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March 18-20 Beta Weekend Event Diary

Reed Hubbard Posted:
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Day 3 – March 19, 2005

A weekend is too short.

This is not a criticism as much as a compliment. I have played Guild Wars for most of the day and I’m left wanting more. Even with the partial implementation of features and the abbreviated functionality, I’m loving the game and I’m hating that tonight is the end, at least temporarily.

As I mentioned earlier, you can create a scratch character at level 1, or a PvP only character that starts at level 20. I still think the high-level PvP character option is a great idea and I hope it finds its way into the final release, but by giving players the option to start out at the top, some of the weakness of the game design are exposed. Certain types of characters are much better suited for the PvP arena, such as warrior/monks (arguably the strongest PvP hybrid). Mesmers and necros are at a distinct disadvantage. I played on a team full of elementalist hybrids and we had our hash slung over and over.

I know someone out there plays a mesmer and owns all comers in the arena and is about to post in the forums that I’m full of it. Go ahead and vent, but trust me, buddy, you’re most definitely in the minority. I guess there are just some classes that were designed for the explorable areas and the coop missions. Necros are one of the best classes to have on your team in a cooperative event, but PvP is so fast and furious that they don’t really get to take advantage of their special skills. If you’re a big PvPer, you probably want to choose from warrior/monk/elementalist/ranger for your class.

Some of the PvP arenas are small – too small for effective ranged combat, but casters and rangers work well in the larger areas. For this weekend, only a couple of PvP areas are being implemented. I’m still waiting to see ArenaNet reintroduce the siege mode they had way back in last year’s E3 for Everyone event. The keep and fighting area were too small back then, but increasing the size would really give ranged fighters a chance to shine. Oh, and I’d really like to see a free-for-all area where 20 or so players jump into an arena and fight until the last one’s standing. If Arenanet would implement that with safeguards to make sure that the player levels were even, I swear it would be the most popular place in all of Ascalon.

PvP is fun, but I decided to try some other areas out. Actually, I got tired of getting beat like a rowdy drunk on COPS, so I decided to try some cooperative missions. I got through several and found them to be very well done. I still have a beef with the lack of control over henchmen, particular the gung-ho strategy-be-damned fighter. He got me killed more than once. If he were in my guild, I’d have him booted out. I actually ran one mission solo with three henchmen and left his kamikaze butt behind.

Take the Nolani Academy mission. You have to sneak around and take out an overwhelmingly large Charr force one-by-one. The path is set up to where you can choose your spots and slowly whittle away at the forces with ranged attacks. But if you get too close to the ramp, you can bring down half the Charr army on your team. It’s a really good combination of tactics and action that gave me a great sense of accomplishment after I had completed it.

The missions do have some replayability, considering they’re pretty much the same each time. Depending on the makeup of your team, you can have a huge success or a resounding failure. I had good luck with the people on my teams, except for one where the healer kept forgetting to heal me and I got killed multiple times.

This is probably a good time to explain what happens when you die. If you die outside of a gathering point, you can be resurrected with a 15% penalty to your overall being. It affects your hitpoints, energy, and other things. You can work it off, but it takes a good while, and if you die again, another 15% debt is levied against you. If you die a few times, you may as well leave the area because you’ll be playing at less than half strength and that just means you’ll die more quickly. The good news is you can travel back to any gathering point (like a city or the start of a mission) and the debt is erased. The only real drawback is that you have to start what you were doing all over again.

So, to that girl who wouldn’t heal me, I’ll forgive you for letting me die four times if you’ll forgive me for dumping your team in mid-mission to find a better one. Really, sweetheart, choose another profession!

Sometimes you just want to explore, and Guild Wars has some large explorable areas. I think most people pass them up or focus on missions or PvP, but if you skip these areas you’re missing some great gameplay. It’s a good place to solo or run with henchmen to boost your experience, but it’s also fun to explore on your own. All the areas outside of gathering points are instanced, so you won’t run into anyone else out there other than your teammates. It’s pretty cool to come across a bridge or cave that you’ve never seen before. You can even navigate between points of interest, such as mission locations. What’s really cool is when you find yourself at a mission point that you haven’t qualified for. The Guild Wars map is really big and I’m sure there will be areas you can’t just navigate to, but it’s fun to try to find a path other than the “regular” way.

Oh, one more thing. I’m sick of the scorpion-type monsters that burrow and jump out at you when you round the bend. It was cool the first time, but after 742 encounters the thrill is gone. Note to Arenanet: diversify the bestiary!

I really don’t want to quit playing. I got my character almost to level 10, and considering I played several other characters to get a good overall feel for the game, and considering that my machine was attacked by some rather vicious spyware on Saturday (the battle to remove it from my computer was far more intense than anything in Guild Wars!), I’d say that’s pretty good, at least by my standards.

I’m going to be playing the next time they open the servers and I’ll definitely be playing when the game goes live. How about you?

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Reed Hubbard