In a word, impressive!  Over the course of the first “open beta weekend” event, I was able to level up five characters to level 10 (and beyond in some cases).  Opening day (Friday) was a bit hairy – much lag was had by all, and it often killed many, many players who watched helplessly as their key mashing did nothing while mobs killed them off.  But by Saturday there was a patch and all seemed much better.  There were still lag spikes here and there (esp. for those with not-so-up-to-date processors).

Those w/o the latest & greatest processors were at a severe disadvantage because at this stage in the game, there hasn’t been any graphics card optimization, so those awesome video cards you might have were often sitting idle while the main CPU was churning away (and heating up to scary temps!).   Hopefully by the next event they will have done some GPU optimization.

Overall, I was really pleased with the game and didn’t take note of anything that might be a game breaker – EXCEPT (there’s always an exception), the difficulty for many (read; almost ALL) of the instanced “story quests” were FAR too difficult.  Often it was all I could do to kill off a single mob before dying, running back to kill one more and die again, rinse/repeat until done. Not fun. These instances seem to still be scaled as if back in GW1 where you could have up to seven heroes assisting you. In fact, I was only able to complete one of the story quests due to a terrain exploit where the main boss mob got caught behind a door where I could target it and it could not target me. I had earlier “rage quit” that instance only to try it out later, and was oh-so-happy for the exploit!  (I did report the problem, though, so don’t expect mobs to get caught on graphics by release day).

The classes I levelled up were: Ranger, Mesmer, Guardian, Engineer, and Necromancer.  I found the Mesmer and Guardian to be my favorites – which is kind of unusual as my “normal” favorite classes are the “pet classes” (Ranger and Necro in this game).  I didn’t dislike the others, but I loved the animations for the Guardian and the “follow-up” mechanics for the Mesmer were an interesting turn on button mashing.

I also liked the “Fight for your life!” mini-game, although it’s really only useful if your opponent is also very close to death and hasn’t brought any friends to the party.  A buddy of mine, however, absolutely hated this mechanic and hopes it’s removed from the final game – I don’t think he ever really got the hang of how it works. In close fights, I almost always won my “Fight for your life” modes – often even if another “add” had joined the fray.

Besides the over-the-top difficulty of the story quests, the only other thing that drew attention to the fact that this was a “beta” event were the unfinished dialogue/cut-scenes where not all of the voice acting had been completed (and there were even “under construction” labels stamped on these).  And the fact that you couldn’t play all races, nor travel to all areas of the map – but all of that stuff is super easy to fix.  I didn’t notice any graphics tearing or broken mechanics, it seems very polished to me.

I’m definitely looking forward to release. I’m just hoping it’s released well enough behind Diablo III for me to get that fix before moving into GW2, ‘cuz I’m sure I will be spending a lot of time in both of those game worlds.   Until next time, keep your WASD & Mouse hands loose! Enjoy!

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