No MMO is immune to a few good bugs, particularly at launch, and Guild Wars 2 is no exception. Though combat is fairly balanced and server stability has never really been an issue there are still aspects of GW2 that can be fairly frustrating, particularly for those new to the MMO scene. Some of it can be circumvented by just sitting down and reading the tips or taking the time to read up on GW2's nuances before you really get into playing. But lets be honest, who has the time to do that when jumping into the game and cutting straight to the meat is far more fun?
The almost complete lack of any real tutorial is the first major problem for anyone who likes to know how the game operates outside of questing and combat. GW2 teaches you how waypoints, quest zones, weapon based skills and general movement functions before players are allowed to enter the main server; all really handy stuff that you'll need to know in order to play the game let alone enjoy it. What it doesn't really explain is how crafting requires items in order to harvest each type of resource, or that all collected resources from food to ore and lumber can be stored in a completely independent collections section. Or that crafting goods in bulk provides a sizable experience bonus that most definitely assists in the leveling process. A few of the tips in game will suggest how things should be done, or could be done, and speaking to each of the profession NPC's will give a better idea of what can be made by said profession, but the little nuances built into the game for player convenience are left almost completely to trial and error.
Another great example is how dungeons work. Upon reaching the appropriate level for a dungeon players are given a letter that shows which dungeon is appropriate for them. Entering a dungeon will immediately let every other player in your group regardless of where they may be located join you, but one player has to get to the physical dungeon entrance in order to start it in the first place. Guild Wars 2 is a game that lets you know when something important is happening, or needs to happen, when it damn well feels like. Joining a guild? Don't forget to open the guild tab, join, and then click the represent button to show that you're actually a part of that guild. Want to know if guild perks are reusable or only one time only? Too bad. If GW2 had an unofficial slogan it would be "˜Trial By Fire', which isn't really a bad thing for a lot of players. I personally find the entire experience to be enjoyable; discovery is one of the most enjoyable parts of an MMO and having so many core features of the game exist outside of the usual comfort zone is quite refreshing. It just may not sit well with everyone else who believes online games should all conform to WoW.
Another frustrating part of GW2 would be it's few rare bugs, all of which are absolutely game breaking. It's rare to encounter a quest that won't continue, or an NPC which doesn't spawn correctly but when it happens it generally leaves a dozen or more people unable to do anything in a group quest. Or worse will have meant your last fifteen minutes following a group quest chain have gone to naught. A personal favorite bug would be the NPC in the Asura starting zone which is supposed to spawn a portal leading to the next major questing area stuck, preventing any newly created Asura player unable to leave the tutorial level until a GM's attention was brought to fix it several hours later. It's a rare occurrence, but when it happens it's literally fun ending.
There are also (at the time of this review) occasional issues with the trading post, Guild Wars 2's version of the auction house. Instead of simply having sixty or so versions of a single item (for example copper ore) the post will list all items from most least expensive to most expensive and then allow players to purchase and whatever price range they want. This means that while it's possible to see who you're buying from more it's more likely that you'll simply enter in the item you're looking for, check the price, and then hit purchase. If there are 1000 items of that single type for sale at one copper, the odds are high that you'll wind up only paying a copper per item. But if there are a few for one price available and the next set price is a little higher the trading post will automatically grab the cheapest unit it can until moving to the next most expensive. Where the problem comes into play is the transition of buying if your units are split up in such a way; sometimes what you're purchasing never actually gets to you, sometimes it's delayed by a few minutes/hours, and other times it will let you purchase goods and not inform you that your purchase went through (while at the same time blindly charging you per click).
Outside of the sparse questing bugs and the occasional financial trap at the trading post there haven't really been many issues in Guild Wars 2, and server stability since launch has been absolutely fantastic. It may not seem like such a great achievement but considering how many massive multiplayer games have seen shaky online launches as of late (Diablo 3 immediately comes to mind) it's nice to know that you can jump into the game with no worries. Although encountering one of the bugged group quests may be a letdown their frequency is low enough that it never really becomes an issue, and the community is generally more than happy to inform the zone (almost non stop) that any one particular quest is bugged.
Next week we'll take a look at endgame for both PvE and PvP, the things that make keep players around for the long term, and assign a final score to our month long look at Guild Wars 2. As always feel free to leave questions about anything you feel hasn't been addressed yet in the comments below.