So let’s get stuck in with the meat and potatoes of the EU Fan Day. I was really surprised to be invited; after all, I haven’t done a huge amount with the wider community lately as I’ve been concentrating on my guild and studies. But having been invited, I wasn’t about to turn the trip down so quickly booked off a couple of days holiday and prepared to go to Brighton again.
I say again, because this isn’t the first time I’ve been invited to an ArenaNet event in Brighton. I was lucky enough to win a place at the Winter party in 2007. That event was good – I got to meet some people who are still now friends and got a full set of skill pins in one go. However this trip was better, not only because we got to play Guild Wars 2 but because it was longer and larger.
A quick couple of notes to start. I’m going to split up my experiences into a few posts to stop an even larger wall of text than it’s going to be and to keep any questions relevant to the text. Also note that I last played Guild Wars 2 at gamescom 2011 & quite a lot has changed. ArenaNet have kindly changed the extend of the NDA that we signed so everyone who attended now has the same ability to talk about the game as the press. That said, onwards!
It turned out that I was the only Brit invited to the event, so I’m really glad that people spoke English and were friendly! After checking in to the hotel, saying hi to familiar faces (or putting faces to familiar names) and waiting for everyone to arrive we headed down to the venue where the event was taking place. After some small technical hitches (apparently getting 28 machines of sufficient power running in one room hadn’t been done before at this venue), and rifling through the goodybag we’d all been given we sat down to play the game. The goodybag contained a bandanna, a fabric NCSoft drawstring bag, a fabric Guild Wars 2 shoulder bag and a Euro exclusive Guild Wars 2 mouse mat with Rytlock on it. Very cool. No, I won’t share them, but
I will add pictures later pictures below!
Saying hello to the norn
We all started off in the norn starter area, and I rolled a mesmer as that’s what I’m thinking of playing at launch. Having watched lots of videos I knew roughly what to do and very quickly I’d unlocked all 3 of the initial weapons on the sword and got past the tutorial. Quite honestly, the press videos don’t do the world justice or instill the same feeling of accomplishment for completing the early challenges as doing it in person. I picked up a pistol after getting through the tutorial and worked on unlocking those 2 weapons too, helping clear skelk from the Raven shrine and putting eggs back in nests. I decided to follow in the steps of Yogscast and headed down to the Bear shrine to feed the cubs and clear off some graffiti, and then head underwater to find the dredge.
It was at this point that the spontaneous grouping really kicked in. Someone else in the room had come down to the Bear shrine and was filling out their heart. When I jumped in the water, so did they and we set through killing the underwater mobs to get to the dredge. Neither of us said a word to each other; we just followed and helped each other on our way. I still don’t know who it was helping me! I knew I was pushing my luck going to this area, the dredge were 3 levels higher than we were and promptly kicked our butts. Back to the nearest way point I went…
After helping Snow Leopard, I headed down to the Wolf shrine and found a large group assaulting a nearby camp full of Sons of Svanir. I joined in and by this point I was getting the hang of mesmer, creating my clone and illusion and then shattering them as the fights drew to a close. Sometimes I’d use the skills on different targets if more than one enemy had been engaged which kept them busy and off me. This isn’t a class that you can fire and forget your clones/illusions, you really have to pay attention to what’s happening and work out when is the best time to shatter and what type of shatter to use. Likewise you’ll need to use them for most encounters – a chunk of damage comes from them, and they’re good distractions for the AI. I didn’t get to unlock any utility skills, but felt like mesmer would be a profession that you could pick up quickly but would take ages to master.
Heading across the river, I found a couple of friendly norn talking about making the nearby grawl worship the norn as gods, and one of them decided he’d head into the cave to carve a statue of a norn in there. Players were tasked with protecting him and I figured I’d give it a go. Everything was going fine until the cave opened out a bit and I found myself swarmed. After a few more attempts (I could go and res the NPC and continue the event) I gave up, figuring a few more bodies were needed.
At this point I decided to go for a stroll through Hoelbrak, looking for signs of asura and sylvari. Words can not describe the size of the city and especially the Great Lodge, which stretches into the sky in a manner that would seem to defy gravity and makes all norn next to it look like ants. The area outside of it is inhabited by a large number of npcs, including members of the Vigil and the Priory and yes, there are sylvari and asura there. The sylvari I saw was mostly covered up in a coat and mask but what I could see of her was gorgeously eerie and appealing. The asura looked pretty much how you expect. I also found a colourfully ugly looking character of a human who looked like he’d modelled himself on a gnome, and wandered past 2 travelling charr who were moaning that the norn only talk about themselves and take insults with pride.
Stephane then asked all of us to join together and attack a broodmother in the river as an example of scaling. Even with 26 of us pummeling the same enemy, she didn’t fall over. I got to her pretty quickly and could see the rate that we were killing her stayed about constant as more people joined the fight. Frankly though, 26 people attacking something that isn’t a world boss is a bit excessive. Most of the time, people broke up into groups of 3-5, which scaled appropriately. And yes, everyone got xp, gold and karma for finishing the event.
The norn starter area is gorgeously detailed with nods of things that Guild Wars 1 players will recognise and those that aren’t will accept as part of the world. It’s vibrant, alive and dynamic events (that aren’t hearts) do have a level of persistance. 15 mins after we cleared out the Sons of Svanir, they hadn’t rebuilt their camp. Unfortunately the female norn voices had been altered to the point of being comically butch, and combined with the somewhat idealised character creation was a little disappointing. Beta is beta though.
The mesmer is a very interesting profession to play that I think will take a serious level of understanding and practice to master. My only regret with it is that I didn’t play with other weapon sets or fiddle around with the utility skills. I’m still looking at this being my main when launch rolls around. It’s not a simple pet class in the way that the necro or ranger are.
Before I leave off for this entry, I thought I’d share something else. Somewhere along the way, someone made a guild and invites were spread around. I had a poke around the guild tab a little, and noticed that there’s a rank tab with the option to create new ranks and assign different actions to different ranks. I wasn’t guild leader so I don’t know how many you could make, only that the generic leader-officer-member architecture came as standard. I’m not sure if this is new news or I missed it coming out of the beta, but figured it was worth sharing. I’m really excited to see what structures people come up with.
Feel free to ask questions below, I’ll answer them if I can.
I’ll post another entry later with more PvP impressions. You can read the part 2 here.