Monday, September 03, 2012

My Guild Wars 2 (free MMORPG) impressions

It's awesome to say the least. A very good and different take on mmorpgs, it's a lot more similar to WoW now that the original was. One of the most drastic changes were the skills. In the first GW skills were kinda like cards, and you could choose a couple to play with, and since there were thousands of them, and you could also play with two professions, the possible combinations were mind blowing. Apparently that was hard to balance so they simplified it a bit. In GW2 most of you skills are determined by the weapons you are holding in your hands, so if you have two-handed sword equipped, you will automatically have all 5 skills for that weapon type. It's kinda underwhelming when compared to the original GW, these 5 are good and all, but in the long run it's gonna get pretty repetitive if you only stick to one weapon type. I like to think of it as being like Devil May Cry or God of War for example, you only had a small amount of possible moves but each of them served a purpose for a specific spot or time to be used. But in the end, I managed to unlock every single weapon skill in my first day of playing the game (there are only about 20 or so ), so it's kinda depressing to know that after I invest a ton of hours in the game I wont ever have the opportunity to get a new attacking skill. The other 5 skills you can equip are a dedicated healing, 3 utility support skills and one elite skill, but these are also only few to choose from. Oh well at least the PvP will be more manageable.

I'm a Charr Warrior level 20 at this point, fully completed the first 2 maps. There's a bunch of stuff to do, and there are dynamic events at almost every step of the way. I really like one of the cool new aspects they added, vista points. It's basically like the observation towers from Assassins Creed, you can find them all over the place, on top of houses, mountains and all over the environments, but getting to them actually takes some platforming. Yes that's right, platforming in an mmo, you need to scan around for possible ways to ascend, start jumping on rocks to make it across the gap and reach a destroyed wall from which you can then jump to another possible platform. Stuff like this was usually considered exploiting, but they really did carefully design these environments.

There's a ton of players present, especially in the starting areas, and it's really cool how everyone can fluidly work together without the need to invite anyone to the group, because everything is shared people are quick to jump in and help you with whatever you are doing, instead of just avoiding you like in other mmos. Also I have to say it's pretty hard, once you go out solo you quickly get overwhelmed and die, so it's always a good idea to play in groups. There's a ton of really cool new features, like the fact that you can be in more than one guild at the same time, and that you can invite a friend from another server to join you. The personal story is also great, you can make choices in how you deal and approach stuff and everything is recorded in your diary. There's also a lot of npcs that talk to each other and interact with others, so everything really does feel alive and organic, I have already witnessed quite a few hilarious dialogues taking place around me.

The most amazing addition to the game has to be the new pvp system. World VS World is simply crazy in scale, there are 4 huge battlegrounds taking place on a separate map, each of those with their towns, mines, resources, caravans, quests and stuff like that, so you can basically only ever play WvW and level up to maximum level, you don't even need to engage in combat with other players, you can help the fight by doing many other things, but I haven't explored all of that just yet. Back to playing I go!

EDIT: Oh yeah I forgot to mention that I'm actually playing with my wireless PS3 controller. I managed to set it up quite nicely, but it does take some concentration to get used to where the skills actually are. It wasn't easy to do since there are about 10 skills to use, plus jumping, evading, looting, switching targets, switching weapons, both mouse buttons so I can turn around and more. So yeah all of the buttons on the controller could have easily been used on just skills, but I set it up so that my healing and utility skills are activated with L2 + regular combat skill buttons. It's playable with my warrior, but I don't think other professions will be especially the elementalist since they have more skills to use because of elemental attunements. I just wish I could make the dpad work for extra skills somehow, but they become deactivated when my analog is used, because they are technically both used for movement so one negates the other, maybe if I used some different software... maybe I could try using voice commands, yeah that would actually be pretty cool.

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