August 24, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Beta Impressions: Criticisms and Wrap-Up

      Based on the last few articles, it is clearly evident that I had a blast with the beta. Guild Wars 2 improves on so many things on the original (and even standard MMO fare) that it's easy to appreciate the game. However, it's best to keep things objective and try to see what areas still need some improvement. This not only makes for good journalism, it also helps the developers improve upon the game even further. So without further ado, let's go off to the criticisms!

     Let's start with some technical aspects. Since this was a beta, I expected some problems in terms of connectivity. Surprisingly though, I didn't experience much lag, except for the trading post. For some reason, the trading post felt like a web page that is having trouble loading. If you are familiar with the Facebook app in Android, it's kind of like that. Every time I switch screens, I get this loading circle and it takes a while for the items to appear. This extends to the search function as well. Searching for items had the same problem of loading. Even worse, at times the search just doesn't complete. And since I am the type of person that likes to check what's in the market, this was quite a significant drawback to my trading experience. Since this is still in beta, I'm taking it with a grain of salt and I'm hoping that the experience is more fluid come launch.

     Another criticism that I can note is around questing. Some quests become too trivial when there are too many people involved. While there are quests that scale quite nicely regardless of the number of participants, there are some that don't do this quite as well. An example I can give is a quest that requires you to escort a bull. At one point, there were around 20 people escorting the bull and every mob that spawns don't even last 2 seconds. I played a guardian and most of the time I can just stand there since all the elementalists focus firing drops the mob so fast I can't even walk to it. One can point out that at least every one is cooperating. While this is true, it would have been nice to make it a challenge that fits the amount of people. Obviously this can't be done with all the quests in the game (and I haven't seen half of the quests in the game) but at least we are aware.

Oooh shiny...but maybe too shiny?
     One more criticism that is somewhat related to questing is the story while doing the quests. I have found that it was easy to neglect the story of some of the quests. Since I don't need to talk to anyone to get a quest, I just immediately start killing stuff or watering corn without knowing why the heck I'm doing it. To be fair, it's easy to ignore the story in most MMO's but coming from WoW, I usually get an idea of what the story is for a certain area just by reading the titles and first sentences of the quest.
One last thing I want to touch on before wrapping up this article is in terms of skills. I noticed that there are some skills that are quite vague and the tooltips don't explain it that well either. For example, the combo system allows you to make certain skills work together depending on where the skill was cast. If you shoot an arrow through a fire wall, it becomes a flaming arrow and so on. However, there is no mention as to what the combo skill does when an arrow becomes a flaming arrow. I had to look it up in a wiki just to understand how the combo skills work in general.

     Every game will have its own drawbacks. This is merely a fact of life (gaming life?). But since these exist in every game, it's then how the developers respond to these problems that make the difference. While I'm not saying the criticisms I gave are game breaking, for me they are actually quite minor compared to other issues I found in other games, it's a good thing to try and look at both sides of the coin to have a balanced view. Like I said earlier, this isn't just good journalism practice, but can help the developers make an awesome game truly epic.

     That about wraps up my beta impression series. Let me know what you think. Do you agree with the points covered? Or do you have a different opinion? Sound them off in the comments below.

P.S. We are now so close to the launch I can actually feel everyone's excitement. See everyone in game!

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