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Guild Wars 2 Column: The Beta Cometh

By William Murphy on February 14, 2011

This is going to be short and sweet this week: limited alpha and beta testing is coming for Guild Wars 2 in 2011.

There. That’s all.  Go away. Do I really need to say anything else?

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Okay, I guess we can do some speculation if we must.  Look, it’s no secret that the game’s been mostly dark since the convention circuit last year.  We write these weekly columns to offer fresh opinions on what’s new with some of the genre’s most highly anticipated games.  But that’s tough to do when there’s pretty much nothing new to chat about.  But now, well, now we can wildly hypothesize what this quasi-beta announcement means.

As far as I know, this tidbit on the FAQ wasn’t there before this week, and it’s really anyone’s guess as to just how extensive and laborious A-Net’s alpha and beta testing will be.  But it’s a good sign, to be sure.  The GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) is just around the corner and the Guild Wars 2 team will be on hand, hopefully even demoing more of the game.  When we last saw GW2 it was fully playable and looking quite polished in a controlled environment.  Certainly we didn’t get to play around in the world as it will be represented come live release, but what we played we were assured was the same client the development staff had access to on the private servers and it looked good. 

The beta and alpha testing for 2011 mean one thing and one thing only… the team’s getting closer to that magical “Gold” edition of their product.  But the real question is: does this mean a 2011 release?

I highly doubt it guarantees anything, really.  There’s no need for ArenaNet to rush for launch.  The 2011 window is absolutely jam-packed with titles, sure enough, but Guild Wars 2 isn’t really competing with any of them.  There’s no subscription to the game, there’s not even really a contender to their amount of pre-launch hype.  GW2 has literally the most media and player build up going into launch I’ve ever seen.  If you were ArenaNet would you be in any hurry to put out an unfinished product?

And considering the sheer amount of anticipation for GW2, I can venture a guess that it’s the other releases in 2011 that have something to worry about when ArenaNet’s sequel releases and not the other way around.  There’s a lot of talk about Guild Wars 2 being an overall revolution in MMORPG gaming.  The ideas put forth on paper and shown thus far in development have a lot of fans and media alike frothing at the mouth to get their hands on the finished title. 

So while the beta testing phase may be just around the corner, and that alone is a very exciting thing for gamers itching to get some real play-time in or to help out with the development of the title, I wouldn’t bother getting too worked up about what it means for the release of the game.  I want to see it arrive in time for Christmas just as much as anyone, but I’d rather wait for it to realize its full potential and if that means waiting until the year the world ends, I’m okay with that.  We’ll likely be going out in style if so.

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