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Hi all! I am back! Today we will dive right back into Guild Wars 2 for a level 40 review. That is half way to end game folks! As of my last review we looked up to level 30 and I was less than impressed with the game. How has the new F2P model changed things? What has changed since last look? Is it worth your time? Let's find out!


Introduction:

I am back after building my new PC. I am running this game on highest specs and graphics and running a great new gaming PC. When I got back online the question was there: What to play? The games I built this machine for are either off line games or waiting for western publishing, so I fired up one of my old review: Guild Wars 2. Perhaps things have changed for the better? Perhaps with a new machine I can appreciate the game more? Well, I downloaded it and this is what I have for you:

First installing, they offered me a "text message verification" service and I get a free pet. Ok. I did it. And got a nice new Dragon pet. Problem is, the service got hacked and I got text message codes spammed to my phone every minute... I posted in f rums and they said turn it off and change password...so I did and no more problems, but now, I have to VERIFY an email message before logging in game EACH log in. That fills up my email and creates a delay as I log in... Thanks to my new machine I move around fluidly with out any major processing delay's so it works out....annoyingly. *takes deep breath* And now on to the game:



Character Updates:

Of course this a level 40 look so the character creation is done and you can see my level 1-10 review for that. I criticed the game for being "ugly" and most people cried: "U date your PC graphics". Well, now that I am running on the highest settings on a NVIDIA PNY GTX 980 card... It is still ugly. Well, let me rephrase: SOME characters are nicely done, but the humans are butt ugly as well as the gnome race. The beast race stands out. A lot of enemy monsters are nicely done. But humans and gnomes are just some of the ugliest model designs I have ever seen in modern MMORPG.



Even on a grpahical detail level, you can pass some breathtaking architecture, pass up a geared out awesome looking beast player, then run into a human and a NPC that just looks like a mix between WoW and Runes of Magic. It has that "bright pinkish" skin tones with some odd face angles. Some NPC's I had to stop and re-open my settings to make sure I was cranked up as the ARMOR looked nice, but the head looked like a NPC model from a 1995 game. And again, strictly speaking on the humans (and the ugly gnomes). Why is this an issue for me? BECAUSE GUILD WARS SET ITS TONE IN IT'S FRANCHISE OF SEXY HUMAN GAMING. In early Guild Wars titles, the human models, the use of the same humanoid form but rendered into a  "tribe" / "Guild" setting really set it apart. No orcs. No beasts. They had a "class" system made you stand out and a "guild" faction system to enhance that "CULTURAL" look of the human form, and they USED IT ON THE BOX ART to sell. It worked. It made sense. It was exotic fantasy digital mmo greatness... In GW2,  the human takes teh backseat in model design and the game markets off it's "Dragon" and "beast" stuff. And in game, the architecture is the selling point as the characters...meh... nothing to screen shot / screen save about.

Well, looks aside, let's look at functionality:


(I want this! not ugly gnomes and furry beasts!)

Skills:

Since my last review, the game had a skill update. Logging back in to level up to 40, I was told all my skill points reset and I need to relook at it. Sure enough. We have a new "Specialization" system. Basically.... As you know: Class determines weapons in general. As a thief, I have access to a sword, pistols, daggers, spears, and bow. Right hand, left hand, dual wield all have PRE SET ATTACKS for your hot bar, numbers 1-5. Sadly, you cannot MIX AND MATCH OR REORDER THE 1-4... A sort of "FORCED combo" settings. Numbers 6-0 keys are the customizable buttons, but not by much. Before as you leveled up, you could unlock skills for these slots. Now, you "purchase" skills with hero points...I honestly do not see the difference other than they changes the "presentation" and if you discover more hero challenges to get bonus hero points, it is possible to access skills faster perhaps? A sort of "reward them for exploring more" nudge.


(Fanbois be like: Weapons change skills:! yes and no. See to the left those are the PRESET skills. What would have been creative is : weapons have new skills to add tho this. So say One dagger has a double strike, while another has a stun strike etc. In GW2 each weapon has a skill set yes, but FIXED in stone.)

What is new, is the Specializations. A sort of "path" or "passive" skill traits. You have seen this before in other games like Ever Quest  2 in the "alternate paths" or "Story progression" systems these kind of systems present. They are ways to enhance your style. For example as a Thief, I can specialize in "Acrobatics, Shadow arts, critical, etc.." Some depend on the weapon of choice... One skill for example for me is when I roll, I get a short speed burst. A nice little update to "mix it up". But can't tell if they had issues developing the game. For example: Most games reward the player in updates with content and new skills. It is what keeps MMORPGS, especially F2P, going.


(Hero points, i,e, Skill points is the new thing. Specializations help build your character out ina  "unique" sense...more or less. Mentioned in article, feels more like the skills they could not cram into the buttons 6-0 slots, and some skill wheels make not a lot of sense, like "survival" skill of shadows for my thief has poison while there are more survival stats in another wheel. It should be called "Poison" and not "shadow". And for a special build I am making, I need only about 2 of these skills offered in all of this.)


So on the tail of new content, GW2 has new skills...problem is, because of their crappy hot bar set up (something I complained about before), their creativity is limited, and forced to think outside the 1-0 set up because imagine if they added 20 new spells...for a hot bar you mastered for only 5 buttons worth of tested and tried set up? They are FORCED to do a "passive skill build" pr "Rethink the hot bar / skill sets". And they chose the former. Which, for what it is worth, works!

It just is not a big "OOMPH" as it should be and we, of course, get no updates ins kill animations or anything else worth mentioning that is really improved in these new specializations... except perhaps to unbalance things as already they offer "ELITE" skill specializations if you buy the new content pack that is not even out yet (and already people crying of class imbalances with current version).


Other character stuff and the F2P model :

This is a good time to talk F2P changes since it relates more visibly to the character. Once you open the Character tab you will notice a few changes... no no no, let me back up. ONCE YOU LOG IN you will notice the F2P change. Just like those browser based F2P chinese games, you now have a daily reward and to get the annoying "treasure" box from glowing and moving around you click it, press OK and watch all the currency, items, and other "rewards" you don't have time to surf the menu system to find out what it is, you just click and go because annoying. This quality was surprising to see but I understand the new F2P crowd needs their hooks.  And hey, rewards right?


(Congradulations, you just logged in...)

As a F2P you will have limited bag slots and it is considered the most restrictive feature. You can manage it, but even me, a payer (paid once for the box back in the day), can struggle with all the items and trash loot tossed in the bag. You often have to menu surf to the black lions trading post to "Auction house on the go" your crap. And yes, all my former complaints are here: IMMERSION KILLING auction house on the go, mail box on the go, teleporting on the go...etc... Seriously it is an insult that they took the time in most cities to ACTUALLY GRAPHICALLY INSERT MAILBOXES and they do nothing, it is just for DESIGN!


(Nothing says "We went F2P" like lock icons everywhere)

"Oh but it is CASUAL mmorpg"...NOPE! You can easily burn jsut as many hours here as in any mmorpg. Anyways, back to the subject. A major change was the access to character color customizations, pets, costumes etc. ALL ARE DESIGNED to that typical F2P model where you see "LOCK" icons behind everything. Cash gets it out, paid points, etc.. or you can level up, play and collect and trade items. I am just a bit sad as a box payer, I do not have access to a lot more... I mean, at least open up HALF of the color pallet for me...or a special box purchaser pet...  If I felt the low quality of the game back in the day was a rip off for 60 bucks box price, the F2P conversion feels insulting to us thinking we were getting content "better" than F2P quality when in fact no. But that is where we should talk game play:


Game play:

What is it like level 40...The same. In fact, I have ONLY been question in level 15 territory on parts of map I missed or am just getting access too. Guild Wars 2 uses a "Everyone wins" system to try and create a "new" feature. It includes: Scaling down your level to the zone difficulty. And shared kills. There is a saying: TRY TO PLEASE EVERYONEA ND YOU END UP PLEASING NO ONE. This is true in GW2. Since they push exploring so much, I want to RUN FAST into the new territory level 15 and look at all, take the bonus sightseeing points etc and get out. WHY?  Because NOTHING in these zoned is offered for some one higher level. The rewards are geared to the level 15 people. So WHY SCALE US DOWN? In fact since some scaled down players have better equipment for the lower areas, they clear mobs faster...so that negates the logic right there.
Sure, the exp is scaled to me, and the difficulty (Every mob is my level, so I can't over power them due to my higher level or walk past them negating their agro) is "equal", but the only thing that serves to do is SLOW my from point A to B. I do not feel immersed. I do not LEARN anything by avoiding these annoying mobs. Wether I stop to fight everything or not, the outcome is the same: I am here to hit a check point and GET OUT! Why am I in a rush? BECAUSE I WANT TO BE WHERE MY LEVEL IS!


Example: I am level 25. I am in a level 25-30  zone. OH LOOK! A level 10 zone I discovered... Obviously a littel EXP boost and gold and hero points to be had for exploring it, and curiosity sake. .. ok my level 25 people, ait a sec, I will be back... NOPE! Since I am scaled down, I slowly discover this new area, perhaps even leveling up a level or two... Oh look the level 10 zone opened up a level 15 zone...well, might as well grab that...Oh no, I leveled up again...sounds good right? But FINALLY after a week of trudging through scaled content, I come back to that level 25 zone, no scaled down...BUT OOPS! I got leveled up to 30 now....so... This level 25 zone is now considered "scaled down" to me!
So you have a choice: EXPLORE at the price of BEING BEHIND content, and feeling like your friends have passed you up or doing things more their level and better rewards /gear.... Or just take the game linear, and redo low level content at level cap.... which I see a lot of people do.

"But everyone has to be equal" *SLAP* You obviously are ignorant to what they sacrafice (immersion, logic, etc.) for this "balance". Also, when mobs avoid you and take less aggro because you are higher level than them like in most mmorpgs... that is SMART! It feels like they know your power and are "scared" to attack you.... I mean, you wouldn't solo a boss or take on some one 100 times your level would you? Oh...in GW2 you can...

"Oh but it is about stopping bots power leveling"...WRONG! And here is why, and now we look at the cash shop (they have harvesting bots in the cash shop).


Cash shop:

Is it P2W? Yes... and NO.

Let's start with the "NO": They offer a lot of boosts and cosmetics. The three main boosts are EXP, Hero points (skills, specialization building...which all opens up around level 80 any ways so no worries), and object drop bonus. It helps to speed things up I guess, and probably a nice investment if you like the game, want to support it and speed roll a boosted alt. I get a lot of free boosts for rewards and what not and have a bank stash full of exp and other boosts. I also unlocked a few cosmetics... Speaking of which, I had a few costumes and noticed they only had 15min. Time use in the old GW2. The last updates took out those cosmetics and put some into my "wardrobe" or stocked unlocked looks. My "costume" pieces became actual armor pieces with stats...it was weird, they re worked it all, and I think for the better, because the "time limited costumes" annoyed me and took bag space.

Again, I am level 40 and have more than enough "cash shop" items. They offer services like hair style and look make overs and all in all the majority of items are not as interesting as what you get in game for free any ways...so what is "P2W" or at least pushing the limits?

the YES, it is P2W argument: Well, first, they sell bots to harvest. Let's get that off the plate... What I do not know since I do not craft, is if I can make these bots for free as an "engineer" or other crafting profession in game. I do not think so...I think it is a cash shop only feature. the robot tree cutter for example is 1000 gems (high price) and under special items tab... So right there you get a bot program to harvest hands free.... P2W over your F2P noob that has to click and cut his own wood LOL!


(Bot gathering systems in the cash shop)

Now, the most OBVIOUS is the : CURRENCY TRADE market: "Oh but Nanbo, you change gold for Gems (cash shop) so it is technically earnable: *SLAP* FAIL argument. It is a P2W trap. First, YES, it can be INTERESTING and FAIR the first few months. But in less than a year, these markets are PLAYER DRIVEN demand. So inflation sets in, and soon you pay HIGHER than feasibly possible to grind prices. Let Perfect World be your guide. They have prices that will literally take you 5 years to grind out as a F2Per....but open the wallet and yours. So yes, you "technically" can "earn" these items like you technically can jump out of a plane and land on a soft plant and live to tell the tale...the question is, who is daring enough to do it?

So what is the big deal? Well, you can outright purchase weapons. The weapons are not in the cash shop. They are on the auction house. The epic weapons are put on for bid... and oh no, they are not calculated at GOLD prices even though they are sold in gold based on the LIKE ITEMS PRICES. They are put on prices based on the GOLD to GEM ration on the cash shop currency trade center...


That is like me having a 2 dollar hamburger, and all hamburgers are 2 dollars....but it just so happens the stock market for beef is 5 dollars and gold stocks are 10 dollars, and since I want gold, not beef, I sell this 2 dollar hamburger not for 2 dollars its worth, and not for 5 dollars its global material worth, but for 10 dollars the worth of GOLD in an unrelated market...because that is the heart of what is valuable.
So, want that epic weapon? It is technically on the cash shop in the form of GOLD PURCHASING... you know, that illegal activity if done on third party sites. Some wiki facts on gold trading:

§     Price trends for the last five days were displayed until the update to the exchange interface.

§      Players are limited to exchanging 9,999

§     To help combat botting and scams, there is a delay of 72 hours after creating a new account before currency can be exchanged.

§     Gems to gold exchange is available for free accounts but gold to gems exchange is unavailable.

§    The currency supply pool used to determine the exchange rate is limited to the North American servers. Due to incompatibilities, separate pools are maintained on the European and Chinese servers.

And here are my server rates:

Nearly 85 gold for 400 gems (smallest to buy). As level 40...I only have 1 gold... gold is not as free flowing as one might think and is a level 80 farming/crafting adventure. A lot of guilds play the markets to deck out their members for those items they can't seem to craft/ defeat boss for.
8 gems = 1 gold

So the minimums: 84 farmed gold (your time) = 400 gems (and that bot in the cash shop costs 1000 gems...).
So you want gold? 400 gems / 8 gems = 50 gold. And 10 dollars = 800 gems. So... 800gems/8 = 100 gold. So 10 DOLLARS = 100 gold in Guild Wars 2 my server this time. Since the players know this, they will sell a top weapon for the price of gems in gold so, expect over thousands of dollars in gold standard (buying gems), or farming your butt off. Every region and price fluctuates and inflation is a constant.  Is this P2W if you can technically can get it? Sure, because I pay cash... to get a better weapon than you, and now you need to "win" over me by either being a scrub for X amount of time farming or pay up. And yes, it is the borderline "Not really P2W" since at least you are not locked away behind a pay door to where the item does not exist and so far no content is really dependent on your armor stats: example: "You can't do this dungeon unless party full of elite armor and weapons". But from what I hear that has turned people off since end game fully cashed out or equipped people want a challenge, so they might just DO that if not already. They really got themselves in a creative bind, and they should just get rid of it, and stick to the "sell content and perks" only cash shop.


Conclusion:

I enjoy coming back on a nice PC system to see all the beauty in the architecture. The story is still a mess and convoluted. You get to follow a story line then CUT OFF directly, even for months at at time as you explore out and do other things. It is non cohesive and feels detached from the game. It has been so long since I did the last story line that I forgot what is going on or why what I am doing is even meaningful (the main story opens up with level progression. THERE ARE NO QUESTS in guild wars 2, not even a quest log. There are just zones to visit to grab exp and do things, usually killing, to grab more exp pushing your way BACK to the main story line). Tie in the "instant" teleporting and other on the go mechanics and immersion is so cut that this game feels like a 3D paint brush Chinese browser game. Knowing this, the developpers even put a "story" tab in teh menu system to read up if you forgot LOL.

Menu is still a convoluted mess. For what they are offering you ....Basic skill tabs, they sure do add a lot of layers in that menu system and looking at things vertical, then horizontal on the same page is a bit odd... but it works. I LOVE that they finally fixed the players name. I am no longer: "Nanbo@3456" but am "Knifette". The name I created. Other than that, not a lot has changed.

The F2P has not really brought in a crowd of folk as most of the time I feel I am playing alone ina single player game. I guess some places are more populated than others right now. Pushing past 40 now in a level 15 zone feels so ridiculous and yes,, there are some nice scripted events and random grouping up to help break the pure boredom of "OH go away low level mob...why can't I just one shot you since I am X3 your level" moments.

My last reviews I gave this game a 2/5... Coming back F2P, and new machine... Gaining 10 more levels... Things changed, but it feels more "less creative" and more "obliged to do so because what else can we do"? And that sort of globalizes the whole reason I am here... What else? GW2 is pretty solid in comparison to the other F2P games that have failed or offering nothing nice this year... I eagerly wait the release of a  few key titles and in that waiting, I want to see what story nugget treasures GW2 has tucked away for me. Nothing more. Nothing less.

It sails steady at it's below average not doing anything wrong, but not really excelling in anything right score of 2/5...hmmm... maybe 2.5/5 for giving me a free dragon mount for securing  my account...but then spamming my cell phone after doing so... meh, they tried, there you go.

(Higher level dungeons in low level maps = best way this game trolls you. Expect 1 shot surprises if not paying attention. My first dungeon opened up at level 40 in a level 1 area, and I accidently walked into a level 80 dungeon in a level 15 zone.)

Tags:
MMORPG   Guild Wars 2   REVIEW   F2P  

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