Wot I Think: Guild Wars 2

By Richard Cobbett on August 31st, 2012 at 9:00 pm.

I am Guild Wars 2, and I am here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to feel awesome from Level 1? No, says the man in the accounting office, that belongs to those who subscribe! No, says the man in the dungeon, that belongs to the hardcore! No, says the man in the beard, that belongs to the guilds! I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... fighting a dragon in the goddamn tutorial!

You’ve probably never heard of Guild Wars 2 – a plucky little MMO that’s so far failed to draw much attention around the net. You might want to give it a look though. Maybe. They say it does a couple of moderately cool things. And it looks quite nice, if you’re into that.

Ahem. How do I even start summing up a game this big, this complex, and with so much on offer? There’s little point simply running through a shopping list of features – events, dungeons, PvP and so on – so let’s kick off not with what Guild Wars 2 offers, but what it is.

To me, it’s what World of Warcraft was back in 2004 – not an eight year old RPG, but a breath of fresh air in an all-too-often stuffy genre. The main difference between them is that while Blizzard primarily polished what came before with money, ArenaNet opted to take a scalpel to its genre’s endless mass of time-wasting, subscription fee serving cancer tissue, before betting the farm on its ability to build something more dynamic around its squidgy pink core.

Is it good? Was it worth the long wait? Is it worth buying? For the answers to these oh-so important questions, I refer you to Celebrity Guest Reviewer Meg Ryan.

What follows is, with no apologies at all, mostly going to be gushing.

Fighting. Just a teeny-tiny bit tough to read...

There are however some things that shouldn’t be forgotten amongst all the hype, starting with the fact that for all its ambition, Guild Wars 2 is firmly from the World of Warcraft school of design rather than a brand new breed. It has a dynamic world, yes, but one based on canned, cycling events rather than something like Eve, where players exert real control. Likewise, if you hate standard MMORPG combat and all its hot-keys and levelling curves, you’ll find this one more freeform and a hell of a lot more polished than most, but probably not different enough.

Also, a caveat. There is obviously no way in hell that I’ve seen everything the game has to offer in the last week, even factoring in several betas. That said, even if it turns to shit and gristle in the endgame, I can say I’ve had enough fun to justify the box price – especially as there’s no subscription fee. Consider this firmly a ‘is this worth a punt?’ review though, not an all-encompassing guide. We’ll be back later to take a closer look at the big picture.

Wheeeeeeee!

Guild Wars 2 has no shortage of things to make it special, but if I had to pick the most important, it would be its general attitude. With no subscription fee to worry about earning, it gets to focus entirely on what it thinks will be the most fun – and get to the point faster than you can say ‘dragon in the tutorial area’. True, it’s another example of what’s often sniffily referred to as a theme park MMO, but it embraces that; even going a step further to create something closer to a world-shaped playground. When most games claim they let you find your own fun, what they really mean is that they’re not going to provide it up front. Guild Wars 2 instead lets you choose it from a carefully prepared menu, whether it’s traditional adventure or server based PvP or simply exploring and enjoying the scenery and lush vistas wherever you wander.

Just as crucially, almost every barrier between you and having a good time has been knocked down. Does it make sense that every character can teleport to any part of the world whenever they like? No. But it makes much less sense for a social game to try and stop you getting to where your friends are, so there you go. In the eternal fight between lore, game design and player experience, Guild Wars 2 feels like it’s on our side. It’s almost spooky.

There is of course some structure underlying all this – level-locked areas, items and so on – but within that framework, everything is about as open as this kind of game gets. Want to be a Human, but hate the Human starting area? No problem. You’re never more than a couple of minutes from a teleporter that will take you to another race’s part of the world, and they’re all happy to let you play with their toys instead. Want to do PvP? You’re not only one click away, Guild Wars 2 will give you all the starting gear you need to be competitive. Only with dungeons does it make you earn your entry rights, holding them back until Level 30+.

Mustn't stick it up its bum, mustn't stick it up its bum, mustn't stick it up its bum...

Its single biggest triumph though is that as World of Warcraft opened up questing to the masses, Guild Wars 2 makes playing with other people absolutely effortless. You need set groups for dungeons. In the main world though, you never need to actively join groups, show up with any of those ‘friend’ things some people have, sit around on chat for hours before getting to kill anything, or ever approach anyone with a nervous excuse me please can i play with you?

Instead, you just go out into the world. Events are constantly kicking off around it, and the only thing you need to do to join one is run into its clearly marked radius and get stuck in. Rescuing villagers from slavers. Scaring rabbits. Taking down some huge boss monster who probably deserves it. Reviving fallen comrades. Protecting a trader as he goes between towns. Defending kids from undead. Whatever heroism needs doing, and you feel like helping with, with no pre-requisites to take part and nobody to kick you out if they don’t like your face/class.

The only real catch is that as you’d expect, they’re absolutely reliant on having those crowds around. If the zones start emptying post-release, the good times are going to vanish in a hurry – and there isn’t any kind of safety mat for Guild Wars 2 to fall back on. It may seem unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Remember when APB was going to be the next big thing? Just to be on the safe side, I’d suggest jumping in sooner rather than later.

Most players will miss most of the writing in favour of just running into events. That's a shame. There's some really fun stuff here.

What everyone raves about are the events that lead into others – a battle for a camp for instance, which turns into an attempt to recapture the place if you fail, or into an assault on the enemy base if you win. That kind of thing is definitely cool when you stumble across it, even if you know that whatever happens is of no long-term import to you or anyone else.

The events I’ve most enjoyed though are the ones that simply add movement to the genre, especially when wrapped in little chunks of story. My favourite – which is standard stuff, save that it was the first time it happened in my game – was when I wandered my Elementalist over to the inventor-gremlin Asura starting area to check it out. While in a small village selling some junk, a member of their rivals, the Inquest, showed up to first demand test subjects and then launched a raid on the place. Cue a sudden, spontaneous battle that had taken the time to set up at least some simple stakes and characters, lots of exploding action, and finally a few scraps of dialogue to wrap it all up with a little bow instead of just quietly handing over some XP.

SO... ADORABLE. MUST... TOUCH IT!

The same kind of thing happens everywhere, and I love it. MMOs have a tendency to be incredibly static, with monsters just standing around waiting for you to beat them up, and NPCs not being much more active. Here, while both of those things is basically true as well, you’re also constantly bumping into traders going between towns, or outposts being thrown into chaos, or spooky swamps burping up portals to the underworld and so on – and that’s before factoring in things like a boss monster appearing and every player in the area belting running over. You don’t even have to find them for yourself. Quite often NPCs will run over and instead of politely waiting to be asked if they have anything they need, openly beg for your heroic assistance.

It should be added that Guild Wars 2 isn’t the first to experiment with public events like this. The likes of Warhammer Online, Tabula Rasa and Rift have all given them a shot in various forms. Guild Wars 2 throws itself into them unlike anything we’ve seen before though, risking everything on their success. Yes, there are dungeons and static ‘heart’ quests where you do things like disarm traps and pick up litter and lots of other stuff that typically puts the ‘mundane’ into ‘seriously mundane shit’, but these events are where the game will live or die.

Fun fact, if you say 'orrery' five times in a row, it loses all meaning. But if you say it three times in front of a mirror, Saturn comes out and eats your soul.

At the moment though, the enthusiasm is infectious, and constant. Where most MMOs feel like they’re under the control of an old miser, reluctantly doling out the odd treat, Guild Wars 2 is a cheery sweetshop owner throwing handfuls of candy out of its window. Good candy, too. Fruit Salads, never Blackjacks. It wants you to enjoy yourself, on the grounds that if you do, you’ll want to keep playing rather than simply feeling compelled to, and it wastes no time handing out the kind of power and equipment that most MMOs wait a whole game to unlock.

As a demonstration, before even hitting Level 5, my Elementalist could throw every flavour of magic at will (with no mana bar or between-fight cooldowns, no less), call down meteor showers, carve up the terrain with flames, and much much more – all with pyrotechnics that set the screen on fire, never mind the monsters. My favourite trick is a double-whammy from the Air set – riding a lightning bolt across the map to smash someone in the face, then blasting both of us back out of face-punching range. Regardless of the numbers underscoring all my attacks and how they balance with everyone else, I have never felt like a more badass mage in an MMO.

Good GOD! This isn't an event, this is genocide!

Badass is of course a relative thing. No matter how many powers or toys you have, this is still a levelocracy at heart, and going out of your comfort zone means pretty much instant death with a single punch. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t care how you level though, to the point that it provides a whole second world devoted for PvP and is quite happy for you to spend every minute of your time there if you prefer fighting other people to vanquishing dumb monsters.

Even in the regular world though, while questing is the obvious path to advancement, you get XP for almost everything short of looking at the XP bar – crafting, exploring, gathering, fighting, reviving, whatever. Making it even easier, the focus on group play and keeping everyone happy means that you never have to worry about competing with anyone. Kill-stealing for instance isn’t a problem here, ever. If there’s any question over who should get credit for something in the world, typically everyone gets it – not that it matters even a little most of the time.

The boss died five hours ago. Nobody's noticed yet.

In case it’s not obvious, I’m having a blast with Guild Wars 2, to the point that focusing on the negatives does rather feel like complaining about the cleanliness of the spoons at a soup kitchen. It’s certainly not perfect though, and there are definite annoyances. Several people I know have complained that the pet system isn’t very reliable for instance. By Level 20, I was already bored to tears by the way my Elementalist’s armour-changes consisted of switching back and forth between two very similar coats and two slightly different skirts. Things like this might seem minor quibbles, but they’re still annoying if they happen to be quibbling you.

More generally, while the event system is overall a great addition, it suffers terribly when it doesn’t hit the right sweet spot of players. Too few, and the simplistic nature of what you’re doing becomes hard to ignore. Too many, and it’s complete chaos where you don’t feel like you’re making much of a contribution or using any tactics beyond mashing all of the buttons. Boss monsters in particular are awful for this, with the constant explosions and swooshing and fizzes and bangs completely obscuring what’s going on, and the battles prolonged to the point of finger-aching insanity by giving it a health-bar long enough to poke Jupiter.

You will believe that Divinity's Reach is a capital worthy of a world like this. And then you travel to Lion's Arch...

My big concern though is the general flow of the game, which can be just a little bit too slick at times, right up to the point it suddenly isn’t. Starting out, it’s completely liberating to be in a game that gives you so much up front, has essentially no forced downtime, and lets you jump into everything without even going to get the quests first. After a while though, especially right now, with so many people piling in on every event, the inherent repetition, usual lack of personal challenge, and to some extent not having much to look forward to unlocking once you’ve gathered all your weapon skills can start to get both repetitive and wearing.

You don’t even get to feel yourself particularly getting more powerful, which is a shame – though a necessary trade-off. Every area has a maximum level cap, and stepping into it will take you down to something appropriate for adventuring there. That’s overall a good thing, since it stops high-level players ruining events for the rest of the world and means you’ll be able to take part in events across the world, but it is a little jarring not to be able to kick back by walking into an early area and effortlessly destroying great beasts with a flick of your fingers.

It’s worth repeating that the game has plenty to distract you and prevent this problem, from sight-seeing to PvP, to the much tougher dungeons later on. You do however have to take the initiative to break off and go do some of this now and again, and I suspect players who don’t will burn out quite fast. Too many sweeties in one go can make you feel sick, after all.

Okay, I'm officially starting to crave a simple back-stab by this point.

At the same time though, every now and again you can just hit a wall, usually thanks to Guild Wars 2 falling for the classic MMO trap of assuming players are either psychic or plugged into a wiki. The day this genre finally learns that questions like “Vitality or Toughness?” should be coupled with some actual advice on that will be a glorious one. But that’s another rant.

One of the earliest problems is that you can easily get 100% completion in your starter area – even given a reward for it – but still not be ready to walk into the next zone if you’ve not also done enough events, chopped enough trees and so on. The solution is an easy one – go to another starting area. However, not only is magically travelling across the world to be able to step into the next field frankly dumb, it’s not made clear that you can do so in the first place. In another MMO, this would be par for the course. Guild Wars 2 trains you to expect better of it though, making it extra-disappointing when it lets itself down with something silly.

The personal quests tend to suffer the worst from this, since unlike the main world you’re not usually with people who can help out. In general, I like these quick trips into something a little closer to a single-player RPG, complete with some clever quest design, proper dialogues, choices to make, and lots more goodness. Some of the specific design can be nasty though, and doesn’t always feel tuned for every character class to handle. The end of my Elementalist’s first act was especially painful, presenting an enemy who hit far too hard for my poor cloth armour, carefully placed as if to ensure that my NPC backup would die at her feet and thus be impossible to revive without drawing her aggro. Grr. Methinks the designer was a Warrior.

The Asura home city is what you'd get if the Borg assimilated Vegas during CES, but were too shy to go near any of the sexy bits.

None of these are deal-breakers, of course. It’s simply that when the hype around a game is this heavy, it’s easy to expect perfection. Guild Wars 2 is not perfect. It is however the most fun I’ve had with an MMO in a very, very long time, and the first to turn social questing into something even solo-minded misanthropes like myself can do on a whim. That alone makes worth it playing, and this is just the start of its story. I can’t wait to see where it goes next…

Guild Wars 2 is available now. It’s still suffering from some launch issues though, so you might want to wait a few more days to jump in if you haven’t already taken the plunge.

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245 Comments »

  1. lupusamicus says:

    The alt-text on the first picture made me want to play bioshock again.

    • 23YearOldBedWetr says:

      Guild Wars 2 is not as good as everyone is hyping up to be. It’s a blast for the first 20 or so levels, but then you start to realize that while the grind has been obscured, it is still a mindless grind.

      It really bums me out that this is the kind of multiplayer online game people want. Playing through Guild Wars 2 is like walking through the city – sure you are surrounded by other people but you are still alone. While large groups of players together run toward an event, you won’t interact with them. All of you will proceed to kill the orange highlighted monsters largely ignoring each other – just another cog in the wheel of dps required to tear down these mobs. No coordination is required, and if a player falls he is usually ignored until after the fight instead of being revived right away. There are moments where you will help eachother – ask where so-and-so is, find a fallen comrade in the wilderness and revive him; but, GW2 does not foster building online relationships like other MMOs do.

      This game has sped up the play of MMOs but in the meantime has torn down what makes MMOs so great in the first place – building complex online relationships with groups of other players; building tribes that you party with every chance you can because the game requires you to work together and foster these relationships.

      • AngoraFish says:

        This. When did we stop designing for the second ‘m’ in MMORPG? SWOTR, TSW, GW2 are all just Massive Online Role Playing Games.

        • Dominic White says:

          Wait, what? GW2 is the single most multiplayer MMO I’ve played outside of Eve Online. Also massive. Can you name any other mainstream RPG that actually has dozens of players working together towards a shared goal, helping each other up when they fall, providing support and then banding together – even without the need to form a party – in search of new adventures?

          • Hug_dealer says:

            He can’t. All of todays mmos offer lots of singleplayer content, that can optionally be done in a group. GW2 is no different in that regard. What wow does offer is something for everyone, solo content, group content, hardcore content, Realm vs realm, and Structured pvp. It does all of these well also.

          • Silarn says:

            That’s a bit wrong, isn’t it? Even the behemoth WoW suffers quite a bit when trying to do single-player levelling content with a group. Quests with simple kill objectives become pitifully easy. Quests with collection objectives become massively extended and confusing when you have to figure out who is missing what drop and which MOB dropped an item for whom. It is more or less ideal to play alone, and anyone playing nearby not in your group will actually directly compete with you for quest completion.

            Then you have the other content which you do with other people once you’ve found a group which can take a while and be a mess of competing personalities and varied levels of competence.

            And PvP is a mess where while leveling you’re in tiers where at the bottom you will get your butt kicked and at the top you’re just hours away from being at the bottom — not to mention massive differences in gear. And even the top-end play for max level characters swings wildly because you may have people who simply aren’t in good gear regardless of whether or not they are trying.

            Most of those above things aren’t an issue in GW2. There is no competition for objectives. Dynamic group participation is supported and enforced in every way. PvP automatically sets everyone on a (mostly) even level and provides open access to potentially unobtained gear so that you can play how you like. (Uplevelled so that you can’t take it back to PvE and have great gear for a pittance.)

            About the only thing in GW2 that is similar are the group dungeons, and that’s because a lot of people like that stuff and desire greater challenge with a tight-knit group.

          • mseifullah says:

            Rift does those exact things. In fact, this entire WIT makes me wish wish I had the money to play Rift again just as much as it makes me want to go out and play GW2.

          • Xzi says:

            That’s just it…GW2 does everything WoW does, everything RIFT does, and does some of it better. All without the bloated monthly fee. It’s the logical evolution of what people want from an MMO, and I’m not ashamed to say that it has enthralled me. The exploration, crafting, and personal stories are particularly engaging and implemented in a way I haven’t seen in other MMOs.

            Quite frankly I’m disappointed in RPS with all the talk of GW2 “not living up to the hype.” If there was any hype to begin with, it was created by this very site and/or personal references from beta players who simply enjoyed their experience. Over-hyping it in your own mind is something else entirely.

            The bottom line is that the game is incredible and deserves to be played by all fans of the genre. Whether or not it lives up to some imaginary standard you had set beforehand is to be decided by the individual.

          • Lemming says:

            Gotta agree with Xzi, frankly.

          • Phantoon says:

            Warcraft being opened in the first paragraph doesn’t mean you’re invited to come in and dump on this game because you didn’t play Warcraft in its heyday.

            It was not a challenge, stand down. Otherwise, the entire thread is just going to be ANOTHER flamewar about warcraft.

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          • yarnix says:

            I’d say, slamming an MMO only 1 week after release, is about as short-sighted as it gets. I’ve played at least 7-8 other MMOs over the last 8-9 years, and I’ve never been able to give a fair evaluation in under two weeks from start.

            GW2 is an incredibly fun game so far. I have 3 characters, from 3 different races & starting areas, with my most played character being a level 38 elementalist. And despite the annoying launch issues it had/has (which are getting resolved rather quickly, with daily game updates), this game is the most fun I’ve had in an MMO since the launch of WoW. It’s the first game since WoW that’s captured that same feeling of awe and wonder of experiencing a new world. And considering you don’t have to pay a subscription fee, it’s also potentially the best value I will have ever found in a game (assuming I’m playing it in two months, which is very likely).

      • Bobzer says:

        Try doing the dungeons without co-ordination.

        Just make sure you bring plenty of gold to repair your armour after you fail continuously for an hour.

        • Paper Milk Bag says:

          By the time you wipe from the fourth trash mob, you learn to co-ordinate. Even the worst party I’ve been in learnt this, until someone needed to leave and disbanded the group.

      • Toberoth says:

        Hijack the first thread much?

      • goettel says:

        What you call a “grind” is what I call doing something again and again because I’m lovin’ it. I’m sure your (potential) boy- or girlfriend would agree on that.

        Secondly, “interaction” can mean many things. The fact that GW2 doesn’t require me to text chat for interaction is a positive to me, not a negative. Helping out (or not) and coordinating combat for mutual buffs by learning the various professions and skills is interaction to me. It’s an MMO RPG which actually allows more of the “RPG” part by cutting out as much IRL chat as possible to be able to have your characters interact, by ACTING in the world (or not).

        In e.g. WoW, “building complex online relationships with groups of other players” now translates to “report to the bank to be inspected by some douche kid who’ll judge if you’re well-geared enough, if you’ve ticked the achievements he wants and if you don’t mind shutting up while listening to minus 50 DKP ranting” – only to be able to experience (or more often suffer through) content with a band of sour-pusses out for a purple.

        RPS – and Meg Ryan – are absolutely right on this one: GW2 is a long overdue breath of fresh air in a stale, stale genre, and I and many others are and will be playing the shit out of it.

      • RandomGameR says:

        I totally agree with all of the points you just made regarding alt-text on images as well as the game bioshock. You are totally right on in all regards on those two topics.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Yeah try doing some pvp with no coordination … you will fail, pathetically, people with laugh at you failure and spit on your grave.

      • HaVoK308 says:

        It is as good as people say it is. For them. There is no such thing as over hyped. People either enjoy the game and tell people about it or they do not. There is no form of objectivity to be found. When you make comments claiming it’s not as good as people are claiming, you are basically saying their opinions are wrong. And they don’t know what they do or do not like.

        • Consumatopia says:

          Of course there’s an objectivity to found. 23YearOldBedWetr not only stated his opinion of the game, but *explained* his opinion–describing the attributes of the game he didn’t like. His explained opinion is therefore falsified if either the game doesn’t have the attributes he claims it does (and I find the arguments of others here somewhat convincing on this front), or if the attributes he doesn’t like about the game are actually good. Whether the game has the attributes or not is a simple descriptive fact. Whether those attributes are good or not is an arguable opinion, but note that it’s a more abstract, general, higher-order opinion than one’s opinion of the original game. And this process can be applied recursively–people can explain why they think an attribute is good or bad in terms of even higher-level concepts.

          It is quite similar to the process of developing scientific laws to explain descriptive facts–we seek more general laws that can be applied to a wider range of phenomena. And, just as in science, when an single observation contradicts a more general one, sometimes we consider the general theory to be wrong, while other times we consider the single observation to be a measurement error (e.g. those faster than light neutrinos). Yes, it is possible for people to be mistaken in their opinions of a game. They may dislike the game for reasons that have nothing to do with the merits of the game itself (they just happened to be in a bad mood that day) or even convince themselves that they like a game because they have a reason to want to like it (e.g. so they don’t have to feel bad about the sunk cost of spending time and money playing it). Or it is possible that their opinion of the game is correct, that their subconscious has found some good aspect of the game that their theory never found.

          To put it another way, our brains belong to the same physical world as everything else science describes. Whatever our opinion of a specific phenomena is, there exists a descriptive, factual, correct explanation for our coming to have that opinion. We may have opinions about that explanation–we like the fact that we like things with pleasing symmetry, we don’t like liking something just to avoid having to admit making a mistake in buying it. These meta-opinions, in turn, have physical explanations, and we may have opinions about those explanations, and so on. But note that for every subjective opinion, there is a dual objective fact–the physical mechanism by which we came to have that opinion. And vice-versa–for every physical mechanism, we may have subjective opinions about it.

          And, while finding consensus in a world of near-infinite complexity such as our own is difficult (if not simply ruled by some sort of diagonalization), as a matter of descriptive fact we will find some common attributes in the physical explanations for human beings coming to like things. Our opinions, whether caused by biology or culture, do not seem to be entirely random.

          Furthermore, we cannot rule out that some aspects of what we find to be beautiful or good are simply inherent to the nature of the universe–see, for example, this argument.

          • mazzratazz says:

            I enjoyed that write-up, thank you. Quite enlightening. Thanks for the lecture link as well, downloaded it for future reference.

            The best thing was how this was all effectively a reply to a commenter called 23YearOldBedWetr, one of the greatest internet monikers I have ever seen.

          • Consumatopia says:

            If you had the patience to read through all that junk I wrote, I definitely recommend that lecture–it’s a much more interesting argument. He expanded it a bit into a chapter in his book “The Beginning of Infinity”, which is also very good.

      • Enikuo says:

        Hi-jacking this comment just to get at the top is obnoxious. There were plenty of other more appropriate places to respond.

      • Gnoupi says:

        “This game has sped up the play of MMOs but in the meantime has torn down what makes MMOs so great in the first place – building complex online relationships with groups of other players; building tribes that you party with every chance you can because the game requires you to work together and foster these relationships.”

        It might make it so great for some, but for me it’s a chore. I love multiplayer games, multiplayer experiences. Interacting in a game with others, achieving a goal with many. And Guild Wars 2 allows me to do that without spending 6 hours building relationships.

        I don’t have the time to build online relationships with strangers, spend countless hours in a chat before doing something. I want the multiplayer experience, without having to spend one hour socializing to get it. GW2 gives me exactly that: people naturally gather towards objectives, and act together. No need for grouping, no need to actually say words, because the game is already built towards cooperation. You get rewarded for combo spells, you get rewarded for reviving. And it pushes people to play together.

        In WoW, if I was seeing someone in difficulty, I had two possible reactions: ignore him and go on with my quest (for which he was stealing kills), or save him, talk to him, ask him to group up, go on with the quest with him, ask him what he wants to do next, etc. In GW2, I see someone in difficulty, I first throw a spell or two from far. More in difficulty, I go to help, and revive. I get xp, I get a thanks for that in the process, and we go on with our things.

        I understand your need though. You play MMO as a social experience, in which you will meet and interact with people. GW2 allows that, but doesn’t force you to do it, so indeed it can feel more mechanical.

        But for someone like me who is playing the whole game with his girlfriend and has a limited time to play, that’s the ideal way to have a MMORPG. We can enjoy big battles, cooperation with others without having to actually socialize with strangers. And it feels great.

        • Phantoon says:

          I met a new group of online pals first beta weekend.

          The game is anything but anti-social.

        • Ragnar says:

          I think the main difference is the sense of ownership and teamwork. Relating it to WoW, it’s the difference between running a raid with your friends / guild and running the Alterac Valley 40-man battleground. In WoW raids, you’re a cog in a well oiled machine. In GW2, you’re a member of a mob.

          In the raid, you’re running it with people you know. It is your raid, and the success and failure depends on everyone. You all have to work together and co-ordinate to defeat the boss. Everything is carefully orchestrated, and every fight is an example of careful planning and execution.

          In AV, you’re just 1 of 40 people running around, doing your own thing, and trying to defeat the boss. It’s not your AV, it’s just an AV. There’s no sense of ownership over the result. There’s no planning or execution, just dozens of people throwing themselves at the boss until the boss falls over. Instead of a carefully orchestrated event, it feels like a zerg rush (using the WoW term, not the SC one).

          GW2 feels like a perpetual Alterac Valley. As Rich accurately pointed out, the quests put the “mundane” in “boring mundane chores”, so you’re really left with events. And each event feels like the chaotic mess of AV, with everyone running around trying to contribute their small part towards the overall goal. The boss fights are even more chaotic than the boss fights in AV. There’s no feeling of being an essential member of the team, just of being a random person in a mob of people.

          • Dominic White says:

            If you really need to feel the weight of a team on your shoulders, then play the dungeons. There’s 8 at launch, and each one has four variants plus some random elements, so there’s a lot of variety there. Tight, very difficult 5-man instances.

      • 23YearOldBedWetr says:

        Dunno why everyone keeps mentioning WoW that game is obv trash. So gross.

      • Wreckdum says:

        TL;DR This nerd doesn’t have any friends. I haven’t been in less than a full group my whole way to 80. This is by far the most social MMO I have ever played in the last 10 years.

        Faulting the game for you having the inability to be social is unfair.

      • Roshin says:

        “This game has sped up the play of MMOs but in the meantime has torn down what makes MMOs so great in the first place – building complex online relationships with groups of other players; building tribes that you party with every chance you can because the game requires you to work together and foster these relationships.”

        I don’t get this bit. How has GW2 “torn down” you interacting with others? True, the game doesn’t *force* you to party early on, but what’s stopping you from talking to others and partying with your friends anyway?

      • chewbaccasdad says:

        Aside from the blatant hijacking, this is why I’m not in any rush to see the official forums up and running. So tired of ass-backwards opinions and those who hark for some mythical golden age of MMOs. You don’t like it? Don’t play it. But don’t act like you have some magical insight or that other people are somehow wrong for deriving enjoyment from the game or that things used to be SO. MUCH. BETTER. All you have are opinions and opinions are like assholes; everyone has one and it’s normally pretty stinky.

      • Shralla says:

        Except if you are even the slightest bit serious about MMOs, even the slightest bit serious about having fun with them, you’ll find yourself a guild or just play with your friends. Nobody wants to be forced to beg some random asshole online to be in their group only for them to turn out to suck.

      • 2late2die says:

        “GW2 does not foster building online relationships like other MMOs do”
        What the heck are you talking about?? You can form parties and guilds just like with any other MMO. If that’s how you enjoy playing you are more than welcomed to do it. It just doesn’t force you into forming a party to complete a challenge – if anything it’s more social, it lets me play the way I like playing, not the way it thinks I should play.
        If folks aren’t helping their fellow players during tough encounters or don’t agree on their strategy it’s their fault not the games, and it happens in every MMO regardless of what systems they use – you can’t force player cooperation (being in the same party doesn’t mean the people in it are cooperating).
        And pray tell me how exactly something like WoW encourages online relationships with kill-stealing and griefing?

      • whatdoiknw says:

        hit the nail right on target. Nameless flash mob in. Kill. Nameless flash mob disperse.

        the game feels lonely. I’m also probably a minority who HATES the downlvling. I want to feel powerful and go back to own that MOA who’s killed me more than a few times.

        • aliksy says:

          Then go back and kill it. With all the bonuses from gear and traits, plus new skills you probably unlocked, plus the improvements in player skill you probably acquire,d you should be able to stomp all over low level critters.

          Downscaling prevents level 80 people from screwing up all the low level events.

          Also I don’t really give a shit about your need to power trip.

      • BluElement says:

        Your problem seems to be that you’re expecting everyone else to start these “relationships” for you. How about you do some work and talk to some of these people that are “mindlessly grinding” right next to you? It’s funny that you’re blaming a game for not forcing you to start relationships…

  2. Flappybat says:

    My friend got hacked, probably due to a bad choice of password (he got hacked in WoW before). Not Arenanet’s fault but their customer service is really slow to respond, he’s been locked out for five days now. They have no phone line, their “live chat” is only meant to be up two days a week but doesn’t actually come up then and they take 24 hours to respond to every email. There is also no in-game ticket system and you have to look to Reddit or Twitter for updates on what is happening in the game.

    For me it’s been fine apart from the interruptions to mail, lack of trading house and forming a dungeon party yesterday only for no-one being able to get in the dungeon with anyone else.

    • Paper Milk Bag says:

      Yeah, this problem is troubling. We’ve suggested physical auth devices many times (prior to BWEs as well), but ANet clearly prefers not to, which leads to hacking and lost accounts. I don’t even believe that it’s keyloggers, but more likely on /their/ side (just like in GW1). No phone service is questionable; NCsoft can certainly afford it, but they haven’t.

      Lacking options for customer service in 2012 is just poor form.

  3. Dominic White says:

    While playing earlier, I realized that I’d levelled up four times without a single town run. And then I saw a big boss monster just over the hill with a dozen players closing in on it, so I followed them and forgot entirely about town again. It’s a constant string of fun, interesting things to do with very little filler.

    I’ve never liked MMOs of the WoW/Everquest lineage. I really do think that GW2, while sharing some elements, is a wildly different game. It’s familiar and accessible for those who are trad-MMO fans, but the actual gameplay under the surface is quite refreshing. The combat feels like a more arcadey take on DOTA, rather than cycling through hotkeys, and the PvP is very intense and E-sportish.

    • Plivesey says:

      This has to be one of the first RPGs (MMO or otherwise) that I’ve played where I haven’t been looking at my xp bar to see how long I have to go until the next level. That is a good sign that the game is great, in my eyes.

    • goettel says:

      GW2 feels like they wrote down everything that was wrong with MMO’s, then simply sat down to fix all of it.

      And even though they’ve not succeeded on all fronts, left out things that some might consider essential in an MMO (e.g. raiding) and dropped the ball on some (important) things, it’s simply a better MMO than the other ten or so MMO’s I’ve played over the years. It’s the logical conclusion to the (now) old form of EQ/WoW/etc.-like MMO’s.

      The next great MMO to drop will have to be another giant leap forwards to top it.

      Ranting on for a bit more: GW2 has dragged the genre from the stinky hole it was sinking in, and I’m enjoying falling back into my vanilla WoW sense of wonder and excitement, just taking it slow, doing only things I enjoy as often as I enjoy them, and basking in the obvious – pardon the cliche – blood, sweat and tears shed by designers, writers, artists and countless other people. Heck, I’m gonna buy me some more gems just so I can throw more money at them.

      As an old cynical bastard, it makes me sick to read my own gushing. But once in a while you just have to party and hurl.

      • Nesetalis says:

        I have to disagree to an extent.
        They do have raids… but they are closer to EQ style raids than WoW.
        You don’t create a massive party, you don’t go in to a specific instance (aside from the zone instance)

        There are specific world bosses laying around that take alot of players and a lot of skill to kill.
        There is a lvl 40 something boss in the zone north of lion’s arch that can one or two shot most heroes (and since you are forcibly down-leveled… that means something)
        Took 15 of us to take him down the other day. Was frantic since it was a rather ad-hoc bunch. But i’m sure once the guilds get organized so will the encounters.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      This sounds like the Hi-Def version of Realm of the Mad God?

  4. geldonyetich says:

    I found myself fished into the game despite being a repeat MMOG burnout and, thankfully, I haven’t regretted my purchase thus far. Yes, you could say that this is a game in the World of Warcraft mold, and yet… yet… it seems to be different enough that I’m finding myself captivated by it.

    Perhaps it’s the unusual setting, without the usual trappings of elves, dwarves, and mana bars.

    Perhaps it’s the unusual method in which the hot bars work, with it changing every time you equip a different weapon or auxiliary toolbar.

    Perhaps it’s the way the “heart” quests and dynamic events are handled: talking to the NPCs is optional, and the quests always seem to give you more than one thing you could be doing to advance them.

    Perhaps it’s that progression is very much exploration based, as opposed to grinding away at quests or what-have-you. You have to explore to find the quests, the quests are finished fairly quickly, and then you move on, running into dynamic events along the way. Map completion (getting all the quests, skill points, points of interest, vistas and so on) is a large part of the drive to play, and that’s pure exploration.

    It’s probably all of the above and a few things I forgot. All I can be certain of is that GW2 is an easy recommendation for money down plus no subscription.

    • Bobzer says:

      “Yes, you could say that this is a game in the World of Warcraft mold, ”

      I think people mean the Everquest mold and I find it redundant to compare most mmo’s to WoW, it’s like comparing every shooter to Cod just because it has shooter elements.

      • DrGonzo says:

        No, it’s about using a clear example. WoW is a far more well known game, therefore more people will understand his point.

        I could say, Quake, when I meant a first person shooter. But if I used Cod as an example, even my mum would know what I was talking about. So Cod is better for it than Quake. It’s not about who invented the genre.

        • quintesse says:

          I think that entirely depends on how old you are, for me Wolfenstein/Doom/Quake are definitely the standard bearers of the genre, in *my* world many wouldn’t know what CoD is (they stopped spending all their free time on playing games and started having kids probably) but all of them have fond memories (or not so fond, depending if they were fraggers or fraggees) of playing Quake.

        • jon_hill987 says:

          Quake is a shooter, cod goes with chips.

      • malkav11 says:

        WoW certainly took plenty of cues from Everquest and other MMOs that built off what EQ did, but the way it approached things was radically different enough to usher in a new era of MMO design. It is impossible to overemphasize how big a shift things like the quest-chain focused levelling model and instanced dungeons were at the time. And virtually every MMO post-dating WoW has cribbed from WoW’s approach to MMO design, -not- that of Everquest.

        Or, in other words, it’s like comparing shooters to Call of Duty because they have a perk-based levelling system in multiplayer, and a fast paced, super-linear, spectacle-ridden singleplayer campaign with little to no player agency. Those are features that Call of Duty specifically popularized and it wouldn’t be appropriate to go back to Doom or Quake just because those games happen to be forefathers of the genre.

        • Ritashi says:

          I like to look at it this way. Everquest was quite clearly the first big name of a particular type of MMO – I don’t know what predated it or where it evolved from, but the point is that Everquest clearly represented a major step in a particular direction. It didn’t force the entire genre to change, any more than WoW did, but it definitely represented something new and unique. Western (for lack of a better descriptor) MMOs didn’t then have all that many developments, until WoW came along.

          WoW was, in many ways, still in the Everquest mold. Playing the two is very different, of course, but they are clearly the same type of game in many ways. EQ was what Blizzard, and the whole Western (again it’s a bad descriptor) MMO market, knew. But WoW made absolutely massive leaps in a particular direction, using the EQ model as a starting point. Look at the quest system. On one hand, you could just say “well you’re still killing mobs and looting them to level”, but on the other hand it is just so radically different to play that that comparison doesn’t really hold up. Not to mention the ways in which you aren’t always just killing mobs, even though it’s still a good chunk of what you do. WoW made major strides along a particular development path. Note that I don’t say “Forward”, because development of this sort of thing isn’t linear. It branches. Where WoW took EQ and went one way, doubtless there are other games that took it and stepped in a perpendicular direction. WoW was the biggest success that branched off from EQ, but that doesn’t mean it is inherently the best path. It just means it was a popular one, and notably that it took steps towards what some large audience wants to play, while alienating a relatively small audience who wanted a different direction. WoW took Everquest, and said “What if we could have this game, but guide the player and make it easier for them to get to the fun stuff?” Thus, the theme park MMO was born.

          Thus comes the age of WoW. Many games tried to make similar experiences, but they all boiled down to “WoW + feature xyz,” which is not a real advancement. It’s worth noting that so-called “KMMOs” were making major advancements during this time, borrowing both from their own roots and learning some tricks from the “Western” MMO world. They aren’t particularly relevant to this discussion yet, but they’re worth noting. Anyway, you have the “Age of WoW,” as I like to call it, where untold masses of games tried and failed to make significant advances to the genre. This was in almost all cases due to a failure to understand what it means to take a major stride forward in the genre; they made WoW plus xyz, whereas WoW achieved it’s place by making something totally new that had obvious roots but evolved in every aspect. Many of these games could serve as a bit of a crystal ball through which we could get a glimpse of where MMOs could go next, but nothing more solid than that. On the very tail end of this age we have gotten two games which actually make notable strides in the same direction WoW initially moved away from EQ. SWTOR and TSW are both notable for refining the genre to some of its most core components, and seeing if those were what made it tick. I suppose I don’t have to say that they turned out to be wrong. They took WoW and refined it even more until they got what amounted to a single player game that was always online and hadn’t taken into account the massive advances that single player gaming has made in the past decade or so. They arguably were pretty major steps along a particular development chain, and it would be unfair to describe either of them as “WoW plus xyz.” Just turns out that few people actually wanted what they have to offer.

          And now, finally, GW2 arrives on the scene. GW2 takes WoW, and makes major steps along perpendicular axes to TSW and SWTOR. GW2 said “What if we take this awesome theme park experience, and we remove the rails?” Take everything WoW has to offer, but let the player pick and choose what they like to do. Killing centaurs not your thing? Go find some care packages, maybe help some wounded soldiers. Maybe follow a guard as he goes out on patrol. Perhaps you could sit and watch as some Ettins try to take a cave from some giant guy, and then fight to help him reclaim it. Maybe you’ll decide that you want to help out a fisherman who’s run up and told you his village is being destroyed by a Drake Broodmother, only to have it turn out to be a bandit ambush the whole time. Sure, in some way you’re still completing objectives marked on your map to level. But I’ll be damned if it feels anything like that while playing. And that’s not to mention all the other things you can do to level. Sure on some level you’re gonna be completing some map objectives (WvW barred). But you can also be crafting and exploring. You can wander around the map doing whatever the hell you feel like, kneel at that shrine because you felt like it, and kick off an awesome series of events. You even get bonus xp for killing mobs that haven’t been killed in a while. The main point is, GW2 and WoW are undeniably similar. Playing each of them, they are from the same breed of game. But GW2 can in no real way be described as “WoW plus xyz.” GW2 started with WoW, then took every feature and evolved. I’m told it takes a few hints from KMMOs, and I know it takes hints from an entirely different line of games in the DAoC vein for WvW. It definitely takes some hints from GW1, which was never really an MMO so much as an interesting evolution of co-op game (Diablo 3, interestingly enough, hails from that same vein. Good or bad I’m not arguing, but it’s interesting to note).

          Basically, I argue that GW2 is to WoW what WoW was to Everquest. They are major evolutions, and the first 2 each defined a major era in what I’m calling “Western” MMOs, for lack of a better term. I’m confident that GW2 will do the same. As an aside, the MMO is perhaps the most interesting genre of all to study, mostly because it’s made up of so many interdependent lines of development over the years.

          • malkav11 says:

            I sort of agree with your points, but Guild Wars 2 does not feel to me like the revolutionary next step that WoW was from games like Everquest. It’s changing more than most recent MMOs, but I’m not playing all that differently in the final analysis. If anything, I’d call The Secret World’s approach more revolutionary, between the “levelless” (it isn’t really, but it’s closer than most games get) skill build system and the ARG-like investigation quests. And of course, it isn’t really revolutionary either, nor is it apparently going to be successful enough to spawn imitators.

          • shadowy_light says:

            I don’t know if this was just me willfully missing the boat entirely, but even upon release I did not find WoW to be a revolution of any kind. It felt like an unambitious but spectacularly polished version of what went before it.

      • mouton says:

        Everquest is a graphical MUD anyway.

      • geldonyetich says:

        How soon we forget Meridian 59. Upon this, you would probably reply, “But I never played, nor heard of Meridian 59.”

        Well, here’s a shocking thought for you: most MMORPG players would say the same about a game that predates World of Warcraft. Seriously, when EverQuest topped out at about 550k subscribers and World of Warcraft over 13 million, the number of players who consider EverQuest the first example of the 3d graphical MMORPG genre is less than 5%. (And they’d still be wrong: Meridian 59 has a closer claim to that.)

        You could even attempt arguing that EverQuest is the best example because it was the first to be popular. Well, speaking in terms of relative popularity, I imagine the ratio of active subscribers between M59:EverQuest was comparable to the ratio between EverQuest:WoW. So, if that’s the precedent you’re trying to set – that popularity trumps who really came first – you’ll find no traction there, either.

        However, since GW2 has more similarities with World of Warcraft than it does EverQuest, while being quite distinctly different than either – there’s not even a mana bar – this whole tangent of “but EverQuest was first” is completely moot because I wasn’t making a historical comparison: I was making a present-day observation.

        That’ll learn ya for getting fixated on an early sentence and ignoring the bulk of my message, Sir Internet G. McArgupants.

        • quintesse says:

          Ah Meridian59! We never played it a lot (can’t remember why exactly, some technical difficulties, I remember it was really difficult to get with the same group of people on the same server or something like that) but it sure made us dream of better things to come :)

  5. deke913 says:

    Hit all my points pretty well. The downscaling being the one that messes with me the most. Definitely a two edged sword. Fantastic game overall however.

    My big thing with most mmos since breaking from wow was animations. Which seems trivial to some maybe but in the context of fighting, for instance, makes a huuuge difference. I couldn’t play swtor for that reason. Combat in wow was (and it saddens me to say it) perfectly fluid. This is the best I’ve seen since.

    • scottb says:

      With the combat, my favorite aspect is the importance of positioning and movement. In WoW, it pretty much came down to whether you were in front of the mob or behind it, and not standing in fire. In GW2 (as a thief at least,) if you don’t keep moving and dodging attacks, you will get smashified quickly. Once you get a handle on all of your skills, you can defeat veteran mobs 2 levels above you without ever getting hit.

      I’m anxious to see how the combat changes in dungeons and higher level stuff (at level 35 now, haven’t tried a dungeon yet). Seems like class interaction is more than just applying buffs and debuffs, with the combo fields and finishers.

  6. Demiath says:

    I’m sure this very familiar-looking MMO is decent and all, but I can’t help shake the feeling that this game is getting a free pass just because it’s subscription-free – whereas a much more bold and ambitious experiment like The Secret World got the opposite treatment merely because it comes bundled with what was up until the last few months or so deemed to be a perfectly legitimate business model.

    • bonglord420 says:

      Actually TSW got canned because it wasn’t very good.

    • Dominic White says:

      SW: TOR caught flak because it’s literally WoW with a Star Wars skin.

      The Secret World got in trouble because the combat is about as much fun as wanking with sandpaper, and it makes you slog through a lot of generic MMO filler of similar enjoyment value before letting you do more interesting plot things. It would have made a great turn-based, singleplayer RPG, but as a subscription MMO? No.

      This is actually a fun game, right from the first few minutes. And then it continues to be fun for 40+ hours after that.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It’s not getting a free pass. If it was boring, it would be boring at any price, and the many free-to-play RPGs out there haven’t become awesome for the lack of a sub. It is however getting praise for the fact that it’s not designed around the MMO tricks that were created with that model in mind, including the slow character development, the regular downtime, and many other constant irritations.

      For me, The Secret World didn’t get a bad reception because of the sub (though it didn’t help) but because I didn’t like it. Great writing. Great world. Hated the MMO side of it, and had no desire to play it at any price.

      Now, if it had been a single player game…

      • mispelledyouth says:

        It makes me a little sad every time I see you comment on your own articles without the gloriously authoritative tint of red in the background.

      • lexoneir says:

        You said in your article that you’re ok with the WoW mold, which TSW seems to embrace. Also, the MMO side of it is unique because it allows (or forces) you to build your own class. I suppose that could be a little complicated for some people, but it is unique. The grind is still there in GW2 from what everyone is saying, and what you’ve admitted. I’m not sure what, exactly, you mean when you say that it wasn’t enjoyable because of the MMO part of it.

        GW2 seems like an incredibly hyped MMO, which has built itself around immediate gratification. This has led people to feel like it has substance, when it doesn’t, because they get candy right away instead of having to do anything for it. Is that what we want in games? To have all the candy given to us right away, for no reason? What does that say about us as people?

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          I mean that while I enjoyed the core story and concept, I didn’t like the endless padding, the majority of the quest design, the pacing, the combat, the constant squabble between its single and multiplayer leanings, and most importantly, the fact that every second was a painful reminder of how much better it would have been able to do that world and its story as a single-player focused RPG.

          It has nothing to do with how complicated or how like WoW it is, and everything to do with it being an ultimately boring experience that squandered one of the genre’s coolest concepts on a seriously dull, disappointing game.

          “Is that what we want in games? To have all the candy given to us right away, for no reason? What does that say about us as people?”

          That we like to have fun? Every other genre offers immediate gratification. There’s no shame in wanting it, or enjoying it, regardless of what hardcore MMO fans will often pretend. Even if Guild Wars 2 only lasts a month, if it’s a really good month, what does it matter?

          • mouton says:

            It matters for the MMO crowd. Theirs are yearnings for an eternal game.

          • jrodman says:

            I’m a bit doubtful about the eternal game idea. I think almost all the players in the MMO space have played long enough to understand that every game gets old, eventually. In that light, a game that you play for 6 months, or maybe even 2, might seem acceptable, if it offers fun while you play.

            Of course a 2 month game can’t have the same social bonds as a 5 year game. But eggs and omelettes, I say.

          • Dominic White says:

            Yeah, I second this line of thinking – who cares if the game isn’t 200+ hours long? If it’s a good 70-ish hour RPG with replay value AND an MMO on top without a subscription, what do I possibly have to complain about when I’ve finally exhausted it?

            The great thing is that there’s nothing stopping me from putting the game down for a few months, then coming back to see all the patches and updates that have been added in that time.

          • CoreWolf says:

            “That we like to have fun? Every other genre offers immediate gratification. There’s no shame in wanting it, or enjoying it, regardless of what hardcore MMO fans will often pretend. Even if Guild Wars 2 only lasts a month, if it’s a really good month, what does it matter?”

            This is my opinion. Some people are still going to want MMOs, but there’s a large group of people out there who’ve gone through the MMO experience, and have fond memories of it but don’t have either the time or the patience for the ‘traditional’ MMORPG. For them, this game satisfies that craving, without requiring devotion, or causing burnout. I like the fact that I can get to experience the fun of an MMO without having to destroy my life to do so. That’s a pretty major evolution in the genre.

          • Phantoon says:

            I contest your idea, Jrodman (robot master of jrodding).

            I say that Guild Wars 2′s social system works far in advance of their bioc- the competitor’s ways, and a fresh start means no old grudges. It’s far easier to make friends and meet people than I’ve ever seen in any game.

            I met an entirely new group of people that I’ve been hanging around with since the first beta weekend. Sure, GW2 doesn’t have the BASE that all the other, old games have. But it doesn’t need it.

          • Nesetalis says:

            @CoreWolf
            I think thats just called growing up honestly :P
            Eventually you run out of time/energy/patience to do the MMO shuffle. Jobs, Kids, Hobbies…
            But there are still plenty of folks with time on their hands and nothing to do. In that respect There will probably always be room for a timewaster MMO.
            Guildwars 2 though is wonderful for me for the very reason you mentioned. I don’t have the focus or the time to sit down and dedicate a chunk of my life to an MMO. I still want to do the guild thing, but the casual raiding guild in WoW schtick failed horribly. We could never clear the dungeons. Guildwars is another story.

        • Cam says:

          “Is that what we want in games? To have all the candy given to us right away, for no reason? What does that say about us as people?”

          It means we want what we pay for. If I’m shelling out 60 bucks for a game, I’m not doing it for the opportunity to grind for 40 hours before i start doing anything really fun. I once heard a comedian put it this way; “games are the only media format where people are forced to work for things they already payed for.” He was saying this about not being able to play the song he wanted in guitar hero right away, but i think this point can be applied to an even higher degree to MMOs that force endless grinding.

          • Cinek says:

            If you want everything you paid for – why pay at all? Just go and watch entire game on youtube.
            It’s win-win: You don’t spend any money and you get to see everything in it!
            Awesome, isn’t it?

          • Phantoon says:

            I’m pretty sure Yahtzee said that quote, so yeah. Comedian.

          • Memph says:

            I believe it was Dara O’Briain

        • equatorian says:

          B-but we would’ve already done something to deserve the candy. We worked to earn money to pay for the game. We’ve already paid our price of entry to the fairgrounds. And really, there shouldn’t need to be any other price we need to pay.

          Imagine any other place we go to have fun. If Disneyland/Aquariums/Museums force us to work in the kitchen for 70+ hours before letting us go on rides or get into exhibits and we still enjoy it because ‘we’ve done something to earn the privilege’, what would that say about us?

          Most games that offer ‘unlockable progression’ is about the challenge. You’re asked to complete involving and interesting (hopefully) tasks before being given goodies. Many goodies exist just to make you able to get through the next task. GW2 does offer that. It does have level tiers. It just doesn’t force you to do something completely boring just to get to the involving and interesting bits, which IMHO is a good thing.

          • Nesetalis says:

            Oh so true.
            Guildwars 2 has so many challenges that force you to work for your reward. Dungeons are a good example, they are brutal. Another one… Trolls End and Sharkmaw Cavern in Lions arch.
            I’m playing a maximum size Charr… I did this without realizing the collision box was the same on charr and human and what not. Maybe a little taller, but same width. This means I never quite know where my feet are. Then the size of my character means I can never see where I’m trying to jump to in those caves.
            A true act of frustration.

        • Erithtotl says:

          “To have all the candy given to us right away, for no reason? What does that say about us as people?”

          I’ve always found this as the most mindboggling incomprehensible attitude in gaming and the reason we get so many crap MMOs.

          We paid for the damn product. I don’t pay to work second job it makes no sense!

          I remember arguing with a friend who after levling a couple of characters in WoW, had paid people to level characters for him so he didn’t have to do it.

          I’m like, “what does it say about a game, that the gameplay is so awful that you are actually willing to pay someone to PLAY THE GAME YOU ARE PAYING FOR BY THE MONTH SO YOU DONT HAVE TO!”

          • Nesetalis says:

            Part of it is the entry threshold.
            “You cannot do PVP until you have these skillsets.” so you don’t make the PVP too unbalanced.
            or “You cannot raid until you have met the gear criteria.” So you don’t ruin the raid for everyone else.

            these make sense in that context, but most of the time wasting bullshit in MMOs these days have nothing to do with ability to play.

            I remember playing with a few folks in WoW who purchased their lvl 60 characters. They didn’t know how to play, had terrible gear, and could not do an end tier dungeon without killing the rest of the team.

            Eventually they went back and played a new character at lower levels to learn the skills they were lacking for the higher levels without ruining the fun for everyone else.

            But stretching that out to 200 hours of “tutorial” is insane.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Having bought and played The Secret World as well, I’d say there’s more to it than that.

      Despite its modern setting, the Secret World innovates less, overall, than Guild Wars 2 does by having more traditional quest hubs and a theme park system. It may take place in a radically new kind of world, it may have a more actiony combat mechanic, but it’s still going through the same old World of Warcraft motions even more so than GW2 is.

      Another thing that bothers me about The Secret World was the overall lack of diversity between the different skill types; it seems to me that there’s a great deal of redundancy between the various melee/ranged/magic abilities, and they’d have been better off with less abilities that have more uniqueness (as GW2 has done).

      That said, I will say that The Secret World chose to use a subscription model was indeed a heavy slant against it. You say this was a “perfectly good business model up to a few months ago,” I say that it was an outdated business model years ago. It was a model that suited a world when MMORPGs were fresh and new and you had more money. Now, I have a choice of hundreds of different MMORPGs – they’re no longer so very fresh and new – and thanks to the economy not many of us have more money and most of us have less.

      More to the point, the number of MMORPGs in the world that may be worthy of a subscription fee is still the same number it’s ever been: one, maybe two, in the entire world. That’s always been the maximum number I can make the time to play at a time. This is an honor reserved for what I deem to be the very best of them all, and the other 99% should not bank on me being gullible enough to shell out for what I can already get in a F2P alternative. (Of course, what other fools choose to do with their wallets – e.g. 12 EVE Online accounts for multiboxing purposes – is their business.)

      Besides, judging by the way The Secret World was designed, with the cosmetic outfits and built in F2P micro transaction center, it was obviously intended to go F2P from the start. It seems a number of developers are adapting the, “Charge box price plus subscription while the game is new and interesting, use systems that were suspiciously there at release to revert to F2P when subscriptions stop being viable,” model: it happened with DC Universe Online, Champions Online, Conan Online, and now it’s happening with The Secret World. Personally, I find that model is a little underhanded, and the karmic backlash being that a lot of future players are soured by not being there at release day.

    • MadFox says:

      I can only speak for myself. I don’t play MMO’s much, played WOW for a week and didn’t like it and tried SWTOR and hated it. I don’t know why I bought Guild Wars 2 but I really love it. To each their own though but I felt like SWTOR and WOW were like working to get to a good point but rarely care about my level in GW2 so far.

  7. kirkbjerk says:

    I’ve found the dungeons have started to flesh out playing tactics and proper skill choices. I’ve found them a great deal more challenging than the ‘outside’ events and a blast to complete.

  8. bonglord420 says:

    This is an absolutely fantastic game and I highly recommend you buy it. I have never been able to get into MMOs – other than a couple of years in love with City of Heroes – but this one has me utterly captivated. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least give it a try.

    • McDan says:

      Yes, very much yes. Been playing a couple of days and I love it. For me there isn’t much wrong with it, but I accept that others might have problems with stuff. One of the best MMO’s I’ve played except EVE and the first guild wars. Love it love it love it. Also another great write up Mr Cobbett!

    • McDan says:

      Also I’d just like to say that I was playing the first guild wars up until early this year and there were still large numbers doing quests and exploring in the world etc. And thinking about how you did get your own instance in the original when doing a mission are or just out exploring. So it’s still great being out in places and just being joined by other random people.

  9. Hug_dealer says:

    I Disagree about the entire step out of your level and get your ass handed to you. Thats where skill comes into play. Play well and you can easily kill mobs 6-7 levels higher than you alone. And it becomes even easier when doing it with a friend or 2 and busting out those awesome combos.

    The great thing about taking on monsters higher level than you is they have a greater chance of giving you good loot.

    Its nice for a game to have a skill cap instead of a level cap. Not all players will be able to beat something 7 levels higher, but the people who are good enough can. There is no sudden change where a mob 5 levels higher and easy to kill but a lvl 6 of the same mob wipes the floor with you.

    Otherwise your entire article i am in complete agreement with, but the skill based combat really should be known. As all other games in the same vein are level cap based combat, not skill.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I usually do stuff 3-4 levels above what I ‘should’ be doing. The game actually encourages this! The first time you encounter a higher-levelled enemy, a pop-up warns you that it could be dangerous, but you’ll get much better rewards if you beat it.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      That’s why I said ‘comfort zone’ rather than level – more with the idea that you can’t just go anywhere and expect to survive than suggesting you can only fight enemies your own size. I didn’t want the talk of it being so freeform to suggest that you could troddle off to the local Mount Doom and expect to hold your own.

      • Hug_dealer says:

        I can agree with that. To me it came off as saying stray off the path and you are gonna die, much like other mmos. I just interpretted it wrong. I wonder if anyone else did though.

        • Grygus says:

          I don’t think the distinction is so clear. Yes, with decent gear you can easily kill something two levels above you, and with caution and better gear you can extend that by a few more levels, but this is a game with eighty levels. For the first half of your leveling career, the vast majority of locations mean certain (and often instant) death. By the time you’re high enough that most of the game is within your reach, you’ve figured all of this out yourself, and do not need the advice.

    • ukpanik says:

      ” Play well and you can easily kill mobs 6-7 levels higher than you alone. And it becomes even easier when doing it with a friend or 2 and busting out those awesome combos”

      Is that what you like..easy?

      • running fungus says:

        Obviously not, or he would just stick with stuff his own level. He was talking about degrees of difficulty, where “ease” is a relative term. And it’s in reaction to the piece’s “going out of your comfort zone means pretty much instant death with a single punch”. I’m glad for the feedback on this point because I, too, read this as insta-death if a creature is just a level or two higher, as has been done elsewhere.

      • Nesetalis says:

        If you want it easy, you fight things under your level. There are somewhere around a hundred zones, most of them are under your level :P and by the time you clear one, you will have gotten enough experience that more will be under your level.

        I’m good at the game, I like a challenge, so I spent most of the game in zones that were 5-10 levels above me.
        The game rewarded me by shrinking down my grind time. I gained XP at a far faster rate. I hit lvl 70 in 3 or 4 days (and then decided to go do other things since most of my friends are still in the 20-50 range :P )
        It was a lot harder, and when we went off to play together it showed. Where my friends were dying constantly in the dungeon, I was evading most of the attacks, healing myself and reviving my allies. This wasn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, but we all had different comfort zones.

  10. Bob says:

    What’s the learning curve like? I read somewhere else that it’s pretty noob friendly. If that’s the case I may give it a whirl.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It’s about as friendly as an MMO gets, bar a few poorly explained mechanics.

    • djbriandamage says:

      The combat is introduced gradually and at a good pace because you start with a single button to press and slowly unlock subsequent skills. It becomes more and more important as your level increases to understand these skills and use them at the right time. The combat is also much more noob-friendly than similar games because you have far fewer buttons to press; instead of being given individual charge, punch, and heal skills Guild Wars 2 might make a single skill perform all these tasks.

      Other aspects of the game are fully functional but poorly described. Crafting will be confusing for some. Sometimes right-clicking the same bar of text in 2 different places will show you 2 different lists of options. Some mechanics (like fast travelling to a previously visited location) are not described at all and if you don’t know to double-click a waypoint you might never know the feature was there.

      All in all, for every poor UI choice there’s about 20 brilliant ones. You’re shown the current framerate on the graphics config screen. You get descriptions of player attributes (like vitality or toughness) by hovering over them. A corresponding quest marker on your map shimmers brightly when you hover the cursor over a quest description. You can draw on your map and your party members will see it.

      It’s a great game and there’s no subscription. No matter how long it takes you to learn there will always be 100 things to do and you can learn at whatever pace you’re comfortable with. Just as Guild Wars 1 was my introduction to MMOs I would recommend the sequel to anyone as a way to ease yourself into the genre.

      • Bob says:

        Thanks djbriandamage for taking the time for a comprehensive reply. It does indeed sound inviting.

      • Grygus says:

        “Some mechanics (like fast travelling to a previously visited location) are not described at all and if you don’t know to double-click a waypoint you might never know the feature was there.”

        This functionality is explicitly described by your very first scout in the tutorial, which is a required conversation. I think a lot of people don’t pay much attention to the tutorial in this game because they consider themselves gaming/MMO vets, and haven’t had a chance to see how many little things are different. I am not rebutting your underlying point; this was just a bad example.

        I think a better one would be trading with another player. You can’t, at least not in the way you’re used to. There is a mail system that is instant and can be used anywhere, and there is a Trading Post (when it’s working) that will allow you to post an item for sale or post an offer to buy an item. There is also a guild bank, if you’re both in the same guild. Between these things, you can mostly effect the same transactions you might have used trade for, and in a lot of cases they’re actually better since there is no need to “meet up,” but none of this is really explained in the game; you are expected to just figure it out.

        • tyren says:

          I noticed the waypoint description at the scout too but I can understand why a lot of people don’t. There’s a VERY long pause while the map scrolls to all the starting zone hearts before the scout finally explains skill point and waypoint markers, so most people think he’s done talking. I didn’t stick around that long until my third or fourth beta character.

  11. JustAPigeon says:

    Deposit all collectibles.

    This is one of the most thoughtful things I’ve seen in an MMO. Just wonderful.

    (For those that don’t know, this function deposits all craftable materials that you currently have in your inventory, directly in to a special bank space that can hold 250 of every craftable material in the game. For free. While you are anywhere in the world. <3)

    Loving this game.

    • povu says:

      Deposit all collectibles, and sell all junk. Can’t live without those two.

      • Malk_Content says:

        Better yet is my magic back that automatically shunts all junk to the bottom of my inventory, so I can look at all the new shiny gear I’ve found without sifting through junk!

  12. SonicTitan says:

    If what the reviewer says is true (I wouldn’t know, I haven’t played GW2), then the design makes some very interesting trade-offs that can hurt the longevity of the game. Now, even that word “longevity” sort of makes me curl my lip, because I’m coming off of Diablo 3, which was a fine experience for the hundred (…okay maybe two hundred) hours that I played it and then shelved. Diablo 3 is a game that gets knocked because people played it for hundreds of hours instead of thousands like Diablo 2, and that’s ridiculous. Still, the “longevity” of a game that requires a regular influx of cash to keep the servers running is pretty damned important.

    So I have to wonder about the longevity of a game that, frankly, respects your time. The reviewer points out that longevity may be an issue, but the question is, is there a way to increase longevity without manipulative mechanics? SHOULD there be?

    The other problem I see is the events. Once again, already pointed out, but the reviewer acts like it’s a POSSIBILITY that the zones are going to become ghost towns, and WoW taught us that that’s not a possibility – it’s a certainty. Cataclysm was an expansion designed around fixing this very problem.

    But then again, maybe I’m not having much faith in ArenaNet. They’ve got both the time and talent to come up with creative solutions.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      the original guild wars survived and it required servers just like gw2. Regular expansions and no sub made it a huge seller and will do the same here.

      Because there is no sub, new players will find themselves into the game quite easily, and keep them populated.

      Guild wars 1 gave them alot of ideas on how to do things, and guild wars 1 still sells well and has plenty of people in low level areas to play with. The great thing is that people will naturally gather for events, so it brings people together to play. No need to worry that you dont already have a party, people will come.

      • SonicTitan says:

        You mean to tell me that zones with a maximum level-cap WON’T become depoulated over time to the point where doing events will become difficult? I just don’t see it happening.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          That is exactly what i am saying.

          Events scale to the amount of players doing them. You dont need a zerg to complete them. Just a handful of people can do any of them.

          Sometimes it sucks to have a zerg when you fight a zone level champion who has billions of hitpoints because everyone shows up. Instead of just 4-5 and it is a reasonably enjoyable tactical experiences.

          Another great thing is you can take your lvl 80 back to low level zones and experience that content all over again if you like, and be deleveled enough to enjoy it.

          People fail to realize just how much different b2p is from sub based games. Keep in mind that guild wars 1 is still having new players join it.

    • Enikuo says:

      I’ve already done a few low-level events on my own and it was okay. It’s not as exciting as having a huge group around you, but it wasn’t impossible to complete. The events seemed to scale down appropriately enough.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      The odds that they won’t have planned for it are pretty much exactly zero – which isn’t to say that their plans will work. The designers of Warhammer Online didn’t set out to create a ghost town, after all.

      There are some obvious things they could do though, like adding more events to the early areas. Is Queensdale not getting any foot traffic? Add some demon gates to it that spout enemies every half hour or so and give those demons some really good drops. Or whatever. The way they’ve rigged it, anyone who turns up will be fighting at under Level 15, so they can do things like that without completely ruining the power curve for new players who are still working their way up.

      • BloatedGuppy says:

        I can understand the concern, Richard, but I don’t think Warhammer is a good analogue. The public quests in Warhammer were tuned to a very specific difficulty. They were X hard, and needed X amount of players to have a snowballs chance in hell of finishing them. Once the population gentrified/accumulated at end game, there was no one left to do them, and they went completely undone.

        GW2 dynamic events scale. The scaling isn’t always perfect (and does, in fact, go rather off the rails when a critical mass of players attends), but it means that an encounter that was doable with 20 people should also be doable with 2-3 people. I’ve even done a few solo, without any truly grueling difficulty. If anything it was a fun, bracing challenge. I’d go so far as to say the events are OPTIMAL with less than 10 people in attendance, because of the “I PRESS KEYS AND THINGS HAPPEN” syndrome that occurs when dozens of people are setting off particle effects at the same time.

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          Doesn’t matter. The key issue isn’t how Guild Wars 2 executes its group quests, but how much it relies on them, and my only reason for mentioning Warhammer is that they also thought they had this licked. I’m not saying it will collapse into being a ghost town, just that it has essentially nothing to fall back on if it does. With the best will in the world, they can’t guarantee that, even with its current success. They can only hope, and online, hope doesn’t necessarily go that far.

          • Enikuo says:

            This is a fair point. On the few occasions that I’ve experienced a drought of events, I lamented not being able to repeat heart quests. I tooled around randomly killing stuff or I ported back to craft, so it was manageable, but it did interrupt the flow. Also, I don’t like the idea of switching zones because I want to save the other starter areas for when I play a character of that race.

          • Silarn says:

            Actually, I think this is in fact covered to a degree. There are a lot of events that exist which, currently, are nearly always successful because of the abundance of players doing them. But, these events eventually lead to places being captured and other things happening — I’ve managed to witness one or two time this has actually happened. If nobody is in a zone, I think there will still be plenty to do because instead of waiting for one of the half dozen centaur attacks to happen, there will already be a half dozen locations taken over by the centaurs waiting to be liberated. I had this experience (just once) of essentially single-handedly retaking a small outpost. Entirely doable, and I think, if anything, this is the eventual ‘end’ of when zones depopulate. There are more likely to be MORE things to do, because they are sitting around waiting for people to come do them.

            Compare this to WAR where events were always in X location designed for Y number of people requiring steps A, B, and C to complete. The developers of WAR – rather strangely – did not seem to account for a lack of players AT ALL when designing their events. This meant both that when low level zones became depopulated AND when players pushing above the ‘average attained level’ entered zones largely unplayed — that entire segment of the game was unplayable. It was ridiculous.

            For me, the only issue I have with GW2 is events a) finishing before I am able to reach them or b) being all finished and waiting for them to start again. These are actually overpopulation issues rather than underpopulation ones.

          • Eskodas says:

            They have taken some steps to prevent this, the first being restricting the number of worlds(ToR tried this but failed because they didn’t have overflow severs and people hated the queues) and the technology behind overflow servers, they can mash up two servers Kessex Hills maps for instance when the population in that area reach’s too low on those servers and no one would be the wiser and it would keep a strong population going.

      • bonglord420 says:

        This is actually exactly what they’re planning to do! Over time they will be adding new events to every zone across all level ranges. As new ones are added, old ones will be phased out to occur less frequently, so if you’ve never bothered to go back to Queensdale for four months then visit you can be pleasantly surprised by the number of things you’ve never seen before. :)

      • Chris D says:

        Presumably in the worst case scenario they could merge multiple worlds for the starter zones and then split up again later once you get more players. The technology is in place, that’s basically how the overflow server works at the moment. You could just skip the main zone and dump everyone straight on the overflow if you didn’t have enough population. It’s not an ideal fix, as you might meet someone then discover you can’t play with them once you switch zones, although there are ways around that too, but it should mean that you shouldn’t have to worry about anywhere permanently becoming a ghost town unless the game was really in trouble.

        • tungstenHead says:

          That would do the trick. Blizzard is planning to do this exact thing for WoW, actually. A number of problems with it, but it’s certainly outweighed by the benefits.

        • Ritashi says:

          I’d be willing to bet that should that become a problem, that’s *exactly* what they’ll do. And what’s more, there actually isn’t a downside at all. Once the server populations calm down a bit, they will be turning on their “guesting” feature – which allows you to join a friend on any server. Combine with an account-wide cross-server friends list, global unique character and account names, and cross server guilds, and there is no reason at all that you can’t play with the people you met from another server (except WvW, in which you can only fight for your home server). Every solution to the problem is already in place, and the only thing left is for ArenaNet to pull the trigger when the time comes.

    • zontax says:

      I cant (be bothered to) find a source right now, but I remember the developers talking about adding events post launch to make sure you can return to old zones and experience something new.

      It is also very likely that there will be expansion packs just like in GW1.
      If they release a expansion after the game calms down a bit it will repopulate almost automatically.

    • deke913 says:

      There is definitely room for expansions. The Tengu (falcon looking dudes) for instance are modeled so freaking good..I want to play one with a passion. Hope they add them as playable. There was another race too but I cant remember the name.

  13. PostieDoc says:

    Blackjacks > Fruit Salads.

  14. yabonn says:

    Weeeell back in my days, in EverQuest I mean, we had crappy graphics and sitting to regain mana and zones like a square of grass with a lump of dungeon in the middle. So, not only did it suck rather badly, but also (as you can see) it is not even a very interesting topic. But !

    Now it is those boring moments (say, running through the Commons, or waiting that damn boat) that I remember best, and with more nostalgia.

    … No clue about what this means, also.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      The 3 things i miss about the old games was death meant losing exp permanently, and corpse runs.

      I miss the fear of death in my games. That and Huge worlds to explore, which GW2 is bringing back. If anyone remembers Asherons call had basically an unexplored continent that was awesome.

      • jrodman says:

        Are you saying the three things you miss are:
        losing exp
        corpse runs
        big world

        Just not sure I followed your post correctly.

        • Josh W says:

          Makes sense, those are things that recent games have killed with fire, so not surprising that people would be nostalgic for them. Anyway, in their place, they can all be pretty great.

          Dark souls for example, is “corpse runs: the game”.

        • Hug_dealer says:

          yes, that is what i am saying. I think those things will make every game better.

          I like the fear of death, i like to have something on the line other than just repair costs.

          I also want something enjoyable to play, unlike darkfall.

          • jrodman says:

            I feel like corpse runs and losing exp are similar, and a larger world is not similar, so I wasn’t sure about the gist of your post.

            Personally, I’m not fond of a fear of death, nor am I of time-based setbacks in games that can already take too much time, but I’ve found fears of death can work overall when I can scale the difficulty (by simplifying the game, or increasing my skill) to be comfortable. It’s just that fear of death typically comes with punishments and difficulty which can’t be scaled, so it easily just bogs down in frustration and annoyance.

            Most of all, I find fear of death interacts quite poorly with the ability of other players to cause it arbitrarily. But obviously, the degree of these reactions is highly personal.

  15. Enikuo says:

    I’m having so much fun in this game that I don’t think I can’t even attempt to be objective about it anymore. For me, there’s really only one thorn on the rose and that’s the problem with the overflow system and parties not sticking together. I’m hoping that gets sorted soon.

  16. tyren says:

    “The only real catch is that as you’d expect, they’re absolutely reliant on having those crowds around. If the zones start emptying post-release, the good times are going to vanish in a hurry – and there isn’t any kind of safety mat for Guild Wars 2 to fall back on.”

    Actually it’s worth pointing out that the events are NOT reliant on massive crowds. They scale remarkably well based on how many people are present. Bosses will even gain new abilities with more people in the fight. I fought a champion golem with about 10-15 other people present and it took a ton of work and situational awareness to bring down (it had an AOE that could one-shot just about anything caught in it), but I came across it again later with only two other people there and we were able to take it down then too, with some effort, and its killer AOE was not present.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Not crowds for individual events, crowds as in zone populations. The few times I was stuck doing things on my own or with only one other person were snoringly dull – especially the renown heart stuff. The optimum number for events is lower than it is at the moment, but when it gets too low, it’s not scaling that gets in the way.

      • tyren says:

        I see what you’re saying then. To me it sounded like you were referring to events not being possible to complete if there’s not enough people around, Warhammer public quest style.

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          No, you can totally progress. I just don’t see it being much fun with the encounter types they’re relying on at the moment, which would kick off a nasty vicious cycle.

          • Klatu says:

            I completed an Event almost on my own yesterday, someone came along at wave 10/12 or something. Did the same event today with a dozen others and it was massively ramped up.
            Also the first time I did the event it was fantastic, I came across a group of refugees hiding near a mountain, found out they needed help then proceeded in the event whilst listening to the chatter between the npc’s it just felt, for want of a better word, cool. I was their saviour, I was their hero.

  17. dfrankson says:

    It’s an MMO. As soon as you consider playing instead of hanging out with friends you will remember why you don’t play MMOs and recognize all the same patterns and daily time commitments.

    WoW had me for years, Rift for 6 months, SWTOR for 1 months and now it only took me 3 days for GW2 to remind me why I don’t play MMOs anymore.

    • Snakejuice says:

      Maybe I should not play games at all then because for me: playing games > “hanging out” in 95% of my spare time. I get enough “socialization” at work, spare time is for fun and games!

    • Punchbowled says:

      Maybe just … play it more casually? You don’t really have to do everything. It can be fun without feeding your OCD. Or so I tell myself.

      • Malk_Content says:

        Exactly, GW2 actually rewards you more for playing in little chunks. Most of your xp is front loaded at the start of the day with the daily quests so you can get more out of that first hour than you do for the three following and the amount of management that has to be done before you can actually play is nothing. With out a subscription fee you are not compelled to play as much as you can each month to justify it. It seems the problem is with the player (as little offence meant as possible, I sometimes find it hard to tear myself away from games of any sort) as the game does as much as possible to respect your time however little you put in.

  18. aircool says:

    My favourite bit? Being able to instantly put crafting materials into your ‘collection’ anywhere and at any time via the drop down menu in the inventory. That way, you never take up valuable bag space with loads of crafting materials.

  19. mjig says:

    Maybe I’m just old school, but it seems to me that letting you kill a dragon in the tutorial is an awful design decision for an MMO. Pretty much every MMO these days has that sort of thing, an instance starting tutorial that puts you on a roller coaster and ends with you fighting some epic battle. I’ve never played any of these and felt afterwards that it was a good start to the game.

    I’ll take the WoW/EQ model any day whenever it comes to ramping up your sense of ability. Start out killing wolves and boars and tiny little nuisances, and a few weeks later see your first massive dragon with you and a few dozen people.

    All of these new style MMOs should stop trying to create set pieces. They just make the game feel even more like a themepark. I am going to get shit for this, but a certain amount of mundane, “boring” tasks are required to make the player feel like they have accomplished more in the end. Games like this always strike me as something you’ll put maybe a few hundred hours into instead of a few thousand like older MMOs.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I think I’ve killed enough rats in enough RPGs to deserve an automatic upgrade to ‘stuff that is actually worth my time’. I don’t expect an MMO to give me everything up front, but if it’s not fun, exciting and interesting from Level 1, then it has failed as a game. These things should be convincing me I want to play them, not expecting me to convince them I’m worthy of their good stuff.

    • Yosharian says:

      Yeah I felt like the starter quests were trying too hard. It was DA2′s ‘awesome button’ all over again.

      Beyond that point, everything is good in that respect, though.

    • Dominic White says:

      What GW2 is doing is what gets people so excited at the start of every Metroid game. They give you a brief tease – a look at the kind of grand acts of badassery you’ll be doing – and then snatches it away and assigns you more reasonable goals. Granted, you’re never downgraded to hunting rats, but you’re down to mere humanoids and enemies under 12 feet tall for a while.

      Until you hit your first bit end-of-zone group boss, and suddenly feel like an enormous badass again.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      I’ve never tried an MMO yet, but putting a few hundred hours into a game is massive. I can’t imagine why I’d want to put thousands. Where would I get that time?

      Or maybe MMOs simply aren’t for me.

  20. f1x says:

    Excellent Wit!

  21. Aerothorn says:

    Richard – how’s the story? Not saying I’d play this for the narrative alone or anything, but by my understanding it does have cutscenes, dialog, lore, etc, and if these were of poor quality it would really detract from my experience. I also get the impression it’s all a bit generic, going for a really mass audience and thus not taking any narrative risks.

    Which is far more snooty than I intend it to sound. So: is it painful? Is it great? Is it interesting?

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It’s not amazing, but it’s okay for what it is. Your race determines how it plays out early on, with some fun choices to make – a Gawain and the Green Knight riff for the Sylvari for instance, or the Human characters getting to live their lifetime dream of being in a carnival while investigating something evil. The Asura – inventor gremlin guys – are the main comedy option, being a faction of geeky, arrogant inventors.

      It serves its purpose, and it’s entertaining me, if not blowing me away. There’s a lot of really fun stuff scattered around though in the conversations you overhear, some of the characters you bump into, and bits of the Personal Quest.

      If you don’t like the story stuff though, you can mostly ignore it. Just don’t do the Personal Quest stuff when offered and grit your teeth for the dungeons and it’ll stay out of your way. In the main world, you don’t even have to talk to quest-givers to do events and similar – just run into an active area and start wailing away on stuff.

      Tone-wise, it’s similar to Warcraft – not as overtly pop-culture laced, and a different vibe, but a similar mix of very traditional Lore With A Capital L sprinkled with goofy stuff that makes it clear it’s not taking itself too seriously.

      • Aerothorn says:

        Thanks – sounds like it’s as good as one could reasonably expect. I’ve got a lot of other things on my plate right now (PLANETSIDE 2!) but I look forward to giving this a spin one of these days.

    • Dominic White says:

      Like Richard says, it’s inoffensive, slightly easygoing fantasy fluff. It’s in tune with the 12+ rating of the game. It’s slightly edgier than a saturday morning cartoon, but not by much.

      What does impress me is how much the personal story stuff branches. Up to level 30, it’s entirely determined by your character creation choices – your race and history decisions all have their own quest arcs, although there’s a couple of minor branches along the way there to diverge things further.

      It all converges somewhat around level 30, where you hit the ‘main’ plot arc. Three of them, to be precise. You pick one of three big factions to join and that’ll determine your story from there on in, and there’s a fair few branches off that along the way, too.

      I reckon it’d be possible to play from Lv1-80 three times and not see any personal quest stuff repeated. Another two of three playthroughs will see familiar parts here and there, but still largely touch on new content. It’s not the greatest of stories, but there’s a lot of it.

  22. Hug_dealer says:

    alot of people seem to be unaware, and legitimately unaware that you can start your own events by talking to people.

    There are lots of people that if you talk to will start a dynamic event. Alot start of their own, but there are tons you can activate by talking to people. So talk to named folks in towns or in the wilderness. You will find some sweet events you would otherwise miss.

    • Dominic White says:

      There’s also a lot of hidden events. I saw someone posting on another forum that they used the ‘kneel’ emote in front of a holy statue, which summoned a ghost which pointed them to a graveyard, where they called a secret boss to life by speaking his real name (which took a bit of detective work) in chat, while standing by his grave.

      There’s quite a bit of depth to the system, really.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        Yep, I did that one today. Was really, really cool. If you didn’t think about kneeling in front of that statue, you’d never have spawned the boss.

        There are many other such hidden events and areas throughout the game. Some aren’t even events per se. It just so happens that there’s a big complex somewhere and deep down inside there’s a boss sitting around with a huge chest behind him.

        Want the chest? Get ready for some action.

    • Plivesey says:

      I like the little touch of people running around shouting “Hey, something bad is happening, can you help!?” and talking to them will show you where the event is on the map, even if it’s not within the normal range of it appearing. Definitely makes the world feel more alive.

      • Hug_dealer says:

        those arent the people i am talking about.

        I am saying if you go into say a bar in one town, there will be a guy sitting down, and talking to him will activate an event. He would likely not otherwise ever activate.

        • Plivesey says:

          And? My point still stands. I clearly made a distinction between the NPCs I was referring to (showing you events already happening far away), and those that you were talking about (NPCs that begin events). Can we not like both of these?

          • Hug_dealer says:

            I don’t that was clearly made. I am pretty sure anyone who read our little thread would think they those are one and the same.

            I was simply making sure people didnt think they were the same thing.

    • Malk_Content says:

      I started I boss event by picking up a rock in a cave, turns out it was a giant troll’s favourite rock and he came bounding at me. With just me and my friend, and the boss being a group event 4 levels higher than us I threw the rock on it and ran. The troll pursued us out of a cave and blindsided a bunch of players in the field outside. Entirely unmarked, entirely awesome.

  23. Plivesey says:

    Really good write up, Richard. Considering I’m mostly a PvP player, I am LOVING the PvE side of GW2.

    Structured PvP, for those that don’t know, are essentially battlegrounds in which you get bumped up to level 80 (and unlock all available skills/traits that go along with that), get given gear equivalent to everyone else (you can still customise it, but they’ve balanced it such that everybody’s gear is theoretically the same level). Your team and the opposing team then capture and hold points on a map, and your team’s score gradually increases for holding points for a certain amount of time, as well as killing other players (some of the maps also include NPCs that you can kill for boons/score). The idea being that, if everyone is the same level, then it’s about SKILL. I absolutely LOVE this idea. Why doesn’t every MMO do it? How far you are in PvE, or how much time you’ve played the game, has no affect on how well you do.

    I made a thief, left the tutorial area and went straight into sPvP, and have rarely left. For people who don’t know, you can hit ‘H’, go to the PvP tab and teleport straight to the ‘Hearts of the Mist’ (the hub for sPvP). You start with a couple of lessons on finishing downed enemies, reviving allies, and capturing points, then you can dive straight on in. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a change from PvE.

  24. ocelot113 says:

    I like GW2, but I don’t love it.

    Cons:
    - Party system is completely broken atm, because of the server swapping for ques.
    - Single player story is not self contained as you are forced to go do random world quests to level up so you can continue the personal story. IMO the personal story should level with you instead of forcing you to go do other stuff you don’t want to.
    - World quests are pretty boring and VERY VERY repetitive. Erase graffiti, pick up this and use it on this, blah blah, it gets very grindy very fast as a solo player (which you have to because it’s impossible to stay with your group). They try to hide the repetition by giving you different items and different things to wipe off walls… but it is not varied enough or creative. Seems more like filler questing.
    - WvW is not balanced yet, stuck fighting against Jade Quarry = No WvW for 2 weeks.

    It feels like you are at an amusement park and there are a ton of rides. But the park is trying to convince you that you really are in the wilderness even though you can clearly see the bolts holding together the mechanical rhinos and elephants. It tried to be authentic but relied to much on social interaction to fill the time and complete the experience instead of the actual quests. Seems how the social interaction is broken for parties it’s showing its nuts and bolts that prove they are just rides and not the real thing.

    Currently it has to hold its water against other single player games and in that competition it can’t stand. That being said it’s still fun to gain levels and gear up characters like all the other MMOs. Hopefully they will fix the party system so that dungeons and other questing options become available in the future. Right now IMO, it is a mediocre solo mmo. For no sub’s it will be worth it once the party system works.

    PS: I think my major problem with the questing system in the open world is it still feels like a questing system. You are still checking things off the list. In the documentary where they were talking about how the world will care that you were there, is really an unrealistic goal for an MMO so I’m not sure why they said it. They should have done more with ingame NPC’s finding you than the heart system IMO and I was under the impression that NPC’s would be roaming about their business but they are still just standing in one spot waiting for you to engage or roaming a small loop like every other MMO. So overall what they promised they did not deliver on. It still feels like grindy check off quests rather than an adventure.

    • Hug_dealer says:

      parties are not broken. occassionally someone will end up in the wrong instance, but its as simple as them click join instance.

      • ocelot113 says:

        Maybe with 1 other person but when you are in a party with 4 other people, like me, it is impossible to stay together and that makes it broken. A lot of the time the “Join In” button doesn’t do anything anyway.

        ANet said it is currently not functioning how it’s supposed to. So you can take that up with them if you don’t believe me.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      The single player story cannot be self-contained as it (spoilers for the truly blind?) ends up dealing with dragons, which means you facing end-game content. If SP was self-contained, it’d imply being able to entirely level from 1 to 80 through that, which is clearly not what the devs wanted.

    • gunny1993 says:

      WvW is not balanced? …. surely it is EXACTLY the same for each party as no party has any intrinsic advantage over another if you are losing against another server it is because you aren’t as good as them, All mmo’s have repetitive quests at least this lets you chose how to level (for evidence look at the guy who leveled to level 80 in 2 day via crafting)
      having story level is annoying i agree but it is clearly necessary as it adds gravity to what you are doing, i.e if you are defending from a massive dragon attack in story but you are only level 12 and still killing murlock in game it kinda ruins any kind of pacing (although i personaly think no mmo has any kind of story worthy of my admiration)

  25. Tiller says:

    I was not prepared for the jump puzzles.

    Probably my favorite aspect of any MMO I have played. I am having a stupid fun blast with them.

  26. Cut says:

    This is embarrassing… I have a friend (*cough*) who’s only MMORPG experience is Ultima Online (which he actually continues to enjoy playing on a free-shard).

    What am I (shurely shome mishtake, Ed.) going to think of GW2 compared to UO?

    Will I be blown away by all the improvements in the whole experience over the last 10 years or so? or will I end up feeling more “well, yeah – it’s pretty, but pvp doesn’t cut it and I can’t even build a house“?

    PS and is there any way I can tick a box somewhere or something so I get a pop-up or whatever if someone is kind enough to reply? (apologies for nublet question)

    • malkav11 says:

      Guild Wars 2 is not attempting to create the sort of freeform sandbox environment that Ultima Online was. If you demand sandbox play from your MMO, GW2 will not satisfy. If you’re willing to deal with a more fenced-in experience, it’s a relatively fresh take on things and you might enjoy it.

    • Punchbowled says:

      Just yes, play the damn game.

  27. Dominic White says:

    I’d also like to add that the big, scary thing in the header picture? It’s big, but that’s not a dragon. Not even close. That’s the vague concept of a dragon that you see in the Dream as a Sylvari.

    This? This is a dragon:
    http://i.minus.com/icwj9jhVsTeVM.jpg

    But even he’s just a minion. Might be a hundred feet tall, but he’s just a mid-level boss.

    This is an Elder Dragon (spoiler for concept art of the final boss of GW2):
    http://www.theroundtablet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/gw2-zhaitan-the-undead-dragon.jpg

  28. Klatu says:

    Thank you Richard for describing in word form how I’ve been feeling whilst playing for the last few days. Once again I find myself in awe of the Cobbett.

  29. DigitalSignalX says:

    Several ppl in my guild are already at 80. It will be interesting to come back in 3 months when everyone is and see if the shine is as bright.

  30. StranaMente says:

    I really liked this review, as always funny and informative, and I love the alt texts. Good work!

  31. Caiman says:

    Nice review of a fantastic game, although of course I found myself missing the things you didn’t mention, such as the sense of exploration – it has one of the most fun worlds to just explore and get lost in, and there are so many nooks and crannies with goodies in that it’s worthwhile. The vistas are an absolutely brilliant idea, making you wonder “how do I get up there?” every few minutes, it’s a game in itself. Even the story and the lore, while not in any way shoved in your face (far from it) is nicely done if you take the time to chat. I do with the guys sending you mail thanking you for your help weren’t quite so obsequious though!

    What I like about the combat is how active it can be. I can sit there and mash 1, 2, 5, 3, 1 if I really, really want to, but I tend to die a lot. Instead I circle-strafe enemies and dodge and roll from their attacks, a tactic that not only works but it absolutely necessary if you want to take on higher level creatures. As such it feels like you’re playing an action game rather than an MMO, and I love it. In WoW you tend to get into a situation where if you pull more than one or two mobs you’re toast, but here you can handle a lot more if you’re skillful.

    But it’s a pity you didn’t talk more about the WvW, which is amazing and another game in itself, a totally separate zone where you battle for control of keeps and supply chains, repairing and building defences, raining death on your foes from above or wading into the melee, I don’t normally play PvP but this is just a huge blast.

    I just hope they get around to making the Trading Post stable soon, it’s the main thing we’re all missing. Time to log in again to see if they fixed it yet…

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, there’s a lot more to say, but I was already at over 4000 words and about twenty picture breaks before cutting it down to what you see here, since there’s a limit to what most people will be willing to read in one sitting :-)

      I’ve talked about WvWvW before though, in a beta write-up. Not had a time to take a look at it in the release build yet, so don’t really have anything else to say about it at this point. It’s cool though, and I do mean to check it out.

      • Caiman says:

        Ah thanks, I’ll go and have a read of it. Or should I play some more? Decisions.

      • Struckd says:

        its pretty much the same as the beta build, siege weapons are just a tad more expensive, and your playing for actual table stats now.

        Still brilliant and fun, not as many commanders yet as there were in beta, well not yet…and not on my server

    • running fungus says:

      I think you just sold me the game.

      Nothing I hate more than cooldown-timer button mashing. If there’s more to the combat, especially if at some point there has to be, then I’m sold.

      Exploration is certainly attractive also. Maybe there won’t be anything quite as awe-inspiring as Blackreach in Skyrim but hearing so many people talk about the enjoyment of exploring this game is a good sign.

  32. Carra says:

    These games are so complex it’s hard to explain everything. I was bothered by the fact that my bags were filling way too fast, an issue I have in games like WoW too. And then someone on RPS pointed out to me that there’s a hidden option to send stuff to your bank. They don’t tell you that in the game.

    Small things like that show that they’ve been streamlining the game. There’s no need to spend fen minutes of your time to travel from continent A to B. No need to find a group for a group quest. No need to spend ten hours before you get your basic skillset. No need for 30 hotkeys. No need to wait in a queue for fifteen minutes before you can play. And no need to get to maximum level if all you want to do is PVP. All those annoying little issues have been identified and dealt with.

    I’ve only spent a limited amount of time with it but I’ve been having fun. Especially the explorer in me awakens again. They really offer a nice world with plenty to do and see. It’s not the same, wonderful feeling as playing my first MMO, WoW for the first time but I don’t expect that to happen again any time soon.

  33. pbnjoe says:

    I’m very much enjoying the game, while it’s running, at least. I have a massive problem with it wherein it will (randomly, nothing was ever the same when it happens) freeze, make a buzzing noise (sounds like the last millisecond of the last sound played stretched out), then I will regain control of the cursor, but not the game. Alt-tabbing does not work, have to start task manager via Ctrl+Alt+Delete to get out of the window.

    Now is the major problem. The process CANNOT be terminated. Not by task manager, not by Process Hacker running as admin, which has ten separate ways of terminating the process (I even tried the “dangerous” one). Not only that, the computer then cannot be shut down or restarted, holding the power button is necessary. Tried asking on the forum during the stress test, but it was shut down again before I could get an answer. This has happened about 5 times now, and I’m not touching the game til I can get this corrected. If anyone had something similar or knows why it would do this, please respond.

    • running fungus says:

      pbnjoe: I had that problem recently that sounds very much like yours, but while playing STALKER and occasionally Civ V. For me, turned out to be a heat issue. Searching around found some others with the same symptoms who had fixed the problem by addressing heat. First step was installing a monitor program to let me know how hot my components were running (indeed, too hot). Then I opened the case and cleaned out the dust, which dropped me about 8 degrees. Not cool enough, according to the monitor (which may inaccurately report high) but it was enough. No more buzzing crashes. Next step would have been replacing thermal paste.

      Anyway, worth checking into. Good luck.

      • pbnjoe says:

        Thanks very much. I’ll look into the temp monitor, but I don’t think dust is a problem (will still try) and I really hope it’s not a thermal paste issue, as this XPS L502x was made last October. Thanks for the suggestions :)

      • Aedrill says:

        It does sound like a heat issue, I agree.

  34. Kaiji says:

    The biggest sign that this game is a flash in the pan is the shocking amount of people who say they’re “having a BLAST” with it.

    People who “have a blast” are people who get drunk on a glass of cider and spend weeks obsessing over whether they offended anyone that night. They’re people who don’t step on paving cracks in case the proverb is true and their negligence would cause their mother to be crippled for life. They think politicians are concerned about their best interests.

    Games that generate so much positive feedback from people who “have a blast” with them never have longterm appeal, because most people aren’t that easily blown away by a game.

  35. BrendanJB says:

    After reading all of these positive reviews I scuttled on over to the Guild Wars 2 website to make a spontaneous purchase, despite the fact that I haven’t enjoyed any MMO to date. I was met with the ridiculous notion that digital versions of this game were “sold out”.

    Congratulations, you just lost a sale. Artificial scarcity, hooooo!

    • Enikuo says:

      You can buy it from other vendors. They stopped selling on their site b/c of the security issues they’re dealing with – lots of hacking and phishing attempts. They should have pointed that out on their site so as to avoid the exact impression you rightfully got from “sold out.”

      • Thurgret says:

        It’s more because the majority of their servers are already close to overloaded, I’d say.

        • Enikuo says:

          You’re probably right. I see it’s “sold out” on Greenman Gaming now. I’m not sure why I had that idea – I’ve been following their updates on Reddit, so maybe it was just a comment that made sense given all the web-related issues they’ve suffered. It would still be nice for them to post a reason for being “sold out,” so as not to give that impression of forced scarcity.

    • Dominic White says:

      The reason they’re not selling direct right now is because every single server is at capacity, and they’re setting up new ones to deal with the excess players. The game sold better than the devs best estimates, it seems, and they just don’t have the hardware to support so many new people.

      Once they’ve got another set or two of servers up, they’ll start selling properly again.

  36. frightlever says:

    The wheee picture is one of my favourite vistas. There were about a dozen of us trying to get there bouncing off scenery, then one person saw the, to be fair, fairly obvious route and we were like Lemmings(tm) all bouncing after each other. Then I spent a further couple of minutes just bouncing around the columns (ooo-er) to annoy people that hadn’t figured it out, and another ten minutes seeing if I could make the column in a single combat leap.

    Those vistas are genius. You spend so much time just staring at the ground as you run, then you’re given a shake and made to look around at the work that has gone into the world. It’s incredible.

    I actually didn’t read most of the article because I’m having such fun with the game that I don’t want to spoil it with someone else’s thoughts, if that makes sense.

  37. StingingVelvet says:

    I’m a single-player guy but I occasionally buy MMOs to explore their worlds and level to the cap. Guild Wars 2 will be one such MMO.

    Sadly not until January, as I am working overseas with just a crappy laptop.

  38. Laurentius says:

    It’s too much like WoW to my liking and I say this as a GW1 veteran. Sure it’s WoW but with all rough elements smoothed out which is nice but where are missions I still think it was one of better ideas of original game in terms of PvE, especially in Nightfall and EoTN, it structurize the flow of the mmo and the story very nicely and it gave the sense of accomplishment and player progression. Now it’s just: “let’s just move to higher level area”. Player story starts with bang but quickly loses pace and starts to drag, meh. They even change currency system to accompany WoW like system instead of keeping it from GW1, go figure.

    • frightlever says:

      If you think it’s like WOW the problem isn’t with GW2, the problem is with you. You’re probably just burned out on MMOs. No biggy, step back, relax, play Angry Birds for a coupla months. You’ll be good.

  39. Hardmood says:

    ok that game is out for how long? 1 week?
    and there are already many players at or on max-level? even after 3 days or so…

    theres no way imo, that any game, which provides u the ez.ness to lvl to max in 3 days, cloning things from other games like mad (althoug they probably cloned it well and even did it better than in the original ones) or showing up no innovations in gameplay, i will ever call GOOD. it remains mediocre even if its perfectly mediocre.
    its designed for the masses and nothing else.
    its designed for being a chashcow not a GOOD game.
    at least its maybe a FUN(only)-game.
    (M)MORPG is something else yet to be redefined by some genius devs…(can someone plz KILL that effin first “M” forever…)

    thats y more and more people r playing (and funding) indie-games.

    • vee41 says:

      Levels don’t really matter that much in the game. They just open extra content to you. Absolutely some people will be burned out, I play casually and I am enjoying the game a lot. If you are constantly looking to achieve something and need that to drive you forward and keep playing, this might not be game for you. I’ll be enjoying it for manymany hours :)

      The whole idea that MMO’s need to become a second job is just ridiculous and that mentality is the biggest change GW2 makes to the core concept.

    • Nick says:

      The game isn’t about getting to max level, just like GW1 wasn’t.

    • Caerphoto says:

      So the game is FUN, but it’s not GOOD? Eh?

      Are you saying a game can only be GOOD if it’s HARD?

  40. Punchbowled says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to play a game wrongly, exactly, but it does seem to me that anyone who has powered to 80 in this game is likely to have mistreated it, at least.

    I am interested in why you view design “for the masses” as a bad thing. If you mean it has been designed to exploit the masses, then this would be problematic, certainly. But this game seems to me designed to entertain, to energise and to inspire, not merely to milk, its players. As such it is interested in their demassification, in processing them out from the first M of MMO, dignifying them not only as constitutive elements of the spectacle but as individual players. My experience of the game is one of a soft process between participation in the mass event and individual exploration and advancement. It feels organic, like a biomechanism. It’s a persuasive virtuality. I like it.

    Who, in your view, should the game have been designed for? What constituency are you speaking for?

  41. running fungus says:

    Good review, but I’m really curious about the evolution (or possible dissolution) of the player base on this one, which is something that you hint at but will probably be looked back on as obvious. Subscription fees suck and they do encourage certain kinds of game structure and play, but they also bring a psychological component that seems to be missing otherwise (even if it’s not a healthy one). I remember returning to City of Heroes once it had gone free, and play for me was much the same — which is a credit to the revamp, really, that they hadn’t made the basic free game much less compelling. But obviously it was somehow less compelling, because I played it a little and then dropped it. I could return to it anytime after all. Did I? No.

    GW2 might suffer even more from this issue if it hands out all the goodies at once, as you say.

    The solo (or parallel play) aspects of GW2 are certainly welcome, but what I don’t see much comment on is how much this may be a reaction to GW. I hated being handcuffed to other players in GW. We’d end up exchanging favours to get into multi-player areas and then drop out so the other could solo. Now, required coordination among independent players; that’s the brass ring for sure.

  42. JimDiGritz says:

    Well GW2 just shit the money bed for me.

    After reading the positive reviews on here and thinking.. what the hell I went, credit card in hand to

    https://buy.guildwars2.com/en-gb/

    But wait… apparently they have… SOLD OUT.

    Yes, that’s tight they have sold out of digital distribution copies. So has all their digital distribution partners.

    Fuck you NCsoft.. just fuck you.

    • Torgen says:

      The producers announced a few days ago that they would stop selling any more copies until they can get the server/grouping problems fixed.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      It was in one of the earlier newsposts actually. They’ve shut down new copies via digital distrubtion while they sort out a money-spinning exploit, presumably so any banned types can’t just buy back in once they’ve been caught and carry on again.

      • JimDiGritz says:

        But I or an exploit abuser *could* still go out & buy a physical copy today… right…

        If this is the reason that you can’t buy a digital download version then frankly they are even more of a bunch of snivelling cretins.

        Their Buy Now page on the website simply says:

        SOLD OUT

        “We limit sales to ensure enough capacity for our customers. ”

        They clearly haven’t got the balls to just state openly on the website that no new users can join the game until an exploit is fixed…

        I notice that their News/Blog (updated as of yesterday) on their front page has NO MENTION of any hiatus on new users etc….

        Pfffft.

        • Phantoon says:

          Now, I’m curious, as I rarely see people spinning towards a boycott- but are you going to play this game eventually, or has this truly soured your experience and you will not stand for this behavior, etc.

          • JimDiGritz says:

            Phantoon, I’m not exactly spinning into a boycott.. I actually have some respect for the publisher if they put a hold on sales because of server capacity issues. Nothing worse than buying and not being able to play. They could have easily taken my money and left me unable to log in…

            I’m just disappointed that they couldn’t be honest and explain the rationale behind halting sales. This SOLD OUT bullshit just sounds like a PR idea gone wrong

            As it stands I probably won’t buy this. Too many titles coming out that will be competing for my time and money…

            Anyway I hope you all enjoy it!

        • vee41 says:

          The ‘sold out’ has nothing to do with any kind of exploit. Everything to do with server capacity. They want to make sure any current customer gets decent enough service as there is enough load on servers as it.

        • Thurgret says:

          Nothing to do with an exploit. More to do with trying to stop their servers from melting. They have a lot of concurrent players.

  43. Phantoon says:

    “That kind of thing is definitely cool when you stumble across it, even if you know that whatever happens is of no long-term import to you or anyone else.”

    You have not been to Orr yet.

    “The end of my Elementalist’s first act was especially painful, presenting an enemy who hit far too hard for my poor cloth armour, carefully placed as if to ensure that my NPC backup would die at her feet and thus be impossible to revive without drawing her aggro. Grr. Methinks the designer was a Warrior.”

    Yeah, Elementalists feel way too weak, early on.

    Once you hit 30, everything is peachy keen.

  44. Ultramegazord says:

    It’s incredible how amazed people get by seeing features like public events on MMOs, ancient MMOs like Ultima Online had all that and much more like player towns, player shops, player made economy and so on, it just shows how much of a step back the MMOs took during the last 10 years, now every single MMO is built around grinding, PvE and PvP within a static world, how did this happen? Where did all the player interaction go? Where’s the old player economies in MMOs?

    In Ultima Online I could choose to be a lumberjack, spending hours chopping different kinds of trees to get different types of wood, use that wood to make logs and then use those logs to make, for example, some furniture to sell on my own shop (which I had to pay a rent).

    I could be a miner, going to unsafe mines (where other players could find me, kill me and take all the ores I’ve been mining) and mining ores ranging from the common iron to the rare mythril and melt those ores to bars, and then using the metal bars to create armors or weapons and sell them to other players, if I was good enough I could be the main supplier and get rich in the process, buying an expensive house in a priviliged zone, next to a mine, to show-off all my items on the backyard so everyone could see them.

    Where’s this freedom? Why every single MMO is about PvE and PvP?

    • c-Row says:

      It’s incredible how amazed people get by seeing features like public events on MMOs, ancient MMOs like Ultima Online had all that and much more

      Boobs have been around for thousands of years and still people get excited about them.

    • Azovyr says:

      While GW2 is a great game, I love it but I have believed for a long time that the next truly great MMO must combine both the best elements of the sandbox with elements of the structured theme park. This has never been done… or never done very well and it would take a genius stroke of game design to join the two together.

      The thing is all the old school sandbox games are quirky and not really fit for the broader audience we see today. The come with a whole list of problems to solve (see SWG/UO player housing sprawl) and there’s also this misconception that sandbox games must be full on PvP survival of the fittest, like EVE or old UO before the PvE dimension. When was the last time someone tried to craft a sandbox MMO game with a decent budget? SWG in 2003 perhaps? With a fraction of the resources used in MMO development today. Skyrim proved the demand is there for sandbox games. Hell even Minecraft did.

      If a decent funded studio with talent ever gets the stones to do it I predict we will see the next MMO success on the level of WoW.

  45. Walf says:

    Well, I’d love to play it more but I can’t even bloody log into the flipping game since the email authentication seems to be down or something. Not very impressed thus far. Not from what little I had a chance to play either. :

    • dE says:

      Gosh, that E-Mail Auth System… WHY. WHYYYYY. How did a company with enough knowledge and talent to pull off a game like this, somehow magically think that bloody E-Mail Auth System was a good idea?
      I get the intention behind it. But the execution is a major annoyance. Having to bounce e-mails every single login (’cause, fuck you dynamic IPs) is really annoying to begin with. But with the e-mails not showing up half the time 19 out of 20 cases and the constant disconnects and server crashes (especially the overflow servers have a tendency to go boom) – well it’s not a lot of fun at the moment.
      Yeah I get it that it’s a fresh release and crashes are normal. That’s not my issue. My issue is with enforcing a really idiotic system which can’t have been thought through in the slightest. And then being unable to make it work reliable. And then add in the rest of release woes.

      • Gnoupi says:

        Valve is doing that for Steam, and they seem to be doing fine with it.

        • dE says:

          One key (and major) difference between what Steam is doing and what A-Net is doing:
          Steam does it once per computer. A-Net does it every single bloody time you login with a new IP. Steam ties it to the computer, A-Net to the IP-Address. One is likely remaining the same for quite some time, the other changes quite a lot. At least on a daily basis for many people outside of the US of A.

  46. Crius says:

    “The boss died 5 hours ago. Nobody’s noticed yet”.

    This is the main reason i’m going to sell my account. This game lack of “soul”. It’s an amount of:
    Press 1.
    Wait. Is died?
    No. Press 2. Press 3. Still alive?
    Press 4, maybe 5. Died yet? No.

    Oh look, i got the other’s skill i never use. Let press some other keys. Is dead now?

    Don’t know. Too many light, flash and roars.
    I’m writing about pve of course, but for what i can see, spvp and WvWvW is the same sauce.
    And, for god sake, i’m the ideal target of Anet, the “casual player of mmorpg”.

    Curse me and the “must-buy-day-one” vice.

    • Gnoupi says:

      I can agree that when you start having 15 people firing aoe spells at the tanky boss, it looks fireworky, but it’s only spell spam, there is no strategy involved.

      But those situations remain quite limited, from what I experienced. Most of the other fights I experienced required good timing of my skills, to apply the correct effect, combo with others, etc, to succeed. Sure, you can be the elementalist who is spamming meteor shower in the back. But that’s boring, and hardly optimal to victory.

    • vee41 says:

      Not to mention when bosses start getting more abilities things get a bit more interesting than standing around.

      But yea, I’d rather take a nice interesting 1vs1 with veteran mob than spamming spells on a champion mob with 20 others. Glad that si a choice the game offers :)

    • dE says:

      At first I though the combat was really interesting. Sure, it sorely lacked the variety in skills and skillcombinations that Guild Wars 1 had but it was more fluent. Until I realized all I needed was one button press to initiate combat – and win automatically – in an an estimated 95% of all battles. All other button presses were just bonus. The combat in GW2 is a completely automated whack a mole minigame for what amounts to the majority of time.
      At this point all that holds my hope are the dungeons. Exploring is now a matter of: run up to target, go grab a coffee while your hero auto-wins every battle in sight. This isn’t even “Press X to win” this is “hands off keyboard to win anyways”.

      • Thurgret says:

        This isn’t my experience at all. I’ve found that standing still and pressing one is a quick way to die, even to a mook.

      • Nesetalis says:

        what class are you playing? :P
        maybe in the newbie zone that might be true.. but anywhere beyond lvl 30.. if you stand still, you are dead. period.
        PVP is a very different ball game, most of your shots will miss because everyone else will dodge.. and players have rather painful nukes, AOE fields, and so forth that if you don’t dodge, you will eat it in a few strokes.

        I just ran the lvl 30 dungeon with 5 folks, 2 friends 2 strangers. One of my friends and one of the strangers died constantly cause they couldn’t dodge. Myself, I got knocked down three times in the whole dungeon.

  47. Somerled says:

    “but it is a little jarring not to be able to kick back by walking into an early area and effortlessly destroying great beasts with a flick of your fingers.”

    Now that I’m farming for crafting materials in a zone 30 levels below my own, I am indeed effortlessly destroying great beasts with a flick of my fingers. Ok, it’s not so much a walk in the park as that phrase deserves, but the challenge is gone entirely. I guess it’s the higher level gear that doesn’t scale with your level that makes the difference.

    • Nesetalis says:

      It scales, but not as strong.
      I think its smart, this means that you can go back and help low level friends without having your face mashed in to the floor… but you also aren’t just carrying everything on your shoulders.

      It would be nice to have a moment or two to just murder everything with huge numbers in one shot… but thats what white named animals are for :P

  48. killuminati says:

    If you don’t step into WvWvW in a Guild and I’d say in a alliance, you won’t feel that palayer aid player you’ve mention is lacking.
    To me GW2 is the only game so far that made me breath the old and never forgotten DAOC ongoing war for realm status.
    This review is severely lacking any comment on 50% (even 70% I’d say) of the game non mentioning sPVP (wich I dind’t tryed yet) and the WvWvW.

    I spent the past week end fighting with my guild, over supply depot, tower and castle, against french and spanish people, in a continuous fight for such resources were one side has the upper hand and the next hour everything is again changed in favor of one of the other 2 factions.
    Yes PVE is very well done and for me, it is just a way to see this beatifull world they have crafted, doing something more relaxing than fighting tons of other player.

    And this is even the answer to the main problem of the first level being desolate once the time wil go on: step into WvWvW, stick with the other guys, give help and recieve some. You’ll take plenty of exp, influence and money and drop (yes drop) to get yourself ready for the next fight or PVE levels.

    The biggest problem the game has right now, is the small number of players allowed in the fight grounds. We are experiencing at least 2 hours long ques just to enter. I reckon the WvWvW is lag free and I’ve never experienced such massive PVP so lag free ( kudos for the guys in the net department on the optimization, they deserve an award!) but the number of allowed players should rise.

    Int eh end of this WOT the game is great, not flawless as anythign in this world but still the best MMO out since years!

  49. Stagnation says:

    I guess I’ll be the outlier and say that I really don’t care for this game. It’s ok but the one thing that I’d be most interested in (dungeons) requires me to slog through events that mostly all play the same, large events that are just a zerg run from the graveyard, a personal story that’s average at best, armor/weapons that only seem to have 2 different models, graphics that are so-so, etc.

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