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Guild Wars 2: Is It Getting Beta?

I don’t like Guild Wars 2.

This may or may not make it into the game

Allow me to elaborate on that before I am branded an internet troll, dragged to the gallows and publicly ridiculed in front of a rabid MMO community.

Guild Wars 2 seems to be the darling of the industry right now and anyone who played the beta (and even a good chunk of people who never stepped into Tyria 2.0) cannot stop waxing lyrical about its many graces and how it will be the one game to rule them all. On paper it all sounds great. A modern action oriented MMO with a huge overworld to explore, beautiful art direction, interesting combat mechanics and a strong PvP component. Equally important: it will have no monthly fees. What’s not to love? I pre-purchased quite a while ago and couldn’t wait to play it.

Truth is, now that I did play it, I’m having a hard time engaging with the game. I forced myself to level a Mesmer and managed to get all the way to a measly level 7. That’s over two weekends. Something is clearly wrong. During play it felt like I was just mashing away at my abilities as soon as the cool downs expired hoping that the enemy would die before I did. This is nothing like what I saw in a dev video interview where fights were being executed with clever use of skills and impeccable positioning, like some ballet of death. I also found that the combat felt floaty and there was a definite lack of weight behind my attacks. I concede that the Mesmer might have been a poor choice for me or maybe I did not grasp the class. Then again I felt no impetus to try out another class. I just felt numb.

Having any mmo story immediately drop me in a conflict, like GW2 does, never really appealed to me. I want to be set loose on the world and allowed to explore, not be forced to follow a tunnel which the developers decided would be fun for me. I remember the devs talking about coming across a centaur invasion which players are able to repel but that is only fun when players are also given  the choice to walk away and take their adventuring elsewhere if they so desire. Forcing us to get  involved does not rest well with me. Am I being too nit picky? I mean, this was just the tutorial area and the absolute majority of mmo games do this. And that’s exactly my point. GW2 was meant to be doing things differently! It definitely does not scream ‘evolution of the genre’. It is not helped by the fact that the main story line bored me to death and I did not care an ounce for what was transpiring.

The innovative quest system didn’t really impress me either. If by innovation they meant being able to collect apples or sort out papers  to complete a quest in lieu of killing/fetching then I believe that Arena.net has completely missed the boat. The argument that one can choose not to do these chores, and instead go fighting, is moot. I felt that coming across a sparkling bale of hay (or any other mundane item), which you can click to advance your quest, did nothing to immerse me in this world. Ultimately I got alienated by these strong theme park elements very thinly disguised in sandbox trappings.

I do not want to sound like I am bashing the game. I know I have no right to criticize a beta product, especially after only  a couple of hours playtime. However I can’t hide my disappointment with what I have experienced so far. In all probability getting involved in a beta was not a good idea to begin with. In fact I deleted the client and will only play the game on release. There is also the possibility that I set my expectations too high. Only time will tell.

Hopefully the finished experience will be very different. Until then I will just pretend Guild Wars 2 does not exist.

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6 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: Is It Getting Beta?

  1. After playing with the beta over the weekend, I did preorder the game, because I liked it so much. But, we all have different requirements, needs, and if a game will not satisfy those, we will simply not play it. I absolutely understand your issues with the game, and sorry for your disappointment. 😦

    On the other hand, have you tried Vanguard? It goes f2p this summer (hopefully) and has a very complex yet enjoyable game system based around three spheres – adventuring, craft and diplomacy. You may want to give it a go – there is a 14 days trial.

    1. I am crossing my fingers that my attitude will change. I pre-purchased as well so hopefully we will meet in-game 😉

      Funny that you should mention Vanguard. Its story is the complete opposite of what GW2 turned out to be so far. I participated in the Vanguard beta (I was sold on the ‘what EQ2 should have been’ idea). The beta was a buggy mess but I could see the potential for that game. I eventually bought it but was disappointed because, even after launch, it was a buggy mess. I did try out the trial some time later but I got stuck in a class quest due to a bug and gave up (also at that point I was already hypnotized by WoW). I will definitely try it again although it will have to wait. I am too busy enjoying other games (mainly Rift, LotRO and Diablo III) to afford another mmo.

  2. The funny thing is when I did the first beta weekend, I had a similar experience. I tried a human mesmer but besides liking the character creation and the initial storyline the game just felt underwhelming, not the exciting game I was expecting.
    Then I kept seeing charr players running around and decided to give in to temptation, to make a charr warrior. I say give in to temptation because I intent my main character at release to be a charr and I wanted to save it for then.

    As for class I chose a warrior because I heard it is was a class easy to learn but not so easy to master. And then everything start to click. I guess that was in large part due to the fact that yes, warriors are easier to learn and get your head around how the basics of the game mechanics work. They also make it a lot more explicit the flexibility of the class system since their different weapon skills have a pretty distinguishing feel to them. Mesmers to me feel a lot more subtle on the way their weapon skills work and have a higher learning curve.

    Anyway, I don’t know if trying another class or another race would help with your woes but I do hope that when the game is released there is game there that you will find fun. I know way too well how much it sucks to pay for a MMORPG to only find later that it just doesn’t feel very engaging.

    1. Honestly I gave up on playing the game in beta at this point. I am still looking forward to the game being released. I am not sure I will be able to play with other bloggers since I am in the EU zone but that would be fun.
      I trust Arena.net will release a good game come launch. They have a proven track record for delivering on their promises.

  3. Regarding the floaty combat, it really could be just your choice of class. The Mesmer… is okay, I guess. I played with it until around level 10, and while I didn’t find it “bad”, it was not what I was hoping for. I realize that once you get better utility skills the class gets more interesting, but at first I didn’t “feel it”. I had a similar reaction to the Thief.

    This reaction reflects itself on my updated character plan. I was going to start with a Charr Elementalist, then a Norn Ranger, and finally a Human Mesmer, but now I think character #3 will probably be a Human Guardian instead (and I’m struggling with #1’s class between those two choices, they are both awesome). If you want that kinetic feel in combat, I really recommend melee combat with “big” weapons like the greatsword or the hammer. These feel heavy and powerful, full of satisfying knockbacks that make you smile every time.

    I understand your reaction to the event system on the initial areas. Those tend to be very ephemeral, and feel a lot like the original Public Quest system on Warhammer Online where it was just a sequence of events that restart a minute after completion. Once you leave the initial 1-10 level hub and walk further into the world, you’ll see events with more lasting effects, some that you fail miserably to contain, and then new events they trigger due that result.

    When you stop yourself from running straight to the next areas and wait around to talk to NPCs, see their conversations and reactions to what just transpired, and witness new events slowly unfolding, that’s when the dynamic event system “clicks” and you get how it is different. Also, treat Renown Hearts as areas you should stay on for a while instead “quests” you need to complete. These chores are only there to make you stay in the area until events start happening, and these are the meat of the game.

    From your post, I really think you may have set your expectations too high. The game is not perfect, and it is still an MMO, so there will be plenty that is familiar. But I do think that it is a major step forward, and once you feel the connection with it there’s no way to go back to the same old questing system of floating question marks. I would recommend giving it another fair shot since you already paid for it, just take it slow and try to see it with fresh eyes and no expectations.

    1. I find your post very reassuring and it kind of confirms my doubts that 1) I did not give the game enough time and 2) I chose the wrong class. Still the idea behind the Mesmer appeals to me quite a bit so I hope that they tweak it a bit so that it’s more fun. It did feel like it was an ‘unfinished’ class overall.

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