Ahoy, next Guild Wars 2 beta weekend is incoming! And with it there will be some new players that have not previously played the game. Which a good thing!
My intention in this entry is to show why and how Guild Wars 2 is different to previous games you might or might not have played. In the process I highlight some things that might be usefull for a player that is trying Guild Wars 2 for the first time, propably even to someone that played the game already. This isn't really a traditional guide, it's more of an display of where I failed when first playing the game and how you might be able to get some more enjoyment out of your game.
If you've been reading anything I've written in the past you might have noticed that I've been dead bored of MMO's for few years now and pretty much abandoned the whole genre. That was untill first Guild Wars 2 beta weekend. I had prepurchased the game after watching some videos and being mildly excited to play the game after what I had seen.
So the first beta weekend rolls around, servers open(atleast 30 minutes early in europe, something to look out for again) and I login for the first time. My first impression after logging in was how polished things looked; no placeholders or anything and visual style where they used lots of beautiful concept art was something I quickly grew fond of. Character creation was your usual MMO hooblah, and it wasn't after I had taken more than a few steps with my Charr warrior before I started realizing that this game actually is different.
This is one thing where ArenaNet needs to improve their game in; make people used to your run-of-the-mill MMO games realize this is not one of them.
There are some tutorial popups but in my opinion not enough to really highlight the important changes in the game. The impact of dynamic events, combat, travelling and billion little improvements can be easily missed if you don't even know to look for them. For example inventory management has been polished to a level that it had things that I did not even realize to look for. They would have made my life a lot easier but there was no indication they existed so I missed them completely.
Two of the core changes are questing and combat. These are the things we do most in MMO's by far and untill now not many games have even tried to make any big changes to existing concepts. I'll try to summarize:
Questing: It does not really exist. Really. It doesn't. You can say that Dynamic Events are just branching public quests, but the mechanic which they are delivered with makes things very diffrerent. MMO gamers intuition makes most of us behave like in any other MMO but Guild Wars 2's world works best when you play it like an adventurer; wandering from one place to another, perhaps even without any clear goal.
Combat: My first impression was: simple, easy, button mashy with flashy animations. Here is the kicker: It is not all about stats, it's more about reactions and positioning. After level 4 or so difficulty starts ramping up and threat of dying even to regular mobs becomes real. You have to:
- Learn to use your dodge properly, it's a skill almost like any other in your skillbar.
- Move. Don't stand still, you can evade attacks just by not being there when the arrow is flying towards you. Dodge does this mroe efficiently, but you can evade almost any projectile just by moving sideways. This applies to both melee and ranged, never stand still. Also those red circles indicate bad AOE. Don't stand inside.
- Time your skills. When you use your skills makes a huge difference in how you perform in combat. Generally most of your steady damage will come from autoattack, other skills will give you versatility (highly class and weapon dependant).
- Switch weapons! At level .. 7(?) you gain ability to switch weapons in combat. Use it, as it will make you that much more versatile and able to react more situations. The little button left of 1 is the default key.
- It's not wrong to go down. Downed mechanic can be really odd at first. But you will be downed, and that does not mean you are dead! It is just a part of a fight; in many events I found myself going down once or twice always getting back up. It's not a shame or loss to go down, it's part of the game. Then again I am quite crap, so you propably won't even go down. Bastard.
Don't forget to dodge kids!
After I had figured that questing and combat were quite a different beast in Guild Wars 2 I started thinking how they actually affect the way I play the game and what parts of my playstyle are actually habits from other MMO's I've played before.
I digested my thoughts to a few bullet points that hopefully make your Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend - The Sequel experience a smoother one:
1) Read some basic instructions of the game before playing! Unless ArenaNet has done some improvements on the tutorials, Guild Wars 2 does quite poor job of showing you the things that makes it different. Here is a good read, going through everything from interface to important mechanics. Even players who have played before might pick something usefull up, I most certainly did!
2) Don't rush! There is really no reason to 'grind levels' or rush through the world. Take your time and enjoy, this game IS about the journey; the destination doesn't even exist.
3) Explore! Doing the usual events that are around the well travelled areas can be really fun. Lots of people, lots of enemies, all good fun. But! I found all the coolest and most memorable things in the game while just taking a jog in the bushes; perhaps it was an epic beast with elusive loot, perhaps it was an dynamic event that had had a nice piece of story that triggered my interest to investigate the thing further. Perhaps it was an city under attack and I rode in just in time to save the day (for the record that never happened, we got beat up so bad..). Don't just follow the roads between cities and central locations, dive in to the woods!
4) Dynamic Events Understand that dynamic events are not the little hearts you see in the map. YouTube holds great amount of information and examples if you want to dive deeper into their mechanics.
5) Lore. Yeah, that is one of the things I've been doing recently. Reading about Guild Wars 2 lore and things that happened in the world. I can already think for a few occasions in the first BWE that I've read later on about, where the things I've read add some real depth to the events ingame and explain the underlying reasons for why this is happening. If you are into that kind of stuff it will add a whole new depth into your play experience as there are lots of little events and chracters in the game that you can enjoy a lot more if you know the lore behind them. Everything in the game seems to happen for a reason and is nicely tied in to the general lore of the world.
To close out, I'll say this: I've written quite a lots about Guild Wars 2 already in this blog and haven't even touched any PvP aspects. It just goes to show how much depth this game holds. Or how much crap my head holds..
I hope you'll enjoy the game much has I do, there is certainly a huge amount of interest for it and I firmly believe it does things that shake up the stagnant MMO genre as a whole. See you June 8th in Tyria!