Don't get me wrong, I like this game and I will definitely be playing it when it releases but that's purely my personal opinion after weighing what I find good about the game and what I don't - the positives and especially its potential, far outweigh the negatives for me... YMMV.
But it's also hard to ignore the feeling I get when delving into some of the finer details that right along with the last minute technical polish, bug smashing, exploit quashing and balancing, they are still feeling their way around some very basic design decisions that may more appropriately belong to the pre-alpha design stages.
Yes, the game needed some on demand, repeatable PvE and PvP group content to supplement the large and somewhat rare events (50 v. 50 PvP Wars and 50 player vs. mob invasion PvE) they already had and they spent a large portion of the last year implementing that. There are now several high quality dungeons or in NW terms "expeditions" starting at level 25 (should be earlier than 25 but whatever) but they really don't want you to do those as "on demand" as you'd think since they are gated behind a token that needs to be crafted (not a simple recipe either) in order to do the dungeon. That feels to me like ambivalence recognizing the game needed those but reluctance to do it in a way that makes them truly repeatable and on demand.
Kind of the same way with PvP battlegrounds. Yes they now have one that didn't exist last year but you must be level 60 to queue for it.
Then there is the visuals. The game is absolutely gorgeous and well rendered with very realistic looking environments, structures, fauna and flora... and then you can buy multi colored lions and rabbits as house decorations that look as out of place in the world as rocket powered skateboards would. And they're not just visible to the cash shop customer with no taste who buy them - they have a system where the top decorator for any given house instance has their house and decorations visible by default to any passerby. So you have these great environments and structures everywhere and then your senses are assaulted by rainbow lions and giant cyan rabbits whenever you're in a town.
And then there's healing and the lack of credit you get for healing for any purpose: XP gain, life staff leveling or WAR contribution scoreboards. The only time that healing counts is when you're in a group and heal someone in your group and even then the "credit" you get for it is small compared to credit you would get if you do damage. From a purely selfish perspective, if you're running around, see someone about to die to 4 mobs on them you'd get no credit for throwing them a heal and saving their ass, but if you instead let them die and kill the 4 mobs yourself you get experience for both yourself and your weapon. In 50 v. 50 wars? Forget about it. You'll get credit for healing your 4 group mates but not anyone else and once again the credit is very small compared to what you would get from getting a kill. I thought the need to give healing appropriate credit in PvP events or PvE healing had been firmly established in MMOs 20 years ago... maybe I'm wrong
There are also questing issues that I won't repeat here since they were already discussed in Joseph's article so I'll just mention a couple of things: that it currently feels like the conversion from full loot PvP sandbox to PvE MMO is not complete and that the random starting beach (1 of 4,) random town board and faction quests and lack of quest sharing is a serious impediment to PvE questing with friends in a group if that's how you want to play.
So what do I like about it?
I already mentioned the visuals and art style that are absolutely top notch and if anything, the soundscape is even better. Ambient as well as fighting and harvesting sounds are outstanding and the positional audio (if you have the headphones or speakers for it) is very accurate with appropriate fade by distance.
The combat frankly took me some getting used to but after just 2 weeks of beta, playing mostly casually, I'm not missing nearly as many ranged attacks as I was for the first few days. I also got much better at slowing it down some and timing defensive moves like blocks and dodges in these two weeks... I guess I just needed to git gud.
The harvesting and crafting are excellent and enjoyable with a lot of variety and depth and just enough. but not too much, RNG to make getting a critical crafting result enjoyable and not extremely rare.
In all honesty I'm not even sure there is still enough to keep the average player engaged for more than a couple or 3 months at the moment. I expect that will continue to change and improve over time but I don't feel a need to wait for that to happen. I'll play at release and if I get bored in 3 months so be it and I'll still feel like I got my money's worth.
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