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Guild Wars 2 Editorial: Review in Progress - Part Three

By William Murphy on September 15, 2012

I’m only just re-settling into life after vacation (woe is me, I know), but I’ve already spent another ten or so hours steeped inside of ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2. No, I’m nowhere near the cap, and yes I still can’t get into WvW unless I’m online for 2-3 hours, but I’ll be damned if I’m still not having plenty of fun with everything else the game has to offer. There may be folks who are less than impressed. We have a few of them here on our forums. I can appreciate their views even if I don’t share them. For my own value, GW2 has been the most fun I’ve had with a launched MMO since 2004. That’s a long time to wait for something that really grabs you, but I’m glad it has.  You can read last week’s Review in Progress Part 2 if you’d like. And then let’s dive into some other aspects this week: crafting, the Trading Post, and the UI in general. Plus some other niggling complaints I might have.

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THE ROUGH SPOTS (WEEK 3)

I can’t complain about the Trading Post anymore… at least not because it’s down. I can complain that I can’t seem to sort armor by type or profession though! And that’s about it. It’s been great to have it up and running smoothly now for a while. I would have said it was a joke that you could so easily post items below their base vendor sell price, but they’ve changed that recently. To help keep players from getting ripped off, they can’t sell stuff on the TP unless it’s at or above the base vendor price for that item. It’s a nice touch. I’m wracking my brain for things I find iffy about the crafting and economy right now, but it’s not easy.

Instead, let me further bemoan the fact that I can’t get into WvW on a reliable basis, unless it’s at the end of a match and people have given up. Even at 3am (yes, I’ve tried) when you’d think most sane people would be sleeping, all four areas of WvW are full. Queue times are anywhere between one and three hours long, even when you queue up for all at once. It’s disheartening because I don’t have that kind of time most days, but also a bit awesome to know that people seem to love WvW so much on Jade Quarry. But to review that portion of the game, I’m hoping that Pandaria’s release draws some of the heat off of the Eternal Battlegrounds so I can get some good time in.  I won’t finish this review series until I can.

I’m also noticing more “bugged” events as time goes on and I level further into the content.  NPCs missing, events halted randomly, and things like that.  Usually, in time, they right themselves.  But it’s still annoying if you need an event for zone completion or if you just expected to do one and can’t because of a bug.  It’s the price you pay for a more elaborate form of quest, I suppose.

THE SHINY PARTS (WEEK 3)

I did an event this week that had me do math. And I loved it. It’s in Brisban Highlands, and I think it’s called “Utla Metamagicals”.  Basically, there are Asurans doing what they do best: messing with the space-time continuum and as Asura Gates let through tons of monstrous beasts through to our world, you’re running about helping them get the experiment running and preparing the test.  There are panels around the lab that ask you basic mathematical problems and give you multiple choices for the answer. Correctly respond = progress. Incorrect? Try again. I almost wish there was a harsher punishment for answering incorrectly, to be honest.  But since you can also progress the event by collecting crystals and helping the Krewe fight monsters, I suppose there’s no real need for punishing those who want to test their brains. It’s this kind of “multiple paths towards completion” that I love about GW2’s events. Not all of them allow it, but many do. And the best way to succeed isn’t always to just “bash” your way through it. I love this.

Now, onto the UI. What can I say? I love so many parts of it. I love that you can link POIs and other locations on your map in chat, and people can then click them to see where you’re talking about and teleport there if they have unlocked the waypoint. I love that you can preview any item on your character. I love that you can compact your inventory and send all “collectibles” to the bank from anywhere in the world to save you a trip to the vendor when you just want to keep adventuring. I love that you can quickly and easily change the color of all your armor from the Hero Pane. I could go on, but I don’t think I need to. If there’s something you want to do with the UI in GW2, chances are ANet has already thought of it. I’ve yet to find myself limited by its functionality, and on top of it all: it’s absolutely gorgeous and fitting with the art style of the entire game.

And then there’s crafting. Normally, I’d poo-poo it for having the same old “item” grind involved.  Because you will make lots of repeat stuff while you advance your tradeskills.  Make no bones about that.  But the functionality of it all and the fact that you can actually make useful stuff for your character and others as you level is a breath of fresh air. I’m also really starting to enjoy the act of “discovery” in my Huntsman’s path towards enlightenment. I like that I can take a bunch of parts and mix them together to find new recipes, and that most of the best items you can create are found this way.  You aren’t just given them for leveling. You have to tinker. It’s a really nice bit of evolution added to an old system. Kind of like everything in Guild Wars 2, eh?

NEXT WEEK ON OUR REVIEW IN PROGRESS

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again. We don’t rush our reviews of MMOs these days. And with big AAA releases, we really like to give you as much feedback as possible over several weeks. I don’t think GW2 requires “max level” to get a feel for all of the game, so much as it requires you to be able to experience all of the systems in Tyria. So until I can really dive into more WvW, we won’t be done with these weekly updates.  Next week, I’ll talk a bit about sPVP, the Gem Store, and other bits and pieces. If we’re lucky, some WvW will be included! What are your thoughts several weeks in? 

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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