At War With Myself

It occurs to me that I still haven’t posted any overall impressions of my first time playing Guild Wars 2. That’s probably because I’m still trying to figure them out.

In brief: It was good. I liked it. I want to play it more.

If I could use any single word to describe it, it wouldn’t be “good” or “bad” or “average.” It would be: “expected.”

I don’t think this is a case of over-subscribing to hype and having unrealistic expectations. Technical issues aside, there was nothing I found outright bad about the game, and I was definitely impressed by it. I wasn’t disappointed with anything ArenaNet did at all.

Is this what charr wear when they’re going to the disco?

If anything, I maybe did let my own emotions get too high in the build-up for the game, which is, if you know me well, something I never do. I like to think I’m “Immune to hype” (it’s in my tooltip text) and that I’m as skeptical of marketing and sales BS as pretty much anyone on the planet. Again, not to say that ArenaNet was spewing BS about GW2, but I did let myself get high — very high — on the game.

Then I finally got to play it, and it was pretty much everything I’d expected, which, considering how much I was looking forward to it, must be a good thing… right?

I put in probably close to 20 hours, and I was never bored, but I think that, opposite my usual methods, I had spent so much time studying and reading about Guild Wars 2 that the game didn’t actually feel all that new. Normally, I’ll keep up a little bit with a game I’m interested in, enough to grasp some of the basics, but I prefer to go in as “naked” as possible, partially so I can be surprised, but also so I can properly evaluate the game, to see if the developers made it good enough and intuitive enough that even people with little or no pre-existing knowledge can find their way around. That was the approach I took with Skyrim, the last “OMG can’t wait!” game I played, and I think it worked perfectly.

With Guild Wars 2, it seemed like I’d already been playing it for a year or two and knew just about everything in the game, at least in broad strokes. Maybe that’s why I wrote about my high death rate making such a strong impression; it was one of the few things I wasn’t expecting. I knew about dynamic events, personal story, elementalists shifting attunement, capturing keeps in WvW… but that “frequent death” thing? Totally new to me. There’s some debate going around as to whether it’s good or bad, but by the looks of it, I wasn’t the only one at least mildly surprised by it.

This isn’t to say that the rest of the game felt boring or repetitive. But the first time you play a game, you expect it to be magical, to be something beyond your expectations. GW2 wasn’t better than my expectations — it was pretty much spot on with them. Maybe that made it seem comparatively disappointing.

You look so cute, I could just eat you up! Maybe with a little vinagrette or some ranch…

And while the beta was sound, it was also obviously incomplete. I didn’t explore Divinity’s Reach too heavily, partially because I wanted to save it for the full release, but also because it wasn’t finished. I want to experience the mini-games as I come to a new area, not to have to go back and do them later. Besides, all my progress will be wiped anyway, so there’s not much point in trying to explore every nook and cranny and tag every point of interest or achieve every skill point. In other words, even Guild Wars 2 couldn’t overwhelm my dislike of betas. And I’m honestly questioning whether or not I want to participate in the next one.

It’s going to take more time for me to reach a fully fleshed-out opinion of Guild Wars 2, though not in the way I said before. It’s less a question of wanting to play through to “endgame” and more of wanting to just play it, period, without wondering about how to judge it. I still do want to play it when it comes out, but only when it comes out, when I can experience the full game. I think that being forced into the time constraints of a single weekend doesn’t work for me; GW2 is a game I think you can enjoy at your own pace, unlike most MMOs, but not when you’ve only got 2 1/2 days to get everything you want to done.

Or, paraphrasing Queen, “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it… when it’s ready.”

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2 Responses to At War With Myself

  1. dndhatcher says:

    Thats sort of the thing with how much info Anet has given out. There are no surprise systems in place that we dont already know about. Getting a hands on play time to be sure the combat feels good and the systems perform as advertised is about all there is to do.

    Once the initial impression is confirmed, I like to have a couple achievable objectives and leave it at that. For me it has been trying out a few classes each weekend to find the ones I really like.

    First weekend: Really like Necro and thief, dont care for warrior
    Second weekend: Really like Elementalist, dont care for ranger or mesmer
    Next weekend I’ll be trying Engineer (which I will find either really fun or too complicated) and Guardian (which I expect to love like like someone else we know for the same reasons – and I’m worried I have such high expectations)

    Most of my GW2 concerns are long term. After I play the classes I like to level cap, what will I be doing? There is no need to learn other classes (like GW1 ranger for trapper parties or monk to heal when no one else will). Will I want to WvW 10+ hours per week? Will explorer mode dungeons be enough or will I start craving raids again? Will the generalist nature of all the classes make combat boring for all in the long run?

    • jasonwinter says:

      I did have objectives, which I mostly played out. I think what I’m going to do in the next one is really, really dive into WvW. They say that you can WvW a character all the way up from level 2, so I’m going to call them on that. Plus, doing that will keep all the story and associated content fresh.

      I did a piece on GBTV about the long-term enjoyability of the game, like you said. I think I’m just going to let it ride, though, and enjoy the journey and worry about that point when I get there šŸ™‚

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