Hands On: A Long Weekend With Guild Wars 2

By Richard Cobbett on March 26th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

Yer a wizard, 'arry? Bah! It's like she didn't do any research at all!

Guild Wars 2 isn’t just the next big MMO on the horizon. It’s the one everyone seems to be pinning their hopes on to reinvent the genre and finally kick World of Warcraft off its high perch. But is it really the RPG you’re looking for? We sent Richard to Tyria to find out.

Let me tell you what would have happened to you, had you been a monster in my Elementalist’s way at a certain point during the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend. First, you’d look up to see a giant dragon’s tooth materialise over your head and come smashing down. Lava would explode from under your feet. As you pat down your burning clothes, a screaming phoenix flies through the air into your face, backed up with fireballs that fill the world with pain and fury. Or maybe some ice. Lightning, perhaps. But mostly fire – hard and fast and hotter than Hell.

Got that? Have it all pictured in your mind? Good. Here’s the important bit.

That Elementalist who just kicked your arse was only Level 3.

Tyria, a land of myth and monsters, swords and sorcery... and vast amounts of boobs and battle-bikinis

In an epic genre of sword and sorcery, myth and monsters, it says something about Guild Wars 2 that what most stood out about my weekend in it was how refreshing it was to not be drowned in MMO bullshit. I won’t say it’s a perfect online RPG, but I can’t remember the last time I played one that felt like it had gone so far out of its way to challenge the rules that so many others just parrot as a matter of course, or to treat its players with respect instead of as smelly walking subscriptions that must be bled slowly over a matter of months and years.

(Not least of course because there won’t be a subscription fee…)

Being awesome from the start, give or take a quick tutorial, was just the beginning. As a Guild Wars 2 Elementalist, you’re constantly firing off huge spells from whichever element you want. There’s no mana bar to slow you down, only each individual spell’s cooldowns – and they’re incredibly short. Lightning surge from your fingertips? 10 seconds. Drop huge flaming meteors from the sky? 40 seconds. Your basic elemental attacks would be a ‘proper’ skill in most other MMOs, and you have four of them depending on what you’re attuned to. Many skills alter as a result of this attunement, which you can change whenever you want, including in battle. Just for fun, even the very act of swapping this does something, like a flame blast, seismic wave, or healing splash of water. I don’t know if everyone gets it so good, but I can say this: I have never played a more badass mage in an MMO. And I have played many, many mages.

Oh, and later on, I learned the best escaping spell ever. It consists of rolling backwards, leaving a trail of blazing fire in your wake. You’re basically pooping defiance.

WOULD YOU PLEASE KEEP THE NOISE DOWN SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO SLEEP!

Even the smallest details are usually innovative. For starters, every class gets a healing spell appropriate to their class. For my Elementalist, the default throws in a free buff depending on your current attunement. By comparison, a Necromancer (another class I tried briefly, but which didn’t have the same ‘kill stuff with fire’ oomph) gets to summon a pet and sacrifice them mid-combat. When you’re defeated, you don’t simply die. You’re knocked to the ground in what’s called “Fight For Life”, where you get to try and hold on with a whole new set of attacks. It’s the same as being downed in Left 4 Dead, only with class-appropriate skills instead of just a pistol. My Elementalist for instance had a couple of weak attacks, but also the ability to shift into gaseous form for a few seconds and get out of the immediate combat zone to somewhere where she could be revived in safety. The Necro could try and Fear attackers and suck the life out of them to stay alive until someone else could break off combat and pull him back up on his feet. Any player can revive anybody too – it’s not just a job for support classes any more.

Time after time, Guild Wars 2 impressed me with just how carefully… no, how smartly everything has been thought out. Those things that annoy us in other games are simply banished here. There are no taxis, for example. As you wander around, you unlock waypoints. To travel to one, you just open your world map, pay a nominal fee and teleport to it. There are no cool downs on this ability, and no restriction except that you can’t be in combat at the time. Is it more gamey/less immersive than flying across the world on a griffin? Yep, but it’s also a hell of a lot faster! And it gets better. The Human capital city of Divinity’s Reach…. a place which takes about three minutes to run round in a big circle… has no fewer than seven of these Waypoints.

Sniff. So beautiful. After The Old Republic and its love of flat-out wasting your goddamned time, it’s enough to make you fall on the designers and hug them until they burst.

Sure, to you, I'm just another 200XP points. You don't even ask if I have hopes or dreams or a family or a little macrame shop. I don't, obviously, I'm a fire imp who just stands around here all day. But I might have been, and you'd never have known!

Where Guild Wars 2 really heads into new territory though is with its quest design – or be exact, its lack of quests. There are some, along with dungeons (sadly, most sealed over the weekend, so I haven’t seen any myself), but most of your time is spent bouncing more organically around the map and completing two main flavours of activity: Tasks and Events.

Tasks, at least in the early stages of the game, can be thought of like this: you’re not so much doing heroic quests as stopping off at places like a farmhouse or a guard post on your travels to see if there’s anything they need doing. In the case of a farm, they might say “Sure. I need some potatoes picked, there are giant worms burrowing through my main field, and the cow needs milking.” A guard post might be having trouble with some bandits nearby. A fortress might need some weapons recovered, along with the heads of any centaurs you happen to murder.

What separates these from regular MMO quests is that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you help. Each area has its requests, and you just pitch in along with anyone else who happens to be around. Everything adds a blip to a bar, and when that bar is full, you’re done.

This makes a massive difference. You never have to worry about kill-stealing, because Guild Wars 2 happily shares the credit with anyone who helped. You never find yourself standing around waiting for a particular item to respawn because there’s always (at least so far) another two things you could be doing instead. In a really clever touch – number 176c on my ever-growing list – while technically your reward for this is a bit of XP and the ability to buy things from the person you just worked for, the currency for these exchanges is karma rather than money. The difference may seem academic, but helps subtly push the idea that you’re not buying that slice of pie from an ungrateful farmer’s wife, but simply cashing in a favour. They even send you a polite thank-you note for taking the time the time to help them out. How civilised.

(As a side bonus, narratively speaking this also means that the quests you do are for purely altruistic reasons rather than being set up as exchanges per se. You never for instance end in the usual stupid MMO situation of being asked to risk life and limb as a direct swap for a glass of juice, melon bread, and a piece of armour your class can’t even bloody equip…)

Why, hello, my adventurer friends. Permit me to play you a little something on my invisible piano...

Not all the Tasks on offer involve are so simple, and there are some fun ones. The exciting stuff though is found in Events, which spring up all the time. That farm you’re helping on might be attacked by bandits for instance, with everyone downing tools to fight them off and put out fires. Alternatively, you might leave a town to see a caravan departing and join its escort detail, or bump into a boss monster out in the woods, or be standing in the middle of a monastery when an elder god bursts out of the local swamp and opens portals to hell all around you. New events in your area are flagged up on the map so that you know they’re happening, and occasionally you even get NPCs running over to specifically tell you about something going down.

Taking part in Events is as simple as walking into the area and doing your part, with the rewards at the end based on your contribution. You don’t need to sign up or join a group, though having lots of bored people around makes the end of an event a great time to say “Hey, who’s up for a dungeon run?” Early on at least, they’re messy, messy affairs with no real co-ordination needed, but they do mean that absolutely anyone – even a shy mage like myself – can enjoy group play without the pressure of dungeons or raids, and on their own schedule.

There is however a catch to this.

Put simply, it’s beyond imperative that Guild Wars 2 maintains a good flow of people through all of its areas, because very, very little of what I’ve seen would be fun if it was just you and a few NPCs. There are some fun Tasks, but mostly they’re chores – literally – at least early on, only really made interesting by their brevity and a certain amount of communal spirit as everyone runs around helping out, reviving each other, and generally being around.

Likewise, Events are for groups and will die without them. Many rely on having lots of sound and fury, and even the simpler ones on having lots of stuff going on. An assault on a vineyard for instance means players silently splitting up into teams, one to harvest grapes and one to beat back the enemy. It’s simple, but works. Should the levels become as desolate as they do in most MMOs… and especially factoring in that there are five races and everyone can teleport around on a whim… well, ask Warhammer: Age of Reckoning how a quiet world works out.

Obviously, there’s no way in hell that ArenaNet hasn’t factored this into its plans, but it’s still by far the biggest potential Achilles heel that I saw during my time in the beta.

The Charr are one of five playable races. Don't call them constipated Kilrathi if you value your sofa.

Conversely, the strangest thing was the Personal Story that follows your character through the levels. It’s based on your race rather than your class, with multiple variations depending on decisions made in character creation. My first Human character for instance was a noble, so hers kicked off with a lavish party to celebrate her heroics during the tutorial the siege of a small village. Restarting as a lowly street-rat, the opening took place in the same district, but a much seedier part of it – returning to threats from a local low-life, before being pressed into an undercover mission on behalf of the local cops. There’s a third branch too which I didn’t try, between those two, where you start as a commoner who works at a tavern.

And you know what it’s like? It’s like playing an episodic Dragon Age 2.

No, really. New parts of the quest come every few levels (to be exact, you always know what’s next and can try your hand whenever you like, but you’re probably going to need to do other stuff before you’re tough enough to face it). Each takes place in an instanced area, and they play out like sections of a single-player game, complete with cut-scenes, character dialogue, branching points where you get to pick things like whether to investigate a corrupt minister by going to his house or catching up on gossip at a party. Most involve combat at least part of the time, but at least a handful are purely about talking to NPCs or checking something out. There are even personality stats depending on how much you rely on ferocity, dignity or charm. I don’t remember seeing any stat-checks, but I’m assuming they come into play at some point.

Once again, I repeat, I’ve only seen a tiny fraction of the game. As a Human Noble though, I’ve found Guild Wars 2 a much better fusion of single-player focused narrative and MMO than The Old Republic. TOR offers cooler premises – being an Imperial Agent has far more clout than just being another orphan or whatever – but this is much more like an actual RPG.

It won’t however be one to everyone’s taste. For starters, not everyone is going to like that their character has a specific background (right down to specific friends and rivals who show up to help or chat and take an active part in the story) from before the game began, or that you don’t usually get a choice in how your character responds in important plot conversations. Still, as far as I can tell, you don’t have to play it at all if you’d rather focus on levelling through events, dungeons, PvP or the other activities on offer throughout the huge, huge world.

I wonder where all the adventurers went. It was really busy yesterday...

All of this isn’t simply scratching the surface of Guild Wars 2 – it’s only scratching the surface of a weekend spent scratching away at it. I’ll be honest, I went into the beta feeling fairly flat about the whole thing. I was sure it was going to be good – very good, even – but it just looked like Another Fantasy MMO. It’s been a long time since one of those excited me. A couple of hours in, I was buzzing over it. Now that the beta weekend is over, I cannot wait to play more.

Check back later this week for a special rundown on some of the weekend’s cleverest and most interesting discoveries, including a look at PvP, more dispatches from the War Against Idiotic MMO Bullshit, one of the strangest character creation decisions I’ve ever made… and maybe a few little complaints so that all this positivity doesn’t make it look like I’ve gone soft.

Guild Wars 2 is currently in closed beta, preparing for release later this year. No specific date has been announced, and while the code seemed in good shape over the weekend, more than a few bits of content were missing or replaced with placeholders, so it’s going to be a while yet. You’ll be able to pre-purchase it as of April 10th though, which buys you access to all future beta weekends and some random gubbins for between $60 and $150.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

76 Comments »

  1. Dominic White says:

    Any worries about there not being enough players around to keep action moving on have already been solved – they’re using the same server system as Guild Wars 1, with an additional twist. Not enough people online in your region? A zone feeling a bit empty? Just a couple of clicks and you’re playing on another server with the same character, ideally better populated.

    The twist is that you do have a ‘home’ server. The one that you pick for your first character is the server that you’ll be representing in the World Vs World mega-PVP stuff, and any perks that your home server has earned through WvW victories are applied to you, even if you’re playing on another server. You can transfer to another home server, but apparently that costs a bit of real money, so as to discourage casual team-stacking.

    In short: They’ve thought of everything.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Cool. Sounds like a good way to go about it.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Loved the quip about asking Warhammer what an empty world feels like. I played when it first came out and there were times when I felt like I was the only person over level 30 on the whole damned server, all of the group tasks were impossible, I promptly gave up.

      • Dominic White says:

        There’s two other things that should stop lower-level zones from drying up – first is that XP rewards seem to grow on a more linear scale, rather than an exponential gain, so you still get a respectable reward for completing quests in earlier zones. Secondly, you’re automatically downscaled to whatever zone you’re in, so if you’ve completed one Lv1-15 area, you can just hop straight into another and do all the stuff you want there.

        The game never pushes you forward into the next area and away from other players. Very clever design all round.

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          “There’s two other things that should stop lower-level zones from drying up – first is that XP rewards seem to grow on a more linear scale, rather than an exponential gain, so you still get a respectable reward for completing quests in earlier zones.”

          Hmm, maybe. Though when I was playing it, I finished the end of the first area – as in the map said I’d done everything bar one bugged skill point – and was still too low for the next one. I put that down as having done a couple of things above my weight-class and being dinged in the XP calculation.

        • j3w3l says:

          if you group with some friends you can also be sidekicked up to their level so as to enjoy higher content. Also i believe mobs of a similar range to you (whether sidekicked up or down) reward relatively the same amounts of exp, Lvl of the mob doesn’t matter since the exp needed from say 10-11 is the same as 70-71

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Sounds amazing

    • Jharakn says:

      Theres also the xp scaling which should bump a high level char down to the right level for any zone he’s in. Means you can play with your friends without all having to exactly the same content but also if you a high level and bored for 30mins just jump back into one of the earlier zones you enjoyed, muck about with some quests without pissing of the locals looking for a challenge.

      Means that zones should see a lot more constant traffic especially the fun ones unlike (for example) WoW where once you have completed a zone you can never go back unless you make a new character.

    • Feriluce says:

      Another thing is that you get downscaled to whatever area that you’re in. IF you’re lvl 50 and go to a lvl 10 area you’re going to be level 10. You’ll still have all your skills etc, but you’ll still be challenged and can play with your lvl 10 friend and get rewarded. That should help spread the playerbase out significantly.

    • Archipelagos says:

      I’m probably being unecessarily pedantic by asking this but what if you play at a quiet time and can’t find any servers with enough people to help you in a specific area? Or…say you do find a reasonably busy server but no one is doing the area you want to, what then, move to a different area? Grind? I ask because the system they have sounds genuinely interesting but if you cannot take part without other people…that might be an issue long-term.

      • Dominic White says:

        If, after launch, you ever find yourself unable to find any players on any servers, then the game as a whole has much larger problems than your immediate predicament.

      • terazeal says:

        A lot, if not all, of the tasks and events scale with the number of people participating. So if you’re all by your lonesome you won’t have to do the work that a dozen people would have to do.

  2. Brun says:

    I’m so psyched for this game.

  3. Berzee says:

    “melon bread”

    Is that a real bread? It sounds tasty.

  4. Inglourious Badger says:

    For the first time, I’m a little bit excited about this now.

  5. Crainey says:

    As a massive Guild Wars fan-boy it seems I have been waiting on this all my life, I can’t wait!

  6. Mike says:

    Superb attention-to-alt-texts there, Mr. Cobbett.

  7. mendel says:

    The ArenaNet people have a lot of experience keeping players together in an emptying game-world, as the original Guild Wars would attest. As the population slowly grew more sparse, they introduced focal points that attracted players such as daily quests and the like. I’m sure they’ll be able to tweak the system if player numbers appear to be dwindling – though if the original Guild Wars is anything to go by, that point could be years off.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Like I said, I’m sure they’re going to have it all in hand. It’s simply that it won’t work – at all – if you end up wandering around in an empty zone like you so often do in other MMOs.

  8. equatorian says:

    I’m not sure about the ‘a bit like episodic DA2′, and I’m one of those weird people who actually liked DA2. Then again, the Personal Story has never been the reason why I’m so psyched for this game, even though I tend to be fond of stories in games. It’s an MMO, I suspect I’ll be RPing out my own story most of the time.

    And the rest of the things that make me so psyched for the game are looking better and better all the time. I can’t wait to get my hands on this. (Hopefully ping times won’t be too bad for SEAsia, since I’ll have to return there after I’m done with my posting in the US a few years from now.)

    P.S. It makes me so happy to see a preview from an Elementalist perspective! I’m going to be one and I know it’s going to be awesome, but damn, everybody else seems to be playing something else and it’s nice to read something about how it handles.

    • Bremze says:

      I believe the Dragon Age 2 comparison was to the structure not the content. You get a couple of so called personal story quests every few levels, that are far more similar to what you get in Bioware games, with decisions that alter the way you go through them. DA 2 had you go through a ton of filler to get to those story bits, but it works infinitely better in GW 2, because there isn’t any actual “filler” to stretch things out. You can participate in WvW or in events or do dungeons or explore the world to hunt for secrets and skill points in between the story bits, there is a ton of variety and everything is enjoyable on it’s own right.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        A bit of both, actually. It’s like sliding into a (simpler, obviously) single-player RPG.

      • equatorian says:

        I actually didn’t have much problem with DA2′s content—environmental repetition aside, nearly everything else I can stretch my disbelief for or look the other way—so even they mirrored some of the content-style it’ll be fine. It’s just that I find it somewhat ‘uh’ to be put into the shoes of a voiced, fixed-personality protag every once in a while and have free reign to be someone else entirely the rest of the time. Most games, it’s either fixed all the way or free all the way. It’s not really a problem and I think I’ll enjoy the Personal Story from what I’ve seen of the vids. Just that it might require a different brain switch on my part, and I’m not sure that doing THAT every so often won’t damage the immersion.

        tl;dr, I’ve known about this for a long time and Mr. Cobbett kind of confirmed what I think it’ll be like. I’m still enormously looking forward to EVERYTHING ELSE and crossing my fingers on this part. If they turn out right, wonderful! If they don’t, hey, there’s still ALL THOSE OTHER THINGS.

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          The difference is jarring, though does at least make for a good change of pace. And there are some fun quests as a result that you wouldn’t otherwise get, including the aforementioned weird character choice thing that’s going to be in the next GW2 post.

    • Phantoon says:

      Yes, precisely. I was with him until he said “like Dragon Age 2″, then wondered if he was employing sarcasm or hyperbole.

      Apparently not. Dragon Age 2 is one of the worst games ever- and I never bought it. Comparisons to that… “game” does not do Guild Wars 2 any service.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        “Dragon Age 2 is one of the worst games ever- and I never bought it. ”

        Uh…

        • Phantoon says:

          I borrowed it from a friend. My point was that I don’t even have buyer’s remorse- it was just that terrible.

        • Space-Pope says:

          “I like big boats and I can not lie.”
          A grandma dressed up like a dominatrix.
          Waves of baddies literally appearing out of the ether.
          I say, without any hyperbole, that it was the worst RPG I have ever played. And I’ve played some stinkers.

          Your comparison of GW2 to DA2 is literally making me want to avoid GW2, and I’m really looking forward to GW2.

        • liquidsoap89 says:

          I think you summed up the only expression that can really be made there quite nicely.

          …Uh.

      • Bremze says:

        From what I’ve seen in the press footage, the story is cheesy, but probably isn’t much worse than contemporary single player rpgs. Haven’t seen any androgynous elves, underwear humping and daddy issues, so it’s already looking much better than DA 2 in the story department.

        Disclaimer: I’ve disliked everything made by Bioware and haven’t played DA 2 at all. I did follow the highly entertaining trainwreck that was the lead up to its release.

        EDIT: argh, I’m not very good at choosing the right reply button, consider this to be down a level.

  9. Durkonkell says:

    I’m not sure about the fast travel system. Certainly I appreciate games not wasting my time pointlessly, but I really liked flying around the World of Warcraft on the back of a gryphon.

    Actually, WoW was the first MMO I really played. I was expecting to go to a gryphon master, choose where I wanted to go and then see nothing more spectacular than a loading screen. When I realised that he was actually putting me on a gryphon and actually flying me all the way there, I was stunned!

    The gryphon flight paths are designed to show off the world, and it’s not a bad thing to be able to relax and enjoy the scenery for a couple of minutes.

    I reckon:
    1. That if you’re going to be playing a game a lot, you need some downtime. If you can just ping around the place very efficiently, I’m concerned about rapid burnout being an issue. Even the most amazing mage-ing will get boring after a while if you spend all your play-time doing it.

    2. You lose a chance to see and appreciate the game world if you skip most of it and insta-ping to your destination.

    With that said, I’d be willing to alter my opinion. Now IF ONLY a beta invite were to land in my inbox so I could see for myself…

    • Dominic White says:

      The reason for fast-travel is really part of the core design ethos of the game: Removing barriers between playing together. Travelling around is cool, but telling a friend ‘give me an hour, I’ve got to cross two continents’ means a whole lot of doing nothing for both players.

      Most MMOs have this kind of empty filler in spades. And it’s terrible.

      In GW2, the moment you’re out of the tutorial area, you can jump freely between all five of the racial newbie zones, and you’re automatically de-levelled to match the content in the area, so you can play with the people there even if you’re Level GodSlayer and they’re rat botherers.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      “2. You lose a chance to see and appreciate the game world if you skip most of it and insta-ping to your destination.”

      You have to go to the waypoint first, and (as we’ll see next post) the map itself pushes you around by showing you where you still need to go and where there’s stuff to do. There are some stargate type things to between the cities too, but you’ll still be seeing the world just fine on foot.

      I like the flights too for some things, like showing you a preview of where you’ll be visiting. After a while though, it’s just ridiculous to be sitting doing nothing for ten to fifteen minutes seeing the exact same scenery for the millionth time.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        It seems to me the obvious solution would be to tack on in game taxi’s for people that want to travel in style every once in a while., but leave the waypointing

    • Brun says:

      There’s nothing to stop you from walking everywhere if you want to see the game world.

    • Durkonkell says:

      Certainly, long flights are a chore even in Warcraft – it’s silly that it can take 15 minutes or so to get somewhere. With that said, teleportation spells and portals mean that you’re not normally more than a few minutes flight from anywhere, which I’m okay with.

      As for the ‘there’s nothing stopping you from walking’ argument, sometimes you want to get somewhere faster than hoofing it and if you’re going to meet someone choosing to walk is choosing to deliberately inconvenience them. On the other hand, Bremze has a fair point – if the game is designed to encourage you to go out and explore, and if the design is executed well enough, that would effectively mitigate my concern over this.

      Thanks for your replies, Mr. Cobbett et al.

    • jplayer01 says:

      Interestingly, GW2 is (imo) the first MMO that actually induces and rewards the motivation and *interest* in exploring a region. Sure, it was nice flying over a region in WoW and it made the world ‘feel’ larger. However, it changed nothing about the fact that the actual region was quite sparse and lifeless, the complete opposite to GW2. I always knew that everything that could possibly interest me was to be found in faction outposts, where all the quest givers were hanging out. In GW2, there’s always an event to be found in the most unlikely places, which makes it all the more rewarding to run around a region and explore every single nook and cranny.

    • Dizzard says:

      I don’t agree with your second point.

      There are times when I want to explore the world and there are times when I just want to get somewhere fast.

      I don’t see how forcing me to explore when I’m not in an exploring mood helps my enjoyment of the game whatsoever. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to explore the world (I’m actually extremely eager to explore Tyria and it’s lore), just that I don’t always want to explore the world.

      Can’t wait to play Guild Wars 2, from what I can gather from previews of the beta events. It really doesn’t seem to be hype alone that is carrying Guild Wars 2.

      • Durkonkell says:

        I think that this is a fair point, but…

        You’ll have to excuse me, I’m terribly sleep deprived at the moment and having enormous trouble actually expressing myself coherently.

        So, it’s not so much about exploring – the gryphon routes are fixed after all – but actually SEEING the world and allowing yourself to be immersed and awed by it. It also helps to reinforce the scale of the world, I think.

        I dunno, maybe I just really like gryphons…

        • Ragnar says:

          The gryphon rides were great, the first or second time you took them. The 10th time, it was “Ugh, this again? Do I have enough time before I land to run and grab a snack?”

          The problem comes in when your friend says, “Hey, can you help me out with this quest?” and you answer “Sure, just let me fly to here, take a tram, fly to there, take a boat, fly to another place, and ride over.” Your friend spends 5-15 minutes waiting, and you spend 5-15 minutes alternating running with watching flight-paths.

  10. lordcooper says:

    Not even a single mention of the utterly draconian ‘always online’ DRM they’re including? RPS, I am disappoint.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Not true. There’s a single player mode, where you hold print-outs of the pretty landscapes in front of your eyes and jiggle them around until it looks like they’re moving.

      You have to print the screenshots yourself though.

    • Xzi says:

      Not sure if joking or not, but MMOs are always always-online. That’s not DRM, it just comes with the territory of being “massively MULTIPLAYER.”

    • wodin says:

      Talk about missing the point it’s an MMO..does it matter in any way at all???

    • AlwaysRight says:

      Edit: I wrote a comment slagging off people who don’t understand sarcasm but it was mean of spirit so I’ve deleted it. I don’t want to be ‘that’ guy, I’m just grumpy because I’m tired (David Cameron stole an hour of sleep off me last night with his new stealth ‘time tax’ he has disguised as daylights savings).

  11. Davee says:

    I’ve had my eye on GW2 for a while, but refused to fall for the “revolutionary MMO” sell talk and hype that was being put out, due to bad experiences with pre-purchases and the before mentioned things in the past (looking at you now, Age of Conan).

    The Press Beta vids from last time were okay, but I still felt I needed someone who is more sceptic towards the “theme-park MMO” style of games (like I am) to have a more detailed look into it.
    And this seems to have been exactly that. I may just have to pre-purchase it soon if I don’t get into a Beta Weekend… Or read a few more articles.

    Anyway, thanks! :D

    • derbefrier says:

      Your right in being skeptical the hype for this game is tremendous. I have a feeling once the hype wears off there’s gonna be a lot of dissapointed people . Keep your expectations realistic. I know this is a pretty glowing review but the thing is with mmos the first few hours can be amazing but its only after you invest enough time to see through the gimmicks amd realize its just another MMO that the hype starts to fall flat on its face.

      • Dominic White says:

        There were people who played for 25-30 hours in the last beta weekend and said that it only gets better as you get further in. This isn’t like Age of Conan where they only let the press look at the tutorial zone where all the effort was spent.

        They let people go nuts and freely play 6-7 zones and one of the major dungeons, as well as a pile of solo story arcs. Compare this to what Bioware was showing of SW:TOR until a month or so before launch.

        • Davee says:

          I’ve heard others say it’s a bit repetitive when it comes to progressing through zones, something about them using a similar “Do tasks/smaller events -> Go to end event -> Kill minion mobs -> Kill Boss -> New zone, back to beginning” template. But I know for a fact these ‘sources’ of mine are somewhat biased and this may not be the case really.

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            There’s a certain amount of repetition inherent in the format. The challenge will be keeping it fresh across the zones and scaling up the nature of the encounters. They have a few techniques for that, which we’ll be looking at in a follow-up post.

          • Davee says:

            Sounds good.

  12. wodin says:

    So it’s not subscription based then? If not I may finally be interested in an MMO…or at least try it out.

    • Xzi says:

      The vast majority of MMOs are either free to play or are becoming free to play within the next year. Guild Wars 2 and Planetside 2 are among my most anticipated.

      • Durkonkell says:

        GW2 certainly isn’t Free to Play – there’s a hefty up-front entrance fee. It is subscription free though.

        It’s an interesting model. One of the most important things about F2P is the removal of the barrier to entry – I can just download Lord of the Rings Online or Star Trek Online and play about with them if I have even the vaguest suspicion that I might enjoy the experience. Guild Wars 2 having no subscription is certainly attractive, but on the other hand £50 is a lot of money for a game – that’s nearly six months of WoW sub time.

        I do like the idea of buying a game and then being able to play it as much or as little as I like without any further commitment. I worry though that the initial charge is so high that it’ll exclude people who are uncertain.

  13. Ian says:

    I don’t know how it’s happened because I’ve not seen any criticisms or bad previews, but I’ve at some point gone from being quite pleased at how this was looking to a mild sense of pessimism.

    Hopefully I’m just being old and weary.

  14. Dominic White says:

    For the record, I’m not expecting GW2 to ‘reinvent’ the MMO. Rather, from what I can see, it’s more the start-point for a new MMO generation, much in the same way the Half-Life 2 was for the FPS.

    GW2 steals ideas like a mofo. Almost every good idea had by traditional MMOs over the last decade has been mercilessly plundered, and anything not good enough to steal has been thrown overboard. All things considered there aren’t too many pointedly innovative things happening here, but the sheer weight of little good ideas put together adds up to a greater whole.

    They’ve got the public quest stuff from Warhammer (but refined), the overworld-changing dynamic stuff from Rift (but more integrated into the quests), the big 3-way PvP warfare from Dark Age Of Camelot, sidekicking from City of Heroes (with additional down-levelling if you go back to earlier zones), and so on and so forth.

    Right now, every MMO has one or two good ideas and a whole lot of dumb. As far as I can see, GW2 is all of those good ideas in one place.

    • Ragnar says:

      The main thing I liked about The Old Republic was that every quest was an interactive conversation. Even a simple A to B messenger quest involved dialog with the chance to pick your responses. It made every quest feel engaging since I was given the opportunity to actually play a role (I really like the Role Playing in RPGs). I was happy running around by myself and playing it as a single-player RPG.

      I’m glad that Guild Wars 2 doesn’t waste your time (I dislike games that waste my time) but this has me concerned:
      “very little of what I’ve seen would be fun if it was just you and a few NPCs. There are some fun Tasks, but mostly they’re chores – literally”
      Here, it seems like Guild Wars missed one of the best parts of The Old Republic. I found myself excited to take on new quests in TOR, as each quest would give opportunity for dialog choices and making story decisions (even if they’re ultimately meaningless, they’re still fun). I just can’t get excited about doing chores that aren’t even disguised as exciting things.

      • Dominic White says:

        Keep in mind that he wasn’t even talking about quests – the ‘chores’ are just standing objectives that unlock merchants – most of the event chains in a given area are an escalation of combat scenarios with a core story thread running through them. Have a look at Totalbiscuits latest gameplay video and you’ll see the difference.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8-9VEvAmFg

        And that’s not even touching the actual story content. That’s just sidequests. There’s not too much we know about the main plot arc, except that the character-origin arcs eventually come together, but then split apart again as you pick which of three main factions to join.

  15. Ysellian says:

    Nice read! I played as a commoner myself, but I can’t really comment on the quest line too much because I got distracted by how fun my Engineer was to play in PvP. Before this, the only game I’ve ever pre-ordered was the orange box, but that is definitely changing.

  16. Ragnar says:

    “After The Old Republic and its love of flat-out wasting your goddamned time, it’s enough to make you fall on the designers and hug them until they burst.”
    That’s funny, coming from WoW (BC), I was impressed with how many speeder locations there were in the starting zone of TOR, and how the “hearthstone” equivalent would let me pick a place to teleport to. The combat felt a lot faster, more exciting, and the quests more normal RPG and less grindy-boring MMO. Granted, I only played to level 10 or 11.

    Seems like Guild Wars 2 is to TOR what TOR is to WoW.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      You missed things like Dromund Kaas, where you have to take a speeder to the city, then get out, then run across the city to another speeder to get to the main Sith plot hubs. TOR gets seriously obnoxious later on.

      • Vorphalack says:

        To get from the fleet to the Belsavis daily quest hub:

        Take lift to personal hangar (loading screen)
        Enter hangar and board ship (2nd loading screen)
        Go to the galaxy map and find Belsavis
        Travel to Belsavis and exit ship (3rd loading screen)
        Enter the Belsavis Orbital Station (-.-) and use the lift (4th loading screen)
        Cross the station and board the shuttle (5th loading screen, this ones a mother big load)
        Finally on Belsavis, take the speeder to the quest hub (about 4-5 mins of flight)

        Han Solo said it best when he quipped, ”No reward is worth this”.