Alright, it took me an entire night to get the thing installed. I actually bought a CD copy so that I would need to avoid a long download(my internet can handle a good, even latency just fine, but downloads? Computer says: "NOT ON YOUR LIFE!"), and once it's all installed? 60,000 files that need to be downloaded.
So the next morning, I boot up the game when it's finally done, and try to join the server that the people I know are playing on. Here's the problem. It's "full".
Forgive me, but if say, a WoW server is full, you can still play on it. Later in the day I checked and it wasn't full, so I transferred from the server I joined instead right away, but I still don't understand exactly why I couldn't just roll on it in the first place. Especially with these 'overflow' servers that they have in place.
Moving onto the actual game, I rolled a Charr Guardian. Character creation is nice, there's many options open to you, more than I've seen in other MMOs. The first thing I'm greeted with is a nicely animated opening cinematic, with some half way decent voice acting. The voice acting after this? Not so much. It's not so bad in the Charr area, but I rolled a Norn just to see a different starting area, and my God is it bad. And that's really a disappointment considering the story can at times be actually interesting, when it's not being blatantly predictable.
The gameplay itself isn't too different from your usual MMO, at least to me. It's nice, and fluid, and the ability to roll around is actually pretty cool. The main thing that sets GW2 apart from the crowd, it would seem, is the way it handles questing, and its PvP.
Questing is done mainly through what I believe are called "Renown Hearts". I personally call them either "Area Quests", or "Meta-quests". You walk into an area, instead of talking to someone, being given a quest, doing it, and turning it in, you walk into an area, are given a few objectives on the fly, and can do as many of them to fill up a progress bar for that heart. Once you've filled the bar, the NPC that was giving it to you turns into a Karma Vendor, which sells generally one reward that's useful to your class. Karma is earned through one of the game's other main selling points, Dynamic Events.
These events occur at random, throughout the world. They could be as simple as escorting an NPC, to as big as saving an entire town. How you do in these events could change the face of the world. Temporarily. Generally by the time you'll come back by, the status quo will have been returned. These make the world feel much more alive compared to other MMOs. That is, until you've seen the same event occur multiple times, thus destroying the illusion.
Arenanet seems to have tried to eliminate grinding by giving you experience for just about everything you do, be that crafting, exploring, doing Hearts, or Events. Except here's the problem, in my experience, just to reach your next level, you're going to need to do all of those things. Not just one, unless you want to take much, much longer to level, but all of them. I was a few levels behind my Personal Story, quests given to progress your own storyline through the game, when I realised I hadn't even touched crafting yet. Out of Hearts, and with no Events going on nearby, I decided to check this portion out. For the most part, it seems like you'll actually get worthwhile gear out of this, as to how long said gear will last you? In my case, not too long, as once I'd passed by story quest and moved to a new area, I found a vendor selling a shield which out did the one I had just produced.
A few problems I've had with the game is that a few quests are bugged, which they're so few and far between that it was never a major problem. Income seems to be fairly tight, also. By level 16, the most money I've yet to see is about 16 silver. I'm not saying that money should just be handed to us, but your income is a simple trickle, and it's going to be far lower if you want to actually level those professions. By the time I'd hit 10, I needed to buy a book to be able to use the skill points I was building up. Said book cost me 10 of my then 16 silver. I felt crushed, and broke.
There are a few problems that I'm actually foreseeing. I can't judge if they exist or not yet, but here they are.
Endgame. As far as I can tell, it would appear that the large endgame that you're working towards is the World versus World PvP. But here's the thing: You can actually queue to play this very early on. It's not really endgame content when you can actually do it for a majority of the game. In PvP you're power leveled to 80, the current cap, as to be on even footing with your opponents. And that's great! It makes it more based on skill than gear, and I'm all for that. From what I've heard, there's only six of the game's PvE dungeons at the moment, and apparently they're more for cosmetic upgrades, rather than actual better gear. I suppose you could argue that you'll have all of the world to go through, and all the zones to 100%, but honestly, I'm not sure I'd want to. I could see that getting very grindy, very quickly.
My second problem, is the sense of progression. I've been playing for nearly three days, not all day, I will admit, but three days of probably at least four hours of play each, and I've just hit 16. In my opinion, that's just slow. I've not even left the first zone, which is intended for 1-15 level characters. It just seems to take forever to get anything done. Your character moves so slowly, it's almost like they're tredding through mud. It takes a bit of time to get Hearts done, your story missions have a tendancy to drag on, it's just annoying at times.
Yet for some reason, I keep going. Don't get me wrong, Guild Wars 2 is a good, fun, game. It was a bit overhyped, and honestly I don't think it's much different when compared to other MMOs, but it's still a nice romp through a very pretty, if slightly generic, fantasy world.