GW2 Beta 3
So the third and last beta weekend has closed out. Only a little more than a month to go until the head start of release.
This weekend I put most of my time on playing an asura thief and sylvari ranger. Stopped at level 15 on the thief, having completed both Rata Sum and Metrica Province. Ranger ended up at level 23 by the end of the weekend, having completed The Grove, Caledon Forest, and about 70% of Brisbane Wilds. Also created a norn guardian and human elementalist just to view the racial armor, but didn't actually play either of those.
* The sylvari & the asura - very well done...
* Asura: Loved the unique way the asuras move; not just a scaled down version of human-type movement. There's a lot of flipping and wobbling around. Might call it a bit cartoony, but YMMV. They've also got the most character/sass for both PCs and NPCs. Definitely the most memorable of characters. You just know each and single one of them is sekritly plotting world domination. A lot of people loved their areas the best. I found it very cool but still liked the sylvari zones better. Hi-tech vs fantasy-garden; YMMV again.
* Sylvari: Loved the bioluminescence on the sylvari at night time. Wish there were more face options though. The faux-british voices were kinda odd. Characterization was a little simplistic, but given the oldest of the sylvari race is only 25 years old and your PC is pretty much a newborn, I guess that could be said to be in character; not quite as good as the asura/human but better than the norn (no opinions on charr). Loved the zones.
* Vistas - this was the other thing that was added to map completion and was much-hailed. I managed to do as many as I could find, which was all of them in Rata Sum, Metrica Province, The Grove, Caledon Forest, Lion's Arch, Hoelbrak, Divinity's Reach, 2/5 Black Citadel, 7/9 Brisbane Wilds. I recorded all of the ones I did (except for one in Metrica where I messed up on the recording) so watch for them on youtube or tumblr. I was a bit disappointed by the actual clips though... I thought these were supposed to showcase scenic details that the DE's wanted to draw special attention to. But a lot of the scenes seem to be rather...standard fare. *shrug* Also, they come with the problem of...
* Mini jumping puzzles - these come with some vistas. Dunno if it's just me, but the "puzzles" in the cities and in lower level areas seem to be harder than in higher level areas. The ones in Brisbane and Hoelbrak were pretty straight-forward to get to. Lion's Arch only seemed hard, but was actually fairly easy to do once you found the correct path; there was hardly any jumping involved and my pet could actually follow me all the way to the vista point unlike in the actual jumping required puzzles. There were a few that was extremely difficult though - one in Caledon forest that took about an hour to finally complete (split into 3 tries at different levels); one in Divinity's Reach that took maybe half an hour; on in Rata Sum that took two separate tries. I'm not sure I want to have *that* much challenge on something that's required for map completion. Also, some of them almost seem to require adjusting your character's speed, either with swiftness applied or without it applied. Meaning some classes have an advantage doing these challenges than others (thief especially seems to be the only class w/o a skill that can give swiftness... o_O)
* Equipment preview - OMG I <3 <3 <3 this new feature to bits and pieces. You can now preview armors and dyes. Also, apparently you can preview armors even if it's not applicable for your class, as long as it's applicable for your race. So for example as a sylvari ranger, I can also preview sylvari castor or heavy armor EQ as well; ditto weapons. I took a bunch of screenshots of all the available racial armor and the dungeon armor. Not quite a closeup as actually wearing the armor, but it's a start on the endgame armor planning. =P
* Crafting system improvements - Another <3 <3 <3 on all the UI improvements there as well. Great having the option to deposit all collectibles to bank instead of having to right click each item individually. Also, now all the crafting stations give you access to the bank as well. So now I don't have to plan my crafting professions per character on the similarity of materials to avoid extra bank runs. And also, that means in any zone which have crafting stations around, you also get access to the bank by going to the crafting station instead of all the way back to the bank at the nearest major city.
* Stow pet option for rangers... Well it was a much requested feature I guess. Good for taking screenshots without the pet in the way. I do note that the pet will pop back out when you take falling damage...possibly when you take any damage. So I guess it's not a workaround to actually playing the ranger w/o a pet. Not much of a use for me. *shrug*
* They've pretty much finished polishing out the personal stories. I did all of the sylvari demo story and most of the asuran one, and there was not a single scene that had missing voiceover. This was a very obvious difference from previous betas, where there would occasionally be a missing dialogue in there.
* The particle effects of the torch at night-time seems to have been dialed down drastically, if not removed altogether. It kinda sucks because there are certain areas of the game that are just too dark to play effectively. It's even worse when you're trying to do a mini jumping puzzle in the dark. I wish they'd bring that back.
* It's almost not noticeable since I was actually using the pet-switch and pet-control mechanics as intended this time, but I think the pets overall have better survivability than in the first weekend. Also, I saw less dead pets being dragged along everywhere this time.
* Completion rewards...seems to be wobbly. I got 30 silver for completing Metrica Province but only 10 silver for completing Caledon Forest. Though there were two build changes in between so I guess they're still adjusting that.
* Weapon skills unlock faster now. Instead of the 5/10/15/20 kills requirement before, it's now 3/6/9/12. THANK YOU ANET!
* Overall, everything has been much more polished and is pretty much good to go. I did still come across a few stuck/hung quests. One or two dynamic events that were stuck in some state and could neither be completed nor does it go away. One renown heart that was missing the quest guy (if he was dead, no one could find the body).
* Population control still needs some work. They said they would have the ability to dynamically adjust population caps on servers when they dropped the # of servers. But I still ended up playing on a overload shard for most of Saturday & Sunday, AND there were still a lot of areas in the higher level zones that didn't have a lot of PCs around. I hope they can find a happy medium where the zones aren't too overpopulated in lowbie areas to make it too much of a zerg, while still having enough population in higher level areas so that dynamic event bosses are actually possible to do.
Also, some thoughts on the Thief class...
I didn't find it hard to play once I unlocked dual pistols and shortbow. Melee is still a crapshoot, but they have two decent ranged options to use instead. Shorbow is great for AoE (dynamic events) and dual pistols is great for single target (exploring). Survivability wasn't as great as the ranger or guardian but still comparable to ele/engineer. I didn't make any use out of the steal class mechanic since it automatically brings you to melee range. I have to admit the shadowsteps aren't as much fun/relevant in PvE as I'd hoped. Oh well.
* I need to rethink my guardian's name. All of my previous options apparently exceeded the 19 character limit. Bah. Suggestions welcome.
Pics and videos will be out as I sort through them. If anyone knows of a simple and free software that can clip unwanted bits out of the start/end of avi files, or merge together multiple vids into one, let me know.