My boyfriend and I were huge Guild Wars fans. We’d completed every campaign and were starting to go through them again on hard mode. We also spent a good deal of time collecting titles so that we could unlock some of the features in Guild Wars 2 when it finally arrived. Despite having an initial burst of excitement at the thought of a second game we eventually lost interest, partly due to the long development time and delayed release but also because we’d spent so long on our characters the thought of then having to leave them behind was a bit off putting. When Guild Wars 2 did finally arrive I remember there being a ridiculous amount of hype about it. We decided not to rush out and get it on launch though because we’d read a few things about it that left us doubtful about some of the mechanics. On top of that I also felt that the excitement amongst both my friends and in general for the game had died down a little too quickly afterward. Of course I also thought that perhaps it was just me being stubborn about the idea of following the crowd and deep down I did really want it to be as amazing as people were making out at the time.
Finally we caved and bought the game a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I’m sad to say that I’m finding my initial doubts about the game were right and so far I’ve found the whole experience very underwhelming. On the first night I started playing I found myself feeling quite bored and ended up quitting early. I put this down to tiredness though and so I went to bed and tried again the next morning. I started to enjoy it a little more, but I still had a deep feeling of disappointment welling up inside me. Usually when I start a new mmorpg I have to set several months aside to play it and I’m often wrestling with myself to press the log out button at the end of each session, but with Guild Wars 2 I’m frequently feeling relieved to be logging out and just two weeks later I’m already finding the experience a little stale. Sometimes I can enjoy the game, but for every up there’s a down.
My main issue is the combat system. While I like the idea of being able to equip different weapons to my character, the fact that I can’t ever change the skills on each weapon means that it gets samey very quickly. There are also utility slots that I can equip with different skills, but one must have a healing skill, another must have an elite skill and then there are three slots free for any of the other skills. I feel like I’ve got a pretty limited choice for how I set up my character’s build, as if a child lock has been applied to my skill bar. One of my favourite parts of the original Guild wars was designing character builds. I use to spend ages on the Wiki and then would log into the game and buy all of the required skills ready for a test run. I loved the challenge of it and that we had to change our skill templates around for different missions, varying up the gameplay a little; for me Guild Wars 2 feels like it has lost some of the strategy. I think it might have been better if they had allowed you to change weapon skills around, but perhaps you have a weapon level that prevents you from using certain skills until you’ve improved or something. Traits do unlock later on, giving you a little more control over your character, but I don’t feel as rewarded for levelling up in Guild Wars 2 as I have done in other RPG’s; in fact sometimes I don’t even notice when my character has increased a level. This could be due to the level being capped in certain areas which a lot of people really like, but I’m a bit on the fence about it myself.
To make the repetitive feel of the game even worse completing the “heart” quests often feels like a grind. The selection of objectives are usually along typical mmorpg lines such as ‘go here kill x amount of y’ and to top it off I’m starting to see them get repeated. The quests don’t feel like anything I haven’t already done before in other games, they’ve just been dressed up and delivered in a slightly different way. The group quests are fun, but they are nowhere near as dynamic as I was led to believe. They also repeat a little too often and have no long lasting impact on the world (although I do realise that this would be an awful lot to ask for.) My story so far is also quite bland (not that the story in Guild Wars 1 is anything to go by either,) and I’m finding that the dialog scenes are breaking my immersion a little – admittedly though some of the writing is quite humorous.
We’ve also been finding it quite difficult to settle into a class as they do feel a bit imbalanced. My favourite two classes in the original game were the ranger and the necromancer. So far I’m really enjoying my ranger, but my Necromancer doesn’t feel fun to play. I keep hearing that the Necromancer is the weakest class and it certainly feels like it from what I’ve experienced so far. I reckon that the class could improve with a little bit of patience once I get a few more traits unlocked and have learnt how to play it tactically, but I really don’t like my games asking me to put lots of hours in before I can finally start to enjoy them. My boyfriend’s favourite class was the assassin, but so far he’s not finding the thief as fun to play. In the original game I enjoyed playing my ranger a lot more than I currently am in the new game. I use to always be the last one left standing and I loved how I could save the day by coming back to resurrect people. It was also my job to pull the groups out with my bow, a mechanic that I am missing slightly in the new game.
As well as feeling a bit let down by the mechanics of the game I’ve also bumped into a few glitches – I’m normally quite forgiving on this but it just makes my initial disappointment with the game feel even worse. The game has crashed several times now and I’ve also had to travel out to way points a lot because my character has gotten stuck in collision glitches. The camera can also feel a little jumpy at times when you’re in enclosed spaces. Perhaps the developers will fix the glitches and balancing issues out eventually, but I’ve already bought the game for quite a high price several months after release so I was expecting it to have settled down a bit more by now.
There are many other things that irritate me about Guild Wars 2 but I’m not going to continue. Perhaps I have been a little bit harsh due to my disappointment, but then again I don’t feel the need to talk about the pros of the game as there are already plenty of glowing reviews out there to read. Guild Wars 2 isn’t a terrible game, but for me it isn’t yet the fix to the genre that so many people are making it out to be. I’ve also come to realise from this experience that I probably do prefer the more traditional style of mmorpg and that maybe this new direction just isn’t my thing. I feel that they’ve changed too much of what I loved about the original and not yet managed to fully deliver on the newer features either. I do intend to continue playing my ranger though as I would like to have at least one max level character, plus I like to give my new games a good chance to grow on me before giving up on them completely. I’ve been back to the original Guild Wars since though and it is horrible seeing it like a ghost town. I reckon it’d be really awesome if just for one day we could all go back to the original to remember how good it was.