Monday, 20 February 2012

Guild Wars 2: Press Beta News!

The moratorium on press releases from the Guild Wars 2 press beta event has lifted, and there's a flood of new information and videos! There's a lot of general information that isn't really new to people who have been following Guild Wars 2 for some time (like me!) -- combat is exciting, character creation has a lot of depth, dynamic events are cool. But there is a lot of new stuff, or more specific details on things that haven't been fully explored yet. 

I'm rounding up much of the information I've read. Some of it will be quick and point-form, some of it will involve videos, and some will have a bit of a write-up. Read on for all the new stuff!

Note: screenshots are from Massively, but I believe they're official ArenaNet releases.
 First off, some little details I don't remember seeing before, and some thoughts from some of the beta players:
  • Armour degrades with deaths, requiring repairs.
  • Combat is awesome, and dedicated healers feel unneeded not because everyone can heal effectively, but more because the combat system rewards intelligent play and positioning
  • You can play solo just fine, but group play is an absolute blast and very rewarding
  • Overflow servers mean that you can still play while you're waiting in a queue
  • A low-level character bumped up to high level for PvP can still function effectively and isn't overwhelmed with new information, due to the simple skill system.
  • There are a LOT of achievements, ranging from kills to story progress to helping allies to exploring and collecting. Check Guild Wars 2 Guru's video for a list of every current achievement.
  • There will be a huge variety of minipets, just like the first Guild Wars.
  • Achievements give you a small reward for completion. Not sure if this also applies to the Guild Wars 1 Hall of Monuments achievements, but if it does, GW1 players will start out with a chunk of currency in addition to the item rewards.
  • There are codex collectibles that give you in-game lore on monsters and NPCs.
  • Emotes can be targeted to a specific character -- for example, Frank waves at Steve.
The racial cities look absurdly gigantic -- the human capital of Divinity's Reach in particular. Here's a video from Guild Wars 2 Guru showing just a few of Divinity's Reach's major areas:

The biggest and most exciting bit of news to me is Guild Wars 2 Guru's discoveries regarding the guild system. It's fully functional, with surprising depth. By joining a guild and playing the game, your guild earns influence -- the currency for guild upgrades. The more your guild socializes and plays together, the more influence your guild gains. You can also spend gold and complete specific activities to build influence.

Interestingly, guild upgrades take time to complete -- you have a sort of "build queue". You can spend influence to work on multiple upgrades at a time, or to boost upgrade speed. The time it takes to "build" an upgrade can range from hours to days in real time.

Your guild can spend its influence on upgrades in four categories:
  • Politics: PvE buffs and character upgrades, like guild-themed weapons and armour (I think)
  • Art of War: PvP buffs
  • Economy: karma, experience, and treasure buffs
  • Architecture: guild bank and upgrades, ability to work on multiple upgrades at a time
We'll likely see more in the way of upgrades and guild-related equipment as time goes on.
One unfortunate piece of news: there are frame rate issues. Everyone seems to report trouble even on strong hardware, requiring settings to be turned down. Kotaku also reports that at the end of the event, the dev team gathered all the beta players together for a small finale -- about 100 players or so. They repeatedly killed the players with trolls and stuff. Kotaku's Mike Fahey reports a couple of crashes, which he thinks were caused by the number of players on screen.

Guild Wars 2 is still in beta, though, and they're not rushing towards a deadline -- we still don't have an established release date. I'm confident that the frame rate issues will be totally cleaned up by the time the game actually releases. I'd be very surprised if they weren't still adding content, so when they're finally done and ready to nail down those bugs, I imagine the game will be very well optimized, like the first Guild Wars.
And finally, check out Massively's video compilation of exploration, combat, and some great landscapes.

This is the stuff I considered important to talk about, but if you're looking for even more information and videos, here are some other links to check out:


  1. "Armour degrades with damage, requiring repairs."

    This is not the case. Armor only takes damage when you die, and is only rendered useless after all your armor is damaged in that way.

  2. Great write up...Everything about this looks incredible! I will lose many hours to this game...I really enjoyed that in LotRO. "Little" things like that make a big difference.