First Impressions: Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 just opened up for its first beta weekend and we had a chance to poke around inside the game a bit and see just what ArenaNet has...

Guild Wars 2 just opened up for its first beta weekend and we had a chance to poke around inside the game a bit and see just what ArenaNet has to offer with the sequel to their hit pay-once-to-play MMO. While much of the game is still under construction, what we did get to play with was very interesting and shows that for someone - such as myself - coming into Guild Wars for the first time, it looks to be a fun MMO with a lot of exciting events.

Since we didn’t have time to go through all of the available race/class options, we chose a Norn Thief. The norn are equivalent to a large, viking style race of humans. Thiefs are perhaps closest compared to the Rogue class in WoW, specializing in dual-weilding weapons. The first thing we noticed as we progressed through the game was that your character has a chosen central quest line and a large number of side-quests available to them as well. The main quests all take place in personalized instances, similar to The Old Republic, and can be done at your leisure.

Another item of note was how your attacks vary depending on the type of weapon you’re using, something new to me as a new arrival to the Guild Wars franchise. Learning your new abilities is interesting, as well, as they gradually unlock while you fight. You can see on your hotkeys the progress you’re making toward unlocking the next attack. With the Thief class, unlike WoW where your attacks are the same but the damage may vary based off of the type of weapon - for example, certain attacks draw more damage off of a slower or harder-hitting weapon - you get a whole variety of attacks dedicated to your weapon of choice. I found that dual-weilding daggers offered me the type of attacks I was most interested in, but you could tell that using a sword provided much slower offense but larger damage per hit.

Getting around the world is easy, as well. As you explore more areas, you’ll unlock waypoints which you can instantly travel between just by accessing the in-game map and paying a small fee. This made questing much easier as I didn’t have to run through hostile areas or just waste time sitting on the back of a gryphon or a speeder. However, there are advantages of travelling by foot, and those come in the world events that take place in just about every corner of the world.

While typical questing exists, most of the things you’ll do in the game occur just by stumbling across them. When you’re in range of an event, your quest log will update and your map will indicate where the event is taking place, allowing you to score some experience and karma points (a form of currency you gain through various factions which can be redeemed for items). Because of the design of these events, you’ll often find yourself participating in them with other people even without formally grouping up. This is a great way to explore parts of the world and complete objectives for upgrades, money or just raw experience.

When loading between zones, you’ll constantly be updated as to how many quests are available, where you can earn Skill Points (points you’ll use to obtain new and more powerful abilities) and more. The game feels big, too, but not with a lot of empty spac. Another reason to wander the world is to earn XP. By discovering points of interests, waypoints, killing things, and doing certain objectives, you’ll earn bursts of XP and progress along certain achievements.

Combat is the next topic du jour. Combat is pretty standard of MMO fare, but it definitely puts a focus on positioning and avoidance moreso than other MMOs. The closest MMO I’ve played whose combat is closest to Guild Wars 2 would have to be TERA, but only a little. Because of the game’s focus on avoiding the “MMO Trinity” of tank, DPS and healer roles, every class has the ability to avoid damage and heal themselves. However, with a lot of the additional skill choices, I have to wonder if certain classes won’t fall into certain roles naturally. It should be interesting to see how it plays out when the game launches.

In my experience with the beta, I found that while lag was a bit prominent (not surprising), the game otherwise felt good. Some animations were missing, some comcast situations felt a bit glitchy, but all in all it was a pretty positive experience. If you’re expecting some mindblowingly unique MMO experience, you probably won’t find it, but it’s a nice change of pace if you’re looking for a new game to play. Plus, Guild Wars 2 follows the same pricing structure as the last game - you buy the core game, you never pay a monthly fee. Sounds pretty good to me.

About Steve Perry

The owner of GKick Network, co-host of the GKick and Bottom Line Live podcasts, and hero to millions worldwide.