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.