Guild Wars 2 Launch Wrapup

Guild Wars 2, as of just a bit ago, is officially launched. I’m not sure I’ll do a “review,” but here are some thoughts with quite a bit of time invested in the headstart plus more in beta.

The Good

  • The game overall is very strong. Barring the occasional bug or borked event, all of the essential progression elements (tasks, events and other means of gaining XP) work great. The leveling curve is steady but long, which is fine with me.
  • Scaling works reasonably well in most circumstances, and this opens up a lot of content that would become trivial or not worthwhile in a more conventional design. It’s not just that you can downlevel and play with your friends, it’s that all the game’s content scales up to you, so there is effectively more doable content than it might at first appear, and the loot and XP scale to your actual level. It’s one element that gives this 100% themepark game something of a sandbox feel — more of the world is open to you at any given level, and a lot of it is interactable.
  • Combat is fun while not being too fussy. As in the original GW, most of complexity is loaded into the building aspect of characters but there is a lot more to do with regard to positioning and mobility. The pacing is fast but not so fast as to make it unplayable for those of us with old man reflexes.
  • The game world is beautifully designed, and the flow of gameplay encourages you to explore it. Is is the best themepark MMO I have seen for exploration.
  • The overall level of nimrodism seems low compared to the original Guild Wars. Part of that is surely that there is much less reason for players to interact until they’re of a level to run dungeons, which happens around level 30. Part of it is also probably that headstart players are a bit more serious, and we may start to see things trend downhill with the influx of people from the actual launch. Find a good guild, is my advice, but that applies in any MMO.
  • I have not yet explored WvW as much as I would like, but it looks like it has the potential to be a real wonder. The interesting thing is that the WvW area isn’t just a big zone with PvP objectives and PvP enabled, it’s four huge zones — a whole continent, really — with both PvE and PvP stuff to do. You can fight other players and go for PvP objectives, but the size of the place means there’s plenty of open space as well, and you can wander, as I did, for some time without necessarily encountering hostile players. There’s also harvesting to be done, PvE events and other stuff. It’s a very complete experience, and the closest thing I’ve seen to the old school DAoC scheme where the distinction between PvP and PvE starts to blur. In this sense having one character level that you happen to be able to advance via PvE, PvP or crafting, makes a lot of sense.

The Bad

  • There are a number of annoying but relatively minor issues. At this point lag is one of them except in WvW.
  • The still-out-of-commission Trading Post is a major but not critical issue. It’s certainly hampering my ability to level crafting.
  • The Overflow system isn’t all it could be. It is, on the one hand, a very clever method for avoiding login queues, but on the other it doesn’t support groups at all. Because the Overflow is by zone instead of by server, you can get constantly kicked into it when you zone, potentially cutting you off from your group, and there is at yet no way to port to the instance your group is in. This last would be an effective workaround, but there’s no word on it that I’ve heard. Even so, playing while you wait is clearly better than tapping your foot trying to get into the game in the first place, so all in all I call this feature a net positive, even though it could be improved from where it is now.
  • The instanced PvP battlegrounds are much less interesting than WvW; compared to the amount of craft that went into the rest of the game they seem like an afterthought. I sincerely hope that this is so, and that people don’t start to overwhelmingly gravitate toward them as the fastest way to level, as they did in WAR much to its detriment.
  • You now learn weapon skills so fast that the whole mechanic is kind of meaningless. I have a feeling that this whole thing is going to be iterated away at some point.
  • Crafting is tough to level up. In principle I am fine with this, but in practice it means that my crafting ability is way behind my actual level due to a shortage of mats for insignias and such, which are vital for discovery and thus good crafting advancement. This sets up a problem similar to WoW crafting in which I cannot craft any item remotely worthwhile for myself. It might be possible to work around this if the Trading Post were up and running, but using alts to gather won’t help, since all tradeskills save cooking use the same mats for these kinds of components, as far as I can tell.
  • My RP-heavy server will likely not be a WvW force to be reckoned with, but that’s where I have chosen to roll.

8 responses to “Guild Wars 2 Launch Wrapup

  1. While you can not instantly be dropped in the same overflow as the rest of your party, you can still port over to them by right clicking on their name and selecting join in (insert name of zone). Not perfect but workable.

  2. Good round up. I agree with most of that. I’d prefer weapon skills to fill in a lot more slowly because I would enjoy working on them. Fast as they are it seems pointless to have them fill in at all. A slider would be best so the user could set their own learning pace.

    Crafting is driving me nuts for the reasons you mention. Being flipped in and out of my guild is annoying too. On balance, though, these are minor issues in that’s been at the “good” end of the scale for MMO launches.

    One thing I have almost never had in GW2, not in beta nor headstart nor today the first official Live day, is lag. Playing on US a server from the UK I get absolutely none at all. I also get 60FPS with settings all on “High” and my machine is barely mid-range. For me, at least, GW2 is excellently optimized.

  3. I’m helping run a guild thats filling up fast and there are alot of bugs in the guild system. Upgrades disappearing from the queue, unable to add new ones. Invites breaking at 255 players (even though the cap is higher).
    For all the Beta Weekends and such they dont seem to have tested the Guild part of Guild Wars very much.

  4. Pingback: Guild Wars 2 – Officially Live Today « The Ancient Gaming Noob

  5. “You now learn weapon skills so fast that the whole mechanic is kind of meaningless. I have a feeling that this whole thing is going to be iterated away at some point.”

    I remember the same happened with wow’s weapon skill system (eventually). I don’t see why they designed it the way they did if it ultimately is kind of meaningless.

    Well, I guess it’s just casual appeal and the $$$ speaking. : (

  6. I messed around a lot with crafting in beta and after learning much on my own then found this excellent batch of tips and such:

    Little to no problems for me since the very beginning of early headstart, I played for 3 hours straight when they first opened the servers Friday night. Little to no lag or other major problems. Really just want guesting turned on (although free server transfers are working fine) and the trading post up and running, while they continue to improve other areas. Glad I don’t have to (knock on virtual wood) deal with NCSoft’s customer support. *shudder*

    Mainly just having fun wandering around exploring now that it counts, enjoying alts, and the personal stories.

  7. Good overview, Ardwulf. I got in at midnight, got knocked off in the wee hours of the morning, and couldn’t get in the next day. Headstart or Headshot, it’s all the same.

    I think the weapon skill system worked well for me. It seems designed to uncouple abilities from levels, and to moderate the pace at which you have access to abilities to give you time to learn them.

    As you describe, I like how my exploration of the opening zone is not directly tied to my level progression. I fully intend to fill in all my heart quest areas before leaving the starting zone, knowing that each one will be an interesting challenge, and not increasingly trivial.