Why I Loved the Guild Wars 2 Beta

Finally, after years of waiting Guild Wars fans worldwide start to see a glimpse of evolution. Guild Wars supporters now have the opportunity to experience the long anticipated Guild Wars 2 when the first Beta Weekend Event kicked off on April 27-29. Don’t worry this is only the first of many if you missed out on the first chance.

With the amount of build up from ArenaNet over the last few years, fan expectations has been truly massive. Read on to find out if Guild Wars 2 is up to our expectations!

Overview

Whether you have played the first Guild Wars or not, this game will appeal to you. One of the unique factors of Guild Wars is that it does not require monthly subscriptions such as Star Wars – The Old Republic and World Of Warcraft.

You pay one fee at the start with no continual payments. From then on you can play as much as you like with no extra charge. Meaning you are never forced into continue playing, you can stop and come back whenever you desire. Similar to League of Legends, you can buy things in the game store such as extra character slots and experience boosts.

Guild Wars 2 is ultimately a nice crossover between pay-to-play and free-to-play. Do keep in mind that Guild Wars 2 does come with a high price tag of £49.99 for standard and increasing to an unknown price for collectors (expecting to be around £90-100). Compared to the £30 price of the first Guild Wars, this is a big increase. I feel with the extensive overhaul, this price is justified and should not be condemned.

Different to many other free-to-play games Guild Wars is high quality and designed expertly. Many years and lots of money has been invested into this game, and the end result is magical. This game does deliver — even from just the Beta, one can tell so much work has been put in to make this game appealing to a range of audiences.

The game’s graphics totally exceed my expectations, everything from raindrops to buildings have been perfected to the highest detail. ArenaNet has kept the classic style of Guild Wars and amped it up a few levels to make it less cartoon-like and a tad more real.

First Impressions of Beta

The world of Guild Wars 2 is beautiful, I was blown away by the coruscating graphics. Compared to MMO’s of the last few years this is a huge improvement. The fact that it is not a pay-to-play game is unbelievable, personally I would be expecting to pay more for this high standard.

ArenaNet quoted “this would be the game for people that had never played MMO’s before” and they have evidently hit the nail on the head. They’ve successully created a magnificent and magical world which will draw players into the fantasy and keep them captivated.

New professions have been introduced as well as all our old favourites. I feel this is just enough to bring variety to the game and encourage players to create second characters.

Over the weekend I decided to try out every single profession, giving myself a wide view of each type and helping me make my important choice by release date. Overall, Guardian was my favourite as it is similar to a healer, specializing in protective and defensive magic. Every profession brings new things to the table and not one is more exciting than the other. In my opinion, every profession is well balanced to ensure some professions are not overlooked and forgotten.

Gameplay

Choice. You are following your own path completely as there isn’t a generic storyline which everyone follows. After choosing your race, gender, profession and appearance, you will be asked three questions to create your biography. A question concerning profession, personality and background making sure that everyone will start differently as this choice gives the gamer a sense of freedom and ability to control how their character evolves.

This personal storyline helps you to branch off and play whichever way you desire. Unique customization has obviously been key for the developers, with the idea in-mind to show the variety among characters of the same class. This kept me excited all weekend and hopefully this will be expanded even more for the release later this year.

The combat in this game is unique to anything I have seen previously.

The combat in this game is unique to anything I have seen previously. Your equipped weapon decides which skills you have the ability to use. Each weapon will bring a different set of ability’s for the player to utilize. I think this change will be successful as it means for the whole game you have different skills, creating a nice change in the game to keep you on your feet.

Another cool feature of this is every single skill has a different animation, meaning every Elementalist will look vaguely different to the other depending on the equipped weapon. ArenaNet has added a few new features, which bring an element of skill to the game, unlike the regular button mashing of the past MMO’s.

Characters can now jump and evade to add variety whilst in combat. From my experience I could easily distinguish the experienced players from the first timers, showed by their ability to utilize these essential moves. The skill bar allows for a maximum of 10 skills, a key feature of the first Guild Wars which I loved. I think in recent MMO’s when you have been given 40+ skills to a bar it has destroyed a feeling of skill and encouraged spamming. The bar in Guild Wars is set up as follows:

  • Slots 1-5, Weapon specific Skills
  • Slot 6, Healing Skill
  • Slot 7-9, Utility Skills (such as regular buffs)
  • Slot 10, Elite Skill

On past MMO’s I have disliked being forced into groups when I don’t need to. Spending hours waiting for groups to show up and complete missions which are just beyond my reach. What I love about this game is that you can stay solo till the maximum level without needing to find a party.

Most content is solo-friendly, although you do have the option to access higher difficulty’s by grouping. ArenaNet also says that “It is our priority to avoid forcing players into the grind-based gameplay”. This was evident whilst playing — I never needed to kill hundreds of foes, the events alone helped me to advance and level during my time.

Other Interesting Features

PVP, in the first Guild Wars installment was disappointing. ArenaNet has surpassed themselves this time to create a user-friendly atmosphere which will keep players entertained for days. Players of any level can enter these matches, and they will equal anyone in the game.

While in the PVP area, all characters will be at the same “power level” and have access to all the same equipment. This is a crossover with SWTOR system as anyone will be able play without massive equality. PVP will take the form of an 8v8 team fighting for control points, teams gain one point for each second on a base, first to 500 points wins the match. A disadvantage which may deter people is that there is no open world PVP. In my opinion, I dislike being overthrown when I’m trying to level. Keeping PVP and PVE completely separate is a good move by ArenaNet as the majority of players will find this more comfortable.

If you have played Guild Wars before you will have heard of the “Hall of Monuments”. For those that are new to the game this was a reward process which allowed you through a points system to gain the ability to extra items when Guild Wars 2 launched. These items are aesthetic, and will not give any advantage to any players during the launch. I hope that ArenaNet do something about this so that ex-players feel like there is a connection between games. Another thing that does crossover with the predecessor is that you can keep your previous character names and guild names. This may make it easier to recognize ex-players and join up once again.

Questing has also been totally revamped in Guild Wars 2. Instead of the normal, run around, pick up quests, run back and pick up more. The game calls them “events” meaning they happen at random times, as you are exploring. This change by ArenaNet works in Guild Wars favour very well. This new technique gives me more freedom to do what I like. I never need to go to a certain place to advance, the game in theory will advance with me.

Little Things Guild Wars Players May Not like

Open world roaming has been introduced into Guild Wars 2. I feel we have been let down by this — the uniqueness of having an area to yourself has vanished. Personally this is what kept me playing Guild Wars in the past, being able to meet up with friends in towns then exploring an area by yourself gave you freedom. You now need to share it other people. Guild Wars have been always unique with the fact it deviated from other games and I would have loved this to be kept the same. This resembles many other MMO’s which have adopted the same strategy. Guild Wars players played for so long because it was unique and different. As we move into a new era, Guild Wars is becoming more like everything else to appeal to a wider audience, forgetting its previous agenda.

No dedicated healers. Throughout every MMO I have played I have always preferred playing a healer as my main character. In Guild Wars 2 they have removed this ability. Instead every profession can heal themselves. This is disappointing as it destroys the regular team setup. Though this different approach may make some people dissatisfied, the majority of players will probably be pleased. During the Beta it was far easier to create teams as we were not looking for a specific profession. This will probably work in the long run, however I think some professions will be stereotyped as the best healer when the game launches.

Players are somewhat stuck to specific worlds (server) during the game. During the first Guild Wars everyone was on the same server, no one was distributed among different zones throughout the game. When the game releases this feature will split up friends as they begin to play. These worlds have been implemented so that “World vs World” conflict can be be achieved. When you log on for the first time, the game will ask you to pick a home world. This determines which world you will represent in the battles. However, this is not set in stone, for 1800 gems you can transfer, this can be done every seven days. Players will also be able to visit other worlds if they have friends there, although you will not be able to fight for them.

Brief Explanation of Professions

  • Elementalist, controls the elements of air, fire, earth and water to annihilate enemies. Elementalists are described as a scholar profession meaning they wear light armour.
  • Guardian, one of the new additions they use protective and defensive spells to protect the team and themselves. Guardians are really a crossover between soldier wearing heavy armour to stay protected and a healer to keep everything buffed up and alive.
  • Necromancer, This profession can summon the dead and utilize the dark arts, Necro’s can also use the dead to buff or heal themselves and others. This is also a scholar profession.
  • Mesmer, uses spells to control opponents through the power of illusion, confounding and evoking emotions. Mesmers are also a scholar class.
  • Thief, another one of the new professions, thieves are really the assassin of the game. Using stealth to get close to their target and take them down. They also have the ability to set traps. Thieves are an adventurer profession, wearing medium armour
  • Engineer, the last of the new professions, engineers employ turret and grenades to take down enemies. As an engineer you will be mostly out of the conflict relying on technology to kill. Engineers are an adventurer class.
  • Warrior, warriors are the primary tanks, relying on brute force and strength to keep alive. Warriors have the highest selection of weapons giving good variation for the types of skills and play style. Warriors wear heavy armour.
  • Ranger, utilizing the bow and the power of nature to take down foes, rangers are the primary long distance characters. As well as this they can tame a pet to help confuse enemies and take damage, while rangers hit from range. Rangers can also use the stealth ability, although it is much more limited that the thief. Rangers are an adventurer class.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this Beta weekend excited me. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for years and it’s finally arrived. ArenaNet has obviously put a lot of effort into achieving a game which will compete with big MMO’s.

From this perspective this Beta is heading in the right direction with amazing graphics, unique combat methods and a wealth of customization choices kept the game exciting and addictive all weekend. However from a Guild Wars fan boy point of view, I feel Guild Wars 2 has lost its uniqueness from the past.

The magic which it once captured has dispersed and Guild Wars 2 has become more commercial to suit the ever changing MMO world. Key features which attracted players for years have disappeared so developers can suit the mass markets. Although this is understandable, the main priority is always to sell as many copies. A lot more could have been done to accommodate players which have stood by them for years.

All in all this game looks like it’s going to be great, but my only worry is that ex-players may feel the game is lacking in some degree. Whatever happens we’ll just have to wait and see. Maybe with the response from Beta things may change, but this looks bleak.

So what do you think about the Beta Weekend? Let us know in the comments section below and thank you so much for reading.


Summary

Guild Wars 2 is the sequel to the successful Guild Wars. Guild Wars 2 is set 250 years after the defeat of the Great Destroyer. Elder Dragons have been awakened and are causing widespread destruction to Tyria. The human race is in decline and other races have populated the continent.

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