GW2 – Not For Me

This is a strange post for me to write.  I focus on my first impression with the last BWE for GW2. And, sadly, only the first several hours of the event.  I enjoy the community behind the game and the developers are definitely top notch, but something is lacking.  Something about the game that had me checking, reading, and hyping daily… just doesn’t deliver.  I’ll do my best to recapitulate  what I experienced on Day 1 of the third BWE and why I uninstalled on the same day.

I was lucky enough to snag a beta key last week from curse and excitedly downloaded the client to prepare any patches and so-forth.  I waited in anticipation for the 20th of July to roll around the corner.  I had purposely denied myself GW2 information since late May, in the hope that my expectations would return to a normal level.  I have had my own lofty expectations ruin first impressions for games, especially MMOs, in the past.  Let’s skip ahead to today.  I start up the game around noon/noon-thirty (PST) and love the color scheme, painterly aesthetics, and music.  I’m starting to get drawn in.  I select my first race, Norn of course, and start dabbling in the character creator.  First thing that disappointed me was the overall flatness of the character models.  Everything just felt very… blocky.

I decide to try a different race.  Switch to Human and am sadly delivered a similar impression.  I’ll pass on that as well.  Leap for joy to Sylvari.  I had some great fun creating my character from this point.  I ended up with a tree bark, branches with leaves, semi-ME3 Garrus look.  I was happy.  Continuing down the creation tree, I was an engineer by the way, the personal choices were interesting and birthed questions in me about their outcome (this is good).  Then the cinematic introduction in the unique GW2 style.  I’m completely drawn in.  The voice felt right, the story was interesting, the colors were a feast for my eyes.  Then the starting/tutorial zone…

The intense color of everything in the Sylvari dream-world was almost dizzying.  I worked my way through the short, very short, story to a very large shadow dragon, tree, thing.  I was thinking it was time to fight some awesome dragon thing that was tainting the Sylvari’s dreams.  I get ready for the fight, but then it’s over.  I maybe shot the thing 3 or 4 times.  That was it.  I was rather disappointed, but I let it slide and continued on.  The color palette in the real world was more vibrant than I’d like.  I decided to work my way over to the human lands for a change of environment.

Skip to a few hours later.  I had done a number of activities for various NPC’s outside of Divinity’s Reach.  However, the whole experience was rather mundane.  I felt like I was charging into never ending Public Quests (WAR).  I wanted to experience a little more of the Engineer so I decided to hop into the Mists and level 80.  I test out the various weapons and utilities in the area and come away feeling very unimpressed.  I don’t know what it is that I didn’t like about the whole experience, I wish I did.  I thought it might just be the profession.  Perhaps it didn’t fit my tastes.  I make an Asura elementalist and give that a go.  I skip the Dynamic Events this time and fly back to the Mists.  I dabble with all the skills and weapons and utilities, but again I felt like something was missing.  It was all interesting to finally see first hand and use on whatever ways I could think up, but… still.

I wasn’t having fun.  I was playing the classes that interested me most, joined a few Structured matches, and even ran around WvW.  Yet, I had more fun playing Dungeon Fighter Online, TERA, FFXIV, and even Warhammer Online than I did with my short experience in GW2.  I shocked myself when I came to the thought.

It must just be me.  I can say with certainty that I will not be buying GW2.   Sorry Arenanet.  You put some strong effort into your game, but it’s just not for me.

Please, don’t take this as a review of the game in any sense.  If you enjoy the game keep playing.  This was simply the impression left on me by my experience.

– TTred

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  1. The tutorial boss fights flew by for me too. Not sure if it was a balance or crowd issue but I remember the norn tutorial boss being harder in earlier versions. For the rest I think I might have had a similar experience. I attribute some of that to the expectations I put on the game but some is also to the way I played. My strongest positive memory from the weekend is of chasing around a little golem messenger in the asura starting zone. It was cute and funny and I connected to the golem and the other NPCs it spoke with.

    After it looped I wondered off by myself to do some stuff and I started to get bored. Nothing was striking the right cord as I jumped from place to place skipping messages and looking for the fastest way to make progress. I think my problem was that I wasn’t connecting to anything. With no need to form parties I was barely interacting with the players around me and mostly ignoring the NPCs since I could get all my rewards without input from them. Without the connection it did feel mundane, but I then an NPC or a guildee would pull me back in and I would forget about my boredom for more time than is healthy. Even in PvP, which I didn’t play this time around, I imagine there is much more enjoyment if you have a partner to combo with or an enemy who you can build a friendly 1v1 rivalry with while moving between capture points.

    I think Guild Wars 2 is a fast paced MMO with a constant flow of content to keep players busy and an detailed RPG that can draw you in to a world. However, I’m not sure that I can play both at the same time, or maybe I just need to find a group that is willing to stop and smell the roses. When I found something awesome I thought to myself I could spend hours in this one spot, when I partied up with my guild I flew through content faster than I could process information about it that popped up on my screen. I’m still trying to decide which of these extremes I will try to focus on for release, and think I’ll have to alternate between the two.

    Maybe your problem was something else, but I would encourage you to think about your best memory from the weekend and see if you were doing something different.

    • I did write a suggestion to Anet after the boss fight, proposing more interaction with the first boss. Obviously they wouldn’t want it to be over complicated, but still. Something didn’t resonate with me while playing.

      With the amount of content that was currently taking place around me at all times it felt… odd. At first I thought it was interesting that I could generally head in any direction and find something to do without being led there by NPC dialogue. However, after a while I started wondering, why was so much was going on all around me? I wasn’t being connected in a positive way to the actions taking place in the world around me. I ran around until I got the box that came up (in the top right) and provided the short list of things I could do to “help”.

      Overall, I felt my problem was a lack of connection within the game and the activities that were occurring around me.

      • At first you are a bit of a glorified errand runner but that changes as you progress. There are still parts that are not really connected to anything but the mid level maps have more structured event chains. I only got to mid levels once but it was better in that way. They also said the highest level stuff will be all event chains with no renown hearts so it will feel more like fighting a war against the NPCs where everything on the map is connected.

      • I support those that enjoy the game enough to press on to those levels. I’ll keep an eye our for later content. :D

  2. Hm, first off I have to say I’m disappointed Thrangis, that in one of your closing paragraphs you placed all those games before WAR. I still feel like WAR was the most fun I had online to this day, but to each his own.

    I haven’t played GW2 yet but I’ve watched plenty of live streamed and recorded content. If there’s one fear I have of what could break the game for me it’s how the game seems to be overly streamlined. I know that’s a bit weird to find as a negative value but it seems to me like the game loses most of its appeal by being overly simplistic or condescending to the player. As far as I’ve seen Arenanet basically guides the player by the hand and ushers him always onwards. Sure, it’s always hurrying you on to more cool stuff but there’s rarely a feeling of exploration, conquest, and consequently immersion. The game looks like a multiplayer sandbox game with a lot of scripting. That’s outside of PvP of course.

    And then talking about PvP, it really feels disconnected from everything. The instanced PvP is by nature devoid of any real competition outside of the immediate “kill anything red” one, and that’s fine, competition will come with time, given a big enough crowd and popularity of the game mode. My biggest irk is that the world PvP feels so detached from other parts of the game. You enter a portal to fight people who don’t even play on the same server as you. You won’t see them when you go around your daily chores. They won’t gank you when you’re picking flowers. They’re nobody, they might as well be replaced with NPCs. Not only that, but as far as I’ve seen, it’s all one big zerg. I have never even seen a proper siege. Don’t know if I’ve been watching the wrong streams, but that’s how it feels like.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I plan on getting the game eventually (whenever that may be), unless it dies out before I get to it.

    • As to the WAR placement, I was thinking reverse chronologically of games I had enjoyed not their personal hierarchy of enjoyment. I guess I should have clarified. :P

      I’ll be looking forward if/when you have a more in-depth experience with the game.


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