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.
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.