Guild Wars 2 Beta Impressions
Guild Wars 2 replaces the standard MMO quest system with an exciting Dynamic Event system, similar to Rift’s random monster-spawning portals. Nearby players are informed of an event that has spawned or that is already in-progress, and groups naturally flock to complete objectives. The system successfully encourages and rewards teamwork.
The difference between GW2′s Dynamic Events and Rift’s rifts is in the execution: GW2′s events aren’t random — they feel in-context, and the outcome influences the neighboring region in some way.
Player vs. Player
GW2′s instanced PvP pits squads of players against each other in up to 10v10 combat. The primary objective is to maintain possession of “control points” on the map, although killing opponents and completing secondary objectives also contribute to victory.
This PvP places participants on an even playing field — all characters are boosted to level 80, with every skill unlocked and access to identical gear. The great leveler in combat then becomes strategy — or, more accurately, which team travels in the bigger group.
PvP was where I finally felt the strength of my warrior. Suddenly, I had high survivability and could actually tank — and it felt great.
World vs. World vs. World
WvWvW was the feature that excited me the most about GW2: three factions vying for dominance in an all-out war for territory. Players will lay siege to castles, raid supply lines, and rain arrows down on advancing armies from battlements.
Achieving anything solo in WvWvW is out of the question — you need to either organize an army, or find one to travel with. “Zerging” thus becomes an issue, with the team that has amassed the largest army at any given time steamrolling through the countryside. While I certainly had fun tagging along with an organized clan and witnessing the might of dozens — if not hundreds — of players collaborating in force, it sucked to be on the receiving end of a zerg rush.
What’s worse is that it seems the large armies avoid each other entirely — and the game mechanics appear to encourage this behavior. You are rewarded for conquering objectives, so if you crunch the numbers, it makes more sense to let your keep be conquered and take it back when the enemy leaves than waste time on a drawn-out battle when you can be conquering other easy objectives.
GW2 is shaping up to be a fun MMO, but it may still need some tweaking before release. Character creation offers a perfect amount of options. Combat is fast and deadly, though perhaps a little too so in PvE. The Dynamic Events system is a refreshing change of pace from standard quests. Instanced PvP is fun when your group works as a team. WvWvW remains an exciting concept, but it may quickly devolve into the domain of mega-clans. Nonetheless, I have faith that ArenaNet will polish the systems that need some work and release a fantastic game.