for and making them feel like they're grinding. And from everything I can gather, quite a few aspects of GW2 could not possibly lean any harder towards the latter.

#44 Posted by shinboy630 (1194 posts) -
@BabyChooChoo

@shinboy630 said:

@BabyChooChoo said:

So apparently someone at ANet thought it would be a good idea to make you run dungeons about 75+ times to get enough fucking tokens for one motherfucking set of gear. Like, my mind is blown right now. I get that that stuff is for cosmetic use, but come the fuck on. At a certain point, it becomes absurd.

If you look at the AC gear, it takes 1200 tokens for the full set of level 60 gear. You get 30 tokens per run out of chests. That is 40 runs for the whole set. Or 75+, whatever, same thing.

No need to be a smartass. I'm just going off of what people have told me. Point is it's still an absurd time investment whether it's vanity gear or not. No, I don't want everything handed to me and blahblahblah. I want to experience all the content and get all the cool shit.

However, there's a huge ass difference between giving the player a goal to strive for and making them feel like they're grinding. And from everything I can gather, quite a few aspects of GW2 could not possibly lean any harder towards the latter.

To be fair, I think they have to do this. If there were literally zero "grindy" aspects, people would stop playing because they would already have everything they could want. I think anet's point about not wanting to make people grind is that you don't have to grind for stats, because those armors that you have to "grind" for are.no better than other armor of that rarity and level.
#45 Edited by BabyChooChoo (4833 posts) -

@shinboy630 said:

@BabyChooChoo

@shinboy630 said:

@BabyChooChoo said:

So apparently someone at ANet thought it would be a good idea to make you run dungeons about 75+ times to get enough fucking tokens for one motherfucking set of gear. Like, my mind is blown right now. I get that that stuff is for cosmetic use, but come the fuck on. At a certain point, it becomes absurd.

If you look at the AC gear, it takes 1200 tokens for the full set of level 60 gear. You get 30 tokens per run out of chests. That is 40 runs for the whole set. Or 75+, whatever, same thing.

No need to be a smartass. I'm just going off of what people have told me. Point is it's still an absurd time investment whether it's vanity gear or not. No, I don't want everything handed to me and blahblahblah. I want to experience all the content and get all the cool shit.

However, there's a huge ass difference between giving the player a goal to strive for and making them feel like they're grinding. And from everything I can gather, quite a few aspects of GW2 could not possibly lean any harder towards the latter.

To be fair, I think they have to do this. If there were literally zero "grindy" aspects, people would stop playing because they would already have everything they could want. I think anet's point about not wanting to make people grind is that you don't have to grind for stats, because those armors that you have to "grind" for are.no better than other armor of that rarity and level.

I can see where you're coming from. I guess when I think about it, my real problem is that, in the case of dungeons, you're doing literally the same content, the same way over and over...and over again. After a while, I'd imagine it would feel like you're just a machine designed to do one task. The PvP side has armor and stuff too you can unlock and I'd imagine that would take a lot more time than the dungeon grinding, but that's okay in my book because every PvP match is, in theory, a completely new experience which helps hide the grind.

Random side note, I hate PvP in MMOs. All of them. Like I hate it with every fiber of my being like you would not believe. That said, I reeeeeeally like the PvP in GW2. I wouldn't call it perfect, but it's pretty damn amazing.

#46 Edited by Dourin (234 posts) -

@Tennmuerti said:

Man this game looked promising at first. But after 2 days of play too many seams are starting to show. Sorry for the WoW comparisons but they are inevitable.

Personally, i 99% see myself abandoning GW2 already as soon as Borderlands/Torchlight 2 come out. It's just nowhere near the WoW level of subtle genius and as such just feels lacklustre overall. The loading screens for main cities, for personal stories, loading all over the place makes the world feel like an artificial MMO rather then an actual cool world to explore. Teleporters add to the tiny disjointed feeling. You can't even see some of the main cities from other zones properly. I have absolutely no urge to explore this world like i did WoW's back in the day, it just feels like game zones period. The game has no sense of pacing, overloading you on the front end but tapers off as it continues. Cities are just stupid huge, unnecessarily so. Character movement has a floaty unprecise feel to it. When a bunch of people start casting spells/skills in the same area it becomes a frigin mess. There are a lot of graphics on a technical level but it's usually just overwhelming with detail and colours and geometry as a result none of it actually stands out as hugely memorable. The balance is often way out of whack on a lot of the content, with most of the stuff being piss easy, then you come across a regenning creature that will heal faster then you can damage it at the same level, or one time i was in a personal story and a bunch of constructs that were supposed to help out with a large number of enemy got wiped in seconds and then the 3 npcs leaving me alone to deal with 8+ mobs that all leashed together and would kill me in a second. The public quests which seems as such a boon at first have started to annoy me more and more. Instead of quest lines all we get are little zones to do menial tasks in, or events with the same, yet there is still plenty of kill 10 boars remaining but what is absent is the flipside of interesting quest threads, (aside from the personal story). This system actively discourages grouping, reading of any quests text even more so then a standard mmo, making lore and story even harder to absorb actively then usual. And voiced player character seems like a cool feature but to me just takes me out of the game even more as none of the characters i made sound like i want or imagine them to sound. Slanted crafting progression. This is all just a rundown of a list a fast short verbal outpouring of feelings; all of these could be made into their own paragraphs if desired.

It is indeed just another MMO in the end (to me anyway), sadly it cant even get close to the game I already abandoned years ago due to boredom, and that was orders of magnitude more entertaining. I did not expect a revolution obviously but i also did not expect to start having to compare it to WoW so soon due to being annoyed with a lot of shit that has already been done better years ago.

Kinda bummed out, now i'm not even sure it will last me 3 weeks.

(PS: i really don't feel like starting prolonged written exchanges of arguments with anyone over my above points it would take an enormous amount of time and be effectively pointless anyway, these are just my current feelings on the game as they popped into my head, i'm sure plenty of other people are finding the game quite fun)

Now i'm off to bed /yawn

To your first point, I can agree that the loading screens can feel excessive at points, but I feel like the only time that's the case is when I'm abusing the use of waypoints to get to places I could easily walk. The game world actually feels extremely large (arguably larger than WoW felt, and I haven't even seen it all yet). In my experiences, you can see the major cities when you would expect to see them. I think the only exception to this is Rata Sum, which does seem oddly disconnected from the Asura starting zone, with Polymock arenas standing between the two zones.

If you have absolutely no urge to explore the world, then you're ignoring a large chunk of what GW2 PvE leveling has to offer. The game actively encourages you to explore every corner of each zone, searching for points of interest, waypoints, vistas, and skill challenges, before finally rewarding you with a loot chest upon completing the zone.

What do you mean by "overload you on the front end but tapers off as it continues"? If you mean that as you play through the game, there are a ton of renown hearts in the early zones, but they taper off as you hit new zones, that's intentional. Renown hearts are not meant to be the main source of PvE content, but are more of a transitional step toward where the real PvE content of GW2 is: the Dynamic Events. As the game goes on, it begins tapering off the number of renown hearts, but ramping up the number of dynamic events that can spawn in a zone. These dynamic events eventually turn to dynamic event chains, with the conclusion of one leading to the beginning of another. In even later zones, those chains give way to dynamic event webs, whose endings determine the direction and objective of the next dynamic event.

Cities, in my opinion, are not "unnecessarily" huge (with the exception of Hoelbrak). The reason you might feel like they are unnecessarily large is due to your expectations from games like WoW, where a city like Stormwind is considered huge. Divinity's Reach is as large as it is partly because of what it is. That city is the last surviving city for the human race (if I'm not mistaken). Every human in Tyria lives either there or in the outskirts. And that shows when you walk around town. There are a TON of NPC's throughout the city, each with their own dialogue you can catch as you pass by. The city is large, but far from empty. I even caught a lady NPC who was new to the city and was talking to a guard. Upon completion of their dialogue, she began to walk off. I decided to follow her, just to see how far she would walk before disappearing and restarting her interaction with the guard. I followed her and her son a quarter of the way around the city, before she finally walked up to the steps of her home and went inside. These cities feel like living, breathing places, which is more than I can say for most other MMO's out there. TOR tried to do the same thing, making huge cities, and filling them with NPCs. However, their NPC system they used meant each player saw a variable number of NPCs depending on the power of their computer (many of the NPCs were actually rendered client-side because of this). Because of this system, it never really felt like they were people in a city, so much as a prop on an otherwise massively empty set.

Character movement is a bit floaty; I will give you that. It feels especially imprecise when attempting one of the many jumping puzzles scattered throughout the game. That said, I recently loaded up WoW (wanted to check out the 5.0.1 update) and messed around in there for a bit and I have to say, if GW2 character movement feels imprecise and floaty, and WoW is the alternative, I'll take my floaty imprecision of GW2 any day. The mechanical nature of WoW character movement used to be something I felt like most MMO's never quite got right, but now I see that it might just be due to that type of movement more being a limitation of their engine than anything.

I won't go too far into the spell effect stuff, since I can see that being an issue some might have, but I feel like GW2 doesn't go nearly as far as some other games (I'm looking at you, Rift). That said, the following confused me: "There are a lot of graphics on a technical level but it's usually just overwhelming with detail and colours and geometry as a result none of it actually stands out as hugely memorable." So...the game looks too good? I wouldn't describe it as overwhelming (at least in a negative sense), and there are plenty of memorable locales throughout the world. Rata Sum's architecture, The Great Collapse in Divinity's Reach, the big rock that look's like Pride Rock in Lornar's Pass.

Balance is definitely an issue, or at least, consistent balance. There are definitely times, especially in solo story missions, where the balance feels way off, making it very difficult to proceed. Some of that, as you point out, has more to do with bad, or sometimes broken, AI. Quest balance is an issue that most MMO's deal with at launch though, especially on higher level content, so I feel confident that it will be an issue that will be resolved in the near future. As for your complaint about the regening dudes, you have to pull them out of the water. If you fight them in the water, yeah, their regen is nuts. Pull them out of the water, though, and they're pretty manageable.

I assume by "public quests" you mean the dynamic events, but your descriptions of them resemble renown hearts, so I'm not sure which you mean. Renown hearts, as I stated above, those are just there as a supplement for the dynamic events. As for the events themselves, they definitely have you do more than menial tasks, at least as you play through the game. Sure, in the early zones, you are doing things like fighting off spiders on an orchard or collecting apples, but later on, you'll be defending researchers as hordes of enemies threaten to disrupt their extraction of ancient artifacts from enemy infested caves. If you want to look at it as if the glass is half empty, then yeah, I guess you could say that the system discourages grouping, but if you're not an eternal pessimist, you'd see that the system encourages cooperation more than most MMO's out there, WoW included. Because the system doesn't require grouping to do the dynamic events, and because all kills are shared, even with renown heart activity, the system encourages active cooperation with others around you without the need to first sit there spamming in general "LFG Golemancy Research Event, PST."

As for your critique about the player voices, I think that is just an unfair critique of the game. When we're talking about an MMO where your character has actual dialogue, offering multiple voices to choose from just isn't a viable option, and having a voice to the character is loads better than going the Silent Protagonist route. If you don't like your character's voice, that's a personal opinion, but not really a fair and valid critique on the overall game.

"Slanted crafting progression." One simple statement (not sentence, because that was not a sentence) does not a critique make. I'm going to guess you're referring to the fact that you seem to get less of the uncommon crafting materials (necessary for discovery, which seems to be the fastest and easiest way to level a crafting profession) than you need for crafting. If that's the case, I agree with you that it's a problem, especially with the Trading Post being down all this time. It really feels like, for whatever reason, Arenanet decided to make the crafting professions rely on trade through the TP to supplement themselves and allow crafting to stay up to speed with the player. Either that, or the crafting progression was set in stone before the leveling curve was figured out, and thus you are moved on to higher materials before you have gathered enough for your current tier of crafting. Either way, crafting definitely needs some work, and I imagine that work will come once the more major issues with the game (dungeon groups getting in the same instance, trading post, etc.) have been stamped out.

Lastly, you can't really post a wall of text full of opinions and critiques and end it with what is essentially "this is what I think and I don't want to defend it so you'll just have to go and accept it as is." If you post your opinions on a game in a game thread, expect for others to challenge it, or at least to question aspects of it, and be ready to elaborate on or defend your opinions, or don't post them at all. In short, welcome to the internet.

#47 Posted by jakob187 (21780 posts) -

Dammit, Rorie. You pretty much stole half the words I was going to say in my own eventual blog post!

Nonetheless, excellent blog. You put it exactly the way it needs to be put: the game is iterative, but in all the right ways. It's not just the first MMO that feels like it can compete against WoW, but it still does what ArenaNet has always set out to do in defying the conventions of the MMO genre in many ways. While this game HAS accepted a lot of those conventions, they've handled those conventions in ways that make sense and streamline the experience.

I'm going to have to get working on that damn blog post now. Hope the freelance stuff works out! We need more Rorie on the internet!

#48 Posted by me3639 (1857 posts) -

Always great to hear from Rorie.

#49 Edited by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

@Dourin said:

Lastly, you can't really post a wall of text full of opinions and critiques and end it with what is essentially "this is what I think and I don't want to defend it so you'll just have to go and accept it as is." If you post your opinions on a game in a game thread, expect for others to challenge it, or at least to question aspects of it, and be ready to elaborate on or defend your opinions, or don't post them at all. In short, welcome to the internet.

Actually i can :)

That's the point i am not forcing anyone to accept my view at all. Most of them are feelings not concrete absolutes. If you don't agree with any of them that's no skin off my back.

Normally i am very keen to argue with people for and against a game, frequently both at the same time. But breaking down all of those little critiques would require for me a breakdown of general MMO mechanics, writing paragraphs of text for each and then wasting hours upon hours arguing shit point by point with dudes like yourself (at least if i wanted to do it properly). Again i don't usually mind doing that, but i really can't be arsed for GW2 atm. Maybe when i put it down and there is nothing to play i can come back to this topic with a proper blog or something.

But fuck it i'm a nice guy i gave your notes a quick cursory glance (did not read in detail yet) and you seem to be reiterating mechanics to me i know full well, yet kind of missing the point that i dislike them exactly for what they are.

When i am at work later with nothing to do i will try to address each paragraph where you did not agree with me.

#50 Edited by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

@Dourin:

Allright, now that i have some time one my hands. As you welcomed me to the internet allow me to say welcome to Giantbomb :P

My address of not looking for an argument was mostly a courtesy request to other users, which most recognized. When I start arguing with people it can take a while and I argue and discuss many many games that come out, not just GW2 (which you seem to mostly inhabit at least looking from the forum posts). It's a simple time management issue, am i looking to spend several hours with someone disguising this game back and forth? and i really wasn't feeling like GW2 was worth my time in this instance. Sometimes you are just not looking to pick a game apart but quickly jot down some feelings on it. But since you want to discuss my points sure, one thing i do is stand behind my opinions. That's not to say i don't see other peoples point of view, and also have no problems admitting when i have been wrong.

Well enough procrastinating lets get down to it.

To your first point, I can agree that the loading screens can feel excessive at points, but I feel like the only time that's the case is when I'm abusing the use of waypoints to get to places I could easily walk. The game world actually feels extremely large (arguably larger than WoW felt, and I haven't even seen it all yet). In my experiences, you can see the major cities when you would expect to see them. I think the only exception to this is Rata Sum, which does seem oddly disconnected from the Asura starting zone, with Polymock arenas standing between the two zones.

And that's a big point to me. It makes a feeling go from "wow im in this huge interesting world" to "hmm this is a big MMO" Some people play MMOs for the mechanics but the first draw to me is immersiveness. Something WoW managed on a unprecedented scale, open world with almost no loading zones, actually felt like a world, neat little tricks like using fly by air transportation to show off it's magnitude and seamlessness serves to drive the sense of a world into the player. The game world of GW2 is huge but it just feels like an artificial game instead of a world to me. (this feeling is emphasized by later points too).

As far as major cities go, i have started 3 characters: a char, those plant dudes and the viking fellows. In neither of the three cases could i see the capital city from outside. If it can actually be seen then that is even worse, because i sure as hell did not notice them at all from the starting zones, they failed to stand out completely. Hell even EQ2 managed this part quite well with cities dominating the beginning landscape. Never mind WoW with Ironforge gates dominating the view or that awesome feeling of seeing Ogrimar for the first time. This zoning and visual design is what makes one feel more like being in a fantasy world rather then in an artificial construct.

Again none of this is an issue if you are into an MMO for the mechanics and the game part of it. It matters to me hugely because that's one of the reasons that made WoW so appealing in the first place, the sense of being in a world.

If you have absolutely no urge to explore the world, then you're ignoring a large chunk of what GW2 PvE leveling has to offer. The game actively encourages you to explore every corner of each zone, searching for points of interest, waypoints, vistas, and skill challenges, before finally rewarding you with a loot chest upon completing the zone.

Here is the thing, you are assuming that I am ignoring a huge chunk of GW2 when I am not dong that at all. (this is also one for the reasons i was not looking for a back and forth here because my statements were mostly barebone, leading to such false assumptions).

Again we come to the difference between exploration being natural or gamey. GW2 puts up a shitload of markers to explore vistas, POI, all that jazz and I have done quite a lot of them. But that is not exploration to me, at least not natural self motivated exploration, it's exploration for the games sake, it feels artificial (see we are continuing that immerse feeling though thread from before). When I see a marker on the map encouraging me to explore all I can see is the underlying game systems, i know 100% that the game designer meant for me to go there and "explore" this point, i know there has been purposefully constructed a path to get there, i know a million people will visit this exact place to get their xp portion, this directly interferes with an actual feeling of exploration, of discovering the unknown. The difference is between the game telling me "go here it's a cool place" and saying myself "that looks like a cool place, can i try to get there?". I still remember fondly people (myself included) trying to explore the nooks and crannies of the WoW world for the sheer pleasure of just exploring for being able to say i went there.

I think by now you should be able to better see from what direction I am judging GW2 and the values that drew me to MMO's in the first place.

What do you mean by "overload you on the front end but tapers off as it continues"? If you mean that as you play through the game, there are a ton of renown hearts in the early zones, but they taper off as you hit new zones, that's intentional. Renown hearts are not meant to be the main source of PvE content, but are more of a transitional step toward where the real PvE content of GW2 is: the Dynamic Events. As the game goes on, it begins tapering off the number of renown hearts, but ramping up the number of dynamic events that can spawn in a zone. These dynamic events eventually turn to dynamic event chains, with the conclusion of one leading to the beginning of another. In even later zones, those chains give way to dynamic event webs, whose endings determine the direction and objective of the next dynamic event.

I mean almost everything. But mechanics first and foremost. GW2 makes no excuses and pulls no punches it's an MMO for MMO people. The game frontloads the player with a plethora of new information and systems but as you go along they inflow of new stuff actually keeps decreasing not ramping up. It's a reverse flow from say WoW where the initial pace start of super leisurely and the player being eased into the mechanics the class skills, exploration, crafting, etc. with all of these ramping up steadily as the you progress through the world. For example in GW2 you are given access to a huge number skill straight up (yes weapon skills have to unlock but they do so very fast) leaving a new player with 5 skills for a weapon each of which is a goddamn list with effects, mechanics, follow ups, chains and that's for each weapon, giving you a huge selection by the time you even finish the first zone at the start it's overwhelming. The problem is compounded in that this is not only off putting at the start but as i gained levels further and further the influx of new shit (skills etc) slowed down more and more, with all weapon skills being discovered all i got was a trait/skill every few levels (or whatever they are called). Making the game actually feel more shallow then it really is.

It's a core tenet of Blizzard games and why they are so popular. Easy to get into hard to master. The initial barrier is almost non existent (that's why the masses could pick up WoW/SC2/D3 so easily) but with a deep end of the pool still existing if you want to swim that way. GW2 drops you off the deep end, but as a result you don't feel the pool getting much deeper further on either.

This is also relevant to the crafting system. Overall (at it's core) i like the GW2 crafting system more so then WoWs. However again the game frontloads it with even starting recipes requiring multiple materials processing etc, then there is also the discovery system. When it would have been easier to have simpler crafting in the beginning with more mats being later on as well as discovery being introduced not right away but once you get past your fist crafting tier, just for example. Altho crafting only slightly belongs here with class skills being the prime example.

Same with world events static (hearts) and ongoing. You see it all right in the first zone and it's a bit overwhelming at that point in time. But as I went through further zones it was just more of that. Likewise coming back to exploration the very first time you have the NPC show you the map you are dumped a boatload of exploration icons. Minor by itself and I only mention it for the cumulative snowball effect with other things.

Even all of this is not an issue if you are into MMOs full throttle, the mechanics are nice and a savvy gamer can chew though all of that no problem (i had no issues at least). Problem is that for a new person it sould be too much. It's not going to make GW2 a very friendly game to new people.

I am not saying "wah wah it's all to complicated". It's not. It's just that it wears that complexity on it's sleeve, imposing it right away but leaving less of a carrot on a stick further down the road. For me personally having to digest mechanics first and foremost took away from paying attention to the actual world and having to pay attention more to the game part. All of this could be avoided with better pacing.

...

Phew.... i'm starting to get a bit zoned out typing all of this out and loosing my thread of though, sorry if i repeated myself too many times ^.^ Taking a break now to continue typing this up a bit later.

Oookay.

Cities, in my opinion, are not "unnecessarily" huge (with the exception of Hoelbrak). The reason you might feel like they are unnecessarily large is due to your expectations from games like WoW, where a city like Stormwind is considered huge. Divinity's Reach is as large as it is partly because of what it is. That city is the last surviving city for the human race (if I'm not mistaken). Every human in Tyria lives either there or in the outskirts. And that shows when you walk around town. There are a TON of NPC's throughout the city, each with their own dialogue you can catch as you pass by. The city is large, but far from empty. I even caught a lady NPC who was new to the city and was talking to a guard. Upon completion of their dialogue, she began to walk off. I decided to follow her, just to see how far she would walk before disappearing and restarting her interaction with the guard. I followed her and her son a quarter of the way around the city, before she finally walked up to the steps of her home and went inside. These cities feel like living, breathing places, which is more than I can say for most other MMO's out there. TOR tried to do the same thing, making huge cities, and filling them with NPCs. However, their NPC system they used meant each player saw a variable number of NPCs depending on the power of their computer (many of the NPCs were actually rendered client-side because of this). Because of this system, it never really felt like they were people in a city, so much as a prop on an otherwise massively empty set.

Matter of opinion, mostly. Again you are assuming that i think WoW cities were huge like Stormwind, I don't, i consider them just right if not a bit on the little side. There is nothing wrong with large cities in and of itself, i do take issue when they are so large that it detracts from my experience but serves no visible purpose. You say they are more immersive for being so huge, to me it's the reverse the cities are so big and architecture so over the top it ridiculous sometimes. Now full disclaimer i have only fully explored 2 cites the tree of life and norn city (char city i got to and stopped playing the character for now). The norn city especially feels ridiculous in size especially with so much space just being empty and unused it's big for the sake of being big, the city could easily be half the size and still contain all the buildings and NPCs with no problem.

Further the problem of size is initially a game play problem, because to get places in a city you either spend too much time running or have to teleport, and with the size teleport becomes the only reasonable option. Which tangentially adds to my overall issue of more loading screens again detracting further from feeling like it's an actual world rather then just a game. Again an easily avoidable problem by making either the city more compact or having faster travel options without resorting to constant teleporting around and loading screens. Teleporters are solving an artificially created problem in the first place and are detracting from the immersion meanwhile.

As far as NPCs and routines go even Elder Scrolls games can't manage natural NPC behavior, never mind an MMO.

Here is some slightly ironc food for thought. How a smaller city can feel bigger and more alive and why a huge city feels too big and empty leaving it feeling underwhelming. People per square meter of virtual real estate :) It's what made Ogrimar or Ironforge or Stormwind feel so great, a shitload of people all in one place you got there for the first time and things felt like they were moving, shit was happening, the city bustle so to say, the central plazas were basically your medieval downtown. Whereas making such massive cities just makes them seem kinda empty of real people (relatively speaking) due to the spread.

Character movement is a bit floaty; I will give you that. It feels especially imprecise when attempting one of the many jumping puzzles scattered throughout the game. That said, I recently loaded up WoW (wanted to check out the 5.0.1 update) and messed around in there for a bit and I have to say, if GW2 character movement feels imprecise and floaty, and WoW is the alternative, I'll take my floaty imprecision of GW2 any day. The mechanical nature of WoW character movement used to be something I felt like most MMO's never quite got right, but now I see that it might just be due to that type of movement more being a limitation of their engine than anything.

It's a preference thing for sure. I just like feeling 100% in control of my actions in a game. So i don't nkow if GW2 movement is due to animation priority or a different way of handling latency but i just don't like the non instant-super precise-response. Regardless of tech limitations or improvements it's a negative to me.

I won't go too far into the spell effect stuff, since I can see that being an issue some might have, but I feel like GW2 doesn't go nearly as far as some other games (I'm looking at you, Rift). That said, the following confused me: "There are a lot of graphics on a technical level but it's usually just overwhelming with detail and colours and geometry as a result none of it actually stands out as hugely memorable." So...the game looks too good? I wouldn't describe it as overwhelming (at least in a negative sense), and there are plenty of memorable locales throughout the world. Rata Sum's architecture, The Great Collapse in Divinity's Reach, the big rock that look's like Pride Rock in Lornar's Pass.

Hmm this one is probably the hardest to put into words. It's kind of like graphics technical versus graphics artistic, except not quite right. GW2 has the technical side down just fine (it's not exceptional but it's no slouch). I feel like there are way too many objects creating a lack of visual identity to a lot of zones. It's best described by examples maybe. For instance WoW graphics were extremely rudimentary even when it was first released, yet the visual design how things stood out were fantastic, there were great set pieces i remember to this day, like when you first got into Duskwood it really stood out. Simple but very stand out elements like say the earlier example of the gates of Ironforge or seeing Thunderbluff dominating the area you quest in; when you went into Thousand needles, Ungoro crater, Helfire penisula, etcetera etcetera, there are just so many things that were so visually unique and interesting at the time the first time you saw them, they imprint theselves on your mind. Once again adding to the earlier discussed loop of exploration and that feeling of being in a world. Granted I have only seen a few zones so far, but i just don't feel like there is that much uniqness about them, going from plant people starting zone to their next 15-25 zone just felt like going from one slightly tropical green foresty area to another, didn't help that char starting area also seemed very generic. I guess that's what it feels like generic. Then there is the cities )i cant speak for all) but the Tree of Life felt like homogenized collection of green walkways that all looked almost the same, not an instantly recognizable or memorable layout at all. Tho the nord city was a bit better about that. There is a lot of detail in the world but the problem is that the detail frequently covers up stand out features and makes things less unique and more generic.

A funny anecdote, i was quite impressed with the 4 statues of the norn gods/spirits before the city entrance but then i saw very similar giant ice statues inside the city itself and then for the third time later in the next zone. So the impact was kind of lessened.

To sum it up i go around GW2 and it all looks alright, but there are no" Ooooooooooo!" moments, at least so far for me.

I assume by "public quests" you mean the dynamic events, but your descriptions of them resemble renown hearts, so I'm not sure which you mean. Renown hearts, as I stated above, those are just there as a supplement for the dynamic events. As for the events themselves, they definitely have you do more than menial tasks, at least as you play through the game. Sure, in the early zones, you are doing things like fighting off spiders on an orchard or collecting apples, but later on, you'll be defending researchers as hordes of enemies threaten to disrupt their extraction of ancient artifacts from enemy infested caves. If you want to look at it as if the glass is half empty, then yeah, I guess you could say that the system discourages grouping, but if you're not an eternal pessimist, you'd see that the system encourages cooperation more than most MMO's out there, WoW included. Because the system doesn't require grouping to do the dynamic events, and because all kills are shared, even with renown heart activity, the system encourages active cooperation with others around you without the need to first sit there spamming in general "LFG Golemancy Research Event, PST."

I mean both. Again they are just that static events. Even the dynamic stuff is just a sequence on loop. My problem with them is not mechanical, it's once again immersive. They put an additional layer of abstraction between myself and experiencing the lore of the world. Get to an area proceed to just do menial tasks for local NPCs, watch for an event to pop, zerg it with a bunch of people. And thatt's just the first part of the issue, secondly I don't see it encouraging cooperation all that much I have yet to talk socially to anyone in the game it's always just a bunch of dudes being in the same place killing the shit out of everything. Not a single sentence exchanged in several days of play. I have actually had less proper contact with poeople playing GW2 then i did in EQ2 or even Aion. It's antisocial to the extreme. About the only words ever exchanged so far have been "ty" and "thanks" from people when you rez them.

It's not a case of looking at a glass half empty or full, it's a case of having a different priority. I don't feel like I am part of actual events or interesting goings on, i just get from one task zone to another. If it was not for dynamic events popping up i would have already put the game down, they are a bit of a ray of sunshune.

And as I have said because of such a structure of complete abolition of questlines (apart from individual) it makes the world feel less immersive to me. If i have to kill 10 boars from time to time to do the Defias quest and story threads or the Gron hunting or Onyxia chain or Teramore spying or Ungoro expedition or experience the Scarlet crusade, then fuck so be it because those and many more like them were awesome.

As for your critique about the player voices, I think that is just an unfair critique of the game. When we're talking about an MMO where your character has actual dialogue, offering multiple voices to choose from just isn't a viable option, and having a voice to the character is loads better than going the Silent Protagonist route. If you don't like your character's voice, that's a personal opinion, but not really a fair and valid critique on the overall game.

It's not a valid critique of the games quality yes. But it is a 100% valid critique as it applies to my experience with the game. To further reiterate the immersion angle, here (http://www.giantbomb.com/guild-wars-2/61-21223/can-you-makle-a-dwarf/35-558834/#24) is a thread that might make you better understand how I approach creating a character in an MMO. Silent protagonist doesn't apply, because the developrs are not the ones creating an individual fleshed out character. I am creating my own persona to inhabit. And when my hard black wooden dude that looks like charcoal and glows read in the dark fire elementalist talks like a 14 year old light hearted kid, instead of a snarky chain smoker with determination a violent streak, it completely shatters any and all illusion, it's no longer my unique character. And it's not exclusive to one voice either, none of the 3 characters i made sound like their personality and look dictates.

One of the thing that makes MMO's a great experience for me (creating your own unique character) has been severely hamstrung.

"Slanted crafting progression." One simple statement (not sentence, because that was not a sentence) does not a critique make. I'm going to guess you're referring to the fact that you seem to get less of the uncommon crafting materials (necessary for discovery, which seems to be the fastest and easiest way to level a crafting profession) than you need for crafting.

You guessed a bit wrong so I am going to clarify :)

By slanted crafting progression I mean that for example my jewelcrafting is just fine keeping pace with my character level even ahead of it for a little bit, i level it spend some money on it and get useful items in return. Because the materials are easily gather able in the game world. However tailoring is in a complete shithole, I have 100% 'ed two races level 1-15 zones not just my own and I still don't have the materials to even get past the first tier of tailoring, because the profession is so hugely dependent on drops with salvaging. And yes before you ask i do do discoveries, it's still not enough. I can't even start to craft with the second tier of materials yet and i'm already past lvl 25. Not having enough after one zone ok maybe i understand (to encourage trade) but damn dude even after doubling up through the zones to still be struggling for mats is kind of ridiculous.

The fact that the AH is still borked doesn't help either.

...

As you see, if you read this far a lot of my negative remarks can be attributed to personal feelings and what I want out of an MMO, it's the exact reason I was not trying to argue stuff in the first place, because many of my points can even be irrelevant to another person who is looking for something else out of GW2. Not all of it, but most of it. And mostly the stuff that was more objective you agreed with me on already. it's also why it is not in it's own thread or blog because i did not think my reactionary feelings warranted such.

...

Holy shit! There go several hours. Ironically my GW2 play experiance has gotten a bit more positive since i wrote that initial post so i would rather spend the time playing it atm then this :P

Damn, i knew i should have not gotten into it lol. Yet i keep doing this to myself again and again ^.^

PS: Rorie, duder, I am so fucking sorry for hijacking your blog ><

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