Friday, April 27, 2012

Beta Update Day #1

I have been playing for 9 hours straight.  Yes, I know I'm obsessed.

The game is good, I mean really good, and has the potential to be the best MMO out there.  I will withhold my full judgment, but know that this game does truly live up to the hype.

(please note this article has not been edited.  I have better things to do, either play GW2 or sleep.  I definitely need sleep soon, but maybe after another go at WvW.)

I have only played one character so far alongside a friend who rolled both a human Mesmer and a norn Guardian. I chose to play a thief, because I had researched the most about them and enjoy the archetype.

Let me be frank, all your theorycrafting builds don't mean shit in this game.  You will have to play the game to know what works and what doesn't. I consistently placed in the top 2 in 5v5 matches in both scores but almost always in kills.  I originally tried a Cloak and Dagger like build that relied on backstabs and repeated stealth.  It was okay, but only because I was playing against newcomers.  Right now, C+D is on a cast animation, in which if the opponent moves even slightly, you will most likely not be in range of the move, and not get stealth.  What makes this worse is that when you miss because of this it still uses all 6 (yes its cost was increased) initiative.  It makes it very highly risky, and to be honest not worth using unless the opponent is immobilized.  I noticed how effective both heartseeker and specifically Death Leap Blossom was, so I am now a dual skill/damage/condition damage/initiative regen kind of build.  It allows me to repeatedly spam my Death Leap blossom, and get close to 15 stacks of bleeds on them before I'm out of regen.  I would be lying if I said this wasn't a little overpowered at the moment.

As for the other classes from what I could tell from roughly 20 matches,good guardians do not die easily. Bad elementalists and mesmers seem to have the highest learning curve, because there are so many dead mages out there.  You can literally take this class down in a couple of seconds, and I'm not sure if I'm overpowered or if their underpowered.  They need something.  Necromancers seem to be able to hold their own pretty quickly, and the same is true for Engineers.  I rarely see rangers so I can't even comment on them.  I am just realizing I have no clue what the state of the AI is, it seemed alright so far, but I would by lying if I said I was looking.

On the PvE side of things, its also very well done.  Leveling is a tad bit slow, but its really not that bad.  Dynamic events are interesting.  You kind of just wonder in a direction that looks interesting and find fun things as you go.  There are a ton of fun events, and I just finished the Shadow Behemoth event a couple minutes ago.   The personal story seems to need a good amount of polish, I've had everything from comp. freezes, to NPCs unable to move, to events not occurring, to voice not working in cutscenes.  I also witnessed a female NPC with the voice of a very manly man, which was quite enjoyable.  I'm still not out of Queensdale, it's huge.  The biggest problem I have, is that because the zones are so big and the level ranges from 1-17 in the same zone, I find myself running into mobs a good deal higher than me.  Its quite painful to find that they can two-shot you very easily.

My WvW experience was limited so far.  The big fights were pretty fun, but I couldn't help feeling that no one knew what the hell they were doing.  Everyone wanted to get a siege weapon, but no one had the money, knew where the blueprints were, or knew about supply.  I think it will get better, but right now its just giant groups roaming and banging against doors to no avail.  Also, I can't recommend this enough, make sure you have all of your weapon skills before entering WvW.  It is truly a pain in the ass to level an AOE weapon (like the shortbow for thief) on these mobs in WvW.  It literally took like 3-4 minutes per mob.  Also, the shortbow is so much fun for the thief, not that useful in 1v1 situations, but its still a lot of fun.

I have some complaints, but most should get fixed by launch.  Lag right now, specifically in the last couple of hours, has made 5v5 unbearable.  Lag spikes also show up at the most critical moments in personal story... Some dynamic events seem to have no end? I opened a chest after killing some wolves only to receive nothing, and a woman telling me to get some troll rune when there was no troll rune in that damn cave.  Some events seem to happen too often, I think I saw one event every time I passed the area.  There are so many things that are not communicated well.  For example when in the mists you can change your build for 5v5, however you are stuck with the weaponset they give you.  After some time, we found a vendor on the side that gave you the weapon.  The same goes for different armor with different stats.  As already mentioned, in PvE there needs to be some level markers on the map (more than just one per zone).  WvW blueprints just seem too expensive.  4 silver for the beginning player sadly is a lot.  It also seems hard to make that gold, level, get weapon skills in WvW, and you also seem to level significantly slower.

Don't let that last bit fool you, this game has every reason to be fantastic come launch. I am so impressed by the game and the level of detail of everything.  From the little towns, to the epic cities, to the battlegrounds, to WvW.  I even found the underwater infiltration route into a keep.  I saw a well in the middle of nowhere, and was tempted to jump.  Needless to say I'm glad I did.

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