Guild Wars 2: The Last Great Beta Weekend…

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!

Character Creation
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.

Who’s a handsome boy, then?
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

And who glows in the dark, eh?
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Why, hello…
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Constipated Human in Guild Wars 2

Personal Story
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.
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Dynamic Events
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 πŸ™‚

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.

Aqua Cats?
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3
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.

Ahhh, but…
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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ™‚

The strangest Victoria’s Secret shoot ever…
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Jumping puzzle, anyone?
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

To the bottom of the sea…
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

A hunting we will go…
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Bio-luminescence is oosum!
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Look at that view!
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

One big bird…
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

…and one very strange look in the final event!
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3

So damn handsome!
Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend 3


  1. Ah… great minds and all that… is it possible to post a picture in the comments section? I think you’d have a laugh at what my sylvari looked like…

    Suffice to say, I really liked the customization choices you made. πŸ˜‰
    (Some differences in coloring, but same face and “hair” selections… mine was a guardian for an article I wrote over at GWI… there were a couple of other face options that were also appealing to me, but I really like the more “alien” looking ones.)

    I managed to get through three jumping puzzles this last weekend, but not without a fair amount of falls and perseverance. Your comment about sharing the experience is right on point I think, and would definitely mitigate some of the frustration… it might even interject a fair amount laughter into the foibles, and that’s always a good thing.

    The starter area for the sylvari and The Grove were simply delicious eye candy. It felt like walking through an artist’s concept drawing of some of the tales my Irish grandmother use to tell me long, long ago. Fantastic stuff…

    I decided to stay away from much of the asura this last BWE, but couldn’t resist taking a peek, and it confirmed that they will comprise the majority of my many characters. However, my experience of the sylvari was very nice, and at least one (possibly two) of my characters will be plant folk.

    I’m afraid I must confess to already having spent $35 on gems during this last BWE because I knew I would be buying some extra character slots… I also purchased the original GW and with a pleasant bit of luck discovered that the name Archer Avatar was not already taken. I’ve created a character of that name to “lock it in” and will likely name a sylvari or human thief that during the headstart on August 25th. My sylvari necro will be named Vu Ju (also already locked in) so you should be able to contact me in-game after launch… there will be an engineer, guardian, and elementalist asura for certain in my roster, but the names I’m hoping to give those are single word, and therefore not possible to lock in prior to the headstart… still undecided on race for the warrior.

    There was also a fateful daliance with the crafting systems of GW2 for me this last weekend, and it seems that will be yet another rabbit hole I will be falling down after launch. I’ve never much enjoyed crafting in other MMOs… I’ve done it in a couple of them out of necessity, but never really enjoyed the experience.
    I looked into it this last weekend with all of the enthusiasm of a child approaching chores, only to discover that it was actually fun. Leave to ArenaNet to finally come up with a way to remove the drudgery from MMO crafting and to actually make it an interesting strategy game of sorts.

    I also got honest with myself on another score this last BWE. Although I will undoubtedly pursue an interest in PvP and WvW at some point with vigor, for the first period of time after launch I’m going to be completely lost in the wonder of the PvE portion of the game. There is simply so much lore, content and interesting settings in the PvE parts of GW2 that I will likely be almost exclusively distracted with it for at least a little while. Eventually I will begin to dabble with the other parts of the game too, but in the early going it’s all going to be about exploring Tyria for me.

    1. Hi mate – I had no idea you were writing over at GWI (here’s the link for anyone looking for you there: I’ll be sure to read & comment later today πŸ™‚

      The WoddenPotates & MagicalMike youtubes showing the fun they had jumping is just further proof that GW2 is a highly social game and I need to branch out (bwahahahaha) and get myself in a Guild or three.

      I didn’t explore the Grove too much – I pushed out into the wider forest so that I would have all the cities bar Divinity’s Reach left to explore after release. I’m actually seriously considering getting a new rig with a i5 quad-core and nVidia 4(or 5)60GTX. Not sure of the old wonga situation but I might be able to swing it πŸ˜€

      Your news on the crafting greatly cheers me! In LOTRO I had a circle of crafting with 4 alts at level 20ish that provided my 3 other main guys with lovely armour & weapons. Only trouble is they never got past their early 20s so became useless unless ground through more levels. Now in GW2 the XP for crafting means any crafting alts will actually progres in the game rather than stagnate meaning I’m far more likely to actually play them as opposed to using them as inventory mules & slave labour πŸ˜€

      And I’m with you – PvE in GW2 is just so bloody amazing!

      1. I’m not a regular author, but Centurion (who normally writes the Guardian profession articles there) asked me to chip in since they were short handed. I was flattered, and honored, and did the best I could, which hopefully didn’t stand out too badly from the other high quality work those folks put out on a regular basis.
        It’s odd… I have no qualms about expressing an opinion in the comments section of a blog, or in a post on some forums, but it felt quite a bit different, and much more serious, to be writing an article that was intended for the main page of a website. I’ve never done that sort of thing before.
        So far, there have only been positive comments posted on it, and Centurion was one of those, so I was happy he didn’t feel like I let him down.

        I’ve since proceeded to expel any number of other lengthy posts on various topics in the forums of that site without so much as a hesitant thought… silly old bastard eh?

  2. Ah! Love it all! Handsome fellow, that he is! Oh and I have you in my contact list! πŸ™‚ I tried sending you a ‘whisper’ on Monday, I think it was, but I’m not sure if you got it or may be you were too busy fighting all those beasties out there to see it. I did send you my handle ID (through email) so you’ll know it’s me. If you didn’t get it tell me so I’ll send it to you again! πŸ™‚

    I’ve already locked in my 3 names: Norn Ranger – Skuld Asvor, Sylvari Necro – Selir Wildspirit, Asura Ele – Qamar Kwinta and the other two haven’t decided yet……I mean I know what they are – Charr Engineer and Human Guardian, but haven’t got the names figured out yet!

    Yeah, the sylvari are just fab! It was love a first sight for me and having the echos of the Arthurian legend……well that just takes the biscuit! This game just feels so good and knowing that there are still so many things I have’t experienced yet just thrills me pink!

    And the puzzles! I just go wild for those jumping puzzles, may be because I’m a Tomb Raider addict, but puzzles in a game just seals the deal for me. I know I’m going to have a splendid time doing them – frustration and all! πŸ˜€ ……and as Archer mentioned before me, I will definitely be lost in the lore and exploration of Tyria before jumping into WvWvW and sPvP. And anyway it’s better to go into those areas of the game when you’re higher in level because eventhough you’re levelled up to 80, your skills won’t be as strong if you’re at a lower level in PVE.

    Oh bring on the excitement as I calmly sit here waiting for 25th August…….oh let’s party! πŸ˜€

    1. Blimey! I have no idea why I didn’t get your message but I’ll lay good money on the fact I don’t actually understand the comms system in GW2 – I didn’t in GW1 either! It seems so different to LOTRO’s.

      I’ll be out of the country until the 28th so I won’t be in world until, at the earliest, the night of the 28th. Do you have a twitter account? I’m @hbahimself and I could tweet you when I’m in-world πŸ˜€

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