Guild Wars 2: Release Day

Standing on a hill (by nebse)
Standing on a hill (screenshot by nebse)

Nick and I started playing a new MMORPG: Guild Wars 2, which was just released yesterday. We hadn’t been planning on playing it; in fact, we knew nothing about it prior to Monday. My coworker casually mentioned that it was coming out and that evening, Nick happened to see a screenshot (on right) posted on Reddit that made him want to play the game. How cool is it that the character’s knee is bent while standing on a hill?! We looked into it a bit and once we found out that there was no monthly subscription fee and that there was even a gnome-like race (the asura), we decided to give it a try. A few clicks later, we were downloading the game.

Getting started

When we started the game, we had to pick which world server we wanted to play on. Unfortunately, you can only play on one server in GW2 (unlike World of Warcraft, where you can have characters on multiple servers). You can switch servers, but it’ll cost you. Apparently, you can still play with friends on other servers, but you won’t be able to participate in World vs. World PvP.

Character customization

There are 5 races to choose from: Asura (short and clever), Charr (aggressive and feline), Human (boring!), Norn (Nordic shape-shifters), and Sylvari (inquisitive plant-like humanoids). There aren’t factions in GW2, unlike WoW.

There are 8 professions (aka classes) as well: Elementalist, Engineer, Guardian, Mesmer, Necromancer, Ranger, Thief, and Warrior.

Character customization
Character customization

Character customization is pretty detailed, reminding me more of Skyrim than WoW. You can tweak all of your facial features, height, skin color, etc. AND you can dye your armor! I wish there were more colors to choose from when dyeing armor, but 21 colors isn’t bad.

After you’ve picked out your race and profession and customized your appearance, it asks you a few questions about your character to help create your character’s personal story. This affects your character’s personality and in-game storyline events. I think it’s really neat that the decisions you make have an effect on the game.

Playing the game

I have to say that our first hour or two of playing the game were a bit overwhelming. The controls and UI were pretty straight-forward, but figuring out where we had to go and what we had to do took a little getting used to, as can be expected when playing a new game. It probably didn’t help that we were trying to stick together in a party with a friend of ours instead of learning the game at our own individual paces. At one point, we became separated and couldn’t figure out how to get back to each other (it seems like the separation was probably due to server overflow).

Cinematic conversation
Cinematic conversation

One thing that impressed me right away was the cinematic conversations that take place in the game. The characters in the cinematic conversations move and do a pretty decent job lip-syncing the words. It’s a lot more interesting to watch and listen to these cutscenes than it is to click through a bunch of dialogue screens. And if you don’t care about the storyline, there’s a button that let’s you skip over it.

Dynamic world event
Dynamic world event

Another aspect of the game that I really like is the dynamic world events, a lot like rift events in Rift. When there’s an event nearby, it alerts you and everyone else in the area. Everyone who wants to participate can then work together to complete the task.

I’m still learning how combat works, so I’m not going to blog about that just yet. I really like how quickly health regenerates when out of combat, though. That was one of my complaints about WoW.

Overall Thoughts

It’s too early to say for sure, but it seems like Guild Wars 2 is going to be a pretty fun game. It doesn’t feel radically different from other games in the genre, but they’ve obviously learned a lot from other games about what works and what doesn’t and they’ve added some neat new features. I’m excited to see more of the game!