There are a lot of hopes and expectations heaped on the heads of Arena.Net as the date for the release of Guild Wars 2 approaches. Will it measure up to what we hope? Only time will tell but there is no question that there are some utterly awesome things about Guild Wars 2 that I discovered during this weekend’s beta event. A lot of the things that I found very compelling and interesting aren’t necessarily the things that most players will notice. These are five things that just might get overlooked but are top notch features nonetheless.
Without further ado, here is my list of five potentially overlooked things to love about Guild Wars 2:
Runner Up #1: The Downed State System
I love the “downed state” system in Guild Wars 2. I know a lot of folks don’t and who think that it’s designed to cater to casuals. Don’t think that because it actually fits the world in which it’s happening. When a player is downed, it’s worth the time to work at getting back up again and rejoining the fight. And don’t think you can’t die even with the downed state system in place. You can. You will. But it’s fun to have a fighting chance *yuk yuk* to get back into the fray.
Runner Up #2: The Fast Travel System
There is little to say here other than you will not only love this but will probably thank your lucky stars each and every night that the Arena.Net team thought so much of you that they put in the fast travel system. The Guild Wars 2 world is HUGE and you're often sent running off to complete tasks that are of course as far away from you as they can possibly be. Hence the map/fast travel will become your best friend. Trust me. It will.
5. Download Speed
I know this doesn’t sound like much but in today’s world of mega-sized game downloads it’s refreshing to see Guild Wars 2 continue where Guild Wars 1 left off. The download for the game client is very fast, well under two hours for me to grab while simultaneously downloading another game that, incidentally, took three more hours for a comparable sized client.
During the weekend, there were a couple of times when a new build of the game would become available. When we’d log in again, the download for the patched client was zippy quick and we were all back in game in no time.
4. The Music & Ambience
The music is astonishingly gorgeous right from the main log in screen and it's easy to overlook as it's one of those ever-present MMO features. Yet the music in Guild Wars 2 is something special. It’s haunting and refreshing and helps conjure up the right range of emotions in players. Jeremy Soule is renowned for his beautiful compositions and it shows.
The ambient sounds are good too. They’re not overpowering but when you’re walking around Divinity’s Reach, there are people walking about and chatting with their friends. These folks aren’t just standing looking at one another and gesturing to give the impression that they’re talking. They actually are talking and sometimes you can overhear some pretty amusing stuff.
3. Character Customization
Character customization is a definite high point for Guild Wars 2. Folks who don’t care much about that can run through the options and select from presets for each race. But those who want to take their time to make this character truly theirs will find a lot to do. There are the usual head options for hair, eyes, nose, mouth, scars, etc. But Arena.Net has gone a step further by allowing players to even customize their starting armor set colors. Players can customize the main color and two highlight colors for helm, chest piece, leggings, and boots. It's the little things that matter and the team has given players a lot of ways to tweak their characters into exactly the right "look".
There is quite simply a lot to do in customization for those who like that sort of thing. Given that this is your story, you’ll be seeing a lot of yourself so taking the extra time to make a pleasing to the eye and personalized to your liking is worth the time and effort.
This brings us to #2.
2. Armor Dye
One of the things that always rather annoyed me in Guild Wars 1 was when I had to purchase additional armor dyes every time I acquired new gear that I wanted to use. It seemed like every time I turned around, I was running off to Lion’s Arch for a new dye load. And of course I wanted black dye which was always prohibitively expensive to buy once, let alone repeatedly over time.
So enter Guild Wars 2: Now when you acquire a new piece of gear and put it on your character, it automagically adopts the color of the piece you’re replacing. The first time that happened, I almost fell out of my chair since I’d spent a lot of time picking the right color combination for my Human Warrior and I wanted to keep that look, at least color-wise. It’s a small but brilliant touch and something that I can honestly say ranks right up at the top of my list today.
The other nice thing is that the great dye money sink from Guild Wars 1 is gone. Simply open up your character sheet and change the look of your character's armor on the fly. No more black dye at a bargain price of a billion gold.
1. Open World Events
While this isn’t totally earth-shatteringly unheard of or even a "little thing" as the article implies, it’s quite clear that the Arena.Net team has put a lot of effort into giving players a lot of things to do in order to help them level up to the personal story events.
I know that most of my personal story events would come along at a time when I was 2-3 levels too low to do anything other than run into the instance and die. So I’d head out into the world and explore. Each village or town usually has one or two events happening nearby that players can join in and work together to defeat. Take that, you evil Centaurs!
In some ways, it’s similar to the way Rift operates but without the necessity of literally “joining” up with the team working on an event. You’re simply told that there is an event happening nearby and you start heading that way. When there, you fight through it with anyone else who happens to be in the same vicinity and everyone shares in the XP boon equally. Believe me when I tell you that there is a LOT going on in the Guild Wars 2 world!