Thursday, 3 May 2012

Guild Wars 2 Preview

Carefully the young woman makes her way into the cave. She is supposed to meet up with some friends to learn the fate of her long lost parents. But the lure of adventure is too strong and that cave-mouth beckons to be explored. Her past can wait a bit longer.

In the distance looms an imposing figure, a giant who clearly has made the cave his home. Careful not to draw his attention she works her way around him, trying to keep from stepping on any of the grubs scrawling across the floor. More used to being the center of attention than to slinking through the shadows her efforts are in vain and soon she notices him staring at her with a bemused smile. Thankfully for her he turns out to be friendly and he introduces himself as Gort. But no sooner had they exchanged pleasantries or in marches a band of ettins appearing set on violence. This looks like trouble...

Monastery, Cathriana standing on the roof of a monastery.

Last weekend was the first public Guild Wars 2 beta. It wasn't open as such and it wasn't the first beta weekend the game had, but it was the first time that those who had pre-purchased the game could join. So it was the first time that people other than those selected by ArenaNet could experience the game in comfort. And with Guild Wars 2 being consistently one of the, if not the, most anticipated MMOs in development this was a big deal.

Having spent those two days experiencing the game myself I thought that it might be interesting to write up some of my experiences and views of the game.

This article wasn't that easy to write. You see, I've fallen a bit in love with Guild Wars 2. That makes it very hard to remain objective. And it makes it hard to shut up about it, leading to a very long article. Still, I tried. But the first draft not only turned out to be massively long (probably two or three times the length it is now), I also realized that what I was doing was explaining how the game worked much more than what I thought of it. Since my opinion is the whole point, and there are already plenty of places to learn how the game works, I decided to scrap most everything and start fresh, focusing on my opinions and experiences. The resulting article is still very long (I'm not one known for brevity anyway), but hopefully more easily digestible.

Read on after the break for my preview based on the beta weekend.



"This is my home! I won't let you steal it," booms Gort at the ettins. The creatures seem unimpressed and attack. Normally the giant would probably have been able to hold his own, but there are too many of them. And though he stomps and swings and does his mightiest to drive the invaders off, in the end Gort has to acknowledge defeat and run for his life. Run and leave his home to these vile beasts. This will not stand.

"Hey, you lot!" She shouts at them and starts to cast one of her glamors. Having been so busy with the giant the ettins haven't even noticed her, but now that they've claimed the cave their attention fully turns on her. Then suddenly there are two of her. And then three. For a moment the ettins pause, confused by the sudden appearance of all these humans. But as the women start blasting them with colorful beams of light they charge in enraged. She dances around them, shattering her illusions like shards of glass, shredding their simpleton minds. And for a moment things seem to go well. But there are too many of them, too fast and soon she finds herself fighting for her life...

Town Clothes, Cathriana in her (starting) town clothes.

I played the first Guild Wars when it was still in beta and was quickly sold. Next to the beautiful visuals, for the time at least, the combat system was fun and unlike many I loved that most of it was instanced as that meant that the world was there for me, reacting to what I did (at least I remained in the instance). I ended up playing my ranger for a number of months until I hit a roadblock at Sanctum Cay and other interests gradually pulled me away.

When I first heard of Guild Wars 2, late in 2009, I was skeptical. It sounded like it would be just another WoW-clone (as pretty much all I knew was that it was to be a 'real' MMO this time), taking away what I most liked about the first game: the instances. But then when, almost exactly two years ago now, they released their design manifesto document everything changed. I created a new character in the first game, a mesmer this time, and played it once or twice a week, eventually finishing two of the four campaigns. And I started watching Guild Wars 2 like a hawk.

ArenaNet quickly released more information. From dynamic events to minigames to healing and death and more. Each time striking a chord. And the professions of course. But the crowning moment came summer 2010 as they released their Manifesto video and gave people hands-on experience with the game at Gamescom, proving that they could do what they were claiming. Information kept coming afterwards as well, such as the wonderful sylvari redesign. And with the release of the Hall of Monuments calculator they connected their two games, giving people something constructive to do while waiting.

Myself I first got to play at Eurogamer Expo in late 2011, for all of 45 minutes. way too short to fully judge a game on, but enough to give me an appetizer that the game indeed looked like it might be good. So when ArenaNet opened their pre-purchase for the game there was no way that I wouldn't buy it. Even if it didn't come with beta access.

But it did and thus here we are now.


Setup & Login

Lying on the ground, feebly throwing rocks at the pounding brutes she sees her end near. But at that moment a few strangers, no doubt attracted by all the commotion in the cave, wander in and draw the bulk of the creatures away from her. This is enough to give her a chance to rally and fight off the few remaining ettins with much more success, playing tricks with the creature's minds. Together with the strangers she soon manages to clear them from the cave, making it safe for her tall friend to return to his home.

In gratitude Gort shares with them a secret, a treasure he has kept hidden and that he'll give to them as reward for their help. Tearing open a section of wall he reveals the chest filled with goodies and though some of the strangers, out of earshot of the giant, declare it the 'worst treasure ever' she is most thankful for this precious gift he shared. Its value matters not to her, what mattes is that her friend considered it valuable and chose to give it to her.

And yet, unbeknown to her, a greater treasure lies waiting beyond the cave.

Deities, Cathriana before statues of the human gods.

A game starts when you first install it and for Guild Wars 2 that meant the easiest, most friendly experience I've had in a long while: simply copy the file to where you want the game to be. I was a little less enamored with the following download. Though certainly not bad, I've definitely seen better. Such as in the first Guild Wars where content was streamed in as you needed it.

Come Friday I found that I could log in five minutes before the beta was said to go live. In fact as I understand it was up for over an hour before that. That's really a clever way to spread out initial load.

I quickly moved to create my human mesmer and gave myself the time to indulge in the character creator since I'd have the full weekend anyway. I wasn't in any time rush. I liked this well enough and think it's a good approach to choose a base and then deviate from it if you want to get into more detail. But I do wish that there were a few more sliders for various body proportions. And I felt that most of the human female faces where incredibly... childlike. I would much like to see more variety there; have a few more adult faces.

I also got a kick out of the biography questions even though I fully knew what to expect in advance (right down to knowing exactly what questions and answers I was getting). I also decided to watch the entire opening cutscene instead of skipping it, despite already having seen it dozens of times, to give myself 'the full experience' so to speak.

But that's where trouble started. At the end of the cinematic the game wouldn't advance beyond a black screen and I had to forcibly shut down the game. And from that point on I started getting the login errors everyone experienced. And even when I did finally get in and was able to play for about forty minutes the game was plagued with constant lag. Additionally the zone was just way too crowded making it hard to enjoy the events as most mobs died before I even realized what was going on. It's very hard to learn the game that way.

But all of these things I can count up to this being a beta. The login issues cleared up and, beyond returning for a while Saturday evening, didn't give me any trouble the rest of the weekend. Lag too was pretty much gone after Friday and though the areas were still nicely populated it didn't feel crowded anymore. I do think that there are some things that they can polish, I feel that the game should require users to repeatedly press "login' whenever it fails to connect, but overall ArenaNet seemed to have things well in hand after the initial issues.



Bidding farewell to the friendly Gort she makes her way to the other end of the cave, intending to ensure that no more ettins are lying in wait. Stepping back into the open air her eyes take a moment to adjust to the daylight, but when they do a most beautiful sight greets her. On the other side of a small clearing a beautiful waterfall streams in several steps down a cliff. Lush vegetation lines the little pools, swaying softly in the breeze as sunlight sparkles off the water droplets. It takes her breath away and she can't resist taking a moment to sit in the tall grass, her feet dangling in the cool liquid as she listens to water and the chirping of the birds high overhead.

So enraptured is she that she doesn't notice the shapes moving in a nearby hollow...

Waterfall, Cathriana standing in her self-tailored outfit in front of a beautiful waterfall.

Graphically speaking Guild Wars 2 is a piece of art.

It seem to me that people often mix up technical prowess and artistic style when talking about graphics. In that sense Guild Wars 2 is perhaps not the most technically accomplished MMO, graphics-wise. But regardless I feel that is the most beautiful one. Particularly cities such as Divinity's Reach and Lion's Arch are absolutely gorgeous and I've yet to hear anyone think otherwise. But even "out in the world" the landscape is littered with breathtaking locations. Beautiful cascading waterfalls, tranquil monasteries, quaint little villages, the list goes on. Even outside of these spots the world feels rich and detailed.

I also quite like the user interface, particularly how minimal it is. And I love the brush-strokes style of it. Though sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find things and I often tend to miss various tabs (apparently the bank has a section specifically for storing crafting material which I never found).

One drawback of all that splendor is that it can cause performance issues. A number of people have reported poor framerates and even on my own system I got a lot poorer performance than I would expect. Hopefully this too is because it's still in beta; the developers have noted that the game is mostly CPU-bound at the moment and that they're constantly working on optimizing performance.

As for the audio side of it I must admit that I never really noticed it much. Beyond the login screen the music is just there and the sounds never seemed too much or too little. Generally speaking that's probably good because if the audio stand out that's usually because it's bad. One exception to this was the background noise particularly in the cities, which I definitely did notice as it made them feel more alive. I quite enjoyed the constant chatter around me, even if (or maybe particularly because) I tended to miss half the conversation. Though I did notice some repetition there as well and I can imagine it going stale quickly. Finally the dialog voice-overs seemed competent enough and never seemed weird or over-acted, but then I'm not really one to judge acting quality.

Overall that makes Guild Wars 2 one beautiful game and one that I'd gladly sink myself into.


Content & Gameplay

As the sun starts to set she gets up and it isn't until then that she notices a hollow in the rock wall next to the waterfall. Inside it is crawling with slimes and oozes, but having regained her energy they pose little challenge. The hollow proves to be a dead end so she decides to turn back and do what she was here for in the first place: meet up with her friends and learn about her past.

Her friends are understanding, having been able to keep themselves busy well enough. They tell her of a house further down the road which might hold some answers as to what happened to her parents. So off they set, fighting the critters that now seem to have taken residence there. Though there are a few hairy moments, between the three of them they pull through, leading to a deeply emotional moment for the young woman...

Quaggan Village, Underwater quaggan village in the bay of Lion's Arch.

Graphics is one thing, but what really matters is gameplay. In that Guild Wars 2 offers a dizzying variety of things to do.

To begin with there is the personal story, which I absolutely loved. The dialog cutscenes aren't as cinematic as those in The Old Republic, but I like them nonetheless and they work quite well. Though I do feel that they lack interactivity and would be better if you could choose what your character says; the few rare choices you get, though always impactful, are all handled outside the spoken dialog. I also very much liked how the personal story is instanced; as I said I quite liked that in the original Guild Wars. I feel that they're handled much better than TOR's; instead of closing off a piece of the world with a barrier it basically copies a bit of the world and only you know that it's there. Except for the personal distract that is. I also very much liked what happens in the instances, the highlight being one that was completely non-combat where I had to speak with guests at a party to uncover clues.

I also quite enjoyed filling hearts. I've heard some arguments that feeding cows doesn't make you feel heroic, but to me it does the exact opposite. It makes me feel like a hero who's not too big for the little things, you know an actual good hero. I've also heard arguments that they're really just quests in disguise, but a quest generally has one specific task to complete where the hearts have a choice of a variety of them. Feed cows, water plants, kill worms, etc. I love the variety here, all these little activities that you can do. Chase away bunnies, talk to kids to convince them to do their chores, etc. And often an event might kick off which also contributes to filling the heart, giving you a more direct goal.

In general I quite enjoyed the dynamic events. I like it that they can fail, as they have a number of times. The dynamic events can also chain off of one another, and though I did see that a few times I didn't notice it quite so much as I thought I would. Then there are the zone events, which I saw bits and pieces of, but nothing really through to completion. Still, all these events make the world seem more alive and ever changing. Even if I could see through the illusion, particularly when the exact same event happened multiple times, it sets an unprecedented level of dynamism for an MMO world.

Karma I didn't really use much. It's supposed to be used to buy gear upgrades, but though I kept looking never really saw anything that caught my fancy. Or maybe I was just being stingy. Instead I intended to enjoy chasing down points of interest, waypoints, skill points and filling all the hearts. Maybe I'm a completist at heart, but I liked having a goal and exploring the maps.

The combat I much enjoyed too. I loved being constantly on the move, creating clones and phantasms around my enemies and then trying to detonate them at the right time. In the beginning it felt a bit spammy, though mostly because of the limited number of skills. Later I started getting more into using specific combinations of abilities in specific circumstances, even if still fairly rudimentary (it will take a lot more playing time to find more advanced playstyles). I've heard some grumblings of balance issues, but didn't run into any myself. Though some enemies were tougher than others (like the health-regenerating skale) I think that variety is actually good because if the difficulty is too smooth it will all just blend together. And I liked having a different set of weapons and skills when underwater, though those didn't unlock nearly as fast due to there generally being far less underwater segments.

What I enjoyed the most in the entire game though was the sense that you're always playing with everyone else. I'm not one to easily make groups in other MMOs and thus I tend to primarily play alone. But in Guild Wars 2 I played with other people probably more over one weekend than I have in most other MMOs combined (not counting specifically playing with friends). And it didn't take any effort, it went naturally. I would be going in a cave somewhere and someone else would be there too and we'd fight side-by-side for a while, waiting for each other as we worked through until one of us decided to go in another direction. All very natural. I played in groups small and large, working together towards a common goal, often succeeding but sometimes failing too (which I think is important to have). And if I saw someone fight I didn't have to be careful not to steal their kills, I could easily jump in and help them. And if they'd fall (or if I did) we could easily help each other up again. This is how playing MMOs should be.

I didn't try dungeons, well I grouped up for one but it turned out to not be available yet, but I did try the crafting system a bit. The gathering side of this was great, if fairly inventory intensive. It's wonderful being able to harvest nodes without having to worry that you're 'stealing' resources from other players. The crafting itself also had some nice aspects, like how it speeds up the more you make of something. The experimentation side of it I was less impressed with. It wasn't bad or anything, but so far fairly predictable. Maybe I only found the easy recipes, but when your inventory already grays out most items and you can quickly learn the structure from the recipes you're already given there isn't much sense of discovery. Maybe that'll pick up at higher levels, but for now I was a bit 'meh' about it. And of the two professions I tried, tailor and jeweler, tailor was by far the easiest to level as I started with a bunch of recipes where jeweler had pretty much none and even then I could use almost no items in the experimentation. Even so, I did like what I could make and my favorite armor I found so far in the game was the one I made myself.

No matter what activity I chose to do, be it working through my story, filling hearts, exploring the world or participating in events, I immensely enjoyed myself. And I enjoyed myself with other people instead of in spite of them.



That evening she sits gazing out across the sea, oblivious to the lives being lived in the coastal town behind her. Her thoughts turn to what she has learned and what it means to her, trying to untangle her emotions. As she said that she wanted to be alone her friends were understanding, choosing instead to visit the local tavern. It is not until the last of the evening's light has faded below the horizon that she gets up and turns to the inn. Having decided that what she needs is a change of scenery in her head she is already planning her trip to Lion's Arch.

It is a strange sensation, to one moment stand in the lush palace gardens of Divinity's Reach, and the next in the salty air of Lion's Arch. Stepping away from the Asura gate so that those behind her can pass through she breathes in deep from the ocean breeze. Yes, this was the right decision. Approaching one of the local norn workers he points her towards an inn inside one of the various building made from ship wreckage. But she only spends there long enough to rent a room and drop her bags. This is her vacation, a chance to unwind, and she intents to enjoy every minute of it.

On the advice of a friend she heads towards the beach and from there makes her way to a diving board erected high up the cliff. With a giddy spring in her step she can already anticipate jumping off of it, soaring through the air and landing in the water of the cool bay below.

Coastal Town, Overlooking a charmign coastal fishing town.

I didn't try to roleplay during the beta, but I did look at various systems and judged them from a roleplaying point-of-view. I had a list of things to look at—chat, emotes, town clothes, etc—and decided for each one how good its support for roleplaying was. Though in the end roleplaying doesn't require much more than a simple chat box, the more roleplay supporting systems a game has the easier it generally becomes to roleplay.

I feel that one of the most important requirements for an MMO, and not just for roleplaying, is for people to be able to communicate with each other. As such a game's chat system is probably one of the most important system in an MMO. This is even more so for roleplaying which, for a large part, relies on chat. As such it is a pity that the system that needs the most improvement in Guild Wars 2 is the chat system. It functions as it is (outside of beta bugs), but it is pretty much as minimal as a chat system can get.

One of the worst oversights in this, particularly for roleplaying, is the lack of a /say channel. There is a /local channel, but while not being entirely zone-wide is does have an incredibly large range. This is, to put it bluntly, horrible. Either the game needs an additional /say channel, or it needs the distance of /local drastically reduced (and probably a zone channel added and made the default instead). Roleplaying is going to be incredibly hard to do otherwise.

One good thing is that the game does have a /me custom emote command. Unfortunately this too has the same range as /local and is thus far too wide. There are also complaints that the game doesn't have (optional) player chat bubbles which I personally don't tend to use, but can definitely see a use for in more crowded roleplaying settings. The game also doesn't have custom chat channels, though players can be in multiple guilds so a new guild could be made for that. The drawback of that approach is that you only see the guild chat of the guild you're 'representing'; personally I think the game should at least allow you to have the guild chat of guilds you're not in as well. With that a custom channel becomes really little more than a guild that doesn't gain influence and that doesn't need an invitation to join.

Another problem with the chat system is that you can't have additional chat windows at the moment. Usually in MMOs I like to have two or three chat windows open and set each to filter to only specific channels, like one window for guild chat and one for party chat, etc. The game does have chat tabs, but these can't be turned into windows (and thus you only ever see one tab at a time). And the game doesn't have a "looking for RP" type of flag that I could find. That could be solved with the guild system (if someone makes a "Roleplay [RP]" guild, assuming that the guild limit is high enough for that), though there too there are problems with only representing one guild at a time. There's also no biography field on your character for other players to inspect or anything that I've found. And it's looking very unlikely that ArenaNet will have an official roleplaying server (certainly not one with rules enforcement, though I don't desire that anyway).

On the emote side I haven't tested too many emotes. I generally don't use them much to begin with as I rely more on custom emotes and the only ones that I tend to use are ones that change the position of your character. As such that it has emotes like /sit, /lie, /sleep and /kneel is quite useful. But overall the list of emotes seems to be lacking at the moment. And no, you can't sit in chairs (in fact if you try to /sit on a chair you tend to end up sitting through the chair on the floor). The game does support walking, though you'll have to bind a key for it, and it's a modifier so if you bind walk to the shift key then holding shift while moving forward will make you walk instead of run. It would be much better if this could be a toggle instead so that you can auto-walk.

Though a bit outside of the scope for roleplaying there's also a problem staying grouped. This is due to the overflow servers. In general I love the overflow servers. Instead of putting you in a queue unable to play for who knows how long the game puts you on an overflow server; basically playing on another server while it waits for a spot to open on your server. This works great, except that if you're in a group there's currently a very high chance that the group members are going to be put on different servers where it should really keep the group together. There's also no real way of meeting up with friends on another server as you can't manually switch. This will also make roleplaying harder as it's harder to meet up with friends in the world. But at least ArenaNet is aware and they've said that they're looking into solving this.

What I do very much like is the town clothes. I kind of like that, while wearing them, you don't have access to your attacks so that you're either dressed socially or dressed for combat. Though for light armor classes that line might be rather blurred. I'm a little less happy that you automatically switch to your armor when you take damage (like from a fall), but that's something that's easily dealt with. I also love the dye system and will probably spend a fair amount of time, effort and probably real money unlocking more dye colors. Trying the ingame store I was lucky enough to unlock a burgundy dye which you'll see in a lot of my screenshots. I'll also probably be buying a fair number of town clothes in the store, like that fancy hat I'm wearing in a lot of screenshots. And finally I expect that I'll pay a fair amount for the transmutation stones which allows you to combine two armor pieces so that it has the looks of one and the stats of the other. I used this a fair bit, probably more liberally than I would when it's real money, in the game already.

But for roleplaying I think the best thing comes from how incredibly detailed the world is. There are so many little hidden places, so many details that seem to have no gameplay purpose. Where in most MMOs an 'inn' is just a single common room in Guild Wars 2 it has two more floors with several rooms and even a couple of functioning doors. Plenty of room (pun intended) for a bit of roleplaying. There's parks and backalleys and inns and sewers, etc. There's even a diving board. The biggest concentration of these is in the cities, but out in the world you'll equally find various little areas from villages to caves to ponds and waterfalls. Of course out in the world there's always a chance that the spot you've picked might get some dynamic event crossing it and with the way players are automatically scaled down to the level of the zone you can't out-level the enemies and simply ignore them. But, certainly if you're willing to temporarily stall roleplaying to deal with whatever event is happening, I believe that there's plenty of place for roleplaying everywhere. And yes, that includes underwater.

All in all I feel that Guild Wars 2 is a bit of a mixed bag roleplaying wise at the moment. It's definitely better than many other MMOs, certainly better than Guild Wars 1. And I hold good hope that they'll at least make improvements to the chat system which should take care of the majority of issues I have with the game as far as roleplaying goes. Assuming that they do little more than add a /say channel (and limit the range of emote text) it will, in my opinion, already be better for roleplaying than games like The Old Republic of Age of Conan. The rest then depends on the community.


Player versus Player

Exhausted she lies back in the sand, the warm sun overhead drying the salty water off her skin. Coming here was indeed a good decision. She's about to drift off to sleep when a gruff voice catches her attention. A little further down the beach a small group of charr sit enjoying the weather much as her, sharing their war stories among them.

The current speaker, the one that caught her attention, speaks of her time in a war far away, as far away as the Mists. it is a tale of defeat, of a massive army storming the gates of a keep she was tasked to defend. For hours it seemed the battle raged as the defenders poured boiling oil on the attackers, peppered them with arrows and spells. But it was to no avail and the gates were knocked down, leading to the invading army taking the keep.

The charr's voice goes quiet and for a moment there lingers a sense of still defeat in the air. Remembering what brought her here in the first place the young woman can pretend to be asleep no longer and she gets up to seek more pleasant company.

Day At The Beach, A day at the beach in Lion's Arch.

Guild Wars 2 is often called a PvP game. "After all," so it is argued, "it is guild wars." Personally though I don't think that name implies that those guilds have to be at war with each other. If you want "guild wars" could be interpreted as the wars the guilds are waging on the elder dragons, making it PvE. Either way there should be little doubt in anyone's mind that Guild Wars 2 is far more PvE-oriented than the first Guild Wars (originally) was. Right now the balance could probably be said to be about equal, if not a little in favor of the PvE side.

Regardless, it also can't be denied that PvP is an important part of the game. And though I personally tend to not really like PvP I thus decided, as the beta weekend drew to a close for me, to jump into World versus World for a bit and experience that as well.

To be honest, I didn't like it much at all.

Maybe that was just bad luck on my part. Throughout the weekend I occasionally looked at the WvW status and another world, the red world, consistently tended to have over half the... whatever that graph was showing. Perhaps just bad luck to be paired against a world with a lot of PvP guilds or such. I just hoped that wouldn't really matter much in the end and I could still have fun in PvP.

So when I jumped to our world's home borderland it took me a bit to orient myself. I ran out and didn't find much beyond some animals to defeat. Then I noticed that our front gate was under attack and jumped to the waypoint there and found other players on my side already there as well. The red players had massed in front of the walls and were pounding on the gate. Meanwhile we 'defenders' stood above flinging attacks down at them. But it felt so pointless; we didn't seem to have much of any effect at all. It didn't help that any illusions I summoned just stood on the walls doing nothing. The only thing I felt I could do was dodge out of the way of the AoEs the enemies would now and then throw at us, and now and then throw my own AoE at them with little to no effect.

After a long, boring, time they broke through the gate and I thought there would finally be a chance to fight. Though I feared that we would lose as there were simply far more red players than green ones. But it never even came to a fight. They stormed directly to whatever objective they needed to catch while the rest of us had to go the long way around to get off the walls (and at first going the wrong way, finding that there was no way down there). By the time we got down they were already streaming back and since the recently opened gate had closed and turned red now this meant that there was no getting out but to die.

And at that point I noticed getting my armor damaged from dying in PvP. Now, I think that the armor damage thing is great in PvE as it gives a cost to dying. But in PvE when you die it's generally your own fault, perhaps not playing as good, not paying attention or biting off more than you can chew. It's a learning experience. In PvP however a death is completely out of your hands. No matter how good or careful you are there's no avoiding a zerg like that. I found this to be true again a moment later when we chose to try and attack a blue outpost and got zerged by blue in turn. The only way to avoid such damage seemed to be to just not play WvW at all, so that's what I ended up doing.

Beforehand I was quite interested in WvW as I thought that it could be a lot of fun. But having experienced it first hand now I'm having a hard time seeing how it can ever be fun. True, I might have been unlucky. Perhaps it would've been more fun if if the groups were more evenly matched and perhaps we had someone who took charge and call out targets (though doesn't that require grouping? Which goes against how the rest of the game works). It will probably be a few weeks after launch before the worlds are more evenly matched as the PvP-heavy worlds will be moved to match up against each other. But I have the strong sense that in WvW it's simply the biggest group that wins and I honestly don't see the fun in that. In fact, right now I think that I'll probably enjoy the structured PvP, which I haven't tried yet, a lot more despite probably quickly being out-classed by most everyone else.

In short, I was most definitely not impressed with Guild Wars 2's PvP even though I wanted very much to like it. I wish that attackers needed to do more diverse things, split into smaller groups, to take a keep instead of just pounding the doors. I understand that there's the whole thing with supplies, but even so having a large horde of players pounding a door is just silly. Perhaps only siege weapons should be able to break open doors with the players' goal just to protect the siege weapons (and the defenders' goal to get rid of the siege weapons and scatter the attackers). At least something more than ineffectually standing on a wall shooting down ineffectual attacks.

I think that it'll be a long, long time before I try WvW again.



More pleasant company she finds in a tavern high up in the city. Here a slightly inebriated asura and an obviously very sober sylvari are having a discussion about something few can follow. Not even the pair from the looks of it though neither seems to be aware of the fact, both quite serious in their arguments but seeming to completely pass each other by.

With a smile at the mismatched pair she sits down on one of the very few unoccupied barstools and orders a drink. Turning to look out over the city from up high she reflects on the recent events, on Gort the giant and the ettins, on learning what she did with her friends, on arriving in this marvelous city and even the charr's glum story that she overheard. And she decides that, all in all, her life here isn't that bad.

Lion's Arch, The entrance to Lion's Arch.

It is perhaps somewhat unfortunate that the last thing I did in Guild Wars 2 before I had to stop playing was the only thing that I strongly did not enjoy. Then again perhaps that's a good thing as it will help reign in my impatience somewhat, remind me that the game isn't perfect.

Overall though I've never had as much enjoyment from an MMO as I've had from Guild Wars 2 (do note that this doesn't include the enjoyment I've had in other MMOs because of the people I played with, I'm strictly referring to enjoyment coming from the game itself). As I said in the beginning, I've fallen a bit in love with the game. With how incredibly detailed and beautiful it is. With the large variety of activities you can do. With the sense of exploration and discovery. With the freedom the game leaves you. And above all with how effortlessly social it is even for somewhat of a loner like me.

It isn't perfect by any means. There's certainly a fair few wrinkles that I strongly hope ArenaNet will smooth out before launch. Particularly when it comes to the roleplaying side of things like the chat system. And there's also definitely things that don't fit with my tastes like the WvW (as far as I've experienced it). There's also a chance, as there is with any MMO I play, that I'll quickly get bored of it. One great, exciting weekend doesn't tell me how much I'll enjoy playing it for months on end. At least with the lack of a subscription fee I can more easily take it slow or even take a step back if I feel it's starting to drain me. I can switch to playing only once a week for a while without feeling that I'm wasting my subscription fee.

It's interesting. Last Friday my brother finally got a new home. And it looks like I just might have found mine too.

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