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Hello guys, I'm here to write my first few impressions of Guild Wars 2. This is my first article ever so apologies if it isn't perfect. Note that I'm not a fanboy and try to be as objective as possible. I've played a lot of popular MMO's (WOW,EVE,SW:TOR,LOTRO etc) so all my opinions here are relative.
I've played the game for about 8 hours now. Let's start off with the character creation. I must say that this is quite stunning and better executed than most other MMO's. I really liked the customization and variation. For example the human women look very beautiful and the men look though and completely different. What I also noticed is that the class you pick has a huge impact on your character's appearance. The warrior will be built with savage-looking clothes and an elementalist will be much more slim with robes. After the class picking you can choose your background and heritage. The choices you make here will also be reflected in-game. For example a character from a noble family will have other instances/quests than a character who was raised in the streets. I think it's pretty well executed and cool.
The graphics in this game are excellent. I have a high-end pc and on the highest setting it looks amazing and feels smooth most of the time. It still lags a bit (sometimes a few hitches when you walk or look aound) but I'm sure it will get better with future patches and optimizations. Your character traits are perfectly visible in-game so it actually matters how you make them look in the creation. This is something I missed in other MMO's and I appreciate the level of detail. The environment is very vivid. Compared to SW:TOR I can say GW2 is a lot better atmosphere wise. The environment in the distance is replaced with fancy artwork and the air is filled with ambient objects. Everything combined gives the player a very harmonic feeling which is also very important for me in this genre.
Now on to the quests and combat. The combat is, as you might already know, a bit different than other games. You have 5 weapon slots and 5 class slots. The weapon slots change with the type of weapons you are using. In my guardian's case, the mace will give me more tank-like skills and the sword more dps-like. The class skills can be unlocked and equipped a bit like in Diablo 3. The combat feels very smooth. This due to the combo auto-attacks and smooth animations in general. The spell animations are pretty cool but in a group it will be a bit overkill because you can hardly see your own attacks due to all the effects. This way a target can become completely hidden behind spell animations on high settings when grouped up. The ability to dodge and the lack of requiring a target does make it a different experience. Some like it, some don't. Personally I think it's refreshing after playing WoW so long.
Questing. The starting zone is littered with events where you can help out along with other players in return for a reward. They are indeed dynamic events but some might get repetetive very soon because the cooldown doesn't seem much higher than 10-20 minutes. The dynamic quests don't really matter for your main story line, it's more intended for a diverse experience and extra XP and money as far as I can tell. I won't spoil it for you but some DE's were actually very awesome and I've only seen a tiny bit of the world. Besides the DE's you have set tasks you can do In an area once. Most of the time it's helping out a certain NPC with their troubles. You can however skip these if you don't want to and level another way. I find leveling in GW2 actually fun. It's diverse, dynamic and doesn't feel like it's on rails. Another big plus to ArenaNet.
The story quests are based on your choices at the character creation making them pretty unique. Your friends can help you (sometimes) but will not recieve a reward. The quests often have level gaps so you will have to bridge this with the methods explained above. Your story also has cut scenes. The cutscenes are voice-overed and have fancy artwork as a background. Your character is prominently displayed on one side, the NPC on another. The lip synching is pretty good as well as the voices. The story quests give good rewards and are yet again nice diversions.
The UI looks pretty clean. I have no issues with how it looks and it's not obtrusive in my opinion. The game does have phases. There is an overflow phase and a main world as far as I can tell. You are automatically placed in the overflow phase if the main world becomes too crowded. This can be tricky at first if you are leveling with a friend but can be solved by inviting him to a party and click "join in" to join his phase. Of course there are achievements and other features you would expect from a modern MMO.
So far I am enjoying GW2 a lot. I am wondering how things are at max level because I'm uncertain about it's "end-game". That's all I can say about this game for now.
Hope you liked the review and thanks for reading.
They see me lurkin' they hatin...