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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Guild Wars 2: Beta Impressions

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday May 2 2012 at 7:45AM
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Guild Wars 2: Beta Impressions

Well the time has finally come for Guild Wars 2 to get it's day in the court of MMO players, and over the weekend I got a chance to spend a fair amount of time in the beta weekend event.  The weekend was plagued with some techincal difficulties, but I supposed it is to be expected considering where the game is at in terms of stress testing (or lack there of) and development.  So I want to jump right in and talk about some the ups and downs for me during the event.   I tried to make sure I spent my time equally divided between the PvE and PvP side of the game, so hopefully I can cover both of these adequately.

Let's start with the PvE side of the game.  I ended up rolling a Charr Ranger and pretty much played that exclusively the entire weekend events.   The capital city felt really large, much bigger than the standard theme park MMO city.   I spent a fair amount of time going in and out of that place and derping around inside, but honestly still didn't even see half of the place.  I  found myself constantly looking at the map, which by the way is honestly one of the coolest in-game MMO maps I've seen in terms of the way it looks artistically and zoom functionality.   

When I finally walked outside it was weird not being told where to go.  I just started walking and things started popping up on my screen.   As things popped up I would wander over to see what was going on, help out in some event and collect money and exp.   I absolutely love the fact that there is no kill stealing, I can't stress this enough.   It baffles me that it's taken this long for a major AAA MMO to use this approach.  Since people aren't worried about who has claim to what mob, people are helping each other out, picking each other up off the ground, and while there wasn't an abundance of chatter there seemed to be a shared understanding that if we help each other we can all benefit.  The entire dynamic event system is really the next step in the progression of theme park questing.   Warhammer really tried to do it with the public quests as sort of a minor diversion, Rift took it to the next level by making it a larger part of the experience, and now GW2 really takes it up by making it the primary means of PvE with the complete elimination of a quest log full of chores masked as quests.  I didn't think it was Earth shattering or ground breaking, but it is the next logical step in the evolution of this type of MMO.

Despite throwing away the chore quests of bargin bin games past, I still got the feeling like there was a lot of content on the PvE side of the game.   Aside from wandering around tripping over events, skill points cant be earned through spots marked on the map which gives people a reason to wander off to some hard to reach places.  There is also a personal story quest that I found myself playing a lot more than I thought I would.   These quests are voice acted and do ask the player to make decisions about who to help and whther certain people live or die.   They also seem to be well varied in terms of theme, having me fight in arenas, fend of ambushes, and destroy back line siege equipment to name a few.  Combine this with everything above and the PvE experience feels robust in terms of content, and of course the choice is yours to completely disregard this side of the game since PvP can also be a means of leveling.

On the PvP side of the things, you have a completely different experience.  One option is to queue up for the standard instanced battleground type thing, which personally did not interest me that much.  I played it maybe twice and moved on to WvWvW stuff.  This is where the real meat of the game is at and will need to be to ensure the game has sort of staying power.  If you played DAOC (Or WAR to a lesser degree) you know the type of stuff that goes on out here.   Roaming warbands and keep sieges are pretty much the norm out here.  With 3 servers fighting over the various control points and hotspots, I found it refreshing that 3-sided PvP has made its return.  While roaming with our crew of INQ guys, we had some hilarious moments where we were killing one team, and within eye shot of the battle was the third team kicking down the second team's door.  The entire 3rd party interference factor is great and helps make this the game that Mythic probably wanted Warhammer to be, but dropped the ball.

Another thing here of interest is how accessible siege equipment is right out of the gate.   Instead of forcing players to grind out some trade skill to be able to get their hands on these things, pretty much anyone can access these things right out of the gate and put them together as long as enough supply is present.   Supply is a mechanic that replaces the old days of players lugging around buying piles of wood to build machines and repair doors.  Supply can be picked up from various supply points on the map, which can be fought over and taken in the name of your server.   Once you have it, you can take supply and carry it with you in finite amounts, the good news is that it weighs nothing and takes up no inventory room.   Supply can run out however at these points, and they need to be restocked via a supply caravan.  Considering these caravans can be attacked, it opens up another mechanic of cutting off supply to the enemy team, and this can be done easily with only a handful of people.

During the weekend I took part in a lot of keep battles and saw first hand all sorts of siege weaponry being used by relatively new players.  Catapults, battering rams, pots of oil, cannons, and arrow carts make for some really hectic and frantic combat.  These items really become a necessity to effectively take down doors as they can stand up to a lot of player damage compared to those in previous games.  The map also does a pretty good job of showing you where on the map fighting is going on so you don't waste your time hoping to find action.   The areas are quite large and have a wide variety of terrain, but aside from the central area, the 3 outlining server borderlands are all indentical.   As a gripe, I do wish these areas would be different but I do understand why they went the route that they did.  Another issue is that performance was pretty dodgy for me and I have a pretty powerful system, but with this being beta I am hoping to see them get a better handle on this moving forward.

I can't really talk about all the classes, but I would like to talk for a second about the ranger since it is the one class I played.  I read a lot of talk on the forums about the pet and how it factors into the class.  Issues I had with the pet were probably that it is dead most of the time, especially in PvP, and that there is no health bar on the UI for it.   This means I'm always finding out the pet is dead the hard way since he still walks around even though he has no life left.  That aside, I felt that when the pet was dead I wasn't worthless.  I also like the fact you can collect pets and swap them out on the fly.  I also like the fact I can switch between my bow and my sword pretty quickly, but was facepalmong over the fact that my starting weapon was an axe.   Ranger should start with a bow in my opinion, instead I spent the first hour in the game trying to find one.

The combat is going to take a little getting used to as well.   I keep forgetting that I can dodge, although I am not sure how effective it would be if I did, so I won't judge yet until I get a bit better with the system.  I did notice that other people were able to avoid my rapid fire arrows attack sometimes in part by running certain ways.   This game also let's me fire an arrow straight ahead without any target selected which is kind of interesting.   The combat is not quite TERA, but probably above the standard tab target face rolling once people learn to use the dodge mechanic a bit more effectively.

Overall though the game is worth 60 bucks considering there is no monthly fee.   I figure if you play this game for a month and quit you probably got your money's worth.   Considering the amount of PvE content in the game and the fact you can effectively go right to end game with PvP and stay there, most people should be able to get a least a month out of this if not more.  I might a bit harsher on the game if it was charging a monthly fee, but it isn't.  Guild Wars 2 will not cure cancer, but it's probably the closest thing to DAOC 2.0 (with a lot less crowd control) we are going to get. The fact that it does just about everything the other theme park MMOs can do and does them better without a monthly fee is going to mean serious trouble for other games on the market.

Co-Leader of Inquisition

Classicstar writes:

Im glad offcorse its not with fee, but this game can also comepete even with sub agains most mmo's out there not only becouse its with no fee that sounds rather cheap btw how you say this, play it one month then move on, noway this is even close to truth game is so much more and good.

i think this game will be played by many for a longtime becouse its that good and play alot more and alot longer then your auggested month(You prolly deny this but thats what your saying). Don't mean you should not express your opnion its just not mine.

Fri May 04 2012 2:36PM Report
Paragus1 writes:

I was using the 1 month example as what I would consider to be a worst case scenario.  There is at least a month worth of stuff to do at a bare minimum, in which case you would still be geting you money's worth.

Fri May 04 2012 3:11PM Report
MurlockDance writes:

Sounds interesting though the problems you address for the Ranger class are disappointing. It looks like they will have to improve the pet feedback a lot. Not knowing if and when your pet is dead in PvP is pretty important.

What are the community tools available at the moment? Is it easy to group up, do they have a good lfg tool, or do they have open groups like in WAR/Rift?

Sun May 06 2012 2:27AM Report
Zeroxin writes:

Paragus, the health bar for your pet is above your 1-5 skill bar.

Sun May 06 2012 5:36AM Report
Paragus1 writes:

I saw command bar for the pet there, but I did not see anything telling his health.

Sun May 06 2012 2:01PM Report
sidhaethe writes:

It's right under the ranger pet control buttons, but above your own 1-5 skill buttons:

It's the red bar.

Sun May 06 2012 6:03PM Report
Paragus1 writes:

I could have sworn I didn't have that, but I guess I derped!

Mon May 07 2012 7:47AM Report
SuperXero89 writes: This game will find its niche, but I don't feel as if the game will stay a massive mainstream success. I believe that the mainstream crowd is going to balk at the weapon switching mechanic, the fact that combat feels like League of Legends, the mobile nature of the combat, and the fact that dynamic events are the primary means of progression. I do not feel that there are enough Dynamic Events, let alone repeatable Dynamic Events to fully replace questing, and you're going to have a lot of people doing what I did, and that's just running around aimlessly begging the gods for a dynamic event to pop. Personal story is unique, but it's unfortunate that the quests are only truly meant to be completed every couple of levels, and the heart quests were a major turnoff. Exploration is fun, but you're hamstrung by the fact that you can never venture too far away from level appropriate hearts on the map. In the end, I ended up doing little else than running personal story every two levels, completing the heart quests, and repeating the same three or four dynamic events over and over again. To me, that's hardly a healthy amount of PvE content. Between the heart quests and repeating the same dynamic events over and over again, the MMORPG heralded as the "anti-grind" honestly felt like more of a grind than pretty much any other MMORPG I had played this year. In the end, I think the game lives up to its namesake. Those who got years of gameplay out of Guild Wars 1 are undoubtedly some of players Anet hopes to attract for Guild Wars 2; however, for those of us who always felt that Guild Wars 1 lacked in content compared to a fully featured P2P MMORPG, I don't see enough in Guild Wars 2 that will make them think differently about the sequel. Mon May 07 2012 3:49PM Report
lokiboard writes:

Whats wrong with starting a ranger with a throwing axe?  I loved getting a torch and opening up the skill to set a fire , throw the axe through the flames for extra damage.....It was fun...

Tue May 08 2012 6:55AM Report
thecandide writes: "Overall though the game is worth 60 bucks considering there is no monthly fee. I figure if you play this game for a month and quit you probably got your money's worth." That quote convinced me to buy, as a long term reader I'd like to thank you for your insights. Tue May 08 2012 11:22PM Report
Zeroxin writes:


For me, venturing beyond my level appropriate area was very rewarding, especially with all the tools I was given. I just needed to make sure I didn't over-aggro and also dodge at the appropriate time.

Wed May 09 2012 11:06AM Report
Soultice writes:

Hey Paragon good read and I am looking forward to the release.  I am so looking forward to the WvWvW pvp.  I still play GW1 to be honest I left after the 1st expansion release and came back at the last one and still enjoy the game rom time to time. 

What really impressed me was my two year old character was still there after all this time.  But GW is not for everyone. GW2 will not be either.  To be honest I am tired of paying for a MMORPG only to end up on some darn raid schedule all the time and paying for pain.


Wed May 23 2012 2:44PM Report writes:
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