If you are as excited as I am for this next beta weekend of Guild Wars 2, then you may have already seen a lot of this information. However, if you missed out, then consider this your full preview of what to expect this coming weekend.
The video above is a nice little discussion highlighting a few of the changes and additions from the first beta, of which I provided my in-depth impressions, but there is even more that wasn’t really touched on as well. In addition to all of that content from the first beta, you can anticipate all of the following and even more!
Carrying Over Characters
If you participated in the first beta event, or the stress test that was only a few hours long, then you have already gotten a bit of playtime in the game. All of those characters, stats, items, etc will carry over into this upcoming beta. This is great news, because some of the content they added is for higher level (30-35+) and it would be tough to reach that level in a single weekend (although possible if this is your first time, so no worries!)
More Areas to Explore
While there were already plenty of places to go and things to see, you can expect an even bigger world to adventure in starting tomorrow. For starters, an entirely new zone will be opened up: Gendarran Fields. This area is located near Lion’s Arch and adds some natural beauty to the area designed for characters level 25-35. Furthermore, once you hit that level 35+ mark, you can venture into the newly added Ascalonian Catacombs. This area is an explorable dungeon for groups of higher level players containing three unique paths – definitely seems worth replaying a few times!
Character leveling and depth is probably the most important element to an RPG, and ArenaNet understands this. Taken directly from the source, here is the explanation:
We’ve organized each profession’s elite and utility skills into three different tiers, or levels. When you get enough skills in one tier, you unlock the next level of skills. Why the change from the previous model, which let players choose from all the available skills at once?
“The tier system gives players both a sense of progression and accomplishment,” says Lead Designer Eric Flannum. “It encourages them to experiment with different skills as they increase in power, and it avoids overwhelming new players with a huge list of skills to choose from.”
“Plus,” Flannum adds, “the tier system is more scalable and expandable. We can more easily add new skills in the future with this system.”
World vs. World vs. World Gets Even Better
When you take the plunge into the Eternal Battlegrounds and pit your skills against massive armies of other players, you will probably have trouble pulling yourself away and returning to the rest of the game. Which is perfectly acceptable – this is more than just a PvP arena. With an entire map full of fortresses, strongholds, caravans, expedition parties, missions, objectives, loot, experience, etc. that pit three servers against one another- you could literally spend all of your time here.
This time, it will be even better with the slew of new updates they’ve made to the mode. There is now a mini-dungeon beneath the main map area, allowing multi-level wars between groups of players, and an added route for flanking opportunities. They have also added jumping/platform-esque puzzles, skill challenges, and even full dynamic events. Now you will never have a dull moment, whereas before the long trek to battle hotspots could get rather boring.
Last time the structured PvP did not allow parties to stay locked together and was really just a bunch of random matches. It was fun, but not as structured as people had hoped. ArenaNet, as posted on their blog, explained the new enhancements best:
For this beta, we’re introducing Automated PvP Tournaments. Each tournament pits eight teams of five players against each other. Teams that excel during the three-round, single-elimination tournament are rewarded with tournament chests full of valuable loot.
The PvP reward system has also been greatly improved with the creation of a two-tier reward structure that involves Glory and Rank. Put simply, Glory is a currency that players can spend to unlock reward chests stuffed with useful loot, while Rank is a measurement of your success in PvP. You’ll receive valuable reward chests as you climb in Rank.
Minor Tweaks, Big Differences
In addition to these big enhancements and expansions of features, is a slew of minor alterations that all combine together to just show you how much the development team cares about this game. First off, they doubled the amount of servers. Yes, doubled. Not just increased the size of, but literally doubled. This has a ripple effect of improvements – not only will it improve general stability and allow more people to play the game, but it also allowed them to improve the overflow channels so that parties always stay together, which was one of the biggest complaints from the first beta weekend.
The chat system was also overly basic last time. Now they’ve added a limited surrounding area /say channel, which is great for thanking people for revives, random buffs, or trades. It was annoying to say “thanks!” to the entire zone when someone gave you their spare sword or something. Now we also have chat bubbles over characters, which is really nice for locating someone in a crowd, in addition to map chat, which allows for easier grouping.
Another highly requested feature is more customization for key-binding on the user interface, well now that’s in there too. Now you can re-size the minimap as well, to fit your preference better.
These aren’t even all of the changes that have been made. For more details make sure you check out their beta preview post, as well the rest of the content on their blog. Mark your calendars, the beta will be running all weekend from Friday, June 8th, at noon PDT (GMT-7) until Sunday, June 10th, at 11:59 p.m. PDT (GMT-7).
If you pre-purchased, you get in automatically (check your email.) If not, you could have won a key. If still a no go, keep an eye out on The Koalition, we can’t help you play the game yet, but keep an eye on The Koalition for more Guild Wars 2 coverage!