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Long Thoughts on the Guild Wars 2 Beta

The final Guild Wars 2 beta weekend is now over and the game finally has an official release date, August 28th, and there is a lot to say about this amazing MMORPG. I played the first Guild Wars and absolutely loved every minute of it. You could only play as human when the game first came out in 2005, so I was a human elementalist. Because I enjoyed playing that class combo so much the first time around I just assumed that’s what I’d be playing this when the game launched, so I used my beta time to try out every class and race so I could see what else there was available. All account info is getting wiped after the betas, so it’s like free reign to try new things. I checked out as much as I possibly could, and now I can pass that information along to you!

The World: The world is huge, and knowing Guild Wars over time they will expand on it. Every race starts in a different area that makes you feel this is where your character was raised. The maps are beautiful, and you really do want to explore everything. To keep track of how much you’ve completed each area has a series of markers that represents different things, from Points of Interest, Skill Point locations, Waypoints (to fast travel to), Renown Hearts, and Viewpoints (very, very much like Assassins Creed, including the climbing puzzles). You can travel around the world using Asuran Gates, or traverse the world on foot. It’s up to you. Dynamic events pop up all over the place and you can choose to join in with other players or ignore them as you go.

Guilds: One of the first things I did was join a Guild, which is a big part of Guild Wars. It’s not necessary, but it does make things a lot more fun. I joined a large Guild run by experienced players called The Remnant. The players were really active and fun, lots of chatting going on. I was hoping to join parties with players to do quests, but no one was ever looking for a party when I was exploring, so I was glad I had the Guild if I wanted to find someone for a party. I hope that changes with the launch, because you can get overwhelmed if you’re alone. The world is very open and when you’re exploring you can run into people everywhere, but sometimes there is no one around, which is why a party is helpful.

Races: When creating your character you get tons of visual options, but also story mode options. Choose wisely because every option you select from your character’s back-story will effect your gameplay! Every race starts out with a similar event in their home city. Something is going wrong, you need to fight your way through a bunch of low level enemies until you reach a cut scene and then fight a giant monster with a bunch of other real people.

Humans: All humans start out in the city of Divinity’s Reach which is the capital of the continent of Kryta. Their specific playable skills all revolve around prayers to human gods. I found playing as a human pretty standard. I played the game as a human mesmer, elementalist, and warrior. The best thing about humans is that they are so basic they work for any profession. Their opening world map is fun to explore and is the easiest to get into as a player. Also fun, Nolan North does the voice of the human male character, so that’s fun to list to as you kill enemies.

Norn: Introduced in Eye of the North, Norn are giants from the Wayfarer Foothills in the heart of the Shiverpeak Mountains. Their playable skills revolve around turning into animals and calling animals for help. The Norn area I found a little harder to find my way around, it’s very long and narrow and doesn’t feel as open as other areas. With the animal connections, Ranger was the obvious choice of play. Because of their size and warrior history, Ranger, Warrior, and Guardian seemed to be the most commonly selected professions I saw when playing.

Charr: The catlike Charr were the enemies in Guild Wars, but now they are a playable race. They start out in the Plains of Ashford. They are a militaristic race, more than any other. What I found disappointing about the Charr was that as a cat I figured they would be a lot more nimble, but in reality they played a lot bulkier and heavier than I expected. I played as a Charr Guardian and a Thief and didn’t get far in either. The race is suited to professions based around war and upclose combat which aren’t my style of gameplay.

Sylvari: Sylvari players start in probably the most beautiful of maps in The Grove. They are plant based and focused on mental and spiritual healing and practices. I played as a Sylvari necromancer and mesmer and the Sylvari work really well in the scholar professions. I don’t think they’d hold up well as a tank! There world is multileveled more than others and can take a bit of work to get around, but is worth exploring in full.

Asura: The little Asura, powerful minds in tiny bodies. They start in Rata Sum and are very technology based. Going in I figured I’d try Asura for fun because I didn’t expect them to be made for dodging and running, which is a big part of how I play. I was so surprised at how well these little guys moved around. They are quick, agile, and have amazing jumping power. Plus they are so cute! I played as an engineer and a mesmer and loved running around Rata Sum. Their world is gorgeous.

Professions: Unlike Guild Wars, in Guild Wars 2 there are no secondary professions. You instead have your racial skills that take up a couple slots on your skill bar. There are eight classes all together, two heavy armour, three medium armour, and three light armour.

Warrior: Heavy armour, big weapons. If you like brawling up close with your enemies, warrior is the way to go. With different weapon combos you can get nineteen different combinations. The warrior class is pretty standard brawler.

Guardian: Gone is the monk, and in comes the guardian. There is a huge variety available with guardians. Go for a healer or a brawler or even a spell caster. I felt like I was playing a warrior just with a lot more variety.

Thief: They are able to steal weapons from engineers and use them against their enemies. They also have no cool down time for skills, but have a smaller variety of weapon combinations than most. Daggers and pistols are what they work with.

Engineer: Engineer is for those who want a real challenge. Low weapon combos and high miss ratios you really need to work on your precision. Fun, but definitely a challenge. They use rifles and pistols and can have a shield, but unlike most other professions they can only have one weapon set.

Ranger: Of the medium armour professions, rangers have the most variety. They have eleven possible weapon sets as well as being able to have an animal companion. Depending on your race you have access to different animals at the start of the game.

Necromancer: They use other players’ life forces against them and can call the dead to defend them. They’re good for setting traps and are fairly unique. I rarely saw anyone play this class in Guild Wars and saw very few when I played the beta.

Elementalist: Masters of the four elements, each element holds an entirely different form of gameplay. You can even focus on being a healer if you get really good with water magic. I assumed I’d be playing elementalist when GW2 came out because it’s fun running around and blowing stuff up.

Mesmer: In Guild Wars I felt mesmers were the ginger step kids of the bunch. I rarely saw them in play and when I did they didn’t do much. They got an overhaul for GW2 and man are they fun. You have a huge variety in weapon sets and you’re never playing alone because you can create clones and illusions to fight for you.

Before I finished the beta for the weekend I asked what other people thought of the game so far. People really loved the Sylvari race and were big fans of how the Guardian played because it was so versatile. Things they wanted improved upon were the Guild User Interface and how the World vs. World played. One comment was someone who wanted more direction at the start. The complaints themselves were very minor and all the beta reviews I got from people were glowing with praise, and everyone had a good time and just wished the game came out sooner.

After two beta weekends and a lot of research I’m still not quite sure what I’m going to play! I’m thinking mesmer, but still can’t quite pick between Human, Asuran, or Sylvari!

About Laura Thomas

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