Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Preview: Guild Wars 2

Before I get into the game, which is amazing by the way, I will quickly go over my experiences of the opening weekend. I only expected the one day headstart so was surprised when I got a code for three days, unfortunately it was wrong and I did only get a day so after installing and patching I couldn't actually play. The one day headstart  began at 8 am UK time so I woke up at 7.45 to get a cup of tea and some cereal and to give myself enough time to patch if I had to, and... power cut for six hours, it wasn't until 2 pm that I finally got on. After three and a half days of disappointment I finally got on, but it was well worth the wait.

Stepping into Guild Wars 2 presents a pretty daunting prospect; five races, eight professions, a huge map, 80 levels and eight crafting disciplines to master. From the start I knew I was going to be a human Elementalist as I always go for the magic wielding class and because Nolan North is the voice actor for the human male. After two days my Elementalist is level 22 and I favour using a scepter and dagger combination with a mix of mostly fire and air attacks. The diversity in combat is great as each weapon set has a different group of attacks for each of the four available elements; there are even utility skills, elite skills and race on top of that. 
The world is full of awesome vistas like this.
Each section of the map is full of things to collect; points of interest, waypoints, renown hearts and vistas, which is where the camera pulls out in majestic style and shows you the full beauty of the world. Renown hearts are side quests that aren't super interesting but help structure the game so that you know where you should be going. Dynamic Events are what really makes the game interesting and draws large groups of players together to help with a common goal; each area has it's own set of Dynamic Events that range in side from only needing a couple of people to needing as many people as possible.

The game is beautiful both graphically and in the design of the environments. It is amazing how detailed each area is, I went swimming in an underwater section of the map with no points of interest nearby and found ancient ruins over grown with sea life. I have yet to see most of the world as I have only been to about six areas, but what I have seen so far has been diverse; from lush plains, to snow covered mountains and a pirate paradise. There are some amusing conversations to be over heard and generally the voice acting is done to a high calibre; my only complaint would be that NPCs repeat their standard phrases too often, whilst you are standing still for something like crafting this can be irritating.
Arena Net managed to make even underwater combat interesting.
Arena Net has included many things that might seem quite minor but add up to to make the experience much better overall. There are no quest hand ins, you do them and they are done, the cheque is in the mail. Unless you want to there is no grind, between exploration, crafting and down leveling there is more than enough content for you to not have to grind. If the next area is too high for you you can just go to another race's starting area, get down leveled and still receive XP. There are a lot of waypoints per section so once you have explored an area you can navigate it really quickly. Guild Wars 2 is probably more casual than many MMORPGs but that suits me just fine

I'm really enjoying my time with Guild Wars so far but I have found some problems. Once you choose your favoured weapons there is no way to change the main abilities, and they are all quickly unlocked, so I imagine that you can have your final build prepared by level 30-40. You start with only 5 character slots and a small bank space, probably so that many people will pay real money to buy gems and extend these, though you can get gems for in game gold. For a game built around the premise of guilds, it is in the name after all, it is not that easy to play with friends; the party UI certainly doesn't help. The first instance isn't until level 30 which at the start seems ages into the game, I was expecting to be able to play with my friends in a more structured manner sooner.
The UI is relatively simple and intuitive.
I am really excited to get further into the game to experience some of the high end content, start raiding and explore the rest of Tyria. The scale of group encounters increases as you gain in levels so I can't wait to see how big and ridiculous things get, as well as play more content with friends. I am really interested in some of the other professions, but I think I will try to max out my main first. Overall I am really glad I bought Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs are not normally my thing but I think that Arena Net has managed to craft a truly outstanding game with an amazing world, fun and consistent progression and an abundance of content. Over other similar games I think that Guild Wars 2 wins for it's accessibility, lack of subscription and awesome content.

1 comment:

  1. Re: Professions...You can change professions without losing progress on your "main" profession. Just an FYI because switching around is fun and you farm more exp and try different things by switching out professions...