Last month I shared what I learned during the first Guild Wars 2 press beta weekend. Now the student becomes the master as I tackle the questions Kotaku posed had about the eagerly anticipated massively-multiplayer game after spending another beta weekend adventuring in the world of Tyria.
The second Guild Wars 2 beta weekend has come and gone, beginning with characters created and ending with an Asuran invasion of the human city of Divinity's Reach, the tiny brainiacs and their towering golem companions swarming through mystical portals, crashing computers and killing frame rates at an alarming rate.
Since I answered so many of my own questions the first time around, last week I asked Kotaku readers what topics they wanted addressed in the second weekend event. Here I present the answers to as many of those as I could address in the limited time I had to play.
There were questions I couldn't address. The Sylvari and Asura remain unplayable, so questions regarding those races will have to wait. Some of the more technical questions (how do certain builds affect damage output) I feel are best left for those with the time and inclination to find out for themselves.
Ready for some answers?
Beta Test System Specs Here's the basics on the machine I'm running Guild Wars 2 on:
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 @ 2.67GHz
Video: Dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 570s
Memory: 6GB Kingston DDR 3
Storage: Game is running of a 128MB Samsung SSD Drive
Sound: Yes, There is Sound
Truth or Bullshots?
One of the most frequently asked questions about Guild Wars 2 regards scenes like the one in the screenshot atop this article: are they a true indicator of what the game looks like? Yes and no.
Those dynamic camera angles are captured using developer-specific tools, the graphics the result of running the game on the sort of ridiculously powerful systems developers have at their disposal for such purposes. In my experience those screens are a more stylized version of what I'm actually playing.
The video you see here represents what I see on my screen when I play the game. I'd post screen shots and compare them to their dev-created counterparts, but the terms of beta participation forbid me from taking still screens of my own. For now we'll have to be happy with massive amounts of video and some extremely pretty staged images.
Do human males have cheek sliders? Can you paint will all the colors of the Charr?
This clip answers some of the questions readers posed about character creation. There have been changes since last month's beta, most notably the fact that I can now change eye colors. This pleases me greatly.
I received many class-specific inquiries, mainly concerning the less-straightforward professions of Guild Wars 2: Mesmers, Necromancers, and Engineers. I also addressed the weapons options for the Thief, because Thieves are pretty damn spiffy.
Perhaps the most complicated of Guild Wars 2 professions, the Engineer plays like none other. Some have worried that the Engineer might be the weak link in the game's profession chain. I believe that once players spend some time getting to know the professions unique tools and abilities they'll become a force to be reckoned with.
Second in complexity to the Engineer, the Mesmer is an illusionist that swaps roles as easily as a Warrior swaps weapons. I mean that literally: the Mesmer's choice of weapon determines how they battle enemies and support their teammates. What might look like a simple magic-using class to the untrained eye is actually one of the most versatile professions in the game.
With a plethora of pets to choose from, the Necromancer profession is well-suited for the rigors of Guild Wars 2's level grind. Readers wanted to know if surrounding themselves with ugly companion creatures was a viable option for Necromantic play. The answer? Maybe. The kids seem to like it.
The Thief isn't a particularly complicated profession to play, though it is one of the more entertaining ones, due in no small part to the entertaining special abilities they gain by equipping different weapons. You can see pretty much all of them right here.
Unlike rogue classes in other massively multiplayer games, Guild Wars 2's Thief isn't nearly as stealth-focused. vanishing and reappearing is definitely a factor, but only in the context of combat situations; you won't be sneaking through enemy fortresses unseen.
On Guilds and Guild Creation
How easy is it to create a Guild in Guild Wars 2? In the beta at least it was merely a matter of clicking the 'Create Guild' button in the Guild interface. I choose a name (randomly and apparently forgettably), chose an abbreviation, and I was in a Guild. I didn't need any other players, and it didn't cost me a dime. That might change in release; otherwise the game will be flooded one ineffectual one-person organizations.
As for Guild organization, the sequel maintains the same Guild Leader-Officer-Member hierarchy from the first game.
Does Guild Wars 2 drop the cinematic story sequences of the first game in favor of two-character conversations? As you can see in the video here, the two mechanics work together spectacularly. The combination almost gives Guild Wars 2's storytelling a distinctive Japanese role-playing game feel. It's quite lovely.
Each character origin has its own storyline that follows the player throughout the game, advancing as they advance through the levels. Don't expect to use it as a sole means to progress through Guild Wars 2, however, as the story sequences grow in difficulty faster than you'll grow in levels. Side quests, world events, and/or grinding will be required.
One reader wanted a taste of the optional challenges scattered about the world of Tyria that earn players additional skill points for participating. These can range from simply picking up a collectible memento from a story mission to a duel against a powerful opponent. Some of the most entertaining involve complicated platforming maneuvers to reach an otherwise unreachable area.
Unfortunately I didn't manage to hit one of the platforming challenges this weekend, but I did beat up a Norn that could transform into a bear, and that's worth something.
The Most Important Question of Them All: Is it Fun?
If it wasn't fun would I have spent another dozen hours playing over the weekend?
Guild Wars 2 (in its current form) caters to every sort of massively multiplayer online role-playing game fan. The casual player can level up at their own pace while still participating in level-scaling high-end player-versus-player content. The competitor can hop into PVP or the engrossing server-spanning World-Versus-World battles as soon as he or she has completed the game's opening sequence. The explore has plenty of ground to cover and secrets to uncover, and the role-player has some very pretty pixels to weave his or her tales around.
Thanks to everyone that submitted questions for this past weekend's beta test. If I didn't touch on your particular topic of curiosity I suppose I'm going to have to keep participating in the beta until I do. Poor me, right?