Monday, August 27, 2012

Postcards from Tyria

Ok, so 2 days in Guild Wars 2 and a whole day today of ignoring it ...

I've been very impressed with this one in its very early days. I've forgiven the early access issues cos, to be honest, once it started working it's been the smoothest online multiplayer experience I've seen yet. Warcraft was good but even after it was settled, I saw servers knocked offline by masses of players invading the capital cities. (That's commonplace now in WoW and works)

But in its early days, GW2 has been working very well. Let's see if that continues when more people come in who didn't get to be part of the early access.

Character names are much more in demand in Guild Wars 2, so I'll be using my online gaming name of Iceangel as a surname. The little guy I've been playing so far is Finlay Iceangel :
Yeah. He's a funny little guy. Engineer seemed to have the best potential for doing damage at range, which is my favoured role in these types of games. He's an Asura, who are half crazy little gremlin/goblin people. I'm enjoying the storyline so far.

Early days so far. That's the character selection screen, how does the actual game look ?
That's from the starting area. The environments look better than what The Old Republic (SWTOR) managed, even when it got past beta stage. SWTOR really dropped the ball incredibly badly. It just copied WoW but didn't implement it as well. I dunno if it got fixed after the beta weekend but it didn't even include swimming. MMOs have to be 3 dimensional.

But swimming/no swimming is a minor complaint. However ... if it's implemented fully into the game :
(oops for leaving a hint screen up!)

Then it adds a whole new level of potential. That's an underwater sequence where I've joined in with one of the random events that happen all the time. Reckless Inquest Engineers have dabbled a little too much and upset part of the wildlife. Players then join in to take down the Enraged Shark (no laser beams on this one, just Big Teeth). In WoW, the first player to hit the mob would "tag" it and be the only one to get the credit. In GW2, all players who help with the event get credit according to how much they helped out. And these random events happen all the time.

The drawback with the WoW model is that you have to beg for groups in order to get the group content done. It's very tough as a single player to get into trustworthy groups. Or .... you just wait a few levels until your character is far too strong for the fight and do it easily. Guild Wars 2 has a dynamic level system, where the game will step you back or step you up to match the content. Because I level quick and I've been gaining levels through pvp, it's been dropping me back to keep the content challenging.

That dynamic level system has huge advantages. In WoW, you can't really pvp until you get maximum level and decent gear, either because you're not allowed in or because your survivability is low. In GW2, level doesn't matter, it just puts you up to maximum level. Talking of pvp ...
I was having way too much fun storming the castle over the weekend.

That one is from us assaulting a gateway. We've demolished the boiling oil that the defenders placed over the gate, now we're taking down a cannon emplacement on the neighbouring tower before going for the gate. The oil and cannons are all put up by players. In that screenie, I'm taking part in World vs World vs World, where my server is up against a couple of others so there's a 3 way fight going for dominance of the map.

It's quite dynamic too. The WvWvW combat is pretty tough. It takes a while to break down those gates, even with lots of people helping out :
Yes. That is a scary amount of people on screen at once. Performance of the game is pretty good. I was getting very occasional slowdowns with the graphics still at the quality above. No need to step it back as I occasionally had to in WoW. No lag either.

What I will say though is that while my engineer is pretty good in the single player content and can happily take on single elite NPC mobs in WvWvW, I'm not so convinced about how he does in multiplayer. I may be looking at making a "Melody Iceangel" (Melody ? It's got a nice ring to it) for pvp. She'd be an elementalist character aimed at doing lots of area damage. We shall see. One of the advantages of that levelling system is that I'd be able to join in the WvWvW early instead of taking massive time to level two characters to maximum.

I'm pleased with it so far. I suspect Guild Wars 2 will keep me interested for quite a while. It'll definitely change some WoW veterans minds on whether they should get the new expansion. Like - they'll stay in GW2 and cancel their Panda preorders.

I've had to break from it today though because that overindulgence over the weekend had a side effect - my shoulders hate me !

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