Guild Wars 2- Early Access First Impressions
By Meredith Watson (MerryQuiteContary), OnRPG Journalist
August 25th, Saturday, was early access for Guild Wars 2 for those that pre purchased the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as smoothly as ArenaNet and NCSoft, no doubt, had hoped. I was able to log in at about 6:30a.m. BST, which is approximately an hour and half before the servers were meant to be up. Most of Saturday was spent battling the fiercest of all bosses-the login boss. There were a couple hours of downtime and minimal communication from the powers that be; however, issues were soon fixed. Gamers are a fairly forgiving lot. They may grumble about paying for a game that isn’t working, etc. but they forget quickly once the game is up and running.
Currently in game, there are still some small issues such as the Trading Post is still being worked on, guild registration and grouping is seemingly bugged as well. Yesterday the sending mail problems were fixed. Overall, it could have been smoother but there have been considerably worse launches.
Now, on to the good stuff. I don’t believe there is a prettier game out right now than Guild Wars 2. From the different zones to the cities Guild Wars 2 is stunning. It is evident from character creation how lovely the game is going to be and does a good job of setting the tone of the game. Character creation offers a lot of pre-set choices with the ability to use sliders to make them totally individual. There are many styles of hair, face, colours, body type, height, and dye colours to choose from. There is even the option to see your character in his or her underwear which is handy when picking your character’s body (thank you ArenaNet for representing a variety of female body types).
It doesn’t stop there though. Not only do you choose your character’s physical appearance, you get a hand in creating their backstory and choosing a deity. All the choices made here will reflect later in your personal story quest line.
After creation, you are dropped into the introduction story which has a real sense of urgency and it is up to you to save the day.
From spell casting, to weapon swapping everything can be done on the move in Guild Wars 2 making combat truly exciting. Gone are the days of standing still if you are a ranged class. Moving while casting or shooting a volley of arrows is one of the best things about combat in Guild Wars 2. It isn’t just all about moving though. Depending on which weapons you are using, your skills/spells will change making customization that much more individual. For example, I prefer a longbow to a short bow based on the skills alone that each offer. The key word about combat, and in fact Guild Wars 2 as a whole, is dynamic. Even death is interactive with the Fight to Live action bar, which is essentially a second chance. If you fail Fight to Live you will spawn at the waypoint of your choice.
Questing in Guild Wars 2 is not your typical MMO fare. There isn’t any kill x amount of y or talk to so and so about whatever. Remember public quests in Warhammer Online? It is a bit like that except everything is a public quest or dynamic event as they are called. If you are in the area and doing what is required of that event then you are contributing and your experience gain and other rewards will be calculated based on your contribution level (Gold, Silver, or Bronze). There isn’t a need to group with other players. Resurrecting can be done by anyone rather than just healing types. You can even resurrect NPCs if you are so inclined. Healing seems to be AoE though there isn’t a true healing class. There isn’t any use of the holy trinity at all in Guild Wars 2 for that matter. The only typical quest you will have is your personal story quest which the parameters were set on character creation. Your personal storyline is mostly instanced but if you are in a party your party members can join in.
I’ve mentioned Guild Wars 2 is gorgeous and it truly is. Guild Wars 2 can support DirectX 10 but isn’t required. The Havok physics engine is also used. Yes, you read that right. Physics. Namely ragdoll animation and destructible environments are featured. A personal favourite is the landing after falling. My human ranger falls flat on her face. A bit masochist but it is funny and a welcome change from the standard grunt in other games. The minimum requirement for graphics cards for GUILD WARS 2 is NVIDIA Geforce 7800, ATI Radeon X1800, INTEL HD 3000 or better (256mb of video RAM and shader model 3.0 or better). Not only is Guild Wars 2 beautiful but it sounds great as well. There is a huge amount of voice acting including your own character.
So far, I’ve not experienced PvP or dungeons. These aspects will likely be featured in a full review at a later date.
I have, however, been crafting. I quite like Guild Wars crafting. It has enough depth to keep it interesting yet isn’t so involved it becomes frustrating. It is about on par with Fallen Earth for crafting depth. You can choose up to two professions which of course, as with most everything in Guild Wars 2, can be changed without losing progress on the other original two. In World of Warcraft, for instance, if you retrain in your professions you lose all progress on the old professions you are abandoning. Not so in Guild Wars 2. Essentially you set your old professions aside for the new ones. There are eight professions: Leatherworkers, tailors, artificers, huntsmen, cooking, armoursmiths, jewellers, and weaponsmiths. There are not any gathering professions. Instead, your character will only need to purchase and equip gathering tools such as a mining pick or axe.
I love the shared bank storage between characters but beyond that your characters will also share crafting materials/collectibles which is all done through a fabulous UI. One other little thing I adore and that really adds to customization is dyes. At any time you can, again through the interface, change your character’s colours. Your character also has a set of town clothes. As well as the standard UI dyes, more rare dyes can be found from mobs. Give me player housing and I may never leave Tyria.
So far, and yes it is still very early days, but Guild Wars 2 is excellent on many levels. If you are looking for something that is a bit different than what is out there then this might be a great choice. If you like the structure of questing you may be a bit frustrated by the free for all nature of dynamic events (your loot is your own though).
If you need me, I will be in game. See you there!