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Guild Wars 2: The Second Beta Weekend

11 June, 2012

Once again, the upcoming MMORPG Guild Wars 2 opened its doors this weekend for a beta event, allowing thousands of players who’ve already bought the game to get a taste of it before release. And, being as big a Guild Wars fan as I am, I once again got involved. Here’s my quick recap of the weekend. (As last time, if you’re here for my writing posts and not interested in gaming, just have a look at the pretty screenshots and move on.)

Bugs. The last beta weekend was, stability-wise, not without its share of problems, which I covered in my last post. The situation had been much improved this time round, though – travelling between zones with a party actually worked, the lag was at a minimum, and I suffered only a handful of disconnects on Saturday, which had been mostly fixed by Sunday. Server stability was clearly one of the issues that the ArenaNet team were most determined to address, and they’ve done an admirable job.

The impressive central plaza of Lion’s Arch, the game’s largest city.

Gameplay. To say I’ve been trying to be critical of Guild Wars 2, its gameplay – and particularly combat – continues to impress. It’s smooth and intuitive, there’s a good range of quests/events, and casually joining up with groups of other players is fun and easy (and remarkably polite, perhaps because the competitive elements of many MMOs have been replaced with cooperative ones). Not being tied to a single area was one of my favourite aspects – travelling around the map is easy, quick and allows you to see a bit of everything, without getting bored. (To those players who complained about running out of things to do and having to grind level? Clearly, you weren’t trying hard enough – don’t just stay in the area you started in. GW2, unlike many MMOs, actively encourages you to get out there and see the world.)

Difficulty. Having said all that, GW2 is really quite challenging in many respects. Although the situation had been somewhat improved since the last beta weekend, I still found myself struggling with some ‘solo’ (ha!) story quests, even with help. There’s clearly still a lot of balancing left to do before the game’s release.

Another city, this time the semi-steampunk construction that is The Black Citadel.

Setting and scale. Once again, the world of Tyria impressed me a great deal. Its landscapes are beautiful, varied and truly vast. As exploring everything there is to see is my single favourite thing in MMOs, the scale of Guild Wars 2, and the thought that’s gone into its area design, makes me very happy.

Last time, I talked about being mildly disappointed. I have to say, putting aside comparisons with other games and getting to play it again has really changed my mind. Guild Wars 2 is already a stunning, accomplished game, months before final release. It’s been a massive pleasure to get to play it again, and to do my small part in making the end game even better.

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