I can sum myself up into three words on the topic rather easily. I’m Very Excited.
Very few games try to engage you at the beginning. Usually standing on the edge of some field, watching the local fauna being slaughtered as a local pastime.
I rolled into my first chance with Guild Wars 2 as a Human Mesmer. Skilled in misdirection, confusion and illusions. Character creation was a strange amalgamation of physical tweakings and personal story background adjustments. In this case, Vestolo was born of common parentage who’s only regret in life was that he never looked for his true parents.
You start the game equipped with a weapon granting you a single meager skill with which to defend yourself.
The first few fights are a boring affair of letting the inherent first powers’ auto attack do it’s job. Killing earns you xp and progresses you to unlocking the subsequent powers which make fights more involved and help identify one weapon vs another.
Keep in mind, each weapon has it’s own skills associated and you never forget skills. So you choose to put down that scepter and pick up a mighty staff. You need to learn staff skills, but again, you don’t forget the old skills. Your bar changes automatically and away you go. You don’t unlock the first of your utility skills until level 5, roughly 2 hours of dedicated questing.
Questing, in this case, amounts to traveling the land and helping troubled merchants, farmers and the occasional garrison with their local problems. I visited an orchard overrun with spiders and apples in need of picking a dam being assaulted by earthen elementals and a farmer who’s field needed watering and it’s own local pests slain.
These objectives appear automatically as you come and go from one area to another. Events pop up in relation to the areas’ troubles and you never have to actively accept or deny the tasks set before you. No micro-management of your quest log or careful wiki evaluation before you decide which quest to skip.
If you consider your weapon skills as per-fight abilities, then the Utilities you unlock at 5 and up are the tactical tools for troublesome encounters or pinch situations. Each class gets a heal button, a power designed to keep you alive when things get tough. On top of all this there are Elite skills what provide stronger situational options.
I didn’t delve into the crafting a great deal. From what I’ve heard and read, crafting provides xp and skill training keeping you leveling as you progress. Based largely off of salvaged and looted materials in the world, you’re never fighting with another player for a node. You can access and mine the rocks and chop trees all you like while you follow your like-minded Warrior friend as they mine the rocks and chop the trees. The world is shared in many aspects and makes for a less immediately frustrating experience than any MMO I’ve played in the last 10 years.
I eagerly await a possible release this summer. For the first two days after the beta, I couldn’t help but frantically refresh the development blog waiting for some sign of life.