Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Adventure! My experience in GW2

One of the things that will generally drive me away from a game is when I just don't feel like it is an adventure anymore. My actions become numbers, and I realize how many times I actually repeat the very same thing over and over again.

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, the city of the charr, also have that impression, with a more military approach, in a mix of technology and old ruins. Playing around in the ruins of Ascalon is beautiful and haunting at the same time. While I did not enjoy being a charr, it is as easy as walking to portals to create a character of the race you enjoy the most and choosing another area to quest into.

The Black Citadel
Beautiful Landscapes

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.

Customization Options

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.

Scholar's outfit
Chef's outfit
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.
The overall experience with GW2 beta was awesome to me, and it is a game I will be playing in the future. I just talked here about a few points, of course. The gameplay, the way quests are dynamic (the map is amazing) also all counted into me picking this game to add to my collection of MMOs.

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.


  1. I love life in a game, it's an important quality that I think people overlook sometimes.

    Your screenshots are beautiful, too. I was telling someone earlier that I need to try out the GW2 beta if they have another weekend like that.

  2. What previously kept me away from Guild Wars was the name. What do I care about the petty bickering between rival guilds? It also made me assume it was based on the real-world historical period when guilds had nearly as much power as the nobility, so I was picturing a gritty, realistic, human-only world focused mainly on war, and thus I wasn't interested to look into it.

    I can see by your screenshots that I was too hasty in my dismissal. :) I see fantastic architecture and fantastic civilised creatures, and I see non-war things to do like cooking and enjoying what looks like a beautiful park with astronomical models hanging from the dome.

    I'm also pleased to see there's no monthly fee after you buy the game. Looks to be worth investigating.

  3. @battlechicken Thank you! I love screenshots :) I strongly recommend you to try and get into the beta. I felt silly that I'd be exploring the towns and landscapes and pretty much refuse to get into all the details, wanting to save it for later. I will reveal one of the most random surprises though:

    Outside Divinity's Reach, I climbed a small hill with a tree. Behind the tree there was a cowering female human NPC. In front of the tree there was a picnic towel with a basket and a bear right there. Slaying the bear makes the woman come around and sit by the picnic basket. I know this seems little, but I found that awesome and a much bigger reward then loot.

    @Tchos I was the same! The name made did not please me at all. Then I played the trial for GW1, and got curious about the lore of the game, which lead me to the book (loving it, btw). GW2 just completed the good impression (so far) and I feel dumb for the very first impression I had based on the name.

    I think you'd love the spellcasters. Whenever I play a game with lots of magic I remember of you. In GW2, I tried Elementalist and Mesmer. Think of it as a sorcerer and a battle mage. It is both fun and with very beautiful spell effects. Instead of "standing there and casting" you will actually have to move around a lot to dodge blows, not to mention that a lot of spells have no cast bar at all, but a cooldown instead, so you can run screaming while throwing fireballs at your pursuers :)

    BTW, I can't read your posts since I stopped NW2 for a while. My druid got to a point where my choices made her not be able to be a druid anymore, which saddened me. I might re-start the game once again JUST so that I can be free and happy about the roleplaying part of it all.

  4. I'm thinking that picnic scene you mention might be part of a quest. Perhaps if you were on the quest (if it does exist), the woman would have something to say after you get rid of the bear.

    Well, I'm almost done talking about the official campaign in NWN2, so perhaps after the next post about it you can read the blog again? It should only take one more post.

    It's unfortunate about the alignment shifts. The 2nd expansion doesn't seem to have nearly as many as the OC. But Mask of the Betrayer has a lot of moral decisions, so that's probably not well-suited to a druid either. But there are a lot of good modules that don't use alignment shifts at all (which I prefer), so maybe I should recommend one.


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