Originally posted by DarkPony
I've been playing for a good chunk of the day now, but at the moment I don't really feel the need to login anymore. (Which doesn't have to mean much because I am not a real beta fan anyway: working on a character you can't keep is a huge detractor for me, yet, the gameplay by itself isn't so addicting that it makes me feel that I can't let go).
So here's my reviewette:
The good stuff:
- Very immersive surroundings, especially some of the cities: lively and rich.
- High amount of artistic skill went into this game: from character art to the UI: top job.
- Very good music
- Performance: better than I had expected, (seeing how there's still huge steps to make in optimization).
- Loading screens don't take so long: much less of an impact to immersion as SWTOR's planet change sequences, to give an example.
The ok stuff:
- Graphics: great level of detail but textures are not as crisp as you'd really want. Maybe this will still improve.
- Dynamic events do a good job at making the world feel more alive but aren't the revolution in the actual questing experience that some people might have expected.
- Combat: I'm kind of mixed up in this: on the one hand I like the system, unlocking a weapon set's abilities fairly quickly and weapon swapping to have access to a different range of skills. On the other hand, each weapon set has a limited amount of abilities yet each set has its core viability skills: it must be useful also on its own. That doesn't leave so very much skills open for very situational abilities like silences, stun breakers, etc. i.e. the kind of skills which seperate the best from the rest in most mmorpgs. All in all combat didn't feel very tactical to me, a bit spammy even, but it's low level gameplay so it's unfair to take that as an overall conclusion.
- PVP: only did WvW for 20 minutes or so; there wasn't much going on; escorted a Dolyak, got killed a few times trying to solo an objective but I can't really comment on this yet.
- Edit: Crafting: didn't try this yet. Tried to equip a pick axe when I found some copper ore but didn't work V_V
- edit: Dungeons: didn't get to do this yet.
Things I disliked:
- Camera control: only a short zoom range, I would like to zoom out a lot further.
- Movement: felt a bit weird: as if your character is slightly ahead of the point where you actually make it move and turn. Hard to explain this but it felt a bit like controlling a puppet on strings, if you know what I mean. This might become less of an issue when you grow more accustomed to it.
- Fighting to survive: in many cases you already know it's in vain: would be great to have an option to skip it and teleport right away.
- Walking. Yeah, you can teleport to every location you discovered but it's leggity-leg-it! for anything else. The distances aren't so great that it becomes very annoying but I still think that mounts or other means of real-time transport, would be a great addition after playing the game, especially for immersion sake.
- Death penalty: never really felt annoying. Because there is no trinity and there's only so much self-healing that can be done, dying is part of the core gameplay and it will happen often. I understand that the best way to make people really frustrated, really fast, would be implementing steeper death penalties, still, the lack of penalties apart from a repair bill kind of makes dying a non-issue like any other game doing the same thing. Avoiding death did not feel like something of paramount importance.
GW2 wraps many features and aspects of mmorpgs in a new style of paper, but when you unpack them it still kind of feels like "the same game". Presenting the same old gameplay elements differently didn't make it escape its very deep themepark roots.
Fans of this part of the genre will feel right at home but I can also imagine many people feeling disappointed about the fact that the game still sits so close to what they are very accustomed to by now. I'm more in the latter category but I don't feel very disappointed because my expectations weren't very high to begin with.
It feels like GW2's innovation is mainly invested in doing things seemingly different rather than doing actually different things, if you catch my drift. And in some cases doing things actually differently also has its drawbacks;
- On the one hand there's great innovation in dynamic events, doing away with questgivers and adding life to the world, but on the other hand they actually make zones feel more themeparkish with dedicated "rides" at dedicated, clearly marked places ("Gota catch 'em all!").
- On the one hand there's amazingly immersive cities, but on the other hand your place and story in them are very much "on rails", story conversations are like watching a poorly rehersed street theatre performance and the story itself is cookie cutter fantasy cliché, written "for all ages", i.e. not wanting to lose 11 year old Timmy's attention.
An example: being called "The hero of Shaemoor!" in the first ten minutes made me facepalm and having no choice but to betray a bandit leader to the authorities in the first part of the personal story didn't reflect what I wanted my character to do at all. ("WTF Friggin Judas! Why did you tattertale!") This despite me picking the non-heroesque "street urchin" background at character creation. What I saw of it reminded me very much of AoC's way of presenting story, and about the same level of writing. Story and writing is probably the one aspect where STWOR blows GW2 out of the water, but that isn't so surprising.
- On the one hand there's the doing away with the trinity, (you could call this a true innovation) but on the other hand this makes group combat kind of an egoistical experience where you only truly assist eachother in reviving, but not during combat itself. This + the "participate at will" aspect of dynamic events makes communication between groups of players much less needed. I only experienced people giving eachother directions in one single event, the rest was 6-15 people doing the same, perfectly understandable tasks in a dedicated areas without speaking a word.
The redeeming aspect here is that a lot of these events can be considered leveling content: there's no need to communicate in that kind of content in other games either. So in GW2 you'll be doing single player quests together, but the fact that you are together doesn't mean it's a much more social experience.
All in all GW2 sets industry benchmarks in the immersion, artwork and music departments, but sadly those are confined to a freshly painted yet typical fantasy themepark formula with core gameplay elements that didn't do much to draw me in deeper.
edit: This was based on just one day of playing. That's a pitifull amount of exposure to judge a mmorpg on, so don't take my opinions and impressions as facts. If I would have played it much longer, no doubt my opinions would have been different in some areas, for better or for worse.
Would be ebtter if you posted your feedback for Anet Staff to see on the official forums :D I think they could make something of this.