Press Start: Guild Wars 2
posted on 09.07.12 at 11:55 AM EDT by (@gematsuzero)
Getting to grips with ArenaNet's online fantasy world.

I spent most of last weekend finally getting a chance to really dive into Guild Wars 2. Here are a few things I really enjoyed during my time with the game – don’t worry, I’ll do my best to keep this as spoiler free as possible.

Warm Up

Before I begin, if you have no idea what Guild Wars 2 is, check out the video above for a brief summary from the developers at ArenaNet.

Exploration

Navigating the world of Tyria is exhilarating. As you explore ArenaNet’s online world, you’ll no doubt run into one of the game’s many Dynamic Events. These events change and evolve depending on how you and other players interact with them. One of the best things about them, though, is that they don’t just occur one at a time – and they don’t always follow a specific set of rules. You might be trying to save a farm from burning down, only to have an overgrown worm emerge from the ground looking to destroy those responsible for disturbing its beauty sleep. Considering how easy it is to wander into Dynamic Events, it’s not hard to look down and realize that hours of time have mysteriously vanished.

Team Work – Guild Wars 2 Style

You are probably wondering how teamwork ties into the game’s Dynamic Events. It’s crucial that you work together with other players. One of the best things about Guild Wars 2 is how it rewards teamwork. Any player who participates in a Dynamic Event receives a reward based on their contribution. You don’t need to worry about forming a party all the time. It’s easy to help when you can jump right into a fight, heal and buff others, and revive fallen allies on the fly – all while earning experience points and loot. The more you contribute to the event, the better your reward. After a while, I found myself running around just helping other players. I’ve always liked to help others and Guild Wars 2 makes it both convenient and fun.

Telling a Story

In the process of rolling my Human Ranger, the game asked me a few questions. The choices you select play a big part in the story. As you progress in the story mode, you will be asked to make more important choices. Will you save the people in the city from a bandit attack? Or will you save your childhood friend who has been kidnapped by the bandits? The story in Guild Wars 2 is told through in-game stylized cutscenes with full voice work. The character I created is voiced by Nolan North, and one of the main NPCs is voiced by Troy Baker. Overall, Guild Wars 2 has superb voice work. When you add all this up, it’s been very hard to ignore the game’s main story missions – they are just that good.

Combat with Choice

My chosen class, the Ranger, comes with a default pet, chosen at character creation. I picked a bear, which I eventually named Ted. You can find, charm and name other monsters in the world. So far, I can only have two pets equipped at a time. In battle, I can press a button to switch between pets on the fly, as well as command them to attack or pull a target to me. Each comes with unique abilities that you can use strategically in battle. You might imagine that a Ranger would start with a bow. I started with an axe, which worked best in long range combat. Each class can find and equip a wide variety of weapons. For example, I can use swords, daggers, short bows, longbows, and even great swords.

You can also dual wield some weapons, which allows even more customization. I currently have two weapon layouts set up, and I can switch between them in battle with one button press. If I find that I need to get in close, I can switch to my sword, dagger combo. And if it’s best for me to keep my distance, I can use my longbow and rain down arrows from afar. I can’t speak much for the other classes, but people I’ve met in the game tell me each class has lots of variety, and can be customized in completely different ways. For example, the way a warrior uses a sword in combat, is different from the way a Thief does. Even the skills they learn for the sword can differ. The thief might learn a poison stab attack, were the warrior might learn a fire-based slash attack. Although I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface, one thing is for sure – even at low levels, Guild Wars 2 gives you lots of choices when it comes to combat.

The Little Things

You might have already seen some of the reports about people getting banned from Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet has created a fairly strict set of rules and guidelines to abide by. Honestly, I really appreciate them going above and beyond to make the experience as pleasant as possible. It’s also easy to report and block someone. By simply right clicking the users name in the voice chat box, you can choose to “Block” or “Report”. If you click the latter, another menu comes up that allows you to be more specific on why you are reporting them. ArenaNet, upon receiving the report, checks the chat log of the reported user. The ones who shout racist jokes, or try to abuse other players, and even the gold farmers, are all eventually get punished.

Guild Wars 2 has viewpoints for adventurers who want to explore and find them. They remind me of the viewpoints in the Assassins Creed series. In Guild Wars 2 they are called Vistas. When you locate a Vista, a button press lets you to get a wide view of the surrounding area. It’s not only cool, but it shows off the beautiful world of Guild Wars 2. I’ve included a quick video of me finding a Vista.

Although optional, locating Vistas nets you experience points. I found and viewed all the Vistas in the starting town. Upon doing so, I received a treasure chest with a nice reward.

The last thing I want to talk about is overflow. In most online games, a full server will leave you waiting in line. You basically sit and wait for the allotted time before you can connect to the server and play the game. The overflow system in Guild Wars 2 is a solution to this problem: if you connect and the area is full of people, you get transferred to the overflow version of that area. You can earn experience points and other rewards as you normally would.

Once a spot opens up for you to connect to your server, the game will ask if you want to leave the overflow. In case you are in the middle of a quest or important fight, you can select place me back on the list and it will ask you to join again later. What about teaming up with friends? Simply get a friend to enter overflow.. It basically acts as a huge temporary server for players to use while waiting in the queue. When I first read about it, I’ll admit, it sounded complicated. Now that I’ve played the game and used it, I really like it. Often, I find myself playing the game in overflow more than my main server, which is Henge of Denravi.

I’ve only just started to experience everything Guild Wars 2 has to offer. I’m excited to return to Tyria and see what else is waiting for me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got feed my pets, and walk my digital dog, Skeletor.

Press Start is a brief blog that talks about the games we’re playing and what we think about them. Share your thoughts about the game in question below.

  • Rafi

    Thank’s for this post and how about you review this game and post it in here too ?

    I already play Guild Wars 2 as well it’s nice and good mostly but i think it will be better if more people on Gematsu should be told as well by providing this game review.

    • http://gematsu.com/ Zero

      I really would like to! 

      This game is huge, it’s filled with so much content. I haven’t even had a chance to spend much time playing the game.

      I’d really like to experience everything in the game, along with taking up a few character to the level cap. That would kinda be like step 1 & 2 of writing up a review for GW2. (For me.)

      I’m not sure when I’ll manage to get one character to even level 50, let alone the level 80 cap. I don’t like to review a game without experiencing all of it.

      I’m not sure if you are like me, but I don’t like when someone reviews a video game after they played it for a few hours. I think it’s only fair to complete a game and try to tackle some/all of the bonus content before writing a review.

      Doing this can prove difficult with an MMORPG. It really can take months before some players can manage to this. I’m also in no rush to complete or finish the game.

      I hope this makes sense. ^^   – Zero

  • Kougeru

    Did you purposely choose Henge of Denravi? Apparently a lot of big name websites went on there with the idea of zerging the WvWvW pvp (and it seems to be working….which is less fun IMO since it’s just outnumbering the enemy)

    A few things in this game i wish EVERY MMO would do. Party-free multiplayer. Yes, there is parties…but it’s not needed to get EXP. People almost ALWAYS come up and help me when I’m in trouble fight a veteran enemy or boss. There’s no reason not to. In other games your enemy is “tagged” so everyone else will just ignore it since it doesnt benefit them. Another thing is the loot system. It doesnt show everyone what loot drops for you. There’s no fighting over loot because of this. EVERY MMO needs to get rid of the loot-roll system. Individualized loot is the way of the future (thank you Diablo 3 for giving at least some kind of innovation!). I cannot tell you how many Guilds I’ve seen destroyed because of arguments over loot drops. If you get good loot in Guild Wars 2, you don’t have to tell anyone, they’ll never know. You might get nothing too of course but at least you won’t have envy of other players unless they choose to brag about their drops. The exploration bonuses is next. I loooove all the bonus items and EXP I get for exploring. When you get all the Waypoints, Vistas, Missions, and Skill Points on a Map you get EXCELLENT rewards (that are scaled to the difficulty of that zone) in EXP and gear/crafting materials. I’ve probably gained at least 5 levels from exploration alone. Other games give you EXP bonuses but it’s always rather minor and unmotivated. My personal issues with the game are that only thief is any fun for me because other classes are too slow (thief isnt based on cooldown like all the others and is instead a resource-management class), and that melee is apparently TERRIBLE in dungeons and boss fights. Especially thief. Even heavy guardians are dying all the time in dungeons and boss fights because the bosses are not balanced properly yet. Overall, I’m loving this game a lot more than I expected, and I hope newer games look at the strong points of this one. Sorry for wall-of-text,  I just love this game.

    • http://gematsu.com/ Zero

      Great post, thanks for sharing.

      First things first, the question you asked. 

      Did you purposely choose Henge of Denravi?

      Nope. I only picked this server because a real life friend of mine was playing on it. I honestly had not heard about lots of big name websites going to Henge. (Update – I think I’m actually going to switch servers now.)

      To be honest, PVP is not really my thing. I mostly do PVE content in MMORPGs.

      I made a few comments above with some follow up content I couldn’t fit in the article. I love the way the game rewards you. I couldn’t agree more with you in that regard. I think the loot system is pretty cool as well.

      I haven’t had that much time to play the game I’ll be the first to admit that most folks playing the game probably have more time with it than I do.

      With that in mind, it’s tough for me to really speak about dungeons and boss fights.

  • xMCXx

    Well, looks like GW2 is a hit.
    I’m no fan of MMORPGs but maybe I’ll check it out.
    No monthly fees is a huge plus, already.

  • http://gematsu.com/ Zero

    (Few mix ups with the pictures!) Going to get that fixed.

  • http://gematsu.com/ Zero

    Bonus Content Post  

    Part I.

    I had a few more things that I decided to leave out of the post. I wanted to keep the article fairly short and to the point. I also wanted it to be about what I experienced while playing the game. Those who read my posts know that summarizing is not neccessairly one of my strong points.

    (What did I mean by spoiler free? I basically just chose to leave out some of the small details. I didn’t want to reveal my characters story for example. Someone might make a similiar player and get upset if I spoiled part of their story in Guild Wars 2.)

    The following is a few things I couldn’t fit into the article. Some of it was because of in game complications, most of it was just cut to keep the article from getting really long.

    Daily Achievements

    Guild Wars 2 has three types of achievements. Regular achievements, monthy achievements, and daily achievements. Daily achievements allow you to log in and accomplish a set of goals each time you play. Each achievement you complete nets you experience and gold. If you accomplish all the (daily) achievements for the day, you recieve a bonus reward via treasure chest. I really like the daily achievements system. 

    http://i.picpar.com/19fd930e46a01ee41e952afaf50c4caaa750c39c.jpg

    What about the various races you can pick in the game? What jobs/classes can you pick?

    I included the (What is Guild Wars 2?) video to cover this. I decided to make a video that shows what the character creation in the game looks like. I hope this makes up for me not going into detail about it. (it = Races & Classes)

    I decided to pick the Charr class and go step by step in the character creation. I hope you can read everything without having to press pause. =P

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF5D3-RWArY&feature=player_detailpage

    ( 10 minute – Character Creation Video. Available in 1080p HD !)

    Around the 7 minute mark, it starts asking me specific questions about my character. These questions are very important. They help shape who your character is. Picking different choices even changes the story you experience. I think this adds (another) interesting layer of replayability. 

    I wanted to share this chart that comes with the game. It shows the weapons each profession can use. (I think it’s pretty handy.)

    http://i.picpar.com/84bc71635adf99f4a8341611c3fd74e84d15e9cc.jpg

    (Part 2 coming soon!)

    • http://gematsu.com/ Zero

      Bonus Content Post

      Part II.

      Quick note about Overflow and building parties

      While the overflow system is pretty awesome, It can create problems when building a group. ArenaNet is still working out the kinks with this. I failed to mention this in the main article, and it is important to point out that the overflow system is not perfect.

      What about the in game Auction house?

      When I typed this up, I played during the 3 day Pre-Order headstart and the first two days. When MMORPGs launch, things tend to be a tad bumpy. The auction house system in the game was not up during the time I wrote this article. I haven’t really had time to jump back in the game and test it out.

      http://i.picpar.com/aa01b4b5fca70ebfcda73a229fe0a34e76759034.jpg

      How does the free to play aspect work in the game?

      You can click a little menu to bring up the in game shop. It offers mostly what you would expect. Outfits, accessories, various items/scrolls, additional inventory bags. (etc.) If you want to buy something, you need to purchase gems. The process is very simply, you just click something and follow the steps. I haven’t bought anything, but I did click through the menus a bit to see what choices the game gives you. You can choose between paypal or the standard credit/debit card as forms of payment. 

      http://i.picpar.com/b290e06e0aaa9ae4edfb285113379c10843e7ecf.jpg

      I’m also pretty sure you can use game cards. You can also trade in game currency for gems. (Which means you don’t technically have to spend any rl money.)

      Does it have a bunch of play to win type of stuff? I’m happy to report that the Shop doesn’t allow you to buy 50 levels or anything like that. From what I could tell, it was very balanced. My only purchase was a free Guild Wars 2 in game hat for my character.

      http://i.picpar.com/c349214c176b831f8a704088a329a000eb9f2bdb.jpg

      (I did read online about some players experiencing issues using the in game shop. Mostly just standard lag issues, like clicking submit when buying an item more than once, which resulted in some players getting over charged. In some rare cases, players were not getting the items they purchased. From what I can tell, ArenaNet has been on top of solving these types of problems.)

      I do want to take the time to say thanks to both Sal & Adam. They helped make this all possible. (Thanks a ton!!!)

      P.S. – Check out the pictutes I took of the GW 2 Collector’s Edition in the Open Forum. =)

      http://gematsu.com/2012/08/open-forum-007#comment-635198169

      I really hope everyone enjoyed this – Thanks so much for reading. =)

  • FaithlessMr

    Awesome work on the blog :D

    • http://gematsu.com/ Zero

      Thanks! =)

  • 浪黒雷 (ro-kurorai)

    tyvm Zero. Now I’m confident in a purchase after my return to Germany. By March all of the initial kinks should already be ironed out. Can’t wait to dive into the world of Tyria again.