Beta – First Impressions

My characters during the BWE - Verene, human Mesmer; Ember, charr Guardian; Brynja, norn Thief.

The beta weekend has come and gone (sadly!), and my thoughts on Guild Wars 2? Well, I loved it. Most of my doubts about it have been wiped away (the thing that drew me to Guild Wars 1 in the first place was the instanced gameplay, so that lack of that worried me here at first. No longer!), and while there’s some stuff that still need to be worked out…well, it is still in beta. And yes, I did file my share of bug reports over the weekend.

I’ll do more in-depth posts throughout the week. For now, though, I just want to share my initial impressions on the game. By the end of the weekend, I had played for about 21 and a half hours. I had a level 16 human Mesmer, level 4 charr Guardian, and level 4 norn Thief.

The pros!

  • Unlocking weapon skills is actually very quick and easy. It takes less than an hour to fully unlock a weapon set.
  • Leveling in general is also very quick. I averaged about a level every 45 minutes.
  • You gain a lot of experience for exploring and gathering.
  • Most of your leveling will be from events and exploring.
  • Crafting goes very, very quickly; you don’t have to sit there and watch the bar fill at the same speed for ages like in other games. More on crafting in another post.
  • World vs World is highly entertaining.
  • THE TRADING POST IS AWESOME. You can access it from anywhere. If you buy something or have profits to pick up, you have to do so at an actual TP NPC, but you can buy and list from anywhere you are. This is great for dealing with all of the random weapons and armor you’re going to pick up from drops. I was listing stuff on there a lot, and I think I made about 50 silver through the weekend.
  • Waypoints and armor repair are pretty cheap. While going around Queensdale, each waypoint cost about 14 copper to travel to. Armor repair costs do go up as you level (and your armor increases in required level), but it remains pretty nominal in terms of how much it costs. When I was level 5 I paid about 20 copper to repair two pieces of armor.
  • Mesmer is the greatest profession ever. I really loved how both staff and greatsword play; surprisingly, I also really enjoyed scepter+pistol. I hadn’t intended to use a pistol but I picked it up, decided to try it, and really liked it. Portals are also lots and lots of fun.
  • The casual grouping that happens is awesome. If you’re downed or defeated, chances are there’ll be a few people nearby who will revive you. There’s no need to party up with others to get credit for kills or loot. This is one game where you will want to play on a crowded server.
  • Overflow servers are just genius. All of the love for this concept.
  • THERE ARE BUNNIES. EVERYWHERE.

Of course, there are a few things that just aren’t perfect, and still need to be worked on. I’m going to try and leave out obvious bugs here.

  • Overflow servers are genius, as I said above, but if you’re sent to them, there’s no guarantee you’ll be sent to the same one that your party members or guild members are in. I believe this is something they’re working on, though.
  • Most stuff can be soloed, but it’s pretty obvious that mobs, events, and hearts are designed to be done with other people in the area. Once I was hitting the level 13+ stuff, there were fewer people in those areas doing things than closer in to the city. One one hand, I think this might even out more upon release when there’s more people playing, as well as more at higher levels, but at the same time, when asura and sylvari become available, we’ll be far more spread out.
  • Personal stories need to be scaled a bit better. Human I had a hard time with, and could not get past the quest that was recommended as level 6. I joined Dak for a norn story quest that was also scaled at level 6 and we could not defeat it. Since you’re mostly going to be alone in these quests, the difficulty on them should definitely be scaled down a bit more, I think.
  • More explanations on stuff could be nice. I didn’t realize you needed tools to gather things, until I tried gathering. I then had to go to every merchant in Divinity’s Reach trying to find the ones that sold gathering tools. There’s also no real hint or instructions on how to access World vs. World. An option to go there from the WvW screen (hotkey N) would be nice.
  • Inventory/preview icons are not very helpful. A dye color name is nice, but doesn’t tell you exactly what it looks like (Lime, for example, did not look very lime green to me, but a darker shade). The armor icons do not tell you at all what an armor will look like.
  • Bank space is not nearly enough :(

And of course, I did come across a few bugs during the game. While I was playing my charr, I had some problems accessing instances for the personal story – I got a creation error a couple of times. There was a skillpoint NPC in Queensdale that was permanently dead, so no one could get that skillpoint. And whenever I tried buying vials of weak blood from the trading post on Sunday, I would get an error – but ONLY for that item. Everything else worked perfectly fine.

Overall, though, I had a blast this weekend. I cannot wait for the next BWE, I cannot wait to play again, and I really cannot wait for the game to come out in full. I’ll have some more in-depth posts later on in the week, but as far as impressions go, those were the ones I had, and they were almost entirely positive. What did you guys like best about the BWE?

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11 thoughts on “Beta – First Impressions

  1. Dyes change in color slightly depending on the material they’re applied to. So for instance ‘Lime’ on a metal piece would be a different shade than ‘Lime’ on cloth. Which is something I don’t think the game explains in the dye panel or tooltips anywhere.

    I agree with you on the personal story scaling; some are easily soloable and then randomly one will be brutally hard for no reason I could fathom.

    • Yeah, I was trying to get my armor pieces to all dye together but since I was mixing sets, I wound up not getting them all exactly right. But even on the dye preview the Lime looked like a dark green. Not very limey.

  2. Playing through the beginning of the personal story, all was going very well until I hit one part that repeatedly killed me. I was thinking it odd that the difficulty ramped up so steeply within one level, then went back and tried a different approach. Rather than running right in, I looked at what my ally NPCs were doing and tried to assist them rather than lead. Sailed right through after that.

    I don’t know if that will be the case for other parts or if it will work well for all professions (I was mesmer), but for me the difficulty was in how I was trying to play rather than the content itself.

    Very much yes on the gathering tools, though. I ran all over the place before finding them. Silly me thought the vendors near the craft stations would sell tools. ;) (I did hear that is is another thing the devs are looking to fix, so I imagine they will be there in future.) Most of the time, in-game explanations were fine. Other times, just none there at all.

    • For my Mesmer, I picked the street rat and dead parents options, and I just could not get past the “infiltrate the bandit hideout” quest. I had no allies, and I had to fight a boss that’s a level higher than you are and just…brutally difficult (hit very hard and took very little damage). Annoyed me, because I had wanted to go further. I swapped weapons around, changed skills…no go.

  3. I didn’t buy gathering tools at all. All three types of them dropped from mobs for both the toons I’ve played and I only had to be careful to equip them and not vendor them away. Later mobs dropped higher quality gathering tools, not sure what’s the deal about that(faster rate? More material from each node?).

    • I only ever got one as a drop, and that was once I was like level 9. I got loads of armor and weapons as drops, though.

      I’m really not sure what the differences are between the quality of gathering tools, though at once point I had an item in my inventory (can’t remember what it was called) and the description said something about it being ruined when gathered. So who knows!

      • That is indeed what caused the ruined item gathering. I only saw the first two “tiers”, but the better gathering tools allowed toy to successfully harvest the next level up. Like, a basic pick-axe let you mine copper, but try silver and you get the ruined items. The costlier crude pick-axe let you mine silver.

        I did get a couple gathering tools as drops later on in the weekend. Usually inside the saddle bags and such that dropped from centaur.

  4. What surprised me most during the weekend is which classes I enjoyed. I played all of the classes except the necromancer ( the look and sounds the minions make still freaks me out ) I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the mesmer since I never before considered playing one. Once I got my great sword I was sold. The warrior was probably the most frustrating class for me to play. I died so often when I tried to go in melee range that I just gave up after a while.

    I also found some of the personal quests insanely difficult. I could not get past Two Blade Pete with my mesmer until I asked a friend to help me and even then it was mostly cause we now had some one who could resurrect Logan while the other one tries to distract him.

    Overall I love the game and can’t wait for the next Beta weekend

  5. Pingback: This week in Guild Wars 2 | GuildMag - Guild Wars 2 Fansite: Magazine, Podcast, Editorials and more

  6. “Bank space is not nearly enough.” I thought so too during BWE1, but during the recent stress test I noticed that there is another tab in your bank for collectibles, meaning gathered crafting materials. It has one stackable slot for every collectible type. That clears up a ton of room in the ordinary bank slots. Also, you can send collectibles from your backpack to the bank from anywhere in the world by right-clicking and selecting “Deposit collectible.”

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