As I previously stated Zen and I got our hands on the Guild Wars 2 beta and got balls deep in some of the action in the first open weekend event in late April. These are my personal opinions and thoughts on my experiences over the 3 days that I played it.
First off, the character customization isn’t so massive that I feel like I’m playing the Sims, but it’s enough to make your character stand out in a sea of people – even more so with the free dying options you have available to you in the beginning of the game.
The game’s visuals and locale are absolutely awesome and definitely encompass everything that a ‘next-gen’ MMO should look like. Sweeping vistas, rolling hills, mountainous terrain.. massive keeps and sprawling meadow-lands are just some of the very different and eye popping areas of the world that you will find yourself staining with the blood of your enemy. The art style of the game isn’t too overly cartoony that it just feels like a kiddie game but also doesn’t have that dark, grimy, grittiness that Warhammer had with it’s attempt at a more realistic and darker fantasy setting. It’s bright and believable, and fantasy for sure. My only complaint is the assload of spell effects that are popping off constantly all over the place when you’re in the midst of ‘the shit’ – nullified by the implementation to have them toned down upon release more than likely.
The UI is pretty sleek and informative and very similar to a HUD display which is centered, conveniently placed, easy on the eyes, and gets you the information you need where you need it to be. The menus can be dragged around and re-sized which is a huge plus to me. They do allow almost full key rebinds which is fantastic for a lefty like myself – my only major gripe is they didn’t add in the functionality that WoW has with ctrl and shift modifiers. If they threw that in I would be shit-tickled pink – as I’m relegated to using the numpad and my keys are somewhat limited due to the range of having small hands (Carnie-like if you will).
Hands down my favorite aspect of GW2 is probably the WvW or World vs World PVP combat. It’s akin to Dark Age of Camelot and more recently, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning’s RvR system. It has keep sieges, siege weapons, supply routes – everything that would be included in a fantasy-style full scale war setting. The obvious issues with zerging masses and hugely numbered rape-squads are always an issue within these areas but through constant communication, good scouting, and great teamplay – even complete strangers can band together and overcome the odds as long as they’re not just overwhelmingly lopsided. I played almost 20 solid hours of WvW over the weekend and enjoyed every bit of it, even partaking in a zergfest group a few times myself for shits and giggles. The siege and anti-siege weapons are a great addition to sieges rather than just afk attacking the damn doors (which have a buttload of health) and add a variety of ways to take out a wall or even the doors themselves. They also sport anti-personnel weapons like arrow carts and the like which rain hell down upon attackers who picked a wrong time to idle or go menu diving.
I even dabbled in the PvE aspect of questing and leveling a bit just to check it out for myself. The questing system is by far and away better than any prior iteration of an MMO that I’ve played and can recall. GW2 basically blends the free-range model that everyone has grown to love in the Fallout/Skyrim series of being able to find quests by happenstance or knowing where ‘hubs’ are along with Warhammer/Rift’s style of public quests/rift openings. The fact that every quest is essentially a ‘group/public’ quest is also nice – you can get credit for kills by simply helping someone take down a monster you need for your quest and there is no ‘tagging’ in the game, period. Loot is apparently also distributed in this fashion and is even obtainable while doing WvW when bosses and players alike are killed without having to initially ‘tag’ them yourself. In doing the PvE/Questing system like this the game didn’t feel grindy to me at all while interweaving it in-between my sessions of WvW. Obviously if I had just focused solely on questing I probably would be sitting here complaining about how damn grindy it felt but I tried to take a somewhat forced casual (much to my chagrin) approach to it.
We were, however, unable to beta test any of the dungeons so I’m still very much reserved on my thoughts and opinions on that matter. Based on what I’ve seen in the countless videos that I’ve watched it looks to me like a bunch of monkeys trying to fuck a football. It’s chaotic, uncontrolled, unorganized and overall; just a giant mess of nothing that resembles cohesiveness or finesse. When the dungeons are available I will beta test the living crap out of them so I can truly see once and for all if it is something that I will actually enjoy or really loathe doing upon release.
Obviously I pre-ordered the game and plan on attending as many beta event weekends that ArenaNet will hold for us. If the dungeons end up stinking it won’t really deter me from playing the game and enjoying the PvP aspect of it as it reminds me of all the insanely fun times I had playing Warhammer’s RvR. The fact that it won’t have a monthly sub is just icing on the cake of what is appearing to be shaping up into a pretty decent game with great intentions on the behalf of the dev team. Kudos to them guys and I look forward to more beta testing and critiquing when the time comes.