Well, it’s been over a week since those who pre-purchased the game have been able to log on and play properly. While the Beta Weekend Events and Stress Tests have been enjoyable and enlightening, they are nothing compared to the launch of the game. Knowing that your characters and progress will not be erased after a few hours or days is a much better feeling, no matter how early you got to play. So I decided to go through some aspects of the game. Enjoy!
Guild Wars 2 is an online MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing game) with no monthly subscription fee. The original Guild Wars and follow ups were of the same genre and this latest instalment has taken the best parts of Guild Wars and combined it with proven elements of the best other MMO’s around. The world is huge, the choices vast and the story is tailored to you. The guild system allows you to play with friends from the previous games as well as new ones, and your account can be linked to multiple guilds although your characters can only represent one at a time.
There are eight professions to choose from, with some continuing on from Guild Wars and some new ones. Any future releases may well contain new professions as with the previous game. There are three armour types, heavy, medium and light and each profession can only use certain weapons. There are no secondary professions in this game. Your profession is chosen at the start and at present, there is no way to change it!
· Warrior (heavy armour) – Continuing from GW1, the warrior is a staple of any RPG and provides a good damage source as well as blocking enemy attacks. They can use a wide array of melee weapons.
· Guardian (heavy armour) – A new class that is a combination of warrior and healer. They can cast a lot of buffs on themselves and allies, making them extremely valuable but this is not a healer class!
· Ranger (medium armour) – As opposed to GW1, a pet will always accompany you this time. Pets can be found throughout Tyria and different pets will fight in different ways. It is down to the player to utilise them the best way possible, both on land and underwater.
· Thief (medium armour) – A new class that takes some influence from the Assassin from Guild Wars: Factions. You can sneak and shadowstep while dealing damage to the enemy’s blind spot.
· Engineer (medium armour) – Another new class that focuses on mechanical inventions to turn the tide of battle, including turrets and specialised skill sets like grenades and flamethrowers. They can use all types of guns, unlike other classes.
· Elementalist – (light armour) – One of the biggest damage dealers in both versions of the game. The biggest change is that you can change which element you use in battle, rather than always returning to an outpost. There is a recharge time on doing this but it can turn the tide in those tricky situations.
· Necromancer (light armour) – Returning from GW1, the master of life beyond death is still a popular choice in Tyria. The number of minions may have been reduced but they are stronger and you have much more control than in the past.
· Mesmer (light armour) – I was never a big fan of Mesmer’s in GW1; they were too indirect for my style of play. That has been taken into account and they can provide a steady constant source of damage through illusion skills, including a clone of yourself!
There is a choice of five races in GW2, and each race have their own specific skills, regardless of which profession you choose. While there is no obvious advantage to race/profession combinations, it is something to consider when creating your character, beyond the aesthetic considerations.
· Human – The basic and most obvious race for any player. In GW1, you could only be a human and they have a big part to play in the story. Two out of the six big cities are also in Human territory.
· Charr – Any GW1 player will recognise one of the first enemies encounter in the original game. This time, they seem to be less evil but still occupy Ascalon and are no longer in a direct confrontation with the Humans.
· Norn – These towering characters hail from the Shiverpeaks and dedicate themselves to one of four sacred animals, determining their beliefs and story. Introduced in Guild Wars: Eye of the North, they have become much more involved in what is going on in other parts of Tyria.
· Asura – Introduced at the same time as the Norn, these smart and arrogant creatures have been forced to live on the surface of Tyria and have more interactions with other races, much to their annoyance. They have constructed portals to transport players to different parts of Tyria instantly. The Waypoints that can be found are also of Asuran design.
· Sylvari – The newest race to emerge in Tyria. They are a cross of Human and plant and are mainly a peaceful race, but the rise of the undead and Elder Dragon has brought them to take action. They believe they were created to defeat this threat. All are brown from the Pale Tree and have all the memories needed when they awaken to complete whatever task they see in their ‘Dream.’
While you only have five character slots to choose from, there are too many options for each race to make this feasible, if you want to experience every branch of the story on offer. There are three options to choose from during character creation and then more branches appear throughout the game. This allows you a more personal story that is matched towards the options you choose. You can buy more character slots but in reality, you will have to complete the story, delete the character and start over, choosing different options every time.
This is all a theory on how to do it, but most people will choose an option that involves friends and other players, following them through their stories to experience as many as possible, should that be their driving force in Guild Wars 2.
Instead of the eight skill slots available in GW1, there are now ten but they have specific uses to prevent builds being made to make the game too easy and reduce Player versus Player advantages.
· Weapon skills – A two handed weapon will give you 5 skills. A one-handed weapon gives you 3, and an off-hand gives you 2. These skills depend on weapon and profession and are not changeable without changing weapons.
· Healing skill – A dedicated skill to keep you alive. This has replaced the need for a healer class in the game.
· Utility skills – These three skills are unlocked as you level up. They have skills that you can change to suit your specific needs, environment, weapon and playing style.
· Elite skill – Unlock at level 30. Like GW1, only one Elite skill may be used at a time. They take a long time to recharge but are very valuable and can turn the tide of battle instantly.
There are several crafting options in GW2. You can learn and use any of them at any time but only two can be active at any one time and the higher the skill, the more it costs to reactivate it. One good method is to find out which skills are good for your profession, or what you will use the most. You can also use other guild members to make things for you but the higher level items are said to be bound to the crafter so you may have to learn them all eventually.
Items are not exactly easy to come by but with some common sense and little exploring, you can find what you need. Gathering points can provide base materials such as metals, wood and some foods, but you will need to salvage items to get a good amount of other materials. The Trading post will be another option, should you be willing to part with your gold.
Different levels of the items are found in corresponding zones and higher level items. You cannot use higher level materials without using the lower level ones first, and the rarer crafting items do tend to improve certain stats on the items in question. There are a lot of guides online for this and more experience players can help you get to grips with this. It can be confusing at first.
Each map zone is split into a different level range. No matter how strong your character becomes, each area in a map has its own level cap. A level 80 character in a starter area will still show up as a level 5 character and have the stats to go with it. It will not affect what weapons and armour you can use but those will be weakened as well. This means you can join low level characters in events or searching for materials without it being too easy.
In each map zone, there are a certain number of Waypoints (used to travel to various places for a fee), Renown quests (to gain karma, gold and experience), Points of Interest, Skill challenges and Vistas (special cut scenes for that map). To gain complete exploration of Tyria, every single one of these must be found and completed. This is quite a task, especially when you first play the game and realise the size of the world you have to explore.
In the map zones and cities are jump puzzles, where characters can earn account medals and exploration points, as well as special loot and experience by completing various puzzles, usually involving a lot of jumping (and a lot of dying if you miss!). These are extremely fun and very annoying but when attempting with friends, can provide a lot of laughs. It’s something different that doesn’t always require fighting and can be a good distraction from other elements of the game.
I remember falling off one jump puzzle at the same place for over three hours! It was driving me crazy, giving my fellow guildies plenty of laughs and keeping me going much longer than I would have thought. I finished that level and found another straight after. I could have cried right there and then!
World versus World is the latest version Player versus Player. In this realm, players of one world/server will face off against another to earn bonuses for their world. Arena Net has taken measures to keep the worlds balanced as much as possible but this is a new way to fight other players in a way that affects everyone, raising the stakes substantially, should you have the courage to join them.
It’s definitely kept me busy since it went live and while there have been problems since launch; it has been one of the smoothest launches I’ve played, with all the issues being fixed as soon as possible. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, players can keep up-to-date with any issues that do arise and while there will be plenty to come, there is more than enough to do right now that does work to keep the community at large happy.
The timing of the release is also good. Last week I quit smoking and I admit, I’ve used GW2 as a distraction from the cravings. It’s been a week since I quit and I’ve had no cigarettes at all. It’s not been easy but hopefully the game will keep me hooked until the desire to smoke decreases to almost minimal levels!