I’ve shown you screenshots of Lion’s Arch, I have linked to other people’s reactions to the first Beta Weekend Event, what’s now missing is my own thoughts and comments on the beta.
On Friday and Saturday evening (not Sunday evening, though!), we couldn’t play much because we kept getting kicked from the server (on Saturday, my client decided to crash while I was sorting screenshots for my Lion’s Arch posting) and when we tried to log on again, we kept getting error messages and the friendly, yet sarcastic-sounding sentence “please try again in a few minutes”. I don’t think I need to tell you how annoying and disappointing that was! Other than that, they still need to optimize the performance (changing your graphics settings didn’t lower or raise the frame rate, for example) but that’s something I won’t comment on further until the game is close to or even past release. They even said themselves that the client isn’t optimized yet, so I’m not worried about it so far. I remember being in the Rift beta weekends and the first time I was in there, the performance was horrible! Only one CPU core was used. The next beta weekend, they had already managed to work on the “threading” (or whatever it’s called… this was actually the first time I heard about it as Riot’s developers explained what they were doing and why they were certain performance would go up) and this little n00b here was positively surprised. I will just assume that ArenaNet know what they’re doing and that it’ll be exactly like it was with Rift.
Anyway. Apart from those two crashes and the login issues (most likely due to too many people wanting to play), the performance was smooth. One other not so great point was that when there were lots of people in one area casting/using skills, it becomes a lagfest. Let’s hope they can fix this as well! This was during the “end of beta”-event with lots of people in one tiny place. Bookahnerk did take a video of it and we’ll upload it to our YouTube-channel later. Again, beta. We didn’t expect much else but it needs to be mentioned nonetheless.
On to the positive things: I didn’t get stuck in any terrain pieces, I didn’t fall through the environment, I wasn’t teleported to any regions, forwards, backwards, sidewards or otherwise. As I said, my client crashed twice on Saturday but I don’t know why that was… maybe because not long after that, the server crashed as well? I don’t know much about the technical side of games. No NPCs were stuck either, no bugged escort quests etc. All in all, the game is already a lot better than Warhammer Online during open beta (which is the only other MMO I really cared about from before its release).
But let’s get to the actual content. I started with the mesmer and took her to competitive PvP – only to realise that I had no idea what I was doing. I should apologise to the rest of the team. We won the match but no thanks to me! I think if I want to play mesmer in PvP effectively, I first need to play the class with all weapon skills unlocked until I have a good enough feeling for the class. I switched to warrior and played her in the low level area. The last time when I played a warrior, I was level 30 and had skipped the low level content. ;) I absolutely loved that class! It seemed a lot easier and more straight-forward than the mesmer. No tricky illusions, leaping out of the battle, hiding in stealth etc. Instead, I leaped towards the mob, I slowed them down,… Also, when I played her in competitive PvP, I felt like I knew what I was doing. Of course, still on a very basic level. But it felt a lot better than the mesmer. The competitive PvP in general felt very polished. No lag, no bugs that I’m aware of etc. I only wish that there was an option to leave the PvP queue after a match instead of being tossed into the next one immediately.
In PvE, I didn’t die often and in group events, I usually sticked with my rifle to keep my distance from mobs and had enough time to observe the battlefield and revive my dead comrades. All in all, those two classes are still my favourites (I tested others but stopped at level 2 or 3 – it’s boring having to “grind” up with the same events over and over while waiting for your skills to unlock if you’re doing that one class after the other ^^) and I’ll definitely create one of each and hey, why not have two mains, right? ;)
I didn’t set foot into WvW at all. Bookahnerk did and he tested claiming a tower, building a cannon, fortifying the walls – but he filmed it and this, too, will go up to our YouTube channel sooner or later. ;) From what I’ve seen on his screen, however, it looked like fun and I already enjoyed open RvR in Warhammer Online. So I’m pretty sure I’ll like WvW as well.
As you know, I also spent time in Lion’s Arch. Quite a lot of time. I found all 26 Points of Interest and while it wasn’t too difficult, it also wasn’t too easy. At one point, I realised that there are three layers to the map and that not all 26 POIs were shown on the middle layer because some were hidden on the top and the bottom layer. Being able to move around via waypoints helped out a lot. It would have taken even longer otherwise. But it’s great for completionists! Also, when you go to a city and the loading screen appears (yes, unfortunately, cities are gated by loading screens and not entered directly like in World of Warcraft. On the other hand, there weren’t many other loading screens, so it still felt like one big world), you can see how many PoIs and waypoints in the city you’ve already unlocked. Of course, you can also see that whenever you hit M to open the map (as seen on the screenshot). ;)
I’ve seen a few pretty tough fights. Here is one example. A fight against a shaman during an event. We didn’t think anything of it and ran into the fight. Easy enough, right? I was there with my rifle warrior and bookahnerk joined the fight after I had already died a few times. We were so many players so why was this happening? I also have to admit that I didn’t understand why I died all the time. I tried to keep my distance and didn’t see the shaman attack me. Bookahnerk, who had watched, commented: “Reflect is on… and there it’s off again… and on again… and off again… watch for the orb effect around him!” You can see this clearly at 1:26 (and a few seconds before that, my charr runs into the screen to revive bookahnerk! Hurrah! ^^). So, apart from having to dodge away (in case anybody wonders, yes, we have video footage of a fight against another mob where you were dead if you didn’t dodge in time!), you also need to pay attention to other effects that mobs activate.
All in all, I had fun. The server/login issues are the biggest problem that I see (and as I wrote, they weren’t there on Sunday) together with the lagfest when lots and lots of players are in one tiny area all casting spells. Several people complained about the overflow shards which separated parties. I agree this shouldn’t happen and I hope it was just an oversight and will be changed in the future. Other than that, it did feel very polished!
I feel like I’m forgetting something. But really, there are so many posts out there that mine is just one in a million… so… enjoy the video and the screenshots! I’ve selected just the best out of 600 (that you can see here and in the Lion’s Arch Screenshot Gallery).
Edit: HA! I knew it. I’ve forgotten one thing. Maybe you remember that during the interview at the EUFanDay in Brighton, somebody asked about the “too pretty female humans”. And ArenaNet answered that this is what they want. I disagree but it’s not my game nor my design philosophy. We, as fans, can only criticise and tell them what we think. I don’t know why but this time, we did have the choice to create a woman that looks “less porcelain-pretty”. Look at the second lowest row, the left picture. If you ask me, she IS pretty. But not in the doll-like fashion. She looks real and while at first, I saw that, loved it but thought: I probably won’t use it! – I ended up creating two characters with that face (who looked different thanks to the facial sliders that let you change eyes, mouth, chin, etc.). Thank you, ArenaNet! :)