Finally. The closed beta of Guild Wars 2 kicked off yesterday, open to a limited number of hand-selected testers. Yet a larger pool of players who have kept an eye on it since this year’s G-Star can expect to get hands on it soon: open beta for public normally follows in a close step and it is predicted to come in the coming February. Now before firsthand info by actual playing, let’s warm up with a preview and prepare ourselves for its official launch.
Guild Wars 2 carries on the lore spun in the original Guild Wars. In the fantasy land of Tyria 250 years later (than the original), the Destiny’s Edge, the guild disbanded in the prequel, unite once again to take on its feud of Elder Dragons that dominates Tyria now. As a member of the multi-racial guild, we are going to enrich the responsive storyline with our initiative in-game action.
First of all, let’s create what we want to be. Five races and eight professions set the choice spectrum. If you ever tried the original Prophecies and the expansion pack of Eye of the North, you would certainly recognize the four races listed as Human, Charr, Asura and Norn, leaving the Sylvari as a new face. As for professions, eight types are provided, and further categorized in three armor-locked classes, light-armored Scholar (including Elementalist, Necromancer and Mesmer), medium Adventurer (including Ranger, Theif and Engineer) and heavy Soldier (including Warrior and Guardian).
Traditional role as each plays, every character has its own way to keep opponents in check while at the same time has its own Achilles’ Heels. The uniqueness of them doesn’t lie with the specific stats but in the racial skills. Race and profession would decide the accessible skills for every character. Up to 10 skill slots are allowed but predefined with specific roles, such as the first five subject to weapon (one-handed, two-handed or offhand-only) and profession, the sixth confined to healing type while the tenth set for an Elite one.
Skill-based, the PvE combat doesn’t follow the trodden path of questing, but takes a new trail blazed by an Event system. To be specific, rather than clicking NPCs with an exclamation point above head to take quest, we simply run into an event if we happen to be there when it takes place. And every event has a result, which ripples to incur the emergence of another. For instance, if a dragon is plaguing a village where we just pass (perhaps halfway during another mission), we can choose to give a hand preventing havoc wrecked; if winning, we are awarded and if failing, we may involve in a following event, say, the likely repair of a damaged building in the village. Basically, the game is not team-based, and we don’t need to ally with others before we jump into what we are interested in. Yet interestingly, sometimes co-op just slides among players who are in on the same event, and certain special abilities or bonuses will be shared with those nearby.
If you are PvP fans, take it easy, we are moving on to it. Two types of PvP, World PvP and Structured PvP, are available here. World PvP is played with a sense of real-time strategy and objectives vary from castle siege to tower guard. And the World PvP is without constraint on character level that we can simply play it with character of any level and use skills available right then. What’s more, the Side-kick system realizes the same battleground for players with large level discrepancy in between. Battling on, we arrive at the maximum level (level cap is 80 for now), whereby the Structure PvP (similar to GvG) is unlocked with all skills and items being activated to flex muscle in massive war.
Moreover, lots of detailed setups like the day-night cycle, weather effect and active control of combat all do their bits to make the gameplay fulfilling. On and on, the crafting system will allow us to learn two of eight disciplines to boost the adventure experience; the revamped energy design gives us greater energy pool and slower regeneration; and the full 3D environment realizes the possibility of next-to-real actions, such as jumping over barriers or even swimming underwater to explore.