How To Prepare for the Guild Wars 2 Launch
For a while now I’ve been withholding this article. Quite frankly there wasn’t much reason to release it until the time was right — and that time is now. For many months people have been bouncing around the theory that there was to be some big announcement from ArenaNet on a certain date. This date was 06/28/2012. Originally this date was 28/06/2012, which was more of an EU date-time table, but was altered when ArenaNET released additional photos of their office.
The date came from three jerseys hanging on the wall. Sure enough, the waiting has paid off. And ArenaNET has answered the call of their restless public urging for something to come at the closing of June. They’ve satisfied that urge with not only the announcement of the Guild Wars 2 official launch date (August 28th 2012) but also the date of the final Beta Weekend Event (July 20th).
Many people have been waiting for this day. Long have they been holding themselves back, confident that they would not give the game a time of day until there was a release date announced. Well I’m writing this article with those people in mind, and I’m here to offer some pointers for how YOU can prepare for the up-coming Guild Wars 2 release. You may not realize it now, but there is actually a lot to do between now and then, so you’d better hop to it!
How to Understand Guild Wars 2 and its Servers
One thing you want to understand first and foremost is that Guild Wars 2 is not your standard MMORPG, just about any article in relation to that topic can fill you in on the details. What we are covering today is something that goes unsaid most of the time, and that is the mentality of the Guild Wars 2 Servers and how the current player base sees them.
Unlike other MMORPGs, Servers are not just static worlds where you can meet your friends and party together. They are not places where you can just jump around to in hopes to find a population of your choice size, and they are certainly not things to fear of whether they will be too thick or too thin post release. Servers are teams. That’s right, teams. A Server’s name is the Team’s name, and joining upon that server means you will become an active member of that team.
Long before you may even choose a server, these “Teams” have already been forming well in advance. Many, many guilds of vastly different shapes, sizes, and structures have been drawing out plans to not only bring themselves into a certain team — but ALL of the additional guilds they work closely with as well. Alliances are a massive factor in Guild Wars 2, and they’ve already been established across the board. People have been planning the foundations of their server populations well in advance, and come release day these alliances will shuffle to a server of choice to block and prevent all other players from joining it.
In order to prevent yourself from mistakenly choosing a server you and your friends will be unable to join, you should also be preparing well in advance — even if all of the final server names haven’t been announced. All of this is because of World vs World, the ability for servers to be facing one another in Open World PvP combat. Each server will be pitted against two other servers every couple of weeks and then be ranked, graded, and placed up against equal level servers in the following weeks afterwards. While you have been sitting on the side lines, guilds throughout the world have been teaming up and marking territory.
You need to get with the program, and the best way to do this is find a community and discuss the plans about how they are handling the server issue. But before you can ask someone any questions, you need to first look at yourself and identify what it is you want out of Guild Wars 2.
Identify Your Play-Style
Are you purely someone who wants to go up against scripted content in a PvE (Player versus Environment) experience? Do you want to engage in role-play as you do it, and dive deep into the story of your character so that you can experience it all one step at a time? Or do you want to pit yourself against hardcore guilds, fighting for the top spot so everyone knows your Guild’s name and more importantly, YOUR name!?
Whatever your play-style, you may want to take time to actually make a brief list of what it is you’d like to get out of Guild Wars 2. Put at the very top of this list what it is you’re after and what you feel is most important to you. Remember, no one can tell you how you should play your game and enjoy your experience. Don’t let people push you around and tell you “this is how things are and you have to do this, this way”, because that stuff ends with Guild Wars 2.
Servers are here to divide the game into different communities, and in order to ensure you find the community that will help you get the most out of your experience — make a list of your most desired wants and final a guild that best fits that list of wants.
Find a Guild That Fits that Play-style
Just like each individual in this world is different in their own way, so are Guilds. There are Guilds of all shapes and sizes, of all types and tropes. Don’t just find the first one that comes to you, you really should take some time to research. Guild Wars 2 is a very rare kind of game, never before has there been such a mass preparation of Guilds and Alliances. The sheer number of Guilds preparing for Guild Wars 2 even outnumbers Star Wars: The Old Republic — mainly because so many guilds from SWTOR are now moving to Guild Wars 2!
If you find locating a Guild difficult, remember that many guilds keep in touch with other guilds. Actually opening a dialogue with one guild may be a window into another, and then another after that. But please try not to join a guild just to step into another, that’s rather rude. You should take your time and talk with the people you want to play with and see if they are what you really want in a community.
There are guilds out there of huge mass and number, priding themselves with population alone. Joining guilds like this will surely net you people to play with. There are also smaller guilds of people who prefer more like-minded members for long-term friendship and experience, these are a lot harder to find. And of course, there is everything in-between. So there really is no shortage of Guilds to join, and you should make a point to become a part of one and feel it out WELL in advance before Guild Wars 2.
If you don’t find a guild that is suitable for you — you may find yourself paying for it in the end. By either blindly joining a server or joining a guild without foreknowledge of their server plans, you may find yourself unable to take part in elements of the game you want to play! For instance, let’s say you want to join for the epic World vs World portion of the game. Well if you blindly join a server that is dominated by a massive alliance — you’ll likely be population-blocked from World vs World at all times and never get a chance to play. Meaning you’ll have to shell out money to switch servers! Oh no!
Ensure that Guild is building an Alliance with others matching that Play-style
So let’s say you find a guild, now you have to worry about who that guild is talking to! Are they teaming up with a massive 500 member guild that will try to dictate your every move? Or will your guild be teaming up with other stable, like-minded guilds that fit the play style you best favor? Make it a point to find out and ask questions. If your Guild isn’t part of an alliance, ensure they make an effort to talk with other guilds and see if they can put one together!
What’s even worse than you not finding a good server to be a part of — is an entire guild finding themselves unable to join the same server or totally blocked from World vs World due to some of these huge pre-built alliances. Then many more people will have to shell out money to switch servers and that can have a massive impact on your fun-factor. Don’t look to ArenaNet to solve this issue with free transfers either, that may not happen.
ArenaNet has not only been supporting the growth of guilds and alliances before release, but they’ve been insisting upon it! The responsibility now falls upon YOUR shoulders to make sure you pick a Guild, Alliance, and a Server than best suits your needs. They’ve gone out of their way to establish a lot of servers to make sure these alliances can find homes in many different places, allowing the population to spread out and create fluid teams.
They do not want everyone crowding to the same server. This is not about activity, high-pop and low-pop, “what-can-I-do-during-Prime-Time” worries like previous games. Servers are teams now, find a group of people and talk about where you want to go. Make sure everyone else in every guild you talk to and work with is going there too. Make sure they can work with you, not against you.
For instance, if your Guild enjoys creating Role-Play events, make sure you become part of an alliance of Guilds that enjoy those kind of events and will not hinder them. This will ensure your members will find fun within your server community come release. Don’t wait for release to do this, as it will be far too late by then!
Pre-Purchase the Game
You’ve likely been putting this off for a release date. Now they have one, go ahead and drop some money for this because you will want to take full part of the 3-Day Head Start which begins August 25th. You will also want to take part in the final Beta Weekend Event on July 20th, because likely there will be something special in it for you.
Not only this, you can get a dry run with your Guild-Mates in game and start to get a feel for them and how they will approach Guild Wars 2. This is your last chance to get a feeling for your guild before the release, so it’s important you take time to experience some parts of Guild Wars 2 before the release — even if it just adjusting your key-binds and control scheme.
There are really nifty gifts you get from Pre-Purchasing, and while they will not make or break your experience in-game, they will at least make starting out Day-1 a little more fun. You can also combine them with Guild Wars 1 Hall of Monument Rewards at the same time — giving you a massive amount of free stuff to play with out of the gate!
Get to know your Guild-mates
One of the most important things to do before the release of Guild Wars 2 is to get to know your Guild-mates. These are people who you will be spending time with for many hours through the night and weekends. Make sure these are people you want to play with, and not just ‘people’ to fill the void and to prevent you from playing alone. Guild-mates really should be very much like you, and should stick with you thick or thin. People like this are not easy to find!
You have plenty of time before release to find the right set of people, but please do not wait. If you join a server you put yourself in a bad position of having to only join up with those guilds related with that server. This will force you to Guest around to other servers for a while to play with other people before you have to drop money to switch over. Don’t put that burden on yourself! Guilds are something you should take very seriously — even if that guild doesn’t play very seriously at all.
Play games with your Guild-mates! Find something you have in common and join them in those games before Guild Wars 2. Come Beta Weekend and Headstart, you should already have a good idea on who you are playing with and who you can call upon to be at your side. Don’t join a guild and expect people to flock to you, or you’ll find yourself playing alone even in a guild full of hundreds of players. You should not settle for that experience. The responsibility is yours now, make a strong effort between now and release to make new friends! Time spent searching now means more time playing the game in the future. Don’t wait!
Do your Hall of Monuments
Once you find a group of people, you may want to make a stab at Hall of Monuments. This is easier if you already have a Guild Wars account and have all of the expansions. If you don’t have all of the expansions, I recommend purchasing the key-codes from places other than NCSoft. Don’t drop $29.95 for each expansion, that’s just wasting your cash! If you shop around the internet, you can find the whole set from Flameseeker Prophesies to Eye of the North for $10 per installment.
If you want something to do or maybe get that nifty Flame Sword, take some time to play with your guild-mates to reach these achievements. If you don’t own Guild Wars 1, don’t worry. The Hall of Monument Rewards are mainly cosmetic features for people to wear and show off in later portions of the game. Guild Wars 2 has plenty of cosmetic rewards within itself as it stands, so you’re not missing much.
Since February 2012, an absolute flood of information has been released about the game. The Beta Weekends never had an NDA on them, so ArenaNet has insisted that all fans create articles, share screenshots, make videos, vodcasts, and just about anything and everything they could think of to share Guild Wars 2. There are thousands of hours of gameplay available online right now for you to watch, hundreds of in-depth articles explaining features and details. Even better than that, there are dozens of guild-mates who have played the game first hand!
There is absolutely no need to jump onto any forum and ask “What’s this game about?” or “Try and sell me Guild Wars 2” because frankly — that’s totally pointless! If you do that, you’re insulting your loyal and fellow gamers who have taken precious hours of their day to write articles and produce videos for your viewing pleasure. Many players love Guild Wars 2 and they will be more than happy to share those things first hand. Do not jump onto a forum and try to make a judgment call based on the opinions of forum-goers, these days forums are not as good as they used to be.
Find living, breathing people who you can talk to either face-to-face or VOIP, you’ll find them more than willing to share you all they know about the game. Don’t know where to find people face-to-face? Go outside to your local game store, you’ll certainly find someone there who is excited about Guild Wars 2. If not, MAKE them get excited for it. You’ll probably find yourself new guild-mates this way!
You may be the kind of person that doesn’t want to spoil the whole Guild Wars 2 experience for yourself, and that’s great. So don’t ask questions about certain features of the game, but ask about servers, communities, guilds, and what people intend to do with the game once it’s release.
Yet, if you are the type of person who wants to know everything about the game before release now that there is a release date — then by all means, find people you can talk to and ask questions. Don’t ask questions on forums, ask your guild mates! Build conversations and a dialogue with people you intend to play with in the future, because the more you talk with them the more comfortable they are with you. This will help to make for better in-game experiences once the game begins.
For not only will you be more knowledgeable about the game, you’ll also be capable of playing smoothly with everyone you are playing with. Don’t leave yourself in the dark; make an effort to learn key things about the game before release. Make sure Guild Wars 2 is really the game for you, and try to figure out why so many people consider it to be the new and biggest thing to happen to MMORPGs.
Clear Your Schedule
Without a doubt, Guild Wars 2 is going to be a momentous game. Make an effort to clear your schedule come late August because this game is going to consume your heart and soul. If you haven’t had a chance to get your hands on it, know that this game is going to suck you in and keep you playing whether you like it or not. If you don’t make an effort to empty your week and plan for some vacation time in advance — you may find yourself kicking yourself in the head.
Guild Wars 2 will have a profound impact on you when you first get your hands on it. So the one thing you’ll want to do is at least spend a week or two playing it with friends to get it out of your system before you return to a fluid work week or daily like schedule. Don’t wait! Start writing your letter or proposal for your next vacation right this instant!
I’m suggesting this for your own good, as you don’t want your work and real life to suffer tremendously from your potential lack of proper foresight and the overestimation of your own personal will-power. Just for once in your life make time to play a game, or else that game may haunt your real-life more than you desire it to. Guild Wars 2 is going to stick around for a long time, it’s here to stay.
Don’t make the mistake of just asking for launch day off or the Monday before, because Guild Wars 2 is going to be huge. You want time to endure some of the potential, inevitable frustrations of any game on launch day. Give yourself and the game a wide birth, drop those vacation days in line for a whole week or even two. You have been warned!
If you'd like more advice on finding good communities, contact me via Private Message or email: Temperhoof ( at ) g m a i l . c o m – and I will share them in future blog entries.
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