Guild Wars 2 preview

The next phase in Guild Wars 2's beta has begun. The final beta phase will introduce players to the last of the game's two playable races, the Asura and Sylvari, and we got some play time with the Asura.

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The final phase of the Guild Wars 2 beta has begun, introducing players to the game's last two playable races, the Asura and Sylvari. NCSoft's Mike Zadorojny took me on a tour through the first 20 minutes of the Asura story line and showed off how much has changed since the first Guild Wars. Guild Wars veterans will remember the Asura as the long-eared, mechanically inventive people that made their debut as non-player characters in the Eye of the North expansion. As is the case with the other races, choosing to play as an Asura will put players deep in Asuran lore, as they learn the history of their people since the events of the first game. Before diving into the game, NCSoft showed off GW2's deep character creator. Facial features can be adjusted to nearly any proportion, within reason. A notable aspect of Asura customization is that their trademark long ears can be whittled down to mere nubs. Armor can be customized with over 200 different shades of 21 different colors. After designing a character, the player is directed to customize their personal story, one of GW2's most distinctive new features. These questions are akin to a personality profile and choices here help determine how NPCs will react to a player's character. Players can also fill in their own backstory through a series of race-specific multiple-choice questions, which leads to a customized opening cutscene. Players will find themselves making dialogue decisions through the game, which will impact their personal story. However, anyone choosing to fully play alongside a friend can make joint decisions, with the second player having the option to select all decisions made by their friend. The game started off amongst the Asura civilization, where their primary inventions, the golems, have started to run amok. After some of the NPC scouts helpfully gave an overview of the area, it was time to start fighting. The Asura quickly took to battle against the rampaging golems, giving Zadorojny a chance to show off GW2's combat system. Combat is noticeably more active than the more-static fighting of the first game. The Asura here were constantly moving, hitting their enemies with skills specifically designed to be used while on-the-run. The player's first five skills are dependent on their weapon, with three utility skills and an elite skill made available for purchase at later levels. GW2's level cap is at 80, with a flat curve of required XP from level-to-level, as opposed to a traditional exponential system. Many of the traditional party elements have changed in Guild Wars 2. Of particular note is that there is no longer a dedicated healer. Players must now depend on their own skills to heal, leaving more room for offensive and defensive roles. Those players that do end up losing all their health can resort to a different set of "downed skills" to give them a fighting chance for survival. Surviving is not guaranteed, however, and any more punishment can result in full-on defeat. Fortunately, other players have plenty of incentive to pick up fallen allies, since resurrecting now rewards XP. Helping your party extends beyond resurrections. Zadorojny noted that players will be encouraged to help each other out throughout the persistent world of GW2. Good Samaritans that opt to assist other players with some of the game's tougher enemies will be rewarded for their efforts, as all players involved in the kill will be rewarded the same amount of XP without division. This is done in order to make encounters more exciting and to provide a sense of unity amongst players.

Pairing up to fight tougher enemies will be rewarding for all involved.

Those looking for diversions will find that each of the lands offer a number of side-missions. One of the Asura side missions involved a mini-game featuring remote control mini-golems, playing atop a board game-style setting. Other diversions include finding vistas, which will trigger a cinematic that shows off a piece of the land's terrain. Completing these side-missions can result in the acquisition of karma, which is an alternative form of currency that can unlock special items from karma merchants. These items range from useful to silly. Zadorojny noted that one item would turn the player into a jackelope for three minutes, showing that GW2 is retaining their sense of playfulness that made the first game so charming. In terms of lore, expect to see several allusions to the first game. For example, players will run into Queen Jennah, who is the descendant of GW's heroic Queen Salma. Players may also see spectral images of White Mantle soldiers eternally locked in battle with the Shining Blade. In terms of specifics, however, Zadorojny and the NCSoft crew steered away from revealing upcoming story lines, only noting that we would soon learn more about the Elder Dragons and their place in the GW2 world. Finally, fans of GW's holiday events will be happy to learn that they will be returning for GW2. A live team has been put together specifically for content updates and holiday events. Zadorojny revealed that the Mad King Thorn will be making his triumphant return this Halloween, only this time, he'll be fully voiced. Guild Wars 2 is set to release on August 28 on PC. Anyone that has pre-ordered the game, however, will get early access on August 25.
This Guild Wars 2 preview was based on a demo of the game by the publisher.
Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 23, 2012 12:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Guild Wars 2 preview.

    The next phase in Guild Wars 2's beta has begun. The final beta phase will introduce players to the last of the game's two playable races, the Asura and Sylvari, and we got some play time with the Asura.

    • reply
      July 23, 2012 12:07 PM

      shouldnt that have been posted on friday?

      "The next phase in Guild Wars 2's beta has begun"

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        July 23, 2012 12:12 PM

        Went through a few edits over the weekend, so it should indeed read "has come and gone."

        I do wish it was still going, though. The Sylvari are pretty neat.

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          July 23, 2012 12:21 PM

          never got around to playing the Sylvari :(

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            July 23, 2012 2:03 PM

            I did! I'm actually a first time player of the series. A friend of mine talked me into getting it and finally got my first chance to try it this weekend and Sylvari was the race I chose immediately because they just plain looked neat, and its not the usual race I would take. Their starting area is pretty gorgeous but their home is a bit frustrating at first. It's like five levels and you can get pretty lost in it. lol

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              July 23, 2012 2:47 PM

              The Charr home city is the same way.

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                July 23, 2012 11:27 PM

                I found the Sylvari home city much more confusing than the Black Citadel.. Maybe coz everything is greeeeeen!

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            July 23, 2012 2:14 PM

            I did. I never really got into the first GW and this was my first Beta weekend for GW2. I jumped in Sylvari knowing they are a new playable race and thought this is where a lot of people will be, which was correct. But to be honest after a few hours of playing i was actually getting really frustrated and lost. Anyway the next day I was tossing up on whether to go back to GW2 or play something else and decided I would give it another go, but roll another toon. So I rolled a Charr Engineer and never looked back. I found the Charr to be a lot more fun, the world less confusing. I did obviously take a little more knowledge in this time around then when I rolled the Sylvari which helped, but all in all I didnt really enjoy the Sylvari that much. Just my 2 cents :)

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      July 23, 2012 2:18 PM

      Are either of those the frog people?

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        July 23, 2012 2:49 PM

        Frog peeps are strictly NPC's at this point. You seem them in WvW and can get them to fight for you.

        Perhaps we'll get to try frogs & birdbrains in an expansion pack.

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        July 23, 2012 2:51 PM

        The Asura are the floppy-eared people from Eye of the North and the Sylvari are a whole new race that emerged 25 years before the events of the game.

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      July 23, 2012 5:18 PM

      Have they fixed the super-laggy mouse look/camera control yet? Last time I got a chance to try the GW2 beta it was so bad that I could barely bring myself to continue playing.

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        July 23, 2012 5:38 PM

        The first night I played I didn't notice the mouselook being janky at all, but the second night it was completely floaty and terrible.

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        July 24, 2012 6:49 AM

        not sure what you are talking about, i played all 3 beta weekends, never had a problem with mouse or the view camera... Frame rate on the other hand wasn't that great