Guild Wars 2 – After 20 Levels of PvE as an Elementalist

           Guild Wars 2 has been released a little over a week ago, and it should come as no surprise that I have put Path of Exile on haitus and devoted my gaming time towards this sequel of one of my favorite RPG games. I was a huge fan of original Guild Wars, as in my undergrad years I spent hundreds of hours playing it with my best friends, and had little doubt the teamwork required to succeed in the original game improved our trust and friendship with each other. So, after attaining twenty levels as an elementalist in Guild Wars 2, these are what I liked, disliked, and things in between about the game in PvE:

What I Like:
Graphics and Vistas: Guild Wars 2 has some fairly majestic looking scenery. Even with graphic settings on medium, the environment can still look pretty nice. I particularly like the concept of Vistas. Not only you are rewarded with experience at finding them, but also with a beautiful cinematic shot of nearby landscape with perspectives that players normally can never attain. Guild Wars 2 certainly isn’t the first to have this feature, but I always enjoy cinematic shots in games that have the eye-candy to boot.

Quick Character Leveling: Leveling in Guild Wars 2 feels quite quick, and hence doesn’t feel too much like a grind. The main reason is the dynamic events. They provide a lot of experience as a reward, and more pertinently, they occur frequently and are repeatable. You will hear something about a dynamic event every minute or two of running around. You also gain experience in crafting, gathering ingredients, exploring, doing daily goals, and almost everything else you do. It all adds up quickly.

Waypoint System: The maps of Guild Wars 2 are well populated with waypoints in every area of interest, where one can teleport to anytime from anywhere. This means you can get to where you want to be within minutes at a marginal cost. I will gladly pay thirty copper to teleport myself two maps away than to waste half an hour running there.

Things in Between:
Level Scaling: Every area has a maximum level cap a character can be. That means a high level character in low level area will be scaled down to a lower level appropriate for that area. I understand its functions: it is to prevent a level 80 character from griefing by blowing up everything in a lower level area to deprive lower level characters of experience and quests. And also it allows lower level content to remain challenging and enjoyable. However, perhaps this comes from my ARPG expectations, I miss the feeling of waltzing back to an earlier area and demolishing dozens of monsters with a single attack; the feeling of being a demi-god and giving sweet vengeance to baddies that used to give me so much trouble but are now mere fleas in my high level presence. I propose a solution: there should be an option between level-capped or non level-capped instance selectable either somewhere in menu, or upon entering a new map or waypoint. The level capped instance remains as is, while the non-level capped instance would allow characters to be their full levels, but with reduced drop rates and experience gain depending on the level gap between characters and monsters or tasks to compensate for increased killing speed.

Common Persistent Instance: In the first Guild Wars almost all PvE content outside of cities were private instances where only you and your party join. Much of the content were very difficult if not impossible to solo. This was a double edged sword, forcing the player to either hire henchmen, which wasn’t the optimal solution, or to form parties. The plus side was that party composition, communication, and organization was very important, and helped foster bonds between players. In Guild Wars 2, the PvE world is now common to everyone. This also has its pros and cons. With the need to form parties removed, players can simply take part in any event by just being there, making the game very accessible and easy to jump into. However, a lot of times there are more than twenty people at a dynamic event, and with such large numbers, profession composition doesn’t really matter that much. It often ends up being a “zerg” fest, where player rush in with disregard to tactics, and pressing their favorite DPS buttons until everything dies. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I prefer more of the tightly knit group of five best friends in a party, than the fifty man raid where everyone’s a stranger. Speaking of strangers, with the need to party removed, and despite doing quests in the constant presence of people, because no one is really communicating with each other, the experience can feel somewhat lonely. It is akin to living downtown in a foreign city where none of your friends are with you. Sure you’re surrounded by people, but because you’re not really making social connections, you can still feel isolated. I guess the easiest solution is to simply start talking to people around you. I’d do that, if I were not an INTJ, but I am. Oh well.

What I Don’t Like:
Skill Selection Depends on Weapons: In the original game, you had a skill bar of eight slots, where you could choose any common skills and one elite from a pool of of around hundred per class. The possibilities was daunting and near limitless. I spent many hours thinking about what skills to put in my skill bar, and I enjoyed it. Here, your skills depends on the weapons you wield. Huh. There aren’t nearly as many weapon types as there are skills in the original game. Sure, there are utility skills and traits and more skill slots, but it still feels restrictive compared to its predecessor. Why take away the freedom of skill choice that fostered imagination in the first game?

Overflow Servers: My friends and I choose a heavily populated server as our home server because one of them was stubborn in his desire to play in a world teeming with people. I would have settled with a server with a medium population. Anyways, the consequence is that every time I join a map I always end up in the overflow server. I wait for queue, then eventually, sometimes it may take up to half an hour, to be placed onto the main server. When I am, I have to load the map once again. This can be annoying sometimes, especially if you’re often traveling between zones. In other MMORPGs, once you join the server, that’s it. One server, one instance for everyone. I wonder why there are overflow servers in Guild Wars 2? If I had to venture a guess is it would be to reduce or eliminate login queues. And also it is probably more expensive to build an extremely powerful server capable of hosting ten thousand people, than to build three servers capable of hosting five thousand people each. More for the money if one chooses latter.

Party System: I play with my best friends, and that means the first thing we try to do when we play together is to party. Now I don’t know if it is because of a bug, or the server’s overloaded, or simply the way it is implemented, but my friends and I were having huge difficulty partying with each other when we’re in overflow servers. For one thing, we cannot seem to join each other’s overflow instance, even when the option to join is there. So it ends up with us having to wait for minutes on end, sometimes up to half an hour, to get onto the main server so we can actually party and meet each other. Being unable to party and play with my best friends really really sucks.

           To be honest, at this point I’m not enjoying Guild Wars 2 as much as I did the first game, mainly due to reasons I’ve explained in “Common Persistent Instance” and “Party System” sections. I still look forward to achieving level thirty, where I hear dungeons become accessible, requiring strong parties to clear. It sounds exactly what I’m looking for. As for PvP? I may try once I beat or grow bored of PvE content. It is on the distant horizon. So, back to grind…er, I mean leveling I go.

Published in: on September 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Reblogged this on Gigable – Tech Blog.

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