Out of Beta, a Game is Born!
Like many players, my first experiences with Guild Wars 2 was in the beta. I remember being blown away by just how polished the game was. I tend to not be the type of player to agonize over bugged events since those are typically cleared up pretty quickly, so I loved every second. All through beta I played a Warrior and I swore my main would be a Warrior. Come August I took a week off work and for reasons I honestly can’t recall started playing a Mesmer and haven’t looked back (Feedback is just cheating, imho).
The transition from Beta to Launch was, looking back, almost seamless. There were some issues with systems not working, and man what a drag it was to not have the trading post, but unlike a lot of games that launch I never had an issue getting in game when I wanted to. No queues, no long periods of server downtime, just playing the game. I really think ArenaNet’s launch team did an amazing job of living up to their ideal of “when it’s ready” in terms of polish on the features they did include (trading post not withstanding).
Out of the Honeymoon, into Haloween
I think it was an really well planned by ArenaNet for the first post launch event to be Haloween. Compared to other games’ holiday events, I really think ArenaNet lived up to the tradition set in Guild Wars 1 and just blew everyone’s wildest expectations out of the water. There was a bevy on content and mini games, achievements, cosmetic upgrades, and a grand appearance by the Mad King. They didn’t slow down with the Lost Shores or Wintersday. Both events were large chunks of content with interesting temporary content mixed in.
The events haven’t been without issues. The Lost Shores end event was a sloppily designed mess, and the ire that caused players should have been easy to predict and planned around. Luckily Wintersday didn’t have any one time content, but it suffers from a very strange lack of climax for me, and the repetitive Tixx Infiniarium event was filler at best.
All in all though, it seems ArenaNet has done a good job post launch redefining what a no subscription MMO can and should deliver to its players. I’ve spent some time in a lot of other games, and I can’t recall another where the attention to detail by the developers has been so consistent post launch. Amidst some of the issues with the content, this fact remains at the forefront of my mind.
The Great Settling
I am starting to settle into my post launch routine with the game now. and with any settling you begin to notice some of the pain points a little more than before. You can see these things popping up in the community a little louder and with a little more crowd support as time goes on. There are clearly things ArenaNet hasn’t delivered on, and a few things they did deliver I wish they hadn't.
The biggest failure with the launch of the game has been the almost non existent sPvP support. I really had high hopes for this game’s sPvP and I still think they can pull something off, but frankly that door is closing and it is closing fast. The first thing I ever wrote for this site was about spectator mode and I’m simply baffled we don’t have one in game yet. Qualifying Points were a good baby step to keeping the bridge from burning completely. I’m suspecting ArenaNet will do a large marketing blitz when they launch some sPvP features, but time will tell how effective that will be in recapturing some of the buzz amongst competitive teams.
Guild Support is still lacking some features (last time logged in, anyone?), and I honestly think WvW is in a worse state now than it was at launch (no Orbs was a bad, bad move), but I’m optimistic those are moving in a good direction. WvW in particular seems to be getting some attention with the addition of Breakout Events. They are a band aid to a bigger issue, but are a nice addition nonetheless.
I’ll briefly mention Fractals of the Mist and Ascended Gear, but I think its pretty clear I really don’t like what they are doing to the end game at this time. The changes planned next month aren’t even going to address most of the issues I don’t think, so I hope there are some as of yet unannounced changes coming along with the monthly event in January. Possibly we’ll see Ascended Gear rolled out fully at that time, what a huge relief that would be.
The Comfy Place I Call Home
The issues I have with the game at this point are all solvable. The game really is an amazing piece of digital art and the world oozes with the care and affection of its crafters. The live team has stumbled some, and I think after 6 years of not having any deadlines the team is struggling to adjust to a monthly cycle. For a game this early in its lifecycle this is to be expected, but I would be lying if I said it was any less frustrating. Iteration was the buzzword during beta, and I think with the new year we can all hopefully look forward to more iteration with the live product.
ArenaNet was shown the ability to create a great world, full of amazing stories. I know I am looking forward to creating more of my own as the game grows from infancy to adolescence over the next year.