So after a month-long self-imposed sabbatical from blogging, I’m here again to talk about the final Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event, a.k.a. BWE3.
This time, ArenaNet decided to finally give us a glimpse on the final two races, Sylvari and Asura. Since I had pretty much decided my complete character plan for release, with the other three races set to become host of my first characters, playing these two additional races would be a nice distraction from the content I was really intent on playing, and a good chance to test the only two professions I never touched, just for kicks. Of course, things didn’t end up being so simple.
Expectation: a nice looking elven-like race. Reality: an awesome-looking, but still elven-like race.
Others went into more detail on why it’s hard to completely separate the Sylvari from the elven stereotype, and I agree with that assessment. The lore might be different and unique in its own way, but in essence they are still a bunch of holier-than-thou tree-huggers (they hug each other, right?) just like everything else this side of Lothlórien.
That said, I really enjoyed their visuals and customization options, and I’m now looking forward to playing one. Their environments are not my favorite, but are surely pretty.
By the way, right before the beta finale event started, me and Mrs. K found ourselves in the Sylvari area with our Asura characters, and doing the big meta-event there. Here is how that boss looks (the voice on the video is all Mrs. K’s, I didn’t have time to configure Bandicam correctly before recording so it didn’t capture mine).
Disclaimer: I hate, and have always hated short races in MMOs. I would refuse to play with Gnomes and Dwarves on World of Warcraft, and I only played with the Greenskin on Warhammer Online because the class I wanted (the Shaman) was only available with that race.
Oh, the Asura. I was so sure it would be my least favorite race of all. How could I be proved so wrong? I absolutely love these silly little gremlins. Their look, attitude, animations, structures, everything is absolutely spot-on. It is definitely on my top two favorite races on the game (it’s hard to beat the Charr).
At first I thought the weird animations would get old fast, but I never get tired of watching them struggle with the weight of their huge heads. This race is a love letter to 3D character animation; every game developer I ever criticized (ahem… The Secret World) for having poor or stiff character animations: please, go play Guild Wars 2 with the Asura. You’ll learn a trick or two.
Having tested these two final races makes me very pleased to say that there isn’t a single race on the game that I dislike. I have my preferences (Charr > Asura > Norn > Sylvari > Human), but even my least favorite has its charms. That in itself is a major selling point to this game.
There is one aside on the Asura initial area I should mention. Don’t read if you don’t want spoilers.
There is one event chain where you must help an Asura mad scientist (pleonasm alert) gather “test subjects” for an experiment on Skritt intelligence. Am I the only one that felt very conflicted about helping a race get enslaved by beating them half way to death? The weird feeling I got from this was only worsened by the dialog from the golem that holds the hostages after we beat them into submission, telling them “it will be alright now, just hold my hand” or something along those lines.
I thought it was incredibly disturbing to have an objective like this on Guild Wars 2, after hearing the developers say they didn’t want us to have “dark” dialog options because all content is made from the point of view of players being heroic. How could a hero allow something like this to happen? I have nothing against black comedy in games, and I enjoy being the bad guy when the situation requires, but there is a great conflict between the character the game tells us we are, and the events we are allowing to or helping transpire.
Warrior and Engineer
Since I only had two professions yet to give any time to, playing a Sylvari Warrior and an Asura Engineer was my plan for this BWE.
The Warrior is… fine, I suppose. It was pretty much what I expected of it: simple to play, very flexible with all the weapon choices, and… kinda boring. To me it feels like it lacks any complexity to make playing it interesting. If I was to recommend a good melee class, I would stick with the Ranger for agile and fun combat, or the Guardian for more deep array of support options.
The Engineer was another happy surprise, and by happy I mean it’s a blast. I expected to find micro-management hell, and instead got to a fire and explosions heaven! The lack of weapon choices can be worrying at first, but just makes the profession focused; once you start unlocking kits a large array of options opens up, and this gadget specialist shines bright. I really had a lot of fun with the engineer, and not only did it now replace the Mesmer on my top-5 list of professions to play on release, but it is on my top-3.
I expected to find micro-management hell, and instead got to a fire and explosions heaven!
When I look at all my options now, considering that I really enjoyed all races and so many professions held my interest, I’m no longer planning to pick simply my favorite race/class combo for the main character, but I will select from the five professions I enjoyed the most, and pick the race I feel fits better with each. That will stop me from creating a Charr Elementalist, a combination I always felt slightly uncomfortable about.
My current character plan looks like this:
- Charr Ranger
- Sylvari Elementalist
- Asura Engineer
- Norn Guardian
- Human Necromancer
The closing event was a very faithful and interesting parody of The Hunger Games. All players were sent to instanced versions of the Asura’s Metrica Province, dressed up the same, given the same weapons and a very limited supply of ammunition and food, and a “hunger” debuff that would constantly tick down our health. Both ammunition and food could be found around the word, but it was very rare.
Not my video, because my recording didn’t turn out really good.
What made the event unique is that everyone was separated into four large groups, and we could kill other players, and loot all the ammunition and food they had on them. Initially you would be respawing back at your corner home base. After an initial 10 minutes practice round, and 40 minutes into the actual event, death penalty kicked in. That means: you die, you’re out. Well, not exactly out, but you would get turned into a small robot that could help your team by dropping ammunition and pinging the location of enemies. It’s the ultimate cooperative last-man-standing game.
The complexity of the event, the huge arena and large number of players perhaps made the event run a little less than ideal, with a few complaining on how hard it was to find enemies, but that is secondary. What is really worth noting is how intricate are the events the game is capable of implement. I have never, ever done anything on such a large-scale on any game ever, and I’m very excited for what could be coming next.
ArenaNet has promised to keep new events coming after release on all areas and for all levels. Their ability to create this event to close this last BWE tells me this is not just an empty promise, it’s something they can truly deliver in a scale never seen in any MMO. It should be making every penny I spent on the Collector’s Edition worth.