To talk about ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 is just like running up to a wasp nest with a nerf bat wearing nothing but your underwear and pretending that you’re Babe Ruth. Since the early access release of the game for those who pre-purchased it, and even before then, there has been a strong dividing line between those who consider themselves true fans of the title and those who seem to just be passing through.  Those with the’ true and loyal fans’ title will sometimes even come across as radicals, dismissing genuine concerns and flaws of the game with ‘turn a blind eye’ reasoning. Those just passing through can just as easily come off as being entirely too judgmental, ripping the game apart at the seams when it comes to several different aspects of the new MMORPG that are different from the norm.

Extremities in either case come off as bias, so writing this first week’s impression piece is going to be a bit rough around the edges.  To begin with, Guild Wars 2 has had a rough start with several bugs and glitches. To top it off, the forums that are there to interact with the community and the developers on their website are still closed.  The auction house, also known in fancy in-game speak as the Black Lion Trading Company trading post, was also shut down until about late Wednesday night and promptly went down again. We have seen similar issues in other online games, take the infamous launch of Diablo 3 and their auction house issues for example. Still, these inconveniences in other titles have been met with the cold harsh reality that comes with nerd rage.

From personal experience, I’ve also run into several issues involving group dynamics. Before a recent update, I sat stewing over that fact that I couldn’t see members of my own party on the map if they were more than a few feet away from my own character. The constant jumps between being on your real server and being dumped somewhere else in the overflow has made me more jetlagged than Link in Ocarina of Time. You could also get separated from your group with no means of getting back to wherever they were in time and space.

Admittedly, the developers have been hard at work, or so they tweet us, tweaking both optimization and making sure that you’re able to play without accidently broken in-game mechanics. It’s the purposely broken ones that you’ve got to worry about instead. While you can say that there was an outcry in other games about the lack of variation in mounts, what sort of complaints are there for a large open-world MMORPG without any sort of mounts at all?

I’d like to say that maybe in this plane of existence horses haven’t been invented yet. There are horse-people, as you will find yourself neck-deep in centaurs at any given moment, but I don’t think I’ve actually seen a regular horse. I’ve suggested that humans should be allowed to mount themselves on the back of Charr, but I haven’t gotten a formal response on that suggestion yet. With the forums being down, I doubt I’ll get one anytime soon.

On one hand, you can argue that this game isn’t created for mounts. With the instant-cast teleportation system, you can zip about the world faster than any of the other games who use flight points instead. This is true, which I found incredibly convenient, but that doesn’t solve the problem of running around on foot in this slow jog the rest of the time. You also have to find the teleport points first before you can use them.  There are quite a few mobs out in the world that would make suitable modes of transportation, ranging from overgrown lizards to giant birds, but here’s to wishing in one hand and those quests involving cow pies in the other.

Another major feature is the combat, which does stand out as unique, but only in how the skills are set up. You get a different set of skills depending on your weapon for the first five and unlockables from skills between six through zero.  Depending on your combination, you can ‘stance dance’ your way with up to ten skills between your first five number keys in a fight with only a minor timer in-between switching up. This really only works through if you’re completely changing out your weapons. Otherwise, you’ll be getting only the first three or last two to rotate out. For example, while playing a Guardian, I favor having a shield. This means that between my two stances, I’m only switching out my main hand between a mace and a sword. This will only change my first three attacks, since my shield skills remain the same in slots 4 and 5.

However, if I were to switch completely to a two-handed weapon, than all five slots would change. There’s also a stamina bar for tucking your tail between your legs and rolling out of the way from attacks. This is a great mechanic for ranged classes, even squishy melee ones, but as a Guardian, it’s a feature that I never see the point in using. My rushing-in attacks place me in front of the mob, while my defensive skills are meant to pushback and shield both myself and my allies from incoming damage. Of course, I’ve been told that I’m playing it wrong; that my slave mind for ‘normal’ mmo’s has made me a stagnant player without the urge to utilize every aspect of the game. They’re right, of course, but also wrong.

I’ve played games where even strong and sturdy melee classes have to get out of the way to save themselves from giant baddies. Games like Vindictus, for example, that has an over-the-shoulder game play of smash-box combat, active dodging and a sense of urgency are nothing new to me. The problem with this game, however, is that there isn’t really a feeling of impending doom. Frankly, I’m not scared enough to duck.

The mobs, for the most part, aren’t that intimidating. They’re extremely repetitive and in my 30 levels of gameplay, I’ve killed more centaurs, bandits and giant mole-rat than I ever thought possible. They aren’t giant, flesh-ripping and face eating ones either. In a game like Vindictus, there’s blood, screaming, panic, and a rush from dodging the giant spiked club of a monster who wants nothing more than to make you his pretty little girlfriend. Here, not so much.

The game also makes you feel more like a peon than a real hero. Despite your actual level, you’ll be rolled back to match any zone that you’ve outgrown. With the current incarnation of the title, there are definitely quite a few problems with this. For starters, there’s a definite underestimation on what level some classes have to be in order to effectively clear an area. Just like any other game on the market out there, some combinations and classes are very much so glass cannons. Their survivability is significantly lower due to their gears and skill set, making them take much more damage, have less health and have an good chance of being more easily overrun and outgunned. With the way the game is set up, there isn’t a way to go gain a few levels in an easier area and come back later.

This sort of element may hold a problem with some, but not with others. There are a lot of players who want to overpower certain mobs in order to complete a quest or clear a zone without help, however, one can also argue that the active dodging and run around combat is based on skill. A rebuttal from those without any problems about this feature could be that if you’re not skilled enough to learn how to deal, then you’re not good enough to play the game. Still, I feel as if this feature needs to be tweaked quite a bit to find a balance between all the classes. As it stands, the ranged and squishy classes seem to have a much harder time with this feature then those who can actually take a hit or two without any real issues. There also seems to be some disgruntled players who rather just die then play the pre-death mini-game of button mashing your way back to your feet in the ‘fight to survive’ addition.

Not to say there isn’t anything redeeming about this title. It’s a pretty game, to be sure, with a great set of voice actors that came directly from the likes of SWTOR, Skyrim and other fantastically voiced RPG games. Playing as a human male, Nolan North does a fantastic job of playing the hero even though I made him a total jerk as a Jedi Consular (Sorry Nolan!).  The cut-scenes are clean, albeit it lazy. Instead of fully animated interactions, they used something that I’ve honed as ‘Sock Puppet Theater’.  There are two people talking; one to the left and one to the right, just like in a solo sock puppet show.  The story isn’t that deep either, which is perfectly fine for most people.  If you’re playing because you enjoy the open world and going exploring, this title is right up your alley.

Many times have I heard comparisons to the Sandbox and Theme Park genres in MMORPG, especially since release.  This is definitely a title that lights fire in a select few but sizzles out quickly for others. Tune in again next week to, “So are the Days of Our Guild Wars” (Pending title)


  1. This entire post has hardly anything nice to say. Talk about biased. I played world of Warcraft since beta and it was amazing. However, it doesn’t feel the same to me at all! I will never go back since blizzard has ran it into the ground. That’s my opinion.

    First allow me to say I’ve been playing gw2 and I look forward to it. I love that I can level with friends who are 20 lvl below me and not just hit this, kill that in one hit. It also make doing every quest in the game enjoyable, who wants to do low level quests with low level rewards? Even if your a level 30 and the area your questing in is lower. The boss rewards and quest loot is your real level!

    As for glitches. There are some. Notice the word some. Every player I’ve talked to has agreed its had a very smooth launch thus far. I’ve always been able to log on. Even during maintance the game still runs, the longest down time I’ve seen was for 60min.

    In regards to the trading post / auction house being down. Arena net announced that accounts have been hacked. They stopped mail because of it so players / YOU, don’t loose anything.

    • There is a difference between unfavorable impressions and “bias” (a word overused and mis-applied by people who disagree with someone’s opinion). Feel free to disagree, sure. Dialog is absolutely welcome.

      However, choosing to tear down the author right out of the gate simply for having a different experience than you invalidates your own thoughts. Respect yourself (and others whom you wish to engage in dialog) and maybe something productive will come out of it.

  2. While I understand what you are stating about the misuse of the word bias and I must add, it does not stand alone in the now tarnished MMO community.

    Without disagreeing for the sake of a negative review, or coming across as I do not respect your opinion as one–I would like to add my problems with the article.

    Firstly, there are several grammatical errors that stand out which make it hard for me to take your opinions into account. There is also an extremely noticeable bias towards your negative opinions while not keeping your review well rounded with what you think the game does right. Sure there are some brief positive comments, but nothing that outlines the plethora of innovative, but familiar implementations in the title. Although, I do agree with your statement that the game does have some problems, but mine lie in different areas and exclude most of what yours are.

    For example, I have come across plenty of different mobs that are not limited to your statement, although I do agree there should be more. Although, the exclusion of mounts but the inclusion of teleport should not be bashed as the game is HUGE, bigger and more open than any recent title including SWTOR and they already stated mounts will be a part of the fist expansion as they want to do them right (have abilities change on mounts as they do weapons and allow them to be used in combat).

    This is not a subscription based game which is a huge positive and especially with the garbage released as of late, GW2 is a breath of fresh air. They brought exploration back, the graphics/animations are amazing and really immerse you into the class and they dramatically brought SKILL back into the MMO genre. I play a very squishy Thief and I did not fully learn the class as of late and there is a dramatic difference in how well/fast I complete content. Also, the game is focused around PVP. Where there are doubts with your experience, you can go to other starter zones or queue for WvW PvP which is incredible intuitive and responsive.

    One important positive aspect stands out in GW2 as well that NO OTHER MMO besides WoW has delivered–FLUID, RESPONSIVE combat. There is very little input delay if any and I have never come across a game besides WoW that is this polished in terms of combat and responsiveness. I mean, being an MMO player… how do you not mention this?

    I could go on forever, but I am not going to write your review for you. These are my opinions, take them as you may.

    P.S. To the other guy: What possessed you to say the game is better than WoW. The immediate hope in posts that GW2 is better or will kill WoW is ridiculous. Along with the word bias, it is the most redundant overused false statement/opinion.

    • Please keep in mind this is the first week of several impression pieces that will be posted and not a full review. I’ll also get into more with the combat and other aspects of the game in future posts. Thanks :)

    • The important thing to keep in mind is that this is NOT the full review. We opted to do check-in pieces leading up the final summary and scoring.

      The purpose is to give people a better understanding of how the game plays at different stages. These are Megan’s impressions of her time with GW2 *right now*.

      My understanding is that MMO players want thorough and detailed analysis and not just a retrospective with a score. Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

    • I haven’t played the game yet (planning to), and I’m not a fanboy, I
      hate to be disappointed, but I’ve grown used to it, and I have

      However, this commenter is dead on, from the
      multiple reviews I’ve read I can say this one is, even though it
      mentions the bias on some others…, totally focusing on the wrong
      aspects of the game, ignoring some good facts even someone who hasn’t
      played can see.

      Not to mention the horrendous grammar and writing style.