The first beta weekend for the highly anticipated Guild Wars 2 came and gone like the wind. After all as the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun. In fact it felt like time decided to hook on booster packs to try and go into hyperdrive mode.
For those who are wondering whats with all the hype about a game that looks to defy most if not all of the standard MMO grind fest template that’s been popping up like mushrooms after a rainy day, well the answer is in the video below.
Add in one of the best western styled art direction, then promise a personal storyline for each character made and world events that seamlessly is woven into the game, it is not hard to understand the level of hype this game has generated.
Right from the start where you create your character, Guild Wars 2 unique style immediately pops up at you as you decide on which race to play. Even if you didn’t read up on the background of each race or if its the first time stepping into the Guild War’s universe, you can almost immediately “feel” the race just by looking at how each race is beautifully crafted.
Even the icons to represent each class or profession as Guild Wars 2 call it is nicely drawn and is enough to give you an idea of the class without reading the description provided.
And for those who like to really customize their character down to the different colors, you will be pleased that Guild Wars 2 gives you enough options for that. While I think most gamers would be happy with modifying the the default colors to help your character stand out, I must say that I have seen really loud and crazy color schemes during my time with the beta weekend.
Moving onto the game interface, I would say most gamers would have no problems adapting into Guild War’s minimalist approach to their default interface. The standard action bars in the bottom center, the chat window at one side with the map and quest tracker at the other has become quite a norm among other MMOs and having it like this for Guild Wars 2 will definitely help gamers from other MMOs ease into this game.
One thing that really stood out for me in Guild Wars 2 is the conversation screens when key dialog happens between you and a Non Player character (NPC). Guild Wars 2 zooms from the wide game world into a narrow scene with only your character and the NPC. It does brings you closer to whats going on and makes it feel more personalized as compared to many other players all standing around talking to the NPC. Definitely a plus point for the game designers on this one.
Questing in Guild Wars 2 takes on a whole new approach as there are no longer the usual breadcrumb quests that most gamers are used to. In Guild Wars 2, you have to constantly explore the huge map to find new NPCs that will offer quest and areas that needs task to be done. As scary as it sounds especially for players used to quest telling them where to go next, the game designers have put into NPCs called scouts that will give you a nice overview of the current area. These Scout NPCs can be also seen on the map via the telescope icon.
Don’t be surprise too if you are questing halfway and suddenly you see a big commotion happening nearby with lots of players killing what looks to be a mini invasion of enemies. World events like this is very common and one advise from me is to stick around after the world event is done. Some of these have follow ups that can stretch on depending on the outcome of each world event.
To give an example, I was happily moving through a farm to the next quest area when suddenly a big pack of centaurs attacked. Immediately my quest tracker reflected it plus a counter of the number of farmers was shown. After a fierce battle which other gamers also joined in, we managed to repel the attack.
The grading for the world event appeared on the side with the rewards and a new world event started. This time to take the fight back to the centaurs and to rescue the captured farmers. Immediately everyone started heading for the world event area and another battle started as some attacked the centaurs while others went around to free the farmers from their cages.
As you can see, the second world event was a result of the victory against the centaur attack in the first one. Each world event would usually affect the game world and what happens next and this definitely helps to give the impression that actions of the gamer does matter in the game world.
One thing which I told myself that I must try out was the personal storyline that promises to help make each gamer’s experience personal and somewhat unique. This is of course based on the choices you make during character creation and while the options do seem little at first, considering that even each race has it own choices, it is going to take quite a long while to experience every one of them.
The personal storyline is nicely interwoven into the happenings of the game world and is a series of quest that you have to complete to move onto the next part. Each of these quest takes place in the same game world you quest with the only difference that its an instance on its own as scene by the green marker as shown in the screen shot.
Do take note that as you progress into your personal storyline, it gets harder and I would highly recommend you follow the level recommendations before starting the quest.
Unfortunately I was did not take part in the World vs World aspect of Guild Wars where players on each server band together to take on players from other servers. But from what I read on the local forums and hear from friends, it is something that adds another interesting dimension to the game and I hope to try it out in the next Beta Weekend Event.
Overall Guild wars 2 looks very promising from the short time I had over the first Beta Weekend Event. In fact if I could summaries the whole experience into just one thing, Guild War 2 feels more like a RPG Multiplayer than a grind fest MMO.
It feels possible to not join any guild or party for majority of the game and just enjoy it like a single player RPG at your own pace. The multiplayer aspect comes in during world events where its really quite nice to see everyone just dropping their current quest and take part in it. Whats even better is that gamers automatically play as a team and helping each other like providing support fire to take down a boss and even reviving fallen gamers during the fight.
While of course there will be a need for partying for the bigger dungeons later on, looking at how world events goes, I am pretty confident that even a LFG (Looking for group) setup would actually do fine once everyone is familiar with the game.
As the game is still in its beta stages and there might be changes and tweaking as the game development team continue to refine the game, things are already looking very good in my opinion.
I definitely cannot wait for the next beta weekend event to start and you can be sure I will be sharing my experience here on POPCulture Online.
by Kenneth Wong
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* All screen shots were taken during the actual beta weekend event itself