Sunday, April 21, 2013

Guild Wars 2: Free Weekend Impressions

Because I have a bit of malaise regarding SWTOR at the moment, I decided to take advantage of ArenaNet's GW2 promotion for a 'free weekend.'  I've heard a lot of things about Guild Wars 2, some good, some bad.  I decided to find out for myself.

First off, GW2 is gorgeous.  Not like, 'Oh hey, that's a good looking MMO'-gorgeous; the real, true gorgeous of a well-crafted videogame.  GW2 is stunning, even on medium settings (I played on high ... it was remarkable).  Draw distance is impressive, character design is amazing, environments are bewildering.  This is, quite simply, one of the best looking games around.  And that it's an MMO is mind-blowing.
Near the Black Citadel

Character creation is fun and different.  I instantly became attached to my Charr Warrior; almost everything was customizable (even tooth size!).  You answer a little questionnaire at the end that helps round out your backstory and some of the NPCs you can interact with give you one of three conversation options. based on how you made your character.  It's a pretty neat way to handle creation and I think other MMOs should take heed.

Combat is fast and ... frankly, infuriating.  It plays like an action game with MMO trappings.  Some may think this is a good thing, and I'll agree that it's very different, but not for my tastes.  The action-oriented fights reward those with highly-developed twitch based skillsets.  Dodging blows is a clunky affair, requiring to you either dodge back with 'V' or double-hitting whatever movement key associated with the way you want to dodge (w, a, s, d).  It never works as well as it should and it rarely works as intended.  Several times I dodged straight into oncoming fire.

I found two-handed hammers my favorite, by far.
And let's talk about combat, fire, and the general feeling of it.  Muddy.  That's what I would call it.  The movement and attacks aren't crisp and responsive.  Sometimes, I felt my character was running in quicksand and the ability delay between button press and ability activation was occasionally intolerable.  Several times I died due to ability delay or poor movement response.

And oh boy, let's talk about dying.  I consider myself a pretty veteran MMO player.  I've had characters in LoTRO, WoW, RIFT, SWTOR, DC Online, Star Trek, Forsaken World ... I pretty much know what I'm doing while leveling, and died very, very minimally.  But in GW2?  Yeah, I was dying left and right.  Combat is super fast and the spell effects block a lot of what's going on.  The game is also very brutal, using a level-down component that lowers your effective level to match what you're facing.  This is designed to keep things 'challenging.'  What I find is that it keeps this frustrating.  I'm level 10, so why is this level 6 imp kicking my ass?  Why am I getting ram-rodded by this low level pack of beasts?  Oh, because I'm functioning as if I'm level 4.  Gotcha.  That sounds like fun, right?

I fought this level 3 worm as a level 11 Charr Warrior.  Oh, I mean a level 4.  Silly me.
The story of GW2 is pretty good; I only got to level 10 with the Charr Warrior, but I also made an Asura Engineer, a Silvari Elementalist, and a Norn Ranger.  Got a level or two with each, just to see what it was like.  They were competently done (the Asura was especially awesome), but none of them really grabbed me like the Charr.  Those beast-men are like the Klingon/Mandalorian/Tauren combo that I've always wanted.  To be frank, the Charr are better Tauren than the Tauren of WoW.  There's a bestial savagery there that's pretty awesome to behold.

The Charr does the haka.  The awesomeness of this cannot be denied.

Overall, I find GW2 to be a competent, beautiful, but occasionally frustrating game.  The combat really needed to nail the action component, and I feel it came up short, critically in some areas.  Other than that, it's a wonderful game full of atmosphere and art.  I always told myself that if GW2 went on sale one day, I'd pick it up and give it a shot.  Now that I have, I'm glad I didn't try it at full price.  In fact, the free weekend has pretty much cemented my assertion that GW2 just isn't for me.  And you know what?  That's ok.  I can definitely see why many people play, and love, Guild Wars 2.  I hope Guild Wars 2 stays strong and healthy; we need these type of games to push the envelope of MMOs.  I may not like everything they did, but I definitely respect what they have accomplished.


  1. I found myself dying multiple times on my mesmer because I'd stumble on area events and get overwhelmed. "Normal" quest stuff I could handle, but I had a series of bad luck one night where I died something like four times in a half hour. I found myself seeing the notification of an area event, and I'd start running away. (It's more fun to play when I'm grouped with my husband.)

    1. The early events I had no trouble with ... but the stuff I ran into at level 8 and beyond ... ouch.

  2. My advices:
    1- change the dodge button for R;
    2- train all weapons disponible to your class (you can buy them cheap at TP) - cjange the weapons can change your class tottally;
    3- there are no "holly trinity": learn to heal yourself, when heal your self and to dodge dodge dodge;
    4- other players can rezz you, just ask for help, all classes can rezz and rezz gives xp, so everyone will want help you.

    "This is designed to keep things 'challenging.' What I find is that it keeps this frustrating."

    Need time for fit to instant develing. All other MMO a player get advantage from be at higher level than mobs. So, everyone is trained for be "overpower plus mode" and need time for get the mind fit to a diferent mode. Same thing with GW2 dungeons: there are no "holly trinity", no taunt skills, so combat will be a lot more chaotic. first timers in a dungeon will normally have a lot of wipes until everyone understand the group mechanics (yes, there is one, but not the traditional tank/healer/dps).

    People just need time for learn how to deal with the "novelties". Sadly, some people just refuse to change habits, for example they will ever want the traditional tank/healer/dps...

    1. I think the absence of the holy trinity is GW2 is primarily a myth. The game *can* be played without a tank/healer/dps-type group, but things go ever so much smoother with a traditional setup and can be a real chore without one. Even the events run smoother with a traditional comp. As for the self-heal, maybe it's just a function of the warrior class, but the self-healing there was pathetically underpowered. As for the dodging, I found it very poorly implemented and clunky. I guess I'd need time to get used to it, but I won't be worrying about it. Like I said, I really appreciate what they did and what they're trying to do, but it's just not something I find enjoyable.

      And the deleveling mechanic got under my skin more than anything else, to be honest.

    2. "I think the absence of the holy trinity is GW2 is primarily a myth."

      Well, you can try to tank without a taunt, it will never work, you never will hold agro. adn what is a tank that cannot hold agro? With relation to healers... if the self-heal is weak, the classes that have other people heal habilities is weak too. I tryed it with engineer and elementalist, you got some group regen, not big deal and while help to mantain the group alive for a few time, it never worked for me like a full healer class (everquest, EQII, LOTRO, SWTOR, Rift, I played healer at these and others MMO). So, no true tanks and no true healers, CC is king and all classes have a diferent way to CC. Warriors, for example, can go with a hammer two hand weapon, try it and you see your warrior will be a CC class.

      However, you are not the first to think that the absence of holy trinity in GW2 is a myth ( But soon these people learn that it is not a myth ( Sincerelly, anyone that try go to a dungeon with a warrior and claim she will tank will sooner or later rage quit. Don't work that way. I have 5 toons at level 80 (warrior, elementalist, engineer, ranger, necromancer) and I played guardian a lot in beta, I made a lot of dungeon and fractal runs, I play a good share of WvW, and I can confirm that in GW2 the holy trinity is completelly dead. It is NOT a myth and I cannot understand why so blatant falsehood return everytime that someone discuss GW2.

      The develing mechanic will ever got under your skin until you accept that to make things more chaleging is not make the things easier and that you need learn the strategies for fight all mobs, including the low level mobs. Imps are nasty if you dn't learn how to fight them and the same is true for centaurs, ettins and any mob you find in the starter zones. While at other games you just over level them with more armor and hp and damage output, at GW2 you need learn what is the best strategy for each diferent mob. However, to be true, at level 80 with full skills and a full set of exotics, the starter zone mobs are easy...

      The interesting thing is see people discussing about the future of MMO and they basically discuss GW2 ( Or see the new MMO to be launched have public quests (WildStar).

  3. I actually liked the combat system and its actiony feel. There were some ability-delay issues, but they were not game-breaking for me.

    You did mention the issue that ultimately turned me off from the game, and that is the incredibly slow movement. Running in quicksand is a good way to describe it. Skipping between GW2, TOR, and WOW, there is a huge difference, which is only amplified by GW2's lack of mounts.