Guild Wars 2: First Blood
So apparently I still pre-own Guild Wars 2.
Have you ever received a rebate check for a product you do not remember purchasing? That is about how I felt towards this Beta Weekend part deux. “Oh. This is still a thing, isn’t it?” I asked myself, rhetorically. “Better get on with it, then.”
When we last left our brave adventurer, I was on Point 5. So…
Point 6: You will never be as cool as me
I was tempted to leave that glamor-shot in its full resolution – you know, for the ladies – but it is already dubious as to whether the RSS feed can handle this level of BAMF, let alone with an extra thousand unfiltered pixels. Horatio Mazuma simply has that effect on people.
Point 7: Combat still feels… meh?
I spent a lot more time playing as the
rogue Thief this time around, aka Horatio, and I am beginning to doubt the… legitimacy (for lack of a better term) of the combat system. When running around with double-daggers, your five skills are:
- Heartseeker: Leap attack; more damage the less HP target has.
- Leaping Death Blossom: jump behind enemy, inflicting 3 Bleeds.
- Dancing Dagger: Ranged snare that bounces between 4 enemies.
- Cloak and Dagger: Inflict debuff and then stealth for 3 seconds.
Sounds cool, right? And it is. There is a kind of intuitive logic to those abilities, a sort of rhythm when you use them. Something woefully missing with many other weapon “combos.” For example, bust out a sword + pistol and you get:
- Infiltrator’s Strike: Shadowstep to enemy, press again to teleport back to original location.
- Pistol Whip: Stun, then stab with sword.
- Black Powder: Basic shot + blinds nearby enemies.
- Head Shot: Basic shot + interrupt.
Those might sound alright, but in practice it just feels weird. None of those have a feeling of rotation or synergy, and it feels especially awkward to me when I couldn’t use Infiltrator’s Strike to “charge” to the next enemy because the return teleport option doesn’t go away for a long time. I suppose that this weapon combo may be better suited for PvP than PvE, now that I think about it. All I know is that the combat felt bad during this time period, and felt similarly bad when I was on the warrior unlocking other (possibly PvP) weapon skill sets.
Incidentally, the “play melee at your own risk” warning applies the same as before. I joined a “group” of players for a nearby event on two separate occasions with melee characters, and both times the mobs suddenly gained 2+ levels to “compensate” for the number of participants with predictably bad results. Nothing quite like running a level 6 event and then have a swarm of level 8 ghosts instantly spawn and mow down the front ranks.
Indeed, the more I experience the combat system in general, the less legitimate it comes across. Presumably you are supposed to be circle-strafing all the time to avoid positional damage, right? Or at least actively Dodging. But I am finding it incredibly difficult to ascertain the difference between a “Dodge this or else!” attack and a run-of-the-mill claw to the face attack. The mobs with a breath weapon? Sure, that’s simple. However, I am not in any particular mood to start memorizing the arbitrary Poker tells of a hundred different fantasy monsters when I am grinding XP yet again. In fact, let’s talk about that too.
Point 8: Quest Contortionist
By which I mean: the questing in Guild Wars 2 is disjointed.
You are given a “My Story” plot-driven series of quests which, at first blush, appears to be the “point” of the PvE game. There is some murder, some intrigue, a little treason, and enough hooks to get you to want to see where all this is going. But… you can’t. After finishing a quest wherein we decided to gather evidence against a particular government official, I found that the next step of the quest was 1.5 levels away. So… yeah. I opened my map, looked for a “quest heart” in my level range that wasn’t already filled in, and teleported to a field I knew bandits frequented so I could start farming the 0.5 levels I needed to gain before I could reasonably complete the quest hearts I found. Apparently there is an expectation that you will be filling in every heart and every Event in the area, or perhaps supplementing the XP gaps with WvWvW.
Or purchasing the +50% XP potions from the cash shop. Just sayin’.
Thing is, I did not care about these stupid farmers with their Israeli Settlements in centaur country. None of that had anything to do with the plot against the crown, which I was just in the middle of solving. Why am I out here again? There is zero connection. This is not equivalent to the sort of expansion-wide story arcs of WoW; this is literally a quest saying “I think Minister Wi was involved. Go gather evidence from that cave (Recommended level: 8).” And instead of doing that, I need to kill the spiders infesting the apple orchid because pies.
Point 9: Sharing is Caring
Remember how individual looting was the sort of wild-idea innovation that felt so good that you wonder why so many MMO companies did not jump on it earlier? Well, I have another one of those: individual resource nodes.
If the picture is not clear enough, both myself and the esteemed Luke Duke [Ass] are mining the same Copper Ore node. As in, both of us are getting the customary 3 ore from this node. What makes this noteworthy is that to reach this node, we had to defeat 5-6 giant spiders to get there. Had this been, say, WoW or many other MMOs, I would have either glanced warily at my competition and went elsewhere, or attempted to ninja the node while Luke Duke [Ass] was occupied with spiders. Instead, we each had a common cause, a reason to work together, to get to the same exact location. It was 1+1 = 2, rather than the zero-sum game it typically is.
More impressions about crafting and other miscellaneous items will have to wait.