Note on the tardiness of this post: I know that the 2nd Beta Weekend Event finished exactly a week ago today and therefore this post is at least 6 days late but I’m afraid work and kids have kept me away from the keyboard. Still, a late Burro is better than no Burro at all and therefore I present to you my unapologetically gushing thoughts on what I think is a rather spiffing game. Without further ado I give you the stuff wot I have written…
I can confirm that my last post stands. Whilst I didn’t get into Guild Wars 2 for hours on end I did manage a couple of hours each evening and I knew within the first 30 minutes (nay, seconds!) that I loved it. I bound left and right strafe to the mouse wheel (mine flexes left and right for sideways scrolling) and put the skills and dodge keys on the key pad and boom! I was away! I could circle strafe enemies, shooting and jumping and dodging as I went! Arenanet had listened to my pleas and added so many more key binding options that my broken heart was mended immediately and I skipped off into Shaemoor with a newly minted Engineer to gleefully blast the daylights out of every centaur I could find 🙂
Now, before I go any further let me explain some of my thinking as I approached this beta event. As I’ve discussed in the comments of my recent posts with Brian from MMO Asylum, I don’t want to eat up the game before its actual release. I heard about some of Freelnacer’s Team Legacy guys getting to level 60 and the thought of that horrifies me (although, to be fair to these guys, it sounds like they did this in in World vs World so they won’t have been gobbling up content like the hungry hungry caterpillar). For me, a PvEer who loves a strong story, a little roleplay and lot of lore I knew that the more I did in the beta, the less I’d have to do in the final game and this seemed like a bad trade just to feed the gaming addiction that gnaws inside us all for a few hours. So even before the beta servers had opened I had decided that I would restrict my play in the following ways: keep to the human starter area, don’t tackle more than two steps of the personal story, don’t explore too far from Queensdale & don’t try and complete any areas. This may sound pretty limiting but in truth I knew I would only have a couple of hours to play during each of the beta nights and so this plan still left plenty to do, especially when you consider I was going to have to practice a lot of combat to make sure I could actually fight & play!
Now, given that I deliberately restricted my experiences to the small areas I had already seen in the last beta & stress teat, what did I actually think of the improvements made by Arenanet? Well, let me tell you… *cue wavey dissolve*…
First off I had zero problems logging in and staying in. No queues, no 502s no overflows, nothing. I just clicked the icon, logged in and was playing in well under two minutes. In fact I’d say that start to play was 60-90 seconds and I never hung or saw an overflow server once.
Next there was the graphics and FPS – the Arenanet team were now using 2 of my 3 cores (the GFX optimisation is still a way off so the game uses the main processor for all the work right now) and you could really tell. In the balanced settings my frame rate was perfect and only dipped in a huge WvW battle I wandered into (and got my arse kicked in).
Then there was the key bindings. I think I’ve made my views clear on this, but major props to Arenanet for listening to us and helping us with more options. Within mere seconds of logging in I was circle strafing in Shaemoor and after a few minutes setting keys I was saving the town far more effectively than I managed in the last BWE. Take that Centaur scum!
After that the list of things I liked began to blend into a unified feeling of fun. I explored a little more of Divinity’s Reach (which is still the most amazing single location I have ever seen in any game – I can’t wait to see Lion’s Arch!), I tackled a couple of steps of my personal story and had a hoot in the bar brawl with Big Nosed Ted and his gang. I also took part in some of the more evenly paced dynamic events and found that I am still deeply in love with this system. Seriously, dynamic events are so bloody amazing I don’t know why every other MMO isn’t working on retro-fitting them right now. Maybe they are, but if they’re not they bloody well should be.
Of course there were a few things I didn’t like so much, but in the main they were few and far between. For a start internal combat is still bloody hard. The top and bottom of it is that GW2 combat is meant to be fluid and you are supposed to be constantly moving but when you try that inside the camera clips and swings and zooms to match the room’s tight geometry in such a way that after a couple of seconds I have no idea where I am, who I am fighting and even if I am facing or hitting them! Given how well the external combat went for me, this was very frustrating and I really hope that either Arenanet do something about it. That or I don’t have to face much fighting inside once the game is launched because right now, well it’s horrible.
Even large external fights such as WvW zergs or dynamic event ganks have their problems as I still have no idea what the blithering buggeration is going on. I often can’t see who I have targeted and the whole thing seems to be a chaotic free-for-all set to the soundtrack of a meteor strike inside a hurricane falling off a cliff into scrap metal yard. I have no idea how they could make this better though as it just seems to be the way of things and when all said and done it’s still bloody good fun 🙂
But with those small quibbles aside this was a weekend where a little playing time managed to equal huge amounts of fun & enjoyment. Nothing in the game seemed to want me to grind my time away on pointless crap, instead everything was either story or fun driven and for that fact alone I’m sure that I will be coming back to Guild Wars 2 for years after its release.