Press Start: Guild Wars 2
posted on 09.07.12 at 11:55 AM EDT by (@KazumaLynx)
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.

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