I was able to get some play time in, but it was severely limited. However, limited time is better than none at all!
I dabbled across 5 professions – ranger, mesmer, thief, guardian, warrior – spending the most time on the ranger. I liked what I saw, but didn’t play enough to offer deep insights or constructive criticism.
What I did like:
- The animated map. Not just the fly-into-zoom feature, but the scrolling and updating and circling/highlighting various quests spots.
- Public quests. Reminiscent of Warhammer Online, these were joinable by being nearby, and were great fun. At the end, by what I assume is damage dealt to mobs, I was awarded Gold or Silver medals for my participation. I’m not sure what the really meant as far as loot, but it didn’t matter since I’m sure the mechanics will be further tweaked.
- Instancing. I was so used to only having other players around when in a city zone (which is how Guild Wars worked), it was a lot different to play the regular content with others not in my party. But some points in a quest line required entering an instance, which was largely seamless. What was extra cool is I had to suddenly log out in the middle of one – later when I returned and logged in, I was outside the instance and greeted with a “would you like to continue” prompt. That is awesome, speaking as somebody who sometimes can’t block off hour after hour of uninterrupted playtime.
- Map travel. In Guild Wars, you could instantly travel to any outpost or city you already visited. I didn’t get very far over the weekend, but I saw that you could map travel to nearby points – some cost money and some didn’t – and that is nice to have.
- Skills. It looks like a character unlocks skill slots at various levels, and those slots can be filled with skills purchased via points. I earned a few points in challenges, and am unsure if there will be other ways to earn points. For my ranger, at level 5 I used a skill point to by Spike Trap, which I put to good use in the quest line where I needed to disguise myself and infiltrate a bandit den…
- Convenience features. By this I mean I didn’t have to click or select an NPC to talk to them, or a slain foe to search for loot – merely moving close by triggered a floaty “[F] talk” (or something like that) message.
- Downed/Defeat. In GW2 when you lose your health, you don’t “die” and become a ghost or respawn somewhere else. Instead, you fall to the ground (at that spot) and have a small selection of profession specific skills available; typically you can still fight a little bit, call for help, etc. This is similar to a LoTRO defeat except you can do something during the countdown. I’m fuzzy on the specifics but this look like a great innovation.
Well, that’s a whole lot to like in the brief time I played… I hope they hold future beta weekends AND that I can play for a few hours.