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Guild Wars 2 Column: The PAX East Demo

By Michael Bitton on February 21, 2011

ArenaNet made a bold statement by skipping E3 last year (only the biggest gaming event of the year!) in lieu of hitting more fan-oriented shows so that they could get the game out there for fans to experience. I have no idea if ArenaNet plans to skip E3 again this year, but given their love for fan-shows the fast approaching Penny Arcade Expo in Boston is looking to be good times for all, mostly due to the fact that ArenaNet recently announced that PAX East would see the debut of a new playable demo for Guild Wars 2.

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Of course, we’ll be at PAX East, and I’m sure so will many of you, but I wanted to take this week’s column to perhaps speculate a bit on what we can expect to see and inject a bit of what I’d like to see as well.

The original demo that made its debut at GamesCom last year featured low level gameplay (character creation) and mid-level gameplay, as well as a smattering of events (including the fearsome Shatterer event). Minus a few missing chunks, the game was pretty much as it was developed by that point, albeit with an added timer so fans couldn’t hog the thing all day.

I honestly don’t expect things to be that different this time around. Perhaps roles will be reversed and we’ll get to see the Charr starting experience and mid-level Human content. What I’m hoping to see is a more robust character creation tool, as the original demo featured a fairly stripped down version of the character creator, as the full thing wasn’t quite ready for primetime just yet. ArenaNet has put out a number of blogs detailing the game’s more aesthetic aspects such as fashion, dyeing, armor styles, and now with the rolling race weeks (Human Week, now Norn Week) I think it might be safe to say that the races are probably a good deal more developed by now and so perhaps the creator tool will allow us to mess a bit more in-depth with whatever races they feel are up to snuff at this point.

The original demo also introduced us to a new class (the Necromancer) and so I am expecting something new with the PAX East demo, but I have a hunch that we may see a ‘new’ race. Well, not new, but one we haven’t played before. The most obvious choice at this point would be the Norn as Norn Week is about to kick off here, but perhaps the revamped Sylvari will make their debut for a real shocker. However, I don’t think we’ll see another new class just yet, given the fact the Guardian was just revealed a month ago.

Last year’s demo also featured a crowning jewel in the form of the Shatterer event, where tens of players fought probably the biggest dragon in MMO history, and if you took anything away from the first playable demo of Guild Wars 2 it was definitely that the Shatterer was an awesome sight to behold.  With that in mind, I have a good feeling ArenaNet will have something just as awesome up their sleeve for the new demo, especially since I’ve heard that the Shatterer is actually one of Guild Wars 2’s smaller dragons (what?!). Perhaps ArenaNet will up the ante? I’m certainly eager to find out!

Will you be attending PAX East? What do you expect/hope the new demo will feature? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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