The highly-anticipated launch of Guild Wars 2 is nearly upon us after years of anticipation. With all of the beta periods and stress tests over the past few months, many players (including myself) have already spent dozens of hours in the game, which is just barely enough to scrape away the tip of the surface. Guild Wars 2 is a big game, not just in size and scope, but also in terms of what it means for the industry and genre as a whole. ArenaNet is about to release one of the most ambitious and feature-filled games to ever hit the market, and it's all without any subscription fees.
Fasten your seat-belts folks, once this game hits, you'll be in for quite the adventure. To this end, I have compiled a list of steps you should take to ensure you are 100% ready for the launch of the game. This is not an authoritative or exhaustive list by any means (even if it is quite long) just my personal suggestions. Let's goooooo!
1) Get Excited!
If you aren’t excited already, this is clearly the first step. If you’re reading this, then you are probably already very excited, but it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some of your Tyrian lore and to look into what really makes the game so appealing to so many people!
Guild Wars 2 marks a departure from many MMO conventions that years of gaming has gotten us accustomed to in our virtual worlds. Gone are the days of the Holy Trinity (Tank, Healer, and DPS party member roles,) gone are the days of scanning your mini-map for exclamation marks to go on quests and adventures, and gone are the days of stationary fights that require nothing other than alternating between number keys.
You should check out my impressions of the beta events here for a detailed analysis, or listen to the latest episode of The Koalition’s RPG Podcast: Turn Based.
2) Now Make Your Expectations Realistic
Obviously this game is poised to do a lot of great things and be an amazing work of art - but it is just that, just a game. Don't expect it to literally change your life or redefine how you view electronic entertainment (although it could do that for some people.) This is the launch of an MMO - there are servers and connections to think about here. Do not get too frustrated if you cannot connect immediately, or if you have issues. The game looks great, but just don't get your expectations too high, there's nothing like being a bit too excited then getting your hopes and dreams smashed at the moment of truth.
3) Pre-Purchase the Game
A lot of people excited for the game have obviously preordered it by now, but not everyone knows exactly why they should. Pre-Purchasing Guild Wars 2 does a whole lot more than get you access to the betas that have already happened, you get an exclusive ingame item (more than one if you get the Digital Deluxe Edition) as well as a 3-day headstart on playing the game! Since the game launches on the 28th, that 3-day headstart gives you an entire weekend!
So, if you haven’t already, you definitely should do that before Friday rolls around – you want to spend as much time as you can in the world of Tyria, don’t you?
4) Determine your Play-style
Guild Wars 2 will welcome all types of players and playstyles. Are you interested in role-playing your character, and getting truly immersed into the game world? How about focusing primarily on PvP…and if that’s the case, which kind? Structured tournament style PvP, or massive World vs. World vs. World PvP on a wholly separate map and game world? What about exploring your personal story in the PvE side of the game, and adventuring with friends through the various zones and dungeons? Or, like me, maybe you are interested in getting your feet wet with all types of gameplay. Guild Wars 2 opens up all of these possibilities; it is ultimately up to you to decide where to begin.
5) Plan your Character(s)
Your characters are the most important part of an MMO – they are how you interact with the world. Planning them out ahead of time will not only save you the time and trouble at the creation screens, but it will give them a more lifelike existence while playing. Even if you aren’t into role-playing very much, it is still very important that you have a good idea of your characters in your head before playing.
For me, I planned out the name, race, and class of eight different characters – one for each class. Some are intended to be funny and comical; others are intended to be accurate characters for their storylines. It’s up to you to decide which approach to take – but deciding on your character is the first and most important step for playing an MMO, especially Guild Wars 2. Picking names early on is important as well in order to make sure you create the characters with the desired names as soon as possible - you'd hate for someone to steal Gandalf before you could get it! The next two steps are also related to character creation, but are both very specific.
6) Pick your Race(es)
Guild Wars 2 features five different playable races in the game – the Humans, Norns, Charr, Asura and Sylvari. The humans are basically what you expect and are clearly modeled after traditional fantasy conventions in their environment and design. The Norns are similar to classic Nords, as they live in the snowy peaks of the world, tending to follow the path of a more urban culture. The Charr are beastlike creatures, in both looks and personality. The Asuran are very small mouse like creatures that are extremely intelligent and gifted. Finally, Sylvari are a tree-like people that live in the forest and even appear to be born from trees themselves.
7) Pick your Profession(s)
While it definitely makes a lot of sense for a Norn to be a brutal warrior, or an Asura to don the role of a scientific Engineer, nothing is marked in stone. You are free to choose any race/combination, and each characters personal storyline is determined based on two things: 1) your race and 2) the answers you choose for various questions before playing.
Guild Wars 2 has eight different professions to choose from: Warrior, Guardian, Thief, Engineer, Ranger, Elementalist, Mesmer, and Necromancer. Each of them function about like you would expect based on their names and based on traditional fantasy assumptions – with one clear distinction: these are not classes, or archetypes; these are professions. These function basically like job titles and determine what powers and such you receive while playing, but do not limit what classification of character or role you can fulfill.
This means that in Guild Wars 2, any profession can fulfill any role. This means the spell casting Elementalist, if played correctly, can focus on healing and supporting the rest of the party – even keeping enemies attention on him/her. Guild Wars 2 only limits you by play style and choices.
8) Get Ready for Playing with a Guild
As you could have guessed by the title, playing with a Guild is a huge part (although not required) of Guild Wars 2. From massive guild fortresses, to banners, and in-depth mechanics embedded in the game for recruiting and managing guild on both a political and hostile level - they are a huge facet of the game. Guild play is important as well for so much more than just PvP wars - playing with a guild brings you closer to the world itself.
Since Guild Wars 2 makes it easier than ever to just go out on your own, meet random people, and experience grand adventures at random in the world, playing with a guild only enhances those experiences. If you're interested and don't have a guild affiliation yet, check out Shadow of Truth, the guild I will personally be playing in along with The Koalition's Gary Swaby and occasional guest writer and podcaster Mr. AKQ. We will be playing on Darkhaven!
9) Prepare your Fuel
Any good gamer knows that the only thing more important than playing the game is fueling yourself. This means you should stock up on beverages, easy-to-fix foods, snacks, comfort materials, and anything else you need for the inevitable gaming sessions that are to soon follow! Moderation is important, of course, as is eating healthy. Binging on a game every now and then is never a bad thing, especially when playing with a great group of people, but binging on terrible food (or not eating at all) is never a good thing. Make sure you take regular breaks as well and get plenty of sleep – that’s definitely important and should never be taken for granted!
10) Clear Your Calendar
This one might seem obvious to anyone that's been excited for a new game before, but it holds extra-true in this instance. For me personally, I have never been involved with an MMO at its launch, so this is an even more exciting time than normal. The fact that early access begins on a weekend makes it even better! The best word of advice I can give you in this department is to simply plan on playing this game quite a bit, however much that means for you personally.
The last step before actually being able to play the game is getting the game fully patched and ready to go! You can download the client from the official Guild Wars 2 website, and upon doing so get all of the patching out of the way! I usually start it up every night just to check and see if there are any new files for download, even if I can’t play.
Guild Wars 2 is finally launching next week (or this weekend for those that pre-order) and if the betas are any indication, we could soon become a part of the beginning of one of the most momentous games in gaming history. Revolutionizing many of the mechanics we have all grown accustomed to, Guild Wars 2 will surely go down as something worth talking about.
Let us know of any other suggestions you have to get ready for the launch of Guild Wars 2. But most importantly: Prepare for war!