For once, being at the ass-end of the world (I’m Australian) pays off — while Americans are staying up til midnight or later for Guild Wars 2’s early access headstart, here it opens at a very civilised 5pm on Saturday.
I’m not actually sure why I’m looking forward to GW2 so much. For starters, I don’t have enough time for the games I want to play already. And then there’s the fact that, Dynamic Events aside, GW2 feels kind of … shallow. I like immersive games, and GW2 is the opposite of immersive.
And yet it’s shiny, and I like the exploration and discovery aspects, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the beta weekends I played. So I’ll be queuing up with everyone else in an attempt to claim my small portion of Tyria (and, hopefully, my preferred character names), although I’m not sure how long it will hold my interest, or how successfully it will compete with other games I already know I enjoy.
I’m also trying to work out what to roll, character-wise, especially when it comes to playing with my friends. Most of them seem to be going for humans first, but the human females creep me out — the combination of “doll-like childish looks” and “exploitative armor” (especially for casters) is not a good one.
So, I think my first three characters are going to be:
- Norn elementalist — the Norns are attractive without the ick factor of the human girls, their starting area’s fun and beautiful, and elementalist is probably my favourite of the classes I tried. (Especially the lightning aspect. ZZZZZZAP!)
- Asura mesmer — I’m not usually a fan of the small races, but I loved the style and aesthetics of the Asura starting area.
- Sylvari guardian — I’m not set on the race for a guardian, but I enjoyed what little I played of one in the beta, certainly more so than the other melee
I barely tried ranger, I didn’t enjoy thief, and necromancer was okay-but-uninspiring. I haven’t tried warrior or engineer, though I watched Kris play both of them.
I do have some qualms about GW2 (although admitting them is tantamount to inviting a dogpile from the GW2-can-do-no-wrong zealots):
- Like Azuriel, I think Dynamic Events will lose a lot of their lustre after the first few weeks’ worth of levelling hordes have passed through the zones. Those that rely on larger player numbers will never happen, and for those of us who are completionists it’ll be frustrating to know there’s content we’ve never seen because there’s no way of going back to find something; it’s all random chance, or triggers we don’t know.
- Although I like the fact that GW2’s system means everyone gets to share mobs and resources equally, I lament the loss of incentives to socialise. Commentators regularly criticise modern MMOs for promoting “together alone” solo gameplay, and I think GW2 takes it a step further than I’m happy with. It’s nice that people can’t grief you, of course (especially given the apparent toxicity of the GW2 community, based on their pre-launch behaviour), but it’s less nice that there’s no incentive to interact with anybody ever. No need for healing, no need to party up for a tough quest or challenging mob, just blast away next to a row of nameless compatriots without ever saying hello.
So, we shall see. I’m still looking forward to the game’s launch, and I’m interested to see how their innovations will play out, but I have to say — if this is what the new generation of MMOs will all look like, I think I prefer the previous generation.