I saw neither guilds nor wars — Guild Wars 2 is a total hypocrite, man!

Following yesterday’s expanded foray into The Old Republic, I wanted to do the same for Guild Wars 2 today.

Let’s start by talking about beauty.  Now yes, it’s in the eye of the beholder and all that, but beauty is sometimes a rare currency in MMOs.  “Eye candy” and special particle effects aren’t the same thing.  A game that is beautiful is one that pleases the soul in a way that’s hard to define.  LOTRO is often beautiful to me.  And Guild Wars 2 — like its predecessor — is quite beautiful.

ArenaNet said that they wanted to go for a hand-painted aesthetic, and it really shows in the game world and cutscenes.  If you liked oohing and ahhing over pre-searing Ascalon in GW, then prepare for more of that in GW2.  It’s a seriously good-looking game that you want to frame and put on the wall.  I like how art is important to this team, even though art isn’t a typical back-of-the-box bullet point feature.

So I wanted to see the introductory experience, and thus rolled up a human necromancer.  GW2′s character creation process is a bit more involved than most other MMOs — it’s like a 10-step process (perhaps more when they add visual customization) where you make choices that gradually shapes the “story” of your character.  What’s your class, what’s your personality, what god do you worship, where you come from, what regret do you have, and so on.  My necromancer even got to choose between facial masks (there was a skull, a witch and something else… demon?).  It may be a small thing, but it really goes a long way to make you feel like your character DOES have a backstory and isn’t just a creation of a one-screen generator.

After the intro cutscene, the game throws you into the action right away.  In the case of the humans, you’ve wandered outside the city for the first time and find that a village is under attack by centaurs.  Everyone’s running around and being attacked, and I definitely liked the movement over static mobs.  You go through a short quest line that leads you up to a mini-boss battle — an earth elemental — after which you’re knocked out and taken to the “real” version of the world and set loose to do good and all that jazz.

After playing TOR, I found myself chafing a bit at not having a lot of dialogue options or being allowed to be snarky, even though I was a necromancer.  Oh well.

I wandered through the world, occasionally coming on events, but I didn’t really want to do them so much as just see all that I could.  The human starting area is mostly pastoral, with farms, windmills and the like.  However, there’s a huge dam on the northern side that hosts a few events (I saw a series of small leaks and wondered if I could make the dam burst open, but nah, that’s probably not what good guys do), and a bandit cave that I peeked in.

Combat plays out fairly smoothly.  It’s nothing stellar at the start, but it definitely is cool to swap out weapons and see your skills change.  I went around with a hatchet and had a spiffy attack that sliced the enemy up six ways from Sunday.  You also get a couple temporary skills when you pick up an environmental object like a tree branch — the branch lasted a few swings before going away.

Definitely the highlight of the necromancer was her Death Shroud ability.  As you attack, you build up a green bar, and once it’s topped off you can go into Death Shroud mode.  This gives you a whole new bar of skills and a funky screen effect.  Supposedly, if you keep your health up you can stay in this mode longer, but I wasn’t ever able to do it, so I’d pop back out after a half-minute or so.  One of the cool things is that when you exit Death Shroud, the game takes you back to the place you entered it with a trail of black smoke.

If you like detailed worlds that look lived in, GW2 certainly has a lot to check out.  40 minutes blew by so very quickly, and I sort of wish I’d gone back for a second demo.

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11 thoughts on “I saw neither guilds nor wars — Guild Wars 2 is a total hypocrite, man!

  1. The overall impression from everyone is…

    If you like the way MMO’s are now, but want more story? SWToR

    If you are tired of the same “trinity” and want to roam and be free?

    GW2

    My vote is for GW2, as it offers a truly breathing world that I should be able to do as I please…SWToR sounds so rails on and offers the same old MMO genre gameplay that I have been playing for a decade, just with lightsabers.

    Cheers

  2. I’m a bit like you Syp in that the first Guild Wars never clicked for me. After getting some hands on time with the sequel, do you think that it is a game that you’d actually play? An even more important question, does your character have the ability to jump this time around?

  3. was gw2 more open world a la wow/war? or alot of instancing? I read that it would be more open world.

    we demand more info on gw2!! XD

  4. From what I hit in the demo, elements of your personal story were instanced, but the rest of it was mostly open world.

    “If you like the way MMO’s are now, but want more story? SWToR”

    Don’t underestimate the potential GW2 has for story. They may not be making as huge a deal out of it as TOR is, but the elements of story I ran into in the beginning instance and the personal story areas was quite good. Honestly, it was better than what I experienced of the Sith Inquisitor story, although the shorter time limit on TOR (15 vs. 40 minutes) probably affects that.

  5. I’ll respond to a couple of the questions here, based on what developers have said, but I have not experienced first hand:

    Jumping – Yes, you can jump this time. Supposedly character movement should be much more free than it was in GW, where you couldn’t jump or move over obstacles more than ankle height.

    Open World – Yes, supposedly GW2 should be more like WoW in this regard. There are instances within the open world, but the world does not consist solely of instances (ala GW).

    And Syp, did you try dying with your necro? Supposedly if your green bar is full a necro can enter Death Shroud mode AFTER being taken to 0 hp and potentially defeat all their enemies (and thus avoid death).

  6. Considering that GW has stuck with their F2P model I can see a potential for not having to make a choice. Providing you have funds (and time) for both then there is nothing stopping you fomr having TOR as your subscription based game of choice and then GW2 as you’ll only need the box. Hopefully there is enough time between each of their releases that both can be played without having to monopolise my time and losing out on a decent MMO experience.

  7. I’d say that I’m more excited about SW:TOR and Warhammer 40K than I am about GW2 but I am intrigued to see what they’re going to pull off and how they do it. If they manage to bring some innovative and sweeping changes to the genre then I’ll be very impressed indeed.

  8. The big question I have is how much of GW2 is instanced. The whole entire world is instanced thing is what keeps me from playing Guild wars but if they create an open world and deliver on their Dynamic Events system I will be one happy camper…er…gamer.

  9. @Julie, the game world is supposed to be more like WoW this time. Mostly a single open world with instances embedded within it. How much this will be the case in the final release I don’t know, but the developers have stated that’s their intent.

    Considering the number of people who have complained about the instancing, often citing it as the only reason they didn’t play, and the complete lack of people praising the instancing as the greatest thing ever, I’m pretty sure Arenanet will do their best to deliver an open world.

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