Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jim's Guild Wars 2 Impressions

If I had to summarize Guild Wars 2 in one word I would say it's efficient. It is a game made for people who don't necessarily have the will or consecutive hours required to deal with the traditional MMO time-sinks and tropes of the genre. Partying up, mob tagging, playing with friends, quest turn ins and finding someone of each role are not present in Arena Net's latest massively multiplayer romp .

That being said, I wouldn't consider GW2 a revolution of MMO game design but rather more of an evolution. I think it's really true that you can't go home again. My experience in World of Warcraft and constant failed attempts at finding another game that gives me that feel prove that. But Guild Wars 2 comes close.

This is not to say that GW2 doesn't have some negatives. While I realize the game is in Beta and still doesn't have a release date as of this writing there are some specific things that need fixing. To be clear, my impressions are based off of a single Beta Weekend and about 16 hours of play.

  • Can't rebind Target Next Enemy to middle mouse or anything to Middle Mouse for that matter.
  • Laggy as all hell both due to lack of steady framerate as well as some clear client/server problems but we're probably 6 months out from launch and nothing optimized.
  • Poor or not prominent enough visual indicators as to what is your current target
  • Visual indicators about debuffs and buffs could be more prominent as well. 
  • Spell effects make combat confusing with large groups of people.
  • Questionable whether end game PvE content will sustain people without raids. Clearly it is a PvP game in the end despite all the PvE content but I wonder if just enjoying PvE would provide a sufficient reason to spend the $60.
  • Dealing damage on certain classes didn't seem like you were making an impact at all despite the numbers popping up. Unless you were weilding a big Two-hander which feels like it has a big impact, especially with knowbacks/knockdowns you didn't really feel like you were actually hurting enemies. The combat needs more impact/heft/something. More on this later.
  • Enemies felt like they had enormousness amounts of health sometimes and othertimes during dynamic events you could barely get a hit in as roving bands of players destroyed all in sight nearly instantaneously.
  • And yet some bosses one shot you. Scaling needs work.
  • Too many trash items which led to a constantly full inventory. Unsure if economy balance is where it should be yet as well.

On the plus side I really appreciated:

  • the beautiful world. Every area seemed hand crafted and nothing seemed copied and pasted.
  • Great variety in play style depending what weapons are equipped.
  • This game rewards exploration like no other I've ever played. 
  • Ungrindable - mobs don't give much XP.
  • I would go sword/mace and then switch to hammer, and by the time I'm done with the hammer skills my skills for sword/mace have fully recharged. Works great but this wasn't explained!
  • I wonder if the depth of content is sustainable outside of the starting zones.
  • Down-scaling so you can play with your slow-leveling friends is fantastic.

After 16 hours I am unsure how I feel about the combat. Special moves definitely have weight and impact but there is emphasis on animation to achieve that effect where as in WoW the button press is immediately felt on screen. Actions are also queued up, seemingly 2-3 at a time in Guild Wars 2 and cast bars even on Melee classes are prevalent. When I crit or hit a mob with a special attack I need that reflected in the mobs reaction. It's the same principle in action movies. It's less about the action star pretending to throw a punch and more how well the stunt guy he's fighting against reacts to the hit. It's the visual and audio feedback that makes you feel like you had an impact as well as feeling as though your key presses occur immediately. Anything else and you get the mild feeling you're playing some kind of turn based RPG.

At the conclusion of the Beta Weekend I can say I am interested in Guild Wars 2 but not yet sold. Arena Net still needs to allay my combat concerns most of all before I bite the bullet and spend $60. The MMO Space is going more and more Free to Play with a  Micro-transaction model so I really need that $60 validated. Guild Wars 2 is definetly a AAA title that exudes polish but clearly needs more work before release.

No comments:

Post a Comment