Alright, well first up, and foremost, I really have to say I came into this with a fair bit of hype; but cautiously thinking it will yet again, like many other MMORPG, let me down, horrendously.
With that said, I went into it, and found myself actually engrossed. It started out with a simple event, many centaur attacking a garrison of sorts; They came, and they came, me and the other players fought and fought! It did not take long until their leader came along. As he arrived, we took him down swiftly; or so we thought. He runs, for a bit, until he forms a massive, hulking nature golem or elemental, or something!
It then proceeds to be defeated, and knock me the heck out. A tragic start, to my character's amazing story, and career!
Anyways, now that we're past this tutorial, things really start to get good. I arrive, initially, into the first town in the zone of Queensdale, I think it was called. I find a friendly NPC with an hourglass, and speak with him. He shows me people I can help in the area, not as quests; but I simply play in those areas, and do certain things, and it will give me a "Heart" for those areas. Once I get those, I can spend my hard-earnt Karma to purchase amazing equipment. Quite fun.
At first, I thought "Well, isn't this just a clever way to hide regular questing?" And it somewhat was. However, once I started actually going to these areas, it was... more then that. Events started popping up. Bandits attacking the farm, no simple, or silly popup from a guy with a stupid floating exclimation mark was needed! I saw it, and I helped. After a bit, they were trying to take out watering tanks, and poison them. So we stopped that too! I don't know what'd happen if we failed, but I'd soon learn nothing good would come of it; This game has these events, and often times, negative effects for failing, or succeeding.
One such example, of a positive effect, actually, was in the Norn Starting Area, after some traveling to get there. These.. Molepeople type guys were attacking, trying to repair their tower; we stopped their engineers, and pushed them back into the mines. We go in, and proceed to fight a rather powerful boss, being accompanied by an experienced, adventurer npc. I heard that if you fail that tower one; they attack in full force, taking over that area.
In other cases, failing can cause a whole city to be unusable; including it's waypoint ,which by the way, are used to quicktravel there for a fee; or respawn there. It's a great system, in my opinion.
On top of these dynamic events, making the world shine, and seem truly alive, and ever-changing, we have Personal Story; a more traditional questing, with some added twists. These are voice-acted, and instanced. Within these quests, you will make decisions that affect your home instance, a big zone only for you; which I believe friends can come visit, however, I didn't get a chance to check. It can change dramatically, too. I like it; this system is changed based on choices of your character's background on creation, aka, the quests will be different, from what I know. I only had one character, but it was quite a nice addition, and a change of pace.
I have a ton of stories to tell, about Dynamic Events Espcially, but let's move onto more features!
For one, I really loved the crafting. It is a basic system, with some great, added twists. There is a chance for critical success, from what I saw. You gain recipes as you practice with that crafting type; you can get two at a time, and switch them out for a fee I believe (I never did switch them out). I used Leatherworking, for Medium Armor, and Huntsmanship, for Bows and Pistols.
You see, you have a list of these, and can craft any in the list; as long as they are not red. There is no chance to fail, and unless it is gray I believe, you gain experience, and crafting experience for doing so. You can attain new recipes by leveling up; but that's not it!
For one, you can get them from random NPCs you help along the way, finding them on corpses, and more!
On top of that, you can utilize the "Discovery" panel. Putting together different items you have, to try and form a new recipe! One example, is making inscriptions, and using the already known recipe for say... Rawhide Boots, without the monster blood; use the inscription instead. I got a fine quality item, with a neat stat bonus!
I personally really like the crafting a lot.
Next up, is the World vs World vs World. I did a lot of this, and it was quite exciting! You first do a tutorial about it, once Entering "The Mist". With the WvWvW, there are four types of ownable things for each server. You, are pinned against two other servers, in two-week matches. Owning these type of areas have many, many effects!
The four are Supply Depots, which send out supply caravans to add supply to your keeps, towers, and castle if you have the castle. These supplies are used to buy siege equipment. However, the caravans can be killed, by wild monsters, and enemy players! So protect them! You get Karma, ect, as a dynamic event would give.
Towers are bigger, and to my knowledge, hold supplies. They are a bit easier to take odwn then keeps, but they give good lookouts, and I'm pretty sure they can get some nice add-ons like Mortors, and such.
Keeps are even bigger, offer waypoints to spawn at, and have nice npcs you can get; and awesome upgrades to walls, gates, weapons, and more shops. It's good to have em on your front line.
As for the castle, the castle is one of a kind, and has a huge defensive system. Outer walls, inner walls, tons of catapults, cannons, ect, can be set up as well. It's hard to lose one, and harder to take!
The more of these you have, castles, keeps, towers, ect, the more "points" you get per scoring. These scorings give you great benefits, to all players of your server, not just in WvWvW. These can range from more exp, faster crafting, higher critical rate on crafting, ect.
The fun part is, anyone can do WvWvW, you get autoscaled to level 80. You use your own stuff; but, at the same time, your weapons and stuff get scaled too. The only disadvantaqge a low level would have, from what I saw, is lack of skill slots. Correct me on this if i'm wrong.
Essentially, you get five weapon skills (They unlock as you use your current weapon type(s)). And then Four Utility, and one Epic. Epic = Level 30, Utility Skill 1 is... pretty low level, 5 I believe, maybe? 2 = 10 I think, and 3 = 20. Utility skills are changable outside battle, and there's tons to choose from. Buying skills for these slots, uses Skill Points, which you can attain each level, or by doing SKill Point challenges, some of which are well hidden, and some marked in the world as you get close.
On top of this, there is the Trait System. It starts at level ten, and you gain one trait point per level. Each class, to my knowledge, has 5 trait sets; you must purchase the Adept Book first, to unlock the first tier; meaning, up to 10 points can be used in a trait set. Each point gives bonuses, one of mine gave +10 Power, and +1% Critical Dmage per point, I think it was. At 5, I got a +5% chance to critical hit when bove 90% health. At 10 points, you get a Major Trait; you can change it around, but there's a variety of them! They can be things like for my thief, poisons will last longer, ect.
On the subject of combat, less skills actually made it MORE fun for me, and the action combat was great. Having to dodge and move around was different, and since there were only ten skills max, less to worry about, and more to use. Not only that, but you can switch to an alternative weapon set mid battle, granting a different set of skills. Underwater uses entirely different weapons too. Every class has a self heal, that you can use, they are all pretty interesting as well! The attacks, seemingly, are aimed to an extent. IF you have a target, you do seem to shoot arrows at them; with melee, you just swing. You do not need a target to attack, or use a skill. IF you fire in the general direction of an enemy, itll shoot at them! It's all quite fun, it feels like a real step up from normal MMORPG combat, to me. More exciting, easier to manage, more fun.
All around, I'd give the game a good rating even from this low level content I did (Up to level 25). A 9/10 perhaps.
Lovely Graphics and Art Style.
Some Issues, like Crafting being very expensive.
FPS Rates in WvWvW are a bit of an issue at times, but not too horrible.
A few bugs, and getting caught in walls here and there as well.
PvE Gameplay Part 1:
PvE Gameplay Part 2:
WvWvW PvP Part 1:
WvWvW PvP Part 2:
WvWvW PvP Part 3: