**NOTE: THIS GAME IS CURRENTLY A BETA. ARENANET STRESS THAT FACT, AND THINGS MAY OR MAY NOT CHANGE ON RELEASE.**
Guild Wars 2 is one of the most anticipated MMORPGs of the year, and ArenaNet were kind enough to let us play their game for the second beta weekend event that they've thrown. A sequel to the ever-popular Guild Wars MMORPG, ArenaNet have promised revolution and fresh experiences in their latest game.
So how does the beta version of the game stack up to the hopes and dreams?
"Graphics don't make a good game, good game-play does" is a mantra that gets thrown around an awful lot in the gaming community between those "veteran" gamers who enjoy everything a company like Valve throw at them and turn their noses up at releases from someone like EA.
Guild Wars 2 is pretty in its own sense of the word. ArenaNet want their game to be accessible to those on hardware that is considered poor in today's society, so much so that they have to scout eBay to find hardware to program the game on. The game certainly has an artistic flair to it, a unique take on the polygonal, rough action most games strive for in this day and age.
For years ArenaNet have promised a revolution to MMORPG combat, eliminating the "holy trinity" of DPS, Tank and Healer. They certainly have achieved something to that extent, with all classes being able to do everything you need them to - support, tank, ranged DPS, melee DPS, whatever you want. This comes from the skills - 5 are reserved for the skills of the item you are using, and the other 5 are reserved for whatever skills you have unlocked and want to use in the bar.
Currently, it's a nice change from the regular 5000 skills you can unlock in other games for your class (with most of them being useless), although it can feel kind-of stale when the only difference between you and every other double-dagger Thief is 5 skills, which you can change anyway. The unique identity of being a Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft or being a Tree Druid are seemingly long-gone, and it's definitely too early to tell if that's good or bad.
The unique identity of being a Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft or being a Tree Druid are seemingly long-gone, and it's definitely too early to tell if that's good or bad
I took part in the first beta weekend in March that ArenaNet and since then, the game has been polished and changed a lot, with a brand-new area being available for those levels 25-35. With myself being in that region thanks to a mountain of caffeine and nothing to do for the weekend, I set out.
First thing I noticed was how much smoother the game was running. As the game has not been optimised, ArenaNet are struggling to push the load of the game from the processor to the GPU. While they've definitely made improvements, they still seemingly have a long way until perfection. I could run the game on "high" settings at a nice 60fps, but others with machines better than mine could barely scrape 20fps.
Second thing I noticed was that my skills had reset. What happens in the game is you go around the maps and try and earn skill points from vendors by doing tasks and events they assign - anything from best the NPC-in-question in honourable combat to to "communing with a place of power" (no slaying 10x rats!) - and you use these skill points to buy skills.
What happened was that people were just saving up for the best skills and using those because they were just... good. ArenaNet countered this by implementing tiers - so I had to go through and reassign skills just so I could kill stuff.
There were seemingly a lot more quests in the game with an increased frequency. Instead of running around to NPCs to find quests, they occur in the form of "events" and are live, scripted and actually a lot of fun. In the course of my journey I slaughtered the Centaur Overlord who's centaurs exacted revenge by invading the nearest towns and settlements - which I defended - and killed an ice demon along with 40 other players in a gruelling invasion that spanned an hour or more.
Overall, I'm quite happy with what Guild Wars 2 is shaping up to be. It's too early to say it's the WoW-killer everyone has been waiting for, but if ArenaNet stay on the track they've set for themselves, they have a definite shot.
Will you guys be in the next event? The MMGN guild is quite lonely. What did you think of the weekend event?
By Thomas Robinson - Bio