Community Beta Review – Page 3

Combat

Leveling characters

I got two distinct responses here. Several players continued to roll alternate characters and did not climb very far up the level scale, while others did. Those who did, said the game got better as they leveled up higher. Guild Wars 2, while to a lesser extent than its predecessor, is a very build based game. As you level your character, your ability to make builds increases until you max out at level 80. When you first start the game, however, you only have access to weapon skills which are essentially pre-made builds for half of your skill bar. Here is a milestone list for leveling up:

Level 1-4: You may unlock all of the weapon skills.

Level 5: You can put one utility skill on your bar.

Level 7: You can swap between two weapon sets in combat. (Unless you are an elementalist or engineer)

Level 10: You unlock your second utility skill slot.

Level 11+: You can unlock traits from this point on.

Level 20: You unlock your final utility skill slot.

Level 30: You unlock your elite skill slot.

Traits really are the main ingredient to build making. They change the way you react to situations, how you you use your weapon skills and what your profession is capable of doing. However you need to accumulate at least ten of them before you start getting into the cool stuff. That means you need to hit level 20 before things start getting hardcore.

Unfortunately we did not have enough time to reach that level on all of the professions so read this next section knowing that most of these reviews are from the introductory period of each profession. All of us who aimed for higher levels agree that the professions get more awesome as they unlock new abilities.

Review of all professions

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WarriorWarriors prove that combat in Guild Wars 2 differs greatly from other MMOs or even action RPGs. While it is essentially the game’s most basic class, it still requires so much more activity and thought than most MMOs we are used to. One of the respondents mentioned that playing a warrior made him “feel like a badass.” A lot of warriors, myself included, greatly enjoyed using a greatsword and rifle in combination, but the class has so many other weapons to choose from. The warrior actually has the biggest arsenal to choose from, so if you love weapons, try this class out.

Guardian tango icon 20px.png

GuardianThis is the only other heavy armor class in the game. It excels in self survivability, but it specializes at keeping others alive as well. If you play as a guardian you can heal and buff, but also take a few hits in the process. In many cases a guardian can out-tank a warrior. This is really unique because most games have squishy healers that the rest of the team needs to protect at all costs to stay alive. In Guild Wars 2 a guardian is the one doing the protecting. No more standing behind the front line, get in front of it instead. The best way to keep your allies alive is to keep them from getting hit by either distracting or destroying your enemies.

None of the community reviewers had anything bad to say about this class. One even put the guardian on the least likely to play list, but had a change of heart after actually trying the profession first hand.

Ranger tango icon 20px.png

Ranger This was the most controversial class amongst the community reviewers. I and a few others absolutely loved it, but several of the respondents did not agree. To me playing as a ranger felt much more similar to my experience in previous Guild Wars campaigns. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the first Guild Wars always stuck players in teams with either AI or other players. In Guild Wars 2, a ranger is never alone because of pets.

Many rangers were annoyed by their pets, they just let them die and never resurrected them. The game doesn’t want people to be able to just abandon their pets’ corpses and go play without them, so the animals still follow the ranger around, but with a defeated symbol over their heads. I found pets extremely helpful when playing solo. While circle strafing to keep enemies from hitting me was a decent strategy, letting my pet keep my enemies away seemed to work better.

I highly advise sticking with tank pets to start out.

Thief tango icon 20px.png

ThiefOf all of the classes, the thief received the least amount of praise. Fortunately one of the respondents likes it enough to consider it as a main. Thieves certainly have their merits, but they may have a more narrow fanbase at the start.

I tried this class and found it to get way better as I leveled higher. Most of the community reviewers scattered their playtime across all of the professions so it is possible they never reached a high enough level to truely enjoy playing a thief. It is a very advanced class with a limited arsenal, and since weapon skills and a few utilities are all you can do until level 11 it can seem kind of lame compared to the other professions.

Add to that the fact that thieves are the only class that can’t simply spam their weapon skills.  A thief’s weapon skills have “initiative” rather than cool down. It’s sort of a recharging energy system similar to classes played in Guild Wars, but not Guild Wars 2.

Thief has a lot going against it in the lower levels, but it still appeals to some even then. If you plan on rolling a thief, my advice to you is just to stick with it. Don’t go deleting your character or ignoring it, because things will get way better for you as you gain traits.

Engineer tango icon 20px.png

EngineerLike the ranger, the engineer got very mixed reviews. It is the only class in the game that has pretty much no melee options, but it also has exclusive rights to some pretty nifty gadgets. An engineer likely relies more on utility skills than any other class. However, what they make up in utilities and gadgets they lose in weapons.

Rifle, pistol and shield. Those are the only weapons you can equip as an engineer and you never gain the ability to swap between weapon sets in combat like most of the other professions. However, if you like turrets, grenades, mines or dropping useful items for your team, this is the class for you. Some of the respondents really loved it, so you may too.

Elementalist tango icon 20px.png

ElementalistThe elementalist received a few minor positive mentions, but for me it was the most noteworthy class in the game. I loved it in PvE and PvP. I can’t wait to try it out in world vs world. The elementalist has the highest number of weapon skills and essentially the highest number of swaps. While they can not actually swap weapons in combat, they can swap between four attunements: fire,  water, earth and air. Each weapon has a completely different set of skills for every attunement so combat style can change drastically in many ways.

On of my guild members expressed that combat with the elementalist felt indirect. It does have a lot of ground targeted skills. I like that about this class, I can always control areas of the battlefield before the enemies even get there. I will definitely be making an elementalist at launch.

Mesmer tango icon 20px.png

Mesmer –  This is another class for advanced players. I found it tough to get into at the lower levels, but several of the community reviewers disagree. The mesmer is not for lazy players. You not only need to read the skill descriptions right off the bat, but also comprehend their significance and how they chain with other skills. Not a good class for people who want to start out button mashing, saving thought and strategy for later.

At the early levels I found that even when I tried my hardest, I still got the lowest participation credit in almost all of the events I helped in. When I got a new weapon I started doing much better. As with any class, if you aren’t having enough fun, try a different weapon.

Necromancer tango icon 20px.png

NecromancerThe necromancer is a very versatile profession. It can be a great debuffer, a competent damage dealer and aninvaluable support class. Good players will have high survivability and their enemies will learn to hate them. I encountered several necromancers in sPvP who used fear to disable my team long enough for their allies to escape demise. They can also drop wells and summon minions to support their allies, or drop marks to hit enemies with deadly conditions.

If you are looking for a toolbox class with lots of neat tricks up its sleeve, or if you just like (un)dead things, a necromancer is a great choice.

Healing Rain SIDE NOTE: Healing – For players used to playing a dedicated healer class in other games, the guardian and elementalists’ heals will feel pretty weak. However, staying alive is largely the responsibility of individual players in Guild Wars 2. If your healing prevents an ally’s death and he is able to get away to recuperate, then you have done your job. If that ally does not attempt to recuperate and dies even after receiving your heal, he is the one at fault for not looking after himself. Healing in Guild Wars 2 is not about keeping your team’s health bars at 100%, it is simply about preventing death. You are an asset, not a requirement.

Review of PvP

Most of the reviews I received stated that they did not even try PvP, but those who did had a great time. Anyone who did play either the PvP modes, structured PvP (sPvP) and world vs world (WvW), likely has a few epic stories to share. In fact, I have one right here:

During the first beta weekend two fellow guildmates and I ventured into WvW. At the time one server was dominating everybody else and had our server pushed back into our borderlands. So we decided to warp there to help out.

We left the spawn and ventured out into the open world. Unfortunately we started atop a large mountain and did not want to go down the beaten path, so we had to make quite a few jumps down steep cliffsides. Our last jump was the highest and we fell several dozen times our height down to a small road. We landed flat on our faces, literally, and the falling damage drained roughly half of our health bars. To our surprise, a group of four enemy players was down there taking the path we had just fallen into. They were four, we were three and we only had half our health. I don’t even know what professions they were because I was to busy panicking and shooting at them.  We figured we would be lucky if we could take out one before they steamrolled us, but the fighting lasted longer than expected and we were winning. We took all four out without suffering a single casualty ourselves. I guess we were even more unexpected than they were.

Want the ultimate element of surprise? Apparently landing on your face at your enemies feet works pretty well.

After that we moved on to finish several small successful campaigns against minor enemy camps and sites. As we ran across other players they began to join us and our little group of three slowly snowballed into a mob of thirty. The winning server showed up in full force to take us out. They pushed us back to our nearest major fort and a long battle at the gate began. After a while they took it over, but at a great price. All of the effort they focused into our borderlands allowed the third server to close in behind them and take over pretty much everything else. At this point I was anxious to get back to PvE so I left WvW.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time in WvW. I am just a very PvE based player. Prior to Guild Wars 2,  the Guild Wars trilogy was one of the only games where I enjoyed PvP almost as much as PvE. I believe that legacy will continue in Guild Wars 2 and possibly even more so. It seems compared to the original, Guild Wars 2 may sacrifice a slight bit of the competitive nature for fun, but that is more than OK with me. Guild Wars 2 seems way more about adapting to the current situation than it is about executing the perfect builds and timings. However, I think the highly competitive e-sports types will eventually find a way to reverse that. They always do. We will have to see how that plays out a year from now, but as I always say, get into PvP early before people really nail down a strategy and narrow the success options as well as the fun options.

The first time I tried sPvP, I did not get to have as much fun as I did in WvW. It really boiled down to the fact that I wasn’t playing with friends. My first few teams were totally inexperienced and I didn’t get to do anything except run away from enemies the whole time. Later I was able to group up with two friends and we had an outstanding time. Even when we didn’t win, we could still burn enemies to the ground and slash their allies who tried to help them up. As an elementalist I found myself at the top of the scoreboard very often. I was unable to solo anyone in the time that I played, but my AoE damage, snaring and healing abilities were very helpful for controlling the battlefield. Also Burning and Chill together, while a bit of an oxymoron, are a brutal combination.

Originally the plan for sPvP was to have 5v5 battles, but I guess I didn’t get to it early enough. Every server I played on was 8v8, they must have made that a permanent change. I didn’t experience any overcrowding though, the number of players seemed just right to me. Now there is an area where much of the community and I disagree. Downed state. I have seen the removal of downed state from sPvP requested several times and backed by many. I personally liked it, I don’t think it caused me trouble. I won’t support it too strongly though, I only have an hour or so of sPvP experience.

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