The Guild Wars 2 beta is over, so how will I cope? A detox clinic is the likely option.
It’s been a fun few months playing the Beta Weekend Events of Guild Wars 2. As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Guild Wars. ArenaNet has some very talented folks working for them, and the quality of their titles is top notch. The game has been in development for about five years now, and it’s officially going to release on August 28th, 2012. There’s that 3-day headstart though, which happens to fall on my father’s birthday (sorry, dad).
I’m the kind of person who enjoys the “MMO Lifestyle”; I was a WoW-Raider for just over two years, and I had an on-again-off-again love affair with the original Guild Wars for just over six years. So I’m looking forward to Guild Wars 2, as much of an understatement as that is. With the release about four and a half weeks away (exactly 35 days away, and counting), I thought I’d look back on this last BWE, and summarize my thoughts and feelings about the whole experience, and what I’m most looking forward to (and dreading) about Guild Wars 2.
First up, I want to examine what I think is bad. Awful. Poop. Crapwich.
What comes to mind is the Sylvari tutorial. It’s a slow, lumbering behemoth of steaming nonsense, coupled with the one thing I hate in RPG and MMO games (and my dad loves to no end): killing meaningless fodder creatures, or “killing wolves” as my father has termed it. The man loves grinding endlessly, and that’s all that the Sylvari tutorial is. It’s also poorly written, something I was shocked about.
To put it simply, this was the takeaway:
Ghostly Plant Lady: Hi. See those wolves? Blah blah poison. They are poison. Kill them.
You: Are you a ghost? Where am I? What is existence?
Ghostly Plant Lady: All will be revealed. Just go kill wolves though, like seriously. I’m super cereal, they’re bad news bears.
You: ….Uh, ok? Sure? I guess.[insert mindless poison wolf killing]
You: All done!
Ghostly Plant Lady: Ok, now go defend that broken bridge.
You: Uh…alright? From what? Lizards? Killer rabid mongoosii?
Ghostly Plant Lady: Poison Wolves!
You: FML[insert mindless poison wolf killing]
Ghostly Plant Lady: Now I’m not ghostly! Let’s go kill more wolves! Cross the bridge!
You: Whoopee! Oh wait, you said “more wolves”, not “fun”.
Not-so-Ghostly Plant Lady: Oh look, a Dragon. Made of leaves. SURROUNDED BY POISON WOLVES! Kill it all! Kill it!
Not-so-Ghostly Plant Lady: Because you can wake up from the dream.
Not-so-Ghostly Plant Lady: Just kill it.
You:…fine.[insert mindless poison wolf killing]
I’ve embellished for entertainment purposes, but that was the takeaway. It was boring as all get out, and it turned me off of sylvari completely. Their starter zone was nice though. Another mind-blowing piece of ragehate was some of the professions. I know that a lot of people swear by every one of the professions, and that’s nice. Warriors and Rangers are still boring as watching a scab heal. Warriors hit things with weapons. And that’s it. Something about banners and shouts, but that’s still just accompanied by hitting things with weapons. And Rangers are just as dopey and lame as they were in the original Guild Wars. Pets are underpowered to the point of lunacy (I can usually 1-2 shot a pet, regardless of profession), and their skills seem mundane. I think that’s my big issue with both: they just seem so mundane, so normal, so boring.
Every other profession is flashy, and cool, and has wicked looked spell effects or unique mechanics. I like to think of the Guardian as a Warrior that’s fun. I hit things with weapons, but bolts of light or fire shoot out of my sword, or I can slam the ground with holiness and let my allies ruing the environment while I bash things with a hammer. It just feels satisfying. Which incidentally what playing a Mesmer is like. It’s fun to hear people in local chat cry and whine about how bad and underpowered Mesmers are, then laugh as they rage that I just killed everything in sight as a Mesmer. That was the entirety of the 2nd BWE, btw.
What I do love about this game is everything else, and that’s a blanket statement I’m dead serious about. The game looks amazing. The lush and detailed environments are eye-catching. The professions (mostly) are well-balanced, have unique and interesting mechanics, and are just generally fun to play. I particularly enjoyed the emphasis on player skill; WoW kiddies spammed the forums about how certain professions were underpowered or were boring, and when questioned, it turned out they hadn’t used key features like dodging, or utility skills in the right context. You can’t just press 1, 2, 3, 4 and hope to win in this game. And let’s not forget those rage-inducing jumping puzzles. The last time I had so much fun failing was playing Ninja Gaiden (and that game is all about dying over and over). Achievements feel meaningful – you have daily achievements that encourage exploration and doing something different.
Even the PvP was incredibly well-polished. Every class was viable, and fun to play as (excepting Warrior and Ranger, as stated above). World versus World combat is fun; here’s a roughly summarized conversation I had with my guildmate X Kewl while we did WvW:
X Kewl: Hey dude, come help us take these castles and camps! WvW is so much fun!
Me: Sounds good, let’s rock some socks![Spend 10 minutes straight watching me, X Kewl, and 15 other people pound on a gate]
Me: So, I’m just going to auto-attack and type in local chat.
X Kewl: Dude, you should have seen the epic fight we had earlier.
Me: I can only imagine.[Gate breaks. 17 people zerg in and demolish everything in sight]
X Kewl: Yeah. That just happened bro.[We run to a castle]
Me: Another gate.
X Kewl: Oh look, someone brought a battering ram![2 minutes and 17 seconds later, the Gate breaks down. We all zerg in, kill about 5 or 6 defenders, and raze the place]
Me: ….dat Ram.[Ram suddenly gets destroyed, we fend off some reinforcements, then go find more gates]
WvW is one of those “love it or hate it” gameplay types. And given a battering ram or other siege artillery, I’m going to love it. Otherwise, to hell with the gates. Another love it feature is the Guild System. While there are perks that exist in a similar vein to what WoW has, there’s an underlying feeling of having truly earned the upgrade. Your guild has spent the entire first week of release saving their influence. Suddenly, you purchase the guild bank upgrade, and it really feels like you guys earned every single bank slot. Or earning the upgrades to wear your Guild Emblem on your armour, weapons, and place it on WvW capturable objectives. It’s very satisfying.
And that’s what this whole thing comes down to: Guild Wars 2, even in a Beta state, is a very satisfying game. You feel like a badass from the moment you set foot into the world, and that feeling keeps pace with every level. It’s satisfying to dodge out of the way of a projectile, and fire your own right back at the enemy. It’s satisfying to pull your fleeing enemy back to you and slice them in twain.
Guild Wars 2 is satisfying. And I can’t wait to be satisfied. Take that as you will.