I was entered into the Guild Wars 2 beta event this past weekend. I must begin by stating that I have not played the previous Guild Wars game when it was released, so I came into this beta event entirely fresh. There have been very few MMO’s that have slipped through my grasp in the last 5-7 years, so I was excited to get started.
Guild Wars 2 takes place after the events of Guild Wars in the land of Tyria. 250 years have passed since then, and the world has gone through some drastic changes. Wars have begun, alliances have been forged, and the whole world is on the brink of destruction. New playable races are available as well as a host of new locations to explore and quest in.
I figured I would hop right in to this new world and start a character on “Ferguson’s Crossing” sever. Right away I need to point out that Guild Wars 2 has some of the best naming conventions in any MMO I have ever played. You can name a character almost anything you want, as proper names, titles and monikers are all allowed. I saw “Barius the Bloody” as well as “Sir Cromwell”. I enjoyed the freedom of this immensly as naming is one of my favorite parts of making a character.
I decided to make a Human Thief. I chose her to have a medium build, (though larger and smaller builds exist) and had a fully customizable menu of slide bars to customize her face. There are many options but the fact that you can tweak each and every one of them is somewhat rare in MMO’s. Once you are done creating your character’s body, you have the option to customize their color palate for any armor they will wear. You choose 3 colors for their upper body, lower body and boots as well as any headpiece they may acquire. Whenever you receive new armor in the game, your colors are applied to them. Don’t worry though, a menu in your character screen allows you to change on the fly.
Once the physical aspects of your character are complete, you head on to the RP part of character creation. This game has some dynamic features in your character’s personality. You choose from three options of “builds” that change your character’s motive. I chose the “subterfuge” option, which gave my Thief a hood to hide her face. Other options for the Thief include a headband for a combat Thief (to keep the hair out of your eyes) and a mask for a Thief more suitable for assassinations. These, again, can be toggled on and off in the character menu. You will give your character motive and drive though a series of choices that establish your character’s back story and then after a brief intro cut scene narrated by your character, you are off on your own!
My thief enters the world in chaos. Centaurs are raiding the province of Queensdale. We are tasked with defending it. We as players in the zone must fight across this bridge and through a small barracks to what is a large Elemental being formed in the ground. We destroy it as a huge group and we are thrown back and knocked unconscious. I won’t give any more away but it is very cool.
This game does some very interesting things with MMO mechanics. Quests are not given from an NPC, rather you are tasked with entering the area and seeking out people who need help. When you come across an NPC that needs help, an area in which the quest takes place will become apparent to you, as you will begin to track the quest in the top corner of your screen. If you need to leave the zone, the quest disappears until you return to finish it. There are also multiple ways to complete a quest. For example, you can help the farmer by a combination of A) destroying the Wurms that are attacking his crops, B) Feeding his cattle or C) watering his corn crops. You can do all of these things or just one in order to complete his task, which eliminates the need for grinding. You can quest how you want. If you don’t have any more quests that you can see on your map, visit a scout who will open up new areas on your map and tell you about the quests there. If you need to quick travel around the area, just open your map, and select a nearby checkpoint you have previously visited. You will pay a small fee, and you are whisked away to your destination. No time consuming flight paths to be had.
With these quests also come dynamic events. Continuing with my earlier example, once you have helped the farmer, and certain conditions are met, anyone in the area will be given the dynamic quest to destroy the giant Wurm that has just erupted in the field. Once it is defeated, you all will receive a commendation for completing it.
Now during these events and quests, you are sure to be overwhelmed and defeated. It happens. But Guild Wars 2 give you a chance for redemption. When you go down, you go into a new interface. 4 boxes on the bottom of your screen appear, while a small bar ticks down. Your task is to survive before the bar hits the bottom. Your health bar is below that top bar. If it reaches zero, you actually die and have to respawn at one of the teleport spawns.
You are given abilities based on your class. For example, I could throw poison darts at the enemy that is attacking me, I can use a smoke pellet and disappear and reappear farther away from the enemy, and I can use a fan of knives. Your 4th ability is a call for help. You reach your arm out, and call for help for other players in the game to help you up, while your bar heals you. If you can call out for help and your health fills up, then you will stand and gain a second wind and are able to fight again.
I reached level 10 while playing in this beta event, and I really enjoyed my time. I feel the game is solid and the production value is exquisite. I found myself wanting to play as many different classes and races, as they have so many that break traditional conventions. I wanted to explore and see all there is to see in this enthralling world. I would say that I am very excited for this game. Having never played the first one, I can say I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I am glad that I gave Guild Wars 2 a chance and I can not wait to dive into future beta weekends and eventually the full game when it releases later this year.