First Steps: Guild Wars 2
Just coming off of the third and final beta for Guild Wars 2 we wanted to give everyone a glimpse into the first few moments of the upcoming MMO. Guild Wars 2 is the free to play mmo sequel to the original Guild Wars. The game, developed by ArenaNet features quite a few interesting changes to mmo including the action oriented combat and effect your character has on the world.
Let us start with the character creation. In GW2 you can select from five different races, the Sylvari, Norn, Charr, Asura and Human. Each race has its own unique abilities and backstory that you can read about when you create you character.
On the next screen you select what your classic will be. Some of the classics will be familiar like warrior or Necromancer. Some of the classics you will need to read to understand what your skills will be, but know that for the most part all classes can deal enough DPS (damage per second) and do enough personal healing for you to be effective, at least in the beginning.
Once you have selected your class you can configure how you character will look. There are a number of changes you can make from body size to hair, eye and armor color. Overall, you can make your character pretty unique dependent on how much time you wish to spend customizing your character.
Another unique feature to GW2 is after you customize your character you have a list of choices you make that determine the type of character you are. For instance a question might ask, what are the most important teachings you have learned and you have three choices to select from and your choices will affect how NPC’s (non-playable characters) treat you and your various skills and quests.
Each race has their own opening story which deals with how they entered the world. The opening story is in the full world meaning you will see other new players with you right off the bat. The beginning story allows you to get used to the controls and the gameplay and though it is easy for anyone who has played mmo’s before, if you are completely new it can be challenging.
Once you finish the beginning story you are placed in your starting area. From the starting area you have your main story which you can follow or you can begin exploring the world and encountering the random and dynamic events and quests within it, which we will cover in a moment.
Graphically the game was designed to run well on many different systems and to that end on lower end systems the game might not seem as graphically stunning, but on higher settings the world looks beautiful. Guild Wars 2 uses an “art style” for its graphics giving you that painters look, but it is done well where the world and environment changes depending on where you are. There are also day and night sequences in the game which not only effects how the world looks, but what events and monsters will be in the world. There are also cut scenes used for boss battles and important story events and a simple discussion cut scene when talking to some NPC’s.
As far as quests go, unlike many mmo’s where you see an exclamation point over the head of an NPC, in GW2 quests are more dynamic. An example is an NPC will approach you and offer a quest or tell you something is happening and that your help is needed. Since this occurs mainly in the open world you have the option to go to the location and help or not. Say there are bandits attacking a farm, a farmer may run out onto the road you are walking down and ask for help. At this point the farm is already under attack and if you walk away the bandits will burn down the farm and may even camp out there. If you choose to fight you might kill off the bandits and attack their camp meaning you might see them rebuilding it later. Sometimes events will overlap and while you are fighting said bandits something else appears like a monster which will attack everyone.
The idea with this questing system is to keep things fresh and new. The events will change from time to time and what you and other players do will have a real effect on the game. In the main story mode you are mostly in instanced areas, but the random quests still apply there as well. As for dungeons, you first encounter a dungeon in story mode meaning there will be less monsters and difficulty as it is for only you. However, once you finish a dungeon you unlock the “explorer” mode where there are much more monsters, loot and even path choices to make giving the dungeon replayability.
Turning to combat, Guild Wars 2 focuses on action and interaction so you are not standing around watching your character, you are interacting. An example of this is the action bars which are the numbered 1 thru 10 keys on your keyboard. You begin the game with only one or two spells and as you fight and level more will unlock. More to this the action bars or spells change dependent on what weapon you are using.
Say you have a sword in your main hand. The action keys 1 thru 3 will be abilities specific to that weapon. The next few buttons will deal with what is in your off hand like a shield or another weapon. Every class also has a personal heal spell and then special abilities based on the class. Finally you have your special attack which can be devastating, but has a long cool down. So back to the sword, if you then decide to pick up a hammer the first three button skills will change to reflect the new weapon. This opens up a ton of new combinations and abilities each class can access.
There are also defensive moves in the game such as dodging incoming attacks. Your main vitality bars are your normal health, mana and stamina bars. When you double tap one of your movement keys (W,A,S,D) you will perform a defensive move like diving forward or jumping back. When you do this you can avoid damage so unlike many other mmo’s you do not just sit there going hit by hit. As you uses the defensive abilities your stamina runs down so you have to conserve it.
There are also many items in the game which when picked up change your action keys. Sometimes items are for a quest like a water bucket to put out a fire. You can also find items like tree branches or a pipe and these can be used for specific means or as a weapon, each having its own set of action keys. Most of these items tie into events that occur in the open world or are used for questing purposes.
Overall, the game is incredibly fun for anyone who likes sword, shield and magic adventures. The fact that the world is persistent and you only pay once for the game is a welcome sight compared to games that launch with a subscription and then go free to play. There is a lot to do in GW2 from the main story quests to thousands of open world events, dungeons and bosses to fight of all shapes and sizes.
You also will not have to worry about loot since all drops are specific to you. Even if you are in a dungeon with others everyone gets their own loot which solves a lot of problems. As said the graphics as well done and scale well with higher end systems. The music flows with the game and gets you into the mood when in dungeons or while fighting and the combat system brings excitement, keeping you from feeling bored or not engaged.
There is much more to Guild Wars 2 and we will be bringing you more information in the weeks to come. For now you can preorder Guild Wars 2 and receive some cool in game items. Guild Wars 2 officially launches on August 28th.