Getting to the stress test / beta experience, for starters let’s talk about the primary aspect that everybody sees first in any video game, the graphics, and in Guild Wars 2 I can attest that they are very detailed and very lifelike. I really like this aspect of the game because for it to be such a massive game in terms of sheer hours required and map space you will not find a single place where you aren’t in awe of the graphics of this game. Based on my experience I can truly say that I have never played an MMO that can match these graphics in terms of map space to graphical detail
Moving on from there we get to the sounds and music inside Guild Wars 2. I gave this high marks in the Guild Wars 2 beta preview and while I still give it praise for immersing me into the moment, whether it be a heated boss battle or simply wandering the countryside. I have to take a slight mark off this time around, however, since I feel that some of the music was actually getting quite repetitive. The parts that truly brought about this annoyance is in dungeon and instances. There is set music that goes along with you while traveling through them but it is literally interrupted about every 10 seconds by the music that they play while you are in battle with creatures or people. There are some times where I found myself just wanting to stop in the middle of the instance to hear the whole song and not just 10 second clips of it before being interrupted by another song or sound byte.Moving on from the basics of the sounds and graphics we can dive into the good stuff. When I last played the game I had a bit of a difficult time understanding the way the game was to be played. Since coming back to the game, even in the short four hours we were all given, I feel like I have a vastly greater understanding of the way ArenaNet plotted the way you do battle. What we are really being asked to di is experience real-time battles that you are genuinely taking part in. You cannot only dodge attacks if timed at the right moment as the complexity of the defensive combat goes well beyond that simply dynamic. For example, since they did not delete my character from the last beta weekend I was able to jump right in and start off where I had left off. The leveling system on this game is a still a bit confusing to me but I am sure with more time I will be able to better understand it. Nevertheless things have been so much fun all I care about is that it works perfectly for this game and I’m not annoyed by it. Leveling sort of guides you through the game giving you abilities that you will need when you need them like crowd control and massive AOE damage abilities, very different from your typical MMO that gives you skill points and you hope that you choose the right build. Also the ability to change damage types on the fly will be crucial to all end game.
It was fun to play around with water as a wizard and freezing enemies in place and then running back a bit and switching to fire to burn them down before I got into too much trouble. It not only makes the game more fun but also more challenging and I can see that being one of the main reasons why Guild Wars 2 will do well and have a lot of people coming back to play it over and over again. As far as the actual stress test goes, it appears to have been a success. ArenaNet had implemented new hardware into their servers which apparently was the reasoning behind this short stress test. They wanted to make sure the hardware was able to keep up with the demand of the servers and it looks like it did its job. It’s great to see that ArenaNet is so on top of everything with this game and it’s is shaping up to look like a very good contender for your MMO dollar. What we can tell you is that when ArenaNet decides to release the game you can bet it is going to work the way it should right from the launch and when it does we will be here with a final review of Guild Wars 2 for PC.
Stay tuned for more coverage and any announcements of Guild Wars 2 here at Gaming Illustrated.