If you want a jaw-droppingly gorgeous MMO, look no further than Guild Wars 2 (GW2), ArenaNet’s newest creation. The beauty of the world of Tyria is even apparent during combat, where effects include illusions that dissolve into a swirl of butterflies and a field effect that resembles opaque circles of puzzle pieces. Emerging from a lake beads your monitor with droplets of water. The capital cities of the five playable races are a visual tour-de-force, especially the human Divinity’s Reach, which makes Minas Tirith look like a hill fort. And the landscapes, oh the landscapes. GW2 is simply lovely to look at.
If you want a game that will always challenge you, GW2 is up to challenging. You can fill a George R.R. Martin-sized saga with all the tasks you’ll have to accomplish. Add to this your own personal storyline, and you will never have a dull moment.
Some of the challenges include jumping puzzles, which can lead to pretty viewpoints a la Assassin’s Creed or unmarked mini-dungeons. This game rewards you for being curious, and there are genuine surprises to be found if you take your time and don’t rush from one quest to the next.
And if you don’t want to spend your time perpetually locked in the throes of mortal combat, GW2 is also your game. Although combat is a major part of GW2, it’s only one of many experience-gaining options that will lead you toward the top echelon of level 80. GW2 rewards you for gathering materials, crafting (both making known recipes/items and discovering new ones), for exploration, for scaling often-treacherous footpaths in order to find yet another spectacular view.
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:43 pm Posts: 671 Location: France
I was a GW2 open beta tester and I played it for about a month after the official release and I must say that I really don't agree with your opinion that 'you will never have a dull moment'.
First and foremost, the combat system is boring. Many monsters, for instance the troll in the cave near Divinity's Reach, cannot be killed except by a large group of players. This is due to two things: (1) the severe capping of levels and (2) the lack of healing. Since levels are capped by area, no-one can take a higher level character out to go one-on-one against the troll. Since there is no dedicated healing class, no-one knows whose responisibility it is to heal members of groups, and, since the healing skills players do have are weak, it is difficult and often pointless to try to use them anyway. As I understand it, in theory, a player is supposed to dodge attacks and healing is only there to limit any damage that might have been taken from failing to perfectly execute the dodge. The problem is that there is such a long cool down period for dodges that it is inevitable that a player will get hit so better healing is needed. What this means, is that the number of players in a group (ad-hoc or otherwise) is the sole factor determining whether or not a battle will be won. Battles are total scrums. There's no finesse, no tactics, nothing like that, and none are needed. If it take 10 people to kill the troll, then, if you have 8 people around, you will lose. If you have 11 people around, you will win. In both cases, you may die and that's not trivial.
Why isn't death trivial? There isn't a death penalty as such, but it does damage the player's armour, and that costs money to be repaired. The unfair thing about this is that if you are, say, a level 80 character with level 80 armour, and you go to a lower level area to help a friend, and thus, your level is capped, if you die, you have to pay the cost of repairing level 80 armour and that is a heavy expense. The level capping system was supposed to encourage higher level characters to play with lower level characters, but the armour repair cost discourages this.
As well, some of the powers some monsters have are just completely over-the-top. Take the bandit in the cave near Dinvity's Reach. He can kill just about any character in 2 blows, no matter what elite skills you have. Worse, he is situated near a vista, so anyone wishing to get experience for the vista might just end up fighting him. That's another thing: some of the nastiest monsters have been placed in areas where other things happen, making them difficult to avoid. Was it really necessary to place the runic stone that activates the troll in the worm cave so that players doing a quest there can suddenly find themselves fighting it if some idiot picks up the stone?
The economy of the game is completely messed up. Due to ArenaNet's anti-farming mania, gold and crafting materials are hard to come by. This only penalises innocent players, as the gold farmers don't care: it doesn't bother them that their robots might take a few extra hours to gather gold and mats, after all. It drives people into the hands of gold sellers. It drives away honest players who can only afford to play a few hours a day because everything is so expensive in the game. To gain apptitudes, you need quite a bit of money to buy the books that let you gain them. There's money needed to repair armour. There's money needed to use the teleport points. There's money needed if you want to craft buffs using the cooking skill. If you can't find good items, then money is needed to buy them from the auction house or from merchants. The list of cost burdens is endless, but the rewards seem to be ever-diminishing.
The personal story is thin, very thin, and not written all that well. Every one of them is a typical hack fantasy story and they all converge quickly into the same line. The 'talking head' style of cinematics is, frankly, boring. In Guild Wars 1, you could feel part of the story because things happened in the cinematics. The cinematics, for instance, when you entered into the Eye of the North were exciting and showed more of the world. These cinematics are just two heads blah-blahing at each other.
The jumping puzzles are idiotic. One minute you are a noble in the city, say, and the next, you are playing Mario. You can also die if you fall trying to do some of these puzzles, which, in towns, is, in my opinion, not fair.
There are other things. The Charr, for instance. How on earth did the Charr come to be able to build the Black Citadel? 250 years or so before, they were worshipping effigies of twisted up bits of wood and there wasn't even towns in the Charr Homelands, just camps. Now they build Klingon-type cities? No way. The differences between the different type of creatures is just too cosmetic. What's the point of playing a Sylvari or a Norn if the only difference is a very few racial skills? Why can't they have designed different classes for them? Of course, they could have just let well enough alone and kept humans as the only playable class as they did in Guild Wars 1.
Then there is the PvP stuff. What happened to Guild vs Guild? The World vs World is not the same thing at all. As well, why make PvE players have to go to the PvP zones just to collect map exploration points? It cloggs up the PvP servers with people who don't want to be there and map exploration is just a PvE thing, so why disturb PvP players in this way?
Oh, the game has its points. The graphics, especially for the towns, are beautiful. The crafting system is well-designed, but the materials are just too hard to get. The music is good. The auction house is well done. They aren't sufficient, though, not by far. I miss the complex skills. I miss the secondary classes. I miss the tactical puzzles that used to be found in certain quests against some bosses. I miss the gentle innocence of Pre-searing Ascalon. I miss monks. I miss being able to take on monsters with mercenaries and heros there was no-one else around with whom I could play. In short, Guild Wars 1 was a better game. I wish that ArenaNet had gone ahead with the Utopia expansion and had ditched the idea for GW2.
By the way, I have said this on the GW2 forums, but the moderators only have time for fanbois. Everyone else, it seems, is a 'hater'. That's another thing that has driven me away from the game.
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