Guild Wars 2 - Is it All That?
So what's all this hype over
Guild Wars 2 anyway? From hearing the developers talk about the
game to the attention from the media to what the fans have been saying
about the game it sounds to me like this game is supposed to change the
way people play MMOGs. It's to be the game to changes the
industry. Sadly, after my first experiences with it during the Beta
Weekend Event I not only felt disappointed but kind of ripped off that
I had been led to believe that Guild
Wars 2 was anything more than yet another standard and
tired MMO formula.
Now before the World vs. World fans hunt me down in my sleep allow me
to state plainly that I did not experience those aspects during my
hands-on time with the game over the weekend. So the competitive player
vs. player game may very well be the second coming but I didn't play it
so I don't know. I don't enjoy PvP as much as I used to so I stay away
from it now. I solely focused on the PvE game to see what it held. And
I found the PvE game old-hat and frankly, mostly boring.
I was led to believe that the game would play out like an open sandbox
filled with wild adventures and dynamic events that would keep the
world in motion. There would be no linear path guiding us on rails from
quest hub to quest hub to grind out needless quests in order to level
up. This was what I was led to believe but this was wrong.
The world, from my experience up to level 15 anyway, is completely on
rails. Sure there are no quest hubs but "events" replace them
in exactly the same way any quest hub would be situated. You travel
around the map going from event to event, of which the recommended
level is clearly marked right on the map. Once you are done with an
area you move onto the next, never having a need to return
again. In fact, with the fast travel system, even if an area is already
completed is directly in the path of going from point A to point B you
can just skip over it by clicking on the waypoints and paying a small
There may not be an actual quest journal but you still have your quest
tracker at the top right indicating what the next step of your quest
requires. There are no NPCs with exclamations over their heads, but
there are NPCs with hearts over their heads--an empty heart if you
haven't completed the event yet, a full heart if you have. Who's
kidding who? Call it what you want but the progression is simply a
string of Public Quests a la Warhammer
Online, Champions Online, Rift, and whoever else is
touting them nowadays. There's nothing new here.
With the possible exception of Rift,
these Public Quests didn't work in other games so I'm not sure why
anyone would think they'd work in Guild
Wars 2. Don't get me wrong... I love the concept but the
truth of the matter is that no matter how many players will be playing
the game after launch there is likely rarely to be enough to create a
critical mass of players for every event (or Public Quest) of every
level of every area in the game at all times. In fact, I dare be so
bold and say that most of these events will likely have to be done solo
most of the time after the initial launch surge of new players. While
that is certainly possible given the scaling technology employed with
the events, many of these events would be just as boring and in some
cases more frustrating than your average quest in other MMOs. A lot of
these events took a good deal of time to collect ground spawns, fight
off creatures, and return the items to NPCs, even with multiple
players. I would can't imagine the time it would take to do
it solo, even if you only had to collect 10 rocks instead of 100.
Conversely some of the events seem rather ludicrous with a large amount
of players, should there happen to be a lot of folks around. Some of
the events are simple escort quests. One such event had me following a
girl who was chasing a fluffy little friend. My goal was to make sure
she didn't get hurt. I began to feel rather silly chasing this tart
around with the 20 other adventurers who were doing the exact same
thing. It felt like a swarm of paparazzi trying to get a sound bite
from Dakota Fanning while she was chasing a puppy on some farm. It was
Now let's take a look at the combat. I will say this: I did enjoy the
combat for the most part, mainly because the profession you choose
plays completely differently based upon the weapon you're using. A
staff-wielding mesmer plays very differently than one sporting a blade.
However apart from that I didn't notice anything ground-breaking in
terms of how combat played out. My standard attack was still an
auto-attack and I had a few extra abilities I could use to mix it up a
bit. I did not understand the reasoning behind locking all of my
abilities until I used one enough to unlock the next. I found it took
about 15 minutes of combat to unlock them all so I don't understand why
there needed to be a lock at all.
I was told that there are some cool cross-class combos you can do for
extra damage and effects. Sounds fun enough, but I never saw any being
done. I never saw a need for them either, aside from the fact that they
could be fun. Granted I only got up to level 15 or so, so it's entirely
possible they come more into play later in the game. But this also
isn't something new, nor is it something that has worked particularly
well in the past. EverQuest
2 uses a Heroic Opportunity system to do the same thing.
It's mostly used now as a little something extra to do if you're bored.
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
used a weaken and exploit system that would allow cross-class combos. I
don't know if anyone has ever bothered to use it.
The overflow system, while necessary, seems to be broken. This is where
if an area is filled you'll be put on an overflow server. It's simply a
different instance of the area, or more commonly known as a 'channel'
in other MMOGs. However there was no way to switch channels. So my
groupmates and I would have to log off and on repeatedly until the
random system finally put us into the same channel. But, as soon as we
went to another area or did an instance for one of our profession
quests, we'd come back out and be in different channels again, forcing
us to do the log and relog game again.
I do want to point out though that that problem is such a glaringly
obvious one that I would be shocked if it's simply just not a matter of
not having a channel-switching system in place yet during this stage of
beta. I hope that's all it is.
I also hope there's some sort of new-player introduction incorporated
into the game before launch. I've played a multitude of MMOs and never
before have I felt at such a loss. It took me quite some time to figure
out where my inventory and character sheet were located. It took me
even longer to figure out what ability points were and how they worked.
And I still don't think I quite understand upgrades. I also never did
find out how to craft - is it even in game yet? My attempts to find
answers to these questions by asking the community were quickly shot
down by smart-ass remarks and recommendations to go back to style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft.
In conclusion I do feel Guild
Wars 2 is shaping up to be a nicely polished, well-rounded
MMO. But let's be clear about it: if you're looking for something
completely new that will change the way you think about MMOs you'll be
sorely disappointed. At least on the PvE side. Maybe next Beta Weekend
I'll have to go bash some skulls with the World vs. World players to
see if there's anything ground-breaking on that end.
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