What a weekend! For the first time, we as a community have gotten our hands on this game for more than one hour at conventions. 60 hours of play time, hundreds of thousands of players, and lots of feedback. I’ve written a huge amount of positive text about this game over the past year or so, and most of it has held up under the test of experience. I had a great time, but I certainly have several things I would like to discuss that seem to be on many people’s minds, and most of them include suggestions for improvement. This post will be long, as I will be discussing a huge range of topics befitting of this momentous occasion.
A lot has happened in the past month since my previous post. We’ve had another closed beta, this time including a much larger sample size, we’ve had pre-purchase sign-ups, and now we’re coming up on a real, honest to god, “open beta”. Yes, I know, it’s not technically “open”, but it is open to everyone that has purchased it now. For many members of our community, this is going to be the very first foray into the new world of Tyria. Between the press beta coverage outlets, there has been a ton of really great information about the game. Ravious over at KTR detailed a great list of 10 things to remember when you first step foot into GW2, so instead of talking directly about the game, I’m going to take a few minutes to talk about us, the prospective players.
Oh boy. So the new post from ANet is out about their microtransaction system. If you haven’t read that yet, go do that first. Anyway, I knew that this was going to be a hot topic when we were preemptively warned on Guru to read the post carefully and “not jump to conclusions”. If you have to warn people to not jump to conclusions, you have to know that what you are about to say is going to cause controversy. Given that clear understanding, I’m not quite sure why they then proceeded to make as many vague statements as they did. Vagueness will always beget debates that can’t really be resolved because by definition, both sides have only vague evidence. Regardless, we do know (at least officially now) more than we knew before about how the microtransaction system will work. It has some obvious pros and cons, and some of that will hinge on the specifics that we sadly do not have.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past week, all the news has been centered around the GW2PCB event. Dozens and dozens of videos, articles, anecdotes, and analyses later, there is still a huge amount of information being revealed to us daily. I don’t know if it’s even possible to cover all of it in one place shy of simply linking to most of it, but GuildMag and GuildWars2Guru already have that covered. I wasn’t in the beta myself, so all that I can comment on is content that has been published by others, but honestly, that’s what I do anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Over the course of the next few days/weeks I will try to cover the news that really stood out to me aside from the obvious. Of course, today (the 22nd) ANet officially put up the registration for regular people to get into the beta events in the future, but aside from excitement, there isn’t actually much else to say. Good luck! Anyway, as indicated by the title, this post is going to be about the revamped trait system.
World vs World vs World. WvWvW. WvW. WuvWuv. We have many names for it, but today we finally have some concrete information. Having read that fantastic blog post early this morning, I have to say that I was truly filled with hope about this PvP mode. Typically I have found large-scale PvP to be something that always sounded cool in concept and almost always ended up in tears and Zerg. Is that inevitable? Is large-scale PvP just a dream that in the end will always come down to Zerg-fests? Can players coordinate large-scale tactics, and what’s more, is there any incentive to? Can server imbalance break PvP in half? Do the developers even care? These are all very important questions to be asking when developing a system meant for large-scale combat. The infrastructure and design decisions laid down in the infancy of a feature can have wide-ranging and powerful consequences.
Now, I’m no fortune-teller, but having played a lot of games and having spent a lot of time analyzing the systems that lead to success and failure, I can say that I feel that ANet is doing all the right things in their designs. Before getting into the systems of GW2, I’m going to spend a little time talking about other experiences I have had and why they didn’t work out well. I’ll start mostly be talking about my last experience with large-scale PvP: Aion.
It’s been a long time since we first started hearing about professions, going on two years now. A lot has changed between then and now, but one thing that hasn’t is the concept of Guild Wars 2’s version of the trinity- control, support, and damage. They have been consistent for the past two years in stating that their goal is for any party composition to be viable because every profession can operate in each of these three roles, frequently changing on the fly between them via either profession mechanics (kits and attunements) or weapon swapping. No class is relegated to any one role, and in theory all are able to fill all three. Brace yourself for a wall of text few have seen the likes of.
Although it was already spoiled on Monday, today was the official release of the Mesmer! In fact, I have to admit that I was surprised by the level of detail we received and how much it improved my outlook on the final Profession. Without further ado, I’m going to dive right into the meat and potatoes of the Mesmer’s equipment and abilities.
- Main Hand: Sword, Scepter
- Off Hand: Focus, Pistol, Sword, Torch
- Two-Handed: Staff, Greatsword
And so it came to pass that on this day, 12/12/11, the final GW2 Profession was released. And by “released”, I actually mean “leaked ahead of time” by yet another site that has proven to be untrustworthy. This trailer was released 2 days early by Gamereactor, but of course my link goes to youtube. I would prefer to not give sites like this any traffic; it only encourages this behavior. As much as we all have been awaiting the release of the Mesmer, I don’t really think anyone is happy about this leak. Even those who participated in the colossal Mesmer thread on Guru are most likely thinking “I could have waited 2 more days”. Sure we have official confirmation, but the whole experience is just cheapened. Of course, it isn’t like this hasn’t happened before. Honestly, IIRC the first GW2 Demo, Necro, the Thief and maybe even the Guardian were all leaked prematurely. Were there any others? Honestly I don’t even remember anymore, I’m just no longer surprised by it.
The skill system in GW2 is one of the many features that breaks from typical MMO conventions. Having a reduced skill-set has many benefits, but one of the “challenges” is how to make the acquisition of said skills meet the balance between feeling like good progress/progression and not feeling like a grind. See, if there are a lot of skills and skill tiers, “progression” is easy because you can simply give access to one or two skills every level. As you work through the game, you just get new skills, usually via gold. Aside from whether the costs imply grind, this is a pretty easy balance. However, by removing the massive list of skills, it becomes a bit more challenging. Do you give the skills up front? If so, then you remove that feeling of progression that many players enjoy. On the other hand, if you space them out evenly among levels… you only have say 20 skills (barring weapon skills) for 60 levels. That could take quite a long time to get all your skills, and that just feels grindy. Even worse, most games require you to constantly upgrade your skills to just “the better version of the same skill”. Again, that feels pretty grindy just to keep up.