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European Fan Day 2012 - Beta

A report on the beta of Guild Wars 2, made available the days of 2nd and 3rd of April 2012 in Brighton, Great Britain, where ArenaNet and NCSoft invited representatives of Guild Wars 2 fan sites from all around Europe.

Spis treści

Character creation and the beginning

Cooperation in PvE and PvP

Dungeons and Dragons

In Closing

Dungeons and Dragons

I couldn’t spend a lot of time sightseeing, because teams that were supposed to delve into the Ascalonian Catacombs were beginning to form. I jumped into the appropriate teleporter and, after speaking to a lovely NPC that boosted the tester’s level to 30 (the charming lady only needed to hear was that I was a member of the press) I could freely pick the abilities I found useful during the dungeon run.

Our party was a random mixture of five characters – an elementalist, a guardian, a thief and two necromancers. First contact with the enemies proved deadly, but we quickly adapted, stopped blindly setting off all the traps and vanquished foes one by one.

At this point I should mention the team chat system. It features an interesting innovation – besides the standard chat window, everything that a team member says appears in a bubble in the party window. Why is it so interesting? Well, when playing, I habitually look at the battlefield and the party window (tracking what party members do), so seeing what they say there helps noticing everything that is being said. This helps PUGs and parties not using voice chat.

Fighting is not the only thing awaiting parties in the dungeons of Guild Wars 2. There are also traps, and going around them is at times only one of possible solutions. The fire spitting gargoyles can be neutralized one by one, destroying them with abilities, but they can also be disarmed by finding the appropriate switch (and hoping for some salve for all the burns). You can also walk past them, trying to minimalize the damage taken. It all depends on the team’s attitude.

Bosses are the third aspect of dungeons. Fighting them usually requires a change of tactics and sometimes even modifying the skillbar. And once again, ArenaNet makes it easy – you can change your skillbar even in instanced dungeons, provided your character is out of combat. Another important thing the creators did was placing improvised weapons (like the ones mentioned earlier) in specific places of the dungeon. Thanks to them players are not forced to equip certain skills to utilize specific mechanics – unlike Guild Wars 1. All the effects needed to take on a foe (like knockdown or knockback) are available through the use of improvised weapons.

The boss, however, can kill you, and is eager to do so. However, if at least one person is still fighting it or the pause between entering combat is small, the rest of the party can die and respawn in the dungeon. If they manage to return to the battle quickly enough, they will only incur the death penalty or armor degeneration. On the other hand, if nobody engages the special enemy for a longer period of time, his health will regenerate and all the previous effort will be wasted. As Matthew said, ArenaNet does not wish to punish players for making mistakes. Yes, if you act to quickly or without thinking, you will need to start the fight from the beginning, but a single mistake should not force the team to redo the entire two hour dungeon from scratch. The latter is an option for masochists only, and the creators didn’t find it hard to give it up.

And what did I do during the dungeon crawl? I had a system crash :). If you look at the pictures published on ArenaNet’s twitter, you can see the situation. If there had been somebody recording the sound, what you would hear was “Umm, Aidan? I think I might have crashed”. “Yeah. You have crashed”. Despite me being the tem leader and the instance being “mine”, the rest of the party could go on without me, and I rejoined them about 2 minutes later. This is great news, especially if you remember the beginnings of Guild Wars 1. Here, we will have a working reconnect from the beginning. Yay!

Once we got a feeling of our roles, each new boss seemed easier. King Adelbern himself didn’t pose a huge challenge if we paid attention to what we were doing. And now, it’s time for another digression, this time about altitude. Because you can jump in GW2, you can also fall, and once you do, weather the fall proves deadly or not depends both on luck and your character’s abilities. For example, the necromancer can summon a toxic cloud while falling, which will even the odds when it comes to fighting opponents trying to push him over the edge or provide an advantage when attacking an unaware enemy from above. Thanks to this you really need to think in three dimensions.

So, even Adelbern had to submit to our swords and spells, and our happy company could then try our hand at doing the same dungeon again, this time in exploration mode instead of story mode. This was the first instance of end game content we came in contact with, and it had proven to be quite deadly. The location was designed for characters five levels above ours, so dying was commonplace.

Because of this I could see the death penalty system in action and find out how long it took before my armor stopped being useful. When a character dies too often, it incurs a death penalty similar to the one known from the first game – it respawns with less health. Additionally, the character’s armor degenerates, and if it does that too much it will require repairing before you’re allowed to wear it again. The destruction is not permanent and no piece of equipment can be destroyed by accident – unless the player decides to take it to pieces himself.

Another thing I learn during high level play was the importance of character placement. If you’re a caster, find a safe spot behind a wall, a protruding beam or a nearby fence. This way you’ll still be able to attack, while the enemies focus on characters in melee range. You can’t use this to exploit, however – if a mob is being attacked while not being able to attack back in any way it becomes immune to damage. This is why utilizing hiding spots works only if you team up with somebody who can meet the enemy face to face.