Guild Wars 2 (GW2) recently had a free trial week, along with a 50% off sale, so I decided it was finally time to go take a look at this game that I’ve been hearing so much about for so long. These are my quick impressions about the trial and the game.
The trial lasted a week, which for someone like me who wants to play pretty casually is not really a very long time to try it out. I had to make a conscious effort to try to get in enough play sessions to form an idea about the game, and I’m not sure I really succeeded.
I tried out one character, a human of the engineer class, and I think I’d only just hit level 9 by the time the trial ended. By that point I had four weapons skills available.
I heard that with the GW2 megaserver technology, you can easily hop to other servers to play with friends, but only within your own region, i.e. North America (NA) or Europe (EU). That was a tricky choice for me, because there are probably people I’d like to play with in both regions.
There are no designated RP servers in GW2, which I normally prefer to roll on, despite not being much of an RPer myself. From Googling it seemed that RPers have decided to make Piken Square and Tarnished Coast their unofficial places to congregate. It turned out Tarnished Coast was closed to new signups, so I went for Piken Square.
The trial wasn’t long enough for me to try any instances, or to see if I could find a guild I liked hanging out with.
What I liked about GW2
- It ran very smoothly on my PC, always an important consideration for newer games.
Graphic quality and overall visual style is very good and to my liking. I don’t like overly cartoony worlds, but this has more of a grown-up graphic novel vibe than a kids’ cartoon feel.
There seemed to be plenty of people around in the starter area. Of course it’s hard to say whether that’s normal or a function of the one week trial period bringing lots of people in to take a look.
Dynamic events were pretty fun. For example, there’s one where a big ox cart carrying a bunch of trade goods makes its way from one town to another, a sort of group escort quest. It feels like a meaningful thing to do, and it’s nice to be doing things with other people.
I found it’s possible to enjoy playing this game in very short bursts. As an experiment I tried a 15 minute play session. That’s 15 min from clicking the icon to launch the game, right through to signing out. It helps that there aren’t a lot of hoops to jump through to start and end the game! (In TSW I seem to have to click through about 4 screens just to get the heck out of the game.) In GW2 the content also tends to be bite-sized enough that you could do a couple of things from beginning to end in that time. At least that was true in the starter areas, I guess it may change at higher levels.
I was intrigued by what I saw of the story. But I didn’t get to see very much really.
What I disliked about GW2
I was often confused about what I should or shouldn’t do next. Are there things that are vitally important to do while I’m in this area? Is it time to move on? Is that place too high-level for me? Too low-level? What’s happening with my personal story arc, it hasn’t been mentioned in quite a while?
Although you have some of the pleasures of grouping with dynamic events, it’s watered down compared to traditional grouping. There’s not much talking or coordination, and the relationship – such as it is – only persists for a short while until the event is over.
Events seem to become a zerg fest, where sheer numbers of people and spamming skills at random is sufficient for success.
The chat channels (from the admittedly little I saw of them) were on the childish side, somewhat depressing and immersion breaking.
Dodging is an important thing in GW2, and I’m never particularly fond of that mechanic. Maybe with some classes and builds you can avoid having that as a big part of your playstyle, but there’s no way to tell from the limited trial experience.
What I noticed
- I always forget how much of a learning curve it is to get to grips with a new MMO. Take basic things like “How do I take a screenshot?”, “What happens when loot won’t fit in my inventory?” etc and multiply by all the things you routinely need to know, and you realize there’s a lot to learn before you even get to anything of tactical importance, like stats, builds or whatever. Learning any new MMO to my own satisfaction would take a lot of time.
To buy or not to buy?
Overall I felt I didn’t have enough info from the trial period to really tell if I would like this game long term or not. Maybe it could have a place in my life as a game to go to when I want a short session of undemanding, chill-out fun. On the other hand, if it’s not just going to wind up on the pile of bought-and-barely-played stuff, it’d take a fair investment of time for me to learn its ins and outs to my satisfaction. Knowing me, if I don’t take the time to dive right in and dive in deep at the start, the game will inevitably end up on the unplayed pile.
Right at this moment, I don’t want to be putting in that time to dive into learning a new MMO, so I decided to skip it. Maybe I’ll pick it up in a future sale sometime.
See also: Inner Adult, Inner Child