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.