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Beta impressions: Guild wars 2

April 2012 was a great month  for several gamers because people got the chance to test out several games like Diablo 3, TERA, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and many others. But nothing got players more excited when Arenanet started to send out invitations for the first public “Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend”. The Guild Wars franchise started in 2005 and became very popular amongst the MMORPG fans who didn’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee to play a game on top of the retail price.

MMORPG- games are one of the most played games in this century but are also one of the most difficult games to develop because let’s face it, every MMORPG looks and plays the same for most part. Most of the time a MMORPG- game combines successful elements of other games and try to make it their own, but it’s hard to be original. Arenanet successfully created a game that can be called a worthy adversary of World of Warcraft because they created a game that looks a lot like Wow but still plays differently.

In 2007 Arenanet confirmed that they were working on “Guild Wars 2” and they said it will be different than most of the other MMORPG’s. They were very quiet about the game until last year when they explained a lot of the new features that will set “Guild Wars 2” apart from all the other Massive Multiplayer Online games. The following features were promised by Arenanet: A storyline that is completely formed by the player’s actions, a dynamic event system that will replace the “exclamation mark”- quests, a persistent world, a new dynamic combat system, … As you can see, this was a big promise and last weekend we had the chance to see if they truly achieved such “Utopian gaming world”…

In this article we’ll be discussing my first impressions playing the game and mainly focusing on PVE rather than PVP. Arenanet told the community that there will be more than just one beta weekend until release ( which still has to be confirmed) , so next time I’ll go deeper into certain aspects of the game like PVP, World Versus World, crafting, … The beta weekend was from the 27th till the 29th and following features were available to us: the 8 professions, 3 races: Norn, Human and Charr, leveling till level 20, PVP and WVW.

As my main character I chose  a Norn Mesmer. Mesmer is one of the professions of guild wars 2 and it is truly unique to the guild wars franchise. This profession summons illusions like phantasms and clones that will attack your foe. Mesmer also uses mantra’s, these are skills that have a long “preparation” time to turn your mantra into an instant skill that’ll be very useful on the battlefield. The Mesmer has the following weapons to their exposal for their main hand: sword and a scepter. In their off- hand they can equip a focus, pistol, torch and a sword. If this isn’t enough, you also have access to two-handed weapons like the staff and the greatsword.  Now why am I mentioning these different types of weapons?

Well, one of the new features in Guild Wars 2 was the combat system. In most of the MMORPG’s you have a certain class with different skills that you can buy from your trainer. Each 2 or 3 levels you unlock new skills that are more suitable for your high level character. In Guild wars 2, it’s a little bit different. The idea is  that “how often you use a weapon, how more skills you unlock that are connected with a certain type of weapon”. As a player you can choose to combine certain weapons and each combination gives you 5 different skills. The first 3 skills are skills that are related to the weapon that you equipped in your main hand, the other 2 are the skills that are related to your off-hand weapon. Frankly, I wasn’t really sure if this system would really work but this weekend I tried it and I must say… the system works!   This type of “combat system” allows you to experiment with different weapons that matches your play style. It goes from close combat to ranged combat. Now, don’t panic! There is still room to be more different than other players since every profession can use the same weapons. In Guild Wars 2 you have 10 skills on your “skill bar”. The first 5 skills are your weapon skills, the 6th one is your healing ability. Each profession has its own healing ability and there’s a good reason why they did this, but more information later on. The next 3 skills are your utility skills. When you level up you earn skill points that you can distribute along other utility skills. Each utility skill has its own “price” of skill points that you have to pay. So it’s up for the player to choose if he’ll go for the lower skills or the higher skills. Not only do you earn skill points by leveling up but you can also earn these points by doing certain skill challenges that are spread around the world. Last but not least, you have your 10th skill and this is your “elite skill” which is the most powerful skill in your skill bar. This “elite” skill unlocks when you reach level 30.

“Why is it so important that every profession has its own healing ability, don’t you have healers to heal your wounds?”, you might wonder. This is one of the other features of Guild wars 2 that sets itself apart from other MMORPG’s. There is no more “ Holy trinity”. The “Holy trinity” is a term which is used in this game genre. Each MMORPG has its  DPS- classes (damage per second), healer – classes and tank- classes (classes who can take a lot of damage, this is used to draw the attention of monsters so that the healers don’t have to worry about “getting themselves healed).  Guild Wars 2 stepped away from this idea. Every  profession has their own abilities which gives them more “survivability” when playing the game. Of course some professions seem to have more support skills than others but this doesn’t kill the game like others might think. You have more survivability and fun thanks to 2 reasons: First of all, you can heal yourself and it always feels nice “not to be dead”! Second of all, you can dodge your enemies attacks! Yes, finally again an MMO which will be more skill based than level-based. Guild Wars was already one of the games where you needed skill to survive and now Guild Wars 2 is even more skill based  than ever. Also casters won’t have to just stand in the middle of the battlefield, hoping that their spell won’t be interrupted. A lot of skills can be used while running around, trying to dodge enemies attacks. This combat system motivates the players to pay attention to their game! There’s no more auto attack!

The graphics are truly amazing! Arenanet combined glorious graphics with awesome artwork. Everything seems to fit perfectly in this “New” Tyria. From environment  to weather effects , and from weather effects to skill effects. The soundtrack of the game is very good and every character in the game is “ voiced over” which gives a lovely experience. Still you need a good computer to run everything on high without the lacking of gaming experience. My computer is about 5 years old and I can play the game on high settings but when places are getting crowded, there’s a lot of lag. Still, I can enjoy the game with 30 people in my “gaming” environment.

I certainly enjoyed my first moments in Guild Wars 2, but each beta has their problems. The game is already very polished but still there were a couple of things that hopefully will be fixed when the game is released. A couple of minor things were the login problems due to the huge population, sometimes the camera isn’t functioning as it should be and I must say one of my biggest disappointments was “the party system”. A couple of friends of mine were also in the beta and we didn’t have a good chance to play side by side. Sometimes we could join each other’s quests and sometimes we don’t.  I did play with a lot of “random” people and don’t get me wrong, it’s really fun while playing with others in these huge dynamic events but it would have been more fun if I could play with my friends. Is it because of the huge population or maybe a technical issue, I have no clue but I hope it will be fixed. What is an MMORPG, if you can’t play with your friends?

My first overall impressions of Guild Wars 2 were good! I had a lot of fun playing this game. I am a Guild Wars player myself and I had high expectations. A lot of my expectations were fulfilled but still some things need to be fixed. In my next beta impressions of Guild Wars 2.  I’ll be talking more about the PVE and PVP, so check out Gaming Boulevard for our Next beta impressions of Guild Wars 2!

One Comment
  1. KillaTactics I3 May 3, 2012 at 08:05

    Yea, i played the beta as well, i really felt at “home” when i started playing, when i started playing… i had some serious connection problems as well so i hope they’ll fix that in the next beta or when the game releases. Loved the dynamic events and the fact that how more people showed up the enemy’s also growed in numbers so its always a balanced fight. Only experienced lag twice during an event but thats because there were over 50 players present and a lot of enemy’s and spells getting cast.

    overall my experience was very positive and can’t wait for a next beta weekend or the release of this game :)

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