[GW2] Early Beta Impressions

I have been playing the Beta since the servers opened yesterday, and I have formed some early impressions of the game in its current state, and thought I would share them with you.

My first reaction after about an hour of PvE was to wonder why people who had played the game previously considered the gameplay revolutionary.   It is not, in any way genre changing.   The biggest example of this I can give, and what I expected to to impressed with, is the questing system…

Guild Wars 2 has supposedly revolutionized PvE questing by removing quest hubs and replacing it with the heart mechanic…   So instead of getting a quest to ‘kill ten rats’ you get a progress bar to fill, which is accomplished by killing rats…  that you need to kill ten of them to complete the heart, may or may not be intentional.

Despite the fact that this is in no way revolutionary, it is a positive progression of an existing MMO game mechanic.  It is questing with a new skin, and I like it.   I enjoy being able to start a quest without talking to someone first, and only when I am done, do I turn it in.

The Public Quests/ Dynamic Events, have been largely MEH for me.   Kill two waves of Centaurs, hit kids with snow balls, collect animal parts for some pie or whatever…  To me, this is just more of the same MMO gameplay, with a new name.   I dislike the implementation here, and I really dislike the mailing of copper as my quest reward.   Within an hour I wasn’t even bothering to do most of the events because they were terribly uninspired and the rewards were simply not motivating enough to grind content to achieve.

Combat in PvE is fun enough, but defiantly has a button-mashing element.   There is not enough distinction between the introductory five skills that choosing anything over auto-attack seemed to make any significant difference in the outcome.  Dodge is utterly useless in PvE up to the point I played, though it does provide a nice range dictation mechanism in PvP.   In every case in PvE, it seemed more useful to simply strafe out of red circles than to dodge out, because the feature breaks your skill sequence, and lowers dps.

I really couldn’t stand to PvE much beyond the first hour of playing my Elementalist, and my Engineer respectively so I teleported to The Mists to get in on the Eternal Battlegrounds action fairly quick into both play sessions.

World vs. World is a lot of fun.   Our server absolutely decimated both other servers which is an already scary indication of how unbalanced this will be in live implementation.   By 9am this morning we held every single capture objective on the entire map.  I spent a few hours leading defence teams to hold our control until I got bored with sniping people bashing gates and logged off.   If that is not fixed, WvWvW will be broken and useless as a game element.

Combat in PvP still feels a bit meaningless.   My auto attack vs. several other attacks have little changeable impact, and especially effects and conditions seem almost meaningless in PvP.   As an example I have a AoE slow as my 5 skill in Engineer which supposedly spreads sticky material.  It does NOTHING in WvW.   Completely useless to even cast it.   We learned very quick that AoE in general is worthless, as dps’ing down a single focus target then swapping targets is an instant IWIN button.

The reason is the Regen mechanism.   When you die in WvW, you have to port your body back to your starting area, which is a long run from the fighting usually.  Kill a few people and the enemy line breaks quickly.  We learned that early on, dps’d single targets with target calling and dominated the battle.  They either had inferior numbers or never learned that little tidbit.

The game is very polished generally, but the server architecture is flawed.   Major issues with log-ins, gates not working, lag and crashes.  Common for a beta, not so much for a pay to play event.

This game is worth every penny of $60, and I intend to buy another copy for my wife, but this is nothing new in the genre, and doesn’t even do things as well as other Theme Park MMOs..  if this and WoW were launching side by side, I would play WoW.   This will fall into the category of ‘entertaining diversion’ rather than ‘full-time MMO’ for me.   Something to mess around with in between playing other games.





56 thoughts on “[GW2] Early Beta Impressions”

  1. As someone who was hoping for nothing more than a well-made iteration of the Everquest-model MMO template I’ve been playing and enjoying for a dozen years, I’m very pleased indeed with what I see. I completely agree that there is nothing here that we haven’t seen many times before, but that’s exactly what I wanted to see.

    After a couple of hours of playing the way i imagine i was meant to be playing – chasing events, doing hearts, following my personal story etc etc I abandoned all of that and went back to playing the way I’ve played every MMO since 1999. I got trained up with some craft skills bought some mining and salvage equipment and hiked out into the countryside.

    Since then I have been having 100% fun all the time. I love the PvE combat. I was apprehensive about the supposed “action” element but you are quite right that Dodge is pointless and strafing is much more efficient and organic. I’ve found the fights fun and absorbing. I really like having a very small set of skills. They do sufficiently different things to be worth using over auto-attack in my opinion, but they aren’t so vital that not using the right one is a disaster. That’s well-balanced for the casual audience that this game will attract, in my opinion, certainly at low level.

    I imagine things will become much more complex later on. I’m only level 10 after all. If it stays just the same all the way up it will suit me though. It also has the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in an MMO, which for me would make it worth buying even if I was lukewarm on everything else about it.

    As it is, I’m delighted. It’s pretty much just what i wanted. I think a lot of people who were expecting some kind of paradigm shift are going to be disappointed, though, and I expect a backlash.

    1. It’s still kind of amazing the number of people that expect world-shaking change from *every single game that comes out*. Aion, WAR, Conan, Swtor, Tera, GW2. Forums overflow with people expecting these games to be the big break from the past.

      Does this happen in other genres? Do people expect every FPS to revolutionize the FPS formula?

  2. (1) I still think the shift, which many see, and I know you guys (Bhagpuss and Cyndre) don’t as much because you both seem to have more time/energy to create community connections… but the paradigm shift is that sure you are doing usual MMO stuff… yet you are doing it together with strangers.

    Yesterday, a few of us had a huge snowball fight against kids. It’s fun that I can “save” a player from being jacked in the face by a snowball by hitting the kid about to hit him. Or another norn heart players were trying to get food through a hungry bunny minefield. Players could help each other by scaring away the bunnies. Both were simply, silly heart “quest”-type stuff… but it just feels different to me.

    In WoW, LOTRO, and much of Rift… I simply did not care about the passerby player at all. In fact, much of the time I would play more selfishly because that’s what the mechanics reinforced me to do.

    (2) Circle-strafing is key, but later in PvE… I’d say about level 20 or so, dodging starts becoming critical. Monsters charge you, range attack you big time, etc. Dodging at the right point will basically matrix-evade the attack.

    (3) The first round or possibly two of WvW (2 weeks/ round) is going to suck. Servers with any amount of WvW-type guilds are absolutely going to faceroll the competition. With the moving herds of beta going willy nilly to random worlds, it is up to guilds to basically find matchups in beta weekends.

    In live, WvW servers after each round are going to be matched with WvW servers of similar gumption. I expect INQ to be one of those guilds, and after a month, you would likely be set off against top tier WvW servers.

  3. @Ravious I agree with your assessments there. My additonal concern is what happens to many of those mechanics mechanics after everyone levels past the content? Is it still fun if you are the only one chasing bunnies, or throwing snowballs at kids? Is it even possible to do many of those events solo? I suspect no, which, could make a nice mechanic a curse instead of a positive for a later adopter of the game.

    1. The hearts tend to have several different objectives you can participate in, some more solo-friendly than others.

      For feeding the bunnies, you can still do it solo – but it’ll take longer as you’ll need luck on your side. On the other hand, there are minotaur spawns just up the hill a little, which you can defeat for credit…

      The snowball fights aren’t too fun solo, but you can still help calm down Norn who get P.O.’d at being hit by the kids (ie, “beat on them until they stop raging”), or clear out the giant bees that’re hanging around…

      …and so on.

    2. “My additonal concern is what happens to many of those mechanics mechanics after everyone levels past the content?”

      Well, you don’t actually level past the content because of the level-scaling down that happens when you’re in lower-level zones. I’ve spent all my time in-game today at levels 10 through 12 in the level 7-10 areas downscaled and participating in events I didn’t complete on-level, and I’m not one-shotting everything because my effective level is 7. And I’m still getting weapon/armor upgrades out of the deal, as well as karma rewards I can use.

      I’ve also done the snowball/entertaining kids renown area solo, as well as the chasing/scaring bunnies renown task solo. They can be done. That said, not EVERY event can be done solo, but as I mentioned, there were plenty of things I didn’t even do on-level, so you can often afford to “skip” some things and move on.

    3. the rabbit quest was actually pretty hard soloed, but after a small while you get the trick. first time i tried there were about 10 people there doing another event and i had no chance to get through the rabbits. when i came back later i was alone. i managed to dodge some rabbits and get through some food 2 times, then i saw there was an npc getting food that i could help if i was alone. by that time another player arrived and we started protecting each other, which worked great and was pretty fun. most hearts and events seemed soloable to me, they just required a different approach and sometimes multiple tries. i soloed 3 veteran kill events by luring away helpers first, gaining ground and kill some things before breaking aggro and reaggroing.

      i also 2 moments were it kind of made “click” in my brain, one with dodgeing on level 9 fighting a level 12 boar which charged at me to daze me. dodgeing is a key element, there is no doubt about that. if you are underleveled or facing fows like ettins you always have an easier time dodging, often avoiding deaths.

    4. I did them all solo. Not a problem at all once you figure it out, assuming you noticed the action buttons. And then, I helped out others when I could.

      You also seemed to have been so preoccupied finding ‘revolutionary’ aspects of the game, that you missed them. Most of the article feels to me like a big self-contradiction.

      In my opinion, GW2 is what others have strived to be. For a first time player, WoW may be the way to go. But having years of experience with MMORPG’s, this game took me by surprise, and I am very much looking forward to it.

  4. There’s an orange circle event in the Charr starting area that happens up a culvert in a cave behind a waterfall. Even last night when it was manic there were only a handful of people doing it and this morning when I did it I was the only one there. It scaled down to solo perfectly.

    It was, however, just a “kill the big bad” event. There weren’t any social mechanics like protecting other players from NPCs. From what I’ve seen elsewhere already, though, there seems to be some very good AI that allows NPCs to behave pretty convincingly so maybe in the absence of players there will be NPC stand-ins in those roles.

    Anyway, enough chatting about it – time to go play!

  5. “As someone who was hoping for nothing more than a well-made iteration of the Everquest-model MMO template I’ve been playing and enjoying for a dozen years, I’m very pleased indeed with what I see. I completely agree that there is nothing here that we haven’t seen many times before, but that’s exactly what I wanted to see.”

    Yep, this was exactly my hope for GW2 and it does a great job meeting my desires. For people who think the game is supposed to function completely differently than every other MMORPG, they will be disappointed. It is a fresh take on the genre, not a mutation into a completely different type of game.

  6. I wasn’t expecting anything revolutionary, but I also wasn’t expecting a forced-grouping game. (Ready for disparaging remarks, check.) I haven’t found things to scale down well for me at all. Probably it’s just not the game for me.

    I’m disappointed that I pre-purchased, because if I had gone to GameStop I could have gotten a refund. :(

    Then again, there is no monthly fee, so hopefully they will fine-tune it a bit down the road for we diehard soloers. :)

    1. Yes this is a really big issue right now. The scaling in some areas is atrocious. I mean even if you are very skillful, me and my friend duo’d legendary aataxes in Godlost swamps for a while, the scaling is a bit wonky. I mean the starting zones were a zerg fest, which is to be expected, but it seems like they only scale to a cap. Because each mob was getting insta-killed by the horde of players surrounding it. I was hoping at least there would be some challenge, I mean given it’s a starting zone but still. Taking out my bow because I know I won’t have enough time to run towards an enemy and melee him before he dies because of the zerg is a bit lame.

      1. I wouldn’t say the starting areas were a zerg fest, maybe you didn’t do the Charr starting area because that has some big difficulty spikes with mobs that can one shot, ‘Dat Fuckin’ Shaman’ comes to mind, as well as Barradin’s tomb with the ranger boss that can one-shot multiple players at once with a barrage AoE in a small room. But I agree scaling is a bit funny, one aspect of it is that mobs increase in level depending on the number of players around, so level 8s and 9s in a level 2-5 area, so plenty of glancing hits, which kind of feels cheap, so hopefully it gets ironed out.

  7. Finally getting to play the game for the first time, I actually was blindsided by a problem that I wasn’t expecting and that nobody else has mentionned so far: if you have friends playing the game and you want to specifically team up with them, you run into one problem after another.

    If there are several overflow instances for a particular area (and at this point, *boy are there ever*), there is no way of seeing which particular instance your friends/teammates are in, and there is no way to indicate you want to join them. You just have to try co-ordinating in Team chat to all go into another adjacent area and hope that one doesn’t have any overflow isntances.

    On one hand I certainly *hope* something will be done about this, on the other, experience shows by the time the “pre-order beta weekends” come around the game is largely finished and any glaring design mistakes usually survive to launch.

    1. One thing that will help in the future about getting together with friends will be the guild halls. They have said that they aren’t releasing the guild halls for this beta. Once they r in you will easily be able to get together with members of your guild (as long as they can come to the same guild hall from different overflow servers).

    2. I have heard (sorry, I can’t quote an authoritative source) that they’re planning on making it so that players in a party get kept together if they’re put into overflow servers. This won’t help for the first time you meet up, but parties are weirdly resistant in this game – my partner and I found each other right at the start, and were still partied when we both made new characters of a different race!

  8. There are a few things in GW2 that are different from most other games and those work well. No holy trinity, for instance! I’ve been mostly playing with random people and all mixes of professions… and no matter what types it hasn’t been much of an issue. If we’re getting pounded then the survivors retreat some, revive those we can and/or have new players come along and join, then we all push back in, reviving the fallen along the way. Works well and if we work together (that being the key) then it usually turns out as a victory.

    Not having to compete for kills means people join in and help, players rush to revive others, most seem to pick something to do while others cover them, etc. THAT is exactly what I wanted to see work well, not having to specifically team up to LFG nonsense just to actually play the content. I’m actually pleased to see other players join in, just the opposite of what most other MMO games are like.

    The scaling needs tweaking, although I did solo a few heart events with no problems, as well as solo fight my way through some tough caves I wasn’t really high enough for. And I couldn’t have done that without dodge, as they were laying down red circles all over the place, often overlapping, that the dodge was just able to clear.

    This is an actual BETA for once, not just a glorified demo of an already mostly finished game. I’m enjoying it much more than expected!

  9. There were definitely some problems and some disappointments, but overall I still feel like there’s a lot of cool new stuff in GW2. I guess for me it’s not so much new mechanics as a different FEEL to the mechanics. I do think Ravious is right about the association with random passers-by and event co-operation. The revive mechanic alone got me connecting with a large number of players, and I LOVE that what used to be kill-stealing is now helping out. I never got annoyed at the fact that my MMO had other players in it.

    As a diehard fan blinded to all criticism of the game (:P) whenever I find something that seems off I a) make a note to mention it as feedback, and b) remind myself that this game has no release date; if this beta breaks it, they can take some more time.

    1. Where would you put general feedback about the game such as “make it easier to party with friends” or “give monsters logical drops”? Forums? Ingame bug tool? A nice picture postcard to ANet?

      1. I’d put it in the forums. There is a General Discussion forum, as well as sub-forums on pretty much every aspect of the game. But I’d put it under General Discussion, personally. And tweet it; they read their tweets.

  10. Typing up some notes during apparent server downtime (or at least inaccessible time) which, while not entirely unexpected in a beta weekend, is certainly unwelcome in a third beta weekend.

    Initially, I have to say the mechanics of the game and gameflow (after the Friday night patch) are pretty smooth. It has the huge potential people have been looking for, but it has some surprisingly large warts too. The points raised below are intended as constructive criticism in the hopes that these eminently solvable problems can be cured well before launch.

    Getting in to the game is the first challenge. There were some extremely questionable design decisions made here. Consider: Anet plans to hit this out of the park. It had 6 million GW1 players at one point or another and a fairly high percentage of those are probably going to give GW2 a whirl. They must be expecting a crush of players, but did they split off character creation into its’ own server so one could at least be productive while waiting to try to enter whatever world one wishes to join? They did not. Moreover, when login fails, you go back to the login screen, have to hit “connect” to begin the whole process all over again, and when that fails it puts up a fail message which you have to close, then manually try to connect again. Surely there were viable alternatives to that annoyance. Even inventory management is more amusing than playing 2-click “can I please get to play tonight?”

    If Anet wants to be able to handle the load, it’s going to need a solution. Letting players spend time on character creation, inventory and shopping, or possibly even crafting in a separate creation and account server independent of the specific world servers is a great way to develop the cash shop, minimize player annoyance and server loads and let people do things at their own pace without feeling like they have a gun to their head to get into the same server with their friends.

    There is also some kind of issue with being unable to even connect to busy servers. There do not appear to be queues to get into particular worlds and no meaningful implementation of overflow access to that world. If you can’t get in, you have to spam the connect button until it works – and you can’t go AFK to wait either. You have to wait until you get the fail message, then close that, then try again. This is a huge, and totally unnecessary aggravation.

    Speaking of friends, it is extremely unusual for a MMO to be completely unable to guarantee play with friends. In the current system, GW2 parties don’t get moved to the same server at the same time. Parties routinely get split. Several may go to the main world and some may go to different overflow servers. If your group gets split, you won’t see your friends until the queue goes down, which may be minutes or hours. This defeats a major selling point of MMOs – the ability to play with people you want in your group. Sure, it’s great that a small horde of total strangers can go mob a boss or a castle or whatever, but there is no community or camaraderie in a frantic, button-mashing frenzy of destruction.

    Speaking of a boss-fight, the bosses in the early part of the game are hugely OP when confronted by mobs. They have MASSIVE hit points which require an extremely long grind but no meaningful actions or strategy are available other than spamming whatever limited skills may be available and hoping the nearby strangers have good unlocks and can keep spamming too. This may help you unlock skillbar options, but the question there is: why do those skill slots need to be unlocked when you have to purchase the skills then unlock the skills through use anyway? Aren’t you making the player buy the same thing three times over? What about weapon switches? Why is it that characters can’t switch weapon sets from, say, melee weapons to ranged weapons until they are at least 7th level? You mean to tell me that you expect level 3 and 4 characters to go charge bosses to melee with them? That works… extremely poorly.

    If you can’t combo something, and you can’t choose the right weapon for the job quickly and conveniently, then players are left with button-mashing as soon as the skill cycles. There is no skill in that and there is no reason to wait to start developing skilled players. You’re guaranteeing mediocre players, which isn’t really an aspirational goal.

    Likewise, many bosses’ large AOE damage can’t realistically be evaded. Evade itself seems to be a bit ridiculous against AOE mobs and the mobs tend to hit so hard that the vaunted “downed skills” aren’t even available for the two or three seconds before you’re really dead. Under these circumstances you simply need to button-mash faster than the boss then cycle to the back for a bit so if you die there is some chance that you will be outside the zone of immediate fatalities around a boss so that a total stranger might take the time to res you.

    Of course, ressing doesn’t appear to give you any benefit in the boss bounty and it takes a VERY long time if you’re truly down, so most strangers are not terribly interested in 20 to 40 xp to help you get back in the game – at least until it becomes obvious that the boss (or one of the many spawns in the rear of your mob) has devastated the party and resses are desperately needed, but by then it is too late. Everyone is dead, the field is littered with dead players who don’t want to pay a few coppers to go back to the nearest waypoint and regroup, so that event fails.

    You need teamwork to have fun in GW2, which means you need reliable friends, which means we need Anet’s help to make sure if we *want* to stay together we *can* stay together and play together right away. Let’s face it, getting a bunch of friends online able to do something together for a while is ever more difficult in today’s world, so facilitating that process should be a core goal of any MMO.

    There are a few other minor quibbles. There are an overwhelming number of mundane quests. Could a player be offered the “hero’s path” option which color-codes actions which are more directly against the minions of the dragons so they can be prioritized over Farmer Jones’ bunion problems? Sure, that could be done. It might change the mood and impression of the game, but catching bunnies before they eat watermelons and feeding hay to cows is not only un-heroic, it seriously distracts from the storytelling and drama of what may be a good story – you just can’t tell whether it is or not because of all the distracting clutter.

    The interface is also shockingly un-intuitive. It covers a large number of options, true, and works well enough once you spend some time scratching your head to try to understand, but it is going to be hell to figure out for beginners and veterans alike. Inventory, for example, doesn’t give access to your paper doll figure to see what equipment you have on. That’s done through the “hero” button, but the hero button doesn’t show inventory either. You have to open both “hero” and “inventory” in different windows, then sort through inventory. You have to have three different items equipped to gather ore, wood and plants, and you can’t swap weapon sets until level 7 – why?

    Others have addressed the unsatisfying nature of the rewards. There is no immediacy to quest completion, no thrill of a new bit of shiny equipment most of the time. Instead, if you’re on a major world event chain, you get to go to the next stage leading to a frustrating mob-boss encounter. If you’re on a minor heart-quest, you get the distant appreciation of whoever you helped. They reward you in coppers which may be sufficient to buy a new shirt. Thanks. Glad we saved your entire village. Can I get the shirt emblazoned with “Savior of (whatever)” on it? Terrific.

    Minor quibbles: There are still some clipping problems even in cutscenes (but they do have “work in progress” on them) and the female models in particular are very odd with legs that appear to be four feet long and almost a foot apart even at the top of the inseam. That’s just unnatural for the vast majority of women and weird enough to be a real distraction. I found a lot of the city areas hugely reminiscent of DDO down to some kind of cosmic forge in downtown LA, and the gate strengths in WvW are absurd. WvW is a mobfest and will probably always stay that way, but it is more chaotic than I thought possible with all of the ground effects and ranged devastation. God help anyone who goes up against an organized force of tanks backed by casters and archers because they’re going to need it. A few extra waypoints in the massive Eternal Battleground would save a heck of a lot of walking, but that didn’t stop me from spending hours in WvW – right up until my lvl 15 ele died from a bad jump in LA and couldn’t log back in to the game again. Ever. Fortunately, there is a handy bug-reporting feature right on the toolbar, so hopefully this type of incident will be corrected.

    Ongoing spawns directly into player groups (and in one instance an elemental spawned directly onto my character’s head, downing them instantly) are a problem which should be tweaked. Warrior skills that hit the entire mob around them are a problem and the Sons of Svanir in particular when using their whirlwind attack just destroy everything around them for a very long path, particularly since they tend to trigger it very close to each other. That skill guarantees no downed time before death.

    It is frustrating that characters can’t even purchase some of the higher end skills nor any of the traits until higher levels and that elites aren’t even available at all until lvl 30. What was the reason for that again?

    I seem to recall that we were told each character would be able to join different guilds or parties, but this has not occurred and has caused considerable consternation. You can’t join a different party without leaving the old association altogether, even if it was on a different character. Perhaps this is because guilds aren’t fully implemented in this version. We’ll see.

    These items aren’t game-breakers like the login problem and the failure to provide a mechanism for friends to move to the same zones together. All of the elements necessary for a truly epic MMO are present in GW2 in raw form, they just need to remember this isn’t targeted at play by small groups in a lab. It’s intended to be mobbed by millions of fans who want to kill and loot and feel heroic in so doing. They don’t want to feel constrained and they don’t want to feel like they’re at work. People, including myself, will play the game with a handful of minor annoyances, but we need to be able to get in to play the game. There are major problems here even after five years of development. More polish and thought will go a long way. Just don’t wait another five years or you’ll have to adapt to Windows 8, 9 and 10.

    1. Just a few corrections…

      1) you don’t have to buy weapon skills, just train them by practicing the weapon. You don’t have to train heal/utility/elite skills, just buy them with skill points. Not really seeing where you’re getting the ‘pay for it three times’ from.

      2) You can swap weapons outside of combat – if there’s a melee heavy boss that keeps killing you if you get close, back out a bit, swap to a ranged weapon, and engage entirely from range. You don’t need to have a melee weapon equipped all the time.

      3)The Hero screen shows every single piece of armor, weapon or upgrade stone that applies in any way to your paper doll in a large section on the left half of the screen. Like, almost 1/2 of it. Not sure if trolling or..?

      4)You can’t cut wood with a sickle, or mine ore with an axe. I’m not sure what you’re not liking about this, unless you’d like some sort of ‘gatherer magic item yay!’ The items all have their individual slots on the paper doll, so it’s a very painless process to just buy one of each of the gathering tools from the first vendor you see (like 1/2 the vendors seem to have them + a bag available), equip them, and voila, sorted for the first 15 levels more or less.

      5) filling a heart seems to give 50+ copper from the start? so that’s what, two pieces of equipment from the weaponsmith or armorsmith merchants? Nice of them to mail it to you too so you don’t have to run all the way back to whoever the heart-person was when you’re rearin’ to move on to the next one :-) Though this one might be more personal preference. If you miss your loot windows, try some of the personal story, you get to ‘pick a quest reward!’ there.

      6) It’s possible to get back onto the same overflow as a friend if you get separated atm, it just blows really hard – take turns relogging until you end up on the same one. For me this is hands down the biggest problem, and hope it gets addressed. Just informing that it isn’t impossible to find each other again with a bit of effort.

      Probably missed a few, but it’s 4 am and I need sleep XD

      1. Actually, I was using “buy” in terms of time, money and effort. Despite the fact that you don’t have to pay cash to open the weapon skills, you do need to spend time doing that. So, you have to buy, capture or make the weapon, you have to spend time training for it to open the slots, then you have to grind to level 7 to get to be able to switch weapons (and repeat for the alternate weapon set). It’s like death: you pay 3x – once to travel to the waypoint, once to repair damaged armor, then with time or additonal travel to get back to where you were.

        I do stand corrected as to the hero screen. It does show equippable armor – but then why? If it is already shown there, then let’s call the other bags what they are: crafting bags. Let’s have armor and weapon containers, then entirely separate ones for all of the other junk that accumulates.

        The gathering thing is a nuisance and part of the overall high starting costs to get a character up and running. I’m sure by level 40 nobody will mind needing to pay gold to get gathering tools that will cut whatever needs to be gathered at that level, but for characters at the outset, cash is in sharp demand and there is little availability. This has a whiff of corruption. Did anyone else notice how many gems were converted to cash and how the conversion price plunged?

        Again, I truly want the mechanics of GW2 to be flawless by launch so people’s attention will be directed to the gorgeous environments, crucial storylines and all of the interaction that made GW1 spectacular. Frustrations and having to spend brain power trying to figure out why you can’t do something simple should be minimized.

        1. Well, the same argument about ‘buying’ stuff can be made for everything can’t it? Why don’t I have the access to everything (skills,weapons,armors, minipets, all achievements done, w/e) from the moment I create a character? I paid once already, $60! Why make me pay again by playing the game to get stuff!

          Or another analogy! I’m hungry, I drive over to the shop, whole 20 seconds away. when I get there I realize, wait! I’ve already spent 20 seconds on this, why do I have to pay money too? and I’ll have to go home afterwards too! The only logical thing is the shops should be paying ME money to give me food to balance out all the paying I’m doing!

          I’ve yet to have a problem with junk accumulation, mostly because there’s vendors to sell stuff pretty much everywhere (you can sell stuff to the heart npcs if you weren’t aware). Likewise, random drops off enemies don’t fill your inventory because they drop ‘stolen goods bag’ which then stacks up and you can open in town when you have time and space, which seems like a pretty elegant solution to me.

          And again with the gathering tools… 24 copper x3. That’s what you’re complaining about. Create a new toon. Go do ONE heart, go buy all 3, and a leather bag for a few extra slots if you’re in the mood. do another heart, bam you have enough to buy a different weapon or two, or the shoulders/helm/gloves your toon might not have started with. Maybe it’s just me and everyone else is a pauper, but it seems like getting enough money for the basics takes the lesser part of 5 minutes.

          And what do you mean about little availability? I’ve yet to see an NPC run out of gathering tools..

          A lot of gems were converted to cash because everyone got 2000 gems for free, which will disappear by the end of the beta. Why NOT turn them into something useful ASAP? and the cash shop is so sparse about the only thing TO do is try to trade them for gold.

          Sorry if i’m getting a little heated, I’ll probably leave off this after this one. It just feels like you’re complaining “WAAAAAAAH i have to play the game and things cost 20 copper and I want everything given to me for FREE now instead! WAAAAAH” without thinking that maybe NOT overwhelming people that are brand new to MMOs with EVERYTHING IN THE GAME AT ONCE! might be a good idea.

          1. Well then why not wait untl level 40 for these things? See, I can make extreme arguments too. They prove nothing.

            You deliberately miss the point that starving people for cash and forcing grind type of activities when the vendors appear to be level-restricted anyway is redundant and aggravating for no good reason. This is a balance and fun issue, so reasonable minds may differ, but GW has been advertised as being anti-grind.

    2. …this comment is more than twice as long as the original blog post. It’s three pages when pasted into Word! It’s an essay!
      Not that I mind, to be honest. I just thought it was amusing :)

      1. Yea, sorry about that. Kinda got on a roll and really want GW2 to be spectacular.

    3. One thing to remember is that while you and I are deeply entrenched in MMO customs as well as well informed about GW2, most people will have to be taught everything. Throwing too much at people too soon and they’ll get confused, disenchanted, and likely not give it enough of a chance.

      While I’d love to have all weapon skills unlocked from the start, weapon swapping available from the start, traits and utility skills, gathering skills and crafting, etc all from the beginning, for me it’s a minor hurdle to work towards unlocking those knowing that it smooths the path for less experienced players. It really doesn’t take much to get to level 11 and open up most everything. A few hours at most of a game that should give months of entertainment.

      I also have to disagree on the mundane quests. I absolutely *loved* them. And yes, it did make me feel more heroic odd as that might seem. It made me feel that I’m playing the kind of hero that’s not too big for the little things. You know, the really heroic kind of hero instead of one that thinks themselves above the ‘rabble’.

      I much enjoyed the activities too, mostly because of the sheer variety on offer. Not just between them, but also within a single ‘heart’. Usually there was the option to fight things if you wanted that, or you could chase away bunnies, or clear up graffiti, or gather stuff, or talk to NPCs.

      In general I just loved the sense of “do whatever you want, just enjoy yourself” that the game seemed to have. :)

  11. For an “early beta impression” you’re making some sweeping generalizations and conclusions.

    “There is not enough distinction between the introductory five skills that choosing anything over auto-attack seemed to make any significant difference in the outcome.”

    Keep playing – the difference comes with the different weapon types. It takes a little effort but once you unlock all the weapon skills the PvE really opens up. My Guardian goes from AOE with a staff to defensive buffs with the mace, and going back and forth is really handy when doing a group pull.

    But as to the pvp – focus burn downs on toons is an age old mechanic and works both ways (or all 3 ways given wvw). You were just on an overwhelmingly stacked side, as matching hasn’t taken place yet between servers. It may be that way after launch too, but at least it only lasts 2 weeks instead of months, like in DAOC on unbalanced servers. Lots to like in GW2’s wvw but you pick out only player controlled content to pick on…

    1. I’m glad someone I’m not the only one annoyed by the sweeping generalizations made by the author. Each weapon plays so differently! As a mesmer with the 2h greatsword i’ll be using my longer cooldown abilities to try to kite and stay at range so my normal auto-attack does maximum damage, yet my mesmer dual wielding 2 1-h longswords would be up in the mob’s face, using the block skill to instantly generate 1 illusion, then doing the channeled damager + block skill, and generating another clone before finally shattering. And all this when i’m only level 7!

    2. Yeah, I have to say the comment about skills being too similar struck me as odd, too. I’ve levelled my Elementalist to 21 and unlocked all skills for the staff and daggers and wow the difference. With daggers I was constantly moving back and forth and dodging a lot, whereas the staff let me use AoE nuke tactics against bunched foes and nice heals with water attunement.

      In fact, I’d say the one thing I was worried about (skill diversity and challenge) has been mostly cleared up by this beta. Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

  12. Just thought I’d say that my ranger spent the last two hours roaming Diessa Plateau, a level 15 – 25 zone. He’d just dinged 13 when he got there and he’s now 14.5.

    So far he’s not trained any weapon skill but longbow and just uses the same 5 attacks plus Troll Unguent and some Passive Signets (Wild and Hunt). He was soloing Level 15 and 16 wildlife at 13 and at 14 he’s preying on level 17s. Completed several heart events that included combat and got pounded in a couple more.

    I’m trying to level him up high enough to find the point where I can’t play him exactly how I would play in much older MMOs and have to start weapon-swapping, dodging, comboing and all that other stuff I’m really not looking forward to learning. I’m still hoping that point won’t come because I’m loving the gameplay the way it is! I hope playing “old school” remains at least an option, even if it’s not intended.

    I also spent nearly an hour last night just trying to *find* the WvW zone. Couldn’t work it out, never found it. I did find Lion’s Arch, which is unbelievable! Just stunning.

    Going to be very sad when this beta weekend is over.

    1. Look on the hero page under the pvp tab. There is a button that says something like take me to the mists and from there you can reach wvw.

      1. Yep I used that, worked out I was then in a Tutorial and zoned out of that and found one portal that seemed to be for the for the eSport PvP. At that point I googled and after a lot of confusing information found a helpful thread that explained that the WvW portals are in Lion’s Arch (presumably they weren’t in earlier betas since LA is new?)

        I wandered around, found the portal to Lion’s Arch, went through and got distracted by the incredible scenery. Eventually I got back to the point and found the place where there are three portals marked, if I remember right, “Green” “Blue” and “Red”.

        I was at a loss to know which color my world was so I picked one at random. It took me into a very large zone with quests and mobs but no players. I wandered around for maybe 15 minutes, fought a number of mobs, didn’t see or hear a single other player, either my side or the enemy and finally had enough and gave up.

        I’ll try again tonight.

        1. A bit late now that the beta is over… but if you press N you get an overview of WvW. This also shows you what color world you are. Though I didn’t find it to be super obvious here either. Would probably be better if around the WvW gates all NPCs walked around in your world colors.

          Of course in the end it doesn’t matter that much; whatever portal you go through you’ll end up on your team’s side and it should be clear there.

          There’s also the fourth “eternal battleground” gate which leads to the middle WvW area. Probably the biggest chance of finding combat there. But unfortunately also the biggest chance of the server being full.

          In the end what little I tried of WvW I didn’t enjoy at all. But then I’m much more of a PvE player anyway.

    2. The only thing I can think to point out is that at this point you’re fighting wildlife, and not humanoid creatures. Humanoid creatures dodge, flank, and call friends. I’m not sure if you’ve participated in dynamic events alongside your renown tasks?

      At any rate, it seems a good thing that you have, up to this point, the ability to “opt out” of the more challenging encounters even at that level range.

      1. Ascalon ghosts, grawl, dredge, jotun, you name it, I’ve killed it. When I say “wildlife” I mean everything atackable.

        I did the “save the mill” event where the mobs are around 21-22 when my ranger was 17. I just waited for the various NPCs to engage then backed them up. Won a lot of fights, died several times, Gold contribution. There was a handful of other players there but they were on the far side of the Mill from me. That’s just one event that sticks in my mind. I did both Heart events and dynamic events all over the map.

        I’ve opened almost all the Charr lands and nearly all the Norn lands just from wandering like Keith Carradine in Kung fu – or maybe The Littlest Hobo. I was trying to get to Lion’s Arch overland and I got to one zone away but that zone was closed for the beta, sadly.

        I’m not saying anything remotely negative about the experience – I’ve had an absolutely fantastic time. I played my ranger just like any pet class with a bow – buff the pet, send him in to tank, plink plink plink, backpedal as necessary. Seems to work the same as any other MMO, which for my money is extremely good news. I was 10% from level 19 when I finally got disconnected in Mists after three hours of RvR, Can’t get back in and calling it a weekend.

        1. I don’t think there was ever the intention that you would HAVE to be weapon swapping, comboing and dodging in solo PvE, especially when playing at range.

          I mean.. is there a quote or something somewhere that says “we expect our game to be really user-unfriendly by lvl 20, don’t bring your kids, don’t bring your wife, they’ll fail at anything they attempt.” that I missed somewhere?

          PvE in the open world is MEANT to be something that you can approach however you find enjoyable.

          Competitive PVP, sure you’ll have to adjust – Play the meta, make use of a wider range of your abilities, w/e.

          Explorable mode dungeons (hopefully) – Bring your A game, know your characters capabilities, know your team and work together effectively.

          Solo PvE… have fun playing however you want to play!

        2. I’m not taking your comments as criticism, I’m taking them more as “I also rolled a ranger and completed my personal story at level 16 and that was not at all my experience in the level 15+ zones, so I’m trying to guess at what we did so differently.” :)

  13. It seems like level 1-10 gameplay is fairly same-old, same-old. By about level 10, though, things start getting unforgiving enough that you really have to be dropping conditions on enemies to get anywhere. I had to figure this out underwater, no less. One lake I found was filled with enemies that have innate regeneration, and tend to attack in groups. I had to get very quickly used to maintaining a bleed on one while circling around the group, a speed boost on myself and a slow on the enemy. One weapon I had does rather disappointing damage but has a wide variety of amusing condition effects.

    I think GW2 is going to be constantly dogged by the idea that it’s button-mashy but overtuned. It doesn’t do a good job of teaching players how important it is to be using conditions.

    1. It’s only button-mashy if you’re playing it like a game that has ‘damage rotations’ of skills that you have to execute properly for maximum effectiveness.

      GW2 is not like that at all. Mashing your situational abilities mindlessly for every encounter does nothing to improve your damage output; it actually ends up blowing cooldowns on skills that could help you avoid/snare/debuff when you actually need to, and overall hurts your dps. For pure damage output at a standstill, your number 1 skill set to autoattack does a fine job.

  14. I think the OP is a little harsh. Its beta, it is a bit same-ish for the first 10 levels. It does seem to open up a lot after that in terms of PVE. It seems the OP went to PVP just when PVE was starting to diversify.

    In terms of weapons and training… its only an issue for the first few levels. Remember the cap is like level 80, training weapons will be long over before then.

    Dodoging in PVE makes a big difference with some mobs. Avoiding the big hits counts and you can’t straif all of them, dodging is more effective at actually avoiding them.

    My only gripes are really that there needs to be more tutorial stuff for each class, maybe a bit more explaining the basic mechanics (offline or online). Again this is a small thing for new MMO players, as it is there is not much in the way of beginner info, but hey this is a beta.

    Overall it was well polished. There are more quests to do than just ‘heart’ zones by the way, you have to talk to NPC’s when they are calling out or when something strange is happening (like a bunch of villages all show as poisoned) and you can start a quest.

    I think the OP just missed the point, you have to interact with the world and look for hints of quests. They didn’t get far enough in pve to make a decent judgement before giving up. As far as I can tell the PVE will get deeper at 20+.

  15. I like the honesty people are posting with, but lets keep this in perspective. Gathering tools costing too much? Gems? I have a level 24 necro I never spent a single gem on him. Yes tools cost money, but what else is there to spend it on?

    The only time I went broke was buying my level 10 unlock-first-trait book. 20 minutes later I was bemoaning my full bags and selling off vendor trash again.

    Overflow is a horrid mechanic that needs serious design work. Aside from that, I thought the game was great from a pve perspective. Content makes people res others and work together. After level 15 the mobs abilities get more varied, and the learning curve to play smart kicks in fluidly.

  16. “My first reaction after about an hour of PvE was to wonder why people who had played the game previously considered the gameplay revolutionary. It is not, in any way genre changing.”

    GW1 was genre-changing, GW2 feels like a cross between GW1 and WoW (and mainly WoW).

    1. Er, well… if GW1 was genre-changing, why isn’t the genre more like it? It was genre-defying, maybe, but I don’t really see its influence springing up in many other places.

  17. I was not blown back by this game. Is it a good game, and entertaining…yes. Is it ground breaking and revolutionary…meh

    1. I think people are calling it revolutionary because it removes a lot of the unfun/inconvenient mechanics that are so common in MMORPGs today.

      In other words, it’s doing what WoW originally did in terms of refining the genre conventions in favor of ‘more fun’.

  18. I agree that the OP was a bit harsh. This is an early public beta, and it’s clear that the objectives from a testing perspective were twofold: test server capabilities and scaling.

    The servers were definitely overloaded, though I’ve seen worse on a first public beta. I think AN gained some useful suggestions and insights regarding the whole overload server situation and its effects on parties. I suspect that was unforeseen, so it’s good they’re aware of it. I also noticed that all N. American servers were high or full, while European servers were all low.

    I think AN did a smart thing by deciding to give people free server transfers. I also agree, by the way, that it sucks to be one of those who paid a lot of gems for transferring. I would suggest that AN allow free server transfers at regular intervals so that players can be on the same server as their guild’s home base, and so that guilds can opt to move from high to low population servers, which will help keep the worlds balanced.

    WvW had an accelerated rotation this past weekend. I noticed initially that my server was completely dominated by its opponents for the first half of the weekend. The second half, we had two new opponents, and this time we were doing the dominating.

    While the zerg is definitely a problem, it’s definitely possible for a small group to hold off a larger one. I know of at least one case where a handful of people dug in the Lord’s room, throwing up arrow carts and ballistas to take out the zerg outside. In a minute, the zerg was dead. This wasn’t an isolated instance. My sense is that zergs will still be valuable for new players, since they can go along with the crowd and learn the maps and objectives. More experienced players will learn how to counter the zergs.

    I didn’t see the gameplay as “revoluntionary,” but that’s not a word I use lightly. I do think that it’s different enough to confuse some people used to traditional MMOs. For example, I think some people are so used to NPC quest givers, that they spend their time trying to find the players with exclamation marks above their heads. If you spend your time rushing from renown quest to renown quest, you miss a lot of the game. In a way, I think they should get rid of the majority of the scouts, save for the tutorial areas, so that renown quests are discovered as players happen to pass through the areas. This would contribute more to the kind of sandbox feel that the game seems to be aiming toward.

    I do agree that scaling needs work. I played both Human and Charr. The Charr starting area ramp up difficulty levels much more than the Human area–or at least for my characters. In the Human area, for example, there are caves where a handful of people can mow down the content, and in fact it’s hard to get a kill! In the Charr area, there are caves that effectively bottleneck players into groups for easy kills from the mobs. I’m not sure if some of the Charr areas are soloable, which is something to consider when the player population decreases.

    I’ll be interested in seeing what happens by next beta weekend.

  19. The new approach to questing may not be revolutionary (honestly I’m not really sure what that word means with relation to a game) but it was certainly a revelation. They addressed all the complaints myself and many gamers have had for years. Maybe that’s what’s revolutionary: the fact that a company bothered to listen. And maybe that’s why some people are taking it for granted. It’s as it should have been all along.

    You went from calling the game non-revolutionary (which is fair) to nothing new (not so much. Remember, this is how questing usually works: You talk to an NPC, you kill stuff. You go back to NPC, then you run further away to kill more stuff. You go back to NPC, and oh hey, there was this other quest you could have completed at the same time but you didn’t have it yet so now you have to do it again if you want credit, oh and here comes your friend but you’re on different steps. Not an issue in GW2. That’s new.

    Also, I leveled just fine without feeding cows or watered watermelons. There’s plenty of ways to level, even in WvW or via crafting. Sure you can skip quests in WoW, but be ready to grind on a whole lot of mobs instead. GW2 gives more experience for reviving players than killing mobs (didn’t notice but heard it’s equivalent to 3-4 kills.) An incentive to stop fighting and help other players? That’s pretty novel.

    And remember, leveling doesn’t increase exponentially like other MMORPGs but evens out after 20. I think it’s hard to appreciate leveling in the beginning of GW2 because it’s slower, but only at first. You don’t feel the difference until the teens. After that, I’ve heard it’s almost too fast.

    Incidentally, I did find a lot of value in dodging. On a mesmer. And that’s before traiting a clone to spawn on dodge. Also, moving while casting? All the time? That’s new, too.

    I just don’t get how someone who didn’t enjoy GW2 could enjoy other MMORPGs at all, let alone more. Not liking it, I can get. But not liking it because of menial tasks, button mashing and grind vs. reward (what grind?), and preferring grindy RNG based WoW? I’m at a loss.

    I’m also fairly certain my personal experience will be a lot more positive, in part because we are more self-sufficient at gearing ourselves. Removing the gear treadmill and structured raiding, and replacing it with fun content you play together because it’s fun (and not to use and be used chasing a carrot) makes a big difference in player relations.

    Again, whether or not the game is revolutionary debatable, but it’s definitely something new and different.

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