After playing Guild Wars 2 excessively for the past 4 days, I think I can safely write a bit about the released version of the game. As with all MMOs immediately after launch, the game is in a state of flux. Some features are glitchy due to the extreme server load. Others are clearly not worked as intended. In fact, some features that were working beautifully in the betas seem to be completely broken at launch. It's rather odd. Presumably many of these issues are related to the server load. They did numerous stress tests but those can only be so helpful.
My list of pros and cons will be evolving as the game evolves. So the following reflects what the game is like as of this post
. ArenaNet has been releasing several patches every day since launch and has been working steadily to improve player experiences.
- The graphics. If you max everything and have the hardware to support it, this is one very beautiful game. It isn't as nice looking as a DirectX 11 game, but the art style, scenery, special effects, etc. are all highly stylized and fit the game perfectly.
- The combat system may not be extremely revolutionary, but it's a LOT of fun and is quite flexible. Each class has a limited pool of weapons and skills to choose from. While some may find this disconcerting and simplistic, the way you can combine these skills/weapons with other players' skills/weapons is rather impressive. Standard MMO combat this is not. I'm really not sure why some players are making claims that GW2 rips off World of Warcraft's combat system. The combat systems are very different. Every class can change roles in mid-combat simply by swapping weapon sets or changing how you use your skills. It's clear that a lot of time and energy was spent on the combat system because it's fast paced, very fluid, and is extremely responsive (server latency issues notwithstanding), You can easily retrain all of your trait points simply by paying an NPC 40 copper to refund your trait points. This cost doesn't change.
- The classes, races, and lore are extremely well-thought out. The concept of dragons being godlike beings isn't exactly an original idea but so far the execution has been fairly good. And ultimately MMOs aren't typically known for their great stories. ArenaNet is trying to incorporate a single player RPG story into an MMO. The story is certainly better executed than the first game and is already much more engaging.
- World vs. World (WvW) and structured PvP (sPvP) are both fantastic. The way they're completely separated from PvE is also especially good.
- The crafting system. Like in many MMOs, each character can learn two crafting professions. Unlike any other MMO I can think of, you can swap these out when seeing an appropriate trainer without losing progress in your professions. Basic resource gathering such as mining, herb gathering, and chopping wood doesn't require any particular specialized profession either. You also don't need to compete for resources with other players. All resource nodes are player-specific.
- The mail system. You can send and receive mail anywhere in the game without having to pay for postage or any other sort of fee. It's fast, direct, and very easy to use. It's such a useful system that it completely replaces any sort of player-to-player trade system.
- The gem store. Originally I wasn't too happy about GW2 having an item shop but the execution is quite good. You have two options for getting gems to buy items: real money or in-game gold. If you use the latter, you exchange gems based on an current exchange rate. Rather than being a set value chosen by ArenaNet, this exchange rate is directly tied to the in-game economy. This means that if you really want that cool new costume but don't want to pay real money for it, you can save up your gold in-game and buy it that way.
- As of this post, the party system is completely broken. I love ArenaNet and I think what they're doing with this game is very ambitious. However, this is a MAJOR strike against it at the moment. The game uses "overflow" servers when an area is overcrowded. While this is a good idea, for some reason parties don't transition from overflow server to non-overflow server together. So you end up in situations where you can be in the same party, are standing in exactly the same place, and you can't see or play with each other. Additionally, party invites can be hit or miss. The game doesn't inform you when the player is already in a party. What's especially odd with this is that this feature was actually working in the beta events. Once in a party, you'd always end up on the same server as them when moving from zone to zone. Everything about party control was in much better shape before launch. They've already said they're working on this issue but as of now it makes playing with friends rather difficult.
- Due to the above problems with parties, it's completely up to chance whether your party ends up in the same dungeon instance or not. My friends and I tried to play through Ascalon Catacombs tonight and after about 10 attempts, we couldn't end up in the dungeon instance. It just refused to work. Granted, today was the official launch day but this is still troubling and extremely frustrating.
- As far as I know, there isn't currently a way to summon your party to your current location. With waypoints and asura gates this kind of feature would probably be redundant. And it's possible they don't want players to jump past areas to get high end equipment. However, it'd be nice if you could at least choose to bring your entire party with you when you change zones.
- The Trading Post has been offline for the past 2 days. This means the game economy is off to a non-existent start. Hopefully this will be back online soon. It came back online temporarily but is offline again.
- Your account storage is extremely limited. You only start with 30 bank slots. If you want additional tabs, you need to buy them through the gem store (double-click the little lock icon when accessing your storage). I think this is my only real complaint about the gem store. Everything else doesn't have a huge impact on gameplay and is mostly cosmetic or for fun.
- No trade system. As great as the in-game mail system is, the inability to directly trade with other players is a strange oversight, especially since the first game had such a thing. It isn't a huge deal but it'd be nice to be able to directly trade with a specific player without sending mail.
Compared to many MMO launches, Guild Wars 2's has been fairly smooth. But the game is certainly going through MMO launch woes of its own. This is a fantastic game, though. If you've been on the fence about buying it, then I can't recommend it strongly enough. However, the game has its issues at the moment and unless you have a lot of patience for MMO launches, you may want to wait a week or two before jumping into it. For the most part everything is working as it should and most people playing seem to be having a lot of fun despite these things.
Edited by NeuralClone, 29 August 2012 - 05:27 AM.