Koltrane's World Preview Diary
The World Preview Event is in full swing and as Saturday covers the globe, players from all corners are taking advantage of the opportunity to playtest Guild Wars for free. I've seen numerous languages spoken, including Korean, French, Spanish, German, and Swedish (I think). The name is not misleading at all...this is truly a worldwide event.
Well the first thing I did today is visit the city of Lion's Arch to sell and/or salvage all the things I've collected. The city is alive with chatter as people are offering to buy or sell items. I checked the Dye Merchant. She would buy my black dye for 64 gold and would sell it to me for 113, so I chose a sale price of 70 g and offered it up. Probably low, but I was anxious to get going.
Guild Wars uses instancing to create its environs, including towns and points of interest. When you visit the town, it will be called Lion's Arch, but it may be Lion's Arch 4 or 31 or 112. Now, just because a location is #112 doesn't mean that there are 111 other areas that are full, but it does mean that there are other places you can go that are identical except for the player population. That being said, Guild Wars could do with a universal market channel or some medium where players can offer things for sale or trade so that all people (at least those in the city zone) know of it.
One of the merchants sent me on a mission for deliver a strongbox to the settlement of Ascalon. I grabbed some henchmen and headed out the door. The area I entered was solo only back in May during E3. Arena, as they mentioned in our Fansite Friday interview, changed this area to allow for groups and to remove the linear aspect of it. There are still some places where you have to stay on the path, like cliffs and canyons, but for the most part the rolling hills and plains areas are traversable. There aren't a ton of foes out there, so it's be nice to see Arena up the monster population, but it's still a lot better than it was.
Now it's time to climb upon my soapbox again. Back during the E3 event I griped about the limited ability to change your button bar. You only have 8 buttons and you can only customize them in a city, so if you are in the middle of a mission and decide that ice spell would have been a better fit than the flame spell, tough. You're stuck with your decision until the mission ends or you leave it. This makes no sense to me. Why place an artificial limiting factor in the game like this? There are so many reasons to change this and I can't think of one good reason to keep it as is. I think Arena should be leaning toward MORE flexibility for the player, not less. Mark my words, this will eventually be changed. It may be after release, but eventually players will be given more options to alter their toolbar.
The reason I bring this up is I got to Ascalon and delivered the strongbox to a captain who offered to train me in a new skill. Once I got the skill, I was unable to alter my toolbar to use it because even though I was in a town, I wasn't in a town that Arena considered worthy of allowing a toolbar change. I had to explore my way back before I could equip the new skill.
Now is a good time to talk about the graphics. Guild Wars is a fantastic looking game. Most people I've talked to agree on this point. Wandering the wilderness, it's striking how pretty the world is - even those areas that aren't supposed to be pretty. This is a bit of a two edged sword, though, as sometimes it's almost a tease. You'll often come across intriguing places that are just begging to be explored, such as ruins, towers, tents, and so on, but these are merely there to strike a mood. Oftentimes you'll come across a ladder and your MMORPG gamer instinct tells you to climb it, but it's unclimbable. It's only there for show. Also there are no night/day effects or weather changes apart from wind. Still, the graphics set a great mood and make this game that much better.
I spent the rest of the day in the PvP areas. PvP is a lot of fun in Guild Wars. The Tomb of the Primeval Kings is where your team of 8 goes from battle to battle in an attempt at victory. This is a great game just by itself. It's kind of like chess. You have a Ghostly Hero you have to protect as well as a Priest in some levels. The Priest can save your team if you get wiped out, so a popular strategy is to wipe out the opponent's Priest first, then their Ghostly Hero. You have to protect yours as if they were chess kings, yet you still have to fight. In some arenas you have up to four teams fighting simultaneously. This is a lot of fun, especially if you have a good team that uses tactics. If you are playing this weekend and haven't played here, even if you're not a big PvP fan, you must try it out. This place brings all the best parts of Guild Wars together, especially if you have a team leader like Fulmineus Igniferum who knows the value of tactics and keeping her team together. It was fun fighting on your team, Ful!
There's also a Gladiator area where teams of 4 fight. It's fun also, but the arena is still a bit small (although it is larger than the one during the E3 event), often forcing ranged attackers to run for their lives. One time my team of four took on another team whose fourth guy lagged entering the arena. We killed the first three and just waited for the fourth guy to enter. When he finally made it in he had no chance. This is not a common problem, but Arena needs to make sure that such PvP combat is fair all around before putting the game into full release. It would also be nice to have a 1 on 1 area in true gladiatorial fashion where two people of similar level could fight it out and others could watch. What about a tournament mode where 8 players square off in 1 on 1 competition until one player emerged victorious? (P.S. Arena, if you are hiring an idea man, e-mail me here at mmorpg.com :) )
Is there anyone out there who isn't having a great time in this game? I'm loving this event. Yeah, I have my criticisms, but Guild Wars is waaaay ahead in the positive column, and the people I've encountered are in agreement. Props to those who've sent me tells. Durik Lakmor, you were the one who got the silent treatment from me tonight while I was AFK, but I did get your tell. Sorry. For the rest of you, keep talking. I'll talk back as best I can (but fighting beasts has to come first, ya know!) Send a tell to Koltrane Curtisian and I will mention you here.
Let's see some more MMORPG.com folks out there! If you haven't been playing, download the client and join up. There's only one more day, so what are you waiting for?