First Impressions of Guild Wars 2
Posted by Blessing of Kings [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 August 2012, 10:40 pm
I picked up Guild Wars 2 late last night, and gave it a whirl. Why exactly was this game hyped up? Admittedly, I've only played for a day or so, but I've seen nothing yet that would warrant the fervor of the GW2 partisans. There are lots of nice, small touches, but nothing amazing.

Character Creation

There are five races and eight or so classes. Character creation has lots of sliders and buttons. I would have really liked a "reset to default" button, though.

The human females generally "need a sammich", as the saying goes. There didn't really seem to be any equivalent of SWTOR's body type 2 or WoW's human female. Either too much on one side or the other.

I did like the Sylvari art, the use of leaves and plant forms for hair and ears. That was very clever.

I also liked the use of additional choices to flesh out the character, like what god the character followed, or what spirit animal, or even greatest regret. I do wonder if those choices were orthogonal enough though. Sometimes it seemed like there were obvious choices for the magic users, and obvious ones for fighter types.

I also like the history for the races, especially humans being a race in retreat. Very different from the standard "humanity waxing" storylines.

I ended up creating a Human Guardian.

Oh, I should mention something about names. I think names have to be unique across the entire GW2 universe. So your regular name is probably taken. I know 'Coriel' was. But GW2 allows you to put spaces in the name, so you make a last name, and the combination is very likely to still be available. I named my Guardian "Coriel De Rohan". I really like this solution. It's a solid mix between uniqueness and availability.

Main Quest Line

The main quest line seems decent enough. The writing and voice acting is okay. Better than TERA, but not up to SWTOR or TSW. There was an investigation-style quest where you had to question different parties and accumulate evidence against a powerful noble that I thought was rather neat.

Hearts

A main conceit in GW2 is that there are no "side" quests. Instead of quest hubs, you have a "heart" on the map.

In a quest hub, you would have four or so NPCs. One would give a quest to kill 10 boars. Another would give a quest to collect 15 trinkets. Another would give a quest to search through poop. And the last would tell you to kill 20 bandits and their leader.

In a GW2 heart, these are not discrete elements. Instead of you have to (all numbers made up) accumulate 100 points, where you get 5 points per boar, 2 points per trinket, 10 points per poop, and 6 points per bandit. And you can do any combination of things that add up to 100 points.

So if you really hate killing boars, you can avoid that entirely. Or you can just do stuff until you hit the required total.

What I find is that this lacks context, lacks those small stories that weave together. For example, in Elwynn Forest in WoW, I really enjoy the Young Lovers questline. It's nothing amazing, you take a note from Maybell Maclure to Tommy Joe Stonefield, get Grandma Stonefield to direct you to her old suitor, the alchemist William Pestle, kill some mulocs for ingredients for an invisibility potion, and give the potion to Maybell so she can elope. Nothing amazing, just a short little story. But I guess I'm a romantic at heart, so I always enjoy doing that questline.

The thing is that, so far, the hearts in GW2 really lack that. They're just a bar on the screen to be filled with repetitive tasks. And the tasks don't really build on each other to form a story, except in the vaguest, most general sense. (There are bandits attacking the farm. You kill the bandits. The farm is saved.) It's also very UI-driven. At least normal questing has a semblance of interacting with the people in the world.

Now, in the end, maybe normal questing is just the same. That the stories of side quests are just an illusion, a fig leaf over reality, and it's all about filling up many smaller bars instead of one bigger bar. But it turns out that I like--and maybe even need--that illusion.

GW2 Hearts are quests for people who think that skipping through instant quest text is too much work.

Events

Events are basically a cross between public quests from Warhammer Online, and rifts from Rift. They're a public quest which is not always available. Instead, they sometimes "activate" like a rift and appear on your map. Then you do the event, and get some rewards. They differ from rifts by being more varied and not just monsters spilling out from another plane.

Sometimes it's an escort quest, sometimes it's a quest to kill a special monster, sometimes waves of monsters are attacking a certain point, etc.

Because the starting point is unknown, events are something that you don't really plan for. Instead you do them when you come across them.

They do make the world seem a bit more dynamic, and break up the questing a bit. But they do repeat, and if you stick around in the same area, you'll see the same event pop over and over.

I like events. But they're not revolutionary, they're evolutionary. A better Warhammer Online public quest.

Combat, Crafting, Skills

I'll cover these topics, and any others I think of, in a post tomorrow.

Initial Conclusions

GW2 is an okay game. But not one that deserves anywhere near the hype it is getting. To be honest, so far it really feels like a better Warhammer Online.

Heh, it occurs to me that GW2 is the game where the "bears, bears, bears" promise from Warhammer Online was finally fulfilled.

Again though, this is early impressions. I haven't gotten very far, and I haven't been able to try out this WvWvW, as I've been on overflow servers most of the time.



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