These are my options only. My opinions tend to be completely different than other people. In GW1 I did not farm gold. I don't care about player trading, and traded very little. I don't want pretty skins unless I go out an earn them directly (not indirectly by farming money from thing A to sell so I can buy thing B). I loved PvP, but teamed with people who were too serious about farming fame or upping our GvG esteem. My PvP goals were to play a little of everything, both arena types and build types. I did both of these, but for HA and GvG, tended to be forced into no experamentation. And it didn't have to be my experamentation. I loved trying other people builds. There were a couple build types that I helped pioneer getting nerfed (unfortunately). But it was that type of experimentation I thrived on. In PvP, I didn't want to just farm high end stuff. I wanted to get every character through all chapters, and to touch all towns for map travel (what I called "poor mans cartographer"). I did solo farms, which were a blast to figure out, but then, before it got monotonous, I moved on to other things. I was certainly not getting very good bang for my buck. When HoM came out, I was ~80% of the way to 50/50. And the remaining portion, I was well on my way to achieving. I credit this to playing around with most elements of PvP and PvE (though PvE was frankly far more profitable for titles). No one I know tended to play like this. I also was a giant fan of Codex Arena... other than the fact that no one else wanted to play. To me, this was the essence of what GW was all about. Strategically using your wits to come up with innovative, effective builds. But also being able to tactically execute them well in combat. But all that aside, my focus is still on having fun. There's too much non-fun crap to deal with in the world. My brand of "fun" may well be different than yours. This is simply my perspective. This perspective matches up with the GW2 manifesto to "T", but those two views don't always match up with the mechanics. Some of which, something can be done about. Some of which they don't want to do anything about.
That being said, no game is all things to all people. This critique is based on the above Perspective. I'm very used to being on my own in my motivations for playing. This critique is based on my interpretation of their manifesto, and what I personally enjoy in a game. Whenever it sounds like I say "they told us it would be such and such way", that's not really what I'm saying. I'm saying that it does or doesn't seem to follow what they claim to be their design philosophy. When working on a project as big as GW2, it is easy to loose focus, even when you do have golden rules to design by. To try to keep my individual points simple, I will use the following key:
|Progressive: This is a point for which they have large harmony of their manifesto. It is when they prioritize an enjoyable, challenging, fair experience for all OVER realism. I point many MMO's fail at. Realism =/= Fun.|
|Neutral: Neutral points from my perspective. But I can't deny that some people like these things. And critics will swoon over them. Things the majority of people like to have in an MMO, but things I could care less about. Also, things people complained about GW1 not having, that I never missed.|
|Puzzling: Close to "Neutral", but containing both good and bad elements. I'm really not sure how to rate these. I think people will really be divided between liking, disliking, or not really really knowing what to think. Or, they are less annoyingly overanalytical about it and just enjoying the game already (ah, sounds bliss!).|
|Crippling: This is a point for which they seem to be working entirely backwards from their manifesto. There are some reasons they do this, but the cons far outweight the pros. The pros from my perspective and my interpretation of the manifesto, constitute: removing the annoying things from the game experience; enhancing what's good about the game; enhancing the ability for a player to play with their friends without either being heavily rewarded nor punished. When I have the Cripple icon next to something, it is the antithesis of these enjoyable elements.|
|Idea: Something worth considering. Something I think stands a strong chance of improving the game.|
One more note: A lot of people out there argue "that's what this and that other MMO do, so it's fine". But frankly, no. It's the whole "if your friend jumped off a bridge would you" argument your parents annoyingly told you time and time again. And it's true. Doing what projects before you have done leads to mediocrity. The GW franchise has always, in its own way, innovated something. And this is a good thing. When I critique a game, I do it for the benefit of the game. I do it because there is enough I like about a game, that I only want to see it get better. A game needs to live up to it's own merits, and not be compared to what the crowd is doing. Sure, there can be another game that is more fun, less fun, fun in a different way. But a critique doesn't care. So tell me most MMO's do it, and I won't get mad or anything, but I'll know your criteria for judging an experience is completely different than mine.
Crafting / Trading / Storage
Some people love this. I could care less. It's not why I play the game, and ends up creating a sub game. Isn't a sub game good? Not really. Because I wouldn't buy the game if it were just a crafting/trading game. It detracts from why I'm really here. But, these can co-exist in a game I play without bugging me. I know myself though, and I will do these things. I will try out crafting. I will make a medium attempt to level it all the way. So it will detract from why I'm here. But it is an MMO. It's supposed to be all encompasing. The good thing is, I really don't feel an obligation to do this. So when I do craft, and if this does take away from what I really want to be doing in the game, it's really my own fault. The good thing is, that I spend a lot of time in GW1 just milling about. Using it as an expensive chat room. This is something non-time-sensitive that can be done durring that time. So I really can't complain. But this being in the game isn't going to make me cream myself either. But that's just in regards to crafting/trading in general. Lets get down to some specifics.
|Quick move crafting mats into storage: Wow, that's going to just make the game feel emensly less tedious. The simple things can make all the difference in enjoyability. Hugely impressed!|
|Materials / minis storage: This makes you not have to worry about holding on to that fun inventory that might otherwise be too much of a burden to store compaired to what it does. Good evolution of an existing strong point from GW1.|
|Discoveries: Being able to do this from in game is a great idea. They have removed the need to wiki this stuff (not that you can't, but you shouldn't feel you have to, which totally matches their manifesto. Great stuff! Also, the XP bonuses make complete thematic and practical sense. Get XP for actually thinking about crafting, not for thinking about what I guide said to min/max it. The grayed out icons on the discoveries page, and telling you the remaining number of combos you can make is brilliant.|
|Max Leveling: It's nice that you can max level a character through crafting alone. I don't personally care to do this. But a nice option for those who do.|
|Auction House: I don't really care about trading with people. Of all the things I don't care about, Auction House is easily the most welcome by me, and most demanded by the community. They had to add this. I may trade / buy more from people since this takes all the annoying "hand around Spamadan" factor out of the mix. This is good, but it would not have stopped me from buying GW2 if it wasn't in the game. This is a huge huge plus for many people though.|
|Other: I don't know enough to critique many other aspects of Crafting such as the value of what you can make. But they have a good foundation to facilitate appropriate items. I'll have to play through a lot more content before I can judge account/character/guild available storage. Seems OK though.|
Builds / Skills / Professions / Race
This is the big one for me. There's good and bad, but this is a big disappointment for me overall. In the perspective (above) I mentioned my love affair with the GW1 builds system. This was the identity of GW1. Quite obviously, the main focus of GW1 was initially skills, build freedom, and flexibility culminating in a PvP focused experience. They ended up with a much more encompasing audience with their pricing structure. But, the build system will always be the epitome of what the start of the GW franchise was all about. So despite all other niceties they may add, this is the one that really matters to me. I mean, it's a fun system, but they re-invented a circular wheel and made it an oval. It's fun, but lacking next to what they already had. So while GW2 has a lot more going for it besides character/team builds, this was a colossal let down for me.
Social mostly succeeds, doing some very amazing things, but the places it fails are such huge failings.
|Dynamic Events: You are just walking through the world, something happens, everyone flocks to it and teams up. YOU DON'T NEED TO TEAM UP TO TEAM UP!!! This is great. It all happens organically like it should. People tend to be good at reviving you if you are down and they are walking around. The lack on need to pick up quests means that you just help each other out without having to talk about it. If you have a fun exchange, maybe you will start chatting, plan to do something else together, and eventually become friends. A very organic, goal oriented, hassle eliminating way to play an MMO the way it should be played, with MM people O playing. Even besides the social aspect, Dynamic Events are just fun. Even though they are scripted, they still give the illusion that the game is less static than it really is. Great job!|
|Multiple Guilds: This solves so many problems of having friends in many different guilds, but having to choose one group to play with most of the time. Great!|
|Guild Rewards: This is bound to create so many problems of the guilds wanting you to log in daily with all your characters to represent them. I'm sure I will get kicked out of guilds because I don't do this. Which is a shame, because the rewards should have nothing to do with the friends you make. The reality of it is, this represent system is going to cause a lot of potential friendships that could have formed to not form because my "represent" habits don't get the guild enough points to keep me. And that's not right. This is speculation, and I could be wrong. But come on, you know how people, especially strangers you haven't gotten to be friend with yet can get.|
|WvW: OK. Can't play WvW with friends who are on different servers. Must pay huge transfer fees if you want to. If I want to go to a high population server to play WvW with a friend, I'm looking at paying over 1/3rd the price of the entire GW game to switch to that server!!!! Is that for real!??! I know "other games blah blah blah".... so what. Other games don't have the manifesto GW has. I can tell you this much, I don't know who I would end up playing WvW more often with. It is certainly more fun with friends than strangers. For all their other efforts to make playing together work. This is a HUGE hit to the social. Really want to give this 2 cripple marks, but I promised to only give 2 bad marks once. This guessing game encompass one of the worst elements of my job. I DO NOT want to re-experience that absurd PITA in a game. Remove this crap. Restrict it to once every so often if you must. We all know it's on an automated system, and that you aren't manually doing the server changes. Or at least allow guesting to WvW. Give an incentive to make the player actually help on the server instead of sabatage. Like you gain half the benefit of the world would you guest for for the next # hours. Or better yet, remove the WvW world benefit. It's as stupid as the original "Favor" was in GW1.|
|Server Transfers: A segregated server model is a bad bad thing for social aspect. The WvW comment already went over this. But even with being able to guest, which is nice, there's no way you can know what server will have like minded individuals. You should be able to switch your server every so often. Because it isn't just about guesting, it's about being surronded with a general mood that fits you. This is nowhere near as big of a deal as not being able to WvW with friends. I think that if there's truly is a cost (and I'm not sure there is) to doing this, then go ahead and restrict the quantity of transfers to once every few months. I know people get shoved off to overflow servers on busy areas. But really, I have a hard time with wondering why the entire GW world (or at least servers of a particular language) aren't all just an overflow server system of each other. I'd much rather know I could randomly run into anyone playing than know that I will be 6% of the population. Majorly restricts who you might meet. I can't say for sure that this would work. It worked for GW1. GW1 was a more simple game. But then, overflow servers seem much like districts. So I don't know. I think the reason is WvW. And it really makes me dislike how decisions for WvW are ruining the world. I'm honestly on the fence for if I'd prefer it if WvW just wasn't part of GW. I enjoyed it, but it shouldn't exist at the compromise of other things.|
|Strangers: As mentioned in Dynamic Events (above), GW2 is amazing for organically forming into parties (or pseudo-parties) with strangers. It just deserved it's own mention, it's that good.|
|Friends Timing: It's really nice that, even if you and your friend play different ammounts, you can still play with each other. Both of you gaining some benefit, but neither just sitting back while the high level does more work than the entire low level team could. And the server guest thing... while server segregation still sucks, is a nice thing overall. I will have friends on many servers, so at least there's this.|
|Friends Play Style: I really feel that GW2 does a better job at making you meet new people than doing what you want with people you already know. Because of the simple fact of WvW non-guesting. WvW was the most social thing I did, and a high chance that's what I'd want to do with friends. There's no waypoint money spending to get there, so we can pick up our PvE ventures without paying that to play with friends. And we can join a mob or find an abandoned (other than npc's) part of the map to stealth-occupy. It seems like they locked friend server guesting out of the second best thing to friend guest for (high end PvP being the best thing).|
Coin Currency Costs
Mostly the costs in GW2 are fine. I'm pointing out only the costs that are extremely good or bad.
|Dyes: It's great that you can re-color armor as much as you want when you own that dye. I know I have 21 slots dedicated to dye's on my GW1 bank. It's silly to eat up that much space. It's just a vanity thing. It's fun to dye things. So why not. I'm not thrilled or disappointed with the unlock system. I normally don't like unlock systems. But it's just vanity coloration. So no big deal. I do dislike that this is character based, not account based. I do dislike that the starter blue color you have is such a washed out shade.|
|Traits: Already mentioned how GW1 originally had a cost for this, then removed it. Hope GW2 removes this. Would rather pay for dies and have this free. If you are trying to have a sense of character identity, therefor discourage build experimentation/play, visual appearance (dyes) is more of a change noticed by the casual observer than traits. Silly having these be paid for. Learn your lesson from GW1. Build experimentation should be encouraged, not discouraged. We're already discouraged from creative character builds from the vastly reduced effective skill/profession build system (above).|
|Waypoints: Even bigger than traits. Would also prefer dyes costed money and these were free. Why? Because, if you have a sidekick system, you just encourage people to grumble about map traveling to help you out. I find myself walking distances instead of waypoint travel. Which would be fine, except I'm not having fun during this time. I'm thinking of how it's a hassle. I'm wondering if I should have just spent the money. I'm thinking about how I would probably make more money in the time I'm walking if I just paid for the waypoint then fought stuff. I like to not feel like using a waypoint is a decision. I don't think people would be abusing this if it were free. they'd still need to move from place to place on foot as they are actively participating in the world. You are just removing their need for the boring mundane. Seems so counterintuitive to the manifesto about removing the annoyances. Do people have too much money? Just lower income we recieve instead. I don't like this feeling of "well, I can just walk there, so I'll feel just a hair guilty if I waypoint travel". I know it's silly for me to think that, but yet I do. I'd rather have less money from drops, and not realize it, than worry about if it's worth it to waypoint travel.|
|Repairs: This isn't a huge annoyance, but why? Money sink and false perception of immersion (with death penalty or wear and tear, take your pick)? The manifesto gets rid of so many little annoyances. This just adds a failed annoyance of other games back in. Or is that "successful annoyance" as it does succeed in being annoying. I don't really get any immersion out of this. Then I double grumble because I also have to fund a way point. I just don't get why some people think thing like this are a "cool feature".|
Costs make you pause to consider if you really want to do something, taking away immersion. These include waypoints, repair, and traits. Funny think is Dye is the only one on this list that it actually makes sense to charge for.
Chaos: Conditions, PvP & Professions
Two things really add to the chaos of this game. Conditions overload and mixed-roll professions. This could be good or bad depending on your outlook. I'm going to mark all these as "Stability", because they are a royal mix
|Conditions Overload: It's far more interesting for damage to have meaning to it besides just numbers ticking off a bar/orb. Damage that effects your positioning, susceptibility to certain things, punishes you for certain actions... these are all damaging, but more interesting than just numbers. In GW1, conditions were strong, but very purposeful (both in application and removal). In GW2, they seem to be the main source of damage, and are just all over the place. What is clear, is that in GW1, you had to plan to apply a condition. You usually sacrificed something to do so. Then you had to think about what skills would work well with that condition (unless you just had a team in defensive need of more applications of that condition). To remove a condition, you had to take removal as a utility skill. Here, conditions happen with many basic, quick recharge attacks. Some with your auto-attack even. You don't really have to think to much about applying conditions. You almost can't think too much about removing conditions, as it will invariably be good to remove a batch of them, but once you do, they'll all re-apply again. In GW1, knowing what conditions to remove, and when to do so took a particular type of skill. More so in PvP, and highly technical PvE. I'm not saying there's no skill in GW2 to applying a particular condition, or removing conditions, but the skill line seems much more muddy (unless you were in a 1v1 PvP situation, which GW1 was never about except for the occasional flag runner or kiting scenario). So though skill is involved, it really doesn't seem like as much is involved. More play time may convince me otherwise.|
|Mesmer: Mesmer was my favorite profession in GW1, and quickly becoming one of my least in GW2. I'm not saying it's bad, just different. And not my play style. Lets break it down. In GW1, Mesmer was a very deliberate profession. You designed a build to specific tasks more than most professions (not claiming you did this more than most roles like "flag runner", just more than other professions when not doing a specific role like that). When you used your skills, and who you used them on were huge. The skill usage was very precise and intentional (at least in regards to shutdown). The profession played with the overall "game physics" more than any profession. It was a chaos themed role. Chaotic in what it did to others, but highly specific and organized as to how you played it yourself. GW2 flipped this whole idea over on it's head. Thematically, the new Mesmer fits the illusion and chaos idea so much better. Actual illusions are akin to minions/pets, something the mesmer never head. Something that I never desired in the mesmer. But a cool thematic idea. Chaos is reversed almost. Instead of you playing a Mesmer in a precise way, you are now throwing up RANDOM conditions at every turn. Sure the target is subject to this chaos, but it doesn't feel like chaos any more than fighting other foes. See Conditions Overload (above) for an explanation of why this swarm of conditions really doesn't feel much more chaotic from the targets perspective when in a team vs team battle. It's still chaotic, just not that much more than in a fight vs. non-Mesmers. So that sums up why I don't like it. I ended up not enjoying the management of my illusions (though I always liked the idea of it). And I didn't like that I no longer felt I was shutting something down, or counteracting something. So why don't I rate Mesmer as "crippling"?. Well, because GW2 is so different. So long as the combat feels as loose as it does, I honestly think the purposeful style of a GW1 Mesmer, isn't really fitting in GW2. The random conditions overload, which I'm not a big fan of it, does make sense with the games theme of condition overloading. Another funny self-observation is that I would be FURIOUS if the Mesmer wasn't in GW2 (being that it was my favorite from GW1). But, given everything about the game, I'm really not upset about it at all. I think they have their place in what GW2 is. And there's plenty of professions I'm very happy with.|
|Other Professions: Some of these other professions though, seem amazing, and make me forget all about the Mesmer. The Necromancers ability to summon without a corpse sounded absolutely lame to me when I read about it. When I played it though, it was pretty fun. And I'm glad you don't need a corpse. It must be that the Tyrian soil is loaded with dead remains from all the Ettins that were horribly massacred by low-health Monks which allow for the never ending sea of corpses. But honestly, it just plays fun. It's not a liability when there are no corpses. I take back my pre-conceived notions of it being lame after playing them. And even though I'm not a big fan of illusion management, I enjoy necro-minion management. Probably because it's not forced on my to have a personal army (with Mesmer, if you don't use illusions, your F-keys are wasted). The soul reaping is a totally different mechanic. I think it's good in both GW1 and GW2. The only down side is that in GW2, it does replace your bar with one bar and one bar only. You are most certainly playing someone elses bar, and that's annoying. But the whole "death shroud" state is pretty cool. They are becoming dead to escape death, very thematic! The ranger, though I only played him PvP, was a lot of fun also. They have the same Mesmer issue of having to have a pet though. But still not as annoying. The elementalist was a complete blast. The Engineer didn't quite do it for me, but is interesting. I'm excited to play with the other professions more! Even if they made my old favorite seem blah to my PERSONAL tastes, they made up for it with the others.|
|PvP: We haven't seen all forms of PvP the game will offer. I know those forms may solve the issues listed here. But what PvP we have seen feels loose. Particularly because of Conditions Overload (above). The combat physics in general seem loose. Like someone took an RPG, and mixed it with God of War style controls. They are more fun than most RPG controls, but they don't feel tight like an action game (such as God of War) or DotA style game. It is fun in a different way, and skilled players will dominate unskilled, but it certainly doesn't feel like it has the finesse of other games. Though, other than GW1, I haven't played a MMORPG that I would consider much of an "e-sport" potential game. But, I don't care about celebratory video game players, or participating in tournaments. I just want fun PvP, so is this important? Well, it still kinda is. The PvP introduced thus far is fun, but doesn't feel like something I'd take seriously. Taking it too seriously ruins the fun. But I do like a level of seriousness. It doesn't suck though. Just feels sloppy. I also feel the 3 cap point arenas won't allow for the most high level PvP arranged team combat. It's good for what it is. Kinda an AB equivalent in seriousness. Creates some parallel problems HB had. But it's great that it's in the game, so long as they also introduce more sophisticated PvP type arenas.|
|Roles: I feel GW2 philosophy in removing the typical DPS/Tank/Heal roles, and the forced skill slot types, were influenced by high end GW1 PvP. There, you had your roles, but you had to have versitility. All characters had to play with defensive utility skills to help out the monks. Most characters had to do damage. You really had to be able to multitask roles in order for the team to succeed. GW2 forces you to do this. I don't like that they force you, though it does help stop players from taking long to form groups because of needing this and that. Which is a huge perk, that I will gladly take the bad with. But, this whole "any prof will do" atmosphere does contribute to a more chaotic experience. It's somewhat disappointing that just about any team composition will do. But so much more beneficial that it makes the logistics of getting people together so much more enjoyable. The GW2 chaos really lends to a large decrease in strategy and increase in tactics (decrease =/= absence). I like the abandonment of the typical roles for now. We'll see as time marches on.|
|PvP Colors/Sides: Not really anything to do with chaos (actually, the graphic design does create some chaos), but this is partially the PvP section, so here we go. In battles with red/blue sides, the characters are red and blue, and your team will be one of these colors. The text above your names will be green for allies, red for enemies. This is sloppy design. Look at RTS and DotA style games, where your team is always a certain color (usually green or white), and your opponents are the other colors. Plus, this way you are always the same color on your screen. I find this very helpful in those other games. It's not a HUGE problem for GW2, but it does make me forget who my allies are occasionally.|
|PvP Voice Acting: OH EM GEE. This is so bad. It's like a worse version of Unreal Tournament. The guys voice sounds forced, and like he's trying W A Y T O O H A R D. Particularly "You couldn't keep the keep!". I want to shove a fungal sock between his choppers every time I hear that. And the rest of the time it just grates on me. The information he gives is valuable, and I do tend to suck with sound off. But I found myself muting my PvP experience at times. I guess it's "funny", but more lame. I can't help it, the little hairs on the back on my neck only stand up when something is really lame. I can't control it.|
A Handful of Goodness
Not only is this section "A Handful of Goodness", but that's a fair way to describe the game. Even for it's huge faults, it's still good. In many cases, it feels to me like the sexy GF who has a horrible personality. A game I will have a lot of fun playing with, but one who's downsides prevents me from loving them. But here I go, twisting what's good to make it sound like faults, so lets just get on with the good already! There really is a lot to praise, and unfortunately I'm bound to gloss over and skip some things.
|Voice Acting: The voice acting I've heard is fantastic! Other than the PvP arenas anouncer, who gets a ginormous .|
|Graphics: WOW is this game pretty! :D.|
|Character Design: Good variety, not over-sexed aesthetic (particularly good that the asura aren't), thin/fit/chubby choices that are NOT profession bound. Enough custom sliders without going overboard.|
|Jumping: I like that you couldn't do this in GW1, because, at the time, all MMO's I was looked like everyone was cranked up on Gummy Berry Juice in town. It did take some getting used to not being able too, but I was so glad all the time to not see springboard parties all the time. While I don't care about jumping in and of itself because of that, there is a rewarding way they redeem it coming up next (see Vistas, below).|
|Vistas: Funny. Great addition to capitalize on the fact that GW suddenly has jumping. These create a neat little area that offers a minor reward to "hey, I wonder if I can get up there" exploration (which I constantly find myself doing with or without reward). Even without the panoramic, creates additional reason for you to stop and enjoy the beautiful environment. The panoramic view is nice, and thank goodness it's short. Not too important to have the cut scene, but a minor nice touch.|
|Downed State: I haven't entirely made up my mind about this, but I'm optimistic to give it a try. Disadvantages: in PvP, characters can get back up; it's more forgiving; in PvE, you seem (unless I'm missing something) to have to wait for your downed state to expire; it creates yes another "using someone else's designed skill bar build" annoyance. I think both should have a "just die already" option, which still counts as a death, but you return to a spawn point sooner (you may be able to, I just didn't happen across such a thing). Other than that, I think there are more advantages. 1) Death should not be as cut and dry as it is in most games. Wounded characters perform worse than healthy, which creates the unrealistic game phenomenon called Focus Fire (FF). If FF was taken out of many games (particularly RTS, but most games really), people would be in an uproar. But FF is somewhat unrealistic. Realism =/= fun, and the FF mechanic can be fun, but I think there are more creative means around this problem. ANet is taking a very small step in addressing it. This solution is a plus for PvP more than PvE (where enemies don't have downed states, though it is a minor plus for PvE too). 2) For PvP, the goal is usually something different than getting kills. It's like the people in GW1 would go on about their 1v1 superiority. For starters, they would only ~40% of the time be good at 1v1. Mostly because the people who were good at 1v1 realized GW1 was not about 1v1. Just like GW1 was not about 1v1, GW2 is not directly about kills. GW2 is indirectly about kills. The primary function of kills is to temporarily reduce competition over shared resources (commonly control points). So, a downed state reduces the enemies effectiveness over that coveted resource. Killing reduces it further. But we now have stair steps. It also poses intelligent play of choosing to: move the fight away from a downed character; dealing a "finish him" move to a downed player (thus leaving you vulnerable); attacking a downed character to more slowly finish them instead of leaving yourself vulnerable in case another enemy is in the fray making it too dangerous to land a "finish him" blow. I think a player who views GW2 as a pissing match over who can score more kills in missing the point. GW2 PvP is about control, not kills. Thus, the Downed State harmonizes well with that system. 3) in PvE, even though it does some times create a scenario where I am pointlessly waiting for them to finish me, more often the scenario is that I'm glad there was a Downed State to fight back from. The gameplay of the Downed State, isn't all that fun, but the camera view and limited abilities capture that feeling of desperation. 4) Innovation. Major game companies taking a chance is too rare in the industry. ANet has never been one to shy away from something that breaks the mold. One only needs to look as far as Activision, EA and many others to see this problem. Now, for one saying "oh, let them innovate it fuel the industry", my comments about build limitation may seem hypocritical. But let me explain. It's about Brand. I still recognize the identity of GW1 as a set collection leveling system ("leveling" by unlocking more skills). They having total control over your build, and the flexibility to do anything from a balanced build, to a gigantically specific build like 55ing (not that I'm promoting 55ing here, but I'm promoting the freedom it represents). Loosing that is a loss of brand to me as much as GW2 being in a Film Noir setting all of a sudden. But the Downed State doesn't break away from the brand of GW1 in any way. So, while I don't know that the downed state will be something I like, it is something I like that I will have to explore. And the good thing is, even if I don't like it, it doesn't last very long, and I could forgive it if my opinion on the matter takes a turn for the unfavorable.|
|Environment: This goes with Graphics and Vistas (above), but it should be stressed how nice looking the environment is, and how so much of it has a unique look, and a thematic reason for being. Very impressed.|
|Skill Effects: Skills effects are much more visual, and look great. Sometimes the game can fall prey to the usual MMO problem of way too much flash. But I see a lot more actual effects, and less glowing sword swipes than in many other games. Glowing attack swipes and animal spirits for pet skills could still probably be pulled back a bit.|
|Scale: The proportions of skill effects, buildings, cities, plants, mountains, everything look fantastic. They were probably much more realistic in GW1, but honestly, when you do proportions correctly for environments (especially indoors) in video games, everything feels smaller than it feels in real life walking through or looking at the same relative sized environments. This is one of the few tips worthy of copying from WoW.|
|PvE Combat: PvE combat is fun. Very visual. Effects and combo fields are fun. It's a little too loose for my tastes for anything more than light PvP, but for PvE, it's great. I'm not talking about skill selection here. I'm talking about how the skills work once you have selected them. Good time.|
|Huge PUG madness Mostly an extension of the dynamic event compliment. But how random PUGs can work through the game is great. The fact that such grand events happen at lower levels, can be done with PUGs well, and you can come and go as your real life allows is all fantastic. I hated PUGs in GW1, but because of the structure of GW2, they work fantastic.|
|Play the World: One of their claims is that they want you watching the world, not interface bars. I think they do a good job at this. And I think this direction is highly beneficial to the game.|
|Mystic Forge: The Mystic Forge is a nice addition to the game. Like a Horadric Cube (that you can't use for overflow storage). My normal low play habits with chance crafting would but it in the , however, this is cool for unrelated theoretical reasons. ANet has opened themselves up for so much future content with this. They set this up so they can easily alter recopies (hopefully not too much subtraction though). While this is all fine and dandy, it speaks to something greater. If ANet is setting the core game system from launch to incorporate this type of forward thinking, what it means is that they have the intent to actually utilize it. If they have the intent to add recipes, then they likely have the intent to add other elements to the game as well. They have likely set up the whole system of the game to add various forms of content. Of course, they have said that they do. But how many MMO projects simply say that. I believed they would be adding to the game regardless (probably based on profitability, and this game will be one of the big ones). But still, this is much more reassuring evidence to support that likelihood. It is also nice because they can be creative with things like special events.|
|Beta Finale: I didn't actually play in this event, but I'm going to propose that this was a wonderful thing. In 12-14 hours, they programmed this Beta Finale. That's amazingly quick. So what does this mean? See Mystic Forge (above). Basically, this means they are, once again, showing evidence of their intent to add to the game. I would not be surprised if GW2 adds more special content to the game than any other MMO. What is special content? It's not like an expansion or anything. It's the special weekend events like GW1 had. It's adding a new dynamic event chain here or there (even if only for a limited period of time, or a rare occasional event... limited period of time and rare occasion I'm not a fan of, but they random adding here and there, I am a huge fan of). This will depend on how profiable the game is. And I don't think it NEEDS this at all. I will not feel ripped off if they don't do this. But they are setting the groundwork to do so. I'm not bitter that I didn't get to play this. I'll be fine if they don't add this thing they took the time to program into the game (though it seems silly not to). But my advice to the players is, don't complain about a beta event finale being a mini-game, and not some epic cataclysm like GW1 and WoW had. If every beta finale was cataclysmic, they would all be rather ho-hum trite ordeals. So no biggie at all that there wasn't a giant dragon nor world burning little girl. And for ANet, they have to realize that people (myself not claiming to be excluded) are jerks on the internet. They will complain, and they will complain loud. You have to have a thick skin, and let the "hours played" of the game you worked so hard on speak for itself (though, honestly, hours played could count for other things, but still an indicator, and a good indicator in a game like this which does so much to make the journey the star, rather than the end goal).|
|Weekend Special Events: What's this? A negative mark in the positive section?! Well, it goes with the next point (see Special Event Existence (below)), so keep reading. And this comment is more speculation anyways based on GW1. GW1 had many weekend events, and few week long events. Sometimes, people can't play on weekends. Particularly holidays. Weekends are times when friends and family tend to be more free. When you have time to enjoy the social design of the real world rather than the game world. Where you actually have time to travel to some other place that takes more than just a weeknight. And holidays are especially bad with more travel, and activities to do. It's not that I'm a crazy social butterfly, or that I don't play weekends or holidays. The holiday events are certainly welcome for that holiday spirit, or in cases where you might have nothing going on because you are far from family. But still, special events should not be weekend exclusive. Absolutely bizarre. After watching several well regarded video reviewers (see my main wiki page for links to some of these), I heard time and time again about how a reviewer couldn't get video footage from one of the beta events in particular because of real world priorities. Weekend special events are absurd... cut it out ANet!|
|'Special Event Existence: GW1 was amazing at doing special weekend events (other than timing, see Weekend Special Events (above)). GW2 will also have these events, which I'm sure they will do at least as good, and with the new engine, likely better. This is not a comment on the events themselves, just on their existance. As far as the events themselves are concerned, they're alright. But I think alright is the best way to do it. Thus, making them great :D.|
|Down time: GW1 down time was ~0.01% (~32 hours in 7 years). GW2 is expected to be similar. These guys do it right. They play the server model right from the beginning. I saw some of these down times, and they were always very quick. GW1 somewhat cheated with a simpler game than MMO competitors of it's day. But there are much newer online only games, HUGELY more simple than GW, which have weekly 4-12 hour down times. Over 1% down time for a game who's only way to play PERIOD is TOO MUCH. In fact, there is a trend for games that don't need to be online only to be online only (here's looking at you Starcraft II). GW is ~1% of 1%. Though some see my demand high (I actually think they are crazy for saying 1 day in 7 to be down is OK), there is no doubt about it that GW1 should be VERY PROUD of their achievement. They didn't just beat the standard MMO down time, they shattered it into oblivion. I saw GW1 go down a few times (which is pretty amazing considering the odds of being on at that time), and it NEVER made me mad. ANet doesn't even need to make games any more, they can just higher out server setup/update consulting to entirely fund their business. It's just that good. *manygolfclapshere*|
|Solid Groundwork: See Mystic Forge, Beta Finale, and likely others (above) for related observations. Basically, they have incorporated so many things into their engine that will allow for them to add to the game. Not only add, but add in a way that will allow for their creative freedom. I'm sure they'll still hit the wall on things the engine can do, but it's build with a lot of flexibility. What's really impressive about all this is that the system is in place at launch. This promises that GW2 will have a greater lifespan than it's predecessor, and without feeling dated or constrained. The band-aid approach of added something that wasn't meant to be there from the ground up, always seems to get implemented with unnecessary compromises. So I'm very impressed by this approach. Other games have tried to do this, but GW2 has exhibited more evidence than most from what I've observed. Great work!|
|Continual Strive for Excellence: ANet has a track record for continuing to push things in a way that is enjoyable. To use balance changes as a case in points, GW1 was riddled with: bad balance changes; good balance changes the community incorrectly thought were bad; and it's fair share of good balance changes. GW1 did take a major hit once they moved their core teams focus on to GW2, and another hit when they started re-vamping all the classes, and another hit when they started making accomplishments groosly easier than they had been before to almost "hand things out" for GW2 unlocks. They have also done lots of things right. They've done efforts more than other MMO's in making the game about fun and skill rather than grind and stats (also grind). They've pushed the envelope of what the GW1 engine could provide, until they decided to do it right from scratch. There are many more positive things to say about the game I'm sure, and I will add them as my awareness of them reaches realization.|
Some ideas are covered above, but here are a few others. These are ideas that could be done. They'd have to be executed right, but I feel they could improve the game from my perspective.
|Secondary Profession: Using the idea of swapable weapon skills (see above: "New Skill System Evolution"), you could allow for dual professions. You'd have to split your points amongst Traits of both professions. You probably couldn't invest in the "primary attribute" trait on your secondary profession (usually the bottom Trait line). You could slot weapon skills for each weapon. You could combine weapons like you wish, but only the appropriate profession can slot skills. Not all profession "F" key abilities from your secondary profession would necessarily be available to you. Like elementalist element swapping. You could instead choose any elementalist weapong skill for each slot if you are carrying a weapon of theirs. Elementalists could also do this as a primary profession. This would create additional build variety. But the cost for doing this would be that your attunments get replaced by 2 weapon sets. Also, you are never considered attuned to an element if you do that. Yes, it may be weaker, but it's about creative freedom. Possibly a secondary elementalist would retain all attunment "F" keys and no regular weapon swap if the player equipped all of a single element weapon skills on their weapons (and no item skills of their primary profession). Ranger pets, on the other hand, could be bound with their "F" keys as a secondary profession. The secondary profession keys would have to have their own binding. And in the interface, they would scoot up on the bar. Any extra background animations would be a more subtle effect for secondary professions (like the blue fire Guardian animation). I just outlined a way it COULD work. I did't really focus on why it should be done. But you know my philosophy on build creativity/flexibility already.|
|Carry any Weapon: I like that any character could carry any weapon in GW1. I big complaint of mine for years has been that certain professions only carry certain weapons. GW1 did this great, in that all weapons were tied to an attribute for damage (and sometime other things). But you COULD carry and use any weapon. You might suck with it, or it might give a very reduced rewared for using it, but you still could physically do it if you want. GW2 is all about interacting with things all over the place. So it seems absurd that you couldn't carry any weapon you wanted. At first you might think "hey now, the system doesn't allow for that". But you know something, it does. Most environmental objects you interact with give you the same set of item skills no matter your profession. Just carry that philosohpy through, and replace the skill bar with generic, "untrained" weapon skills (with icons of that more greyish color). The skills should never be as strong as a profession who trains with that weapon. But ever someone who's never been trained in firing a bow CAN do it (they may have the bow string whap the inside of their arm though). This would be an added bit of fun interaction, and completely make sense with the environmental item system that is so good in GW2.|
|Wear any Armor: Anyone can learn to make any type of armor. Anyone can get in a golem mech suit. Why can't a warrior wear leather armor? I think you should be able to buy/make/find armor of any type for any character. It just feels more real to me, for the same reason that anyone can do something at least with any weapon. What you do is make the usual situation optimal for wearing your correct armor type. So a light armor caster wearing heavier armor will have their recharge rate reduced, and armor boosted. Medium armor would be less of a penalty than heavy. But they'd have the advantage of being a little more durable in combat. It wouldn't necessarily have to be durability and skill recharge rate being the qualities that always change for all classes wearing non-stereotypical armor. But something to both balance things out, and encourage you to wear your proper armor for most common uses of skill synergy. This may seem silly, but I like that degree of realism. And I don't think it's realism that hurts gameplay.|
|Primary Profession: The previous 2 ideas seem very cool to my personal tastes alone, but they are also required to feed this idea. Obviously changing your Race would be silly. If Race is in any way considered to be a half-hearted replacement for secondary profession, just allow characters to change their primary profession. With the above rules, this would be completely do-able. GW2 seems significantly longer than GW1. Meaning, if you want to play everything, it's a bit silly to require too many characters. 5 does seem like a very reasonable number to me. 8 seems a little high. 40 (to get every combo of Race and Profession) is absurd! I know a lot of people would bawk at being able to change your primary profession. But, if you have the time, no reason you couldn't train in more than one skill. Not like you can't go back to college to become a pet psychologist just because you originally went to school to become a video game designer.|
The failings of GW2 are great. But the strengths are strong. I would say GW2 is a GOOD game. I would say GW1 was a GREAT game. Then game is enjoyable. It overall feels more loose/casual/light than GW1. There is lots more stuff to do. The extra stuff isn't as good of stuff to do, but more stuff to do is generally held in high regard. I do like the game. I'm not dissapointed I preordered it, but it's certainly not living up to my expectations either. I have lightly recommended it to friends, but they are aware it is a light "if you feel like it" recommendation, and not an emphatic one. It's a good game that really does fix on a lot of problems with other MMOs. I do feel it tries to be a little too crowd-pleaser-ie. Which is good so they can be profitable. But bad because it lost some sense of it's original identity. This game will be a huge hit if they fix the problems or not. It'd just be nice to be more thrilled about it. I give the game a casual recommendation, but if you pass this one up, you'll be OK.
|Fun: Bottom line is, the game is fun. There is more positive than negative about the game. One doesn't write as much about the positive, because nothing needs to be done there. I pointed out the strongest positives. But there are some big negatives, and the game isn't quite where it should be to be considered amazing. But that does't mean you should not get it. If you are a big fan of MMO's that are not GW1, then you will love this. If you like GW1, then it depends on why you liked GW1 if you will like this.|
This critique was compiled after participation (to varying degrees) in all 3 pre-order beta weekend events, but before the release of the game. The majority of this critique should remain relative well after post-releast, but a small portion may be quickly outdated by changes in the game or myself. Edits may have occurred post launch with new realizations/changes over time. Check the page history if you really care about what was written when. Feel free to add to the discussion if you understand the difference in personal perspective, opinion, and fact.
Bugs are rampant in this game. I didn't notice many until mid-late game, but know others who had their story progress halted earlier. This game was launched too early. They needed about 4 more months to get their systems in place, and bugs ironed out. The strange thing is, some of the bugs are account based. Where as not all people experience them. And these bugs are gameplay functionality, not things that would be accounted for by graphics card drivers not being up to date, etc. These mistakes lead to lack of personal connection with characters causing the bugs, and sometimes animosity towards characters designed for you to relate to and like, as well as major lack of immersion. Anet complained about people ignoring story in GW1, and addressed this by making dialogue brief. But when someone no longer cares about story because of technical reasons on their part, it's a real shame.
|NPCs: Sometimes you will be relying on them. Not necessarily to carry you through the fight, but because they through too high a quantity of foes at you at once, which will shread through you without the slight edge that having and NPC ally with you affords. There are likely some classes/builds that can get through this. But when you are counting on them to support, and die because they just stand at idle, it's a flat out bug. This costs you gold and time as are punishments for death in this game. The gold cost from this is inexcusable.|
|Personal Story: Audio voices are sometimes a whisper or entirely absent. Sometimes an NPC or other thing will be stuck in the personal story, preventing progress. Sometimes you can reboot GW or just the story mission to fix this. But sometimes, no matter what happens, you are stuck. There are bigger bugs too I've noticed that accompany this. But the true sign that this is a high failure is that these bugs are account based. The fact that only some people have this bug blows my mind. This type of behavior should be one that's consistent for not players, nor accounts, nor servers, but all servers. NPC's cooperating in fights is huge in personal stories. Never count on them (even when you have to).|
|Halted Progress: There are many instances where things just will not continue. Skill challenges, monster spawns for heart events, personal stories. There's no way to un-glitch some of these things. These mistakes are rampant late game.|
There are assumptions of what makes a game good. These assumptions are false.
|Strong Economy: More to come on why this is a bad thing.|
|World Loyalty: More to come, but hints already exist.|
|Early Release: More to come, but see bugs for hints on this.|
|Anti-Manifesto Claims: More to come, but likely hinted at before.|
|Gear Stats complexity, difficulty of obtaining, & PvE/PvP/WvW split: More to come, completely breaks promises of the game.|