Of course, if you are a mage/wizard/sorcerer in an MMO, you will cast certain spells countless of times. Many other activities will be repeating themselves, and and MMO can just lose its taste when you realize that.
To me, the trick for an MMO to catch me is to distract me from those points. I need a living world, beautiful landscapes and customization options. I need to feel that I am having an adventure, and those elements, along with story and meaningful actions to be taken within game make that experience to me.
This past weekend I was very glad to realize that GW2 has all of those items in it, or at least at a first look.
A world that feels alive
The very first impression from the human starting area is that things are not static. You start at the gates of the major human city, Divinity's Reach, during a centaur invasion in the houses outside the walls. You are immediately prompted to talk to an NPC, who will ask you to go to the inn, but you don't really have to, even though we are talking about an instanced prologue here. Instead, you can run around the houses, slay centaurs and direct villagers to the safety of the inn. You can test out your character right there, see if the hair is right (my top reason to reroll characters is when I pick the wrong hair style. Yeah I know) and if the animations are to your liking. Also, you feel like roleplaying, which is the most important part for me.
|Looking at Divinity's Reach from the outside wall|
I am no big roleplayer, at all. I don't share my stories with people. But I do create them on my head. I just can't play a character if it doesn't have a story, a personality and some sort of objective. So right there and then, in between following the directions and saving people, I decided to save people until I decided to move on with the prologue. Similar to this happened on both Norn and Charr areas.
And that is just one point on the "breathing world" impression. Entering Divinity's Reach was shocking, in the lack of a better word. There are hundreds of NPCs, all doing actions that made me mouse over them to make sure it wasn't a player. Even if no player stood in there, it still felt like a living city. The size of the city itself already helps me to imagine that it is an actual city, unlike on so many games where you are left to wonder where the people that actually work to make the city run are hiding.
|Entrance into Divinity's Reach|
|The Black Citadel|
I am a big "screenshot taker". I take lots. If I see something pretty, cool or unique, it will get stored on my hard drive. With that said, I'd like to share some of the best ones I took during this beta. They are all on the album you can check here. I also have my favorites around this article.
I have not explored beyond the starting areas of the three available races, but I really enjoyed what I saw so far. My favorite goes to the humans. I love the city and the farm area around Divinity's Reach. It actually feels like that place could exist, with all the farms and hunters to actually help feed a city. The distance between places are also plausible, instead of scaled down like on so many other games. I even caught myself running around instead of using the very simple waypoint travel system.
|Norn ranger stopping to enjoy the sights|
The Norn have a more cold and wild atmosphere. I didn't like their story much, or their voice over, so it is the area I explored the least. They do have long and beautiful hair for the females, which is a soft spot of mine. If only they would fix the fact that the hair runs through the character's body during certain animations!
The charr are around the Ascalon ruins. I have not played Guild Wars other then the trial, and being in the ruins of Ascalon already felt a bit spooky. It is still so pretty, with autumn colors, but the charr are all there and fighting against the ghosts. I did not enjoy playing as a charr, but I enjoyed the area and will probably revisit it at some point with a character.
The dye system at character selection? Awesome. I lost some time there tailoring my starter outfit. And then, while already inside the game, I found out we have town clothes and that the dye system is just as easy and friendly as the one from character creation.
|Human town clothes in black and purple... and bonus different characters in background.|
Customization options gain a lot of points with me. I simply love to pick outfits, furnish houses and change my hair style so that my character is not always the same old one. I have still not found a "barber" option in GW2, but I hope they do add it, specially since some hair styles seem to bug and run through the character's body instead of staying in their backs, as I've mentioned already.
I also decided to test the in game store and tried the outfits they had. They are all cute, with my favorite being the scholar's set.
|The pirate outfit. It comes with a toy sword, which grants you special skills. You can swing the sword, summon a trusty tropical bird and a cannon that shoots cannon balls.|
Now to finish "Ghosts of Ascalon" (good book so far), maybe get GW1 for the story and keep learning about Tyria.
...and I almost forgot to share my desktop picture, from GW2 :)
PS: Most pictures have HD versions in the album, here. My resolution is 1366x768.
PS1: I will start posting with big letters. It is easier for me to read, and I assume it would be to others too. Please let me know if this ends up being worst to anyone.