MMOs

Guild Wars 2: Were we playing different games?

I seem to be in the minority of Guild Wars 2 fans. My experience during the beta was pretty positive overall, aside from the hardware/network problems that led to errors while trying to log in, and also an inability to group up with friends. There were some minor issues, such as the auction house and the mail system. Once in, though, the game ran well and I had a lot of fun. I didn’t experience any issues with quests or content aside from some wild swings in difficulty level. Overall, very smooth considering the sheer amount of people playing that first weekend.

If you read any articles addressing speculation regarding a launch date, however, there seem to be tons of people saying that the game is rough to the point of being broken, and that they would expect months of extra polish before the game launch. We’d be lucky to see it by December, if at all, blahblahblah. What the actual frack? Were we playing completely different games? Or do some people feel so entitled that they would be happy to pay for a game and then wait over half a year to actually play it, just to have a highly-polished experience? I just don’t understand that viewpoint.

I think that GW2 is going to suffer from a miscalculation in its marketing timeline. ArenaNet has been hyping the hell out of it, and they’ve actually done a very good job to this point. But we’ve reached saturation level, and rather than building toward a peak of interest, it is going to start to die and turn to ennui and resentment. Also, even though Blizzard and the Mists of Pandaria beta have taken a pretty good thrashing to this point, if I were a game company I really, really wouldn’t want to go head-to-head against Warcraft’s latest expansion. I would expect a MoP launch sometime in November-December, and waiting that long with GW2 would be sheer insanity.

These are the features that I feel are totally broken, and would have to be fixed before the game launches:

1. The server overflow system. As implemented, it is horrible and breaks immersion. I would prefer to see different channels on the same server than this.

2. On a related note, we need the ability to party up with friends. I am amazed that we would have made it to an open beta without this working. What the hell, ArenaNet?

3. If you can’t get server overflow working, you need a queue system. It was really horrible experiencing error after error while trying to log in, knowing from reading the forums and Twitter that it was possibly due to servers being full, possibly due to some other unspecified actual problem.

4. Yes, the game still needs to be optimised, but surely that has been built into their launch timeline.

Secondly, there are some “nice to have” features that I would like to see. I wouldn’t delay launch for them, but it would be nice to see them before if possible.

1. Better human faces. This is the only thing that would be nice to fix prior to launch, as my main will be human and I wouldn’t want to run around forever with a little-girl doll’s face. Would I push launch back because of it? No.

2. It would be nice if the auction house worked better. I was confused during the beta that I seemed to be able to successfully buy things, but never received them. I later read that you have to visit a certain NPC to receive your goods. This is quite odd, and if they’re going to handle it that way, then there needs to be some dialogue to tell you where to receive the items that you have purchased. Easy fix.

Aside from that? If the game went ahead and launched with the first section of issues above addressed, I would be happy. I don’t need a perfect, problem-free world for the first launch of a game, and there will always be issues to address. I would be more demanding if this was a game with a monthly sub – I pay for that polish, damn it. But as it is? I have already paid for it, I just want to be able to play.

And that is part of what is contributing to my general irritation and ennui regarding the wait until launch, and why I would prefer to launch with minor issues rather than wait until the end of the year. I have paid for this. I like ArenaNet as a company, and I have a lot of goodwill towards them. This summer (aside from the probable June launch of The Secret World) is yawning pretty much MMO-free. I am no longer playing SWTOR or Rift. I haven’t played Warcraft in ages, although I did pay for the Annual Pass. The Secret World is better than I’d thought it was…but I still wanted to be playing GW2 in June.

But perhaps I’m crazy, and my experience was vastly different from the experience that other players had. Your mileage may vary.

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