Guild Wars: Some plus and minus observations

As Aria and I have been slowly (level 7 atm) making our way through Guild Wars NightFall, a few things jump out as talking point. I’m still having a good time overall with the game, Aria is 50/50 with it mostly due to the amount of travel vs combat/content, but I know until we hit level 20 we are not really seeing the ‘real’ GW.

One thing that currently does strike me as a little odd is the pacing of the outdoor areas. We have yet to really hit our stride and battle in an area that feels right. Either we are fighting mobs that we plow right over, or we are fighting things 3-4 levels above us and dying more often than not. The oddest part of it all is I don’t believe we are skipping ahead or going out of order, but rather that the jump in levels is a bit drastic between one side of a quest hub and the other. Again, my guess is once you hit level 20 this becomes a non-issue, but right now it’s noticeable. A level indicator on quests would be rather helpful in this regard IMO. Am I missing an option for this?

I can’t talk about how Aria’s Elementalist plays, but my Dervish is again both interesting and also at times annoying. I have a good selection of self-buffs to cast, which give both a benefit while they are running and then a secondary benefit when they end. This combo of benefits is interesting. It’s also annoying because the buffs only last 20-30 seconds, which means you end up recasting them before every single fight. With 3-4 buffs being used, that’s a good amount of click-and-wait time before you clear yet another group of mobs.

The interesting thing is that many of my special attacks also remove a self-buff when executed, meaning that not only do I deal the special attacks damage, but I also get the ending benefit of whatever self-buff is removed. The annoying thing is that you then re-cast buffs if what you are fighting is still alive after one round of ‘attack and remove buffs’. Overall I think I like the system, and certainly in tougher fights it’s nice to plan ahead and pull off combos as you need them, but it does make the Dervish a bit micro-heavy for common mobs.

Finally, while overall I like the hero system GW has going for it, it also feels a little lacking. I like it because it in essence gives you another character to level, assign skills, and equip gear with. As those are core values of any RPG, and I enjoy RPGs, I like heroes for those aspects. It’s always nice to have a sword drop, and despite the fact that my Dervish uses scythes, I still benefit from the sword because I can have my hero Koss the warrior use it. Plus without having to roll an alt I can get an idea for how a warrior plays and the type of abilities they get. As we pick up more heroes, this will only increase.

Another huge bonus is that Aria and I can field a full party of four just by bringing out our heroes. While this does remove a major aspect of an MMO, grouping with others, for us it works well because of how quickly we jump in and out of the game. I would not want this kind of option in my main MMO, but in a side game it’s great, and I believe GWs makes for an excellent side game (no monthly sub being a key factor). Being able to mix and match heroes based on your class and what you need/want is another nice perk.

The major downside with heroes in GW however is that they are too automated. Once you assign their skills and gear them up, they basically play themselves. This is great for run-of-the-mill mobs, but it either trivializes or leaves you feeling a little helpless against tougher mobs. If the heroes do too good a job, you end up feeling like the game is playing itself. If they don’t do enough, you end up wishing you had more control. Given how heavily instanced GW is, I’d think an interesting option would be to allow a party leader to slow down time, and in this slo-mo mode you can assign specific actions to a hero in an almost RTS/TBS control style. That could never work in a virtual world setting, but in a 1-4 man instance, why not?

Like I said initially though, I’m still very much into exploring more of GW and its different functions and systems, plus it’s saying something that the graphics still look great given the games age. I can see why it’s not really an MMO, but then I can see why it’s not really an MMO for a lot of good reasons. More to come as we get further in.

10 Responses to Guild Wars: Some plus and minus observations

  1. mbp says:

    Did you know that you can manually control a heroes use of skills? Clicking a button on the heroes skillbar activates that skill. You can also prevent a hero automatically activating a skill by shift clicking that skill. I generally find that it is safe to leave the simpler skills on auto but anything more complicated I fire manually.

  2. Randomessa says:

    I, too, found levels a bit off in the first half of the Nightfall tutorial (along with the annoying practice of quest NPCs saying “go away and come back when you’re level X” – which did not happen in either of the other chapters). After around level 12 and the second or third mission, things smooth out a lot, IIRC.

  3. Bhagpuss says:

    Well, you’re doing better with the dervish than I did. I gave up on mine by level 5 and he’s going to be deleted this weekend. I literally could not keep up with Koss and the henchmen while playing him. They were charging around powerlevelling me while I stumbled along behind flailing wildly at the air with that stupid scythe.

    I am now playing a ranger/elementallist in Prophecies and having a hundred times the fun. I love pre-Searing and plan on keeping one character there permanently.

    When you say the real GW starts at 20th, are you talking about PvP? From what I recall of my first run through GW 6 years ago, 80% of the PvE content happened before you ascended. Has that changed or am I misremembering it?

    • SynCaine says:

      I was under the impression that most of the PvE content is at 20…

    • Boe says:

      Probably 10% of the overall PvE content happened before ascension in Augury Rock. You’re probably right in saying that 80% of the MISSOION content occurred before ascension, but even after you complete every mission, there is still the Titan Quest Chain, FoW, UW, Tombs, and all of the different farming builds to try.

      With the release of the second and third campaigns and the Eye of the North expansion, the PvE end-game and content for 20′s was increased dramatically. I urge you to stick with your dervish You should pretty much be around level 20 or so when you leave for the mainland in both Factions and Nightfall. Even if you’re not, the quests (especially in factions, where you get like 5k xp per quest reward) and missions will level you up super fast. The dervish itself is a very fun class. When you get to use your elite skills and pick up some of the forms, it is really fun.

      The heroes are a little OP. They’re meant to be to. At the earlier levels, you’re supposed to want to take the heroes and use them over the henchman that you can pick up. Once you reach double digit levels and get closer to 20, you’ll pick up a lot of the slack.

      Hope you enjoy playing a dervish and please, please, please stick with it!

      • Bhagpuss says:

        Yep it was the missions I was thinking of. I don’t actually recall much PvE content besides the missions, apart from the side quests in explorable areas and hunting for the Elite abilities. It was over half a decade ago though.

        I lost interest very quickly first time round once my level number stopped changing. Mrs Bhagpuss did most of the post-Ascension content but I couldn’t see the point. We’ll see if it feels different this time round – my whole attitude and approach to playing MMOs has changed radically since then, when I was MUCH more purist and absolutely hated doing anything that felt “out of character”.

  4. Mordiceius says:

    On a completely unrelated note, are you planning on trying Mortal Online, Syncaine?

    • SynCaine says:

      No plans to pay for MO. I’ve yet to hear a positive thing from anyone who has actually played it. I did the whole ‘live beta’ thing with DF (and DF was no where close to as bad as MO sounds right now at go-live), so I’ll just wait and see here.

  5. Note says:

    Yeah, the majority of Nightfall missions are on the mainland and you’ll be able to enjoy them more as you’re near level 20 by that point. I always found the starter island to be a bit awkward. Still, it’s 999% more fun than the excruciatingly dragged out Prophecies campaign.

    I’d agree that the Dervish is an odd one at first. It requires more forward planning (enchantment casting order) than most classes and requires patience and discipline when it comes to removing the right enchantments. Stick with it though as it becomes a PVE/AoE powerhouse when you get your bearings.

    Might I suggest you look into getting your Sunspear Skill from the “Hero Skill” NPC if you haven’t already (the Dervish’s is ridiculously useful). Definitely capture one of the elite “Avatar” skills when you hit the mainland as they really define the class. Also consider bring Conviction as your defense skill because it’s a Stance and won’t be removed by your attacks.

    Saying that, I’ve just noticed that you can’t pick up Conviction until late in the game. You can however run the PVP Training Area (against NPCs), quickly hit 1000 Balthazaar faction and unlock any skill from a Priest of Balthazar for use on your account. Getting the skill on your character is then a simple process of buying and using a normal “skill tome”.

    If you see anything on the skill list that excites you just give me a shout in game (character name: Note Again) and I’ll throw a few Derv/Ele skill tomes your way :)

    • SynCaine says:

      Thanks Note!

      Yea I’m getting into the Dervish a bit more as I’m buying more skills. Still figuring it out though. Did some work with Aria’s Ele too and I think I got her a bit more powerful as well.

      I’ll be sure to friend you in-game, as I’m sure I’ll have questions as we are playing.

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