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.
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.
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.