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Gearing up for Guild Wars 2

25 April, 2012

This weekend, the original Guild Wars (an MMORPG, for those who haven’t heard of it) is celebrating its seventh birthday. I’ve been playing GW for at least six of those seven years, so it’s no surprise that I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel, Guild Wars 2 (no surprise it’s called that, either). Guild Wars has been a massive part of my gaming life – I’ve put more hours into it than any other single game, and it’s inspired  a number of my pieces of fiction. Finally, after what has felt like an excrutiatingly long wait, this weekend I’ll finally be able to play GW2, by joining its first open beta test.

I won’t pretend the wait has been an entirely joyous one. I don’t usually have a problem waiting for games (the same is true of books) and I have no reservations about the content of the game itself, but the company behind it – ArenaNet – have made some frankly bizarre decisions over its production and marketing. There was the enormous beta test sign-up (over 1 million people signed up, in fact), which led to only a single beta weekend, and therefore felt a bit pointless – everyone who bought the game, only a couple of weeks later, is now guaranteed access to further test weekends, after all. Then there was making everyone who took part in that past beta weekend sign a non-disclosure agreement, despite the fact that virtually every aspect of the game has already been talked about online (in great detail, too) and journalists were allowed to continue blogging and recording videos in-game. Why muzzle everyone else?

And then we come to the biggie: it’s years since Guild Wars 2 was announced, and there’s been a steady trickle of information about the game all that time. It’s now possible to buy the game, and has been for a few weeks. However, the game still has no official release date – ArenaNet refuses to pin down a date. It’s a mark of how much fans are anticipating GW2, and how much they trust the company, that so many – myself included – have already handed over their cash.

This post isn’t intended as a massive moan, though – I have every faith that Guild Wars 2 is going to be a magnificent game. I’m looking forward to finally getting a chance to play it this weekend, and I’ll try to blog and post a few screenshots as time allows. Whilst this weekend is only a beta test rather than the release of the full game, it’s still a massive occasion for many fans of the franchise, and could mark a truly momentous year for MMO gaming as a whole.

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