As comes to a surprise to no one, I've spent the better part of the last 3 days playing in the Guild Wars 2 Headstart. Above you can see my Asura Elementalist, who is only level 15. This is due not to my lacking game time or playing too many other alts. Rather, it's a direct result of some of the hiccups the game has had since Friday night's soft launch to prepurchasers such as myself.
I was online and ready to go at 9 PT on Friday when ArenaNet brought up the servers, which impressed the heck out of me. Earlier in the week we'd heard servers might be up as early as then but I don't think anyone was expecting them to be ready to go at exactly that hour. Over Vent, I was hearing issues from a number of players regarding login troubles and guild invites not being received (or being received but they could not see themselves in the guild roster. I was happy to not have any of those issues, and to snag most of the names I wanted on my home server.
My intention had been to play until midnight with Wrenz, but the grouping/phase/overflow issues we started having almost immediately, including one that kept Wrenz from being able to move his Asura out of the initial instanced quest, and coupled with game crashing lag in the overflow KO'd that plan. Instead I set up my alts, put a few small items up in the trading post and logged out after about an hour, planning to get in some serious crafting and exploring time over the weekend. At this point, I was just super happy that we got our characters rolled on our server before it filled up, which happened by about 9:40.
When I logged back in on Saturday morning, I was disappointed to find that we'd ended up with a playing experience that had reverted to the issues we'd had in the first BETA weekend, rather than the smooth playing that had set the tone for the last two BETA weekend events. Specific issues that kept cropping up include:
- Mail not reaching its recipient. Happening both if the player was online and mail was sent from the contacts window or from typing in the person's name in the mail window.
- Trading post not available. This led to full bank and bags and my scavenging a vast number of items I would have otherwise sold on the trading post, such as blue quality gear and weapons. It also put me at a bit of an impasse with my professions, since at one point everything needed vials of blood, which I would have purchased on the trading post. Luckily for me, last night twitter came to the rescue in the form of one of my tweeps sending me a stack of blood (thanks Scott!)
- Join in not working. This is supposed to allow you to get into the same phase/server as your party member. But I kept having it not work, or worse yet-- not show up as an option. This meant Wrenz and I, although in the same guild and on the same server and playing in the same Asura lands often could not actually play togther (or see each other in the game world tho our little dots were right next to each other on the mini map.
- Game not sure what character I was playing. By this I mean to other players, and to my guild roster, last night, it thought I was on my level 8 Norn ranger, in Hobrek. Over the weekend it kept thinking I was on a level 2. Not only did this prevent folks from thinking I was available to play with in the area I was in, it was on these occasions that I was not able to be grouped up with. Similarly, the game kept thinking Wrenz was on his level 2 human, instead of his Asura, which is quite likely one of the causes of our grouping bugs.
- Buggy overflow server. By midday Saturday it started to feel like there was more than overflow for the Asura starting lands on our server, since I could be in overflow playing with Wrenz, walk a few yards away then POOF! No longer be able to see him in game and vice versa without either of us having gotten a message that we'd been moved, and no ability to Join in to get back in the same phase.
- Gathering tools gone missing. Perhaps one of the oddest bugs was last night logging in to find my elementalist was unable to gather wood due to not having any tools equipped. Having just bought her a stack of lumber axes the night before, and still having plenty mining picks, I was unsure as to what had happened with the 88+ she logged out with. I went and bought more and moved on, but it was a bit of a pain since it cost time to go to a vendor, as well as cash to travel there, the latter being in much shorter than usual supply due to the lack of the trading post.
After we got past the debilitating lag of the first night, the game was beautiful and playable...in a solo fashion. But not so much from a crafting perspective. And certainly not from the perspective of wanting to experience the first blush of this new MMO with my SO. I am bummed for the folks who got swept up in GW2 fever that prepurchased and had not had the chance to play one of the flawless BETA weekends. I've seen a number of them having already thrown up their hands and gone back to SWTOR/WoW/TSW.
Inevitably, one of you is starting to formulate your reply, along the lines of "haven't you ever been in a launch noob. you have too high of expectations." Well let me save you the trouble of typing that (it won't be unscreened if you do): I had the pleasure of playing in SWTOR's headstart this past Winter and it had absolutely none of these issues. Other than Windows barfing on my Mac keyboard a bit, it was every bit as smooth as I could have hoped.
This weekend's GW2 headstart, on the other hand, was pretty frustrating, and was more akin to some of the game breaking WoW patches and expansions (hello Burning Crusade and HFP lag of doom and rolling restarts!) of many years past. I am hoping that GW2 gets over these small hurdles quickly. The Guild Wars fans who have been waiting years for this game will put up with these issues as minor annoyances, but those who are new to the franchise might not.
Overall, I still have high hopes for this game. My Asura elementalist is adorable and I am enjoying my Norn ranger. Once I am able to fully take advantage of the trading post and get my economy mini game going, I know I'll be back on track to being the raving fan I expected to be. See you in game...
PS as always comments are screened. Rest assured constructive comments will be unscreened as soon as possible.