Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Hypocrite! My Guild Wars 2 preview
First off, I am going against my own creed, my own rules, my own zen of blogging. I never ever review a game before its released. I also shout down those who do, because my argument has always been that the game is not done until its on the shelves then its fair game. If its being tested then there is still time to fix the flaws and to right the wrongs.
I am about to break that rule.
Well to be honest, in order for me to participate in the Guild Wars 2 beta or BWE GW2 I had to actually PURCHASE THE GAME! Therefore, if they already have my hard earned cash, I should be able to talk about their game with honesty and justification. I say this because by bringing parts of the game to light which are as yet, unfinished or for the most part confusing, I am hoping that the product, which I already paid for, is complete and ready for my enjoyment.
The first thing I have to say is ArenaNet, shame on you for making the decision to be in the beta a financial burden on your fans. If could go back, I would have chosen not to participate in the beta and thereby saving my hard earned cash for something that would be more productive like a couch dance at the Gold Club with Mindy. But I'm stuck like a lot of others. I'm not even sure I can get my money back if I really wanted to get it back, but putting that out there was just crazy and manipulative. I understand that players of the original Guild Wars are in a gaming desert, thirsting to be in the beta and to them, throwing out cash so they can taste the new flavor of their beloved much hyped much anticipated sequel is something they don't mind doing. I still think its taking advantage of your fan base like no other game before it, so shame on ArenaNet.
Now let me talk about the game.
There is no specific questing. There is your story line and then there are the quests that you pick up in the dynamic event areas or as I call them the public quest areas. Basically, you walk into an area and you get a message that says, please help Farmer Todd by killing all the monster worms in his corn field. So you go over, start killing monster worms and you get an update saying "Farmer Todd also needs help putting the fires out started by the monster worms". So you now have two ways of helping Farmer Todd and therefore achieving faction with him. After full faction is acquired, basically you can see a solid filled in heart on the map where Farmer Todd is standing, you can then purchase gear upgrades and other items from him with Karma which is earned during the dynamic event. Each mapped out zone has a few "Dynamic Events" and each is designed for a specific level. Once you get full faction with the "Quest giver" there really isn't any point in staying around unless your grinding cash, Karma or XP. Once done with an area, you will most likely move on to the next dynamic event, however the game is designed so that moving from one area to the next can cause you to be under leveled. I found that if I ran with a group, because all these areas are group driven, I could easy do dynamic events that on the surface were too high for me, but with all the players running around helping I was able to finish and get full faction. Eventually this made it hard for me to progress to new dynamic areas because there weren't enough players in an area to help advance and I ended up getting stuck and grinding already completed dynamic areas for XP. To me that seems like a scaling issue. As a solo player I should be able to complete a dynamic event by myself but in some cases I just can't due to the difficulty of the quest and the mobs themselves being too aggressive.
I did have one character that didn't encounter the wall, but to do this I had to acquire XP by other methods besides just dynamic events like exploring, gathering crafting items, spending time actually crafting items in town, and spend some time working on my character's story line quests. I think the idea is to do all those so XP is a constant flow and your not suck in an area trying to grind out XP, but who will spend time doing all those things? Not being able to "Quest" is hindering the XP flow and that is an issue in my view. You can not rely on one aspect of the game to give you enough to advance so that your hitting each level appropriate dynamic area on cue. If you hit that bottleneck and your not spreading your XP gathering out over different areas you end up just grinding out XP on mobs or Dynamic Events that you have already done, which can sour anyone to any MMO game. They did mention that you can craft your way through all the levels, but that would require you to go out and gather materials or at the very least have enough cash to purchase them on the market. But there really isn't any risk if you level up that way. Making a magical boot isn't going to kill you.
Course all that is fixable.
Another thing is they need to do a better job of explaining different aspects of the game, once its released. I was unaware until the second Beta Weekend that the game incorporated a combo system. Basically you can augment an attack by combining it with the attack or spell from another class. So if the Elementalist puts up an ice shield around the monster and you shoot an arrow through it, then the arrow does ice damage. That is just an example, I'm not even sure you can create an ice barrier, however the basic principle still holds, classes can combine to augment certain attacks. I actually found this out by ACCIDENT, when I researching about "Condition Damage" another added feature that the game does a poor job of explaining. If an item has "condition damage" as an ability, if you hover over that, it should at least tell you what "condition damage" means and it does not. If I hover over intelligence in my character panel, it will tell me what intelligence does, not sure why it can't do the same for "condition damage". I would tell you what it means but I'm still a bit fuzzy on it myself and to be honest since I had to look it up then you should have to as well. Combos are just too cool not to put it right out in front as a selling point and yet, I knew nothing about it till late Sunday afternoon during the second Beta Weekend.
My only other complaint is the importance of dodging. Well, its not my only complaint but it will be my last for this post. For the second Beta Weekend, I decided to try out the Warrior. One would hope that something as beefy and armored as a warrior would take a hit better than the squishy classes. Not true. Sadly I died a lot. I actually started surviving when I discovered the trick. The trick is to run away. At times the game play a lot like Diablo 3 on Nighmare level and that's really not cool when its like that at level 4. I personally think that levels 1 - 7 or 8 should be the easy levels. Meaning, that is when your learning how to play, enjoying the cool parts of your new class and just figuring out strategy. But with GW2 it ramps up pretty fast and if your not surrounded by groups of people when doing a dynamic event you end up dying and spend time waiting for someone kind player to revive you. The best way to avoid death is to dodge and run and to be honest that isn't very heroic for my character, especially a warrior. But this issue seems to only be with melee classes. Ranged classes don't have as much to fear and I've even herd said a few times that
Rangers will probably be one of the more prevalent classes on the servers along with Elementalists since they have ranged attacks. This really puts a damper on playing a melee class in my book. Look, I'm not saying make all of it easy, but if I die a lot in the first 6 levels then either I'm retarded and considering I've played a lot of MMO games that's highly unlikely or your game is just too FUCKING HARD on melee. So fix it.
Besides dying a lot with the warrior, eventually I found a rhythm that helped. I also got some advice about picking up the Healing Signet in the first couple of levels, which increased my survivability a lot. But that is just wrong. If I have to blow my first 3 points on a Healing Signet instead of choosing a different attack or buff then I'm not getting to play the game I want to play. I'm being backed into a corner and I'm playing the way the designers want me to play and that is not right.
It sounds like I don't like the game, but I do. At first I did not. It seemed strange not to have traditional quest givers and having to constantly change weapons till you found a set of skills that complimented your play style and other unexplained reasons for not falling in love at first sight. But the more I played and the more I got use to the style of play, I learned that this could be the game for me. I can see myself playing this a lot with friends and even soloing a good bit. Its graphically beautiful, the attacks seem very fluid and the ability to switch weapons mid fight to give yourself another set of attacks is pretty nice. I still think they have a lot of work left to get the game just right for release but for now the game handles and looks fantastic.
I wouldn't advise anyone to run out and buy a copy just to get in the beta. I for one might end up skipping a few once I get a nice feel for how the game works, just so I don't spoil myself before release. I will say that they need to get on with finishing the game. A lot of people have already started wondering what exactly did we pay for so far in advance and was it worth it to get in 10 or so beta weekends or will that experience sour us once the game is released.
These are just my thoughts and they shouldn't sway anyone from purchasing the game once its truly released. I say all this so I can feel better about my decision to purchase the game. I want to make sure that I put my complaints on file so if the game doesn't improve I can point my figure and go, this is when you didn't listen to your fan base and that is why you failed.