Community beta review project

Project – Community beta review

With all of the betas behind us, only one major event remains. Release. However, we will not forget the memories we made while testing the game. At the end of a beta I usually poll the guild and type up a feedback report on our collective experience of that event. However, now that all of the beta weekends are done, I believe they deserve a review as a whole. Instead of just asking the guild, I also want to open up the feedback to the rest of the community as well.

With your help I will be writing a community beta review. No, it will not include a number rating, grade or anything like that. However, it should provide plenty of insight into our beta experience. A useful resource for those who either missed the betas, or are still undecided on buying the game until they hear what people think of it so far. This way they do not need to spend a lot of time browsing through the forums to find our opinions.

Participation is simple. Just answer one or more of the questions below. Please elaborate on your answers. This is YOUR chance  to review the game without the need to spend a lot of time on editing and grammar. I do have to be able to understand it though.

Make sure you number your answers according to the questions or copy everything below into your comment and replace the non-bold text with your response.

  1. If you attended more than one BWE, which was your favorite?
    Were there any outside factors contributing?
  2. How did you feel about the density of content?
    Number of events, number of armor skins, .etc
  3. What did you think of the cash shop and trading outpost?
    How useful was either to you?
  4. What did you think of the professions?
    Which ones did you like/dislike and why? Have you chosen a main?
  5. What did you think of each starting area?
    Which felt the most natural to progress in? Which had the coolest surprises?
  6. What did you think of the major cities?
    Do you have a favorite?
  7. What did you think of other areas in the betas?
    Level 15+ areas and Ascalon Catacombs.
  8. What was your favorite level range?
    Example: I found the game to get better after unlocking my first trait point.
  9. What are your thoughts on PvP?
    Also if you have any awesome PvP stories, feel free to share.
  10. What issues hindered you the most?
    Examples: NPC spawn rates, server lag and downtime, performance issues.
  11. How was the game’s difficulty?
    Did you find the crowded areas had an affect on difficulty?
  12. What do you want to see at launch?
    Examples: “I would like to see the game’s replayability keep me returning for years to come.”
    “I want to see more character creator options.”
    “I hope the game runs better on my PC.”
    “I want to see my friends finally buy the game.”
    “I just can’t wait to progress a character I get to keep.”
  13. Additional comments?

4 responses

29 07 2012

1. If you attended more than one BWE, which was your favorite?
-BWE1 for sure, mainly because it was my first real chance to experience the crazy awesomeness that is GW2. Everything was completely fresh, and I had no idea what I was doing for a while there. Which, believe it or not, is actually fun to me. I got to kill a Dev in WvW and scored over 100 kills in one day playing WvW also.

2. How did you feel about the density of content?
-The content in Gw2 is rich and dense, aka lots of it and good quality! The mapping is almost unreal in my opinion and the scale of everything was something I have never experienced in gaming. When you are in a city, you really feel like you are one person in a real city where people literally get lost. I could go on for quite some times, but I digress. The main problem I had was with armor… I found it extremely hard to find new looking armor during BWE1 for my Ele for whatever reason. However, by BWE2 I realized they had either upped the drop rate of armor, or added in more new content. Either way problem was solved!

3. What did you think of the cash shop and trading outpost?
-As far as the cash shop goes… I never even acquired the free gems that come when you put your credit info in, so I can’t say much there. Other than there had better not be any in game advantage coming from the Cash shop. Now the trading post, I waited all GW1 for them to do something like this, but they never did. However, in GW2 they did it, and in my opinion they did it wonderfully. I love the fact I can put things on sale while i’m out adventuring, or even buy things. Sure you have to pick up the money/item later, but I know it is there waiting for me when I am done adventuring, and I didn’t have to rush back to a city to buy it. Short version, I love the trading post.

4. What did you think of the professions?
-Truth be told, I have considered every profession as a main except for the engineer. I love them all really, the best part is that I don’t have to say “some are good for PvE, some PvP, but ___ class is good at both”. No, I can honestly say each profession will have great use in PvX (Mesmer needs PvE polishing though, ahem). And I think if anyone is up to the task of keeping all the professions balanced it is Anet. I will have level 80 of every profession before too long I can promise that much. As for now I have settled on the Ranger as a main, I liked the Ele and Thief a lot, but loved the Ranger. The Ranger can do anything… Play support, heavy damage melee, heavy range damage, AoE, high survivability, etc, and do it all well. Then again most of the professions can boast the same thing, which is awesome. None the less, I really favor the Ranger play style.

5. What did you think of each starting area?
-I missed the Asuran and Sylvari areas, which I heard were both pretty awesome. I think I liked the Charr area the most, picking up bombs and throwing them at level 3 wurms was pretty awesome. But overall, I really did like them all a lot. So much to see!

6. What did you think of the major cities?
-Best scaling I have ever seen in a game, hands down. Huge, awesome, and nearly overwhelming are more words that come to mind. No favorites at the moment, I thought they were all awesome.

7. What did you think of other areas in the betas?
-Not much to say about them, enjoyable and pretty diverse.

8. What was your favorite level range?
– I have not had the chance to level one profession over level 25, but the higher level I got the more enjoyable for sure.

I will finish the rest soon!

30 07 2012

Sylvinstar, member of Guild Wars 2 Hub here.

1) If you attended more than one BWE, which was your favorite?
Tough choice between 2 and 3 but I’d go with 3.

2) Were there any outside factors contributing?
I had a lot more time to play BWE3

3) How did you feel about the density of content?
There was plenty to do for PvE. I ran over 100 events in 3 days, some more than once =)

4)Number of events, number of armor skins, .etc
See #3 for events. Armor skins at low level are generic. Starting armor looks good, but low level drops don’t look as good and have similar looks. Karma gear and crafted gear are a little less generic at low levels.

5) What did you think of the cash shop and trading outpost?
I used it a bit in BWE’s 1 and 2. Cash shop is easy to use. Read up on Trading post before using it. If you have used the trading vendors in Guild Wars 1 you get the idea, but the system does not work like trading posts in most MMO’s.

6) How useful was either to you?
Come launch the trading post will be more useful, I bought a few materials off from it for crafting when I was in a pinch and didn’t want to waste precious beta time harvesting a few mats, but other than that I did not use it much. The cash shop was fun to check out. I used it once to buy a key (with gems) to open a chest, but I don’t plan on using it terribly much except when I earn gems through in-game means.

7)What did you think of the professions?
There are four I am totally in love with and two that just haven’t clicked for me (thief and mesmer). The more I played my favorites the harder it was to choose a main. Keep in mind I have friends, and know other people that love thief and/or mesmer.

8)Which ones did you like/dislike and why? Have you chosen a main?
Necro for main, although Ranger is every bit as fun it came down to who was playing what in my static group. Guardian is so easy to pick up but you can do so much with it – while this class most resembles a ‘paladin’ type class, it is more fun to play than any paladin I have every played. Guild Wars 2 class system is pretty flexible and I think Guardian shows this off as you can go damage, healing, condition removal/buff, even more caster-like with a scepter or staff. Engineer gets some grief from the PvP crowd, but if you ask a PvE person, they are tremendously fun, and have a lot of flavor (the more utilities you unlock the more fun this class gets). Lots of utility with this class combined with some quirkiness and fun. I can’t comment much on Elementalist as I have not played them much. They have a ton of weapon abilities to level. They are good healers and damagers from all accounts.

9)What did you think of each starting area?
Norn area was probably my least liked starter area. Asura was probably my overall favorite (so much funny dialogue going on). Sylvari was your typical flowery, bright color palette zone. The seed pod lifts that floated up into the main tree were very cool. The human city, Divinity’s Reach is amazing, and the starter area sprawls out nicely from there. The Charr area was just behind the Asura area for me in terms of overall fun, and not by much. I usually don’t like the look of arid zones, but something really clicked for me with the Charr area. The beginning of your experience in Charr lands really gets you going with a sense of urgency vs. the other starter areas.

10)Which felt the most natural to progress in? Which had the coolest surprises?
The Charr area was my favorite to progress in, with the Asuran area right behind. There are cool surprises in all the areas if you explore. Our group found a jumping puzzle in a hidden cavern in the Sylvari area that was a very cool surprise.

11)What did you think of the major cities?
I tried not to overexplore the cities as I didn’t want to spoil too much for launch. The Charr home base is a lot like the Death Star inside with more open areas. The human city really has the feel of a large city, with lots of undiscovered pockets to explore. The Norn city is the most open – I did most of my crafting here, but later I found better crafting areas in the sylvari area. The Asuran Capital of Rata Sum is easily the most over-the-top and original design I have seen in an MMO. It’s like exploring a giant rubix cube, or a Borg city (if you are a Trekky). The artwork and layout is amazing with multiple levels and a mix of Mezo-American design and technology. Exploring a level or so down there is a giant rift that just plunges down as far as you can see with waterfalls and vines.

12)Do you have a favorite? The Asuran Capital hands down, with the human capital coming in second.

13)What did you think of other areas in the betas?
Every racial area is very distinct. There is a lot to do, and a lot to discover. The area north of the Norn starter zone, has some very funny events including a snowball fight that can tern deadly, hungry rabbits, and a Jackalope escort.

14)Level 15+ areas and Ascalon Catacombs.
I got several alts up at least to 10 or higher, but that meant I didn’t get into any 15+ content. I did peek into the first room of the catacombs with some friends and of course we ended up agroing some ghosts and got our butts handed to us. The beginning cinematic sets the tone for the dungeon nicely, and I liked the fact that there was an equipment repair anvil in the first room of the dungeon.

15)What was your favorite level range?
Honestly it was all good through level 12 or 13 (highest I got on any one character), but as we ventured out further from the starter areas into the higher end of the 1 – 15 zones things did not slow down. Pops were a bit more challenging and content was fun. I’ll avoid specifics so as not to spoil. If you are a class that gets weapon swap, level 7 is your first major celebration as that is when you unlock that ability. As you level and unlock more utility abilities and start getting a feel for your different weapons and their abilities the fun-factor increases. I really had a great time with my Charr engineer once I opened up grenades and combo’d that with rifle.

16)What are your thoughts on PvP?
sPvP is pretty fierce, although you can join match types that auto level you based on your glory level, so that you don’t constantly get run over. This helps you learn your class in PvP without getting too frustrated. WvW is a blast. Letting loose an arrow cart or cannon on an assaulting zerg of players.. well it brings a grin to my face just thinking about it. People have definitely stepped up their game. There was a noticeable difference between BWE1 and BWE2 PvP across the board. I did not PVP in BWE3 as I wanted to firm up some class choices and do some PVE with friends.
In sPvP, Team Paradigm has made a name for themselves, and are pretty open as far as sharing their builds etc. Google them and check them out. I am not a member, but found their boards non-judgmental and full of good nuggets on builds. Their PvP videos are a good look into sPVP team play if that is what you are interested in doing. The sPVP maps are varied and interesting, with different twists to them.

17)Also if you have any awesome PvP stories, feel free to share.
There are many for WvW and sPvP. I was on an arrow cart defending a Trebuchet on a particular map in WvW. Enemy came just out of range and were looking to set up a ballista. Instead of firing right away, I waited until they edged further into range. This didn’t give them an idea as to my range before setting up. They must have figured they were okay, because I didn’t fire. They set up their balista and then I cut loose with several barrages and that was the end of that.

For me, the smaller capture points are more fun to assault vs. the keep zergging.

18)What issues hindered you the most?
Cue times for WvW were a small bother. As I am a player that likes sPvP, WvW and PvE etc. it’s not as big a deal. For people that play solely for WvW, this would be a bigger issue. Performance-wise I would say I am playing at the lower end of computer hardware. Core 2 duo 3.0 ghz with an Nvidia GTX 280, 2 GB Ram on a 7200 RPM HDD (windows home 32 bit OS). PvE group play I can play on high settings, but need to turn down to low or mid settings for large dynamic events with lots of people and NPCS. sPvP there are no performance issues. WvW can get laggy performance from my computer in large castle sieges where massive groups of people are fighting it out. Small to medium skirmishes (up to say 30 people or so on screen) is okay at medium settings. This is also a bit subjective. A little frame loss doesn’t bother me as much as some people. UI response is good. In BWE1 there was a lot of server lag issues at first, but they were hotfixed and have continued to improve. Now I can’t speak for PvP’ers last BWE – it sounded like performance took a step backward for them (no surprise really, A-Net increased server caps and reduced the amount of servers, then handed out thousands more beta keys). PvE last BWE was flawless performance for me. If I had settings on high and ran into a large area like Divinity’s reach, I’d definitely see the frame loss, but it wasn’t unplayable. Honestly, for the age of my machine (built in 2006 with a GPU and CPU upgrade a couple years later) I am very happy.

Regarding spawn rates. Some events respawn pretty quickly, but that is really dependent on how many people are around doing things. I did notice as our small PvE group got out east of the Charr starter area there were some places where respawn rates were ridiculously fast, not impossible, but definitely made things more difficult.

19)How was the game’s difficulty?
Of course PvP depends on your opponents and how well you have learned your class, (and researched builds). Speaking of which, my favorite builder right now is:

It has all rune and jewelry slots available as well as including PVE racial utility skills (only builder I’ve seen with racials thus far).

Even if you are going to do PvE only I recommend looking at PVP builds as starting points, and then taking them to a character builder like the one linked above to play around with. Some of the trait descriptions are vague, and I’ve done some testing to clarify them as best I could. I mainly got to some of the Ranger Traits last BWE. If you are a Ranger in waiting you might want to check out my testing results at Guild Wars 2 hub. There are a lot of guide articles going up there as well.

20)Did you find the crowded areas had an affect on difficulty?
Crowded with agro NPC’s and not enough players to pull your butt out of the fire? Yes. Events with tons of people in the starter zones were much easier as a caster class, because I got far less agro. People have really taken to the ‘team’ aspect of PvE in the beta’s. It was rare that someone didn’t go out of their way to rez a total stranger, or jump in and help fight a mob. With no competition issues for mobs or raw crafting materials – it’s a win win.

21)What do you want to see at launch?
The same helpful community that was present in the BWE’s. Honestly, the PVE game, as much as I’ve played through level 12 or 13 has so much to do – it really feels ready. I think a little more variety to gear drop appearance would be nice, but I’ll be crafting gear anyway. More ugly face options would be nice. Female charr have some, but even the male Norn had only one face with scars that I remember. Oh, and more optimization for better performance is never a bad thing =)

Regarding re-playability: if you are hooked on the rush to level cap gear grind for 100+person raids, this game won’t cut it for you. I think the 80th level events in Or may come close to this, but I can’t say for sure.

There are gear grinds in the game for weapons and gear that come from dungeons, but this is on a much smaller group scale, and the gear bonus is mostly cosmetic (according to A-Net at this time).

The re-playability in this game comes from the many different storylines your main and alt characters can go through, along with dungeons that have some random elements to them. Also there are plenty of crafts to level, puzzles to find and solve, and achievements to be had. The world is very large, with massive PVP battlegrounds that have small quests and puzzles in them as well.

I hope this helps. No game will please everyone, but Guild Wars 2 has a lot to offer, and for no subscription.

2 08 2012

1. If you attended more than one BWE, which was your favorite?
Were there any outside factors contributing?
The second beta weekend was my favorite, I was playing the profession I’m going to use on release, and I Probably played the most that weekend.
2. How did you feel about the density of content?
Number of events, number of armor skins, .etc
The number of events felt really good, you were able to stand and enjoy the scenery but still have something to do less then a few minutes away. The variety of armor and weapon skins on the other hand was underwhelming. Picking up new equipment that was the same model happened too often, I felt like I was wearing the same pants to level twenty! The only thing that offset this was the variety of dyes with I loved that, I’m crazy about dyes. Never the less I’m looking for a little more variety up to level twenty with armor and weapons.

3. What did you think of the cash shop and trading outpost?
I liked the cash shop in the all the betas but the last one. Why did Arena Net spend money on their fantastic art team to immerse us if some jackass dressed like a rockstar in modern sunglasses, and clothes, walks into our screen, and turns the game into a disasterous Star Trek time travel episode! I like cosmetics but stay in theme, there is a lot of awesome things that are in Guild Wars’ universe, use it! Expand it! But don’t splast our universe on top of it! The trading post has been good, painless, and easy to use.

4. What did you think of the professions?
Which ones did you like/dislike and why? Have you chosen a main?
I Played Guardian and engineer the most. I have always known that I’ve wanted to play the guardian since the release of the profession. The engineer on the other hand, was me just wanting to try out one of the other new professions. I really enjoyed the engineer more then I thought I would. I’m never going to be a hard core stats guy, so I only can rate on how fun it was for me to play, and it was, the turrets and guns made it something completely different with tactics from any of the other professions, really fun. The Guardian which is going to be my main has just been very fun and powerful, the skills are very impactful, and fun to watch, I just love it.
5. What did you think of each starting area?
Played the most in Queen’s dale no mater what the race, Right now it’s my favorite, love the fields and hills. The second most I’ve played was the Norn area. The norn are my favorite race and culture, so that contributes to it, but I love the beauty of the snowy mountains and small villages. Third most played is the Charr area, I really like the charr but the area is really orange, A little too orange and brown for me. In the last beta I got to play in only one of the starting areas which was the sylvari area, I really enjoyed it!
What was your favorite level range?
6. What are your thoughts on PvP?

WvW is fantastic it will be my preferred pvp.
7. What issues hindered you the most?
Down time hasn’t really a problem, so performance issues was my issue, game runs great but chokes up a bit with lots of players.
8. What do you want to see at launch?
Respawn rates decreased, To many times I was blocked in because a NPC I had kill respawned in no time at all, it made some of the skill points really hard, even with three people.
9. Additional comments?
IT’S BEEN SO LONG! I CAN’T WAIT TO TOUCH THIS GAME’S BODY IN THE FULLEST OF WAYS, ESPEICALLY PVE. On another note, Since the first Guild Wars 2 trailer I have only used Guild Wars 2 desktops, my promise will be proven on release and I will allow myself to use non Guild Wars 2 desktops again. Just known every day for the last three years my screen has been awaken to your fantastic art team. Only your art team could keep me from breaking my idiotic promise, thank you.

6 08 2012

If you attended more than one BWE, which was your favorite?
I have to say that the first beta was probably my favorite. Even though I have been pretty happy with how things have evolved all the way through to the 3rd beta, getting in the game for the game, after following it for the first time was just an awesome experience.

How did you feel about the density of content?
For me a lot remains to be seen here as I didn’t really go as deep into the game as most people, especially for the time I logged. My focus through all of the beta weekends was centered around trying the professions to see what was a good fit.

What did you think of the cash shop and trading outpost?
As of right now, and at least reading Arenanet’s stance on the cash shop, I have no problems with them. Again, I didn’t utilize them much, but as long as things in the cash shop remain cosmetic or non-crucial to progression, I am ok with it all.

What did you think of the professions?
Wow, this has been major issues for me because I have found so much fun in just about all of them. I didn’t really click with the necromancer or engineer and to be honest, didn’t really give the elementalist a fair shake. I anticipate a Thief or Warrior as main. I am really striving to choose just one profession to master this time around, but I am not sure my personality will let me choose just one.

What did you think of each starting area?
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the starting zones, as I found them all a breath of fresh air compared to what I have been used to in other games. I spent the least time in the Charr and Asura areas and found the Sylvari area for me, had the best flow. In the Norn and Human areas, I always felt like I was lagging a bit behind the leveling curve, but I had no trouble staying ahead of the game with the Sylvari zone. I still haven’t picked a race at launch, but I am thinking it may be Human or Sylvari.

What did you think of the major cities?
Again, very well done. I didn’t spend a ton of time exploring the cities, but what time I did spend there, I found it quite fascinating. I enjoyed listening to all of the side conversations from the NPCs as I wandered around.

What did you think of other areas in the betas?
I never got a character past level 10, so I stayed in the starter zones…not much input here.

What was your favorite level range?
see above

What are your thoughts on PvP?
PvP is something I am very much looking forward to this time around. I am traditionally not a PvP player, but I think Arenanet really has put together some attractive options here. Most of my time in the betas with PvP was done in the 8v8 sPvP matches, which I ended up spending way more time than I thought I would. I really enjoyed the concept of instantly becoming max level and being able to jump right into a balanced pvp system.

What issues hindered you the most?
Like everyone else, I did experience the occasional bug or lag. I think the only thing that frustrated me, which I mentioned above, was being underleveled in the Human and Norn starting areas. I felt like I was forced to redo quests or events, just to keep up.

How was the game’s difficulty?
I found the difficulty varied between betas, but I think that was a known “bug”. Last beta, things seemed to flow more easily than the first two betas. Overall, I hope they keep the level of difficulty high, but not to the point of frustration. I enjoy overcoming the subtle challenges and think it would be a nice change of pace just not to have an “I-win” button.

What do you want to see at launch?
I think in one of your examples you mentioned more character creator options. I think that would be nice, but not necessary. I am looking forward to settling down and getting to know the people in game while finally getting a chance get to explore the things I didn’t dig too deeply into during the betas (crafting, WvW, etc.). I hope Arenanet is able to provide enough unique content to keep people around, they have built something special here and I look forward to being a part of it from day 1.

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