Yesterday I opened my email and it was like Christmas, if the gift-giving holiday only came once every three years or so. In my inbox sat an email I had been waiting for for about that long. Finally, this weekend, Guild Wars 2’s first public beta! Any Guild Wars fan knows, we’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. I don’t begrudge Arenanet for taking their time though. In this day and age of half-finished games, releases that aren’t complete until they patch it a dozen times, and games that get rushed to market leaving us all wondering ‘what’s the point?’ In this case, I want them to take their time, but along with that reasonable wish I am still chomping at the bit for the release of this game.
For all of you not ‘in the know’ Guild Wars 2 is an MMO style RPG, based on a unique world filled with monsters, magic, and heroes. Unlike other RPGs the playable races do NOT include dwarves and elves, something that I like a lot, getting away from the cookie-cutter fantasy archetypes. The story behind the world of Guild Wars is far too extensive to go into here, but rest assured, if miles of text on history, adventure, creature ecology, and just plain flavor text is something you enjoy, Guild Wars has it in spades. I, myself, love to read history, even if it’s made up history for a made up game, and this one has tons of it. If you really get into learning about your character, their race, their background, where they come from, who their enemies might be, fears, hopes and dreams, you definitely won’t lack for information.
One of the draws to the original Guild Wars for me were the visuals. I’m all for great gameplay, balance, ease of use and learning and all of that, but in the end for me a game won’t hold my attention for long if the graphics are terrible. I have to look at this game for hours, and like many fun games I’ve tried with bad graphics, I can only look at an ugly game for so long before it doesn’t matter how much fun it is. Guild Wars, and from the looks of the sequel Guild Wars 2, does not disappoint in this department at all. Brilliant colors, amazing visuals, breathtaking vistas, all draw you into a detailed world where every day brings some new thing you didn’t notice before. I remember exploring every corner of the original game, not only to get the cartography title, but also to see what little visual gem was tucked away. These guys hid little shrines, fountains, ruins, and on and on, all over the place. In most cases they had no story attached to them, no reason for your character to go there, just something cool to stumble on as you roam the world. So many times I’d come upon some overlook, or view of something, and have to just stop and look, like a tourist out to pictures. Like that tourist I would take a screenshot, just so I could show Julie later. This time around I’m excited to re-explore the world, 250 years after the original game, and do it with my wife who will be joining me for this adventure.
Along with visuals comes sound. Nothing draws me into a game better than great music and effects, especially since I invested in a surround sound headset years ago. The music for the original game was fantastic, and the sound effects, ambient sound, and general ‘ear candy’ was enough sometimes to make me stop and just listen. I am confident the sequel will match, or top the original for sound design.
As I mentioned before, this game’s story happens 250 years after the original, and as one would expect in a world filled with magic, and a race so annoyingly intelligent they look down on you from their lofty height of about 2′ 5″. The Asura is who I mean, and anyone who had the Eye of the North Expansion know who they are. Anyway, as you can see there, firearms have entered the game. At first, like many I’m sure, I was a bit put off. I’m very traditional when it comes to my fantasy, and have always been one that didn’t want technology mixed with my dragons. As I watched more and more gameplay, and saw more screenshots, I was sold. It makes sense, first of all, and it’s not so blatant that it looks more like sci-fi than fantasy. I’m keeping an open mind, and I am sure I will have fun with it.
There are some huge differences between the original game and this one, and the list is of course too long to go into here. Some of the changes seem odd, but I’m sure once we get into the game and start playing it they will make sense. The biggest change I saw, and one that I like, is no more devoted healers. Most people will remember the hours spent trying to find one or two healers for your party, only to have one quit part way through the mission and the other not know what he’s doing. Well in GW2 every class is going to be able to heal himself and others, and those skill slots will be devoted to healing. No more snooty monks that think they can do everything on their own, or want to run around killing stuff when they should be in the back keeping everyone alive.
Well, you can obviously read much more information at their site, which I linked to up at the top. The information released for this game so far is extensive. I will also be putting a link to the blog on my main menu so you can easily go and find anything you desire there as well. One last thought to leave you with, before I go, one key gem about this game that I can say enough. FREE…TO…PLAY! Best MMO out there in my opinion, yes even better than World of Warcraft, and other than buying the game, you don’t have to pay a dime to play it. So, hope to see you there, and I’m sure I will have more to say about it in the days and weeks to come.
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