GW2 BWE#1 Wrap-up

I covered GW2 extensively over the weekend with my thoughts on questing, combat, Battlegrounds/Mists, and World vs. World.  I want to briefly wrap-up my thoughts from this weekend into one post so that someone wondering what I think about GW2 can easily find them.

Something about GW2 won me over.  I had framerate issues in WvW and sometimes in crowded areas, and it was clear that the game has a few months of Beta until it is read. However, I find myself sitting here wishing I could log on and play.  I miss playing.

WvW has a lot of potential if the players will stick with it while it matures.  If GW2’s community hits its stride and defends, attacks, and really invests emotionally into the World vs. World experience it will be a long-lasting form of entertainment that will give GW2 a lot of replayability.

I like the individual loot system because I don’t have to worry about something dropping and someone else getting it. There’s also very little BoP/BoE stuff, if I recall correctly.  Questing is a natural progression experience through each zone, and I like how I can go to the area and work with others to complete quests even though I’m an individual.  Playing with friends is extremely easy with the de-leveling in lower level zones.

The Cash Shop … I guess I should say, “What cash shop?”  It was as though the thing didn’t exist.  I’m not at all worried about the current state of the cash shop, but that’s perhaps what worries me the most because ArenaNet wants to make a profit.  I hope enough people want to buy those worthless (I mean totally awesome) keys and costumes.

I don’t know what’s up with the whole ‘mail everything’ system.  You can’t trade with anyone which will prove to be an oddity if stays that way.

GW2 is definitely a themepark, and there isn’t a whole lot of ‘new’ being brought to the genre.  ArenaNet hasn’t just copied WoW, though.  There is a lot borrowed from games like DAOC — qualified and proven features — that were ignored for years, and things like weapon swapping that feel innovative.

TLDR Impressions after the jump.


  • A new take on traditional.
  • Weapon swapping to get the most out of weapon ability variety will be what sets the good players apart, especially in PvP.
  • Feels clunky at times from latency and animation polish.

Questing / Events

  • Events (orange circles on the map) are not dynamic, but they’re more organic and ‘fit’ with the world better than Warhammer Online’s PQ’s.
  • Quests (Hearts) are also more organic, and instead of going to quest hubs to pick up a dozen quests you move around the zone you’re in to find quests you want to participate in.
  • I prefer this questing, at least from what I’ve experienced so far, over quest hubs.


  • Better than any PvP in years, and close to DAOC’s RvR.
  • Keeps are awesome, large, and will be great to experiment with once players can upgrade them.
  • I’m unsure if players will see enough incentive to truly care about losing in WvW, but server competition might be enough.

BG’s / Mists

  • Players are given prefab max level characters to work with that can be spec’d however the player wants.
  • They are separate from your WvW character, so there isn’t the temptation of character progression (like in WAR) to do BG’s over WvW.


  • The only “must buy” in the cash shop i saw was bank slots.. you only have 30 slots (1 tab) at the start and your able to buy 7 more for $6 each (600 tokens)

    So about $42 if you want all bank tabs.

  • DAoC didn’t have much at stake to lose in RvR, apart from the hit to your realm pride – but that was enough. It remains to be seen if GW2 can engender enough “server pride” to motivate lots of players out into WvW. Here’s hoping, though – I’ve not had anything to scratch my RvR itch properly for years, and with the sad demise of Dominus I’m reduced to crying “Help me ArenaNet Kenobi, you’re my only hope…”

  • @Tremayne: DAOC also had Darkness Falls which played into the “what we lose if we don’t try”.

    @Bhagpuss: Good to know, thanks. I hope the amount of BoE stays low.

  • Speaking of cash shop, can anyone explain the “Minis Pack” futher? What are they, digital models of monsters that follow you in the city?

    @bartillo – May need to make a one/two time purchase for bag slots as well.

  • What GW2 needs for WvWvW if they intend to switch up server clusters every other week, is something meaningful to fight over. Right now it’s just bragging rights and getting your server further up the ladder. That’s all good but somewhat still a bit meaningless.

    Give me a reason to want to go out and defend my keeps other than climbing your WvWvW ladder. Give me a DF or better bonus’ or something.

  • I can see myself adding character slots, bag space and maybe a costume over time. If I continue to play the game I’ll just buy something once in awhile to support the cause.

    Regarding dynamic quests, we really haven’t seen anything yet. I wouldn’t (and won’t) judge the concept until I get into the mid/late zones. The later ones are supposed to get more complex.

    It’ll be interesting to see how people deal with dynamic events where a fail state is supposed to be a possibility……

  • I find it hard to understand how you can say that GW2 does nothing new when they have innovated on practically every aspect of gameplay from scaling dynamic events, downscaling etc. etc. through to every detail of trading sytems and crafting and practically everything else. I just don’t think people have yet quite got to grips to the ways GW2 is different from previous MMOs. For instance:

    Many people all over the internet are complaining that in PvE they get trashed by mobs just above their level – apparently they can’t get used to the idea that in Gw2 you need to move around a bit and actually use more than one skill – you can’t just stand in front of a mob and trade blow for blow, because powerful mobs can two shot or even one shot you if you do that.

    You guys who didn’t play hard Gw1 content have got a lot to learn and need to appreciate that your opinions are going to be very different when you LTP.

  • @Roq: Don’t mistake my candor for an attack on GW2. “Dynamic events” have been done before, downscaling has been done before, and I’m not sure what you mean by the trading — you mean the lack of in favor of a total mail/AH system?

    None of that is new. GW2 definitely has innovations. I think the weapon swapping system tied to skills, for example, is innovative. They way the questing system works is also innovative because it advances the questing system.

    I’m humble enough to admit I do not represent any sort of authority on Guild Wars knowledge, but I do have enough experience with mmorpgs to stand by what I’ve said.

  • @Roq – I agree 100%, however, this IS the first game I have played where I have to move to move around to survive. I have some learning to do on that front.

    I do have some questions for you though since you may understand better than others:

    First, when I move about, it seems as though most of the time I still get hit even though I am on the side of the monster. Bug? Need to move behind it or learn some other method? Was it less damage than normal?

    Second, seems that any dodge in any direction seems to grant you protection for a couple of seconds. In the end, does dodge direction matter?

  • you bring up some interesting points and make me curious. Since it is f2p i’ll follow future updates to see if it fleshes out more. I’m interesting in how things progress as you keep rising up in ranks and then after you max out. Being f2p i’ll give it a shot if at least the leveling is entertaining but otherwise i may skip; thanks for the summary

  • Your invulnerable from damage during the dodge animation. Direction doesn’t matter.

  • As for the cash shop I will defiantly be getting more bank slots. And some fun stuff like mini’s to support the cause. I used the XP boost as a test in the beta and I gotta say this could be good when I get time poor and haven’t played in a while.

    The main item I will be buying in bulk is the Mobile Banker. These things when crafting are awesome the save a lot of running around if time poor.

    Again nothing game breaking. I think if Anet ad some cool customes people will buy them.

  • it only has a benefit for positioning, which dose matter, use it to gain distance or flank for a couple of hits

  • @Keen – There’s nothing new under the the sun and GW2 devs have taken ideas from previous MMOs particularly daoc (3 faction WvW) & Warhammer Online (Public Events etc) and made them really work. And those ideas had been floating around for some time anyway, but they just didn’t work before. For instance, in WAR public events didn’t work because you could hardly ever get the correct number of people of the level to do them. But now with upscaling of mobs, possible downscaling of players and various other things GW2 makes this a central feature of the game.

    With regard to AH. GW2 doesn’t have an auction house – what they’ve actually done is way cooler. It’s a near complete implementation of a market trading system similar to financial/commodity trading systems in RL (which, incidentally, is what I work on professionally). EVE did something like this and so that was probably a part of the direct influence for the Gw2 designers, but it’s just the *right* way to trade in MMOs, because it’s (mostly) instant.

    @Steeldragon – In most melee encounters at early levels you can avoid being hit at all (some of the time). The simplest strategy for physical classes is probably to adopt a ranged and melee weapon (when u get to swap at level 7). There’s often a synergy between the skills – example, a ranger with a sword gets an evade back skill: You can for instance with sword/torch and bow go: 1) evade around and poison 2) bonfire 3) evade back 4) fire your bow through the bonfire to get more damage. That’s a single profession combo with those weapons and just one example of weapon synergy, but there are many more for each class and weapon set.

    As to dodge/roll. You don’t have to wait for a mob to initiate some specific attack before using your dodge that’s really very tricky to read and pull off reliably. Maybe if u are really youthful u have that kind of reaction speed. But it’s simpler to used your ranged skills and then immediately initiate an attack sequence when you get to melee range as in the ranger example I mentioned in the first para. I usually reserve my dodge/roll for when I screw up a sequence (often), especially against bosses that can one/two shot you. Remember that every class in the game has ranged skills, so if you are playing melee you want to dash in, do some damage and then evade back, before the mob can retaliate. What you can’t do (against higher level mobs) is stand one to one and duke it out. I didn’t play casters (except necro for a bit), but I understand they have there own ways of doing the same sort of thing.

  • I don’t mean this as a how uber l33t I am as a player at all (still feel free to ooh and aah if you like though), but I was always pulling mob 3 levels higher on my necromancer and engineer, with little problem.

    Overall I died less frequently on the necro, but not frequently enough even on the engineer to discourage this practice. While the necro felt like ez mode (especially with the Death Shroud ability), the engineer’s success was more dependent upon weapon set, fairing better with the dual pistols as opposed to rifle, due to the conditions the former applied. The engineer forums seem to think the elixir sets are the most dps productive skills, but I went turrets myself.

    If I took on 2 at a time I just dropped a rocket turret (and later a rifle turret) and focus fired one that was targeted by the turret, and kited the 2nd to death.

    The key to most of the melee mob was simply to keep walking backwards; they would occasionally get a hit in and if they dropped me to ~1/3 health I would pop my elixir H (health pot+) and keep walking backwards until they were dead or the mob reset; this is where GW2 is easier than other MMO’s, the reset is really a soft reset in that you can continue to damage the mob as it runs back (not all that quickly I may add) and kill it, or continue the kiting process without it returning to full health.

    I do think that people who are complaining on the forums about how hard the mob are to kill are either not utilizing their specs to the best advantage, and/or are likely not moving around enough. I REALLY hope the devs do not dumb down the mob as the challenge is where the fun is for me, not just maximizing the exp/minute rate.

  • @roq: Some of the later zones are said to have chains in their DE’s that are 20+ objectives long.

  • Actually i would say that DE do create a dynamic environment because they accommodate grouping so well. I think you once posted that DAOC was dynamic because you could enter a zone with friends and do what you wanted. You can basically do the same with GW2, so the social experiences are dynamic and it brings gaming back somewhat to its older form.

  • @Wufiavelli: I’ve been calling GW2’s questing more “organic” or “natural” than traditional questing. Dynamic means “constant change”, or something that is never the same twice. Events pretty much play out the same, have the same goals every time, run in the same locations, have the same NPC’s, etc.

    GW2 WvW is definitely dynamic, though.

  • I hate to beat an old drum, but GW2 is launching with an effective real money economy. I am amazed that we are so desperate for meaningful open world pvp that we could hide our head in the sand on this point.

    By we I mean you Keen. Sorry but just like you warned us about lotro, I gotta say the same thing about GW2.

  • I’m a bit disapointed about the “dynamic” events…In previews about the games, and when they talk about their game, it sounds like these events can effect stuff around them. You dont stop the mobs attacking the field, they move on and attack caravans, you dont stop them there they attack a village, making you unable to quest there and stuff. So far Rift’s system sounds better, if all they have done is PQ’s that adapt to the lvl and number of players :-/

    Real dynamic events would be awesome. Like Rift mobs, but they should feel more like an integrated part of the world. How cool would it be if centaures raided villages and stuff like that? 🙂

  • “I find myself sitting here wishing I could log on and play. I miss playing.”

    This. Same here.

    One important point was being made above: the AH is a market, not an AH. Major differents. Prices fluctuate depending on supply and demand. I love trade.

    Did anyone notice that the AH is a web page they call? I hope for external access!

  • @zederok – Yes, I think the starting areas are simpler for two reasons. First because they are introductory and long events would confuse the hell out of new players and secondly because they have to design five areas – one for each race. You can already see the complexity beginning to ramp up a bit at level 10+ and the game starts to broaden out.

    @C3PO – Remember that we have only seen a small part of the game so far. It would have been silly for Arenanet to put long chain dynamic events in the starter areas – it’s very obvious that many people are already confused by the open/exploratory nature of the gameplay and freedom to level in different ways.

    We hear that centaurs do raid villages; hopefully we’ll get to see some of this in the next beta weekend.

  • @Keen: Mike Ferguson responded to my sugestion of adding a Darkness Falls type dungeon. here it is:

    Unfortunately we won’t have a DF style map when we ship. However, we have been known to add things to our games before, and there are more than a few DF fans working here so who knows what the future may hold.

    Fun factoid, that was one of the first things I helped out with when I started out as a designer.

  • “Fun factoid, that was one of the first things I helped out with when I started out as a designer.”

    Sweet! Hope for further improvement on a game that I feel is totally worth the $60 (an extreme rarity I should add).

  • The GW2 “events” are way more dynamic than what the ones in the starter areas may make you believe. During my explorations, I encountered several invaded places because the event had been lost, and we had to retake them. I also saw several “contested” fast travel points, owned by the enemy (one being at the bottom of a lake =P).

    So while the first events are rather simple, later some events affect the world durably, beyond the duration of the event, unlike the rift supposed dynamic rifts which are just mob spawn points.

    And I’ve explored less than 5% of the world… we haven’t seen it all yet.

  • I’d like to add that the game is totally worth the 75 Euros I gave for it (digital deluxe). I don’t regret a cent, and I’m 100% sure that I’ll get way more entertainment value from it than the money I paid for it.

  • I have to agree with the game being one of the best MMO’s I have played recently and I barely had time to play this weekend (was weekend before Exam week for me at college :().

    Because of that I mainly focused on testing different classes and races and seeing all 3 available starting areas. I played with the Engineer, Necromancer, and Warrior and I have to say I love how each one plays completely differently.

    I do have to say that I only got to PvP a little bit though with my time on an engineer and BG’s only. I would suggest NOT to play engineer in BG’s where you are instantly 80 as your first PvP experience in this game as the Engineer to me seems like the most complicated class and was hugely overwhelming with the number of different things you could change on the fly because of the weapon kits, and the turret skill changing and all that. Though I am not sure if all the classes are that complicated as that was the only one I got to play in PvP.

    Also, if there are any people who played engineers here, was it just me or do the turrets not seem very good in BG PvP?

  • Personally, I think it’s the best MMORPG I’ve played since Asheron’s Call. Yeah, I already value it higher than WoW or LOTRO, because of the freedom it reintroduces to the genre.

  • I will definitely have to play through much more of the game before I can make a statement GW2 being better than other games. That said, the WvW alone gives the game an edge because I love 3 faction territory struggles.

  • @Merovingian: I agree. Asheron’s Call was my first MMO, and other then my 1st year or so in WoW (out of 6+) GW2 has the most potential and is the coolest i’ve played since then. GW2 reminds me in so many ways of AC its scary.

  • Just saw this quote on Guildcast and thought it worth sharing.

    Anthony Ordon “Just keep in mind that you’ve seen only a small part of the game. Unfortunately it’s not very welcoming to new players to lock down entire sections of the zones when they fail events. Later on we might not be so forgiving…”

    Good to know and can’t wait to see how failure really plays out once it goes live.

  • I hope your right about the WVW and about the dynamic events, and the cash shop. I’m sorry to be that guy, but it all kinda sounds too good to be true to me 🙁

    Maybe I have just been burned too many times

  • @C3PO – Sounds like you were not part of the beta. I hadn’t played very many mmo’s. But after DAOC, I felt “burned” by WoW (hated it, too much of a treadmill), Aion (even more of a treadmill and grind), and WAR (just plain disappointed with the design other than the intro to PQs and it felt wrong without 3 factions to make things more dynamic).

    I felt that GW2 might just be my last attempt in the mmo area. After this weekend, my mmo spirits have been uplifted tremendously. Yes, there were glitches and personal quests difficulty that seemed impossible to beat on your own (feedback was given), but Arenanet has put a lot of work and thought into this one.

    From one mmo burned out person to another, I would like to suggest that you try it for yourself. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

  • I really hope your right. I’ve played alot (I’d say every major mmo and some smaller since EQ) and every single MMO after WoW was a disapointment one way or another. SWTOR was the last drop in the glass (I’m danish, I dont know if you can say that in English) But I dont want to waste more time on MMO’s thats buggy, or just more of the same. GW2 Does really sound awesome, I really really hope its everything ArenaNet says it is

  • @C3PO – Well, if you are worried about having any sort of buggy experience, you are definitely going to want to wait for the GW2 release As I said before, there are definitely some glitches right now.

    However, that being said, the game is just so refreshing that I don’t care. I’m so happy to finally feel like my mmo purchase was not only justified but I also feel it was even worth paying just to play in the beta’s with all the glitches.

    I feel even better being in the beta (paid or not) because I’m hoping to be able to give my contribution to the game so that the release of it is even better/smoother. This is a mmo that I finally feel deserves my attention and time. 🙂

  • I agree with that definition, but i do not think there has ever been a PvE system that was dynamic.

  • @C3PO:

    In the US we are likely to say “The straw that broke the camel’s back” or just “The last straw”, which likely harkens back to the days of the old West and the large camel caravans used in trading straw for beaver pelts to Canada. (today we no longer use camels, and instead export electronics for beaver pelts, which still remains Canada’s largest trade commodity).

    I know what you mean about feeling burnt out on MMO’s these days; I wrote something similar a while back implying that I might stop playing MMO’s unless Dominus, GW2, or Secret World brought something to meaningful to the table. Every MMO that I have played feels like an ersatz WoW, only recently with the inclusion of game-breaking micro-transactions.

    The problem is that if you don’t find GW2 unique enough to hold your interest then you are functionally saying that you are giving up on the MMO genre (especially with the demise of Dominus) as it is as unique as I can envision any MMO coming out from a AAA.

    I still am uncertain at some level if I have just gotten tired of WoW clones or MMO’s themselves as there are likely only so many financially viable models that companies are willing to release. I tried the free WoW trial prior to SWTOR’s release and was as bored with it as any other MMO of recent date; I don’t know if it has changed that much since when I used to enjoy it, or I have become jaded and cannot regain that original shiny feeling the first time I wandered aimlessly in Alterac Valley.

    What I can say is that I was very enthusiastic during the last GW2 beta, and left wanting more (yes there were bugs, but that is what betas are for); in contrast SWTOR left me with numerous apprehensions, many of which were not remedied to my satisfaction at or after launch.

    I see some people arguing about how unique GW2 is versus those who say that it is just rehashing various elements from previous MMO’s; I think that some of this is based upon whether one is a lumper or a splitter. I find that sometimes accumulated quantitative difference can feel significantly different to appear as a qualitative difference (I think that is what love is, as it isn’t a singular emotion such as jealousy, anger, or hate). In the end it is about execution on the devs’ part and expectation on the gamer’s part.

    Of course the proof of the pudding (or rødgrød med fløde) is in the tasting and the devil is in the details (do you have a Danish equivalent for these?). I am enamored by the large and small differences from the standard MMO models, which so far have synergized to a unique game play experience. Even something as seemingly insignificant such as collecting lowly copper pieces and looking forward to accumulating enough to make a silver felt worthwhile, as opposed to newer models where you have gold pieces after a few hours; I think nowadays devs just put a 10x multiplier on commodities so one can feel embiggened ( like attempting to increase sales of Doritos by putting the words “INTENSE” and “EXTREME” on the packaging.

    I would love a large PvP-centric sandbox with multiple factions, but for the foreseeable future it seems we are without a drop of hope (or even a glass to put it in), and GW2 feels right or at least as good as it gets for now.

  • Hehe I guess i’m gonna try it out. A mate of mine have bought it, and he said I could try one of the Beta weekends if I want to. I agree with you, its hard to say if i’m burned out in MMO’s in general, or just wow copies. Its kinda hard to tell. LVL’ing up in SWTOR was pretty fun, while not being very different from anything else. Reaching the max lvl and find nothing was what really killed it for me.

    I cant think if a danish equivalent for “the devil is in the details”. The only ones I can remember is ones that disregards details as being important, but those have some very adault laungage and since this is a nice website, i’ll not write those 🙂

  • Oh! And did every1 see the elders scrolls MMO was announched? I have alot of mixed feelings about that. The elder scolls are awesome epic single player games! I love them, and I’m very afraid that they cant get the feeling in a MMO. Seems like every1 wants to jump on the mmo train :-/

  • “The devil is in the details” has a different meaning to the Danish phrase you mentioned. In a general sense it means that an event may have dramatically different outcomes depending upon many small often easily overlooked details.

    I would guess that it references a devil’s contract which sounds too good to be true and of course usually is due to a twist of a loophole…