Five Observations From The First 10 Levels of Guild Wars 2
Alright, look. I’m not the MMO-head I used to be. There may have been a time when I could plow through the experience curve on an inhuman, week-long bender of 12-hour gamebinges. There might have been a time when I could play videogames for more than six hours at a time without launching into a minor existential crisis. There might have been a time that I could satiate myself on nothing but the lowest forms of food for days on end. There might have been a time when I could get beyond level 11 in Guild Wars 2 in a shorter timeframe than the roughly two weeks it has taken me.
But that time is not now. These days, I’d need some kind of videogame-Viagra to accomplish that shit.
So, yeah. Maybe I can’t hang with the hardcore MMORPG players anymore. I feel simultaneously happy and sad about this. Here are five things I noticed in my first ten levels of Guild Wars 2.
1: The cut-scenes are endearing… for some reason.
I’m playing as a Charr (cat/dog creatures, totally badass), and my story has a lot to do with the inner politics of my peoples’ military. It’s interesting, and I look forward to the story missions because of the cut-scenes. They’re voiced acted, with the 3D character models set against a hand-drawn background. The voice-acting and writing are inoffensive at best – but somehow, the scenes work. I absolutely hated them in the beta, but now they’ve become a highlight. Part of the reason they are so refreshing comes from the fact that the rest of Guild Wars 2 – of what I’ve seen so far – is pretty devoid of personality. It’s pretty, but a bit sterile. The cut-scenes at least sketch some detail into the world.
2: Sometimes, it feels like an experience points orgy, and it’s kind of annoying.
So, as you may know, Guild Wars 2 heavily relies on (what are essentially) public quests (think Rift or Warhammer Online) to provide stuff for players to do. These are events that happen randomly throughout the world; players swarm to them in droves. It ends up being that these events are over-attended – they get too cramped and too chaotic, and it just devolves into a fervor. They’re not difficult enough to demand real tactics, either – it’s just a hotbar spamfest – and because of that, they aren’t very rewarding beyond experience points.
3: The weapons/skill system is gnarly.
Each class in the game can use a multitude of weapons. Each different type of weapon provides you with different skills, and in turn dramatically effects the way you play. You can set up two different sets of weapons and switch between them seamlessly, which provides interesting tactical possibilities. It’s a great system that means you can explore a variety of different play-types without having to make a new character.
4: I can’t stop mining!
And I don’t know why. It’s pretty boring: just look for mining points on the mini-map, run up, press F, get some ore. It’s the first step in my journey to becoming an armor-smithing mogul, and I’m loving it so far. The mining points are rare enough that it’s exciting when you find one, and they’ll have you delving into unexplored environments and combating over-leveled monsters just to get to them. Great fun.
5: So far, it’s playing it pretty safe.
In the past, I have praised both Star Wars: The Old Republic and TERA for boldly innovating on played-out MMORPG systems: story and combat, respectively. Guild Wars 2 borrows from both of their approaches, but doesn’t push any one area forward- at least that I’ve seen so far. It’s extremely polished and endlessly playable – also rather pretty looking – but it’s a refinement, not a move forward. I’m hoping it proves me wrong about this as I play more.