Guild Wars 2 BWE is almost here…

In 24 hours, the Beta Weekend Event for Guild Wars 2 will be starting.  24 slow hours to wait.  After 5 years of waiting to play Guild Wars 2, I will finally be able to log in and play the game I’ve been anticipating for so long.  This is a rather exciting event for me.  While it doesn’t even compare to events such as my wedding to my incredible wife, buying a house, or the birth of my wonderful daughter, it’s still a big deal for me at least as far as gaming is concerned.  I can’t recall the last time, if ever, I followed a game this long and never ended up stopping because of one piece of information or another.

When SWTOR was announced I thought it might be nice.  I liked KOTOR (only the first one, the second was buggy and crap), so them making an MMO about it looked neat.  However, at one point I found out it was going to be essentially a Star Wars-themed WoW clone, complete with the same trinity setup and questing structure, and that made me not nearly as interested.  After being in the beta test, that sealed my non-interest.  It had a few new bits here and there but in the end it lost me.

Guild Wars 2 has never done that.  I first found out about Guild Wars 2 like everyone else at the time, from the May 2007 issue of PC Gamer with the Guild Wars 2 logo that announced the next Guild Wars campaign was cancelled.  I actually remember walking into a book store and seeing that magazine.  After three campaigns and an expansion for Guild Wars 1, I never figured 5 years would pass before the sequel came out.  I was on a break from Guild Wars when the first trailer was released.  That was a new experience.  As you can see from the Guild Wars 2 Primer page, the first trailer started with the now very-well-known concept art cinematic style Guild Wars 2 is using.  I figured it was just a plain teaser that wouldn’t even show gameplay like so many film teasers before it and resigned myself to nothing important…and then came the words, “It’s time for legends to become real” along with a transition from concept art to the exact same shot from in-game.  Yeah, this was something special.

Since then so many things make this game unique.  From their desire to make as much of the game as possible literally look like the concept art to their philosophy of not revealing parts of the game until it’s in and they’re happy with it, following this game has been a real treat in an industry where developer promises being broken is practically de rigueur.  Sure, I haven’t been 100% happy with the game.  I felt the Engineer was a lazy design since you could pretty much take most of Team Fortress 2’s classes and put them into a single profession and you’d have it (especially since those elements seem to have been what they focused on showing off at first), and I could probably write several essays about their penchant for equating “flashy and cool high level armor” with “half naked female armor more at home in a lingerie show, street corner, or sexploitation film” in their marketing, making me feel like I’m being beaten over the head that “yes, indeed, there is a sexy woman under that armor” every time I see one (I actually want my wife to play this game instead of referring to my female characters as porn stars, you know?).  Even if they’re not as common as this in-game, that’s what they’ve shown off before.  /sigh  Here’s hoping it’s not that bad in-game.

Despite these frustrations, I can’t wait to play the game.  Almost exactly 5 years of waiting, I finally get the chance to play the game myself instead of watching videos of other players in the game.  I know this moment will come and go, hopefully paying off in the best way possible for me.  I’m finally in on the ground floor of a MMO I truly want to play.  I know I’m not alone either, although several of those that have been waiting alongside me have gone to conventions and played the demos already.  If everything works out well, perhaps my family will really understand just why I’m more excited about this game than I’ve been about pretty much any game.

So pretty much there’s only one more thing to say on this topic:  See you in game (I’ll be on Fort Aspenwood).

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Norrath to Tyria: Professions – Classes on Steroids

One of EverQuest 2’s strengths is the huge variety of classes available in the game.  When the game launched in 2004 there were 24 classes available to use when creating your character (now 25).  These classes were split into 4 archetypes, each holding 6 classes.  Archetypes define your role in EQ2: each class is designed to be able to fulfill the role of their archetype, and the main differences between classes for this role in a single archetype is “how” you do it.

EQ2 Class Icons

The original 24 classes available at launch.

Every class in the Priest archetype, for example, is supposed to be able to heal well enough that generally it doesn’t matter which you bring.  Each, of course, has their specialty in exactly how they heal.  Clerics use reactive heals, Druids use regenerative heals, and Shaman use wards to prevent damage.  Alongside this, each healer has basic heals, and the intent being to allow them to provide similar healing but having to work it in different ways.  Now look at the Fighters.  Generally, each Fighter is supposed to be able to tank in different ways and have their own benefits.  Balance is always a tricky issue, since two of the six Fighters are avoidance tanks.

Obviously I’m being high level here and in actual practice some classes within an archetype are much more preferred over the others due to convenience or just how current balance is working out, but overall the system is at least intended to work this way even if it doesn’t in practice.  It is this archetype system that is most interesting to me, and most relevant to Guild Wars 2. Continue reading