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.