Review by Q_Sensei
"Mostly fails to live up to expectations."
Doing things a little different here. In this "review" I'm going to address some of the things I once considered to be benefits of GW2 and give my final evaluation of the features after playing the game.
No flight paths. Just teleporting.
Love it. Wouldn't change it. It DOES however accentuate further that there is no seamless loading in this game, and when you're on a computer like mine, that really does break up the game in a bad way.
Flight paths were stupid and long, but at least it kept cohesion. My issue here is really less about wanting flight paths and more about the benefits of seamless loading.Walking between Queensdale and Kessex Hills incurs a loading screen, while in WoW even the flight paths were seamless the entire time.
People that actually like flight paths always state that it gives the world an epic feeling, but I think that feeling is really captured through the fact that walking into the city doesn't have an immersion breaking gap in it.
Dynamic Events and "Heart Quests" as opposed to a quest log.
Okay, I hated the quest log in WoW. I hated being assigned to kill X boars for their livers that they only sometimes have and having to go all the way back to town to turn it in...
But I'm starting to hate Heart Quests too. And I especially hate Dynamic Events.
First regarding the Heart Quests, there seems to be a detachment from thinking in this game. One thing that I did like about some of the quests in WoW is that it was almost a mystery of exploration to find exactly what the quest required. I remember having a taste of accomplishment when I found the secluded cave in the second Undead Area that housed the quest objective based on the description in the quest only. WoWhead kind of killed that aspect of the game, but as it was without the many guides available I thought it was actually kind of fun and I miss it. In GW2 I walk into a heart quest area and start looking for things to kill because that's the most efficient way to complete the heart quest. It gets old really quick.
So to break up the monotony there are the Dynamic Events, which seem like a good idea, but they always seem to happen outside of the area of convenience, and I've noticed that they seem to happen a lot less when you're in an area where there are fewer people. This is the biggest thing I hate about DEs. It's like playing a slot machine whether you're going to have a decent quest period or if you're going to be wasting more time. Add to that that the Experience System seems to take into account that you will be doing DEs all the time to keep to a decent level for the next area. Too bad if you weren't lucky enough to run into DEs all the time.
Finally, functionally there is absolutely no difference between boar killing in WoW and the quests in GW2. There are escort DEs, Fetch DEs, and Killing quests with almost no good variations (I mean seriously, this game is the worst pig simulator I've ever played, and I've played a lot of pig simulators.) Ultimately I say that this game's questing system is NOT an improvement over the methods of the past and is more of a lateral movement to something different but not better.
I don't consider Heart Events and Dynamic Events to be an "evolution" of the quest concept by any means.. "Streamlined" is a better word for it, and as I said, I'm not so sure it's a good thing. "Evolved" would have some kind of system that permanently changed the world at least through your player's perspective with every quest you solve. In this game it's no different from WoW. The fields are still ravaged by worms, the Skritt still need their shinies, and the only thing that you've accomplished is that you've met your quota.
Level Scaling. You scale down to the level of the area that you're in.
Good idea. Love it. Seems to work.
Loot System. No shared loot. No "Loot Levels".
I hated the gear treadmill. I hated need-rolling ninja looters. Now that it's gone, I like it. I also like how when you go to a dungeon that's below your level, you're still given loot for your level.
I don't like how there basically isn't any incentive to replace scaling loot though. I'm not much for dress up, but even if I was, the drop rates on "Tears" and whatnot are insanely low if I decided to go that route. I'm honestly better off just quitting when I hit endgame. I haven't even gotten to the worst part about PvE though.
The personal story.
Sucks. Really bad. I like insultingly bad. What's wrong with writers these days? Why do they bother putting a story in there if it's going to be so awful? Just hide it. Remember that this is a game. Don't flaunt your lack of education or social understanding by publishing this crap. I was kind of enjoying it at first, but it started to get grating really fast. Besides the general poorness of writing, the story also commits some pretty grievous game story sins as well regarding player importance compared to some of the NPCs.
I also feel like they should have introduced more of a group dynamic into the story. It almost feels like a single player game gone bad. If it had to be so centered on YOU as a player, they could have at least given you more dialog options. Your voice and personality is the same for every race no matter what. The story needed to take a step back and include your friends in it if it wanted to be a good MMO style story. I think WoW did a better job of this, and that's saying a dang lot. Instead of calling it your "personal story" it should be "My secret other life for when I'm not hanging out with my friends."
There are moments I do like, but as a whole it's a big failure.
I like it. I am going to complain a little bit about the controls and mechanics in this section though. I like how you can charge most spells while moving. My issue is that a lot of the stuff feels like a different flavor of fireball with ALL of the characters and classes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in WoW or even League of Legends you sort of developed a strategy around stuns and other disconnects. I think part of my problem is that I just need to play more, but I don't feel like I have as much control as I did in WoW.
I think the reason for this is that a lot of the CC is short, even the chill effects. As a Mage in WoW I could keep you chilled for a really long time. After a while Diminishing Returns would kick in and I'd have to lay off that type of CC for a while, but when I snared you it was 12 seconds. If I wanted to Polymorph your buddy to even the odds, it was 10 seconds. In this game a lot of the stuns are 1 second, if that, which seems like barely any time at all to do anything. Even in League of Legends the minimum stun on Leona's Q is 1.25 seconds at rank 1 (I think that's a bad example though, because I think that's ALWAYS 1.25 seconds.) The difference in LoL though is that most attacks don't have a charge time, which a lot of them seem to have in this game.
It seems like there could be a lot of depth to PvP, but it definitely feels different. I haven't quite decided if it's a good thing or not yet. I've had fun trying out different builds if nothing else.
No Holy Trinity (Aka, no Tank, DPS, and Healer Class Roles.)
This is really what I think kills PvE. Now hear me out before you get out your pitch fork.
The biggest disappointment I've had with dungeons is that they are either too mindless, with the strategy being more or less tank and spank, or you have gimmicks that leave players scrambling around not knowing what to do.
On paper, killing off the tank, dps, healer model seems like a good idea with a lot of benefits; for instance you no longer have to wait for someone to tank or heal because certain classes can only dps, or you aren't forced into a healing role just because you're a paladin and that class is good at it. But eliminating roles entirely I think was a grave mistake without severely altering the game design, which they did not. Dungeons feel like a WoW instance except without any of the organization or foundations of basic strategy going into it. A lot of times the gimmick bosses caused my pug group to rage quit because it was different and the party lacked something that seemed necessary but the game, by design, doesn't provide a remotely clear solution, particularly with the lack of long hard CC as I mentioned when I was talking about PvP.
I don't think eliminating all roles was a proper solution to the problems presented by having them. As it is it stinks of either lazy general game design or more appropriately lazy level design. It's like a Mario clone with loose jumping physics, it simply doesn't work.
In my opinion if they were going to keep to WoWs dungeon design they needed to keep the roles, but make every class capable of fulfilling any role with the proper spec (and make respeccing either easy, or provide multiple specs as WoW did.) I made a similar suggestion on the WoW forums years ago as I was a little upset that my CC filled mage was relegated to a boring DPS rotation in dungeons thanks to all the immunities. The issue with this design is that one class will still be more desirable for some roles than another just because that is the nature of trial and error balance.
Whatever the best solution to the Holy Trinity may be, this game isn't it.
Overall I am disappointed, but I guess that has to be expected with the hype train we put behind this game. I will still be getting on for PvP occasionally, but we will see if even that has me turning to league of legends more often instead.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 09/24/12
Game Release: Guild Wars 2 (US, 08/28/12)
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