A first-timer’s view of Guild Wars 2: the first day

Like most of you, I hadn’t had the chance to play Guild Wars 2 until this weekend. It’s (already) been an enlightening experience. I started writing this on Friday evening, after about four hours of game play. Lots of things I’m encountering are probably more a reflection of my lack of knowledge about MMOs in general (I haven’t really played any other games than Guild Wars).

I’d managed to get my human ranger to level 6, unlock most of the basic weapon skills for axe, dagger, and shortbow. It’s been lots of fun so far, but the server my guild/alliance was hoping to all be on maxed out early, so anyone who tried getting in more than half-an-hour after the BWE started has had to go to a different server instead.

I’m impressed with the graphics (no surprise), and I’ve been quite pleased with the weapons and skills, but I’m still having Guild Wars reactions … I’m hitting Tab-space instead of Tab-1 and still surprised when my character jumps instead of firing his bow or engaging with his axe. I have to un-learn some skills I’ve been using consistently for five years — I’m sure I’ll manage it, just in time to be wrong again on Monday when I’m back in Guild Wars.

In the human area — according to earlier reports — the initial tutorial is either too fast or too slow. I found it too fast, as I had barely figured out how to target an enemy before I was down … and done. I felt a right prat, too. I don’t know if it was my play or if it’s actually designed to put you in the downed state, but it was unpleasantly fast. One moment I’m running forward to get into range, the next moment I’m down.

Also, initial impressions: way, way, way too many particle effects going on in the tutorial. That’s almost certainly a result of so many new players all starting at the same time, but it left me feeling both useless and victimized. I couldn’t see what I needed to target and when I finally thought I had a chance to get involved, I was down.

The chat functions seemed to be out-of-whack when I first logged in: I couldn’t seem to select channels and have them stay selected. Logging out and logging back in seemed to fix that, but it was a bother for the first hour or so as I tried to communicate with guildies and couldn’t get the chat system to co-operate.

While I’m whining on about the silly stuff … I actually miss the /dance emote. I never thought I’d say that.

I must have missed the memo that you need to buy various gathering tools to mine ore, gather plants, and other collecting activities. I’ve passed up lots of opportunities to do anything in that line because I didn’t have the right tools available. So far, I’ve had no reason to visit the crafting areas, as you need at least some raw materials to craft.

Bugs, I’ve logged a few, but then again, too few to mention… I’d teamed up with a couple of guildies to do some personal story (the first time I tried it by myself, I was dead pretty quickly … I probably tried it at too low a level, actually). We had a human, a norn, and a charr in the party, but couldn’t get the personal instance to start at all. When one of the others tried triggering it, we ended up in a charr personal story but still in Divinity’s Reach (not many random charr wandering around to be recruited into a warband, you’d think).

Well, one bug did bother me a fair bit. My quite useful bear pet became a total bystander sometime around level 8. He wasn’t even a good meat shield. I’d seen reference to problems with the pet AI, but this is pretty blatant: he was actively useful until some point after I got to level 7, then totally useless. I’d been thinking to myself that the break between the “total noob” area and the “not-quite-noob” area was quite stark until I realized why I was taking so much more damage and not dealing anywhere near as much as I had just moments before. Update: See the comments below — it was me, not the AI that had the problem.

So far, I’ve only been wandering around in Divinity’s Reach and the starter area for human characters (Queensdale). I briefly took a trip to norn territory to do a bit of norn personal story for one of my guildmates, but that’s been the limit of my explorations so far.

The story continued on the second day.

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