Last week we had some coverage of the recent Guild Wars 2 beta event. A lot of time was spent trying to calm the rage down from upset players who had trouble playing the game. It sure was a mess, but now it’s time to go over the actual beta itself. This is the third time I’ve participated in one of ArenaNet’s beta weekends, and so far the game is still evolving. We went over some of the things that I experienced in previous betas, but this one by far really shined. One thing that I noticed is the change in AI. The AI may have always been this good, but it wasn’t against so many players before. I can say that the adapting AI may now be one of the best features this game has to offer.
First off the main difference in the last Beta was that the number of players was increased, by a lot! I can’t give a number but I saw players everywhere, and it was awesome. Due to the high number of players running around, I got to really experience one of the game’s features in full force. We’ve all heard and read about Dynamic Events. Some of us have gotten the chance to actually see them in action. The dynamic events are designed so that as more players participate in the event, or leave the event, its difficulty changes accordingly. This means enemies have more health and more abilities to use. But I saw something I hadn’t seen previousl: the AI on enemies got better.
My engineer was taking part in an event where players had to help a farm repel a bandit attack. More players showed up as just me and another player fought for our lives. I remember as a shot from my pistol whizzed through the air heading towards a bandit’s chest. It was like it happened in slow motion, the bandit dodged my attack! I attacked again in a fit of rage, this time using an ability to end its life, but as to mock me it simply dodged again! The AI was actually better than over half the players I fought in structured PvP. It was awesome! Although I was a hot shot, going around killing things with ease
, the game just slapped me in the face and told me to shut up. The event ended up being a failure, but my determination gained a level.
I searched for other events, following the largest group of players I could find. Sure enough I found the same AI advancement everywhere. And the boss fights… holy crap the boss fights! I saw a level five boss kill seven players in a matter of seconds, it was breathtaking. Some people say this is a bit too difficult, but I welcome the challenge. I thought the scaling was perfect. In groups of 30 players things got really tough. All of the above examples were in groups of that size. In smaller groups of five, things were pretty simply but still offered a challenge. I think the game is trying to force players to think about how they are playing. Many players were still gaming in the old style, so I think once they try new things and really get a grasp on the combat they won’t die nearly as much (dodge!). We all start as noobs, but as we play we learn and get better.
The skills that the AI used, depending on the difficulty level, gave the game the ability to really adapt to the situation. If too many players tried to hulk out with great swords and hammers, the AI would use a lot of AOE skills to bring people down. Some creatures had the ability to grab long range users and pull them towards their saliva dripping fangs. I don’t think I saw anything that was over-powered. I just realized that these are low levels and I can’t wait to see what challenges the higher levels will have for us.
The AI in Guild Wars 2, so far, has been super-impressive in adapting to the changing number of players it faced. I had seen the scaling take place in previous betas but this was by far a truer test of what it can do. Before, I had only seen it scale from 1 player to about 10. Now that I got to see what it can do against more players, it made for some of the most intense fights I’ve ever had the pleasure to take part in video game. The fights felt very epic, and looked amazing. The more variety in professions that participated also made things look even better, as steel and magic from every school flew through the air, painting a scene like we’ve only witnessed in the concept art. My hat’s off to ArenanNet for making an awesome challenge. I laugh at anyone saying this game is just for casual players.