I am a long time Guild Wars 1 player with roughly 3k hours logged in that game. Thus far, my Guild Wars 2 account has logged just over 339 hours (let's be generous and say about... 20 of those were afk, for the sake of fairness), with a roughly 200 hour old main.
This means that I have a large amount of insight as to what the game is, what it offers, and what needs improving.
This first blog post is a general one that focuses on a large-scale overview of how I currently feel about the game. Future posts will go into greater detail.
If you came here expecting me to spout the good news of Guild Wars 2 and hand out Arenanet bibles, then you will be sorely disappointed. The same can be said if you expected me to condemn the game as a flop and a failure - which it is most certainly not.
The reality is that it is a promising, misunderstood game with an incredible core experience that is more than a little rough around the edges.
No subscription fee. Reasonable cash shop.
Bang for your buck. As of now, I have logged over 300 hours into the game and have barely scratched the surface. Dungeons still have a lot to offer me. I've barely scratched WvW, and I'm only rank 9 in sPvP, which still feels fresh. I bought the Collector's Edition, so that's about 2 hours for every dollar I've spent. If that were a standard edition, the ratio would be 5:1. Incredible.
The world. My God. The world. Tyria is gorgeous and interesting to an extent that I can very rarely say for fictional realms.
The painterly art style. No other online game can come close to the art style of Guild Wars 2.
The soundtrack is top-notch.
The world feels ... not necessarily alive but.... lively, at least. With the exception of Orr, for perhaps obvious reasons.
The core combat system is far superior to every other game in this genre (with the sole exception of Tera Online - which offers great combat... and nothing else).
Player vs. Player is based on skill, not gear or levels. This is incredibly important and means that the game may eventually evolve into a thriving e-sport.
The game is immediately enticing. Content is fun from the start and stays that way for a long time.
No inherent barriers to entry. Every class is useful (or will be when balance reaches a point of relative stability) and all PvE content can be successfully run with any class combination. Levelling is fast and gear is not terribly difficult to obtain.
Plentiful, varied content.
Good character creation.
Nice spell effects (unfortunately a bad thing as well).
Challenging to a degree one wouldn't normally expect from an MMO.
Great humor and ambient dialogue.
Varied armor designs to cover a wide palette of tastes.
Superb dye system that provides loads of character customization.
Grind is reasonably low, so long as you aren't striving for a Legendary or karma gear. Consider these things optional goals that you put on the back-burner while you do other things.
Game mechanics encourage exploration and map completion.
Tons of hidden puzzles, activities, and other things to discover.
Dynamic Event system and other core PvE content provides a great method of presenting traditional content.
Spell particles can be excessive, leading to confusing fights on any sort of larger scale.
Dungeon mobs are bullet sponges. They just don't die. Seriously, dungeons would be considerably more fun if they chopped down mob health by at least 20%.
Gameplay often doesn't bring out the merits of the combat system. While you COULD do amazing combos, kite constantly, use your godlike dodge reflexes, and coordinate with others around you, you rarely have to. This varies by class, of course. An Elementalist has to work way harder than a Warrior to achieve the same results. Which brings me to my next point...
Class balance. The game is new. What did you expect? Why would I ever take the time to master the slightly underpowered Elementalist and Necromancer when I could faceroll as a Guardian for often better results?
The weapon system is a good idea on paper and in practice. The problem? It is a threat to the game's longevity. The solution is to add more weapons and to unlock previously unusable weapons for all classes. If half of your bar is a pre-made template, there better be plenty of those templates to choose from.
The story is weak. Dialogue is often lacking, voice acting is lackluster, and characters are forgettable at best and despised at worst. The only lovable characters take a dirt nap before you even get to know them. Oh, did you come in here expecting no spoilers? Too bad. Your personal story dies at Claw Island. Enjoy.
Trahearne. The very mention of his name will usually bring up instant revulsion in any map chat. Trahearne makes the "Personal" in your Personal Story a lie the moment he appears. He immediately hijacks your story as your character proudly makes himself Trahearne's lackey. Trahearne has a terrible voice actor, bad dialogue, a self-absorbed personality, and a list of Mary Sue traits that would bring shame to Micaiah from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
Orr. Orr is the worst end-game zone that I have ever seen. It has more bugs than undead - and it is nothing BUT undead. These undead are not fun to fight. They are difficult to kite. They attack in huge numbers because there are simply too many of them on the map. They respawn too quickly. All of them have anti-run mechanics (slows, pulls, stuns, etc.) so you are FORCED to fight them.
Orr simply has no life, no interest, and no reason to stay there other than that the only alternative is to accept weak loot and little challenge in low level areas or to go to Frostgorge Sound, a single level 70-80 area.
Underwater combat is a disease. It is currently clunky, typically boring, and full of frustration. It is bugged beyond reason - the worst bug being the one that causes AI allies and enemies to go through walls and stay there until you get lucky enough for them to come out. This is a terrible experience that creates something that should never have existed - underwater wall ninjas. Yes. Underwater.... wall.... ninjas. Take that in for a moment.
WvWvW queue times.
Large number of bugs that will hopefully be ironed out asap.