Apr 29, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Beta Impressions (and Diablo III beta comparison)

Pre-purchased Guild Wars 2 a few weeks ago, and this was the first of the three beta events. So, here's impressions.

No real notes on install- entire download/game was a single .exe that downloaded a single 13 gb .dat file- very portable and easy to move. No idea if/where anything is saved (can't find anything in appdata, etc), but if the end game is like that, well, more power to 'em....

So, on to game impressions!
  • I tried Charr thief (primary), Human warrior, and Charr elementalist. The introductions pretty much played out the same way- thrown into the fray, fight some regular stuff, keep going, fight some more, then fight a big boss. Two of the three times in the boss fight, I was downed (but not killed) in the first hit, and the third I managed to avoid it until almost the end of the fight.
  • There was a definite lack of training/introduction- there was the typical MMO popup helps ("Move with the WASD keys!"), but you pretty much start fighting right away and don't really get time to understand your skills/etc. It IS an open/active world, though- I guess it's hard to do this differently. Didn't mix well with the speed of the intro, though.
  • I started w/ Charr Thief, did a few things in the low-level area, then went to the main Charr hub, the Black Citadel. Very hard to navigate and get used to (worse than The Exodar was when I first made a draenei)- it's what made me start my other characters. Spent a few hours trying to find where to continue the main story quest before giving up and going back to Ashford.
  • Melee does just as much damage as ranged and needs to be close to take more damage in fights. Ranged can get into fights from furher away- in one-on-one, it's probably balanced, in group fights it's hard for melee to keep up w/o teleport-to-target type skills.
  • One skill point earned each level and a handful of skill points available on map events. Skill abilities seemed balanced for skill points, but many skills (at least for thief) seemed somewhat generic, and a few missing- you hide in shadows to heal and can lose aggro when you do it, and you can shadowstep to hop from one spot to another w/o detection, but really, no backstab or sneak?
  • Better crafting system w/ limited-use tools and components > parts > specific armor pieces. Not sure on progression (nothing indicated) or pieces at higher levels.
User interface wasn't too dramatic:
  • Lots of white backgrounds in the beginning- launcher and login screen in particular. The panels during creation and once in game had various dark background and white text, so not too horrible, but they also tossed in some transparency that would've been nice to choose to remove.
  • Options include UI scale to make stuff bigger. I didn't notice a difference, though. Text was mostly legible, except for more bright-red for inventory info that was a little hard to read.
  • I had to use pisto (follow the bullet path) to find mobs in several instances- more contrast for mobs in general (and particularly targeted mob) would be nice.
Overall, as I expected with my Diablo III beta post, I'm definitely happier with this choice over Diablo III. I want to check out more race and class combos (hopefully with a better capital layout than the Black Citadel) and get to the new content. The dynamic events kept things active and kept grind to a minimum. The game has a buy-with-real-money system but it doesn't feel intrusive or unbalancing, and there's so much content that already exists- it doesn't feel like it's built specificly for later expansion packs out of the gate. It's tougher, and takes work- it's not just tank-and-spank, you get downed a lot, you do have to manage money on item repairs (and inventory space unless you spent some time farming materials or extra cash)... but I think it's going to be a lot more enjoyable.

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