Thursday, 2 August 2012

Final Beta Weekend Event: Impressions

Now that all of the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend events are over; I thought I would collect my thoughts together within a single post. This will outline what I generally enjoyed about the beta, I'll be breaking down my thoughts into the three distinct sections of the game; Player vs Environment (PvE), Structured Player vs Player (PvP) and World vs World (WvW). This will allow me to collect my thought and feelings more specifically regarding the core elements and design.
Player vs Environment

The PvE aspect of the game is truly an almost perfect experience. You're given clear aims which are generally based on either your personal story or achievements, these aims change a great deal as you play. Most Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs) give you goals which you need to complete, and you'll go off on your adventure and get those goals completed before acquiring more goals.
"...this is an amazing experience especially when the events chain onto eachother and interact in all sorts of different ways."
In Guild Wars 2 however, you acquire these goals but once you get out into the world and begin to adventure; you end up getting lost in the amount of events which are occurring around you. As an example, I was playing a Norn Warrior, I moved to the Asura main city (Rata Sum) before heading out to see what the Asura starting zones were like and how they would compare to the Norn, Charr and Human areas (which were in previous betas). Once I had got to Metrica Province, I set myself the task of completing all of the "heart events" (these are similar to the questing experience in other MMO's), however, on the way to one of the heart events; I found myself in the middle of another event where a group of Hylek (giant frogs who carry weapons) attacked an Asura outpost and were trying to steal goods. It didn't end there though, once the event had been completed; a goblin look-a-like character ran out from within the outpost, I noticed on my mini-map that I he was another event in himself, players had to defend him as made his way to another part of the map. You really get lost in the events that are happening as you traverse the world, and I think this is an amazing experience especially when the events chain onto eachother and interact in all sorts of different ways. I don't think we have seen the best ArenaNet has to offer in terms of dynamic events yet either, so we have alot to look forward to.
Structured Player vs Player

I didn't play as much of this element of the game as I originally planned but I have researched into the elements that I have missed and have a general overview of how it plays as well as my experience from the beta events. The first thing that came to mind when jumping into a PvP was the sense of balance, coming from other MMO games both free and subscription based; it seems like PvP had generally been an unbalanced experience. Most MMO's tend to send you up a separate PvP gear treadmill which means that it wont be balanced until you've played alot of it, this is massively unbalanced since new players will almost not be able to enter PvP. The reason for this is that veteran players will be able to win every time considering they have both more experience and better gear. Guild Wars 2, from day one puts everyone on a level playing field in terms of gear and statistics. You're able to create your own build and jump into any game knowing that the only reason you will feel out-done is if you have made an error with your build or you simply have been out-skilled.

So, it's balanced, what else? Well, there is only one game type, but don't fear ArenaNet know how to mix things up in order to make sure each map feel very unique and have it's own distinct personality even with only one game type. It is all in the name of balance. In the first beta there was two playable maps and in the third beta there was three, each of which were very enjoyable and balanced to play. I simply can't stress enough how enjoyable and adrenaline filled each game I played was, that isn't mentioning the several hours of games played attempting to perfect my Warrior build for both damage and defence.

World vs World

The idea in WvW is to hold as many keeps, castles and supply depots as possible before the timer resets. Each time the timer resets; a server is given the score and the battle continues. The server with the most points gets server-wide boons. You are able to see the current WvW scores and statistics at any time during the game by pressing the 'B' key, you are also able to join WvW from there too.

Again, I didn't play as much WvW as I would have liked but I played enough to understand how it works and get a feel for how it will be when the game is released later this month. I really enjoyed the WvW I played but there was a fair amount of running from place to place before any combat or anything interesting really happened. I thought this was a major issue at first but soon realised that it actually allows for more interesting occurrences on the map and more team-based tactics. Players are only able to spawn in one main location on each of the maps, meaning that once a group of players are defeated; you wont be seeing them again, or at least you wont be seeing them for as long as it takes to run from their spawn location to where the battle is taking place. It makes it much more slow paced than the other elements of the game but I can imagine it being the perfect place to bring your guild.