[GW2] Beta Weekend Upgrades

Holy moly has ArenaNet been hard at work on Guild Wars 2. I simply find it amazing that whole systems are changing and evolving between beta weekends. Sure, this coming weekend there is another zone opened up at the top end of content, but I feel that the zone was in the hopper so to speak. When core systems advance post open beta, I think it definitely adds points to ye ol’ beta score scale. Let’s take a look…

New Beta Content

Players will get to keep their characters from the last beta weekend event with the explorable areas of the Ascalonian Catacombs as the high-end content. ArenaNet is also opening up Gendarran Fields outside of Lion’s Arch. I actually had a chance to play this area during Fan Day. I remember lots of pirates and centaurs. There was one shrine to Melandru being worshipped by the quaggan that was a really neat spot. Anyway all well and good… showing off more content that we’ll get at launch.

Except World vs. World (WvW) also has gained some significant expanded content. There is a mini-dungeon in the central map, and skill challenges, dynamic events, and jump puzzles have been spread throughout WvW. It does seem like ArenaNet is building WvW so that normal PvE might be really unnecessary for a character in love with WvW.

The final piece is the new Mystic Forge in Lion’s Arch. It appears to be some sort of Horadric Cube that changes old stuff in to new, shiny stuff. It’s interesting how weapons and armors are really given commodity status in Guild Wars 2. They can be salvaged for base materials and upgrades. They can be sold to the merchant. Now they can also be fused in to something else. I find it really clever design how more weapon and armor drops (than other MMOs) can actually equate to a gold sink as people take the drops and turn them into crafting goods or fuse them.

Systemic Upgrades

The must-have upgrade is definitely how the overflow server is now handled. I believe this was a big frustration point for many over the last beta weekend event. Now, party UI tells which overflow server each member is in, and party members can fast travel to other overflow servers to group up. The only possible glitch that isn’t mentioned is whether the whole party is brought in to the “real” server at once. Hopefully this is the case because this feature is simply brilliant to begin with, and the polish ArenaNet has put on is nearly blinding. I know this feature is really built around the server architecture, but I hope future generations of MMOs take note.

Skill tiers is another modification. Basically players have to unlock an amount of skills on one tier for elite and utility skills to open another tier of skills. Getting hit with a couple dozen utilities to buy right off the bat was kind of overwhelming. As long as the flow is well-designed, I feel this is a positive change. Tiers can be more easily balanced with lead designer Eric Flannum noting that “the tier system is more scalable and expandable. We can more easily add new skills in the future with this system.” It can also give the feeling of progression.

Sure this is a tad more restrictive, but the important part is not that there is a channeling restriction. The important part is how long until the restriction abates. The graphic shows the first utility skill tier opening the second tier at only 5 skill points, which if I recall is easily completed by level 10. If a person is driven to overcome the restriction, at level 15 there are 4 other 1-15 zones with a large handful of skill points available. 15 more skill points should be easily obtained pretty early on. By level 20, I would assume all utility skill tiers would be opened as long as the player does a few skill challenges.

There are a bunch of other upgrades to chat, key-bindings, and even the gem store. I am really excited to get back in to Tyria with everybody! See you there.

–Ravious

17 thoughts on “[GW2] Beta Weekend Upgrades”

  1. “It does seem like ArenaNet is building WvW so that normal PvE might be really unnecessary for a character in love with WvW.” – Oh, man, I really hope so. My dream game :)

    Also, very impressed at the amount of work they’re putting into changes and upgrades during this beta. They are pushing an incredibly fast pace.

  2. I’m really curious how this is going to play out:
    “Combat— “A Sense of Hitting”
    Combat in Guild Wars 2 is more visceral than ever. We’re constantly making improvements to the entire combat experience—better timing, enhanced sound design, subtle camera shakes—to enhance what designer Jon Peters likes to call “the sense of hitting.””

  3. The changes they made shows once again how serious they are about having a more then excelent game when they release

    They really take us serious.

    Congratz.

  4. The changes to how the party system handles overflow strikes me as the developers hitting their heads and saying “Oh! People in a party want to play together!”

    Well, that, or it was planned all along and just wasn’t ready for the first beta weekend. Which seems more likely, as ArenaNet is probably one of the smartest studios out there. If that’s true, then they have an unfortunate habit of labeling features planned from the beginning as a gracious response to player feedback.

    Anyway, the first BWE left me somewhat underwhelmed, but I’m eager to get back in the game. And get out of the Norn area. Jesus Christ, the writing…

    1. Well clearly the overflow system is better than a straight-up server queue, but they might have had to see the overflow in action.

      It also was likely on the list of a million things we would like, and fan feedback pushed it way way up the charts.

      1. That’s very likely. I’ve never dealt with server queues, as I tend to avoid MMOs until their first post-launch patch, so it was hard to for me to see why the overflows were necessary in the first place. It still makes me a little agitated at how archaic the idea of being tied to one server is, even with ties as light as those in GW2.

          1. hmm, if you are unhappy with the events around you, take a look to the other district?! Not sure if I like this.

            1. You can’t switch ‘districts’ at will. You’ll get placed into overflow only if the map you want to enter is full. That is not the norm though. It will happen more often in BWE and in the first weeks after launch, but long term you’re going to stay on your home world most of the time.

            2. Makes sense. Everyone wants to be in district 1, but for big events it may not be possible.

              Now what would be really cool is if the shards of the shards were named variants of the home server…

  5. When I heard about that new dungeon in WvW, it immediately made me think of Darkness Falls in DAoC. …and I had to change my pants because I had a nostalgic, mind-blowing nerdgasm. I loved that whole system of a PvE area accessible by other factions. I guess the one in GW2 is a bit more like the Labyrinth (being physically located in a WvW zone), but still… the mechanics sounded very DF to me.

    Looking forward to this BWE weekend and seeing how things have been tweaked.

    1. From the Reddit AMA yesterday it sounds more like a… a PvP area based around traps and getting your enemies with environmental fun than a fullblown PvE dungeon.

      Still sounds pretty neat.

      1. Ah, okay. I didn’t have a chance to get all the way through it. So it sounds more like the Labyrinth, then. Still! Interesting ide’er.

        Thanks for the insights, Ravious!

  6. It’s all great, the positives from the last Beta Weekend are great… EXCEPT the skill tiers. That’s total crap as far as I’m concerned.

    As flexible as the character system is, I do not need the game artificially imposing ” a sense of advancement” on me. That’s condescending nonsense. Now, instead of purchasing the skills I want, I’m having to waste skill point on a bunch of junk I never wanted to buy, just to get to the next tier, where I can’t afford to buy anything because I just wasted those point on the previous tier, buying things I didn’t want.

    Since you can only use a very limited amount of utility skills, I really don’t see why the bloat and slowdown are necessary. They certainly added only negatives to my play experience this weekend.

    Everything else is wonderful, but the skill tiers are a total rubbish change.

  7. at least if they have added a mechanic were i will be able to take off my skill points but keeping the tiers, so i will gain the skill i want easier and not rushing the maps for skill challenges, now i am forced to avoid content …

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