Friday, July 20, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Final Beta Weekend Begins Friday July 20, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012, is big day for fans of MMOS (massively multi-player online role-playing games). At 12 Noon, PST, invited players and those of us who pre-ordered Guild Wars 2, will be able to participate in the final open beta weekend for this long awaited game.

Online gamers and MMO fans have enjoyed a most satisfying summer. So far, we have been treated to a major update of Star Wars; The Old Republic, the launch of Tera and the launch of The Secret World. We have seen the successful revamp of Aion, which has evolved into a very enjoyable free to play game  Long time favorites, World Of Warcraft and Lord Of The Rings Online, will both be offering major expansions in the dog days of summer.
Topping the list for millions of excited gamers is the upcoming debut of Guild Wars 2, which starts its general release on August 28, 2012.  Perhaps no other MMO has generated more positive press and excitement this summer than Guild Wars 2, which was developed by ArenaNet and published by NCsoft. The game has taken 5 years to create and the folks at ArenaNet assure us that Guild Wars 2 will revolutionize online gaming.

Guild Wars 2 is set in the wondrous world of Tyria, where bloodshed and warfare have been the bane of many generations. The game takes place 250 years after the fall of the Great Destroyer in the original Guild Wars expansion, Eye of the North. A new menace, in the form of 5 elder dragons, has awakened to threaten the world with massive, and perhaps, total destruction.

Players will be called upon to reunite the members of the disbanded Destiny’s Edge, a multi-race guild from Tyria’s glorious past. Their goal will be to inspire all of the playable races in Guild Wars 2 to work together and defeat Zhaitan, the undead Elder Dragon.

To accomplish their purpose, gamers will be able to play as one of 5 races. The Sylvari are plant like humanoids who recently appeared in Tyria. Born from the fruit of the Pale Tree, they control the Tarnished Coast from their capital city of The Grove. They are acutely aware of the danger posed by the elder dragons and strive to defeat  Zhaitan’s undead minions at every opportunity.

The Norn are shape changing barbarians who can transform into the bear, the wolf, the raven or the snow leopard. They are a fiercely independent people who may become loyal allies or fearsome foes. The Norn do not worship the Gods; instead they worship the spirits of the great wild creatures. Striking out from their strongholds in the frozen mountains of the Far Shiverpeaks, they valiantly battle Jormag, the Elder Ice Dragon.

The third race are the Charr. They rule over the lands of Ascalon from The Black Citadel, a fortress city built on the ruins of Rin. The Charr are a militaristic and technologically advanced people. Their rifles, pistols and other superior weapons have made the Charr one of the most powerful races in the embattled world of Tyria.

Small in stature but mighty in intellect are the Asura, the diminutive former cave dwellers who now rule over their territory from the floating cube city of Rata Sum. Possessed of immense intelligence, which they use to expand their power, the Asura are motivated by a desire to dominate and control all of Tyria; even the fearsome elder dragons.

The final race are the long struggling humans. Their power is in decline and they have lost much of their former territory in the 250 years since the end of the original Guild Wars. Despite their decline, the Humans are a heroic people and from their city of Divinity’s Reach, they seek to regain their lost glory. They may be fighting to survive but never count out the determined humans.

In addition to the 5 races, players will be able to choose from 8 different professions including Mesmer, Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Necromancer, Ranger, Warrior and Elementalist. Some professions depend on weapons and strength while some rely on stealth and cunning. Other professions use magic or technology. Guild Wars 2 offers a wide choice of different professions. Players can look forward to many new variations on the standard, often boring, professions found in most MMOS.

Game-play and questing in Guild Wars 2 is built around what the developers call “Dynamic Events.” Gone are the days of looking for quest givers with big exclamation points over their heads. Instead, you may be pulled into a quest when a giant dragon lands on the village where you are buying supplies and starts burning it to the ground. You will have to join the combat and save the village, to complete a quest and earn your reward. You wont be told, “go kill 10 griffins and bring me their skins.” You will see the world explode around you and join a group of other players to work together to save the day.

Of course, in addition to co-operative and group play, Guild Wars 2, offers players ample opportunity for PVP (Player vs. Player). The game developers wanted PVP to be available across the entire game instead of separating players by servers, worlds or battle groups.

Game Designer Jon Peters describes PVP in Guild Wars 2 as follows: “For Guild Wars 2, we wanted to organize the PVP formats more clearly and simply. For pickup play, we’ve created a single place where all pickup players can play. It’s a server browser where “hot join” games are constantly running.
We’ve also created a single, central place for competitive play in the form of automatic tournaments. These two play styles—pickup and competitive—share a lot of game-play similarities, which allows players to easily transition from casual to more organized play. This is important, because both pickup and tournament play are independent of “world” choice. In other words, all Guild Wars 2 PVP players are in the same PVP games and are not segregated.”

Even dungeons, which are called “massive, instanced adventure areas” in Guild Wars 2, will work in new ways. Instead of just entering a dungeon and killing monsters, the first time a group enters a specific dungeon in Guild Wars 2, they will experience it in ‘Story Mode”, where they will learn secrets of Tyria and more of the game’s plot. After players unlock “Story Mode”, they can return to the dungeon again and experience it in “explorable mode”, which will offer them different goals, obstacles and options every time they enter.

Guild Wars 2 is already in the running to be voted MMO of the Year. Player response to the previous open beta weekends has been highly favorable and pre-order sales are booming. We look forward to spending a busy three days in the final beta weekend and we will be reporting on our experiences in detail for you afterwards. If you were lucky enough to get an invite to the final open beta weekend of Guild Wars 2, jump in and try it for yourself, then post your thoughts in the comments section below this article. We hope to see you there this weekend in the Guild Wars 2 final open beta. If you see Ghodzilla, give me a shout.

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