Archive for August 27th, 2012

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Played Lately: Some Thoughts From The GW2 Headstart Weekend

August 27, 2012

In a word, my experience during the Guild Wars 2 headstart weekend was awesome!

One of the things I love about GW2 is the fact each race has its own starting area. Maybe you make multiple characters of the same race, but you don’t want to do the same starting area over and over again. Maybe you love a particular race but hate their starting area or vice versa. It wouldn’t matter one whit, since you can move to any of the other starting zones pretty much right off the bat. It’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about World of Warcraft, and really missed about some of the recent MMOs like Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic or The Secret World where all of us are funneled into pretty much the same zone or limited areas on start up.

This weekend, I only did Caledon Forest because I was a Sylvari and their starting area was the only one I’d never seen, as I had purposely saved it for live. In the future, I’ll likely start in Queensdale all the time, because while I dislike the look of the human models in GW2 and will likely never roll one, I love their lands with their fat cows and little pink hearts.

Ultimately, I achieved 100% completion in the zone, collecting all the Waypoints, Vistas, Skills Points, Points of Interest, and Hearts in Caledon Forest as well as in The Grove. Since GW2 doesn’t have a real quest log, exploring entire maps will do nicely to satisfy my “checklist syndrome”. The was rewarded some nice loot, including a nice chunk of experience as well as a Black Lion key, allowing me to open my locked Black Lion Chests, which led to more loot and more keys. The result was a pile of gear, tonics, and a whole bunch of boosters like the ones you can buy from the store. Better be careful, Arenanet, I want to spend money on your game, but I see you’re not going to make it easy.

The weekend was not without its hiccups. Though I was mainly unaffected, a chunk of downtime occurred on Saturday morning and server errors abounded. Methinks that a few years ago, the quality of this launch would have been hailed as amazing, but the near-flawless launches of some of the aforementioned MMOs in recent years have no doubt raised the bar. The GW2 launch was no where near the best I’ve experienced, but then I have been through worse, much worse.

My weekend was only marred by a few negatives — there were the little ones, things like a non-functioning trading post, and then there was the HUGE one — the wonky overflow system. An otherwise great concept, ironically it sure made it hard to let you play with your friends. As longtime readers know, my husband and I place a lot of importance into playing together, especially during an MMO launch. Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.

We experienced the worst luck of never being placed in the same overflow instance. Sometimes one of us would also log in first, but enter the main world last. We tried every trick, logging out and logging in together, entering cities and exiting together, partying up and not partying up, but we never did manage to find a consistent way to work around it; there just didn’t seem to be any rhyme or rhythm. What we ended up doing was tackling our personal story quests, entering and leaving those solo instances until we randomly happened to end up together. When that happened, we took care not to zone again, which explains why I’m finished with Caledon Forest but still way behind on my main quest line there.

I expect many of these issues would be ironed out by Arenanet, or even disappear altogether once launch hype winds down and the zone populations start to spread and even out. In any case, I still had a great time playing this weekend and hanging out in guild vent parties. Being part of the greater gaming community while everyone is playing is my favorite part of a new game launch; the company and the fun I had made up for any and all obstacles I encountered.