After many travel woes in Europe I am glad to be back in the US and able to present to you part 2 of 3 in my Guild Wars 2 Gamescom experience, thanks for waiting and enjoy.
Gamescom 2011 was quite an experience. Cosplayers, nerds, booth babes, and of course beer, Germans love their beer, there is never a shortage if in the north or south and Gamescom was no exception. The experience was too much to recount in detail, so for the purposes of this article we will focus on the time spent at the NCsoft booth.
I say NCsoft booth because like the NCsoft homepage it was more like a half Guild Wars 2 booth half WildStar setup. When speakers for WildStar came on stage I did not know who to feel bad for, the WildStar developers that received a less than hearty welcome on the NCsoft stage or the disappointed and bewildered fans that came to see Guild Wars 2. Although the real issue in my opinion was the split in terminals, about half for WildStar and half for GW2 demos. Not counting slots on the other side of the hall for GW2PVP there were 16 GW2 demo slots and about the same amount on the other half of the booth for WildStar demos. Me being there for the sole purpose of playing the GW2 demo it just seemed silly to have half of the booths dedicated to WildStar terminals going relatively unplayed.
After a three hour wait in a line with no set boundaries (line cutting was a small issue) along with many other sweaty nerds I was finally getting a taste of what many have been waiting for since 2007. Having plenty of time to see others play the demo gave me some insight on what I race to choose. It was a tough choice between Norn and Sylvari but a Sylvari Necromancer was my pick in the end. I went to the Con with the intention of rolling a human, an analogue of my Necromancer main in Guild Wars classic but the humans started very low level and were being ordered around by that traitorous jerk Logan Thackery, that was the deciding factor and thus Trilea Ketsuekikage, the Sylvari Necromancer was born. Killing a giant zombie dragon with a name like Teqautl the Sunless seemed like a lot more fun than the human scenario anyway. Onward! to character creation.
Creation was smooth and fun, since I did not want to spend much of my forty minutes customizing I sped through, choosing greens blues and browns. A few slider bars and facial options were unavailable but for a more in depth character creation review check out Secret Agent Cat’s blog she did an excellent job. Initially there was a lot of information to take in but the game felt very complete.
My impression, the first few minutes was that of WoW, I mean the good from WoW, running jumping and being competent without a flock of Henchmen, Heroes or what have you. After all of the info started to digest I soon realized that this was surely not WoW. The world was truly magnificent. The beautiful detail of the environment was awe inspiring and amazing. As I processed the environment I took notice of my quests located in the top right corner of the screen. With a very brief understanding of my skills, which had familiar names from Guild Wars Classic but sometimes very different functionality, I was on my way to help a group of Char and Asuran engineers against hordes of undead assaulting the shore from a bony undead sea vessel.
My contribution to this fight was nothing more than spamming skills wildly. The only noteworthy help I was able to provide was resurrecting the NPC Asuran engineer. That is when I learned that any player can resurrect anyone else NPC or other player. After some more spamming I was able to use my death shroud, which seemed overpowered but was a lot of fun! Thanks to Asuran ingenuity in the form of a catapult the undead were pushed back and their ship sunk.
With a slight sense of accomplishment I took some time to test my skills some more and take a gander at the map. In retrospect the mini-map seemed smaller than in GW but the full screen map was excellent, brilliantly colored and detailed. Choosing a point of interest on the map I took the next 6 to 7 minutes heading that direction and learning how to chain my skills on the creeps in the area. By the time the event notification popped up alerting me to the presence of Tequatl the Sunless I chose to forgo my previous destination and join the battle.
Defeating Tequatl was the most exciting part of the demo. The only time I felt I was even hurting this behemoth winged zombie was while in death shroud, which became available quite often considering the amount of carnage taking place. (Incase you don’t already know soul reaping has been transitioned from energy return to the charging of said shroud.) At one point I stuck around a little too long after my shroud was used up and was smashed down by Tequatl being pushed into a defeated state, I was given the choice to respan nearby or wait for another to resurrect me. Waiting paid off, in less than a minute an Asuran Guardian came to my rescue. Being carefull to keep at a safe distance I stayed with the Guardian and smashed several bonewalls that the vile dragonspawn had thrust up from the shallow sea. After some resurrecting and being resurrected the 12 minute battle was won.
I grabbed my green offhand from the Tequatl chest and headed back into the jungle. The concept of situational skill sets dependant on weapon type equipped, or an environmental factor was starting to sink in. Gaining agro on as many enemies I could find and then hitting them all with a death shroud powered life siphon was how I spent the remaining 9 minutes of my demo time. Death shroud is a lot of fun to use. At the end I felt that the demo was very linear, packaged presentation, not in a bad way but in a sense that it was laid out perfectly for 40 minutes of play. There was still more quests to finish that I did not get to and map left unexplored but it still left me with a feeling of having played GW2 and completion. It was easy to see that there was much more to be learned. I wanted to know more about skills, quests, mechanics co-op and much more.
After my demo time I hung around the NCsoft booth and stuck around for the Q&A session and even got to chat with some of the developers who graciously braved the crowd of excited fans (sometimes excited to the point of mild hostility). Having had some time to let the experience of playing the demo settle in I think that GW2 will be a great game, superb even, perhaps the greatest MMORPG thus far, but as good as the hype? Not quite, Worth the wait, almost. Having played Guild wars classic since a month after release I remember a few bugs being worked out and a lot of user interface changes along with game improvements. As gamers we didn’t mind, GW was more than functional and when things were improved that was great. At the Gamescom demo Guild Wars 2 was far more polished than the original at release. So unless Areananet has not finished a large portion of the maps or something of that sort I say just release it and patch like you did before, your fanbase is waiting.
In part 3 we will be touching on conversations with the developers and lore aspects