Alright, this weekend was the first public beta of Guild Wars 2 for those of us who pre-purchased, or at least put money down on our copies from the local game store. I sat at work all day, anxious to get out of there, like a kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve. Finally, got home, got fed, and got in game with Julie and a friend from work. Once we finally found a home server we could connect to (it only took a couple tries) we were off and running, building our characters.
Character creation is great, lovely mix if in game graphics and concept art. The level of detail you can use to make your character is astounding, right down to the spacing of their eyes, width of their mouth and nose, and the shape of their chin. You set up your body type, physique and height, dye your armor, pick some basic background info and away you go. Fans of the original game will be blown away with the options and customization. Unless you just go with the default, you really won’t see too many people that look just like you in this game.
I started out with a norn guardian, putting me in the snow-swept mountains called the Shiverpeaks. I was instantly reminded of Eye of the North, from Guild Wars 1, where we were first introduced to the giant-like norn. I was also instantly aware that the feel of this game is totally different. For those of you used to MMO’s like World of Warcraft, where hundreds of people roam the same area fighting monsters and doing whatever it is they do, you will feel right at home. For those of us who came up from Guild Wars, it’s a bit of a shock. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. If you are like me, a former GW player, imagine all those maps with monsters, being as populous as one of the major towns. It’s just strange.
The game is a bit overwhelming. It is one of the first things I noticed that I would have done differently. It doesn’t ease you into it. While the learning curve is low, it can still be a bit chaotic. There is so much to see and do, so many places to go, the sense of freedom is nice, but a shock if you aren’t used to it or prepared for it. I caught hints of the craft system, gathering materials, salvaging, and trading. I found the player auction house fairly quickly, and people already have guilds set up. There was just a lot to take in, and unlike it’s predecessor, and many other games, there’s no tutorial stage. You literally hit the ground running.
Despite all of that I did have a good time, and it didn’t take long to get comfortable with the world, and what the game had to offer. The majority of the discomfort and confusion simply came from it all being new. As I learned the area, how things worked, and how to find where I needed to be at any given time, I was more at ease. The skills were sensible, and I was overwhelmed with choice. The animations looked nice as did the scenery, the characters, and the armor. The music was great, and the sound effects brought you into the world. It was visually and audibly up to the standards I expect from a company that put out the best looking MMO years ago (GW if you weren’t sure).
Now, the two beefs I have so far were noticeable right away. First, the minor one. The camera needs to be able to zoom out more. I like to see things up close from time to time, but when I’m trying to fight a battle tactically, or roam and explore the world, I like to see more of it. My character dominated the screen, and at times I would turn the camera so much that I would get lost with no point of reference unless I went to the map. The world of Tyria is a beautiful place, and I want to see more of it while I play please. The second one is major and a lot of people have noticed it. Me, Julie, and a coworker of mine got in and started playing. Right away we started looking for each other, even put ourselves in a party, but we couldn’t find each other. Seems that you are either in the main server, or in the overflow server, and there’s no way to switch between that we could find easily. I would highly suggest that if people make a party, the game keep them together, whether it push them all to the overflow or whatever. An MMO is meant to be played with friends, in groups, and they need to make it easier to do just that.
There’s more to write, and hopefully tomorrow I can give you some screenshots and touch on a couple of key features. For now this is just my initial thoughts on the three hours or so I was able to get in.