After a full weekend of Guild Wars 2’s headstart, the game is laid bare for all to behold and there have been some criticisms due to an imperfect launch; which has seen frustration for a large number of players.
Many players in Europe had issues logging in over the weekend, some 64bit players had problems with client, the gem store was down for quite a while, the Trading Post continues to be down — at time of writing — and other issues remain.
So with all that in mind, I still recoil when I see people make statements along the lines of “Worst Launch Ever!”
There are a few reasons why I think some context needs to be considered.
1) Launch Stability
Should MMOs get a free pass when it comes to issues coming up at launch which impede the enjoyment of players? Of course not, there are things occurring in Guild Wars 2 that need to be fixed pronto. Which is why you will have seen ArenaNet’s consistent updates, suggestions and hands up honest admission that there are things that need fixing and that they are working feverishly on them.
Are the issues comparable to those encountered by other MMOs? Absolutely. If anything, Guild Wars 2 comes out in a favorable light compared to many other launches.
My experience this weekend, which is of course not that of everyone, has been of an incredibly smooth game wherein I had one crash on opening night – mainly due to XSplit and Fraps making a toxic combo I think – but otherwise I had no client side interruptions, virtually no lag and a thoroughly fun time.
There have been patches for other MMOs that have had more grenades in them than this launch has for me.
That isn’t the case for too many people, something I’m sure ArenaNet agrees with. It’s entirely understandable that folks are frustrated at not being able to get in-game with predictable reliability for a couple of days, but this really is not a new thing for MMOs. And it is certainly not new for launch.
2) Packed in like Sardines
There are large queues for WvW which should begin to improve after the initial rush – over 400,000 peak concurrent users were reported this weekend. In the main I’ve avoided PvP; mainly because I’ve been enjoying the PvE so much, but also because I knew that with packed servers it was likely that WvW would be very busy.
This happens. Aion had queues for hours on end just to get in game at all. SWTOR had very big queues at launch, decided to throw a bunch of new servers up, then found them half-empty and fading because BioWare had reacted too quickly.
World of Warcraft’s systems were utterly overwhelmed at launch. There were nowhere near enough servers and the problems continued for more than just a few days. There were also a lot of bugs present. Ironforge was virtually unplayable due to lag for a long time, which turned it into a Dwarven Power Point presentation.
It was blatantly obvious that there were going to be full servers, hence the very smart decision by ArenaNet to allow free transfers and to put off guesting until things settled down. The teething pain of server population was absolutely expected and necessary. It’s important to force through this initial problems with balancing out populations rather than overdoing it with too many servers and having to do mergers post-launch.
The choice is between immediate, short term difficulties and those with longer-lasting ramifications.
Is it disappointing to be greeted with full servers? Absolutely, but if you didn’t expect that to happen then I’d like to welcome you to the world of MMO gaming; trust me it gets better.
3) Not Working vs. Broken
The Trading Post is down. There seems to be a bug or infrastructure problem causing issues which has necessitated pulling it offline completely until it is fixed. This is certainly not a good thing. I know I love to delve into the economy of games and having it come online when there will be a stockpile of materials sitting in various banks will cause a short term market issue. But it will rectify itself pretty quickly.
It’s also an aspect of the game which is currently missing. Again, that’s not great news, but here’s a silver lining: when the Trading Post comes online, its actual design is awesome. I’ve played around with it for more than a few weekends and I’m very happy with how well put together it is.
Compare that to SWTOR’s Galactic Trade Network. It was certainly live at launch, but I wish it wasn’t. It functioned, but in such a way that it reminded you of just how much better it had been implemented in other games.
Virtually every other game.
Again, it is certainly not great that the Trading Post is currently not working, but taking it down to ensure it is fixed is much more preferable a situation than leaving something up that is patently unfinished and poorly designed.
Sorry to beat up on SWTOR – which has improved markedly in many areas – but does anyone remember Ilum?
4) Content with Content
Though WvW is extremely busy and the economy is mainly on pause, there is still an abundance of things to do in Guild Wars 2 right now. I haven’t seen any complaints so far about whether there is enough PvE content to be going on with – if there are genuine issues I’d certainly like to be informed of them.
Some have said the leveling curve is off. Personally I don’t agree. I have a feeling people are running from heart to heart and that is causing the issue — if this isn’t the case, leave a comment below!
I haven’t had that issue at all because I haven’t used the Renown Hearts like the quest content in WoW. I’ve simply run around and got lost in the game, done a little material farming and tradeskilling – not much though, I’m still not near 75 for either of my tradeskills and I’m only about level 20 for Weaponsmithing. I’ve done no PvP whatsoever, purposefully to see what the leveling curve is like.
Once I found myself running into the same areas repeatedly, I then started to use my map to find remaining Points of Interest or Vistas.
I hit 100% completion of Queensdale when I was midway through level 15.
Also remember if you do find yourself wanting to earn a few levels purely from PvE encounters and you aren’t at the optimal level in that area, there are other areas that are easily traveled to of the same level bracket.
Now lets compare this experience, even if you are somewhat perturbed by the leveling curve, to Age of Conan at launch — another game that has changed greatly since.
Age of Conan was quite hyped and was received extremely well; for the first 20 levels.
If you’ve ever feverishly ripped off the wrapping to a large gift box only to find that you don’t have a new HD widescreen television but a lollipop covered in lint, then a) I’m sorry, you have some seriously messed up relatives and b) now you know what AoC was like at launch.
From what we have seen so far, Guild Wars 2 has a lot to do that works very well. This is not the case for all games at launch.
In closing, there are issues that persist in GW2 as we arrive on the game’s official launch. Problems that I certainly hope are fixed in a timely manner – many of them already have been. People certainly have the right to be annoyed by the problems they have met due to the way the systems have been taxed since Friday night.
All I would say is that when put into context, there should be a sense of proportion. Guild Wars 2 is not the worst launch I’ve seen. Not by a long stretch.
Thanks for reading.