Recapping Guild Wars 2 Second Open Beta Event.

by: Sean Cahill -
Back in April, I was lucky enough to make a trip up to Bellevue, Washington, to meet with the good people at ArenaNet and NC Soft to get a hands-on look at Guild Wars 2.  I took away a lot of information from the event and then opted not to write about the first OBE, considering that I was just a few days removed from the media event.  This past weekend concluded the second OBE for Guild Wars 2, and I made a nice list of major points, both good and bad, instead of just rambling on about the game itself.  Consider this a Cliff's Notes for the second OBE.
Back in April, I was lucky enough to make a trip up to Bellevue, Washington, to meet with the good people at ArenaNet and NC Soft to get a hands-on look at Guild Wars 2.  I took away a lot of information from the event and then opted not to write about the first OBE, considering that I was just a few days removed from the media event.  This past weekend concluded the second OBE for Guild Wars 2, and I made a nice list of major points, both good and bad, instead of just rambling on about the game itself.  Consider this a Cliff's Notes for the second OBE.


THE GOOD:

- Graphics

The game is gorgeous.  There is no other way to put it, especially when I can tell a gamer that the game still looks gorgeous even on low graphical settings.  My gaming PC sports an i5-2500k processor and a GTX 560 graphics card.  Testing it out on the various preset graphic settings, I can tell you that if you are even forced to go with "Best Performance," the game still looks amazing.


- Real-time events

ArenaNet has continued to tell everyone that this game is not the typical MMO.  I even referred to this as the "anti-MMO MMO," if that makes any sense at all.  Quests are not picked up by NPCs, though you must be in the area to pick up on them.  An NPC is certainly going to give a gamer a reward and things to buy upon completion of the events, but what truly separates this MMO from others is that simply roaming through a world and coming across an event happening in real-time is a treat.  If an NPC starts yelling out "The centaurs are attacking" then there are going to be centaurs attacking a village and not just milling around somewhere nearby.  There are consequences to failling an event, and it varies from event to event.


- Level scaling system

In other MMOs, when a high level player goes to help out a lower level player, two things happen:  The high level player kills the experience gained and the low level player really doesn't do anything.  Guild Wars 2 eliminates both of these issues by using an auto-scaling system.  It keeps the game challenging throughout, no matter where an adventurer goes.  Some people complained about this simply because they wanted to roam free in the lower level areas, but I love it.  No area is safe, and that's the way it should be.


- Overflow Server

To eliminate queues for players wanting to play, ArenaNet has included overflow servers that allow players to still play the game while they wait to get into the primary server that they are in.  I experienced this for probably a good two or three hours of the time I was logged in, and the beauty of the system is that any player can join another in a group and then opt to go join them in the overflow.



THE BAD:


- Crashes

In the three days that I played in the OBE, I accumulated 17 client crashes.  Now, it has to be stressed that I expect these things to happen in an OBE.  Still, that's a lot of crashes, but the feedback that is sent along will eliminate these issues.


- Underwater Fighting

This is strictly my opinion, but to take a little tongue-in-cheek quote from Yogi Berra, I found underwater fighting to be like attempting to eat soup with chopsticks.  Depth perception can be quite difficult to master, especially in larger bodies of water.



RANDOM NOTES 


- The OBE ended at 3:00 AM EDT on Monday.  The event to close things out involved just about everyone online attempting to kill a level 80 Champion while everyone else was in between levels 10-30.  It was futile, to say the least, but very fun and chaotic.

- I'm warming up to the way the storyline is done via cutscene.  Instead of having it live at the area, an artistic background is put up with the player's character and the NPC interacting with each other.

- The skill system is simple and enjoyable.  Five skills per weapon armed and five specific skills that are customizable keeps things fresh and easy.  The players I spent most of my time with raved about the ease of use of the system.

- Still no release date.  Even with how well this OBE went, there were plenty of bugs that I came across.  Do not listen to any other rumors, random images, postings, etc.  ArenaNet and NC Soft will tell us when it will be released.  Their website says that it will be determined based on beta-testing feedback.  Depending on how many bugs were found this past weekend, I still think there is some work that is to be done.  I would be surprised if it came out before August, and that is strictly my opinion and a shot in the dark guess.
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