10 Thoughts And Cool Things About Guild Wars 2

Whoops! Sorry! Fired backwards again!
You’ve already read Richard’s experiences with the recent Guild Wars 2 beta. There’s much more to say about it though, so here are ten specific things that caught his eye while playing – some big, some small, but all slightly different from the MMO norm.

1. The Elementalist Who Ran Away With The Circus

This is easily the strangest choice I’ve ever made in MMO character customisation. Every race offers the standard options as far as height, build, face and colours go, but you also have to choose some personality elements. Each race has different ones. The Charr for instance are split into Legions, and you get to choose which one you’re in, as well as who your sparring partner is. For Humans, one of your choices is your biggest regret. This can be that you never knew your parents. It can be that you never recovered your sister’s body after centaur attack…

…or it can be that you once had the opportunity to perform in the circus, but didn’t. I’m not entirely sure that this fits with a Human Noble’s general background, but never mind.

All three are obviously Chekhov’s Gun plot points for the Personal Story to pick up on, but it was great to see the circus one at least introduced very early. There’s bad, brainwashing things afoot behind the big top, and my Elementalist proved squealingly excited at the chance to go undercover. The investigation covers several levels, but proved to offer a fun change from Guild Wars 2’s occasionally funny, but generally po-faced approach to high fantasy. Early on, you get to watch some acts, performed… well… exactly as you’d expect for an MMO engine, really. Later, you get quest objectives like making a clown laugh by piecing together a ‘A norn, a human and a charr went into a bar’ joke via a dialogue tree. Moments like these are what promises to make the Personal Story a bit different from the norm, and while the Circus option was easily the most outlandish of the choices I saw in beta, it’s one that made me smile a lot.

(Not however as much as one throwaway quest in the main world, where you have to play three card monte with two chicken-like monsters and a guy who turns into one. This would be much harder in a world without the ability to just click on the guy and target him. Oops.)

We're not boring! We're just... more serious!

2. A Cold Shoulder For The Norn

I absolutely loved my time as a Human, but I heard rumblings from people on my IM list – and subsequently saw in other previews – that not everyone was having as good a time. One common factor seemed to be that people who were underwhelmed seemed to be playing as Norns – a race of warrior types. Maybe that’s down to personality; that if you choose the Norn, you’re someone with no sense of fun. Alternatively, maybe they’re just not much fun.

My own experience with them was limited, largely for that reason. As a Human, you’re thrust into an exciting, if very traditional fantasy world – fighting against squads of centaurs, with a huge complicated city. As a Norn, you start off just smacking things and then move to a capital city that, while absolutely fine, didn’t capture my interest as much as the human faction’s. Like the Charr, the other playable race, their character options lean towards less immediately emotive things than the humans’ social choices and regrets, and that could well have an impact. It might also be the nature of their early quests – where Humans start out heroically defending a village, Norns spend their first moments in the game running through a largely empty snowfield in search of specific monsters, before having a much less interesting first boss fight.

There’s every chance that the Norn are awesome, and I’m certainly not saying they’re bad. Anecdotally though, there definitely seemed to be a correlation between the people picking them, and the people I saw grumbling during and after the beta weekend. YMMV, as they say.

3. It’s So Big! (Can I Touch It?)

Guild Wars 2 looks beautiful. Its art direction is amazing. Its locations – while very stock fantasy in origin – are great. What really impresses though is its scale. The human city of Divinity’s Reach may not take up a vast amount of space in pure square-foot terms, but it does an amazing job of faking it. The districts feel big and (by MMO standards) bustling, especially your instanced Home part of it. The walls and homes and decorations tower above you, making it easy to imagine thousands of people living and breathing behind the scenes.

The most impressive bit though is when you climb high above it to the palace in the middle – a lush, beautifully designed area in itself – and glance up. Hovering above the whole city is a gigantic orrery with massive celestial bodies in constant motion. Nobody would have noticed if it wasn’t there, but it is, and like so much here, it looks absolutely stunning.

The scale is just as impressive wherever you go in the opening areas and capital cities, yet without ever seeming stretched out and padded. There are cliffs, and huge lakes, and sweeping panoramic views everywhere. This is a world you’ll want to explore in great detail, especially knowing that there are secret areas and hidden skill points and all manner of other stuff tucked away off the beaten track specifically to be discovered instead of pointed to.

For the five minutes it takes to get everything onto a wiki, anyway.

Remember, in MMO circles, warriors wear heavy armour, casters wear cloth, and women wear less.

4. A Whole World of PvP

I’m not much of a PvP player, mostly because I tend to roll mages and mages usually last fractions of a second in the average skirmish. But! I do love how Guild Wars 2 handles it. Essentially, there are two modes. The first is regular PvP, which is round-based and involves a couple of teams fighting it out more or less as you’d expect. There are some unique elements, like maps having monsters to kill for bonuses, but otherwise it seems fairly traditional.

Except for one thing. You can start playing immediately. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t just give you a full levelled character, it gives you a full set of class-appropriate PvP equipment. Aside from letting you feel awesome immediately, it means you don’t have to kill a single post-tutorial mob if you don’t want to, and you’ll still be competitive. That’s pretty darn neat if you ask me.

The really innovative bit though is World vs World vs World PvP. This takes place in a whole alternate world – not as big as the main one, but still jaw-droppingly huge – and features three whole servers battling it out in rounds that last a week each. You’re scaled up to Level 80 for this one too, though don’t get the fancy new gear, and can just as well develop your character here as in the main game. There are siege mechanics, battles over key points, monsters out in the wilds and more… and as a really nice touch, success here also bleeds into the main PvE game. If your server’s PvPers do well, everyone gets bonuses like a 1% experience boost. Nice.

5. The Music Is Really, Really Bland

That’s it, really. I don’t just mean that I can’t remember it. I mean that while playing, I occasionally became aware of just how boring it was. Hopefully the final game will have some more blood-pumping combat and exploration themes on its side, because after a while I ended up just playing some Skyrim and World of Warcraft music over the top.

(Update: Yes. Yes, I know who the composer is. I just didn’t have any other fantasy soundtracks to hand, and trying to have epic fireball battles to some Jesper Kyd or Avenue Q or something didn’t seem entirely appropriate. I apologise for my music library being Weak.)

What's it like being a plant girl? It's tree-mendous!

6. Weapons Are Bundles Of Fun…

One of Guild Wars 2’s coolest features is that all your weapon skills are embedded into the weapons themselves. A Staff for instance has different attacks to a Dagger, whether you’re casting spells or hitting people with it. You’ll find lots of other items scattered around the world too, which you can pick up and use appropriately. A bomb might be Planted or Thrown. A bottle can be used to hit someone over the head. In most cases that I saw, there’s no real reason to actually grab a length of 2×4 for combat when you already have the ability to SET PEOPLE ON FIRE WITH YOUR MIND, but it promises some fun options later on.

(For weapons, skills have to be unlocked. The good news is that this is done very quickly by simply using previous attacks the weapon offers a few times; the idea obviously being that you at least see them in action, even if you never choose to use them again.)

7. …But Not As Much As Magic

I already raved about how badass my Elementalist was, but what I didn’t mention is how unusual many of the spells are. Take Meteor Storm. At first glance, it’s your average AoE attack. Cast it and you get a big targeting circle on the ground. A couple of seconds later, huge rocks smash down to give anyone underneath a very bad day. So far, so regular-magey.

Except for two minor tweaks. First, every meteor is treated as its own projectile, meaning that it’s quite possible for someone to be standing in the (wide) target zone and not actually get whacked. Second, while the spell starts off being channelled, like a Blizzard or similar over on WoW, you’re cut loose before it ends to continue piling stuff into the mix. That makes for much faster paced, more active combat for mages.

Other classes have equally interesting mechanics, though I only had time to look at a couple. The Mesmer for instance creates clones to fight for them, which can be sacrificed or converted into instant attack damage with assorted debuffs. They also get a really cool ability where they create a clone of themselves at the target, but with the choice of whether to swap places with it or not, keeping even an experienced opponent on their toes during the fight.

I really want to play more with this game’s mages.

The words 'odd man out' have rarely been more appropriate

8. Skill Points Are Skill

Guild Wars doesn’t use standard talent trees. Instead, you acquire skill points and spend them on specific talents that you want, be they a new Healing spell or something more interesting, like summoning a giant flaming axe. They’re broken into tiers that unlock between 5 and 30, but otherwise you can buy whatever you like. Get lots of little ones. Get a couple of big ones. It’s your choice, and that will hopefully lessen (though obviously not remove, as there will be better builds) the obsession many MMO players have with theorycrafting.

You get one skill point per level, but many more are scattered around the map as challenges. These can be anything from getting to a certain place to fighting a particular NPC to praying at a certain shrine. This gives you something to do when you’re bored of the regular questing grind, and act as a fun change of pace. It’s a really clever system. One of many.

9. Mapping The World

Speaking of clever systems, there’s the map. Guild Wars 2 does a great job of highlighting tasks and skill challenges for you, with the majority highlighted by talking to a Scout and having them put markers down where a hero’s services are needed. You’re also told exactly how many tasks and challenges and other things are there to be found, so you know when you can consider an area finished and move on to something else. It works really, really well, while still allowing for lots of secrets to be scattered around the place for you to find on your own.

10. I Hope Events Get Less Messy

The one downside of Guild Wars 2’s “Everybody Pile In” approach to questing is that with all the pyrotechnics and people just running around, it’s impossible to see what the hell is going on most of the time, never mind play with tactics. That’s great for starting things off with a bang, but I do hope there are some more strategic battles and encounters later on that we can simply walk into, but that will challenge more than just our ability to mash attack buttons. That said, a beta weekend where everyone starts at the same level is obviously going to be much more chaotic than the actual launch game, so it’s very likely that things will be a lot calmer post-release.


  1. PaulOHara says:

    An excellent article, to say the least. It’s a shame that the music seems to disappoint in the beta, but I’m holding out hope for a decent score (one that can be purchased off iTunes or similar stores).

    • Wreckdum says:

      I’m glad someone finally had the balls to say something negative about the game. After last weeks RPS review of the beta they kinda hinted that they had some gripes but it’s nice to finally hear them. IGN has video after video raving about how amazing the game is with no down sides to put it in perspective.

      EDIT: That being said I will still be camping the website on April 10th for the second preorders go online. =P Fanboy fo life.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        It’s often tricky to know what to mention. For instance, there’s a truly godawful escort mission in the swamp where the thing you’re guiding takes FOREVER to stumble to its destination, but bringing that kind of thing up specifically is kinda being picky. Likewise, at the moment the XP distribution doesn’t seem ideal for some of the quests and events – but that’s the kind of thing that’s likely to be tuned in beta over the course of the next few months.

        I’m absolutely not going to say “OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER PRE-ORDER IT!” because a couple of days isn’t even close to enough to make that call. I can however say that, speaking specifically of the bits I saw over the course of this weekend, I had a really good time with it and am really looking forward to playing more.

        • aircool says:

          Escort missions are awful… has anybody taken notice of how much Frodo was a pain in the arse in Lord of The Rings?

    • DrGonzo says:

      Replacing it with Skyrim music? That’s the act of a desperate man.

      • skinlo says:

        Skyrim music is some of the best music around! No desperation there.

        • DrGonzo says:

          I thought it was a copy and paste job of the Morrowind soundtrack. Which could be worse, but it’s pretty disappointing nonetheless.

          • Ateius says:

            While they did slip in at least one Morrowind theme that occasionally plays in cities and gives me an instant nostalgia trip, most of Skyrim’s music was freshly composed for the game.

        • JunJun says:

          I giggled a bit at the substituting GW2 music with Skyrim music, since they’re made by the same composer. Jeremy Soule has done the score for GW2, he’s done the music for Oblivion, Morrowind, Icewind dale etc etc as well. :)

          • Davee says:

            I really like the TES soundtracks, but I thought Soule’s work on GW2 was even better from the little I’ve heard on YouTube ( link to youtube.com (yes, it says ‘unofficial’ but those are composed by Soule)). Especially the Human Theme song and a few more.

            But I guess the generic ambient music in-game could be… blander? I hope not.

    • jjujubird says:

      The music being bland really depends on the player. Personally for MMOs I like to get on vent/mumble/whatever with friends when possible (which is sorta the point of multiplayer games). I have the music/sound off for that since MMOs really don’t require you to hear stuff like some games do (e.g. Thief) and it is harder to hear people on vent over the noise. Several people I’ve played with do the same.

      That said, for the first level-through it -is- nice to have all the sounds and music for the ultimate atmosphere/experience. That first time through the world is always charming/good to look back on.

  2. RedViv says:

    Skyrim’s music is quite an ironic choice to play instead.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      They both have Soule.

      Really, it was just about the only other fantasy soundtrack I had around.

      • RedViv says:

        It would not surprise me if it really were a better choice.
        I think Guild Wars is one of his more forgettable soundtracks, and GW2 will probably follow the same style, while Skyrim takes more after Morrowind, which is one of my favourites. Because it’s not quite like all of his other stuff, from NWN to Dawn of War to Oblivion.

        Icewind Dale gets a special mention, for *sounding* cold.

        • Feriluce says:

          What is WRONG with you people? GW music is some of the best around, and from what I’ve seen GW2 is following that trend. I mean how can you say something like link to youtube.com is bland. I get a little tear in my eye EVERY time I listen to that.

    • Lemming says:

      More ironic than WoW? Seriously?

      • Screwie says:

        Ironic as in much of GW2’s and Skyrim’s music was composed by the same guy.

        • Lemming says:

          yeah I get why he was saying it, I just found it more ironic listening to the music of the game’s biggest competition.

  3. Forgoroe says:

    I’ve heard little of the music and I loved it. I really don’t know how you can get bored of Jeremy Soule’s epic music.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      There may be awesome tracks in the full game. The beta version on the other hand sounded incredibly flat to me. I can only judge based on what I saw last weekend.

      (And honestly, I find a lot of Soule’s fantasy stuff very samey.)

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I honestly don’t give much time to thinking about game soundtracks, but I have a general dislike of Soule’s stuff… maybe it’s just too “sweeping grandiose fantasy”.

      Now, the soundtrack for Grim Fandango has flavour, and actually stands out. Sword and Sworcery, Neotokyo, and maybe Bastion are some more recent ones I kinda looped for a couple of weeks.

      I guess I like something that “twangs”

  4. Choca says:

    I had a great time with my Norns and found the human area pretty bland so to each his own I guess.

    I agree that the music is bland though, I turned it off after a few hours. Quite surprising from Soule which is usually a good choice.

    • Screwie says:

      I find Richard’s comments on the human vs norn starting area interesting as I’ve read other reviewers commenting that the human area is the worst of the three on offer. The reason being that after the human tutorial, the first area you come to is a farm with a bunch of carrying tasks – whereas the other races get some fighting to do instead.

      Not a knock against Richard, just interesting what different people get out of the content is all.

      He’s spot on with the personal stories though. It’s funny that while humans get to pick from their greatest regrets, norn are simply trying to remember what they got up to the last time they were drunk. (I love the norn!)

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        I really don’t mind the farm thing, not least because you start with something more exciting, that stuff is quick (especially if there’s a bandit attack while you’re there), and then you’re immediately into your Personal Quest. And as I said, I don’t have a problem with the Norn. I just noticed, purely anecdotally, that most of the people who I saw not clicking with the game seemed to be playing as them.

  5. AshEnke says:

    About the scale, it’s one of the things that I found very annoying in the first GW, and that constantly broke my suspension of disbelief.

    The cities are huge, with doors that are hundreds of meters tall, every single wall lost in the middle of nowhere looks like it has been made to withstand not only the small, human-sized Charrs, but Titans of colossal heights.

    I don’t like fantasy settings that try too hard to be fantasy. Sometimes it’s the names (“K’El Dörokvar !”), sometimes it’s the story, sometimes like there it’s just the setting.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Some of the doors remain insane. The rest of the stuff I saw wasn’t so bad. The scale here is generally much closer to “Wow, this place is really big and imposing” than “Wow, this was built for giants!”

      (Bigger than normal scale, but most MMOs are to cater for multiple players. Star Trek Online is the most hilarious for it in my experience – its world pieces are just crazy, crazy large…)

      • Choca says:

        Plus, you have to get big doors for the Norn !

        When I got out of the Norn zone to try a dungeon at level 30, I was amazed how huge my character was compared to everyone else

    • Ringwraith says:

      Although have you seen some places in the real world? They can get almost similarly crazy with doorways and stuff…

  6. AshEnke says:

    Also, the Asuras.
    Their appearance in Eye of the North is what made me give up Guild Wars.

    The game was at its best when it denied its korean origin, when it avoided monsterbashing and levelgrinding, and when chardesign was simple and tasteful.

    These kawai little thingies make me want to puke.

    But still ! Excited about the game !

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Don’t be a hater, kupo.

    • Choca says:

      Guild Wars doesn’t have korean origins, ArenaNet is an american developer.

    • JD Ogre says:

      “Kawaii little things”? Asura? Maybe in GW2. Definitely not in GW1. Especially when they open their mouths at you…

    • Metonymy says:

      I’m more disturbed by the obvious media bias against the Asura in the pictures chosen for articles. The Asuras are the glorious artificers, benefactors to all the world, that will possess everyone and everything. I suppose it’s expected that the creatures with a lower brain/mass index will make a show of a struggle, long after any chance of victory has passed.

      Trust, that you will bend the knee, small minds.

    • Aerius says:

      Kawaii? They’re terrifying little goblins with freaky cave-dwelling eyes, horrible sharp teeth and claws and a superiority complex.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Also, gnomish creatures have a long history in European mythology. Suggesting they’re Asian-inspired is off the mark.

      • Metonymy says:

        It’s like…they were made just for me.

      • Malk_Content says:

        And they will happily make moral choices like “Is genociding this race better for the world, or at least us” as quickly as it comes up. Better yet the answer is “yes of course it is.” These self-righteous shark toothed shits are no where near as “kawai” as the chosen screen shots (and apparently how they sometimes like to present themselves to other races as a disarming technique) have shown.

  7. Xan says:

    I smell a troper..

  8. ninjapirate says:

    A human noble who regrets that she didn’t run away with the circus?
    I think it fits perfectly well! With nobility come certain privileges and rights, but being a member of the highest social class may feel like a cage… suddenly joining that wandering circus may seem like a chance to escape into freedom.
    Will you follow the path that your forefathers laid out for you, or chuck it all and join a circus? Will you regret your choice?

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Given that you’re at liberty to openly become a professional thief, I’m not sure exactly how restrictive the nobility of this world is. But then again, Anarchy Online tried to make out that OmniTek was incredibly controlling, despite their first act in the game being to ask what you wanted to be, hand you over a bag of stuff, the keys to a free house, and the freedom to go anywhere you chose on the planet.

  9. Zanchito says:

    I’ve enjoyed GW1 a lot, my main concern after the massive hype about SWTOR and the subsequent “just another WOW clone” is that GW2 might be getting way too hyped to end up being less than stellar, just like SWTOR.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Agreed. Though it feels more successful at what it wants to be than SWTOR was, it is an MMO, not a free ticket to Boola Boo Ball, where they never have troubles, no troubles at all.

    • Phantoon says:

      Could be, but I hope not. SWTOR had a massive advertising budget, and this seems to just have mostly word of mouth advertising through internet personalities.

      Could be bad of course, but then there’s no subscription either, so it’s just the one fee and would be more like paying for a bad single player game.

  10. Phantoon says:

    I was not excited for this game at all when I heard about the limited amount of skills, but it sounds like they do it a lot smarter than other MMOs, so one button will do more than one thing, in addition to the weapon switching giving you and entire second set of skills (really giving you 10 weapon attacks and 10 skills).

    Now I am chomping at the bit for this and am super excited.

    • Shadram says:

      You’re definitely NOT limited on skills. For the Elementalist, at least, as well as every weapon having a different skill set, you also have a stance for each element (earth, air, fire, water) and each stance has its own set of skills. So a dagger has 3 skills in the main hand and 2 different ones in off hand for each of the 4 elements. You can switch between elements at will (with a short cooldown) and there’s some pretty cool combo attacks you can perform by mixing things up. All of these are available from the start of the game (after a short unlocking period, requiring you to kill a few monsters to gain each power). It’s amazing fun.

      • Phantoon says:

        Yeah, I know that NOW.

        But I’m talking like, last year.

      • apocraphyn says:

        Not only that, but Elementalists can summon up extra element-based weapons, so long as they have the relevant skills applied to 7,8,9,0. That’s a potential 20 extra moves, right there. (Still, probably wouldn’t be the wisest idea to take a full arsenal of magical weapons with you rather than maybe having just the one + some more handy utility spells).

        So 5 moves per each of the four elements for your chosen weapon, four extra magical weapons…leaves Elementalists with a potential 41 skills, no? Yeesh.

  11. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Is this going to be mainly single-player instanced out in the world as the previous one was (I believe) – or will you have to endure gits cluttering up your gameworld?

  12. JD Ogre says:

    “and as a really nice touch, success here also bleeds into the main PvE game. If your server’s PvPers do well, everyone gets bonuses like a 1% experience boost. Nice.”

    No. Not nice. Bad. Having the instanced PvP affect the PvE world is NOT a good thing.

    • Phantoon says:

      Why not?

      I’m not being snippy, I really don’t know why you’d think that was a bad thing.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Presumably if you don’t want to take part in it and have no interest in it, it is frustrating to be punished/rewarded for it with no way of avoiding it.

        Though if it’s only a 1% difference I can’t see the problem really.

        • wengart says:

          There isn’t a negative effect associated with losing.

          • Milos says:

            But mommyyyyyy! The kids on the other server have a tiny bonus and I don’t! *stomps feet*

    • Mordsung says:

      It’s not the instanced PvP, it’s the World vs World PvP that provides the bonus to PvE.

      The instanced PvP, called Conquest, has no benefit to the PvE game.

      And yes, I know that the Mists are technically a separate instance from PvE zones, but it’s more akin to a different continent than it is to an instanced area.

  13. Phantoon says:

    Oh, I totally forgot. Can any race be any class? I couldn’t find it on the website if you could or not.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I believe so. The three in the beta certainly could.

      • Phantoon says:

        That’s good. I didn’t want to have to play the tiny race to have an Engineer, or the barbarians to be a Warrior fighter whatever it was.

        • Malk_Content says:

          Essentially (going by a dev blog on the subject) that they never wanted a player to have to play a certain race or class in order to be able to play the other. So that although you may not ever see any Charr Guardian npcs running around, and most Charr would consider that style of beating the shit out of people a little too indirect, players are meant to be exceptional individuals who could potentially change the culture of their race forever and so should be allowed to do what they want gameplaywise.

        • Ritashi says:

          Basically the idea is that players aren’t a normal member of their race; while most Asura aren’t Warriors, most Asura also aren’t adventurers or even just fighters. Player characters already represent outliers among their race, and there’s no reason that a Charr couldn’t find someone to teach him the magic of a Mesmer, if that’s what he really wanted to do. Also, it falls in with their philosophy that they never want to limit your choices – they never want you to say “I wish we could x…”, they want you to be able to say “let’s go do x right now!” The elimination of race/class limitations is just one way they do that.

  14. hbarsquared says:

    I played both this and the SWToR beta, and GW2 won out by a mile. The world was full of stuff to kill and things to do, and the combat was actually fun. Not just for an MMO, but really real fun! I’ve never purchased an MMO, but I think I’ll be getting this one (being F2P helps too!)

    One thing, though. The voice acting is terrible. I don’t just mean that Bioware did it better, either. This game would be drastically improved with better voice acting, or even none at all. I did really like the pseudo-watercolor portraits during main quest dialog, but their terrible, detached voices made otherwise decent writing fall flat.

    • Phantoon says:

      Hmm. With that and the music being flat, it makes me think their entire sound direction is just bad.

      I don’t listen to the music in MMOs anyways, so this won’t bother me too much personally.

  15. WrongThinker says:

    Super excited for GW2, but super confused by your headings. :\

    Your headings say “the weapons are bundles of fun” “but not so much the magic”. To me, these headings imply that you are very unsatisfied with the magic in the game, but you go on to talk about how fun the magic is. Though you state that meteors are projectiles, but you also you point out how you raved about the magic system previously and how fast paced it all is.

    I’m confused, is the magic “bundles of fun”, or “not so much”?

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Er… you might be less confused if you re-read the headings.

      • WrongThinker says:

        Hahahaha. Sorry, I’m having a bad case of the Mondays this week. That was my only point of confusion in the article, which was quite a good read (I SO can’t wait for this game).

        Turns out the headings make sense when I read them correctly instead of arbitrarily changing or inserting words.

        Cheers. :)

  16. equatorian says:

    What a coincidence, goodsir. I also intended to choose a circus-yearning elementalist as my first. I can see how it’d be a popular choice, though, since the other two are a tad……dramatic. Still, I’m glad to see that it’s fun and leads to some imaginative quests. Everything else that I want in a game—exploration, decent mage builds, real skilling freedom, creative locales and quests, persistence—seems to be working great.

    OTOH, I wonder how the wonderful emphasis on cooperation in PvE and WvW would affect the usual dickery of MMO’s. Might it make the thing come closer to Journey, when there is no way to compete? Or would people just find new ways to be dicks?

    • Malk_Content says:

      The only way to be a dick so far that I’ve seen is if a Warrior drops a banner (aoe persistent buff) that a cock could potential pick it up (they are pick up able to let you move the buff around so as to avoid static combat and gives the player who grabs them 5 new skills) and running away with it.

      Everything else appears to be fairly grief proof. The content only scales if your participating enough to make a positive difference, resource nodes are instanced per player, monsters can’t be kill stealed, no competetive elements to the events (one of the major downsides of public quests for me in most games is the fact that if I do just as well or even better than other players I can still get shit loot and have to do the event again to get the proper drop.)

      I guess you could actively not revive other players, which is a dick thing to do and entirely detrimental to you, but that isn’t really griefing as being revived is more of a bonus to you rather than not being revived feeling like a penalty.

      • Ritashi says:

        I can’t help but feel like the entire scenario of someone actually bothering to pick up your banner and run off with it (presumably cackling maniacally) would be too funny to actually count as griefing, particularly because it would hurt you so little. I can just imagine someone running around in some silly outfit, dancing and shouting something about “All your banners are belong to us” while stealing every banner they could find, and hoarding them in some random cave until they despawn.

  17. DivinoAG says:

    Small correction: WvW PvP rounds last two weeks, not one.

    Other than that, really good write up. Even the negatives look very fair to me, and I could see the same stuff on the many, many, MANY videos I watched from the beta weekends, even if they don’t necessarily bother me. I like the music, and I think it doesn’t need to be “all epic all the time” or it would start getting annoying quick, and while I understand why some people might feel Norns have a much less interesting starting story, I think the variation is good to add some spice to the gameplay.

    With that said, the visual effects ARE too much sometimes, and I hope to seem them made less cluttered.

    Cheers. ;)

  18. Grizzlybar says:

    There’s a distinction between trait points and skill points. Trait points are used in the “talent tree” and you get one per level after lvl 10. Skill points are your rewards for doing skill challenges and are used to purchase new utility and elite skills.

  19. serioussgtstu says:

    This article really nailed down some of the specific worries people have about the chaotic nature of Guild Wars 2 questing and combat. While it’s nice to have some direction in what you’re suppose to be doing in a big fight, I can say from playing wow is that this skill based combat will require the general population try harder to keep up. I think that’s a really good thing, and as people play more, over time that learning curve will balance out until the point where players won’t notice it.

    The music and dialog quality are down to personal preference, but I think alot us will stop noticing some of these problems as we move on old school ideals of mmo’s and come to terms with Guild Wars 2 as it is, with all its flaws.

    Also let ANet know whats wrong with their game during beta, because they do seem fairly open to suggestion; and that itself deserves praise.

  20. Vorphalack says:

    As for point 10, you might want to look at some of TotalBiscuits coverage of the beta, specifically the explorable dungeon mode. There dosent seem to be much out there on GW2 dungeons, but from what he covered they seem to provide a solid challenge, requiering significant group co-ordination and skill synergy. The open world content will probably remain a lot more chaotic for the most part, although the preview of the high level sea dragon event did show a massive arena with multiple jobs to do that should help spread players out.

    Also ArenaNet are apparantly aware of the complaints surrounding particle effects so I would expect them to be toned down before launch.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Dungeons are fine, but you’re not going to spend as much time in them as events, so both really need to work. Chaos in itself isn’t a problem – it can be really fun – but there are degrees of it, and at the moment you can’t even really see what’s going on much of the time behind the button mashing explosions.

  21. Aerius says:

    The comment about replacing the Jeremy Soule soundtrack with another Jeremy Soule soundtrack kind of irked me.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I’d have replaced it with the Bastion soundtrack or some Jesper Kyd, but it wouldn’t exactly have been appropriate…

    • Cryo says:

      Why? All work from the same person doesn’t have to be equally good.

  22. Shadram says:

    It’s interesting that the personal story ‘biggest regret’ choice seems to affect the story quite a bit. I chose ‘didn’t know my parents’ and the personal story sent me off to meet people who had info on their whereabouts. I didn’t get too far with it, but there wasn’t even a mention of the circus. It will definitely be interesting to see how deeply these choices actually affect things, and whether there’s any further branching that makes your story unique. (Or at least, a bit more unique than the usual MMO experience…)

    PS, nice alt-texts. :)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      The circus stuff kicked in around Level 10. It was the second plot arc, after helping take down a corrupt politician. I know the early stages of the stories are different according to origin, though only got to about level 6 with another Human alt before deciding to spend the time exploring further afield with my Elementalist.

    • Screwie says:

      1 in 3 humans you meet… secretly longs for the life of the circus.

      Also another third of them are orphans :(

      • Malk_Content says:

        Still better than “1-1 players you meet are having the same storyline as you” that most mmos (no hell lets say it, games) have.

        Comparing storyline branching from myself and another player who chose exactly the same origin choices but then made some different choices during the first few personal story quests (and even outside in the main world as I chose dialogue options that slowly changed my characters personality) this mmo has a storyline web that weaves and changes more than any game I can think of (maybe not something like the Witcher but I haven’t seen all that either of those games offer yet.)

  23. BooleanBob says:

    “You get one skill point per level, but many more are scattered around the map as challenges. These can be anything from getting to a certain place to fighting a particular NPC to praying at a certain shrine. This gives you something to do when you’re bored of the regular questing grind, and act as a fun change of pace. It’s a really clever system. One of many.”

    It might just be me, but that sounds like something that’d quickly become the overriding priority to everything else in the game, for PVE at least. Enter a new zone, hit a wiki, start whittling away at the skill point laundry list. Of course, I haven’t actually played the game or owt.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      You’ll need to level or have backup to do many of them.

    • Malk_Content says:

      You can have a full skill bar after as little as 18 skill points (out of the 200+ in the game world.) So you only have to hunt them down to mix up your build when your bored of it, for completionist sake or (as they are really meant to be) to see something a little different from the normal gameplay and pace of the game.

  24. Screwie says:

    Richard, not sure about you using that Beefjack article as representative of “other previews”, since it was seen as so incongruous to other beta impressions that the piece was derided as deliberate linkbait or worse. In fact that the site’s editor later had to apologise and defend the article

    …fans are scary people.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I wouldn’t call the follow-up response an apology, really. I disagree with most of the preview, but it was close to hand, and that bit at least representative of what I was seeing from other people who would be harder to link to – IM chatter for instance isn’t intended for public broadcast.

      As I said, it’s an anecdotal point anyway.

  25. lunarplasma says:

    I have to admit that item 10 is something that does worry me. All the videos I’ve seen of multiple-player combat seems to be dominated by the pyrotechnics. It just looks like chaotic skill-spam to me.

  26. pegolius says:

    Good writing, good list. As with others one of my bigger concerns are also the pyrotechnics going on in large battles. It looks cool for the first 2 minutes but it gets annoying after that. If you are not able to see who you are supposed to hit on the head then someone should think about toning it down a few notches.

    • Crazy Hippo says:

      the overly massive pyrotechnics is something that has been talked about a lot, and rightly so as at times it felt like was about to have a siezure! I watched one video by Cynical Brit who mentioned that the devs were aware of it and were looking into reducing it.

      cant remember which video it was, may have been his overall impression video

    • Raiyne says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one concerned about the elaborate skill effects. Personally, I really liked the visual cleanliness of Guild Wars’ combat. It felt clear and concise, rather than the rabid mess that usually comes from other MMORPGs.

  27. Riotpoll says:

    If the only particularly bland thing is the music it’s rather pleasing, Mozart, Jeremy Soule is not. My first action on playing an mmo/most rpgs is to load up my media player anyway and mute the BGM!

  28. zontax says:

    Well apparently you can make in-game playlists with your own music.
    So I wouldn’t worry too much about the music.

    link to arena.net
    “Many players will simply turn the game music off and play their own collections. The problem is that an external music player has no context as to what’s going on in-game. Guild Wars 2 will offer a solution for this as well. We’re giving players the option of choosing external music playlists that the game’s audio engine will use as a replacement for the default in-game music. Players can choose different playlists for background ambience and battle music, for instance.”

    • lunarplasma says:

      If that feature does make it into the game, I’ll be well pleased. It’s little seemingly-innocuous things like this that make a good game great.

  29. Symbul says:

    Anecdotally I could offer that people on my IM really favoured the Norn areas over the Human or Charr.

  30. Lucretious says:

    So, then. All the dudes are super buff and the women have no muscles and wear totally senseless armor, despite them ostensibly performing the same tasks? What idiotic, backwards character design.

  31. Brimmstone says:

    Great article, Richard. Did you get a chance to try out the Elementalist’s summoned weapons? Did they fit in with the mage-type gameplay? Seems awesome, but I’m trying to wrap my head around a mage with a 2-handed lightning hammer.

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