I (nearly) played the Guild Wars 2 beta.
I am an MMORPG addict. I have tried throwing accounts away, changing e-mail addresses, deleting massive game installs, hiding authenticators, and having those annoying parental control settings applied on myself. But somehow I always end up back, somehow. They keep finding me.
There I was, happily enjoying saving worlds and killing chickens when BAM! GW2 beta invite in my inbox. So off I run to download the files before the weekend, which is thankfully something that they allowed us to do (Not pointing any fingers). So, 11.5 gigs later, my machine was ready for the beta. I even skipped FNM (le gasp!) and sat by waiting for everything to go live.
Here are some of the things I learnt that I am allowed to talk about:
Black Citadel Charr Patrol – A charr patrols the countryside outside the Black Citadel, a massive fortified city built among the ruins of a long-conquered human kingdom.
The game world is no longer millions of instances. Instances are the exception, not the rule, making for the world outside the city feeling much more alive than it did in the original Guild Wars. Being able to venture out and find others doing similar quests to you, or help out that outnumbered guy, seems more natural. Instances still exist for those important quests and dungeons, so fret not!
Skills are gained through use of related skills, rather than purchased at a trainer. Classes have fewer skills available to them, which has resulted in less of those ‘rubbish’ skills that plague other MMOs.
Guardian Tome of Wrath Skill – A norn guardian casts the Tome of Wrath skill. This elite skill allows a guardian to summon a giant book, the Tome of Wrath, which provides him with 5 new skills that damage his opponents.
Main quests are voice acted story events, showing an up close shot of your character (who talks too) and the quest giver in question. While this section had a large ‘work in progress’ sticker, it does a great job of getting the story moving and creating a conversation, something other MMORPGs tend to miss out on.
Similar to events in Rift, those taking part are rewarded based on the amount they helped. If a boss monster appears, or a farm comes under attack, aiding those in the area will result in gain.
Black Citadel Forest – Golden light in the forest outside the Black Citadel.
Guild Wars 2 has no specific healing class: role barriers are blurred in comparison to other MMOs with the standard Tank/DPS/Healer trinity. Several classes have healing capabilities, and dungeons will often involve several role switches, meaning that observant players can either fill a vital hole, or maximise efficiency. For example, the (chesty) Elementalist, when using water, has abilities that damage enemies and heal allies.
An Asura thief fires at a charging skelk, aggressive lizard creatures that lurk in the forests of Tyria.
The above, of course, would be impossible without the ability to quickly swap between ‘roles’, even while out in the field killing innocent little animals for their pelts.
Skill hunting for elite skills seems to have vanished: instead, characters use points to unlock ‘Utility’ abilities, which range from healing to extra damage spells and buffs. These skill points are earned by doing certain quests in the world, rewarding those who need to complete everything.
Cave Worms – Don’t get too close to these grubs – they spit nasty acid!
Clothing dyes still exist. I wonder if they will still have the same ridiculous trade values and rarity.
Sadly, come Saturday, the game refused to work. At all. So after clearing my weekend and giving the console to the wife, I was stuck in my office staring at an error message. Thankfully it was fixed, but only on Monday morning, after the beta. So no videos of Valshen, the furry Charr engineer, armed with both healing and maiming turrets and flamethrower.
Red Capture! – A group of female engineers assemble outside a stronghold on the World vs World map. Pictured is a norn engineer with flamethrower kit, a human engineer, an asura engineer, and a charr engineer with a rifle.
All in all, besides the issue of not being able to play the entire weekend, the beta was really polished, looking a lot more like a finished product than a beta. I’m excited about GW2 coming out, which might be a bad thing for me, but great news for those looking for an MMORPG that will hang around a bit longer than, say, it takes to release in South Africa.