Friday, June 8, 2012

Early Second BWE Impressions


(Edit pending.  Sorry, just too tired, but I wanted to give you guys something to read tonight.)
I'm back, did anyone miss me?  I just started working at University of Pennsylvania as a student intern for the medical school, and I have not had internet access all week.  Right when all hope was lost, an email came today and needless to say, I HAVE INTERNET.

With that aside, I have been continuing my voyage as my faithful thief.  This time, though, I was almost entirely accompanied by one of my close real life friends, who I convinced to buy Guild Wars 2 just last week.  He fell in love with the game, and even went so far to say, "Why did I waste so much time with WoW?"  It was nice to see his reactions to various parts of the world, because he had never researched the game previously.

Every experience was a new one for him. He picked up dodging and general mobility fairly quickly, and we set off exploring.  I showed him some of the highlights I had found:  the dancing moa trainer in Beetletun, Lion's Arch's diving board and the Order of Whispers' hideout, and we played around with some of the dynamic events and slashed our way through some WvW skirmishes.  It was extremely fun mostly to play with a good friend, and doing many of the events over again was painless.

I will say after playing, I really am not a fan of the new trait system.  I understand why ArenaNet chose this path, I really do.  However, I must disagree.  Forcing me to buy 10 utilities, before I could access the upper tier was just unnecessarily painful.  The trait tiers were slightly more bearable, because I understand that balance would eventually be important, and they did need to restrict the large amount of diversity available. Though, it was extremely disheartening to see all my pre-made builds fall to the wayside with this new tier listing.

I think out of all the changes made to the game thus far, this might be one of the most controversial decisions.  I do believe players have a right to question this twist to the game, there was even a quote out of ArenaNet which I was baffled by.

"It is not reasonable to make 12 equally useful traits, particularly given how some of them had niche effects. Making 12 equal traits is harder, takes longer and ultimately leads to some traits seeing a lot less use. "
Yes, it's hard to make 12 equally useful traits, but don't tell me it's impossible. The new system just says, yes that trait is useless, sorry, just wait to the next tier. Is that really the system we want? I'd rather see them try to make traits "equal", even if that requires a lot of fine-tuning in the long term. This is one of the first major design issues I've had with ArenaNet, and I'll get over it, but I keep finding myself shaking my head.

As for performance issues. Well, this Beta actually seemed to be worse than the first to be honest. My friend and I were frequently stuck on loading screens, specifically the WvW screens. We would often have to restart our computers, even the usual ctrl+alt+delete had no effect. Our realm owned 90-100% of the entire WvW area the entire night, and I wonder if this glitch/bug was causing it. It seemed like everyone was having trouble accessing WvW. Eternal Battlegrounds refused to yield to me, so I was forced into a Borderlands map. Sadly, WvW was not much of a game tonight. We were even facing Darkhaven, a realm that did equally well in BWE 1, but they didn't even let out a whimper. It is also worth noting, our server was hit with a massive load of lag and crashed once tonight. Also, I kept receiving some form of error every time I tried to open the gem store or auction house. And when I tried to change my graphics from medium to low, or vice versa, the game would freeze, and I would be forced to restart my computer. I was hoping for a little bit more stability, considering this was the second beta, but I understand, this is still beta after all.

I would like to end on a positive note. The game is still fantastic, and I find myself continually impressed with the complexity of the world. As ArenaNet has continually commented, their greatest achievement is the community that the game creates. Everyone is actively helping and working with the people around them, whether they are in your party or not. A refreshing change, to say the least.

Tomorrow's a new day in Tyria, but for now I must sleep. Good night everyone!


  1. It's not just balancing the 12 traits with each other but with every possible combination, and against every profession. The more builds you have to balance, the longer it takes to balance and at a certain point that number becomes unmanageable.

    Incidentally, some of my new builds include more than one tier 1 or 2 trait. They aren't useless, and a lot of them fall into that "niche" category.

  2. I understand that it can be extremely hard to balance any MMO, particularly aspects of PvP. I do agree that many traits fall into the niche category, but I really liked the freedom of the old system. Like I said, the change traits is close to understandable, and debatable at most. I just happen to be on the other side of the argument.

    As for skills, I don't think anyone can argue how ridiculous it is to have to buy 5 tier one skills, 5 tier two skills, before you can even buy a tier 3. I understand that it adds to progression, but they need to at a very minimum, tone down the amount you need to buy before progressing. My friend thought about leveling a new character, and then when he noticed he how long it would take to unlock tier 2 and 3 skills, he decided against it. I thought Guild Wars 2 was supposed to get rid of things in MMOs we do not like, namely the grinding aspect of the game. Getting 10 skills before I can get the one I actually want, sounds like grinding to me. The system, partially designed and implemented to help new players, may actually be inhibiting them. I disagree strongly with the change, but I still trust the future of the game and ArenaNet.

  3. I think the first tier is fine, but I do think the second tier can be reduced. On the other hand, is it the tiers that are the problem or the skills? Obviously they can't all appeal to all players but they should be desirable enough that players want to buy and experiment with most of them. I actually found a lot of tier 1 skills more appealing than most tier 2 and many tier 3 skills, at least for general PvE purposes.

    That said, the game itself isn't a grind so I see it more as pacing the coolness. That's why I don't get why it would discourage alts. It's already such a different playing experience when you switch characters, and again, if anything is an issue, it's the skills. Some skills are generally very useful for any kind of build or content (if not very exciting), and fall in the first and second tier, a lot of showier but more situational skills are in the second or third...and then there's some skills that have widely been regarded as duds in the second and third tier, at least for mesmers. I haven't looked as closely as the other professions. I know my elementalist's canttrips are tier 2 and 3, and it seems strange that mesmers get access to their more frequent teleport than elementalists do theirs...but maybe mesmers need to be a little more slippery sooner.

    I think the system is fine in theory but definitely needs some fine tuning, and maybe even helps draw attention to some skills that need improvement. It's easier to blow them off when you don't have to get them.