It has been a week since I had the chance to play the ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 Beta, and I miss the game already. It was really nice to finally have a chance to get a look at the title after all these years of just reading information and watching videos of other people play. It was a real treat, and with a bit over a week of reflecting on my experience, I think I appreciate the game even more than before.
Like you, I have been listening to what ArenaNet has been saying about the way MMOs are made and played for the last couple of years. It was like they were taking everything we wanted to change, but thought no one would ever listen and then acting upon it. We heard the developers and designers speak of an MMO that sounded like a dream come true. We listened and hoped that their promises were really going to come to fruition. So did they keep to their high goals? Have we been hoping for something that just can’t be done? Friends, I am happy to say that from my weekend experience I can see that promises are being kept, and that a new unique MMO is truly going to hit the market later this year.
The first thing I noticed about playing the game was that it was very social. Not in the sense that you had to go into a chat channel and start looking for people to play with, or see what everyone was doing. I remember when I was assisting my legion in weakening enemy forces as a Charr. A powerful shaman was in command of a group that was causing trouble near the territory. The numbers were against me, but I didn’t have a choice. I had to serve my legion with honor, ‘til death. As I began my assault, the enemy began to charge. I tried my best to only get a few to notice me, but they were alert and ready to destroy any trespassers! As the battle continued, things were looking grim. Suddenly I saw some arrows fly from behind me, piercing through the enemy’s armor. I saw fellow legion members run from the sides, their swords and axes swinging and cutting through flesh and steel. I was helped up by a Norn, who ran in front of me, giving me the time I needed to attend to my wounds. Without having to accept party invites, I was part of a group of players and taking an important role in an event. I didn’t receive a drop in experience and my loot drops weren’t taken away. In fact after the first wave was taken out we began to trade items that were not for our class, but helpful to our group.
I have never had that happen in a game before. Usually getting a group together for a quest took some time in a chat channel. Instead this just happened, and the best part of all was that it happened in such an organic and “epic” way. I couldn’t believe it at first. Even after the event had been taken care of, we continued to adventure together until our goals became different. After that we split ways, only for me to find more groups to join. One more detail on these events: when I reached a certain area an event began. I didn’t need to go talk to an NPC to accept or turn the quest “on”. The game keeps you playing rather than doing the tiny little annoying things we’ve gotten so used to instead.
Another huge thing for me was that ArenaNet has spoken about really putting the RPG back into MMORPG. While playing, I would walk around and hear the NPCs talking to each other. I even had choices when talking back to them. I began to stop thinking about what I needed to do to level up, but instead what my character’s personal goals were, and what he wanted to accomplish in the game world. I was playing a role and I didn’t even know it. It was amazing.
The best part about my beta experience is something that sadly will never happen again. We very lucky members of the press had the guidance of many developers who were playing with us. Thanks to them we were able to get the most out of the weekend, as they were helpful and informative. It isn’t often you get to pick the mind of a developer. And after speaking with them, I can tell you that the people over at ArenaNet really are gamers, and they want to do the best job they can to make Guild Wars 2 as close to perfect as they can. I hope that my experience can help you breathe a bit easier. The wait is almost over and who knows, with more beta events on the way you may be lucky enough to try it out sooner than you think.