I’ve been wanting to write about my impressions of the headstart and the game itself but decided to hold off for a little while longer. Part of that was because I rather wanted to play the game and not spend my time writing blog entries that surely, nobody else will read as we’re all playing the game currently. But it was also because I wanted to give ArenaNet some more time to fix things before judging them for it.
On Saturday, the day of the headstart, we got up at 5.30am. When the servers went live at exactly 6am, we could log in without any issues and managed to grab all the names we wanted – well, I guess most of them wouldn’t have been claimed by others anyway (or did anybody want Grola Hazelfur or Huldra Yeodottir? ^^), but I was very happy to have Paeroka and Flummi. The latter is my main, an asura mesmer, which you can see on the left where she’s proudly wearing the t-shirt we got at GamesCom. The hat is available for free from the gem store, by the way. The hat can be dyed, the shirt can’t.
Before I continue writing about my experiences in the game, what Flummi has seen and done and why I really love the game experience, I want to focus on the negative aspects.
The following tweet is from Sunday and sums up the issues that the game has been facing and, as of this writing, some of these issues are still present.
Issues with guilds, the trading post, parties, instances, overflow shards, Hall of Monument and other related things are known and being worked on.
The login servers did cause problems on Saturday which led to us not being able to login. I decided to hop onto my crosstrainer in the meantime. The problem still wasn’t solved afterwards, so I started playing Dirt Showdown – a game I love a lot more than I probably should. So much fun! But that’s not the point of this article. It is, however, what I did during my Saturday afternoon. We could login later that day and apart from login issues right after patches, it seems that the login servers are doing fine now. That is to be expected after launching a new MMO as I’ve seen several MMOs with issues like that after launching or after releasing an expansion.
The guild functions had been buggy, too, and switching between guilds had not been possible at times. I could either not leave at all, or I could leave but then couldn’t represent another guild – or the same one – anymore. It seems that this was fixed now, though.
Also on Saturday, the trading post was put offline for maintenance. We have yet to see it return. That’s surely a long time for maintenance and it is one thing that really bugs me. I had been looking forward to having a game with an active economy and an ingame auction house again (which Guild Wars 1 is definitely lacking) and now it isn’t there. Of course, I can still play the game per se, but that trading post is a vital part of my gameplay fun and not having it means that I am lacking some fun that I could be having otherwise. On top of that, ArenaNet discourages trading in other ways anyway. You cannot directly trade with another player. The only way to give somebody an item is via mail. Mail is lacking a “cash on delivery” option which means that if you want to trade, you send the item or the money in one mail and the other player will then hopefully send the item or gold as well. You need to trust them because there is no way to know they will actually send their stuff to you. So be careful when trading with strangers! Instead, I have salvaged all items, sold them to merchants or given them away to guild members or friends for free.
So all in all, there have been hiccups and some are still there. I am mostly disappointed in how long it’s taking them to fix the trading post and how they are calling it “maintenance” without any further information. Of course, I understand that they’re not deliberately keeping it from us just for the fun of it. On the contrary. It must really suck to not be able to give us that part of the game. But with the limitations in trading, I feel very isolated and that’s not what this game is about. So I can’t help but feel disappointed that this part of the game was not ready when the game launched.
After complaining about all of that, I can only really dislike the game, right? Thankfully, that’s not true. The game itself, apart from the issues, obviously, is great. I haven’t had this much fun in a game in years! What usually annoys me in MMOs does not exist in Guild Wars 2. There is no “queuing” to kill a named quest mob. There is no kill stealing in general. And no stealing of resource nodes either! I do not feel that I have to go from quest hub to quest hub and check off the available quests in each of them. In fact, most of my time in the game was spent just strolling along to see where I would end up. On my way, I often run into an event or two and end up with a few more levels at the end of my gaming session. Yeas there are moments where I have “nothing to do”, but that’s okay and I like just walking along, spotting things in the distance that I want to have a look at and running into an event on my way.
One time, I wanted to see what a wall and the gate in between were all about (who’s with me that tengu will be the next playable race, by the way? ^^) and I saw a player fight against a tengu. I decided to help – because, well, why shouldn’t I? – and as it was a skill challenge, I looked forward to getting another skill point. But that mob wasn’t that easy. The other player got downed and I got downed a bit later as well. Fortunately, the mob decided to concentrate on the other downed player at that point and I managed to rally myself. I hurt the tengu quite a bit and then… I got downed again. It was his 10 hitpoints against mine (roughly estimating here) and I won! That rallied me back up, I resurrected the other player and we both went on our ways. But this is what I call an adventure!
I do not feel like I have to play a certain way or do certain things. Instead, I can do whatever I want in the game and at the end of the day, I will have gained experience. But it’s a side effect rather than the reason for playing the game. I am amazed how ArenaNet accomplished this.
I don’t know much about the issues with grouping because so far, grouping has not been necessary at all for me and yet, the game has not felt like a single-player game at all. It’s true that until now, I have never had to talk about a strategy or tactics with other players that were around for an event, but I’m still not high in level (21 is my highest at the moment) and I assume this will come later on. Yet, it has always felt like a group effort. No need to ask for help, cry for a resurrection or anything like that. Players that are around just naturally come up and help you. There’s no more “well, I have to do my own quests now, I don’t want to go out of my way and do something else to help this player”. On top of that, players are rewarded for helping because resurrecting somebody gives you experience points and helping others kill a mob gives full experience and loot for everybody who contributed.
During my time playing through the low level areas of the sylvari and asura, I found one bug. One single bug: An event didn’t start. That’s it. One. Also, my client crashed to desktop two or three times since headstart.
One thing that shouldn’t go unmentioned is that so far, what I have seen from the support team was really great. I got replies within 24 hours in the first few days. I haven’t heard from them again in the last two days, but my issues aren’t a priority and I can wait (it’s nothing that is keeping me from playing comfortably). But support has been polite and helpful.
And then there are Aidan and Ramon who operate the international and the German twitter accounts during the day (well, European time, of course). In the last few days, I have been observing both accounts to spot news about the trading post immediately and I have seen them trying to help whenever people had questions or problems. I know it’s their job to care for the community, but I guess we all know that “it’s our job” and yet, we do not always work with 100% motivation, especially when it’s on a weekend or overtime. ;) But they have really impressed me with the amount of help they have offered!
So all in all, I still feel very positive about the game and I hope they can get those issues fixed fast because it casts a cloud on an otherwise perfect-for-me game.
Since pictures say more than a thousand words and because I think the game world looks gorgeous, I am ending my entry with some screenshots from my adventures.