Demo Arigato

August 3, 2011 at 7:31 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 8 Comments
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A few bloggers got to check out the Guild Wars 2 demo at the San Diego Comic Con last week, so I thought I’d talk about their posts.

Randomessa who I read regularly and is a big Guild Wars fan posted pretty quickly after her visit along with a later addendum.

I didn’t like hearing about one of her criticisms.

As soon as I spawned in the world as a Norn, I promptly ignored my Personal Story and killed a few minotaurs. When I did, I found I could loot Minotaur teeth from them, which, incidentally, are one of the trophies required as part of the Personal Story. “Neat,” I thought. “I’m going to need this later.”

Yet, when I initiated the Personal Story, I still had a mission to collect a minotaur tooth, and it did not update until I had killed another minotaur and looted a second tooth.

Randomessa is very right to bring this up. As far back as Warhammer IIRC, games have been promising this functionality, and somehow Guild Wars 2 doesn’t yet have it. I really hope they get on top of this one.

She also mentioned this, which is something I’ve picked up on from watching demo videos.

This was neat; there was always a huge tell – in this case, the pirate winds up and lobs a bomb – miss that tell and you’ll be standing in the fire.

A lot of the Guild Wars 2 enemies seem to have bigger visual cues as to what they’re doing. I noted a centaur during the underwater combat glut of videos that clearly telegraphed it’s strike with a sword. I think it’s pretty smart of Arenanet to constantly be reminding people they can move out of the way. Guild Wars was not the best game for kiting I’ve ever played, but Guild Wars 2 seems much more fluid. Movement is going to be a big part of the game.

One other thing I gleamed from Ranomessa was that all this movement might be more difficult than I realize.

As I said above, I did start to get the hang of dodging after a while, but it’s just not something I do much in other games and so required a real re-mapping of my expectations

A lot of Guild Wars faithful won’t be used to the constant movement and I’m now expecting, or at least bracing for, a lot of whining about it when the game comes out. Cries of “It’s too hard!” and “So and So is OP!” will be loud and everywhere upon release.

I won’t go further into her post, it’s worth reading on its own, except to say it seems extensively detailed and well written.

In addition to Casual is as Casual Does I also read Spinksville. She hasn’t played Guild Wars as far as I know so in contrast to Randomessa it was very interesting to read her thoughts. She’s a well-read blogger who has mostly played World of Warcraft and Rift amongst other games and tends to write broadly about MMO topics as well. Her sister (?) arbitrary also wrote up her experience for Spinksville as well.

I think Spinks really sums up what non-Guild Wars fans will face when first playing the game.

I think Arenanet are on to something very good here, because despite the impression of wandering around aimlessly, there was always a certain amount of direction offered. If I had been really stuck I could have gone back to the core quest and followed that. Similarly, the gameplay feels initially similar to WoW (and WoW-like games) – you have an action bar, you use WASD to get around, etc. This makes it very easy to pick up for a seasoned MMO player, but I feel that there’s a lot more to it, especially once you are able to use more abilities at higher level.

Any MMO at this point is compared to WoW because it is king, but I think it’s telling that Spinks doesn’t compare the two to criticize Guild Wars 2 for what it lacks, but to compliment it on how easy it is to get into, and what she’s looking forward to.

She seems to have a favourable impression over all of immersion as well.

This makes for a far more immersive experience than it has any right to be. I wandered around, things happened, I responded to them, I have no idea how many of those things were part of dynamically generated events and how many were just there anyway waiting for someone to discover them … and I don’t think I care.

This sort of free-wheeling experience is just why I jump into Minecraft now and then. Go out to explore and stuff will happen. Fun times.

Two things strike me about Arbitrary’s experience with the demo. One, she clearly knew even less about Guild Wars, and two she seems to have perhaps liked it even more than Spinks.

Her whole post sounds as though she were immersed and having a good time. She enjoyed the content, the choices, the objectives.

I was very much in the ‘blah blah, skim read, do stuff as quickly as possible’ mode when I realised one of the text options was ‘transform me into a snow leopard’. And there were snow leopard cubs around me. Oh yes, I found a quest to be turned into a snow leopard and perform tasks which would honour my totem; by cuddling cubs, killing wildlife, or reviving injured snow leopards.

She went from not reading the quest text, to apparently being somewhat excited about it and enjoying the cuteness of it.

And this is the sort of thing I want to hear about from a game demo. That you can go from being not interested to interested. That it was impressive to Guild Wars fans and non-fans alike.

Can’t wait to read more from gamescom and PAX.



  1. Oh, and you can bet my husband’s going to pull an ANet rep aside at PAX if he can find one and grill them about those minotaur teeth!

    • Get an interview, tell them you’re coming. I’m sure they’d love it.

  2. Did they test dropping the teeth and picking them back up, or banking them, etc.?

    Not that you should have to do that, I’m just curious.

    • No, I didn’t, although IIRC you cannot “drop” items the way you could in the instanced zones of GW1; you get a prompt asking if you want to destroy the item instead, like in traditional MMOs. My memory could be faulty, though.

      I didn’t encounter a banking system during my demo time, but I wasn’t looking, either.

      • I suppose I hadn’t even thought of not being able to drop things as in GW. Interesting.

    • Was s’pose to be “shouldn’t” have to do that

  3. I would say, in the story context (which that Great Hunt was, part of the personal story), the whole horn deal makes sense. You are asked to go out and hunt a minotaur and bring back it’s horn as proof, in a race against other hopeful Norn. Taking a horn before the hunt has begun, then presenting it as if you had hunted it afterwards would be cheated and very much against the Norn spirit.

    If some thought like this has been put into it (and I believe it has. A dynamic event they showed last year was basically “Hand in X of Harpy’s Y to NPC Z”, and this event I would imagine it would not matter when you hunt down the harpies), then I do not see a problem with having to kill a single minotaur after the hunt has begun rather than before.

    • Interesting point, I admit in context of story that makes more sense, but I might argue that as a player, I would prefer to be able to hand in the item right away. The sense of redundancy might be quite annoying. You suppose that a norn might think you were cheating but I could just as easily suppose a norn would have no problem with someone having already killed the prey they’ve been sent after.

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