Why I will fall in love with Guild Wars 2

There was a GW2 beta event going on last weekend. Unfortunately I haven’t been invited yet (not that I would be able to participate much) so I’m stuck with sneaking peeks at the official ArenaNet stream. The more I see of GW2 the more I’m convinced it’s a love affair in the making. Let me tell you why.

Screenshot of Charr from Guild Wars 2.

Reusing old content because I’m lazy. And want to avoid being sued. There.

Call me maybe?

Here’s the things I gathered from watching the few streams out there. Keep in mind that I haven’t actually played any part of the game yet, so most of this is just speculation.

1. In Guild Wars 2 players will be able to level and get gear solely through PvP, should they choose to do so. You know what game that reminds me of? That’s right my ex-lover, Warhammer Online. It’s comforting to know that I’ll be able to roll endless alts and have a completely fresh PvP experience with every one of them, starting at level one all up to the cap.

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy PvE, especially if it’s well done, but there’s no other joy than being able to pick up any of the vastly different classes and simply jump into the fray. Having a character select screen with multiple careers at different levels at my disposal and spending 20 minutes deciding which one to play is similar to a wine connoisseur picking out a bottle from his collection or a fashion junkie deciding which shoes to wear. It’s the anticipation before the act, the purest form of joy.

2. The way the combat works in GW2 is there are a multitude of possible skill loadouts depending on which weapon combination and spec you want to use, but the pool of abilities available in actual combat is fairly small (compared to other MMOs at least). What this means is that while the combat is fairly simple on the surface, it ends up being very complex and diverse when you are in an actual fight against an enemy whose skill loadout could be something you’ve never even seen before. Even fighting the same class might be perplexing to someone not deeply familiar with the game.

Not to mention the combo system where abilities from different classes (or even abilities from one character) synergise to create powerful effects, where for example projectiles fired by a friendly player going through an elementalist’s field of fire, frost or lightning will take on that particular elemental property.

The downed state system further complicates combat because just getting the opponent’s hitpoints to zero doesn’t kill him. The player goes into a downed state where he can fight for his life and eventually get back to his feet with a small amount of hitpoints, providing he manages to fill a bar representing life force by using special attacks. Or he can have an ally revive him. There’s even more complexity to that system that I won’t go into. Suffice it to say that combat in GW2 is going to be accessible yet really complex.

3. The game is going to have world PvP. That sentence alone is enough to whet my appetite. Admittedly, I haven’t had even a glimpse of world against world PvP (perhaps for the lack of trying) but if that part of the game is done well it could be a complete game changer. Even if the game comes out half-done, with almost no PvE and leveling being a chore, I’d still play the hell out of it. But only on the condition of it having good combat and decent open world PvP. The problem is that the chances are against ArenaNet.

4. Apparently the developers are really trying to make a new brand of PvE. For example, cross class and class combos are something that could spice up group PvE. In addition, ArenaNet have their version of public quests/rifts going on, which is nice of course, but there’s something else that completely astounded me when I was spectating streamers.

I watched someone start a quest dealing with spirit ravens or something similar (could not read the quest text), which involved running around, gathering raven eggs and putting them into the nests. So far standard MMO PvE fare. But the next part involved inspecting raven statues and solving riddles. Can you imagine that? The streamer himself was ranting about how horrible the quests are (I guess he prefers the WoW “kill 10 boars” kind), which forced me to promptly close the stream, but I myself was amazed. A quest such as that really draws you in and increases immersion, since you’re forced to read the text and think in terms of the fantasy world you’re playing in. If ArenaNet are able to keep up with the quality and innovation similar to that quest, I think they might succeed in their mission.

5. I love the aesthetics, simple as. The blood spatter pattern on everything somehow doesn’t look cheap and overused. There’s simply something in a flame circle animated as it would be sputtering itself out into the air that makes it beautiful while being unique.

Elementalist fighting a Guardian in Guild Wars 2.

Fry his ass! He won’t feel a thing, I promise. Look at all that armor.

Mail me a restraining order maybe?

I do have a few concerns though, some major, some petty pet peeves.

1. The world PvP might suck. If the game’s tech can’t support massive numbers and the areas are instanced it could ruin the whole experience. The whole world PvP system could be incomplete because of the developers focus on polishing other areas. Considering how few MMOs have managed to pull off world PvP (DAoC and perhaps WAR, partially), this is a major concern. Fingers crossed.

2. This point ties into the previous one. We’ve seen combat in PvE and small group PvP and it looks good. Nay, it looks amazing. But how will it perform in large-scale PvP? The dynamics of a 20 on 20 fight are completely different from those of a small skirmish. And we know from experience that many MMOs struggle with balancing combat depending on the scale. Vanilla WoW for example, was really fun in solo combat and small skirmishes like 2v2, 3v3 but the combat really sucked if you increased the numbers of participants, in addition to the tech not supporting them.

WAR was a game that was able to balance both and had one on one combat that wasn’t grossly imbalanced, engaging skirmishes in 6v6 battles and scenarios in addition to amazingly epic large-scale battles. It was a feature of the game rarely cherished and largely forgotten. Fingers crossed that GW2 can meet similar success in that area because I, for one, will cherish it.

3. I’m a bit concerned about the fact that every class has their own heal (and can rez). Due to that fact and the effectiveness of the downed state, combat might drag on forever. The heals are very effective and getting up from a downed state doesn’t seem to be that hard in a larger fight, especially because anyone with three seconds of time can help you up, while stomping (finishing an opponent off) seems disproportionately difficult. All of this might mean we’ll see the return of WAR’s never-ending fights where the combat dragged on as a result of Shaman/AM instarez.

Hopefully though, what I’ve seen is a result of new players unfamiliar with the game who are simply not playing it to its fullest potential.

4. Unfortunately, the game has no dual targeting system. It’s not a deal breaker but I honestly believe that the mentioned system is the next step in the PvP MMO targeting evolution. Although seeing as how there aren’t that many player targeted buffs and heals in the game, it might not be that much of a problem.

Shut up maybe?

I probably missed a few points which I might address when I remember them. Which most likely won’t happen. I hope everyone is as excited about the game as I am and that I get to slaughter see you on the battlefield soon.

PS: Apparently I need to apologise for referencing that horrible song. I am extremely sorry and promise to repent by playing a few LoL solo queue matches on a Saturday at prime-time.

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5 thoughts on “Why I will fall in love with Guild Wars 2

  1. You neeeeeeeeeed to play it :) there will definitely be things that frustrate you as an ex-WAR player and WvWvW with a 50-strong ranged-aoe bomb zerg is highly reminiscent of said game ;) I’d really love to hear your thoughts once you do play it though! I reviewed the first beta weekend over on my bloggy.

    • You know, after playing WAR for so long a 50 strong AoE zerg doesn’t sound half bad. As a way of dealing with superior numbers it’s really fun (if used in that context). Takes me back to my days with Crimson and the discipline and tactics we used to beat overwhelming numbers.

      I guess I really do need to play it, 1 month away. :P

      PS: Hi Luranni, didn’t know you had a blog. I’m a bit torn between being honored and infuriated at the fact that you’re commenting on my post. Oh the number of times you raped my face in WAR. :)

  2. On #1:
    GW2, and we will see in actaul game play. Seemed like it was all true. I’m thinking however there will be a point where gear will matter. At the moment, we all scale the same.

    WAR didn’t launch completely PVP friendly. Sadly. That came later. It won’t be till Dec 2008 or Jan 2009 that they added in PVP zone rewards (Influence).
    And the PVP sets weren’t purchasable or obtainable in any other way other than the random drop from the Champ NPC at the flags. The PQ at the Keep for killing the Lord only had a really rare chance of dropping a PVP item. And even then the drop was random and might be for another class, which made it worse that it was BOP.

    I’ll give WAR credit, but it was not total PVP friendly at launch. It took nearly a year of reforming to get it to total PVP levelling. Such simple ideas.
    GW2, may hit a landmark for first. And though it feels like it now. I’m sure to see a flaw. I already have guildies arguing to stay our of WvW, to grind max level and dungeon run to get better gear. That the equal gear scale is only for lesser levels. Top level gear translates as an advantage in WvW.

    on #2:
    I like the system, and simplicity. But I will miss the depth of complex trees and specs.

    on #3:
    It’s great. I like the whole Server vs. Server vs. Server. I will be 90% of the time in the WvW area. with 10% in the instanced.
    But the zone movement for cities will be missed. I wish there was a grander scheme. But this is definitely good enough. The actual game play inside of it is amazing. As commented, zerging will be an issue. But that’s up to better players building specs and teams to break it. Zerg brings the lazy. They already having a working Underdog system.

    on #4:
    It’s okay. PQ were amazing when I first saw them, but that’s because they each had a small story. They never were buffed in rewards, so they went waist side to be forever alone.
    Rift’s rifts were neat because they were the closest to dynamic PVE that could be thought of. However, beyond the first days in a busy area, the top zones became zergfest for grinding. The opening day was amazing. Great PVE zone experience. You can’t recreate that though.
    GW2 is a lot like Rift. But instead of a fire ball opening the sky, NPC just show up out of know where. I would say very little story, very little from a ‘wow thats cool’ sense. More or less, you are surrounded and have to just to get out. They become very, not optional.

    on #5:
    I like the movements of the races. It’s not walk up and bash this. Or throw fire ball. There are acrobatics and all sorts of neat moves. What I liked in beta was playing different races to see their different moves for the same ability. Quite interesting.
    I really would like a game to move away from massive effects. I’m gettting tired of a simple sowrd slash looking like an Anime fight from Bleach. This is why the most effective abilities seem to look like nothing happened. But I have this complaint for almost every MMO. Even EVE’s effects upset me.

    Concerns:
    1: So far in stress test we have been near 2000 players in the same area with little latency. Runs great at 500. Which WAR almost never realized how to do even that number.

    2: So far, we have tested as a guild, small group dynamics against the zerg. There is great potential. Already guildies were strategizing abilities to mesh together to make it work. I’m confident that more elite groups will be able to preform hit and runs, or practical spearheads. Problem right now is, AOE could be king. They are already nerfing many AOE abilities now.

    3: CC. Reviving takes time. You want an idiot to revive, cause then he can’t attack. No one player can be the healing monster you could in WAR. YOu have have some strong healers, but if you are DPS, using you heal in combat instead of DPSing is probably the worst mistake you can make. That guy is hitting you for 1K a second, your choices are A) heal yourself for nominal amount or B) kill him first and stop the damage. This whole idea that dedicated healers won’t exist is not true, the idea of everyone heals a little bit is not true. out of combat maybe. But in combat, specialization rules in GW2 as in any MMO.

    4: Dual Targetting was so amazing. Why only WAR knew this, I don’t know. For some reason I think all future games beleive this wasn’t needed. They have no clue. It’s easy to get over though.

    • I haven’t bought it yet. Don’t have the time or the money (need to upgrade my PC first me thinks) at the moment. So it’ll have to wait. It still looks like a game worth playing to me, although perhaps a larger organized group is required to enjoy it to its fullest potential.

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