Anyone who pre-ordered the game is able to test out the beta this weekend. It began yesterday, and Jawbs and I were able to get a couple hours last night. Here's my initial impression. Yes, I am keeping in mind that this is only beta and things can and will change before launch.Cons:1. Learning the ropes - sink or swim.
If anyone has tried a new MMORPG, they're probably used to the whole tool-tip tutorial "here is how to move, here are your spells, this is your bag/inventory, click this to see blah" in the first few levels. GW2 doesn't really lend itself much to a new player in this sense. It flashes you a few tool-tips about the quests showing up on your map, but other than that, expects you to figure out much of the rest.
The first quest takes you right into CHAOS. Jawbs and I both had no f'n clue what was going on during the first 2 battles. We hadn't even learned how to use our starting abilities yet (and certainly didn't realize that your abilities are tied to the weapon type you have equipped until much, much later), when we were mobbed with enemies. Our previous MMORPG knowledge helped in that we knew to click to target and hit a button for an ability, but a new person would just be dead. Death... speaking of which:2. "Fight to survive!"
When your life runs out, or very low (couldn't tell, it happens so fast) you go into this "fight to survive" mode where you're on the ground and have an alternate set of abilities in the middle of your screen to click, which seems to give you the option to either lay down and die, or try to save yourself. Thanks, game, for telling me WTF I am supposed to do here. Oh wait, you didn't.
Let me just flail around on the ground and mindlessly click stuff because everything is so chaotic I have no clue what's happening.
As we played through the next hour or two, there were many "world events" we took part in that put us in this "fight to survive" scenario and it never got less confusing. And yes, that means we were dying/nearly dying a lot. I don't remember playing any other MMORPG in the very first levels and dying so much.3. The starting area of the world is TOO big.
The designers of GW2 really
were hellbent on confusing the new players. Even with a very pretty and intuitive map system, it's confusing to figure out where the heck you're supposed to go. Starting our "personal story" line of quests took us through an enormous city without much direction other than the big green arrow on the minimap. In my opinion, the first 2 to 3 zones a new character has to quest and explore in should be smaller, simpler, and have better direction. The first city has multiple "waypoints" in it that you can teleport to/from so I doubt I'll ever actually explore the entire city just due to it's expanse.4. Server overflow.
Jawbs and I created toons on the same server in order to play together. Obviously. Now, we expected some delays and queue times possibly, since there aren't that many servers and it's a huge hyped up beta weekend. We were prepared to sit at a queue screen. But what happened instead, was the server was so busy, they randomly bump players into "overflow servers". If I was playing solo, this would have been great! But we wanted to quest together, and it separated us even though we were in a party. Clearly that wasn't thought out very well. We spent the first 20 minutes trying to figure out why we couldn't see each other even though we were both standing at the same quest giver. Logging out and back in helped, but the WORLD IS SO BIG that there are different servers for zones within an area... so we kept getting separated each time we'd zone. Frustrating to say the least. People in a party together should be recognized somehow and kept intact.
I realize that especially this last issue could be something just put in place for beta, so hopefully they have better plans for busy servers come launch time.Pros:1. The environment and characters are beautiful.
The character creation had lots of options, and you create a story for yourself when you pick some of your attributes. I remember being completely enamored with the look of the characters in GW1, and I am not disappointed at all now. The combat animations are pretty spiffy looking too.
I am fortunate that I can crank my graphics all the way up and really enjoy the scenery. The detail on the environment is really nice.
(^^ My Human Ranger, just about to ding level 4. My kitty pet is camera shy, sorry.)2. Abilities are tied to your weapon.
I mentioned before that it took me a while to realize this was the case, but regardless of that, it IS an awesome thing. I enjoyed equipping different weapon types and seeing all the new options available. You have to "level up" your weapon type in order to unlock abilities, though. You'll start with 1 and unlock others as you use it. It adds a bit of depth to your decision making when it comes to picking up weapon upgrades, and lends to a bit of variety in combat action.3. Waypoints are fast.
I also mentioned before that a large city has multiple waypoints in it. While that may lead to me exploring many parts of a city, it IS very convenient if you just want to get to your next quest destination. As many of you may know, I played World of Warcraft for many years, and I personally welcome the quick teleportation vs. scenic, time-eating flights on a bird.4. World events are a cool concept.
I know that once I get a better handle on the UI, my abilities, and the whole quasi-death mystery, these world events will be fun. You can join in killing a mob of enemies, or a big enemy, with other players and get credit for participating. In other games, you'd have to be the first one to "tag" an enemy to get credit, but that's not the case here. In fact, I don't think that's the case with any enemies in this game. I can't quite figure out the looting system yet, nor the XP gains while attacking random enemies, but I have noticed that an enemy NPC's name never turns grey even if multiple people are fighting it. Guess I can work on figuring this stuff out when I play this evening. Or try to, at least. In closing:
I am looking forward to exploring more of this game. I am not completely swept off my feet by it, but I suppose I never will be by another MMO. I was completely sucked into World of Warcraft at first because it was a whole new world for me. I had only played a couple hours of Asheron's Call, and a couple hours of Everquest I, but WoW was the first MMO I really gave a chance to. Thus, it will always be a basis of comparison for me, and I don't think anything will ever immerse me so deeply into it's grasps.
But this might be a fun time killer.
Please feel free to reply with your thoughts, comments, experiences. There's not many things that I like talking about more than video games!