The first Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event is done, and here are my thoughts after spending an obscene amount of time playing this weekend.
Structured PvP feels like a misnomer, as it’s really hard to tell just what this style of play is trying to achieve. There are capture points and per-map gimmick mechanics like NPCs or trebuchets. The capture mode may be simple for an audience to grasp, but it wasn’t fun to play; structured PvP tries to borrow elements like how players fight each other from Dota without any real thought. Elite skills that will maybe be used every couple minutes or so are interesting in longer games that may last 30 or more minutes, but in a condensed 15 minute gameplay mode where the losers don’t have anything at stake in the fight beyond a 15 second respawn this concept doesn’t hold up as well. Resource management is a key to having fun in any competitive game or sport, be it actual resources from a RTS or weapon and power-up spawns from the most simple FPS; elite skills alone won’t cover up the lack of any other resources to be used and managed in GW2 structured PvP.
Unlike structured PvP, World vs. World is complex and forces players to make interesting choices that will have lasting repercussions; it’s not the system’s fault that most of the time people will just swarm an objective with the least amount of resistance and trade losable objectives. WvW suffers from being too big, which isn’t a problem per se as long as players are having fun, but something at a smaller scale with the same complexity of the resource mechanics and multiple ways to attack and harass the opposing teams with a decisive victory after a period of time (30-60 minutes) might be a good replacement or complement to structured PvP.
The personal story execution can be summed up as amazing. The writing isn’t the best gaming has to offer, but it is interesting and entertaining. Having played through charr and human stories, and then sitting in on a good chunk of a norn tale, it was clear to see that the experiences offered really will be different and serve as a good excuse to roll many different alts. The biggest surprise of the weekend was going into a charr character being down on them & playing just because it seemed like that would never happen post-launch and instead coming out completely enamored with the race. The human stuff was interesting and it was refreshing to see old enemies crop up sooner rather than in a later expansion. The norn fight series was really impressive from the perspective of a guest who assumed they were just going be sidelined while the host did 1v1 bouts; getting to buff the host and debuff their opponents was incredible, fun, and immersive. Personal stories are fantastic all around, just needing work on balancing for some encounters.
Renown hearts were more fun than questing in any other MMO. When a dynamic event overlapped though and credit could be earned for both at the same time was when the hearts really shined. The variety in a given zone was appreciated, and it was nice going from catching invulnerable thundercrabs, to cleaning up graffiti, to beating up centaurs. Some more explanation for some of the less-obvious events, and better defined regions for the hearts would be useful.
When a new dynamic event kicked off it was the priority focus, especially since there was question about if or when it would ever occur again, and they felt rewarding and fun when there weren’t serious balance issues that shifted the spectrum from challenging to outright frustration. But even in the worst-case scenarios pulling back and regrouping was enough to overcome just about everything encountered. In the surveys there was a question about the event’s impact on the world – in many cases, when the event was stumbled upon after arriving in an area for the first time the impact was impossible to discern.
Weapon skills are fun to play with and it is neat seeing how different classes will use the same weapon in such divergent ways. Unlocking the skills however, is a chore that feels antithetical to the experience GW2 is trying to offer. While rampaging with a greatsword on my ranger was great fun until all five skills unlocked, seeing how each skill is used before the next one can be earned is unnecessary after a few levels of playing and having a basic grasp of the game mechanics. This could be solved by doing a flat “unlock-all” for weapon skills after the player reaches level 3 or 4, or just making the 4 and 5 weapon skills unlock as fast as the first three.
- If there could be one question that ArenaNet developers would have to answer, it should be who in the office uses & enjoys the default key layout? For as important as dodging is, the button needs to have a place wherever the player wants it, including on the mouse.
- Weapon management in the inventory screen is non-existent and needs to be addressed, either be toggling an item as “reserved” or by keeping it in a separate equipment pack like from GW1.
- Ranger pets seem great when they want to be, but otherwise behave like cats and that’s risky behavior to depend on in Tyria.
- Parties sticking together in the overflow servers needs to happen not before launch, but before the next beta weekend. This issue is second only to the one of performance.
- It doesn’t matter if the pretty graphics have to go away, the game needs to perform as well as GW1 given the reliance on dodging and twitch-skills.
- It’s really disappointing that dyes, and costumes are per-character and not per-account as costumes were in GW1. Unless gems will be stupid cheap with either real currency or in-game gold it will be really hard to justify the expense for a character instead of any character on the account.
As somebody who has purchased multiple copies of GW2, there are no regrets. That said, ArenaNet needs to take as much time as you need to get things working great (but hopefully their internal builds are a good ways ahead of the BWE one).