Our team had the opportunity to test the Beta weekend of Guild Wars 2 and tested all kind of features the game has to offer, but before starting with a detailed description of our experience as Guild Wars 2 players, we just want to point out that the visuals are stunning and offer a fresh & new style and the combat system is dynamic and flows like a charm, not to mention the events system that allows you to keep living all this new gaming experience as you move through the world.
First off were going to talk about character creation, which is, along with the login screen, the first thing that catches your eye, as we have plenty of videos about this, were just going to say that it shows bits from the best character creators in the industry while keeping the classic dyes selection menu of the Guild Wars saga. It allows choosing from predefined hairstyles, faces and constitution and let you go a little further by switching to advance mode in which you can use sliders in order to create a completely unique character.
As soon as our first character was created, we realized that the user interface was something new, of course it still has the standard tools such as chat, mini-map, skill bars and so on, but were talking about the look and the features, that goes further away from what current mmo games have to offer, bringing new range of tools and details so the player can get more involved with his character and friends. The whole friendship system has been built around the game account itself, so you can talk to your friends and even team up with them despite of the character theyre playing with currently.
The map has been blended with the mini-map, both offering features from the other, you can see all icons you would normally see in a mini-map spread across the world map, and you can zoom in and out so there are no world map, zone/area map and so on, but a single detailed map that goes even further by showing your last movements so you dont lose yourself. There is a tracker on the upper right corner of the screen to keep track of your current quests and progressions, and nearby events as you pass near to them, of course theyre marked on the map too. To finish with the UI part, the whole design (menus, user interface, skills, traits and so on) shows colorful and polished graphics and there are contextual menus (right click) everywhere so is very user friendly.
The next thing we experienced was the gameplay, the combat animations run smooth and they blend pretty well with the movement animations, if we sum the great visual effects of the skills to that, we have eye catching combat mechanics and a very fun experience. Right after we finished the first storyline quests got to the open world and there begins the new leveling style this game brings, so as we move to the next village, or quest location, or just walk around our character got involved in the nearby events, a warning sound effect plays and an update in our tracker appears so you know where to move, usually is really near and those we run were about defending a location, attack a convoy, kill a boss and get supplies, but there are more types for sure, sometimes we found ourselves in the middle of two of them and tried our best to help in both, there is something we have to mention at this point, events are completely scalable and we really saw that working, depending on the players participating the event varies its difficulty and number of foes so its always fun and different.
There some kind of area quests in which you have to achieve a specific task such as kill some mobs, gather materials, and once you got it you get a special reward in karma points that you can spend in specify vendor, theyre usually located around these areas and sell specific items related to that content. So the whole point is that you will only have to do the classic quests when it comes to moving forward on your character story, rest of the game experience is completing achievements, accomplishing area tasks and fulfilling events which require nothing to do but having fun while playing them, as you dont need to pick or complete any quest, all rewards are automatically gained as soon as the event finish or the task is completed. Story quests are a completely different thing, they have to be picked up from a NPC and have music, cinematic dialogues where you can see your character interacting with them and there is a complex plot behind, surrounded by a lot of lore, depending on choices you can make here your entire story will vary.
Now moving on we get to the PvP, another topic addressed with common features, new features and the Guild Wars saga features, you have two main ways to enjoy PvP in GW2, the instanced and competitive pvp, in which you can enter from anywhere by clicking on the specific button in your pvp tab, this game type is more competitive as victory depends on several goals, taking bases, killing enemies, bosses that span during the match and others, so it requires teamwork in order to win, the best gear wins the match is forgotten in this in pvp since your character is boosted to maximum level and it wears the pvp set and weapons so its all a matter of skill and team coordination.
The other is the open pvp in a huge area designed for pvp between 3 servers each one represented as a faction, they have their own fortress with several spots around and there is another fortress for they to try to take over, by pvping in this area you get materials, recipes, and gold and since you get experience too there is the possibility to level up to the cap in there, when you have the materials and recipes you can craft warfare machines to attack or defend fortresses, the more spots you have and the more important they are your faction (server) gets points for it, in this WvWvW (World versus world versus world) area you will find events, bosses and other stuff found in the PvE world and your character has his standard level and gear so we can say this is the area for pvp lovers specially.
The sound and music is something that always travel with you in a MMO game and this one has new features here too, surprised? Be not!, they have an awesome OST and a dynamic sound generator so you will hear different sounds depending on what weapon youre using and what are you hitting, skills have their own sounds too, making the killing spree even better since you dont feel trapped in a cage.
You can switch your skills anytime as long as youre not in combat so you can quickly get the best build for every moment and do whatever you want with your character, all classes have healing, crowd control, damage and defense skills and there is nothing more to say about it, just be what you want when you need it.
To sum the whole weekend experience up, we really had a great time testing the game, of course there are some things to polish, but that is what betas are for right?, the point is that the game mechanics and visuals are refreshing and different from the mmo standards, so we really recommend everyone to give it a try, you will find the usual stuff, so you will not be lost, will find Guild Wars 1 features, for GW fans, and will find several new features that definitely makes this title stands out from the rest.
- Pablo Lopez -