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Guild Wars 2 Column: Guild Wars 2 Launch Edition

By William Murphy on August 28, 2012

I don’t know if you guys have heard, but a little game called Guild Wars 2 is official “Launching” as of today, August 28th. I’ve spend what seems like forever in the game over the past few days, and as the lucky dog who gets to review the game here on MMORPG.com and have you all tear me a new one when you don’t agree with me (I’m kidding, sort of) I thought we’d celebrate the launch with a look at three fantastic things I’m loving in the new Tyria, and three things I’m less than thrilled with.  Then later this week, we’ll officially start our “Review in Progress” series leading up to the official review later in September. So, let’s dive in (if you’re actually on the site and not playing). Mind you, some of my “negatives” could very well be fixed by the time you read this. But them’s the breaks!

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THE BAD BITS SO FAR

1.) Guild Functions Down

In a game called Guild Wars, you’d think the guilds would be kind of a big deal, and they will be, once they get fully operational. Right now, as of this writing, we can’t invite folks, many can’t represent their guild, the Message of the Day is broken, and we bought our Emblem but can’t make it. I’m sure there are other issues, but these are a few MMORPGcom’s guild is dealing with. I feel like they all worked in beta, so I’m not sure what happened between then and now. I just hope the bugs are squashed soon.

2.) Armor Skins – One Time Use

There is a work around for this, but it’s worth griping about. Part of the fun in GW2 is making your character look cool. The game comes with “transmutation” right off the bat so you can keep item looks you love as you get new gear. It also comes with some pretty neat purchasable item skins in the Black Lion Trading Company RMT store. The problem with these however is that they’re one-time use skins. You can make something have the Krytan look, but only once. After that, if you upgrade, you’ll have to transmute the items to keep the Krytan looks.

The description of the skin was pretty clear, but I still took a chance and bought one for 500 Gems (I bought $20 worth this weekend). Then I bought some Transmutation Stones (5 for 125 Gems), and quickly realized how expensive it would be to keep the Krytan look on my way to level 80. So? I’ll wait until I get there before transmuting the look again. A better solution? Make the skins cost a little extra, and make them able to be put on and off without the stones. Please?

3.) Trading Post Woes

There’s some awesome crafting to be had in GW2. Basic collect mats and make items stuff, but the items are actually useful. The problem? A lot of mats are rare enough that the trade system would come in handy, but it’s not currently up as of this writing, and hasn’t been since Head Start began. Thank God for helpful Guildies, as I needed vials of weak blood to make my Irradiated Pistols, and they helped an Asuran Huntsman out with the deed.

THE REALLY FANTASTIC BITS SO FAR

1.) MAP CLEARING

The unforeseen addiction of GW2 is that they give you these massive and content-filled zones, and then tell you how much stuff there is to do in them. And of course the entire game tracks your progress in completing each zone, so you end up finding yourself hunting down every vista, every waypoint, every event, and every POI… I’m not even a completionist in games, but I know on every character, this will be my goal. On top of that, for doing so you get a ton of experience, some fantastic items, and transmutation stones that would cost money otherwise. It’s a fantastic way to get people to explore, and reward them for doing so.

2.) THE PERSONAL STORY

I didn’t expect to care that much about the solo storyline, but as I dive deeper into the Asuran tale of invention, danger, and risky world-ruining potential, I’m engulfed in just how fun these missions are. Unlike say SWTOR or TSW that give you story, story, story, everywhere you go and keep you mostly glued to the NPCs of the world while you level, GW2’s story comes just when it’s needed, and in just enough doses that I don’t feel like I’m spending most of my time separated from the rest of the players. If I felt like throwing fake percentages on this, I’d say I spent 95% of my time in the open world with other folks doing events, and 5% of the time doing story related questing. And both feel important, adventurous, and “epic” in scope.

3.) I HAVEN’T EVEN PVP’D YET

I expected to spend most of my time Saturday and Sunday in WvW… instead, I haven’t even visited it yet.  Not even sPVP has see Goob Murphy, the Asuran Engineer. I’ve been too busy roving about, playing with random strangers in the open world, crafting, vista hopping, and all of that. There’s simply so much to do in Guild Wars 2 that I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all… in a good way.

When you’re solo in your story, you feel like the hero. When you’re with dozens of others doing events, you feel like one of many heroes. It’s a good mix, and I think ArenaNet nailed the balance between solo play and group adventuring, by the very nature of how events, mob sharing, and all of that come together. You’re not punished for helping people. In fact, you’re rewarded because you need each other to finish events and survive the harsh reality of Tyria’s dangers. It’s absolutely fantastic design.  

Just one thing, ArenaNet… please tone down the Fire Elemental in Metrica Province. Thirty people getting wiped in less than thirty seconds seems off balance a bit.

What about you? What are you favorite and least favorite parts of Guild Wars 2 so far? Tell us in the comments!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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