The Big Ol’ GW2 Beta Post

Last night was the end of the Guild Wars 2 BWE3, and now we’re all wondering what’s next and what to do with ourselves until August 25. A few suggestions:

  • Upgrade your computer! (Most expensive things first)
  • Fluff & Re-upholster your computer chair. Alternately, duct tape it for durability.
  • Clean off your computer desk. Sanitize everything.
  • Blow the cheeto crumbs out of your keyboard.
  • Print out and make maps of the capital cities and WvWvW areas for quick reference.
  • Spend time with family, friends, and loved ones.
  • Prepare a shopping list of food & drink items that will get you through launch.

Ok, ok, I’m joking (except for maybe the cleaning part).

This was the first GW2 beta weekend for my husband and I, and we went into it knowing next to nothing about the game. We’ve stayed far, far away from GW2 blogs, video guides, news sources, and other hype, so we didn’t have any set expectations or pre-conceived notions about what we’d find; we were complete newbs. What we found was an absolutely breathtaking game that wiggled it’s way into our hearts, set up camp, and started making us S’mores.

Yeah, we liked it. A lot. A few things that we love:

Cities: Finally, a game that has cities that feel like cities. Divinity’s Reach is hands down the absolute best capital city I’ve ever seen, no contest. It makes Stormwind City look like an outpost. It was huge and had so many little details that we loved – the carnival and the setups for mini-games, the individual quarters that all had their own unique architecture, the banners for each deity hanging from the high roads, a plethora of interesting NPCs that you can interact with. There were somber mausoleums, beautiful multi-tiered fountains, a huge walk-through aquarium dome, palace gardens, and secret alleyways galore. The inns – oh the inns. I got lost in the inns more than once. The doors to the rooms actually close, and the rooms are decorated with gorgeous oriental rugs, lovely beds, paintings, maps, libraries; every room is different. ArenaNet has done a wonderful job at designing their cities for roleplay – bars with plenty of room for player barkeeps, a multi-tier senate chamber with plenty of room for players to hold trials and hearings, stages and open areas for player events, I could go on and on. We spent 3 hours in Divinity’s Reach just exploring, and we still didn’t get to everything.

The other wonderful thing about the cities, and this includes Divinity’s Reach, Lions Arch, Hoelbreck, and the others… is the sense of scale and depth. Standing in the bottom of Divinity’s Reach and looking up, you see huge bridges overhead, & hundreds of buildings and homes with lights glittering in the twilight. In front of Lion’s Arch, pan your camera up to the ginormous ship on top of the front gate, with masts stretching towards the sky. It’s a cliche, but it’s true in this case: the cities are truly epic.

Weapons & Abilities: I love that different weapons give you different abilities, and that you can only have a few at a time. Gone are the days of having 48+ buttons scattered all over your UI – it’s streamlined and more player-friendly. The UI in itself is fabulous – when you go underwater and come back up, you get blue water splashes all around the ability bars. Completely aesthetic, but very slick. Every class has healing abilities, eliminating the traditional healer role in groups and making soloing easier.

Crafting: I didn’t get to play with crafting as much as I wanted to, but the husband did, and it was very cool to watch. When refining raw materials in bulk, the timer bar would go faster and faster with each item refined, until it was bang-bang-bang quick. Crafting materials can be added to a crafting bank from anywhere in the world with the click of a button, making bag organization much easier. Not only that, but there are a ton of crafting recipes that have to be discovered, rather than just learning all the recipes from the trainer. Love this. The crafting areas & stations are absolutely beautiful – again, so much detail in the art and design.

Dyes: Piggy-backing off the crafting, the dye system is fantastic. Instead of buying dye bottles for each particular piece of clothing, you obtain one bottle of dye and “learn” the color, which then adds that color to your palette and allows you to add that color to any of your clothing at will. There’s 390 different dyes – gotta collect them all!

Mini-Games: I played in the Keg Brawl this weekend and it was quite fun. It’s basically basketball, except that you’re trying to get kegs back to your tavernkeeper and bashing the opposing players over the head with the kegs in the process. Crazy viking fun I tell ya, and a nice little way to blow off steam. There are hints that there will be lots of other mini-games in GW2, so I’m super-excited to see what else they come up with.

Exploration: The world feels so vast and huge, and even though there are points of interest on your map, there are lots of interesting things to find once you get off the beaten path. If you see water, there’s likely an interesting underwater area to explore. Caves & Catacombs? Not to mention the Vistas, platform-like jumping puzzles that get you up to a high spot to check out the view.

No Gear Grind: We’ve done the gear-grind for 7+ years. We’re tired of the excessive raid/dungeon for gear so that we can do content to get more gear to do more content to get more gear. In GW2, if we want to do content, we can just go do it, and the only reason that we’d need to repeatedly run content is if we want to see the multiple explorable options in the dungeons, or if we want the cosmetic gear that goes with each dungeon. No pressure whatsoever, and no worries of being left behind if we don’t get it done ASAP after content releases. Best of all, if we hit level 80 and want to go back & do content because it was fun, our level will get adjusted and we can go do it at the same difficulty as before. This means that at 80, no content is “too low” or obsolete, and if more content is added, it doesn’t replace the old stuff. Brilliant.

Now, lest you think that I’m fangirling (and yes, I admit that I’m an ArenaNet fangirl these days), I do have a couple concerns:

Dynamic Events: Are these really going to be enough for those of us that normally love questing in other MMOs? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them, but I’m thinking they may get grindy as the game wears on. I’m also wondering how well the storyline of GW2 will be told if they don’t have as many traditional quests. I love me some story in my games, and while we have the personal storyline, I wonder if that will be enough.

Mesmers: Beta is beta and hopefully they’re going to give the mesmer some more love before launch, but I was really disappointed in the way they played. The clones only last a few seconds, the shatters felt like they weren’t doing much of anything, and it took forever for me to defeat things on the Mesmer compared to my Engineer/Ranger/Elementalist. I was really looking forward to playing that profession, but somehow, it still just doesn’t feel quite right, it doesn’t seem as fun as it should be. I’m undecided on which profession to play first at this point – it depends on if we hear anything about pre-launch changes to the Mesmer.

All in all though, August 25 can’t come soon enough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some WvWvW maps to make.

4 thoughts on “The Big Ol’ GW2 Beta Post

  1. Syl

    ‘Upgrade your computer! (Most expensive things first)’

    not actually a joke for me, I really need to upgrade or be doomed to play the settings on average. šŸ˜¦ which considering the beauty of Tyria is a crying shame. if only I had more time to save up until launch /SIGH!

  2. ama

    Welcome to the family! šŸ™‚ It’s fun to see somebody who has no idea what GW2 was like and then discover the jewels in the game! šŸ™‚ I agree with everything you’ve listed in your post, including the chair (bought a new one, in fact)……..and there is still so much more to discover. We’ve barely scratched the surface. Wait until the entire game comes out. I get excited just thinking about it. I’ve decided this is one game I’m going to take nice and slow. I want to find and see everything! šŸ™‚

    Here’s to happy travels in Tyria! šŸ™‚

  3. Ben Sanders

    It’s ironic that you mention that mesmers as being a downside. I’ve been slowing trying all the professions through the beta weekends, and I left mesmer till last. And now I think it really works, and my main will be a mesmer when it releases.
    Or maybe an elementalist. That was a lot of fun too.

  4. oakstout

    If you like the ranger you should try the thief. This will be my third beta weekend, the only other time I had really great fun was on the Ranger, this past weekend I tried the Thief and just loved it. I will probably be playing one at launch. I am also getting use to the idea of no quests and working with primarily the Dynamic Events. Still takes a bit of getting use too, but I am enjoying it more and looking forward to launch now.


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