I can't help but continue to be impressed by what I read about Guild Wars 2. If you haven't had a chance to look into it in detail there is lots of good information at guildwars2.com.
The latest video popped up on Kotaku a couple of days ago showcasing the Warrior class, you can see it below:
Not only is it quite impressive graphically, but the sound effects and animations are spot on and the art direction is fantastic. But as good as it looks there are some things that are cause for concern.
Maybe I'm looking into this in too much detail, but judging by the flow of combat it seems that they may have done away with auto attack, which is a welcome change and something I said before needed to be trashed in any self respecting next generation MMO. Unfortunately the skill chain system they describe that seems to be replacing it isn't quite what I had hoped for:
Fighting is made even more convenient using chains, series of skills that use the same hotkey and fire off in sequence, sort of like the roulette system used in Spellborn. For instance, the sword chain Sever Artery, Gash, and Final Thrust all reside on one key. Hitting that key once kicks off Sever Artery. The next press activates Gash. The third invokes Final Thrust, and then the whole thing resets. Neat and tidy.
I think they're missing the point of skill chains entirely. Chain attacks are supposed to make combat more varied and encourage the player to pay attention to the fight instead of just repeatedly pressing one button. Sure it will be fun to watch your player execute the combo, the first hundred times, but once you're over that you'll realize that nothing has actually changed.
Attacks in MMOs should be more tree than chain where the player has to make decisions about what to do next based on what the mob, or even better what his allies are doing, and not just be God of War style attacks - press X three times to do something awesome.
I'm also a bit concerned about how easily the mobs were dying. Even though they were probably very low level for the purposes of the video, I'm still worried that WoW's all powerful influence has managed to spread it's corruption to Guild Wars 2, removing every challenge and replacing it with shiny effects and free epics. I guess we'll have to just wait and see.
In my ideal MMO if the Warrior in the video didn't block that fire breath it would have killed him outright, and possibly burned you in real life. Maybe that's a bit much, I just seems like it has been far too long that MMO combat has been more like a war of attrition than the gladiatorial combat that it should be.
Combat should be about choices and tactics, not just having enough hit points or doing enough damage to cover for your mistakes, even while fighting a baby goblin.
I'm off topic as usual, and none of this really matters anyways. As with any MMO, content is king and no combat system, quest system or character customization can save you from a lack of it. So far Guild Wars 2 seems to have the basics down at least, we'll just have to see what they're able to build on top of that. I'm not expecting the Mariana Trench here, but something deeper than WoW's wading pool would be a welcome change.