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Guild Wars 2 BWE 1 Cons

Let me start out by saying that I loved the time I got to spend in Guild Wars 2 this weekend. If I had not already pre-purchased it, I would buy it without hesitation. I actually sort of feel like I cannot go back to other, lesser games after playing Guild Wars 2. But instead of going on and on about all the stuff I loved, I figure I should write a column about what I didn’t love for some reason: They were not to my personal tastes, I feel like they could be improved, or anything that seemed like a lot of the community is taking issue with. It is not my desire to focus on anything that is bugged and I write this list knowing that Arena Net is doing a lot of innovative stuff, so of course the game is not perfect. Plus, since this was a Beta Weekend Event, we have no idea what is still being worked on or tweaked, so this is a list based on my experiences from the first Beta Weekend. Not everything on this list is all bad. For example…

Scaling

Scaling is great. If you want to play with a friend who is a much higher level than you, you can, and it won’t make the content a breeze. Furthermore, if you’re going after a certain quest and a bunch of other people show up, the monsters and difficulty will scale up to keep the game interesting. If it’s so great, why is scaling on the list?

To start, while it will bring your friends’ levels down, it will also bring your level down, to the exact level the content was designed for. This means if you’re stuck on a hard quest (which happened to me a few times), all you can do is try it again and again until you get it. Bringing a friend will cause the content to scale up in difficulty to compensate for the additional person and leveling up is pointless because you’ll just be brought back down. (The only exception in the latter example is at early levels where you are still unlocking utility slots, weapon swapping, etc., which will help.)

Additionally, it seems to me that difficulty scaling needs some work. It is passable as-is, but I found in large groups, where monsters were beefed up, I was much, much more likely to die and not know why (ie. get “one-shotted”). The monsters’ level goes up, as does their health and attack power. Which means you have a bunch of monsters running around that hit harder, take longer to die, and are harder to hurt.

Grouping

I love the grouping system the way it is. In fact, there were many times this weekend that I found myself rushing to attack a monster first or felt that possessive twinge in the back of my mind when someone started to attack my target. Then I remembered I was playing Guild Wars 2 and sharing mobs is okay. Lots of people were running around rezzing other players, helping each other unexpectedly, etc.. What’s the problem?

High-level content aside, grouping in PvE is dead. Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole. I know that killing groups is kind of the point and it is something I am entirely okay with, but I wonder if everyone else is. The game is really fast-paced: Combat starts and ends in a flash, everyone is sharing the same mobs, melee move too quickly to try and keep track of your party members in a large-scale dynamic event environment. So instead of joining up to tackle a task, you find yourself tagging along. And when the task is complete, the group disperses. If you bump into someone in the world you know, do you stop to chat and try and find something to do together or do you keep doing your own thing and take it to whispers? (Granted, this weekend had a “Get as much in as you can!” kind of style, but the rushed feeling is something that seems like it is part of the game to me.)

WvWvW

I’m just going to say it: I didn’t like WvWvW. I heard a lot about how great it was, but I just didn’t get it. I think this is something in the game I could potentially enjoy, especially if I went in with 2-3 other people as part of a group. But in this weekend’s execution, I was just running around a massive map, totally unable to affect the world or find anyone else on my team with ease. Getting around was a hassle and took forever. These last two points could simply be my own ignorance at how WvWvW works, but I felt like the time I spent trying to wage war against other worlds was mostly trying to avoid big groups of enemy players, looking for my own teammates, and trying to find something to do.

WvWvW Action

PvP

PvP is a lot of fun. If you played the original Guild Wars, it will feel pretty natural to you because it is like an Alliance Battle. You are placed on a team and you fight against another team to capture points and murder each other. First to 500 wins. Easy enough and a ton of fun. I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than traditional 4v4 PvP matches (though, admittedly, this could because I did pretty well in my matches this weekend). Sounds perfect for me!

But what about everyone else? What about the people who really enjoyed the old style of PvP, without the “Capture the Flag” component? Some people enjoyed getting into a match against other people and just battling it out. That’s gone. As it stands, it doesn’t even look like GvG is making a comeback. And if it does, will it just be another modified version of AB?

Some PvP

Aging

This one is purely supposition, but I can’t help it. What happens when the game is old? What happens in a year or two, when most people have maxed their characters and aren’t making new ones or we have an expansion to play in? Within the first 15 minutes of the game, you’re up against a pretty big boss. What if you roll a new character in three years and you’re the only one there at the time? How are you going to beat that boss? How are you going to complete dynamic events, get rezzed, etc.? Scaling should fix this problem, but is it really intended that a single character can take on boss monsters? Time will tell…

Overflow

Ugh. That’s almost all I need to say about this. I get that we need worlds to have WvWvW combat. It’s cool that guilds can be cross-server and can chat across servers (though I still don’t see how this doesn’t present a potential exploit for WvWvW…). But why oh why did we have to abandon Instances in favor of Overflow? I must have spent a good chunk of my weekend in Overflow. Most of the time I didn’t even know if I was there or not and I definitely didn’t know how to switch back to the main server. That just makes grouping and meeting up with friends unnecessarily difficult. This is the one thing on the list I can honestly say I don’t see a benefit to the end user, at least not over instances.

It Ended

And we still don’t know how long it will be until we can play again or, even worse, play as much as we want!

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