I've been really waiting for this game. Original Guild Wars is for me one of the player-character defining games, I loved it, spent several thousand hours in it my best PVP memories come from there.
And two days ago I played Guild Wars 2. I didn't really do that much research about how the game will be like since I didn't want to spoil the positive or negative surprise, I just had the basic knowledge about classes, races, dynamic events and some WvW.
Firstly, what I did like:
+ the idea of dynamic events instead of pick-up quests and the impact it has in the world, even though it's short-termed
+ art style
+ the map and the fluid transitions between
+ lot of polished and convenient mechanics, ie. you don't have to, for example, click on the body you want to loot, you just stand nearby and press F to do it. Comfy.
And what I didn't like
- skill system
It's beyond belief to be honest how can you can go from Guild Wars 1, which had fully customizable skill-bar, where you could make any character you desired, from an archer-healer to melee elementalist, focus your toon around any elite skill you wanted, mix whichever classes you chose. That's what I loved the most about Guild Wars, the freedom of character creation and usage, so many options, so much variability, nothing set in stone.
In Guild Wars 2 whole left side of your skill bar is locked to your weapon. Longbow has pre-defined 4 attack skills, great sword has pre-defined 4 attack skills, you can't do jack about it, nothing to be changed to suit your style more or alter the general idea of your character build. I played my ranger to like level 14, I'm bored to death already with the skills I'm forced to use. Surely I could just switch to shortbow, but that doesn't change the fact that you don't define your character and his weapon choice, your weapon choice defines your character and your gameplay, two guys using shortbows will have exactly same main skills. I can't imagine the boredom of the next 65 levels of using same 4 skills.
Apart from those pre-defined "main" skills you have your second weapon, ie. melee weapon for ranger, which has another pre-defined 4 skills of it's own, you can, and most people probably do, switch to it in combat, that's one positive. The fifth skill is healing, everyone has it, you can't put anything in that slot apart from a healing spell, you can pick one of three or four.
And then, finally, you have 3 "utility" slots, which you can change. The problem is that there's a total of maybe 15 skills to choose from, for ranger about 5 of them is, from what I could tell, PVE only. On top of that you have traits, which are utility too.
I think by now you're starting to get the picture where this game went from fully customizable 8 slot skillbar and 120-140 skills per profession and you could have two.
This probably will be fixed - can't imagine what happens to ranger class if it won't - but the pet AI is horrible. Pathfinding generally fails in PVP, it's so bad that I resorted to using ranged pets only, ie. spiders. Mind that each pet has an unique ability which is crucial to play ranger effectively. And most of the time you cant use it because your pet ran off and got stuck or killed.
- the general paradigm of how PVP looks like
Mind this is a completely personal opinion, so some people might take this as a feature.
Everyone has tons of HP, it takes literally forever, or at least a minute, to down anyone who's half-competent and able to heal himself (mash "5" button). And the arenas are pretty small. I don't think I've had a proper 1v1 fight ever in GW2, it always ends up with someone else joining up and it's a gank this way or other way. It simply takes too long, even for burst-damage gank-character like thief. In fact this more reminds me of League of Legends, where too fights are so prolonged and skills do so little damage. This wasn't the case in first Guild Wars, it was way more dynamic and entertaining. I do remember my ranger being able to kill full-hp cloth wearing enemies like mesmers in under 10 seconds if absent proper healing.
Apart from the lenght of fights, I got to say that there are times where I have no idea what the fuck is going on on my screen. The general traffic jam of overlapping skills, effects, explosions and hell knows what else make it simply overwhelming, add to that the fact pretty much everyone keeps rolling on the ground to avoid damage or escape from melee range (who the hell invented this mechanics, jesus), knockdowns and knockbacks are quite common, meaning people are flying back and forth, and in overall you have a one huge indistinguishable Vietnam on your screen.
- PVP modes
WvW is a massive zerg from what I could tell, reminds me much of Isle of Conquest from Warcraft, not my cup of tea, didn't test if further.
Arenas: either I'm blind or there is only one mode available in beta, the conquest, where are three points to be captured and held. Why no team-deathmatch arena? Why no, say, CTF or something innovative instead of this domination mode which is simply Arathi Basin in Tyria?
From what I could tell, so far there's no Hall of Heroes type of mode, though there are tournaments which arent yet available. From the description though its the same conquest-type thing but with premade teams. I simply have nothing to play in here.
- certain animations
Guild Wars 1 veterans will certainly remember that ranger had a very good looking and satisfying to use bow shooting animation. In GW2 it was replaced with blurred, pew-pew kind of thing. Annoying. On the plus side pistol animations and sound are superb.
- some little things
My camera often freaks out, it's a technical issue related to this whole and stupid roll-dodge thing, it looks like it had mouse acceleration on during it.
Game optimization is terrible at this point, but I get that it's a beta and will be drastically fixed.
This game has so little to do with original Guild Wars that I can't say it's a legitimate sequel with straight face. It probably is, or will be, a decent game on it's own, but not as a worthy continuation. I surely wouldn't pay a montly fee for this, at this point I'm not even sure if I'm going to buy it.
It's hard for me not to notice how badly this game is trying to challenge World of Warcraft, it lost it's magic to me with this horrible skill system. It just feels more like just another MMO with innovative mechanics in some parts, than Guild Wars. It's not revolutionary.