Guild Wars 2 Review, by Kaleedity
This is a guest post from an old friend and former contributor (the Messy PvP series), Kaleedity.
GW2 is pretty good. My whine about TSW I detailed a couple of posts back is reversed in one of GW2′s gametypes. You can try any equippable weapon configuration and any trait/skill selection for free, with no cost to respec and with tons of dummies to try skills on. This gametype is available pretty much on character creation. I would say they probably went overkill on the dummies — if you knew me, that’s pretty crazy for me to say. There’s really three distinct games in GW2, so I’ll talk about them a bit and my limited experience so far.
There’s the PVE — pretty much WoW with good design, bells and whistles, and Warhammer online’s public quests. You don’t PVP here, at least to my knowledge. The world is pretty big. The basic quests are self explanatory and do not require outside assistance, at least so far. Some of the content is only available if you poke around; I’ve definitely been rewarded for looking around nooks on the map that didn’t have any obvious labels on them. Some of the solo challenges feel pretty good; there was one near my starting area that involved a series of modestly difficult jumps with some normal mobs thrown in. If any of the ravens flying around landed near you, they’d knock you back in a very easy to see radius. This area felt a lot like a solo instance out of TSW, with the exception that it isn’t instanced. I’m only up to level 18 (out of 80) and I’ve only encountered the one and it wasn’t related to any other quests in the area.
Many monsters have a very, very TSW-like AoE circle attack that punishes you for standing in the poop. Encounters intended for a group are pretty bad about instant one-shots that might be telegraphed for a half second. You “can” dodge any attack on any character, but I haven’t really run into anything in pve that gives you a good telegraph to react to. It might just be my race’s starting area. The good news is that going into a downed state isn’t that bad if someone’s willing to sit next to you and do nothing for 5-10s. If you go into a “dead-dead” state, then that revival feels like it takes 30s — generally longer than running back from the nearest spawn.
Oh, I should mention the crafting is a pretty good way to level up.
Joining structured team PVP games is pretty easy. There’s no WoW queue, there’s more of a FPS-style lobby where you can choose which game to join from a list and see what map they’re playing and how many players are in on it. There’s no wait. Many of the games I’ve been in felt more reminiscent of TF2 compared to anything else. It’s not terribly uncommon to see the losing team drop nearly all of its players when things aren’t going their way. Fortunately, there’s an autobalance that’s pretty aggressive, but there’s only so much you can do when the losing team only has one player versus seven. It’ll probably be better when I start playing with my guild against other organized groups instead of freelancing.
Combat itself is a little floaty and has some issues with targeting and knowing what is going on, as is to be expected. There are obvious notifications in the UI, but it’s still hard to tell if I’m about to get struck down, and debuffs are a little harder to read in the UI. They made some good design choices there like how a bleed is a bleed regardless of what class it’s from along with all the other buff/debuff types, and most of my complaints are fixable with slight notation differences that mods will likely allow. A mere floating combat text equivalent would serve me well. The targeting system is kind of wacky. I frequently find myself suddenly targeting a friendly unit while I have an opponent targeted, and I suddenly start using my charge-like skills in my ally’s direction instead of toward my opponent.
The WvWvW gametype is a little problematic. This is the grand AV-like map where three server populations contest dozens of forts, supply lines, towers, and castles. A minor issue isn’t really explained in game: in PVE, you get scaled down to the level of the areas you walk around. In the structured PVP, you are set to level 80 and pick any of your race/class skills and traits as you see fit. In WvW, your character is scaled to 80, but you don’t get to pick skills outside of those earned in normal levels. This really doesn’t matter for most skills — you earn all of your weapon skills incredibly fast at low levels and most of the “low level, early” skills you get to pick from are very good. You do get boned on Elite skills until level 30; elite skills get their own slot and you can only ever equip one at a time, but they tend to be big time cooldowns. That minor issue aside, WvWvW is the big thing to queue for in game. There’s a queue, and it’s a long one. The good news is that you can do anything else in-game while you’re queued for WvWvW. The bad news is that the queue is around 2 hours if the map is actually running.
When I finally got into the instance, it didn’t take me too long to get an idea of how things go down. It’s not easy to tell at a glance, and you can’t tell where friendly players are on the map unless they’re close. It is pretty easy as a neophyte to see a large group of friendlies on the map, realize “Yes! I found my allies!”, and then walk into a mass of your enemies who ended up actually being between you and your team. The map is a big three-way triumvirate of a war, so AV-like corridors aren’t really something you can depend on. I was able to take part in a pretty low scale assault on a supply line that was pretty successful, but then the map shut down and everyone was kicked out. It had actually been working pretty well as far as latency, so hopefully they can prevent crashes in the future.
So far I’d say GW2 has done pretty well for all of my scrutiny. I’ll probably continue to level my character, but I don’t know how long I’m going to play.