It turns out, we’re actually allowed to write about our game experience now! Three cheers to ArenaNet for allowing us to share our experiences with you! And there’s no need for them to worry either because except for two tiny things, I enjoyed myself immensely in the game and all in all, I can’t wait to get my hands on the real game. So, in case you’re curious about my gameplay experience, I’m going to try to memorize what I did and thought about the game. ;) The short of it is: I played a norn through their starter area, I played structured PvP, I played through a dungeon and I experienced the downscaling in the open world. The classes I tried were mesmer and warrior.
Before we started playing, we told each other which race/class we want to play once the game releases. Nobody mentioned the poor norn (you can probably guess which race I am going to play first… ^^). Ironically, the first thing we did was play the norn starter area. ;) This race is too big for me. The characters and the starter area are well-done. The norn themselves just aren’t what I like playing myself. So, as soon as I had the chance, I switched to playing a female charr. Much better! I tried both the mesmer (melee-style!) and the warrior. I can say that I have no idea which of those two classes will be my “main character” in the end. But I guess that’s what “alts” are for. ;)
I played the norn mesmer with a sword and a pistol. It was nice being right at the mob in melee combat. I never had the feeling that I was squishy. All in all, the mesmer has some nice tricks up her sleeve. I had called an illusion (who looks exactly like my character) and then got kicked away from the mob. After calling this illusion, you have a few seconds to click on this same spell again and switch positions with the illusion. So, if your illusion is still close to the mob and you get kicked away, activate this skill and you switch positions with it and can continue meleeing the mob. Or, well, player if that happens in PvP. ;)
Anyway, as I said, I switched from norn as soon as I had the chance. So once we started playing structured PvP (no WvW because we were only 25 people and that would’ve been a bit boring), I played a female charr warrior. I did mention to Stéphane how the female charr’s breathing sounds reminded me of Darth Vader. Weird noises, really. But I guess I’ll either get used to it (and my headphones did have a strange sound to them… tinny, in a way) or maybe they’ll change it if more people think so. ^^ I liked everything else about the female kitteh. She’s cute, cuddly, furry,… ;) The warrior class was lots of fun as well. During the PvP, I ran around with a gun. I had a hard time remembering all skills, so I refrained from switching to my melee weapons. Of course, that meant I didn’t play as effectively as I could have. ;) Still, I had lots of fun, even though I always need lots of time until I can find my way around on the different maps. We played Battle of Kyhlo (for gameplay videos, you can have a look at our youtube-channel where we uploaded several videos from last year’s GamesCom about people playing on this map. We do not have any current videos because we weren’t allowed to film it) and Forest of Niflhel.
The next day, we played the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon. Once again, I missed something. I thought I couldn’t switch my weapon sets and only had one: Sword and shield for my warrior. For my traits, I had chosen some that gave me more defense and hitpoints. I wanted to make sure I don’t die immediately, so that it gave me more time to react. We played the story-mode and it was… easy. Again, fun. But easy! We hadn’t been in there for long when our 5th group member had to go (it was the second day, so I assume he had to go in order to catch his flight). We continued with just four players and still, it was easy! Of course, “easy” doesn’t mean we went through there without dying. We all died a few times (that is, we were in downed state several times and a few times, we also died). We also had a wipe at one of the bosses.
What I like is how you can play through the story-mode with a PuG (and we were kind of like a PuG, after all. With us sitting further away from each other, there wasn’t much discussing a tactic, etc.) and don’t need to worry about wiping countless times before giving up completely frustrated. As we were only four people, we didn’t even try the explorable mode. Stéphane said that if we did try this one out, we would endure pain. Lots and lots of pain. When glancing over to my right, I saw Tasha Darke and her group die countless times in the explorable version. They tried their best but eventually, gave up. So there is certainly a huge difference between playing the story-mode and the explorable mode. And that’s the way it should be, if you ask me. If you just want to go through the dungeon to experience the story and be able to say that you’ve done and seen it, then the story-mode is perfect for you. If you want and need the challenge, then continue with the explorable mode! And since you get downscaled to the appropriate level if you’re higher level, there is no way to go back to a low level dungeon and just run through it without paying attention. If you’re above level 30, you will get scaled down to 30 when you enter this dungeon.
Speaking of downscaling: I took my level 30 warrior to the charr starter area and was downscaled to level 13. I was alone for a while and did one of the events there. Then a group event started. I figured I should try it. Yes, I was downscaled to level 13 but surely, being a level 30 in reality should give me an advantage? And I had a shield and had taken a trait to not receive as much damage! Bravely, my kitteh jumped into the fight. When the mob was at around 50% (ok, probably closer to 60 or even 70 ^^), I died. While running back from the waypoint where I got resurrected, I saw that another player had arrived. Together, we killed the mob. I was pleased about that. The downscaling (at least from 30 to 13) worked very well! And if there is something like a stat-cap, then I highly doubt that being a level 80 downscaled to 13 would have given me any advantage. I then inspected the area further and saw a skill point challenge on the map. After arriving, I found myself surrounded by level 17 – 18 mobs. I looked at the lower left corner: Yep, still level 13 effectively. I looked back up at the mobs: Nope, not a chance. None at all. I died, again.
My kitteh licked her wounds and strolled over to the lake to test out the underwater combat instead. This one feels just like the normal combat. Except that you use different weapons and thus, have different skills on the left side of your skill bar (the right side wasn’t affected, I think). Sometimes, it’s a bit difficult to see where the mob is exactly that you’re attacking (you can move up and down which just makes it a bit harder to spot the mobs). But other than that, it was as much fun as the combat was outside of the water.
What I’ve seen seemed like a solid game whose gameplay was fun for me. Apart from the weird female charr breathing sounds, I found one other “not-so-great” thing: When playing with lots of other players, there was a lot going on on the screen. Lots and lots of graphic effects from spells/abilities from all around you. If they could tone this a bit down, I’d be very happy. Other than that, I didn’t have anything to complain about. There’s only one thing that’s even worse now than it was before: I don’t really feel like playing any other MMO at the moment. I’d much rather continue exploring the world of Guild Wars 2 right now (preferably with asura… *insert dramatic sigh*). Then again, I do still have single-player games left to play through. So there’s plenty to do while waiting!
If you have any questions about my gameplay experience, feel free to ask!