Customer Review

595 of 621 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real "next generation" MMORPG?, August 1, 2012
This review is from: Guild Wars 2 [Download] (Software Download)
Disclaimer: review is based on beta experience from 3 "beta weekend events" and a couple of "stress tests".

Things I hate in MMORPGs and how GW2 addresses it:

*** Problem 1: Too much "single player" experience. The "MM" is for "massively multiplayer" and in many other games, I might as well be playing by myself offline.

Solution: Virtually everything you do in this game is an "event". You run into a small village and it's under attack by bandits. Some players are already there fighting the bandits and you'll see a progress meter for how the fight is going (the bandits may have their own goal, and they may be winning). You don't have to find a "quest giver" or join anyone's group or anything like that -- just start fighting bandits. The goal is shared by everyone in the area. Everywhere you go, you'll find this sort of thing going on so you're constantly around other people who are sharing a progress meter with you. (Rewards are contribution based, similar to 'rift events' in Rift or 'public quests' in Warhammer, so you aren't directly competing with anyone. It doesn't matter who hit the bandit first or who got the finishing blow, so long as you did something...hit the bandits, heal other players, throw buffs around, whatever.)

There are still true soloable (instanced) storyline quests specific for your race/class and there are single-group (instanced) dungeons but the bulk of the PvE game is built around these open world, open participation events.

*** Problem 2: I can't play with my friends because we aren't the same level.

Solution: If I'm level 60 and you're level 15, I can go back into your area and play with you. I will get temporarily de-leveled so that the area is still a challenge for me.

*** Problem 3: "The Quest Sync Game" / I still can't play with my friends. I have quests F,G,H and I. You have quests A,H and J. I can't share quest F with you because you have to complete A-E first, which I already did and can't do again. We can do H together but I can't do J with you until I finish quest I. We get in sync and now you need to log off for a while and my other friend logs on and "The Quest Sync Game" starts all over again. It's ridiculous.

Solution: The game being built around "events" rather than quest lines solved this problem too. You actually don't have a quest log. You sort of get something like that but it's really just telling you where to GO. You don't need to complete A in order to do B. You can always do B. You can complete B and go back later and do it again if you really want to. You can skip B and go straight to H if you want. You can't skip forward beyond your level (as far as I know) but you don't need to follow some linear quest system, either. Therefore there is no "quest sync game". I log in, I ask where you are, I go there, I join in, no problem.

*** Problem 4: "LFM, need tank". No tank? Well you can't play the game then. You're a healer? Sorry, we're full up on healers and can't use you and in fact you'd ruin the group. (I *still* can't play with my friends! Oh wait and now the group is full.)

Solution: Some games address this by letting you switch roles to one degree or another. GW2 solves it by simply destroying the entire concept of the "holy trinity" -- tank/healer/dps. The first big thing they did to destroy it was they removed "taunting". You CAN spec your character to be tank-like, able to take a beating, but there is no taunt mechanic so you can't simply stand there and get beat on. The other big thing they did was to remove the concept of the "dedicated healer". You can spec your character to be more heal-like, but you'll never come close to what the dedicated single-target healers of other games can do.

The result is a far more dynamic combat system. No more eating chips and watching TV while mashing "3" over and over during a dungeon fight. You need to be focused on the battle because nobody can hold agro, you are responsible for your own survival and while every class has options for defense and self-healing, you need to pay attention to do it. Some people may actually not like this (many bad gamers will feel disenfranchised) but to me this makes it more of a "fun action game" and less of a "mild distraction while watching TV".

*** Problem 5: "The wolves! They are attacking! We shall all die if you do not slay 20 of them!" (Player looks around, there are 8 wolves standing around doing nothing, which is all they ever do. After slaying 20 of them, there are still 8 wolves, still standing around doing nothing. And every quest is a slight variation of this, until you get the idea that the game world's inhabitants are just paranoid crazy people because there's never any actual, apparent threat to any of them. Even the "vile orcs" just sit around in their camps and do nothing until you attack them, apparently for no reason.)

Solution: Events, which, again, is this game's version of questing, are dynamic -- if the guy says wolves are going to attack and kill everyone, they really are going to attack and kill everyone. You can fail events because the wolves might actually win. The wolves, may in fact, stick around afterwards, spawning a new event to "clear out the wolves that ate all those nice people". The game feels much more realistic and alive when you aren't just killing idle things standing in a field apparently minding their own business.

*** Problem 6: "...and enter ye into this land of war and strife where you will, um, play mostly by yourself and actually the war ended right before the year that this game is set in." (Two different MMORPGs with "Star Wars" in the name, neither of them actually included a "war". They might as well have been called "Star Big Game Hunter" because you kill more wildlife than enemies.)

Solution: "World vs World vs World", usually just called "WvW". This is similar to the "RvR" of Dark Age of Camelot fame. There's a big war going on. You don't have to participate in it but you really should give it a shot. There are castles to be attacked and defended. Siege engines to build, operate and destroy. Items of power to be stolen and defended. It's big, it's epic, it's basically everything we thought Warhammer was going to be. And WvW was 100% operational in beta so this isn't more smoke and mirrors. It's there. It works. It's pretty awesome. You should try it. (Be sure to figure out how to buy, build and use an arrow cart or ballista too. Protip.)

*** Problem 7: I want to PvP (possibly with my friends...you know, THAT old problem) but I can't because I'm not the right level / don't have the right gear.

Solution: WvW solves this problem by letting you in as soon as you finish the tutorial, if you want, and temporarily boosting your level to 80. You won't get free skills or gear or anything, you still need to level up (which you can do in WvW itself), but what skills you DO have will hit as if you were level 80 and you'll have level 80 hit points too. It works well and I spent most of my time in WvW, enjoying it even when I rolled a new character and went back in at level 2.

"Structured PvP" ("sPvP", aka "battlegrounds", instanced PvP, which is totally separate from WvW) goes a step further by temporarily boosting you to level 80, giving you all skills, talents AND gear. You can focus on your build and on your teamwork and combat technique rather than fussing over who-has-the-bigger-sword. There are tournaments and you can earn items that have the same stats as the regular stuff, but with unique appearances. It's all about the fun of combat rather than the grind of leveling. Some may not like this, but I think most PvP players are pleasantly surprised at how little they miss "the grind" portion of PvP.

-----

Sorry for the long review, I guess, but I really wanted to spell out why GW2 is not like other MMORPGs, "and this time we mean it". As for my post title, let me break down my opinion of MMORPG "generations".

* Generation 1: MUDs and Compuserv games. They were the first, nuff said.
* Generation 2: Ultima Online. MMORPG goes wider-appeal with a nice, modern graphics interface and a flat monthly fee.
* Generation 3: Everquest / Asheron's Call. MMORPG goes 3-D. Alright so maybe going 3-D shouldn't be a generational jump but it was a big deal at the time.
* Generation 4: WOW and everything that came after it. WOW didn't really re-invent the wheel so much as they greatly refined it. WOW set the new standard and every game after them, with only a few tweaks here and there, emulated WOW.
* Generation 5: GW2. The break from WOW-like gaming is pretty substantial. There's a whole new way of questing. There's a whole new way of fighting, particularly in groups. There's a war again. "The grind" is not a barrier to tournament level PvP anymore. There's no monthly fee anymore, either.

Guild Wars 2 is the first real, new MMORPG we've had since WOW came out. STO, SWTOR, WAR, Rift, AOC, LOTRO, etc, were all "generation 4", being basically copies of WOW in a new setting.

GW2 is the next generation, and from what I've seen so far, my conclusion is "it's about time".

P.S.
There is no subscription fee. GW2's financial model is based on selling you expansions later, plus a cash store that sells various unnecessary frills (additional character slots, tophats, uniforms, additional bag slots, etc).
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 49 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 2, 2012 1:08:36 PM PDT
I don't know if you work for ArenaNet or whatever, but your review was exactly what I needed to get me fired up. I'm leaving WoW and buying this.

It's about time. :-)

Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 10:30:57 PM PDT
Pecos Bill says:
Hopefully my lengthy review history will suggest I'm not an ArenaNet employee... and as an extra disclaimer, I rated Warhammer really high too when it came out, largely on the basis of the smoke-and-mirrors dev posts and YouTube videos they released, which later turned out to be total B.S. Not making THAT mistake again.

I suppose it remains to be seen how things will pan out after release, but so far beta has been really nice and I like all the new systems they put into place.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012 11:06:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2012 12:35:52 AM PDT
M. Jung says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 12:35:36 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 3, 2012 12:35:43 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 12:52:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2012 2:40:23 PM PDT
Pecos Bill says:
Look through my list of problems above and explain how The Secret World addresses them. I could still possibly be talked into that game but hearing it was focused on linear, story-mode gameplay really turned me off, as that's just not what I look for in a "massively multiplayer online roleplaying game". For example, I spent about 90% of my GW2 beta time playing in the World vs World wargame area (and the rest of the time doing the open world PvE stuff). To my understanding, while The Secret World has persistent PvP "warzones", they are not to the scope of what GW2 has and it's not where the dev focus is at. There's very little information about them online, which is a strong hint in itself.

Conversely, WvW gameplay and features are a big part of what GW2 is offering.

If you want to make a case that The Secret World is "next gen", I'm going to need some convincing arguments.

Posted on Aug 3, 2012 12:55:13 AM PDT
Pecos Bill says:
Or to put it another way, if there's another game out there that offers a really good "massively multiplayer" wargaming experience, I'm interested in hearing more about it. Not just a single area side-game but something where that's a primary focus for development.

The only things on my radar right now are GW2 and Planetside 2.

Posted on Aug 3, 2012 10:36:10 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2012 10:39:42 AM PDT
What about PVE? Can we aquire gear from dungeons or how does it work? I play Rift, {Which I enjoy plenty! :)} but I'm looking for an MMO that's B2P or F2P!

Oh and what you thoguth about the graphics? They don't seem very high tech. How would you compare it to RIft graphics?

Thanks awesome review!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 1:00:40 PM PDT
Pecos Bill says:
I know there are end-game PvE gear sets, but I'm not sure what the method of getting them is. As far as I know there are no traditional "raids", i.e., 20 man groups, and I don't know that they intend to add them.

However, the "events" I talked about can chain off of each other and I know some (all?) zones eventually chain into a mega-boss. That is, for a made up example, you kill the bandits attacking the farm, then head to the bandit camp to kill the bandits there, where there's a minor bandit boss, and as other event chains come together you find out it's all the work of a lich and everyone in the zone has to come together to fight him. Kill him and he'll drop a chest full of goodies. You don't technically have to even be in a group for any of this since it's an open world raid, more akin to Rift's actual open world rift system, so it's participation based (presumably it also scales on the number of people in the zone.... presumably).

I've seen this sort of thing in other player's YouTube videos but haven't done it myself because I spent so much time doing World vs World.

There are traditional instanced dungeons, which I believe are 5-man, but I don't know if end-game epic loot is meant to come from them or the open world bosses or both. Nobody got far enough in beta to find out!

Graphics-wise I thought it was comparable to Rift. I think you'll find the graphics neither blow you away nor disappoint.

Posted on Aug 3, 2012 2:09:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2012 2:11:33 PM PDT
Lutrus says:
Excellent review, thank you for the information, I will definetely be trying this one. After a long line of unoriginal, lackluster, cash cow mmo's, I am really hoping this will be one I can stick to. Just to add to the your final thoughts on generations, you totally forgot Dark Age of Camelot, which was huge in innovation, just really mind blowing for it's time, and got very little attention. It pioneered RvR, or what you called WvW here, and did it damn well. It was both the games greatest achievement, and biggest downfall at the same time. They didn't focus much on the PvE side, even though there was a ton of really interesting PvE things, later in the games life, not enough people were interested in doing it over RvR. Anyways, I am looking forward to see how they master it in GW2, hoping the balance is where it needs to be for me.

Posted on Aug 4, 2012 5:16:18 PM PDT
D. Lymer says:
I've just been burned by the "It's the next gen of MMO's!" so many times before...

I don't think my heart can take another. This review does lay out very clearly and explicitly how GW2 breaks away from the WoW mold though, so I think its okay to get hopeful this time.
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