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During the last weekend in April I had access to the beta for Guild Wars 2. I am a fan of MMO’s, and have played a variety of other ones (Rift, WoW, Eve, LOTRO, STO, etc.) Now, Guild Wars 2 was a blast, it was a lot of fun, and is something that I eagerly look forward to. Here is some information about Guild Wars 2, what goes on, and how it is set up, for those of you that are not familiar with it.

In Guild Wars 2 there are 5 playable races; the feline and militaristic Charr, the shape changing tribal barbarian Norn, the Humans, the plantlike Sylvari, and the brilliant, though short, Asura. Before we go on though, the Asura remind me of World of Warcraft’s Gnomes. Both races are short, brilliant, and are known for their inventions and such. There are 8 professions (classes) in the game, all of which are fun in their own way. I tried out 3 classes that most interested me, in each of the 3 available races (Charr, Humans, Norn) during the beta. I played a mage for a long time (probably about 5 or 6 years) in World of Warcraft. The elementalist is a mix between a WoW Mage, and a WoW Shaman, in terms of feel. So, I had to try it out. I also tried out a Thief, and a Warrior. The other professions are Mesmer, Defender, Ranger, Necromancer, and Engineer. More info on them can be found here.

I heard from many people that the Charr were the one race they were looking forward to play as, and so that is what I made my elementalist. Talking cats, honestly, are amazing. To note, however, that unlike many games, the races in Guild Wars 2, don’t have racial qualities that make them better in one area over another. I know at level 30 the Norn learn to shapechange, but at level 30, everyone gets cool stuff.

Unlike in many MMO’s, where you might have multiple action bars filled with buttons for different abilities, Guild Wars 2 has 10 slots. That is it. From 1 to 0 on the keyboard, and that is all that you have for abilities. ` is the default for switching weapons, if your class has the ability to do so. So, this is an odd, but welcome change. We only really need those 10 slots to get what we want or need done. The slots are broken down in the same manner for everyone. The first 5 slots are abilities determined by the weapon(s) you are wielding. If you are holding a 2 handed weapon, all 5 slots are from that, but if you have a main hand and an off hand weapon, then your first 3 skills come from your main hand. While your off hand weapon determines your last 2 skills. This in mind, there is a bit of specializing that can be done to suit the playstyle of the player, or the way that the envision their character fighting.

Weapon Skills

More Weapon Skills

Slot 6 is a healing skill. Everyone has one. There are no “healers” in this game by the common definition of a healer in an MMO. Everyone regenerates their health out of combat at an extremely quick pace, and everyone has a heal skill, that scales with level. Slots 7-9 are utility skills, and these can be a variety of abilities, from signets that provide a passive bonus, but can be activated for a different effect, to cantrips which have a specific effect. There are also Glyphs, which do something else entirely. Guild Wars 2 has a fair amount of options for everyone. Slot 0 is an elite skill with a long cooldown that does something amazing. Slots 1-5 are available at level 1, or 2, depending on what you are wielding. Slot 6 I believe is available at level 3. Slot 7 at level 5, slot 8 at 10, and I don’t recall when slot 9 becomes available. Slot 0 becomes available at level 30, when everyone gets their cool ability. I believe Norn can shapechange, my elementalist can turn into a tornado… or summon a fiery greatsword. Cool things all around, though.

Slots 6 (Healing Skill), 7-9 (Utility Skills), and 0 (Elite Skill – Currently equipped one turns me into a tornado)

Another aspect of customization is traits. There are no “talent trees” in this game. Instead, there are traits. At level 10 you get one trait point, and get a new one every level until max level, which is 80. You can put these in several different lines. For the elementalist, there is a Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Arcana line. Fire focuses on offense, Water on Healing, Air on critting, Earth on defense, and Arcana is a general class as a whole line, rather than something specific. Before I go on, however, I must talk about stats.

Unlike other games, where stats can largely make or break your character, things are simpler in this game. There are 4 stats, Power (which affects all outgoing damage), Vitality (affects your health), Toughness (affects your defense), and Precision (affects your chance to crit). It is these 4 main stats which affect mostly everything in the game. There are other stats which might only come into play with enhancements to your gear. The equivalent in World of Warcraft is jewels from jewelcrafting. These enhancements give you bonus stats, that allow you to focus your character in a direction, even moreso than your traits, and skills. Some of these minor stats include healing power (affects outgoing healing), boon duration (buff duration), condition damage, and crit damage. In the game, many skills inflict a condition on your target. Some of these conditions are burning (taking damage over time), Chilled (reduced attack speed), Vulnerability (lower defense), and crippled (reduced movement speed).

You can put at most 30 trait points into one line. At max level, everyone will have 70 points to spend, so some combinations include; maxing 2 lines at 30 and having one line to 10, maxing one line to 30, and having 10 points in the other 4 lines, or something else entirely. There are a lot of ways to build your character, and it is up to you to decide how you want it.

The trait lines are broken down like this: Every 5 points spent in the line gives you something. At 5, 15, and 25 you get a static increase, such as 5% more damage. At 10, 20, and 30, you can choose from a list of about 12 different abilities to choose something that fits your style. One such ability in the Water line for elementalists is for all auras that I create to also affect allies near me. Quite useful in pvp when suddenly everyone gets an aura that stuns the next person that attacks them.

Another things that is present are achievements. Completing achievements, grants experience, which is amazing, in my opinion. There are daily, monthly, PVE, and PVP achievements. You get points for completing achievements, though I believe it is just an arbitrary value that has no other value than to visually represent the amount of achievements achieved.

So, the game is like other mmo’s in some aspects, but different in others. I spent the weekend playing around with it, and trying pvp out. I traveled around to different areas, and will cover misc stuff and pvp in another article. The beta ended monday morning at 2 am. Or so I thought, at least. When 2:00 am came on Monday there was a closing beta event. In one of the starter areas, critters spawned and everyone had to hunt critters for glory. There was an epic critter hunt, leading up to a tremendous battle against a legendary white rabbit. There were about 400 or so players attacking this rabbit. At the end, about half the people dc’d because of all the spell effects and mayhem. While that was believed to be the end of the event (there was a timer counting down). The developers (Arena Net), changed the time from 0:00 to 72650.3. Now, that is a huge number, and there proceeded to be a murder train of about 2-300 characters exploring the entire zone, killing critters (which were harder to kill than your average creature), and boss moas (which looked like chocobos, sort of. A cross between a chocobo and a plainstrider) We traveled around killing critters and moas. We (that is, many of the players, myself included in the local chat) called it a murder train. We traveled around murdering birds and critters. It was amazing. One guy was a commander (will discuss in pvp article), and was leading the train to each spawn of the Champion Bloodthirsty Black Moa.


One Comment

  1. Best Guild Wars 2 article on a blog i have read so far, i have subscribed you dude. Anyone who is considering to buy gw2, should go buy or trade themself to a beta key or renting a gw2 account from , this game is so awesome man, release it!

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