Guild Wars 2 Final Beta Weekend

So last night was the first time I got to play Guild Wars 2. I’ve
already preordered the Digital Deluxe Edition, and based on last
night’s experience, it was money well spent.

My first character I rolled up was a Norn Ranger. I loved the “My
Story” portion of character creation, and it was seamlessly integrated
into the rest of the process. The Norn are huge, hulking giants with an
extremely Norse flavor to them. The word “norn” itself is directly
lifted from Norse mythology. That had my attention from before I even
played the game, but it was greatly evident once I logged in that Norse
mythology has influenced every facet of the Norn race. It was a great
experience.

The Ranger class proved to be a lot of fun. I started the game with an
alpine wolf companion, and tamed a raven and an ice drake later on. I
encountered a bug where, once I’d tamed a third creature, it took the
name I’d given to my first. Switching them around fixed that (I LOVE
being able to hot-swap pets). I tried three different weapon types with
the Ranger – longbow, shortbow, and axe. Of the three, longbow was
definitely my favorite, and the Barrage skill was far and away my
favorite of the longbow set of skills. An AoE storm of arrows falling
from the sky? Yes please.

After doing several tasks (quests) and participating in a number of
Events (kind of like public quests from Warhammer Online), I veered off
into the realm of exploration. Guild Wars 2 actively rewards
exploration, by placing “Undiscovered Vistas” throughout the game
world. These Vistas are jumping puzzles that reward completion with XP
and a cinematic pan around the area.

During my exploration of the Norn areas, I stumbled on something that
stole my attention for a good half hour – Keg Brawl. It’s a little like
football meets soccer meets a tavern brawl, where the “ball” is a keg
of ale. It has rounds, but the players can drop in and out at any time,
and it tries to balance the teams. Keg Brawl was a little frustrating at
first, but once I figured out the abilities, it got to be fun.

I also tried out an Asura Elementalist and a Charr Thief for a little
bit, but I didn’t really play them long enough to evaluate them
properly. Unlike with my Norn character, I blew through character
creation and just got into the game, ignoring the Story choices. I’ve
already decided that my main at launch will be a Norn, so I didn’t
really want to know much about the other races’ stories.

The experience was pretty smooth, with very few glitches. However, there
was one bug that proved very irritating. Every so often, I would try and
interact with the login server (either to create a new character or to
attempt to logout), and it would fail to connect to it. That in itself
would have been fine, but then I would be unable to logout, unable to
quit the program, and whenever I opened the Windows Task Manager to try and kill GW2, the entire computer would lock up. Only a hard reset would fix the issue.

They really need to fix that problem, and I’m sure they will. But the
game itself is a blast so far.