Final pre-launch peek in Guild Wars 2
This weekend was the final beta weekend for Guild Wars 2 prior to its launch at the end of August. Some of the new features included in this beta weekend were the two remaining races; the Asura and the Sylvari. My main goal with beta weekend participation has been to take an initial peek at the different classes and races available, to get an idea what I might want to try out and start with. Essentially do some of my initial altoholic experimentation before launch.
So during this weekend I played one Sylvari character for a couple of levels (5) and two Asura characters. I also revisited the other races briefly to check out how some of the personalized stories might differ initially with some different choices. Finally I also took a peek at the two classes I had not tried out before, Warrior and Guardian -and had a visit to WvWvW zone.
Initially I created a Sylvari character. Being plant/tree creatures they do not quite look like a typical fantasy humanoid, different enough that one would not constantly think that they were elves in disguise – which is a good thing. I like the initial fight with the shadow of a Dragon (above), but the zone after that felt a bit lacklustre and uninspiring to me, even though it looks quite nice with the tree background. I did generally like the character models though, but will probably not play this race in the beginning.
The Asura starter area was more interesting I think and the initial area very much reflected a bit of the mad scientist trait of the Asura. I found that pretty enjoyable and will most definitely create one or two Asura. I have not quite decided on class though.
My jump into the WvWvW area was somewhat interesting, but only to get an idea what the area was all about. In fact, during the time I was there I only encountered players from the same side as myself and some of the NPCs, so there was not really any PvP going on at that time. I can see though that it could potentially be fun once it gets a bit more populated.
What I found a bit irritating was to play during the initial rush at the start of the beta weekend. While the game technically worked much better this weekend that my previous visit, the fact that there was a rush of a lot of players at the same time caused many mission objective to become some kind of zerg. This was not really fun and it was more interesting to play with a bit more limited numbers – this was the case when i jumped back into the game on Saturday morning. Even though I have pre-ordered the game I might not jump in right away when available, or perhaps go in during off-peak hours if possible during the first few days. The initial locust swarm of players may have moved on a bit by then.
I tried the two classes I had not tried before also – Warrior and Guardian. These two were the ones I was least interested in based on what I typically perceived them to be and what I have read about them. The Warrior ended up being a bit more fun than I expected it to be, which was primarily due to the variation provided by the different weapon types. The Guardian class secured its place at the bottom of my list though; it did not appeal to me at all. Perhaps with a bit more time with some more weapon types this might change, but for now I will not really play a guardian at launch. Necromancer and Mesmer are my primary choices, followed by Thief. Engineer has slipped down a bit, it used to be in the top 3 for me.
One other source of annoyance for me has been the powers that either switch randomly or switch to a different power because of a state change caused by a previous invocation. The first power used by the Mesmer is such a power. The irritation here comes from that I had trouble figuring out what some of these other powers actually did – in some cases they are only visible for a short while and that might not be enough time or a good opportunity to get a mouse-over text to figure out what they do – especially since my mouse pointer is typically somewhere else on the screen. I could not find them in the power descriptions under the hero panel either.
I like the game, but I cannot say that I am particularly excited about it. Despite its premise of a quite different approach to missions and doing stuff, it still feels similar to a more traditional fantasy MMO which quests and such. Part of that comes from the in-your-face exposure of these various hearts, points of interest, vistas etc. These elements are a bit too visible for my taste and detracts from the more organic experience I was looking forward to. Perhaps this will be less evident after the initial areas, hopefully.
Compared to The Secret World which I am playing now also, Guild Wars 2 feels less like a world to explore than what I have seen so far in Solomon Island. The TSW mission/dialog writing feels much better also, although the target audience is perhaps slightly different. Given that the target demographic for GW2 likely covers a lot more than TSW is aiming for, this would also likely put some restrictions on what they will write.
Still, Guild Wars 2 seems to still be better than most of the other fantasy MMOs, so I will play it initially and it will probably be a good fallback MMO.