Guild Wars 2 Beta - First Impressions

Well I've played a bit of GW2 and overall so far it's looking pretty good. I'll pretty much sum up what I like, what I don't like and features that are too early to judge.

What I like

The graphics are a remarkable improvement over the original and the animations are much more fluid and life-like. The animations in Guild Wars seemed a bit stiff. As an example of the detail they've put into this game, you even get to see water droplets on the camera after surfacing from an underwater swim - which is something you'd more likely see in an FPS like BF3.

Cutscenes are pretty well animated compared to the first GW and involve close-ups of your hero talking to NPCs.

The map appears as a giant painting, with different brushstrokes representing the continent that is Tyria. It's a very appealing aesthetic - quite a minor one too but it fits in with the rest of the game's artwork having that hand-painted look.

Different backgrounds
I like the fact that you're able to pick different background stories for your characters, plus the fact you start off in different areas depending on your race (at least I assume this is what will happen). This is a boon for the true roleplayers out there as it makes GW2 edge closer to the realm of single player RPGs.

What I dislike

Voice acting
The voice acting is pretty terrible but then again, it was pretty bad in GW1 too.

The game seems quite a bit more complex than the original Guild Wars. Maybe it's because I'm so used to how the original Guild Wars works, but there is definitely information overload when you look at some of the items. The feel of the UI is more akin to traditional MMORPGs and I don't know if that's a good thing or not. Some of us just want to focus on improving our stats, skills, armour and weapons just like in the original GW. This brings me to another point.

It seems that when it comes to the old way of leveling your character, the game has in fact become less complex. I don't believe there's a way of assigning points into stats anymore making it a bit more similar to Diablo III for example where it does that for you. I don't think you even get to pick skills since they automatically unlock the more you use particular weapons (hinting that skills are tied to certain weapons).

Combat seems more similar to action RPGs like Fable now which means it involves you doing somersaults and rolls to dodge enemy fire while using one or two skills yourself to dispatch them. This isn't terribly exciting but maybe I'm being unreasonable: I only had 3 skills unlocked and the engineer is probably not the most exciting class to play at the beginning.

Too early to judge

While the random Events system that spontaneously spawns quests for nearby players seems like a good mechanic I remember encountering several events within the space of a few minutes. I suspect the frequency is high to allow almost everyone a chance to participate but it seems kind of strange when a village is attacked by bandits, only to be attacked at the same bridge every 5 minutes! More variety with random events may have helped or they could've perhaps lowered the frequency somehow.