Guild Wars 2 Open Beta Weekend Overview


There are those who eagerly anti­cip­ate online gam­ing events. And then there’s the rest of the world. I kinda fall into the first cat­egory.

This past week­end I par­ti­cip­ated in such an event — the first Guild Wars 2 open beta test. Basic­ally it was two and a half days of fresh Guild Wars good­ness! But first a little back­ground.

Back in the day
The ori­gin­al Guild Wars, released in 2005, is an online mul­ti­play­er role play­ing game that is a little dif­fer­ent from most oth­er Massively Mul­ti­play­er Online Role Play­ing Games you may have heard of. In addi­tion to a huge fantasy-based story arc, Guild Wars brought you:

  • No monthly fees. Buy it once and play forever
  • Smal­ler ‘instances’ and tight group man­age­ment
  • Low level caps
  • Com­pet­it­ive Guild vs Guild play

I’m not going to go into all the good­ness that is the ori­gin­al Guild Wars, you can check out the Wiki­pe­dia writeup here, but rather, I just wanted to set the scene for the much-anti­cip­ated update and first pub­lic expos­ure of a cool game with sev­en years of his­tory.

Guild Wars 2 Open Pub­lic Beta
After a few years of teas­ing, hint­ing, and run­ning private (invite only) beta events, this past week­end Aren­aNet opened up the Guild Wars serv­ers to the gen­er­al pub­lic. In this case that meant any­one who had pre-ordered or bought Guild Wars 2 online, or had oth­er­wise received a ‘beta week­end’ invit­a­tion.

And of course, this meant that the serv­ers were imme­di­ately filled to burst­ing with ener­get­ic and eager gamers, all want­ing to exper­i­ence the new world that is 200+ years in the future. Me too.



Yep, it’s fun. My first hour was spent care­fully gen­er­at­ing a char­ac­ter that was almost a clone of my ori­gin­al Guild Wars char­ac­ter. After play­ing with her for a bit, I decided to see what else was avail­able.

Of the five play­able races, only three were open dur­ing this lim­ited event. Over the course of the week­end, I man­aged to play all three, quite enjoy­ing the new Engin­eer class the Charr race.


If you’ve played the ori­gin­al, you’re famil­i­ar with the skill and abil­ity trees. Well, you can kinda toss them out. In GW2, your skills are related to the items you carry and use. Which means that if you really want, you can have your War­ri­or wield a rifle and your thief could use a long­bow.

Play­ing The Game
My wife and I, and two close friends, must have killed 50 bil­lion enemies in the ori­gin­al Guild Wars, and it’s with this group that we’re tak­ing on the GW2 beta week­ends.

Which means we’re com­pletely re-learn­ing things. Party man­age­ment and adven­tur­ing for example. Where­as before we used to meetup at a town, form a party and jour­ney to the ‘instance’ that would house our adven­ture, now it’s seam­less. We can be almost any­where in an area, with hun­dreds of oth­er people, work­ing on com­plet­ing our quests and help­ing oth­ers who hap­pen to be in the same area, but not part of our party. In Guild Wars, this is new. In some ways, it’s very sim­il­ar to RIFT.




Yep, there were a few:

  • Some areas were at capa­city — which meant we were shunted to an ‘over­flow’ area which some­times meant our party was scattered when a few made it to the tar­get area and oth­ers were in the over­flow
  • Not yet at cur­rent tech stand­ards — yes, it’s in beta so this is minor and likely to be fixed by whenev­er the Aren­aNet developers decide to release it, but the game uses Dir­ectX 9, not the cur­rent Dir­ectX 11. Per­haps this is done for com­pat­ib­il­ity reas­ons whilst they nail down this beta.

Cool things?
Of course, there were many! Here’s a few that got my atten­tion:

  • Macin­tosh play­able — I installed and ran it on my cur­rent-mod­el Mac­book Pro, run­ning in a VMware vir­tu­al Win­dows XP machine. Yes, it was a little slow and some of the anim­a­tion was choppy, but it ran and was play­able.
  • Class­less soci­ety — I men­tioned above that I enjoyed the Engin­eer class, and I did. But I also like the fact that every char­ac­ter is also able to heal them­selves and oth­ers, and indeed should heal oth­ers as much as pos­sible to build up Karma val­ues.
  • Role your own — And I like that I can pick and choose the weapons and armour I want to use to suit my style, and not be forced into a role. Much more like tra­di­tion­al tab­letop gam­ing.
  • The world has evolved — I totally like this new world. The ori­gin­al Guild Wars is set in a tra­di­tion­al Dun­geons & Dragons type of place. Here, in GW2, it’s more of a fant­ast­ic­al world vibe, where tech­no­logy and fantasy work togeth­er cleanly.



What’s next?
The developers have said that they’ll be run­ning the open beta week­ends about every month. Giv­en the level of pol­ish and the lack of ser­i­ous tech­nic­al glitches for this past event, I’m think­ing the next one will be amaz­ing… whenev­er it is. And yes, I’ll be there — as can any­one who picks up a Guild Wars 2 pre­order.

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Published by Brad Grier geek.hack