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Guild Wars 2 beta weekend 
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Minor Diety
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Post Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Played for about 4 hours yesterday and plan on spending most of today messing about on this. So far I love it. I'll post up a proper review and some videos but for now I'll just say it plays nothing like the original and yet retains a very Guild Wars feel. I'm not overly thrilled with the actual graphics; seem a bit more cartoony than the original but I do still love the style of armour/weapons and the cut scene art is just beautiful. Running on max settings as well with no lag.

Keep watching this space for character creation, skill and general gameplay videos, plus some screenshots.

Edit:
Human creation
http://youtu.be/GmksntGSz68

Charr creation
http://youtu.be/7DMcQkokeZ0

Norn creation
http://youtu.be/eVBYnF2ErwU

Played for probably 20 hours total this weekend, won't get on it again now before it closes tomorrow evening. Reached level 15 with Pevil (Ranger) and got the three in the vids between levels 2 and 5 (didn't do a fat lot with them ;)). Got a few more videos to put up, mainly showing the combat and in particular the dynamic events. I'll also do a little bit of a review. So far though I absolutely love it. The 15 levels on Pev have certainly not flown by as quickly as they would in most MMOs (to get to level 5 definitely took way longer than it would in WoW) but none of it has felt like grinding, thanks to the dynamic events and everything has run very smoothly. Just one CTD in all my play time and no lag unless I was teleporting into a crowded city. Anyway enough for now or I might as well write my review and I have to get to bed...

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Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:12 am
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Minor Diety
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Time for my review, while I have it all fresh in my mind.

Graphics:
The game is very nice looking, but obviously no Skyrim. As I already mentioned, the style is a little more cartoony than I'd like and I actually prefer the original Guild Wars style but it still looks fantastic. Anet have once again employed some fantastic armour and weapon designs. There's also a lot of detail in the world, particularly in the city areas. Everything runs smoothly and on my PC that runs Skyrim on high, I could run it maxed out with no lag whatsoever. I love the art for the loading screens, menu screens and the overall effects such as your health bar, when depleted, isn't a solid block but actually looks like a paint streak.

Sounds:
Again, what you'd expect from Anet. The music is the guy who does Skyrim's music so again, it's excellent and the general sound effects are well done and fitting, though some of the voice acting is a little weird (apparently to remove graffiti from walls you make a scream that sounds like Lulu about to break into "You make me wanna shout") but so far I have yet to hear any repeated voices on major characters and there is enough variety in general npcs that it still seems like a world of individuals. The sound effects on the skills/spells are also very well done and really help to add to the feeling of a battle when in combat.

Quests:
The quests are quite nicely done. There's a good mix of personal story quests (what you'd conside "main quests") which are usually quite challenging and differ based on both your choices in character creation and also during personal story quests, heart quests which are essentially "help out the villagers/npcs around here" and dynamic events, which I'll discuss in their own section.

An example of the personal story quests - I played two humans in the beta and they both started in the same personal story quest which was to defend your town from the invading centaurs. Once this is over you wake up the next morning after being knocked out during the battle and this is where it splits. My ranger, Pevil, had chosen during creation that she was brought up by the common folk. When she woke up she was informed that her friends, Andrew and Petra, the innkeeper and his daughter, had come to check up on her and wanted to see her. So Pevil went off to see them which branched into it's own little story and quest line. They later returned as part of a completely unrelated quest and I could interact with them during it to get some extra information on it. However with my elementalist, Stariana, she chose to be brought up by nobles, so when she woke after the battle her friend, Lord Faron, had been to see her. Off I toddle to see him and it turns out he has thrown me a party which again skewed off into a completely different quest line to the one Pevil had. I didn't play anymore with her though so am not sure just how radically different it all is, but so far it was far from the typical MMO grind of having identical quests x many times over depending on how many characters you make.

The personal story quests are nicely spaced as far as recommended levels go; they slowly spread themselves out more both across the map and across the level ranges so you're encouraged to explore in between them and do other quests rather than just rushing through everything. You're also encouraged to quest for your levels rather than just grind as the monsters themselves give relatively little xp based on the time you can spend fighting them. Also a nice touch is that personal story quests will always take place in an instance because they are so different for everyone; you can help a friend out if you are partied and join them in their instance or go it alone. If you die whilst in the instance, you can merely start from a checkpoint instead of completely failing it. I managed to get through a few I was underlevelled for by doing this as I could pick off one or two enemies at a time, die, then those two enemies were still dead.

The heart quests are your standard filler quests to flesh the world out but they're done in a nice way that provide a bit more variety. I call them heart quests because they appear as a heart icon on the map and they increase your karma. Each heart quest has a number of ways it can be completed; for example the first one I ran into was to help a farmer where you could either feed his cows, water his grain or kill the wurms that were in his fields. You can do one, or the other, or all three, as it takes multiple steps to complete. The progress is tracked by a bar and each time you complete one of the possible tasks it fills up a little notch until complete. Karma is gained by completing this and then is also spent at the quest givers for unique rewards, often a piece of armour, a recipe or even just something like a salvage kit. Doing heart quests is also a good way to run into dynamic events, as there are usually a couple locked into the same area the heart quests are. Dynamic quests are my favourite so let's go on to those in their own category!

Dynamic Events:
These are why Guild Wars 2 rules. When I post my videos you'll find the majority of them are taken during dynamic events. They make the world feel more like a world, and the grind feel non-existant. Dynamic events are normal quests in concept but they can change depending on the actions of the players. How many times in an RPG have you accepted to help the villages stop the evil bandits raiding the town? And how many times have those bandits succeeded? You can usually sit there all day and either just get a game over after so long, or the guards and bandits will battle continuously until you finish it off. Not any more.

For example, back to the farms. There was a huge water station above the farms that provided water to both the farms and the nearby village. I completed two seperate dynamic events here, one where the bandits were trying to poison the water and one where bandits were trying to blow up the pipes. I saw different outcomes for both. If the poisoners were stopped then all was good and that was that. If they succeeded the villagers all stood around with poison icons above their heads and complained constantly that they didn't feel well. After visiting the water station again we had another dynamic event to collect up the toxic globs that were scattered around, as many as we could in a certain time limit, so that they could create an antidote to put in the water. The other event with the pipes either resulted in us stopping the bandits blowing up the pipes, or they resulted in the pipes being destroyed and we had to then defend workers who were repairing the pipes from further bandit raids.

The best part about the dynamic events is that these are essentially where you will do your "grinding". And it won't feel like grinding. I spent levels 8 - 14 "grinding" dynamic events and without even trying, I'd just randomly run into them and feel like I had to go give them a go. Before you know it I've killed lots of enemies, had a ton of fun and gotten some experience, money and karma from completing the event as well. The other best part (shush) is the fact that you don't need to be partied. But I'll mention that later on in "Grouping". The nice thing is the events scale so if there's just you around the event will spawn less enemies than if you have 50 friends around.

Combat:
I briefly gave the Mesmer, Elementalist and Guardian a go and of course spent a lot of time on my Ranger. The combat is fun and free flowing and still feels a lot like Guild Wars whilst also having something different about it.

The one thing I don't like is the small variety on weapon skills. Each weapon has only 3 skills for the main hand, 2 skills for the offhand or 5 skills if it is 2 handed. The exception to this is elementalist weapons, as they have the same number but x4 as they change based on what element you're currently attuned to. However this is more than made up for by the number of profession skills. I think I had around 30 skills as a Ranger that I could unlock, plus 4 healing skills and also around 6 elite skills (I didn't get high enough to unlock any of those).

The nice thing is though that you can do everything yourself. Every class can dodge roll to the side, forwards or back as long as they have enough endurance (and it refills pretty quickly). Every class can heal to some extent. Every class can damage, or evade, or do anything they want pretty much through a skill. It's merely the way they do it that changes how they feel. Rangers for example still have their pets and do a lot of their different damages through the pet itself. Mesmers still have illusions and phantasms but now instead of them merely being a purple flash that heads towards the enemy, they literally make little clones of the mesmer and perform their task (I gained one that wielded dual pistols and unloaded them rather rapidly into the enemy). The guardian does a lot of their damage with auras, such as one that causes all attacks to cause burning whilst active.

And then there is the synergy between professions. Unfortunately I never quite timed it right but I'm dying to try out firing arrows straight through an elementalists flame wall! A lot of the old skills have been revamped as well. Barrage in Guild Wars 1 - fire 5 arrows out that spread out in front of you. Barrage in Guild Wars 2 - about 100 arrows rain down out of the sky over an area for probably 5 seconds.

The pets aren't great. Well, I say that, the starter pets aren't great. I chose a River Drake as my starter (each race gets 3 to choose from and they are all different) and it was shockingly bad. Death almost every fight. However when I tamed a Krytan Drakehound it was far more survivable and useful. Even the pig I tamed was less likely to turn into bacon in a fight! There have been a lot of complaints about the rangers pets though so hopefully they'll be sorted.

Either way, the combat so far has been a lot of fun. Fast paced and the fights do feel different enough that they don't get boring. And the elementalist is damn good fun with her attunements!

World:
Anet are always great at making worlds and once again they've succeeded. Divinity's Reach is one hell of a city; I only explored about half of it and got lost! I didn't even dare to go through the portal to Lions Arch, although it was very tempting. Beautifully designed and laid out, Divinity's Reach has a three tier design; the lower "scummy" levels, the middle levels and the high levels with palaces and gardens. There are lots of npcs so even at midnight it will seem like a well populated city and there are lots of little extras to interact with such as book carts with random book names (one had 3 books all devoted to 3 of the original henchies) and I did find actual books in some shops that you could read up on lore in. The city is fairly easy to navigate as well; Divinity's Reach has about 10 waypoints in that you can travel to instantly (for free, ones out in the world will cost money) in order to get around as long as you have run there once before.

Out in the wilds the same waypoint system is present but far more spread out and costs money. Each area is huge and beautifully designed. They still have zones seperated by the big portals you'd get in Guild Wars but the zones are so huge and open that it doesn't feel particularly zoned. Scout npcs are scattered throughout as well and you can talk to them to have the closest points of interest marked on your map (usually waypoints, heart quests and merchants). The lighting effects are amazing (took a wonderful screenshot of dawn in a misty swamp) and the landscape is once again stunning, mixing huge mountains, grassy plains, waterfalls and forests in such a way it really seems like an actual world.

Grouping up:
Perfect. And I didn't even party with anyone. Everything just works. You can all revive each other and guess what, people actually do! Experience is dished out to you as long as you got some hits on a monster, none of this "tagging" in other games so the first person to hit it, or the one who got the killing blow, gets all the experience and loot. If you hit it, you get a chance at loot and you can only view items that drop for you (much like the original). You don't need to be partied for your skills to work together (such as the arrows through flames scenario) or for heals to work. I got healing spring (area heal) and any player who was in the area got the heals. People don't bitch that you stole their kill, people don't fight over quest mobs, people just get on with playing! The dynamic events were so much fun because you would have 20 or more people fighting together and more would run in to join all the time, just because they were passing. It's also nicely handled by the effective levelling system (more on that in levelling). This is how MMOs should be.

Levelling system:
Generally fairly standard. Kill stuff, complete quests, get xp. You unlock different things as you level up; you unlock up to 3 utility skill slots (keys 6, 7 and 8) at levels 5, 10 and 20 I think, your elite slot at level 30? and traits at level 11. Traits are your standard skill points, one every level from 11 onwards for a total of 70. You also gain skill points when you level up (and from completing skill challenges) which are used to unlock healing, utility and elite skills. As well as this you level up your weapon skills to unlock more. For example when I first equipped my longbow I only had essentially "auto attack". Kill 5 things using the longbow I unlocked "Rapid Fire". Kill 10 more things with longbow I unlocked "Hunters Shot". General rule of thumb is slot 1 is always unlocked, 2 take 5 kills, 3 takes 10, 4 takes 15 and 5 takes 20. The first 3 slots are your main hand, last 2 your offhand, or if you use a two handed weapon all 5 are for that weapon.

You also have the effective levelling system. What this means is if you're in an area intended for level 1 - 5 and you are level 10, you will be dropped to level 5. You still retain all your skills and your health, but your damage is adjusted so you don't 1 hit kill everything. You also gain xp and loot proportional to your real level. So if you're a completionist and missed that one starter quest you don't have to feel like it's a waste of your time to go do it once you're level 73. You won't miss out on any exp or loot that you'd get from fighting level 70 monsters. It also stops high levels from annoying low levels by obliterating everything in the newbie areas before the newbies can blink.

Overall:
Absolutely love it. A few years ago I was raving over this game. Until this weekend I'd grown a bit more "meh" due to the huge changes away from the original and the fact it's been "coming soon" for so long. After this weekend bring it on. I can't wait for the next beta weekend, they could release all the Assassin's Creed games they have ever had planned that same weekend and I'd ignore them all. Really, really impressed and can see this having huge longevity and not just because of the age old grind for a reward system that is so easily rolled out these days.

Typed a bit more than I expected there and probably still missed a ton out. Feel free to ask about anything I may have missed (crafting I dabbled with for example but not a huge amount... may review it later) and keep an eye out, I'll post my videos up soon

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Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:41 pm
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Minor Diety
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Well that sure was a big (and interesting!) read haha. :) You sure sound psyched Pev, good to see your preorder decision isn't coming back to haunt you. ;) But I didn't expect that to happen to be honest, everything I heard and saw about GW2 has been pretty darn positive so far, and your (p)review didn't change that. I'm excited for the game too, as I think it's an MMO that a lot of us here could find ourselves playing again. No monthly fees makes a world of difference.

Question for you: do the different races come with race-specific bonuses? I probably could find that online but you likely know the answer anyway.

Character creation looks really good. I liked that you could choose things like bodytype and height (in addition to stuff like face etc). Should make for a lot more 'unique' looking people running around!

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Tue May 01, 2012 1:27 pm
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Minor Diety
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
I couldn't see anything that appeared to be a racial bonus. One thing I'll check next beta (got a spare slot deliberately) is stats (do Charr rangers start with same health/power etc as a Human ranger?). The only thing even close to a racial 'bonus' is what I mentioned before, where the rangers start with different pets depending on race.

I really am psyched for it, looks amazing. I genuinely want the next beta weekend to come more than I want the release of Diablo 3. It's gonna rule anyway but if you guys get back online it'll kick even more ass

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Wed May 02, 2012 11:39 am
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Sounds good. I'm definitely still hooked on SW-TOR, but if the game is out far enough and I start to tire of star wars, I'll definitely check it out... and maybe even if I'm not tired of Star Wars. :roll:

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Wed May 02, 2012 4:57 pm
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Minor Diety
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Hehe well I've got a few things to do this evening but if I get chance I'll put up a couple of my combat videos. If not I promise they'll be up soon!

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Thu May 03, 2012 12:02 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Cool. :) I also did some research and found out that there don't appear to be any racial differences on basic stats, butttttt there are racial skills. They are supposed to be a little less powerful than general skills but unique to each race.

http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Racial_skill

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Thu May 03, 2012 1:27 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Nice find. See, this is how little I've actually followed GW2. I have the RSS feed for news on my google home page and that's it.

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Thu May 03, 2012 3:17 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Some 'proper' videos.

By the way, stress test on Monday for it so hopefully will get online for a couple of hours. If there is anything in particular you'd like to see, let me know and I'll attempt to get a video. Bear in mind only the ranger is levelled above 5 and I don't have access everywhere yet. Also still no Asura/Sylvan characters available.

Videos:
Ranger vs Treant
Random event - Cave Troll Champion
Bandit raid on the farm - I did this event a ton of times and it's really fun
Guardian/Charr first boss
Low level Elementalist combat
Mesmer/Norn first boss

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Thu May 10, 2012 3:54 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Great stuff Pev, thanks! I especially liked the boss battles - they look awesome! Beautiful and pretty varied (based on the grand total of those 2 I've seen ;) ). I thought the elementalist and mesmer looked like fun too, not so convinced by the ranger but don't take that personally. ;) Warrior combat rarely looks fun on a vid either!

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Fri May 11, 2012 5:55 am
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Minor Diety
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Hehe yeah the ele is pretty awesome, loved playing as her, but you know me and Pev. I'll see if I can get some more boss type battles on Monday - trouble is it's a stress test so may have issues logging in but fingers crossed not too much!

Edit: Back in and it's still amazing. I'm currently running it on max graphics on a stress test with Diablo 3 downloading in the background. Not a bit of lag. Playing my ele to get a few vids for Ox if I can then it's back to Pev for a couple of hours.

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Fri May 11, 2012 2:35 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Will get round to putting last beta vids up soon, just wanted to let you all know there is a chance to win beta keys for the next weekend (running over the 8th to the 10th June)

http://www.killtenrats.com/2012/05/30/g ... y-contest/

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Wed May 30, 2012 2:15 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Just had another stress test - got some vids using ranger/guardian/elementalist and also did a little bit of pvp so I'll update you shortly, really truly honestly!

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Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:02 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Finally videos from the May and June stress tests. I apologise, the May test I got bored of listening to the in-game sounds so some of the videos have Nickelback playing in them. Deal with it. Though Burn it to the Ground kinda fits the video ;) Just should have been playing my Ele... oh well. Also gave pvp a brief shot - got better at it after the vid I shot but it gives you a rough idea of what to expect.

I'll be posting these over a couple of nights coz I have 13 vids and I just can't be bothered with compressing/uploading them all tonight.

Burn it to the Ground - Ranger fighting to Nickelback
Short video tour of the centre of Divinity's Reach
Much longer video running around Lion's Arch
Elementalists combined

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Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:17 pm
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Post Re: Guild Wars 2 beta weekend
Thanks for the time and effort Pev!! I won't make any remarks about the Nickleback soundtrack ;)

In the first vid, loved the ranger's movement and the fluidity of everything, but I am a little worried about the FoV. That is, the character seems to fill a lot of the screen leaving a relatively small scope of vision, something that's even more blatant in many console ports (like the otherwise awesome Arkham Asylum). Any idea if it can be zoomed out a little farther? I'm guessing yes, this being a PC game!

Divinity's each and Lion's Arch look absolutely amazing...I particularly wowed at the zooming on the map (and back to the normal mode), and when you jumped into the sea around Lion's Arch! I was like "what? Oh wow!" haha. Guess I'm still not over the old GW 'no swimming and no jumping' stuff. Random question: in hubs like these, what races are over and/or underrepresented? Assuming that all races are available already in the beta (I seem to distinctly recall that wasn't the case but I may be thinking of something else). I would think the tiny gnome like race would not be ultra popular, while the Charr and Norn would have a lot of takers?

The elementalists not only sounded but also looked great in terms of firepower. :)

I have to say, this footage you show us from time to time + all the things I hear from you and the intarwebz makes me very hopeful for this game. It looks, sounds and hopefully also plays great!

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Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:10 am
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