Friday, November 25, 2011

Slow Down... : Guild Wars

One nice side-effect of my recent post on Guild Wars 2 is that it got me playing Guild Wars again. I didn't have any GW2 screenshots what with the game not actually existing yet and all, so rather than just stealing some screenies off the interwebs I thought I'd use some of my old Guild Wars shots instead.

Only it turns out I don't have any old Guild Wars screenshots. I thought I would have taken some when I briefly came back to the game a couple of years ago, but apparently I didn't. The last time I played before that was at launch, over six years and three computer lifetimes ago. No screenshots survive.

You got planning permission for that?

So I patched up and took some new ones. Ye gods, but Guild Wars has aged well ! It looks amazing. It still has that weird, flat quality it always had, but the detail, the color, the vibrancy are all stunning. My appetite was whetted. Re-whetted. Re-re-whetted.

When I played Guild Wars the first time round I finished the main campaign and some of the post-20 content in about six weeks. Mrs Bhagpuss carried on and finished pretty much all of it, which I think took her a couple of weeks more. Then we both put it away for nearly five years until I spotted The Complete Collection on Amazon for very cheap indeed.

I am so playing one of these in GW2. Whatever he is.
 In retrospect, buying all the expansions at once was a mistake. I know now how people feel when they come back to EQ2 for the first time in years. There can be just so much content, so many options, that it becomes almost intimidating. (It's perhaps worth noting that when I began playing WoW for the first time five years after launch, I didn't notice anything like that. The whole thing seemed very manageable. If anything I thought Azeroth was on the small side for an MMO. Another of the many ways Blizzard is able to smoothe the path for potential customers in a way that seems to escape other MMO Houses, I guess).

Rather than continue with my old characters, I made a new account and started over. That might have been a mistake too. My first character was one of those Dervish fellows. That was definitely a mistake and after about eight levels I re-rolled as a ranger.

Which brings me, long-windily, to what I was going to talk about: the pace of combat in Guild Wars. It's so flaming fast! I'd forgotten just how frenetic and chaotic it is. Back in 2005, coming from Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot, Guild Wars combat seemed like a revelatory, hyper-saturated, amphetamine rush. It took my breath away and for a month I thought all MMOs should be like it. Then the rush wore off.

 Anyone need any help? Thought not.
 Now, six years on, what I need is a slomo button. It's just too manic! And way, way too busy. Every time I enter an Explorable Area I feel like I'm in a raid. There's my ranger and her pet (who dies in about 5 seconds), several Heroes who appear to have attached themselves to me though I can't now recall how or why, a couple or three Henchman that I've hired because, well, you can never have too many healers and a bunch of NPC characters who just seem to tag along for the ride.

It would be confusing enough if I had to control that lot, but they all seem to have their own agendas. As soon as an enemy pokes his head around a corner the whole pack of them are off like skinheads out of a bus station, chasing anything that moves. I generally die two or three times before I have the least idea what's going on. Sometimes it's only after they've killed everyone and I'm picking up the odd meagre scrap of loot they've left me after they've all helped themselves that I spot from our confidence debuff that I must have died yet again and been rezzed so fast I didn't even notice. 

Don't mind me. I'll just lie here.
Even when they aren't all causing mayhem I'm not much more than a bemused bystander. They all bicker and banter and make in-jokes that I don't get. They reminisce and gossip about battles I don't recall and people I don't remember. It's disturbingly like being a child on a family outing, where all the conversation goes over your head but that's fine because no-one listens to anything you have to say anyway even if you had anything to say, which you don't.

It's not that I'm not enjoying myself. I just wish the same things could happen at half the speed. Or a quarter. I don't want the BioWare option that let's you literally stop time between each and every incremental action so that you can micromanage entire battles. That's equally annoying in it's own way. Nor am I talking about turn-based gameplay. I just want Guild Wars but slower.

Anyone know an MMO that does that?

1 comment:

  1. This made me laugh, so true. The game is so chaotic, yet great fun to play.

    However wipes can be frustrating as it's very hard to control the henchmen or even heroes to any real degree. The AI for allies and enemies alike seems rather unfathomable...


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