Guild Wars 2 recently had its first of many open Beta event weekends for the highly anticipated game. Although the game is still several months from even announcing a release date, those that prepurchased the game were allowed the first of these open Beta events with another to follow approximately every month until the release.
GAME NAME: Guild Wars 2
RELEASE DATE(S): Unknown
Being a heavy MMO player and having followed the development of this game for almost 2 years, I readily prepurchased the game in the anticipation of seeing what this game truly could do to the realm of MMO playing as it proclaimed vs. what was just hype. Overall, this game did just as it has said it would do. Even though this was an early Beta event and most likely there will be a lot of tweaking and fine tuning before the actual release, Guild Wars 2 has definitely brought the MMO back to being a Massive Multiplayer Online RPG that has sorely been lacking for many years.
First off, I just want to repeat that this was just a Beta event in which players had 60 hours to experience the game. This was also without the use of the Trading Post, as well as only three of the five races having been available, that including the Charr, Norn and Human. With such a limited amount of time, as well as limited character selection, there was no way anyone would be able to experience the game for its entire worth. The following is more of a smattering of random observations as to what I found to be pleasing, annoying, in need of some repair and completely awesome!
To begin the landscape was incredible. Even though I only wandered around a small part of the Wayfarer Hills and the Norn ice city of Hoelbrak, I became thoroughly excited to see more of the beautiful world ArenaNet had created. I only saw a little of the landscape mainly because I was too involved with contributing to many of the dynamic events that were happening at every turn. Their system of random events appeared to be working as I was whisked away in escorting merchants down dangerous roads, clearing road blocks and defeating enemies, or taking part in a gigantic effort to kill a priest of Svanir and destroy the portals he had opened that were allowing huge ice elementals in.
The best part about this was that I could take part in as little or much as I wanted. There was no need to group up with others or be invited to a party that was already involved. All I had to do was jump in and start going. Anyone who contributes even the most meager amount of effort into completing an event will get some part of the reward. At one point I found a spot where you had to grab some food bags that were lying around and return them to a NPC standing near by but these rabbits kept popping up out of holes in the ground and knocking the bags out of your hands. After only being able to get a couple bags to the NPC I gave up as it became frustrating and boring so I left. Over half an hour later I get a notice with a little XP and coin attached stating the event had been completed. This system successfully does away with the need to group up to finish quests, or even the need to speak to each other as I rarely said much to anyone because I was to busy firing arrows into a crowd of enemies.
Another thing that makes this system great is that if you are defeated in any way, anyone can come to your rescue and rez you. No more waiting for a member of your party or the designated “healer” to come along because any random player can bring you back and be on their way. This also includes healing yourself! Every profession has some form of a healing ability so they can be totally self sufficient if they so desire. No more waiting around an hour or more for a “healer” to join your party before taking on a dungeon.
One thing that I wasn’t sure about and am still trying to come to grips with is the questing system. I love to do some serious questing in my MMOs. The first thing I want to do when entering a new town is find all of the NPCs with their little symbols above their heads and start completing tasks. In Guild Wars 2 there is none of that. The only questing is each characters own personal story line and a few random NPC’s scattered among a whole area that have actual quests for you to complete designated by a little heart on the map. My first thought was that they were lacking a bunch of content. I mean, how can anyone gain any real XP if you can’t do anything for anyone. Then I began getting caught up in the dynamic events that were taking place as I traveled between the previously mentioned, heart-shaped NPCs and all of that went out the window. I easily gained enough XP to keep my character level high enough to continue my personal story line and I didn’t have to complete many of the mindless tasks many NPCs give in other MMOs.
I do have to say however, that I found it terribly easy to gain advanced skills using your weapons. As an example, I like to play the Ranger because I like shooting at my enemies from a distance and I get a cool animal friend to help me out. While using my Longbow I was able to go from having only one skill slotted to having all five slots filled and maxed by level 3. All I had to do was find fire my bow enough times and the skills kept pouring in. This also went for wielding dual axes as I am fond of or an axe and sword. Now whether you obtain new skills for these weapons upon reaching higher levels I don’t know since there was only a short time to sample the game. Also you can use several different combinations of weapons and each combination has it’s own skills but I was able to max out many combinations by the time I hit level 10 although there was still several I hadn’t gotten around to trying yet.
The only thing that seemed out of sync and extremely annoying at times was the respawn rate of monsters and events. There were times when I would be fighting my way through a small corridor and the monster I had just killed would respawn right behind me as I was taking on the next one and I would get mobbed from behind. Secondly it seemed that many of the dynamic events just repeated themselves immediately after being completed. This was great for XP but it made these events less “dynamic” when you knew it was just going to start over 30 seconds after finishing.
Now all of this quick respawning of monsters and events could be due to the fact that these areas were over loaded with low level characters being the first introduction of hundreds of thousands of players and in order to keep up with the demand these things had to spawn quickly. I get that, I just hope that as things spread out more that the respawn rate slows down a bit.
Overall, I believe ArenaNet has redefined what it means to be an MMO and I look forward to spending hours in front of screen mastering everything this game has to offer. Everything from the vast scenery, to the personal storylines, character development and dynamic events, this game has it all and I can see this game having a strong following for a long time.