Monday, June 11, 2012

Guild Wars 2

Since I pre-purchased the game, I have guaranteed access to all the beta weekend events.  Just finished playing my first one.  It was actually the second beta weekend event, I wasn't able to pre-purchase until after the first beta weekend event.

So anyway, what race/class combos did I play, and where did I go, what did I do, who is your daddy, and what does he do?

Actually, first up is a description of how shit works.

You have a ten skill skillbar.  Skills one through five are dependent on the weapon or weapons you're using.  A two-handed weapon will have five skills available, a one handed weapon in your primary hand will have three skills, and a one handed weapon in your off-hand will have two skills available.  Depending on what your class can equip, you can mix and match to suit your tastes.

Initially, with each possible weapon set, you only have skill number one available.  Killing five enemies will unlock skill number 2, ten unlocks skill number 3, and so forth up to 20 for skill number 5.  And they have to be unlocked in order.

Skill six is your healing skill.  Depending on your class and the skill itself, it can confer other useful effects as well as affecting other characters around you.

Skills seven through nine are your utility skills.  These do all sorts of cool things, and it differs per class.  The Engineer's turrets, grenades, and mines are utility skills.

The tenth skill slot is your elite skill.  I can't really say much about these because you have to get to level 30 to unlock the skill slot and the highest level I got any of my characters to was 15.

Levelling up is pretty simple.  You can actually get a fair amount of experience with little to no combat.  Every area you discover gives you an experience boost.  There are also waypoints, which you can teleport to for a small fee (and it is in fact really small, pretty much inconsequential), and discovering a waypoint will give you an experience boost.  Then there are also points of interest, which are scattered throughout each map nearby buildings, statues, and, well, points of interest.  Finding them gives you an experience boost.  Getting everything done in an area also gives you an experience boost.

What's really cool is, you get an experience boost for resurrecting other players.  This makes it a win-win situation: you get something out of it, and they get to continue playing the game.  I died quite many times and most of the time another player who happened to be in the vicinity would run over and resurrect me.  The system works.  If you can't get someone to resurrect you, you can also teleport to a waypoint, which will automatically resurrect you.

And then, of course, you can kill enemies.  Can't forget about that.

Now, on to the three characters I played.

Charr Engineer

Race determines, among other things, the story you get to experience.  Furthermore, the story is affected both by choices you make during it, as well as choices you make during character creation.

My Charr Engineer was a member of the Iron Legion.  The Iron Legion is responsible for all of the Charr's technology, so to me it made the most sense.  The other legions are Blood and Ash.  Anyway, Engineer is quite a fun class, every bit as fun as I'd hoped it would be.  After unlocking and switching to the healing turret in my healing skill slot, I managed to hear my character say "dispenser operational!" and I laughed at the Team Fortress 2 reference.

I played him for pretty much a solid 16 hours, doing a fair amount of dicking around wasting time, and even meeting up with a friend to go questing at one point.  At the end of those 16 hours, he was level 13.

Engineers get guns, and guns are pretty cool.  You get a choice between a two-handed rifle, or two one-handed pistols.  I found myself sticking mostly with the rifle, but the pistols have some useful stuff.

Human Necromancer

After seeing all the weird and interesting stuff Necromancers could do when ArenaNet livestreamed a demo or two from Gamescom a year or two ago, I was really hoping they'd be decent.  Maybe I just didn't play my necromancer enough, but it seemed like it was more of a chore than anything else.  I'm still going to play more necromancer in the next beta event, with the hope that it gets better as you level one up.  I got my necromancer to level 5.

Also, the human areas are fairly lag-inducing and complex to navigate.  I really do prefer the Charr starting area.  It's a lot simpler and more straightforward in its layout.

Norn Elementalist

I honestly did not expect elementalists to be as awesome as they are.  I mean, sure, I saw that you had an attunement for each of the four elements and swapping between them changes the type of spells you can cast.  I didn't really think much of that.  I thought I'd start an elementalist, find an element I preferred, and stick with it.

Not so.  Good job, ArenaNet.

All the elements are useful to have, and they all have one or another situation where they'll shine.  On top of that, there is a vast difference in the spells you get when you change your weapons around.  They cater to a lot of different play styles, and it works quite well.

Remember what I said a mile or two up the page about how you get your weapon skills?  Well, elementalists have a variety of weapons, and four elements, which means...  four times the skills!  Elementalist is officially the most versatile class I've played thus far.

Some of the utility skills for elementalists are pretty neat, so I'll highlight a few of them here:
  • Glyph of Storms - Causes a storm based on the element you're currently attuned to.  Want to rain down fire?  Attune to fire, then pop the glyph off.  Want to kick up a sandstorm?  Switch to earth.  You get the idea.
  • Conjure Fire Axe and Conjure Ice Bow - Elemental weaponry at the ready!  These skills give you two of their weapon, one is given to you, and the other is dropped on the ground for another player to pick up.  They offer some interesting skills and open up even more play styles with the elementalist, as well as allowing your party to deal the type of damage they need to deal at any given time.  There are more elemental weapon skills available, but these are the two I was able to unlock.
  • Call Owl - An owl swoops in and attacks your target.  Which is pretty neat, just on general principle.
I spent a lot of time playing my elementalist, and got her to level 15.

(yes, I didn't play a ranger...  Sylvari and Asura aren't available yet.)

Overall thoughts

I love how you can work with other players to clear an area or complete an event without ever having to party up.  That's pretty awesome.  Also, I love the extra ways of getting experience outside of combat.  Even though the level cap is 80, you can have plenty of fun in the game at level 15, or even level 5.  Just play the game, and you'll have fun.  There are little minigames all over the place.  At one point, I was throwing snowballs at kids.  Another place entirely, I was pissing off devourers with music so I could steal their eggs.  And last but certainly not least, in Lion's Arch, there's the diving board.

Yeah, a diving board.  Nothing special about a diving board, right?  Wrong.  This one is perched insanely high above the water.  It has its own waypoint.  There's an NPC that gives you a free speed boost there.  And just before the diving board itself, there is a pair of diving goggles.  If you pick them up, your skills get replaced with Spin and Flip, which you can only use as you fall into the water below.  Yes.  I am not making this up.

In short: If you liked Guild Wars 1, go pre-purchase Guild Wars 2.  If you hate MMOs because of their reputation for repetitive and grind-filled gameplay, go pre-purchase Guild Wars 2.  If you have $80, go pre-purchase Guild Wars 2.  It's as simple as that.

By the way, I'm in Blazeridge Mountains.  That will mean something to you when you get to the world selection screen after logging in.

I will close with the two screenshots I took on my first night of playing the game.

My friend and I hanging out on a rooftop in Kryta
Us at the Lion's Arch Diving Board, just before we jumped off

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