4 Years in the Making: Finally Playing Guild Wars 2
By Daelin Dwin
Like many, since Guild Wars 2’s first announcement four years ago I have wanted to play it. Now that dream has been realised with the still surprising appearance of Guild Wars 2 and the London Eurogamer Expo. Coincidently I got to play the game four times over the two days I was there, and I shall now explain my experiences and thoughts of the game.
I decided very early on I would want my main to be a human warrior, and given the human demo was a tutorial and starter zone it was a pretty good choice for playing Guild Wars 2 for the first time. I managed to film this playthrough in its entirety, so I shall just explain my thoughts on the game.
It was fun. Combat was smooth as eggs despite the demo machine being laggy (it was later reset). I defeated some villainous bandits, put out some fires and discovered the harsh realities of weapon proficiencies.
From my understanding, weapon proficiencies for warriors include hammer and greatsword being unlocked at level 10 and off-hand axe, mace and sword being unlocked at level 20.
I was then promptly owned by the Broodmother and decided to try out my personal story. In Divinity’s Reach I found these super-helpful Guide NPCs who gave directions around the city, marking certain NPCs on the map (more on them later). In my personal instance there was a tour guide who started giving a tour of my home instance, explaining history and stuff. But sadly I couldn’t stay with him for long, so I went off and defeated Big Nose Ted and his gang. Then, after a cutscene, my demo timer ended. And I was left feeling one thing: I really must play again.
Returning on Sunday I decided I would see what high-level stuff was like, and as sylvari was the closest thing I could get to human, I chose them. Having a full bar was a huge jump from the starter area gameplay. I chose my beloved greatsword and rifle combination and went off killing monsters.
Combat was once again smooth as eggs, but the Orrian undead’s knockdown chains were a little frustrating. I found a good tactic was using Whirlwind Attack to get some damage and distance between me and the enemy, then to turn around and use Bladetrail to damage them as they approached me. On the coastline where the Ash Horizon event occurs I also aimed my Whirlwind Attack at the trebuchets to trap the attacking undead in a whirly storm of death.
I later took to the water where I was eaten by a giant undead shark, multiple times. I then saw the special demo event thing appear, and with 3 minutes left decided to see if I could get Tequatl to land on me. I got pretty close but didn’t get up the hill in time.
Facing Tequatl in person is much more epic than any video can display. I also discovered that shouts are actually vocalised, at least to yourself, which is nice.
The thief was a little trickier than the warrior, balancing out your initiative use can be tough, and Steal was a bit difficult to time. While with the warrior I picked up the basic idea of how to play in a few minutes, it took around half my demo time before I was confident with the thief. Headshot seemed to be the return of the beloved interrupt people thought was missing in Guild Wars 2. With a very quick cast time and a one-second daze (which interrupts), I can’t really see it being much use for anything else.
I don’t consider myself enough of a thief expert to critique it any further, so will just talk about other shenanigans that happened. After saving a Vigil Camp, a reward NPC appeared and was selling armour. I thought I would buy a full set anyway just to see what it looked like even though the stats were worse. I was disappointed to find it looked exactly like the starter armour, but this may just be placeholder stuff. I also switched to my town clothing, which disables your weapons, but still lets you use environmental ones. Although after attacking with one you switch into your normal armour.
Human Warrior 2: Revenge of the Crafting
I decided, given I had one final playthrough, I would mess with the crafting system for as long as possible. Speed-running through character creation and the Shaemoor tutorial, I set out to try and find the crafting NPCs. I used the directional NPCs I mentioned earlier, and while they didn’t lead me to the crafting NPCs (turns out they were already marked on), they did confirm that the Xunlai Guild are back in town and still storing items. While they wouldn’t store any for me in the demo, they were still there. I also payed a visit to the marketplace (across the road from the Xunlai agents) but they too were not in service.
I eventually found the crafting area, and thus began around 20 minutes of intense crafting action. In the weaponsmith discipline crafting was pretty simple but with some sneaky depth. Basically each weapon consists of two parts; let’s use a sword as the example. Firstly I had to refine some tin and copper ore to make Bronze Ingots, and then I used those ingots to discover a bunch of components. Eventually I had made both a Bronze Sword Hilt and a Bronze Sword Blade. Combining the two gave me a Bronze Sword.
Then I spotted I had a bunch of claws, horns and other random things, and decided to combine a Bronze Sword Hilt and Blade together with a fang. This created a Sharp Bronze Sword, which had the same damage as the Bronze Sword but gave me a bonus in Power.
Other components gave bonuses in other attributes and I even managed to make a shield I couldn’t use until level 10. My only complaint about the crafting system was having to run back and forth between a forge and a workbench. The forge was used for making Bronze Ingots and the weapon pieces, while the workbench was used for piecing together the weapons and for refining wood. The icons for the crafted weaponry also didn’t match their actual skins, but I assume they are placeholders.
The game is fun, undoubtedly and undeniably fun. It is very different from Guild Wars 1, but a good kind of different. Even crafting, which is normally a chore in MMOs, was fun; within 20 minutes I had already made an entirely new weapon set. My only complaints were small, easily fixable things. The dodge meter allows you to dodge twice before it recharges, but it is very unclear at a glance if you are ready to dodge again. I also found some enemy attacks hard to spot and therefore hard to time dodges accordingly. The personal story star burst thing also doesn’t specify if you are above or below the objective, not very helpful on a multi-story building. I also feel character creation is pretty lacking, but was told it was still a pretty early version of it. But those minor problems didn’t ruin that fact that Guild Wars 2 is everything I wanted it to be and more.
Did you get to try and play the demo? If so, what did you think of it yourself? If not, what are you most excited for to try out yourself?