And so endeth the last beta test for Guild Wars 2 and more than ever before it has left me somewhat desperate to play the final game when it’s released in August. Out of all the tests over the last few months that was the one where, finally, everything came together, coalesced into a feeling of understanding that allowed me to really, truly, enjoy the game. Well, apart from the frigging jumping puzzles but more of those later. This time around I played (along with everyone else it seemed!) a Sylvari and by gum it was fun!
The character creator was a blast and I easily made a very cool looking guy who managed to avoid the constipated look that plagues the humans.
I deliberately didn’t undertake any of the personal story as I really, really want to save that for launch but I have to say I’m very excited to see a strong Celtic/Arthurian theme to the Sylvari. I’m so going to chase that white stag in August as I’ve been dying to write a tale about just such a quest since the very earliest days of writing about my old backpack.
The Starter Area
Unlike the other races who all start in the ‘real’ world of Tyria, the Sylvari start their adventures fast asleep, tucked up in their Body Snatcher-like seedpods and yet wide awake in their shared pre-birth experience known as The Dream. Still, despite the recumbent nature of their start, the Sylvari’s training area shares one thing in common with everyone else’s – it wastes no time in getting you into the heart of the action and in no time at all I was in a pitched battle with an amazing looking tree dragon! My only regret is not spending longer exploring the ghostly images of information flowing into the Dream and the teachings of Ventari but I shall make sure to rectify that upon launch.
Oh lordy these were fun! Partly it was me being more organised and better used to the mechanics (the mouse and keypad combo just came right back to me, something I was very happy about!) and partly it was down to some tweaking by Arenanet, but the dynamic events flowed so well. They never overwhelmed, they never vanished into the background, they seemed to happen at just the right time and throw in enough variety to keep me entertained throughout. Some were funny, some were serious, some were exciting and all were bloody good fun! I still find the events system the single biggest selling point in this game for me. Exciting, fun stuff just happens wherever I am and that beats endlessly grinding my way through LOTRO any night of the week.
Vistas & Jumping Puzzles
As I’ve said I kept away from the personal story and concentrated instead on enjoying dynamic events and exploring. Aside from the joy of finding the new vistas in the world (I’m addicted to them, it’s official) I also had a pop at the jumping puzzle near the start and boy did it frustrate the bejesus out of me! I don’t so much mind the falling off and repeating sections, but having to repeat the whole damn thing just drove me mad! I can easily see me giving up on the more difficult ones because I just can’t stand wasting two hours on a different kind of grind. Two hours, you ask. Shurley shome mishtake! Nope, just take a look at some of Wooden Spud’s videos where he and Magic Mike show the kind of will power I don’t even have the will power to imagine. Still, for all their frustrations they are a rather cool addition to the world.
Alone in a crowd…
I am beginning to realise just how important being in a guild, or number of guilds I suppose I should say, is going to be when the game launches. I was actually quite lonely in this beta weekend and I longed to go off exploring with a mate or two, especially if we could have tackled the jumping puzzles together as then I think the frustration would not have got to me quite as much. If anyone wants to adopt a casual explorer type and paitently explain how the chuff guild chat works then please think of me
As an aside I *did* actually join a guild this weekend – someone randomly invited me so I joined and then never heard a damn thing from the dozen or so members for the rest of the beta! I tried typing in /guild but got nothing back. This actually mirrors my one an only experience with a guild in Guild Wars 1 where someone randomly invited me and then went totally silent! Now in LOTRO the Guild/Kin I was in was really cool & full of very chatty, very helpful fun folks but so far I don’t seem to be able to replicate this experience in either of Arenanet’s games. How odd.
Now let me ask you what you think is wrong with that picture. Exactly! How the chuff is Archie the Jungle Cat breathing underwater, eh? I hope this gets sorted out soon as it just looks bloody silly.
Final Event – Hunger Royale!
Ahhh, the now-legendary final event of a beta test. I had missed all the others and so took time off work just to be there for the dragon brand attack. Only thing is I got some weird kind of PvP event instead! Boy was I disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the event was a good event but I don’t really like PvP (mainly cos I’m crap and die all the time which is not much fun) so this held zero interest for me. Still, if you like PvP then you would have liked this type of event. Don’t believe me? Let a man made of biscuit tell you about it instead.
Ohhh I don’t know, what more can I say? The combat was fun, the events were fun, the jumping puzzles were (eventually) fun. The entire game is just bloody good fun and I can’t wait to get in it for real. This was the first test where I started and immediately found my feet – I could handle the skills and fights and quests without thinking about them too hard and that was a very welcome development as I had begun to worry that I would never ‘sync up’ to this game and therefore never really enjoy playing it. Consequentially this was also the first test where I left not just enthused by the beta tests but sated with them and wanting the game to be released so I could get on with it without having to stop. Enough foreplay I say, I’m oiled and ready and just want to get down to some serious lurve making, Arenanet.
What? You want me to be picky? Sigh. Ok… Let me see. Jumping puzzles can be frustrating. Lots of people turn a fight into a particle storm. I have no idea how guilds work. And that’s about it I think. Honestly. There is still a lot to do to optimise the graphics and engine but apart from that it runs like a dream even on my old system (triple core CPU with an old nVidia 260GTX card). There just isn’t much I can find wrong with this game – its just great fun
Oooo, look at that!
I’ll leave you with a few choice pictures from my flickr stream and I hope they tempt you to meet me in Tyria in a few short weeks