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Just watched & listened to Cynical Brit's overal impression so far. Essentially 40+ minutes of continuous gameplay in the Norn area and despite the environments looking pretty appealing I couldn't help noticing a couple of things really impacting the "open worldness";
The big one:
- The amount of loading screens. Every time you zone in or out of town, personal instances or fast travel: pretty hefty ones too (on his system around 30 seconds each, it looks like he even short cutted some of them (as some bars run to 100%, others are suddenly cut short at low percentages), probably to make the vid more appealing). (EDIT: apparently some loading screens can in fact skip from 5% to 100% and the vid might not have been edited afterall)
This reminded me very much of Swtor or AoC, even though Swtor's "worlds" are larger than GW2's zones, you frequently had to travel between them; i.e. staring at loading screens a lot. To me personally that became a frustrating aspect. It looks like in GW2 this may even be a bit more impacting due to the frequent use of fast travel (as the time spent physically traveling towards an objective will be much shorter once you discovered an area for the first time and once you are done with something, you can instantly fast travel out it seems).
Specifically personal story related ones:
- Conversation breaks: pulling you out the world around you and into a conversation setting, playing out a predetermined exchange of lines (without choice it looks like). This is a lesser interuption in my eyes but it will mean a lot of skipping for many people.
- Instanced areas in the open world: running into certain areas prompts you into accepting entering an instance or not and another loading screen, venture too far out and you leave the open world instance.
In total it ammounted to an impressive number of interuptions from the immersive flow of an open world experience: fight some mobs, fast travel to town *loading screen*, run to npc, fast travel back *loading screen*, run to objective, enter instanced area *loading screen*, fight for a few minutes, complete task, fast travel back to town *loading screen* , etc. (It's obvious how the fast traveling mechanic, rather than a natural, real time means of transport is responsible for most breaks).
I hope they will be able to optimize the game somewhat more in order to make the loading screens less time consuming but I reckon people would do good to invest in a SSD if they haven't already, to cut the annoyance down somewhat.
What remains to be seen if these frequent interuptions are typical for mainly storyline gameplay or not: it could be that while doing mainly random dynamic events in the same zone, they are much less of a factor.
Anyway, this might sound a bit dramatic but I was a bit disappointed about that aspect while watching this vid. I didn't expect to see them so frequently in a 40 minute session and it drains some of the "persistance magic" out of the beautiful surroundings and turns them into a series of somewhat more artificial back drops, rather than a consistent world which might change dramatically around the next corner while you physically travel without interuptions between destinations.
So what's your thoughts on this?
edit: Changed the description of when loading screens happen: loading screens between open world zones themselves (while not fast traveling) haven't been confirmed yet.
edit: added description to kinds of occurances to reflect the difference between personal story and other content.