Guild Wars 2: All Quest On The Western Front

By Richard Cobbett on June 11th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

Goddamnit! I can't believe we ALL forgot our front door keys!

While most of the attention on Guild Wars 2 has been on its main world, where quests and stories await your heroism, there’s a whole second way to play – the eternal PvP war that is World vs. World vs. World, where both players and monsters are ready to get in your face. But can you really climb the levels in it? For this beta weekend, I decided to give it a shot…

You can’t jump straight into WvWvW (pronounced Wuvvuwhuuvwoo) from character creation – everyone has to play through the tutorial first. To keep things as pure as possible, I avoided so much as attacking a single monster, ending up as a clean Level 2 with no extra gear or abilities beyond the knife my Elementalist was awarded for participation – much like the certificate I was once given after failing to earn a single badge at an especially painful Cubs Sports Day.

That resulted in lots of people being set on fire too. But I digress.

Your one chance to ask questions without being laughed at and called a noob. Savour it. You will never see its like again...

Bare minimum of preparation done, not that the NPCs seemed to notice, I immediately warped to the Border to join the front lines. An instructor is standing there to both explain what you’re meant to do and highlight the areas to attack on a map – in short, you and other representatives from your server are fighting over towers, resource camps, caravans, orbs of power and similar in a constant tug-of-war. Building up victories mean a bonus for everyone on your server, from Artisan (Increased Chance Of Crafting Critical Success) to Wisdom (Bonus Experience Per Kill), for the duration of the current round. There are no penalties for failure, so players who don’t want to concern themselves with the PvP action can simply ignore it.

Wuvvuwhuuvwoo is a pretty intimidating prospect. Forget about a simple arena – Guild Wars 2 does have those, but they’re a totally different bit of the game. This is a complete new world to explore and fight in, which you can enter and leave as you will, but whose rounds last an entire fortnight. With three sides fighting, and no shortage of stuff to fight over, there’s always likely to be a battle going on somewhere. Though finding it can still take a bit of walking…

Behold, the lands of Copy and Paste! But that's okay.

To make things a little fairer, every player in Wuvvuwhuuvwoo World gets to fight at Level 80 while there. There’s a catch though. Unlike the regular PvP mode, no extra abilities are unlocked and you fight with whatever armour and equipment you bring with you. Wandering out of the fortress gates and giving a Raptor a funny look… it kicked my arse. Not even a contest. Not only did my one available fire spell barely singe its fur, it had a better heal than I did, hit incredibly hard, and the only thing it dropped was a slightly better mage skirt. Very slightly.

Checking the XP gauge, I also noticed that I’d earned 6XP for slaying it. The distance to the dizzy heights of Level 3? 2,110XP. Yeah. This wasn’t going to be as smooth as I’d hoped.

Hey! You want to bite there, it's going to cost you dinner and a movie!

Picking away at a few more enemies using the ancient Elementalist technique known as ‘running away like a motherfucker’, I slowly unlocked my starting fire skills – Dragon’s Tooth for targeted AOE, the Phoenix fireball, Ring of Fire, and Fire Grab. I considered continuing down the path and opening up the Water, Earth and Air abilities, but figured they wouldn’t do me too much good. At least, not with such a power difference between me and… everything.

To be clear, it’s not the equivalent of picking a fight with a higher-level character in, say, World of Warcraft, where you simply get flattened with a glance, but a lack of skill points, abilities and proper gear is still a major disadvantage not helped by the fact that even the regular enemies are tuned with the assumption that they’ll be fighting at least a couple of players at once. While I couldn’t count how many were online this weekend, the wiki claims that each of the four maps making up a Wuvvuwhuuvwoo battlefield can hold 500 players, for a total of 2000.

You know the hardest part of playing the current beta? Finding a name. I even had a couple of 'sdfswerw' type keyboard-mashes rejected as already being used. It's as if lots of people are looking forward to this game or something. Weird.

As with the main world, there are other ways to progress. Events spring up around the map, some PvE based like clearing out an island of guards to take possession of its treasure, and others focused on attacking/defending towers. They’re flagged up when you get close enough, as are specific Battles going on in your vicinity and other bits and pieces you need to know.

My part of the server was quiet when I first logged on, so I opted for a few of the easiest – escorting Supply Caravans. They simply appear on the map and you sign on with the detail just by getting close. These have the advantage of some NPC back-up, and following the main roads, giving a chance of free buffs from sympathetic passers-by or random strangers also joining in. I can’t say it was thrilling escort work, but at least it provided some money for initial armour repairs and a few karma points to trade in for delicious cake or something.

Sadly for short-cut fans, you have to actually be the right level to use stuff, no matter what you’re fighting at, which at my current rate of progress meant I wasn’t going to be equipping any good gear any time this beta. Even if I could afford to buy any, which was increasingly unlikely.

I reached a decision. Flying solo in Wuvvuwhuuvwoo World wasn’t going to work.

It was time to sign up for the real action. It was time to go to war.

Uh! Hello? If you're on my side, could you hold your hand up? Sorry in advance for the friendly fire! Which as an Elementalist, I mean literally by the way!

Happily, even if you’re as rubbish at being social as I am in online games/life, Guild Wars makes it spectacularly easy to pitch in with your server-mates. While obviously you can form teams and guilds and be organised, the easiest way to join a group is just to run up to one and start doing stuff. Even as weak as I was, there were things I could do – revive fallen heroes for instance, or pile on some AoE pressure from afar. In Wuvvuwhuuvwoo, there are typically so many people around that nobody’s paying much direct attention to what you’re doing specifically, so nobody was being a dick or slinging around the dreaded n-word. Noob, I mean. Obviously.

Talk about chaotic. Players travel the world in swarms rather than groups, and it’s rarely a long walk to a battle. The map doesn’t show everything that’s going on, but does flag up both Battles and other players in green dots that makes it possible to see roughly what’s going on. Combat is a blaze of pyrotechnic effects, people leaping around, the clash of swords and sudden tactical decisions. I never saw hundreds of players, but there were usually tens running around – more than enough to make battles feel epic rather than one-on-one fights. As with the PvE Events in the main game, I’m a bit concerned that there’s just too much going on to do more than just blindly mash attacks after a while, but at least that button mashing looks terrific.

BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL! I... HAVE... SPECTACULARLY LITTLE POWER!

It’s the territory side that things really get interesting though. Your goal is to capture and hold resources around the map, adding instant flashpoints and full-on siege mechanics to the team deathmatch skirmishes. Wandering into my first one, I headed up to the walls and looked down to see a genuinely intimidating army of other players trying to smash down the walls – being beaten back not just but fireballs and other attacks from on-high, but turrets and boiling oil that assorted players had laid claim to. As I somewhat pathetically added a few Dragon’s Teeth to the mix (cursing their short distance), the gates smashed right open and the whole fort was suddenly drowning in red enemy names and pain effects. Any attempt at a co-ordinated defence just collapsed as the survivors were left gutted and sputtering ineffective bolts of lightning as we all just bled to death, before zapping back to the spawn point to regroup.

From the other side, things were no less insane. Now, approaching the formerly defensive walls saw the ground exploding in the target reticules of incoming turret fire – everyone desperately trying to close the gap and get close. Reviving was pointless; it just guaranteed your own death. Occasionally one of the defenders would fall from the battlements… most likely the result of edging a little too far to try and fire off a spell, and be instantly devoured by the crowd. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t actually let you feast on your enemies’ flesh and leave them a clean-picked skeleton, but dammit, if that’s not what it looks like when it happens to someone.

That's the trouble with trying to level up in a multiplayer environment with less of a focus on loot - you just can't get the staff.

With so much happening, every death simply being an excuse to tool up and simply follow the crowd back into battle, the glacially slow progress largely faded from view. Compared to levelling in the main PvE world, it was dog-slow and the rewards frankly pathetic – a lump of flesh here, a tooth there, at one point a weapon. When you’re fighting in a group of 20 though, in a game-mode everyone expects to have give-and-take (unlike the fixed rounds of a regular PvP match), it’s not desperately important how well you’re doing. At the very least, there’s always Stuff to be done – repairing walls for instance, or watching the horizon for incoming hordes.

The only real problem for little ‘ol me was the cost of repairing equipment. It may not cost much, and I may just have cleverly missed some handy funding source, but I was earning essentially nothing but XP from any of these battles – little cash, not much to sell. It didn’t take too long before I was out of cash and standing around in my pants like some refugee from Tera.

Now, in fairness, there were ways to make money, including gathering resources and I’m sure winning epic battles that we weren’t, but the first seemed against the spirit of the action and the second I was in no position to fix myself. After a while, checking my wallet and finding only +1 Tumbleweeds of Poverty within, I figured it was probably time to slink out of Wuvvuwhuuvwoo World and raise war funds via more predictably profitable PvE.

Ideally somewhere with very few people around…

'Okay, so these first few quests are going to be... awkward. But nobody'll remember after I save the world a few times, right?'

So, can you level up just via the world PvP? Sure. From what I saw, it’ll be slower, and I suspect most players will be happier splitting their time between the two worlds, but there’s certainly nothing to stop you diving in with just a starting weapon and burning desire to murder your fellow humanoids. Likewise, if you do join a team or a guild, you’ll get an added tactical level and camaraderie that you obviously won’t if you’re just joining a crowd and smacking stuff, but you can still be welcomed by showing up and doing what you can. People will usually revive you if your side isn’t on a mad retreat, the death penalty as light as MMOs get, and there are plenty of tasks on at least the defensive side that anyone can pick up regardless of level.

Overall, this taste of it was as welcoming a mass-PvP game as I’ve ever played, and I hope that continues to be the vibe after launch when people aren’t just having practice scraps until the world ends. Me though? I’ll definitely be doing most of my levelling in PvE. More upgrades. A stronger sense of power. And of course, a second chance to join the circus…

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97 Comments »

  1. lorddon says:

    I get the feeling ANet is still balancing money earned in WvWvW to make sure progress doesn’t get unbalanced. You use money not only to repair equipment but to buy upgrades for your forts as well. If they crank the cash machine up too fast then you go from conquering an enemy’s fort to fully fortified in no time flat.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It seems odd to use PvE money for anything in Wuvvuwhuuvwoo, really. I’d prefer it if there were no repair costs (with some fix so you couldn’t just zap over to repair your gear) and everything else used something different. But if Guild Wars 2 shows anything so far, it’s that ArenaNet really knows what they’re doing, so I’m sure the mechanical rough edges of all this will be sorted out between now and launch.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Honestly, I wish they’d just get rid of repairing your gear altogether. It’s a horrible, stupid mechanic that serves only to inconvenience and waste time. Several times in PvE I would look at my stats, realize that my armor was damaged, then have to either teleport (for a fee) or waste my time running to the nearest repair station before I could continue on to my quest or whatever else I wanted to do.

        I greatly preferred the old system in GW1 where you were given -% stats penalty when you were downed, and you could climb out of that penalty by earning XP. It was, IMO, a much better “death penalty” mechanic than armor repair.

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          I find armour repairing a pain too and don’t feel it adds anything. There are better cash sinks and the walk back from the waypoint is enough of a slap on the wrist to any sensible people.

          The death penalty in this one is quite good though – the more you fall, the less health you get when you’re revived. No big long-term disadvantage; your group just can’t just keep on circle-healing each other and beat a tough monster by bloody-minded attrition.

          (And “good” isn’t a word I usually use for death penalties, which I generally consider imbecilic RPG design that only gets in the way of the game regardless of implementation.)

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Thank you for your response, Richard! I do agree that there is no such thing as a “good” death penalty, but I do understand why it’s there as a game mechanic. (like you said, so you can’t just have circle healing)

            I do feel there needs to be a deterrence to suiciding, aka: lemming rushing, but the armor thing just seems like a long-winded excuse to pull you away from combat to sink a bit of copper to repair. I think the reason why I found the DP better in GW1 was that it was immediately given and didn’t require you to be absent from the action to “heal” back up. Quite the contrary. If you wanted to get your DP removed, you needed to get back into the action! Albeit play a bit more safe and be more level-headed, but it rewarded you for getting back into the action instead of trampling across a map to sink meaningless game-monies into “repairs.”

        • Chris D says:

          From what I recall from the Arenanet blog having to repair your armour is supposed to be a subtle hint that maybe you should be looking for something easier to do. Apparently it’s not working so well in that regard.

          Edit: The reasoning behind it is described in the first section here:

          http://www.arena.net/blog/beta-development-update#more-7193

          I leave it for those who’ve played to decide whether it works or not.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Indeed. equipment repair is the death penalty. Without any penalties for dying, why do you care if you die?

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            The penalty is failure and having to try again. No other genre has this idiocy. If you want to stab yourself in the face with a thumb-tack in penance, that’s fine…

          • Dominic White says:

            The thing is that when you’re rolling with other players, death doesn’t put you back any distance. You can be revived in 5-10 seconds by your team. There’s effectively no death penalty for individual failures, at least when you’re among friends. That’s why armor repairing is there, so that if you’re dying time and time again, it does eventually force you to return to town, even briefly. It literally takes 8+ deaths in a row to start stripping you of your gear, which isn’t unreasonable.

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            “The thing is that when you’re rolling with other players, death doesn’t put you back any distance. You can be revived in 5-10 seconds by your team. ”

            That’s what the increasing difficulty of revival death penalty they’ve already got is there to deal with. They might need to tune it, but they don’t need a second one.

          • ScubaMonster says:

            Without death penalties death is meaningless and something that doesn’t matter if you avoid or not. There has to be some inconvenience to make it worth trying to do a good job and survive.

            That’s great you like easy mode games.

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            No, I like games where the challenge comes from the actual encounters, tuned so that you can fight at your best, instead of ones which hobble you via punitive slaps on the wrist that only serve to soak up time when you could be having that magical thing the rest of the industry calls ‘fun’.

          • Dominic White says:

            Eh, I personally think GW2 is hitting a fairly decent balance here. Having no penalty to death is bad, but being wantonly cruel to the player (oh god, flashbacks of failed Everquest corpse-runs costing me all my great and tons of XP) is worse.

            Death in GW2 has a very short-term penalty (dying, reving and dying immediately again weakens you, so you can’t win through pure attrition) and a medium-term penalty (dying a dozen times on a single quest means you have to make a town-run). It’s like the difference between lives and continues in an old arcade game. There’s no long-term damage done, and the time spent in returning to base and fixing up your gear is pretty short, as there’s instant fast-travel.

            If you keep on fighting until you’re naked, that’s the game’s way of saying ‘Game over, please insert credit’. It’s the closest thing there is to a true failure state.

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            “If you keep on fighting until you’re naked, that’s the game’s way of saying ‘Game over, please insert credit’. It’s the closest thing there is to a true failure state.”

            Er… if you like, though I’d say fighting until you can’t resurrect any more and are kicked back to town has precisely the same effect, without the additional layer of bullshit. This is no different to the sky not falling when games like Torchlight let you send a pet to sell your junk instead of making you Town Portal every few seconds. It’s a mechanic that can be mitigated, but is only around because so many games have done it that it’s seen as part of the genre instead of the lingering tumour that it most definitely is.

            As opposed to in single-player RPGs, where item entropy is justifiably criticised as a pain in the arse and its absence never mourned by anyone but the craziest of the hardcore. It’s not part of the experience, it’s a barrier to it. And if it’s a wafer-thin barrier, it’s an inherently pointless one. Their regular revival death mechanic is fine on its own.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            That’s what the increasing difficulty of revival death penalty they’ve already got is there to deal with. They might need to tune it, but they don’t need a second one.

            This is exactly my position and very well put.

            My biggest problem is that armor repair, literally, requires you to pull yourself from the action. You can’t get back to full fighting force just by playing well for a bit and not dying right away again. GW1 did this, IMO, very, very well and it kept the game focused on action while penalizing those who blindly rushed to their doom.

            If you have one level of DP, then why add another that, literally, requires you to either run or teleport far away to seek out repairs? All it does is waste a player’s time, and also the time of whatever group they might be with.

            I understand where ANet is coming from, but the implementation is poor, IMO. I’m not very high level in GW2, but if they could eventually allow you to carry “repair kits” of something of the like, that would be a bit better than the current “run to town” method.

          • Truga says:

            The downed penalty is getting reduced HP each time you are downed again. The actual death penalty is the broken gear. They are two different things that serve two different purposes, as being downed isn’t the same as dying.

        • Ateius says:

          “I greatly preferred the old system in GW1 where you were given -% stats penalty when you were downed, and you could climb out of that penalty by earning XP.”

          God no. Anything but that. I loathed that system. It took an already difficult game and made it even harder. -15% to all damage, and to health, and to mana makes your next attempt at the fight a little worse. And if you die again, it stacks … and again .. and again, up to -60% everything, at which point it’s literally unplayable. And it took absolutely bloody ages to tick off, too, sped up slightly if you killed a rare enemy (which normally give you a +2% or so boost). GW1′s death penalties were an enormous exercise in massive frustration.

          Also, people complaining about damaged armour? You don’t actually start taking effectiveness penalties until all of it is damaged – it says so in the little tooltip if you mouseover the ‘damaged armour’ icon next to your health globe. It might be new to the second beta event, I don’t recall it from before, but it’s there now. That means you don’t have to go back to town to repair every time you die, and if you’re dying so often that you have to retreat specifically for repairs before you need to return to unload loot, then maybe you should try a lower-level area. Really it’s just a minor cash sink, same with the fee for using the teleporter waypoints. MMOs are full of them to keep you playing to accrue more wealth.

          • Raiyne says:

            Just a correction: Death Penalty in GW1 did not reduce your outgoing damage. It only affected health and mana.

            I wholeheartedly agree with Richard though, I want the challenge to come from the encounters and not the obstacles built around failing. Let failure be enough. Having to rezone and go through an entire zone again because of the death penalty literally making things impossible is not fun.

            I don’t mind the repair costs, as long as they balance the gold rewards as a counterbalance for that mechanic. Taking towers gave me less money than a simple event in PvE. I was gaining way more EXP than gold in WvWvW, which was making siege weapons really expensive. I don’t know how outdated this is, but there was a screenshot of the rewards of killing The Shatterer in a big dynamic event, and the rewards were xp, karma and 2000 copper. That’s 20 silver, which literally only buys you a single trebuchet and a battering ram.

            Granted, a lot of us haven’t seen how the currency of the game scales in the higher levels, and they did mention that in the later levels, the cost would be less of an issue, with supple being the main ‘resource’ for it. It’ll be interesting to see how they continue to balance the economy of the game.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            My problem is immediacy. GW1′s DP wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t terrible, either. There’s numerous times where I went from -60% on HM to +15% within a few battles. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked that it required you to fight to regain your stature rather than traveling to town to repair.

            I wholly admit that I was often soloing in areas that were above my level, and that is completely my fault, but I found there to be a significant lack of content for level 10-15 to level up as quickly as you did in previous levels.

            One of my most favorite things about GW was that you didn’t have to run all over the place, you didn’t have to grind to get to a powerful level, and you didn’t have to stop being directly engaged in combat to do other superfluous things. I feel like that they lost sight of that a bit in GW2 so far. I also feel that armor penalty just adds one more annoying layer, and one that directly removes you from having fun. “Oh boy! Time to teleport back to town because I tried to take on a mission that was bit difficult!” is not in any way, shape, or form “fun.” It’s a pointless time-sink, which I think is even worse than a money sink. I don’t mind throwing coppers at armor repair, but I DO mind having to go back to some random town or outpost.

            A good fix would be a more expensive “armor repair” kit that you could buy and store in your inventory. Make it tied to crafting or something, I don’t know. But, please, give me the ability to repair without having to leave my group or the area that I’m in.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            The Guild Wars 1 death penalty was absolutely atrocious.

  2. Williz says:

    I was playing it this weekend but I felt my character wasn’t levelling fast enough (I was level 12 when the main quest was a recommended 16 and 15 on a recommended 19) I have ended up going to the charr starter zone to try and grab more exp as I had my ass handed to me in the level 19…
    Also on the note of WvWvW… I had no chance to do it, the server I had been placed on had dominated the opposition so much that the opposition had given up on WvWvW and never entered it.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I didn’t play any of the PvE this time, but levelling was definitely too slow in the last beta. And the level scaling only goes one way, so…

      • Gnoupi says:

        About level scaling, I noticed that it’s actually more interesting to switch starting zones in the current state, than trying to endure your normal zones with a level lower than required.

        After a while dying at level 15 from level 21 enemies on the human side, we visited the Charr side and had much more fun. In places where your level is decreased, at least, you are more matching and there actually is a challenge (even if obviously, having trait points helps). Even XP rewards and loot are reasonable.

        But I agree that there is an issue if you try to just follow the story without exploring a lot the surroundings. The XP gain really feels like made for people to stick around in a zone instead of moving on as fast as a quest is done.

        • Ateius says:

          I’m surprised at this. I only played my human zones, and between the ‘heart’ quest areas and the dynamic events, as well as random exploring, I was never under-levelled for the content available to me. In fact, I frequently found myself slightly over-levelled for newly discovered areas. By the time I had completed Queensdale, I literally levelled up to 15 (the minimum for Kessex Hills) from the exploration XP I got for stepping into the new zone. Worth noting that I did all this while completely ignoring the personal story quests; when I did several of them later on, I gained something like three levels from the quest rewards (although the equipment was sadly outdated).

          The only issue I had with this was that there’s little to direct you from one area of a zone to another to find the appropriately levelled area to continue, but as I greatly enjoy exploring in games, this didn’t bother me too much.

          You definitely can’t just do only the personal story quests, though. You won’t get enough XP at all. You need to explore the zones as well, and complete tasks and events there.

          • Dominic White says:

            Yeah, seconding this. There’s plenty of XP in each zone. You just need to wander a bit – explore! The game doesn’t lead you by the nose and tell you ‘Here be dragons with loot and levels’. You’re expected to show a little initiative.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            I had quite a drag between lvl 11 and 14, where I finished by the time beta ended. I didn’t get to to play during the stress test in May, but I did play until level 7 in the first beta weekend.

            I did finally find my niche as a warrior, though. Switching between rifle and sword+shield as a Human Warrior was a lot of fun, and made me realize that going “pure melee” isn’t going to work too well for most warriors. (or maybe I’m just a really horrible player :P) Kind of flew in the face of my GW1 experience, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s incredibly fun!

    • Jockie says:

      I had to swap between the zones too to keep up with the curve, there are large swathes of kinda empty map at the moment where there’s definitely room for more content, although it’s quite fun to go exploring away from the well-beaten path.

      On a PvP note, what’s to stop you joining a regular pvp game and taking the equipment from there into WvWvW?

    • vee41 says:

      It was exact opposite for me; after level 10 I was pretty much overleveled for anything I did and I did not do other starter zones or repeat any events(apart from few reallyreally fun ones). Crafting gave me nice exp as did exploring, I only did one quest of my personal storyline.

      • Williz says:

        I explorered all of Lions Arch as well to get some extra exp, the underwater bits are awesome.

        Does crafting give you that much exp? I must take it up on the next beta then.

        • vee41 says:

          It did, I picked up two professions and crafted all the stuff I had collected during my wondrous travels (gathering gets you nice exp as well!) and got almost a full levels worth out of it. Not to mention whole set of new gear and plenty to sell.

          • Malk_Content says:

            Precisely, gathering the materials for crafting gets you more xp than killing a couple of mobs, so you might as well always do it even if you aren’t a crafter. Being able to sell those harvested good straight to the marketplace from your inventory mean that this weekend once I had crafted myself a nice set of armour I was rolling in cash from selling resources to other crafters. If our world hadn’t steamrolled the others in WvWvW I would have had enough cash to fund several keep seiges on my own.

  3. Thirdstar says:

    “It didn’t take too long before I was out of cash and standing around in my underpants like some refugee from Tera.” Hehe.

    I wish I hadn’t been busy over the weekend, I’ve bought GW2 and have beta access. Guess i’ll have to wait another two weeks or so to get another shot at it. Wuvvuwhuuvwoo sounds like the sort of PvP that my sorry carebear PvE self would be more inclined to be involved in.

    The question at the top of my mind is how does the game perform with scores of people on screen?

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      On my admittedly beefy machine and internet connection, absolutely fine.

      I want to create the world’s most hardcore MMO, with permadeath and levelling that forces you to pull out teeth just to beat a rat. And then make it a Care Bears license.

    • Gnoupi says:

      They made progresses to the performances, but there is still a way to go. It seems to be mostly CPU bound, currently, from what they said.

      On my laptop (i7 1.73ghz, 8gb of ram, radeon mobility 5870 (equivalent of a desktop 5770, not confusing at all), it was running ok, in medium details, in most places. By ok I mean 30-40 fps in most zones, and dropping sometimes (it was around 15-20 in the previous beta weekend). In WvW, however, on the places with such big swarms of players from two teams, it was dropping to a powerpointy 5-6 fps.

      • ElvisNeedsBoats says:

        I read that turning shadows low/off would work wonders, and it did. Much better fps even with other bells and whistles on. Give it a try next beta.

        Off-thread – anyone have problems with modifiers? I used shift+(1-5) and pressing them tended to activate the skills on 1-5 as well.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          I used modifiers all weekend and didn’t notice that at all, but I was using QWRT5 and shift+QWRT5 for my skills, not 1-4. I actually moved my “autoattack” skill onto my mouse 5 out of frustration early on. Good lord does this game need an option to play as a 3rd person action RPG like Tera, with left click being “attack”… That would feel so much better for me.

          • Ateius says:

            I also moved autoattack onto Mouse 5, and tend to spam-click it even though it cycles on its own. Too many ARPGs in my thumb to stop.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Playing Warrior was bit difficult, and I was determined to make it work. Mainly because Warrior was my main in GW1 and I don’t want to give up on it. (even though it seems most people are going Hunter, Ele, Mes, and Engi)

            The best method for me was making auto-attack have an alt-button of Spacebar (as well as “1″). Jump was “F” (who really cares about jumping anyways?), nearest target was middle-mouse, next target is shift+middle mouse, closest ally is mouse5, next ally is shift+mouse5, and “use/interact” was mouse4.

            When running around, I could easily auto-attack via spacebar or “1″, even when actively dodging and strafing, and selecting targets via the mouse button was a cinch. It, honesty, made playing warrior a lot more bearable than my first foray, which I found to be really frustrating and underwhelming. Oh, and the rifle. Switching between rifle and sword+shield, I was able to really get into a groove and have a ton of fun.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      My PC is quite old now, core 2 Duo at 2.9 Ghz, 4 GB RAM, 8800GT, and I could run the game on low-medium just fine. Large groups of players caused the FPS to dip into the teens, but I felt like I could still play in a ranged support role. Put it this way, even with probably close to a hundred players around, it still felt smoother than Warhammer Online did on the same computer. I could have turned all my settings to lowest, but never felt the need to. The one caveat is that I’m currently playing on a spare old 1024X768 monitor, so I wasn’t pushing my GPU at all.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Keep a look out. I got my i5 2500k for a steal from Newegg, and I would imagine prices are only going to be better as Intel rolls out their Ivy Bridge line. I’m in the same sort of boat regarding GPU, except I have an aging HD4850. It still runs a lot of games very well, but it’s surely showing its age.

        The worst part is, I found out that Folding@Home GPU doesn’t even support the HD4800 line anymore! That really sucks, as I’ve been actively folding via GPU almost every single night for years now. Never thought that one of the big impetus for upgrading my GPU would be so I could get back to running Folding@Home. :P

  4. Dominic White says:

    I dropped into WvW for the first time as a level 8 character. A few hours later and a couple of victories under my belt, I was level 11, almost at 12. They aren’t kidding – you really can gain XP, loot and gear just by playing competitively.

    As for armor repairing, it makes sense – it’s an attrition mechanic that’s meant to weaken the usefulness of a small wolf-pack of players hunting deep behind enemy lines. Every time one gets knocked down, they’re a little weakened. It takes a LOT of knockdowns to start breaking armor, and repairs are literally a three second detour on the next respawn.

    Edit: I was also making at least enough money to break even in WvW. Probably profit a bit. I’m not sure how you weren’t getting cash – just selling the random little bits of loot that are dropped should pay for repairs at the bare minimum, unless you’re somehow dying every five seconds.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      There wasn’t much in the way of loot being dropped, at least not that I was seeing*. But there was a lot of death, since we had invaders right at our gate and there was a massive back and forth going on at both of the local towers on the map.

      (* My suspicion is that I wasn’t being given much credit for participation and so not getting much in the way of drops, in much the same way that I was often pulling 6 XP for a victory. But the above is just based on observation while playing and experimenting at lowest level, not scientific rigour.)

      For that scenario, yeah, I can see the benefit of armour. In the comment above though, I was thinking more in terms of PvE.

      • hemmer says:

        What really gives you a shit-ton of exp (and a nice amount of gold) in dubveedub is taking part in events, sieges, defending and capturing sh*t. Got up to around lvl20 in a flash and never had problems with repair costs.

        I never really got any pvp points and only every gazillionth kill did I see a small pouch to loot next to a dead enemy.

        The thing that impressed me most is what a small focused group can do. Took over a supply camp with a group of two, built a golem right next to the supply and took the tower close by with the help of a third.

        Scratch that, the dungeon under the dubveedubs map was what impressed me most. Indiana Jones & the dungeon full of dickheads. :x

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I did the same (might have been level 7), but with much worse results. My server was ahead all morning, and by afternoon both opposing worlds teamed up to push into our borderlands. We were stuck for hours in a delaying battle, the battle line pushing up and down a hundred yard stretch of road between our outer wall and the nearest supply camp, while distant enemy trebuchets set up in a captured tower slowly ground down the walls (and supply).

      This was all epic from a narrative perspective, but meant that progress for my character ground to a halt. Plenty of enemies died, but their bodies lay in the middle of no-man’s land, so I couldn’t loot them. Events would cycle from time to time, such as “hold off the invaders!”, and successfully doing so would net me almost 20% of a level. But even with that, I didn’t get more than 1.5 levels in several hours, no loot, and left with the same amount of money as I arrived with due to repairs.

      Perhaps my group should have split off and attacked supply camps elsewhere in the world. As it was, I feel like we worked like crazy to defend our holdings, but didn’t get much out of it other than pride.

      P.s. the keep fell after about 3 hours of this. No happy ending to this story. but it is a mighty fun game mode.

  5. proudpheeple says:

    Surely the title should have been “All Quiet on the Questern Front”. Just a little Remarque.

  6. Flukie says:

    I managed to accumulate just enough to build what we needed really. Tonnes of weapons at the camp next to enemy spawn so we can dominate more than we already were.

  7. Shooop says:

    Got in the beta thanks to a PC Gamer key giveaway. Didn’t try WvWvW.

    You start getting the good weapons only at about level 15 unfortunately. But when you do you begin to feel powerful. Teleporting right next to enemies, pistol whipping and slashing them, and then teleporting away to safety was devious fun. Time it right and you are quite literally invincible.

    • Chalky says:

      You should be able to get access to any weapons you want as soon as you have 60 coppers or so – go talk to a weapon vendor in town. Although I’d agree that level 15 is where you really start to get beyond newbie status as you’ve unlocked a couple of utility skills and traits by then.

      As far as exp goes, I hope they’re still balancing WvW because it is astonishingly slow to level via WvW at low levels compared to PvE. Probably about 5-10 times slower when PvE personal story instances give you almost an entire level sometimes as a reward. There is nothing like this in WvW.

  8. Hunchback says:

    GW2 is definitely the most interesting MMO on the horizon for me, i hope it doesn’t go down the drain like SWTOR, Tera and Rift did, as in just be a pretty wow clone.

    Wonder if it will manage to fill the gap that D3 failed to?

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s definitely not a WOW clone. The combat is pretty fast and arcadey by RPG standards, and flexible. I was playing a longbow/greatsword ranger, so I’d open a fight with a few projectiles, then switch to longsword and use Swoop (huge charging swing – covers maybe 30-40 feet?) to close the distance, get in a few combos, dodge out of melee and heal while my pet did some damage, then adjust as planned. I found that I could do a ton of damage to big swarms of smaller enemies by using the Sharpening Stone skill (next 5 attacks add bleeding over time), then launching in and unloading those five hits. The greatsword hits in a wide arc and every enemy visibly touched takes damage, so that’s a lot of DOT’s if you can hit four or five enemies at once.

      The actual PvE progression of action was far better than any MMO I’ve played before. Just wandering around and finding new places provides a steady stream of things to do, ranging from silly (carry sacks of rabbit food back to safety while being pursued by ravenous bunnies) to pretty epic (defend a huge fort from a dozen waves of centaur invaders and a boss), and I never had to ‘turn in’ a quest and go trekking back home. There’s enough small villages scattered around to keep me repaired and fuelled up without adding pointless travel and busywork.

      WvW has a bit more legwork involved (each side starts with only one spawn point per map, and each WvW map is a huge zone, but you can apparently build more later on. Still, there’s enough pseudo-PvE elements to keep things active even when you’re not clashing with enemy teams. Rolling up on an NPC-held mining camp with four allies and clearing it out, only to be driven off by a swarm of Ogres that the enemy team recruited was a highlight.

      • Malk_Content says:

        Just want to say even though I didn’t play a ranger, that greatsword ability is my favourite of the game so far. There was one bit in which I was getting fairly dominated by a swarm of harpies , was playing an engineer and was having trouble clearing los to the harpy matriarch who summons more harpies, and this ranger literally launched himself of the cliff face next to me with that skill hitting all the harpies and making them turn almost instantly on him. This gave me a chance to set up turrets, heal and then wade in with the flamethrower. Absolutely brilliant. At the end of the fight we waved goodbye.

        • Dominic White says:

          I love the Ranger greatsword skills in general. The dual-purpose Skill 4 is rather creative too. In melee, it’s a block that turns into an automatic knockback counter, but if you press it again while blocking (because an enemy isn’t attacking you/within range), you just throw your sword at them. Doesn’t do much damage, but it halves their run speed for a moment. Good for intercepting runners in PvP.

          Swoop works defensively, too. Good for running away from a fight as well as getting into one.

    • aircool says:

      I”m still enjoying Rift. There’s enough to do post lvl 50, but I do miss my nine foot tall, curvy blonde Norn Guardian. Rift has a massive expansion coming which will keep me interested, but GW2 has been on my wish list for years now.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      As someone who despises WoW (I’ve tried 4 times so far to get into it, I just can’t) and all of the WoW clones (I’m trying LoTRO right now, but I don’t think I’m going to make it past one week), I can safely say that GW2 is nothing like WoW.

      While in WoW, you just sit there, pressing your plethora of hotkeys, move here for this thing, move there, wait and press hotkeys again, repeat. GW2 actually requires you to maneuver about and be active.

      My biggest disconnect from GW1 to GW2 was having to really manage space and strikes with my warrior. If you go pure melee, you’re most likely going to be screwed. At least, IME. It wasn’t until I was chatting with someone and they suggested going with a rifle that the combat really began to make sense. Fire off rounds, debilitate and weaken, switch to sword for the close damage and finish them off. Actively kitting was a part of GW1 for Warrior, but it takes a whole new level in GW2 and really feels a lot more satisfying once you find your niche.

      -edit-

      I have no experience with Rift or Tera, but I heard Tera was much more action-oriented and, thus, a bit more like GW2? For me, the WoW mechanic of tons of hotbars loaded with tons of skills and having to, basically, stand around and que skills was more boring than watching paint dry.

  9. Heliocentric says:

    So, grinding… Grinding and multiplayer….
    Grinding, forced socialising multiplayer and poorness invoked nudity?

    Did you mean to destroy all of my interest? Because you did.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Grinding until you tag along with a group and get into epic battles isn’t your regular MMO grinding. And this is not a sensible way to play – I was just curious how well it would turn out to try.

    • Gnoupi says:

      To be fair, he is talking only about the WvW part in this article. The PvE feels less like grinding.
      However, it will require you to explore a lot, if you don’t want to stick around a zone to grind a bit. Because if you go through helping one person (dynamic quests) to another, and rushing to do the personal story, you will quickly find yourself with a lower level.

      About socializing, in PvE, I would say that it’s the natural kind. You don’t particularly talk, but you will most likely be glad to see other players. Since everyone gets rewards by participating to a kill or a quest, it’s much easier to help or be helped, without even talking. You just “work together” by common interest on the current thing, then part ways without the need for a word.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        I found myself mostly not distinguishing between NPCs and other players, which is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it means that when I go through a zone later with no players around, the content won’t feel empty. On the other, the BWE was one of the least “social” MMO experiences I’ve had… Probably ever, apart from chatting with guildmates from time to time.

        The only areas much “socializing” went on was in the PvP lobby and WvW. In PvE I certainly played next to other human players, but they could have been NPCs for all the interactions we had. I tried to strike up conversations from time to time, but no one really responded. Of course there was the usual meme shit in zone chat, but no one ever stopped to say “hey, what next?”

        While I would call GW2 a surprisingly excellent game after playing it for the first time this weekend, I think they over-thought their social design. When there is no selfish action, there is also no selfless action, and no distinction between helping another player and mindlessly doing tasks for an NPC.

    • Dominic White says:

      If you jump into WvW at level 1-4 or so, it’s going to feel like a bit of a grind. You don’t get your full range of class abilities unlocked until you hit level 30 (of 80), although 10 is probably a safe starting point to jump into WvW, as you’ll have saved up enough money to easily come back from a couple of heavy defeats.

      The game has a relatively flat levelling curve and money rewards (and costs) scale with level. WvW doesn’t feel balanced yet for complete newcomers. You’ll be level 10 well before you’ve even covered 3/4 of the newbie zone for your race (and if you get tired of the scenery, you can switch zones by just hopping in an Asura Gate), so it’s not a big deal, and the PvE stuff is far more fun than in most MMOs.

      And yeah, it’s not ‘forced socializing’. It’s more ‘everyone is on the same team’. You get a little XP reward for healing a downed teammate, and fights are easier if you have allies in the area. There’s no hanging around going ‘LFG’. If you see a bunch of players doing something interesting, join in – they’ll appreciate having one more person, and you get a full XP reward at the end.

      • Gnoupi says:

        There might be more of that when more dungeons will be available. I have seen some LFG and LFM for the catacombs all weekend.

        • Dominic White says:

          Well, dungeons are the exception. They’re designed for organized groups, and are meant to be the hardest thing in the game. I recall reading that there’s going to be 8 at launch, and if explorable mode has 3 variants each, that’s quite a bit.

  10. aircool says:

    Only played PvE as it was my first weekend in GW2. The PvP in the original GW was fun and challenging, so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.

    I spent the last two hours of the beta weekend exploring the Human City; it’s stunningly beautiful and detailed.

    I’ve now developed a twitch in my left shoulder after not being able to play the game today. It’s looking promising.

    What was my favourite part of the game so far? Feeding cows and watching their loving appreciation :)

  11. Gnoupi says:

    My experience with WwW was the following:

    - Running for a while to get to a place with a fight, yawn (admittedly, our server was dominating the map already, so it’s understandable that it was taking that long)
    - Taking an enemy place with a small group forming naturally around me, it was quite nice.
    - Joining the “big battle”, where most of the players were… I have no idea how you actually can play that. It’s just a mess of AoE with countless meteors falling from the sky. Hard to really feel like you make a difference, you end up spamming AoE just like everyone else.
    - Witnessed the “crowd intelligence” at work, when a group of 40 people from my team was attacking an enemy group of about the same amount, while they were on a wall. The enemy was mostly recomposing from a lost battle. I’m not sure what our group was doing there. They saw enemies, they attacked. They saw teammates attack the enemy, they joined. In the end it was a battle for no reason, since it was a wall that couldn’t be destroyed, and the closest objective was far away.

    • aircool says:

      But everyone enjoys a pie and a pagga.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I agree that group content of more than 5 or 6 players feels messy and flat right now. Too often the abilities don’t have enough impact to make you feel you’ve done something to help the fight.

      I had the same problem even in structured PvP fights of 4-6 players. I would use my utility group buffs and AoE skills, but I just had to trust that they were going off and doing something worthwhile – I wasn’t really getting any feedback that was telling me if what I’d done mattered or not. Did my allies even notice they all had stability and protection for the next 10 seconds because I showed up? Did they realize they had regeneration because of my mark or well?

      Maybe I’m just spoiled by DOTA2, where every ability feels roughly like it’s strong enough to kill half the enemy team outright if you just use it correctly.

  12. Kryopsis says:

    I almost groaned when I saw yet another Guild Wars 2 article on RPS. I am getting tired of the hype and I just want the game to come out already and experience it first hand…
    Then I saw it’s by Richard Cobbett and read it.

  13. apocraphyn says:

    Anyone try out the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon? Story mode was good – thoroughly challenging at points and fairly meaty. Fun.

    Explorable mode? Ahaha! Aha! My god, that thing is incredibly difficult to the point of being broken. Still, very glad to be getting a challenge out of an MMO. It has certainly been a while.

    • derbefrier says:

      thats what i like to hear. being hard to a point its feels broken is just what i was looking for in an MMO.
      SWTOR was a face roll all the way though and made end game get boring quick. I quit WoW because every time they put out a decent dungeon with some difficulty it was nerfed within a week due to all the crying. Will arenanet be so easily swayed? Do they have the balls to tell their playerbase to suck it up or play story mode if the challenge is too great? the constant nerfing trying to please everyone is what drove me away from games like WoW or games like SWTOR were everything is just EZ mode. This has been one of the biggest reasons i haven’t pre-order GW2 yet. for those that have played GW1 is arenanet pretty good with balancing when needed but keeping the challenge intact? if your answers cant put my fears at ease. i might just go home and pre-orer so i can get in on the next beta weekend

      • Dominic White says:

        GW1 was a little *too* hard at launch. They did nerf the difficulty somewhat, but actually split all the higher-end stuff off into a ‘hard mode’ version of each of the campaigns that have all Lv20+ enemies (player level cap is 20) and smarter AI, so they’ll avoid AOEs and hunt healers pretty effectively. Everyone wins. Hard Mode unlocks after completing all core the campaign missions on Normal.

        http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Hard_mode

        Hard mode takes no prisoners. It’s significantly tougher than Normal was at launch. The way Arenanet talk about it, the explorable-mode dungeons are basically GW2′s Hard Mode.

        It’s really easy to die in GW2 even at early levels, but due to any player being able to revive you, it’s not too big a deal. Definitely more challenging than most MMOs.

        • Snakejuice says:

          I loved GW1 and I loved Hard mode, best AI ever! To me it feels like a shame they are increasing the level cap from 20 to 60, I rarely like the leveling-faceroll-easy bits of making a character, I like getting to the “good bits” fast. Oh well hopefully they have not made all content below max level easy!

          • Dominic White says:

            Ha. The level cap is even higher than that. It’s actually 80. But here’s the thing: Level means jack shit – even less than in GW1. It’s just an indication of progress here.

            Every part of every zone has it’s own level cap. If you exceed it, then your base stats are automatically lowered to be roughly equivalent to that level. It’s possible to fight things 4-5 levels above yourself if you’re careful and have some allies with you, but you’ll never out-level those enemies. You can be Lv80, but against Lv15 enemies, you’ll only hit about as hard as you could at Lv15. You’ll have more skills and traits unlocked by that point, giving you a slight edge, but you can still die in a few seconds if you get sloppy.

            There was one video from the last beta weekend – a Lv30 Guardian going to back a Lv8 newbie zone and getting his arse handed to him by a wandering miniboss and it’s swarm of friends.

          • Nick says:

            well, I’d say it means about as much as in GW, in that you have better gear if you are higher and have some/more trait points. The scaling does somewhat take this into account, but you’ll still be tougher than someone regularly the same level.

            I love the way it works tbh.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          I picked up GW1 in December after it launched. I found its difficulty to be just about right. Actually, I think they nerfed it a bit much, but HM made up for that. HM was awesome and was all I would play after it launched.

  14. Dominic White says:

    A lot of problems with WvW at the moment can be attributed to players not yet understanding the game. I saw a lot of people complaining that it took ages to break down castle gates with swords and bows. Well, no shit! That’s what siege weapons are for. The moment a couple players had the common sense to buy some battering rams, everything changed.

    Likewise, a single arrow cart inside the castle walls can hold 20+ players at bay if correctly placed. WvW is interesting, in that a 2-3 smart players can defeat 10-15 stupid ones if they play their cards right and pick their battlegrounds.

  15. Nick says:

    I would love a way to turn off certain particle effects (like, say, every other players apart from walls/rings). would help a *lot*, not least help see the tells when fightign a big enemy.

    Had a great time again, though I just want to keep playing, wish there wasn’t such a long period between events. Hell I just want the damn game to come out =/

  16. Metonymy says:

    I thought the N word was ‘nerd.’

  17. Darthus says:

    They have stated that WvW was utterly and completely unbalanced in terms of rewards in BW1 and that it’s still a work in progress. From my impressions, WvW is the least polished part of the game at the moment, probably partially because it all has to work at once. We aren’t seeing the Asura/Sylvari areas or the high level content yet because it’s not refined. But they can let us play the refined parts. With WvW it’s all out there at once.

    Also, they have openly stated they intend advancement in WvW to be just as viable as PvE, so whether or not it’s there yet, at least it’s a design goal, which I appreciate.

    In general I love how GW2 lets you do whatever you want at any point. I’m level X: I can go PvE in a level appropriate area, I can PvE with friends who are lower level than I am and be automatically deleveled, I can WvW at an equal level as everyone else, I can PvP at an equal level as everyone else, or I can do my story quest lines (Which also levels me to the appropriate power).

    It’s really refreshing to have an MMO that has an attitude of “we want all feasible content to be available to you at any point”

    The waypoint system also makes it so, I’m a level 16 Charr doing my Charr content. My friend logs on his level 9 Norn. Not only can I party with him and do his content, but if I’ve ever been to the Norn area before I can just instantly jump over and join him. It so feels like the game respects my time in every way.

  18. Melf_Himself says:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t have thought you’d have much luck at level 1 in WvW. You can definitely do it in the more “arena” style PvP modes, where you actually get a full set of items/skills/traits.

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