Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event 3

Two notable things happened for this beta event.  First, they wiped everyone's characters and world selection.  Second, they made Sylvari and Asura playable.

Instantly I made a Sylvari Ranger.  The Sylvari starting area is basically southern Kryta, where the Riverside Provice mission and Arbor Bay explorable area were.  The area is still rich with vegetation and looks amazing, even with all the graphics set down low.

Also added in this beta event were vistas.  Vistas are an extra element of exploration similar to waypoints and points of interest.  Except that they're often difficult to get to.  You'll usually have to complete a jumping puzzle or fight your way through a cave of tough enemies to reach each one, though there are a few here and there that you can just walk up and grab.

When you finally get to one, you have to press F for it to count.  When you do this it triggers a cutscene where the camera flies around the surrounding area, highlighting various structures or cool looking terrain features.  It's pretty much a way for them to show off all their level designers' hard work, but it also lets you see things you might otherwise miss.

Rangers are every bit as awesome as I'd hoped they'd be.  They have a fairly wide array of weapons available, other than the Longbow and Shortbow, and just like all other weapons for all other classes, they all have their advantages and disadvantages.  The longbow just plain works better at long range.  Its autoattack skill explicitly deals less damage the closer you are to the enemy.  Longbows also afford you the two awesome skills Rapid Fire, which fires several arrows in quick succession, and Barrage, which rains arrows down on the target area.  The other two skills it gives you are Hunter's Shot, which buffs your pet with Swiftness and causes Vulnerability on the enemy, and Point Blank Shot, which has a maximum range and pushes enemies backwards.  I wanted dearly to find an enemy next to a cliff to Point Blank Shot off of the cliff just to watch it happen, but I never did.

Shortbows have a shorter attack range and their skills mostly cause conditions, making shortbows powerful support weapons.  Most of the shortbow skills also have extra effects that depend on your positioning relative to the enemy, so it really encourages you to move about on the battlefield to obtain a strategic advantage.  For instance, the autoattack skill will cause Bleeding on the enemy if you're hitting them in the side or back.

Always having the pet available is neat, because it forces people to become accustomed to it.  Very few people used pets to their full potential in Guild Wars 1.  Your self-heal skill heals both you and your pet, and the Ranger self heals are some of the better self heals available in my opinion.

Pets themselves are very easy to obtain.  Throughout the world you'll see juvenile versions of various animals.  Simply walk up to one of them and press F.  You'll instantly charm the pet and it'll be available to choose from on the pet management window.  The neat thing is, you can charm as many as you want and then swap your available pets out of battle.  In battle you have a swap button that will swap between the two pets you can have ready to go.  Having different pets is important because they have different abilities, so really the more you charm, the better off you'll be.  Since they always share your level, you won't have to worry about a specific pet being underlevelled.

I played around with the crafting stuff a bit.  I chose Leatherworking, and made myself inventory bags that held 8 items each instead of the ones you can buy from merchants that only hold 4 items.

I ended up getting my ranger to level 17 and fully exploring the Sylvari main home and starting area, Lion's Arch, and the Charr main home and starting area.

After getting some sleep I made an Asuran Warrior.

Warrior is actually decently fun to play in Guild Wars 2.  They can use a variety of weapons, including longbows and rifles, and have a fair amount of utility.  I ended up settled on Greatsword and Rifle in my weapon swap.

Being in the Asura starting area is rather interesting.  Not because of being an Asura or anything, but the fact that they're so short.  Other players from other races who have gone through the portal from Lion's Arch will run by and it's always a surprise when you suddenly see someone that's twice your height.

Almost immediately I hopped back over on my ranger and used his leatherworking knowledge to make my warrior some 8 slot inventory bags.  I also borrowed the greatsword my ranger had found.

Throughout the entire weekend event I'd seen people talking about "this jumping puzzle".  I never did find the one in the Sylvari starting area, but I did find the one in the Asura starting area.  They're hidden, so if you aren't looking very carefully, you'll probably miss them.  They're exactly as I described them, jumping puzzles.  Relatively few enemies, lots of platforms, and a goal to reach with a chest on it with some items to (hopefully) make it worth your while.

The Asura one has a small bit at the beginning that leads up to a floating platform with a portal on it.  You think you're done, but no, it's just getting started.  There are four more areas in three separate maps to go through.  Fortunately, there are checkpoints, so if you fall off and end up down below again, you can easily get back somewhere near where you were.

The Asura one plays around with environmental hazards.  In the second part there are wind gusts that will blow you off of a vine you're running across.  In the third part, lightning strikes the platforms periodically.  In the fourth part, some areas of it place the Chilled condition on you periodically, which massively slows you down.  If it hits you while you're in midair, down you go.  The area after that is relatively straightforward jumping with no environmental hazards other than the risk of falling and having to start over again.

The rewards I got were generally crap.

I ended up getting my warrior to level 10, and fully exploring just Rata Sum.  The entire town of Rata Sum is high in the sky, and there's one place that if you jump off you'll land eventually and take over 17000 fall damage.

To close things out, here's a few screenshots I took, of my ranger.

Sitting down at one of the Vistas.  I hid the interface for scenic effect, but it didn't hide the floating map...
This Vista was incredibly hard to reach, requiring several hard-to-judge jumps.
It didn't come through, sadly, but I was trying to screenshot the stats on the awesome rifle I got for completing the Charr starting area.

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