Betas can be a 2-edged sword. While there’s a lot of great things associated with them, such as stress testing servers, tweaking gameplay and finding copious amounts of bugs to fix, there’s also a lot of problems with them, like previewing too much of the game early and turning players away with an unfinished product.
The problem with MMO betas is that they need you to level up your character at the early stages of the game for some time, so you get to see a lot of the early game, but typically the late game is what is actually interesting. Plus, the fact that you are usually reset in progression when the retail game releases means that there will be a lot of retreading over the same material. Those are the actual problems I have with betas and I wish there were some way around it, but honestly this is the best way to vet a game before its ready to make a debut.
Guild Wars 2′s beta weekend was still a blast. i enjoyed checking out some of the game’s unique approaches to leveling, fixing grind, PvP matches, questing and skill tree progression. The best part of playing Guild Wars 2 is the moment everything clicks, which I admit didn’t happen for awhile. It took some time to let go of established RPG tropes and find what Guild Wars 2 was trying to do exactly. Even the first game still followed the fetch and return quest mantra, what set it apart was its instanced levels and no monthly charge.
But when the game did click I fell in love. Grinding is heavily discouraged by established reward systems. What is encouraged is exploration, helping other people in the world and jumping into random events. Yes, this game dynamically generaterates events for players to jump into very often and keeps the action extremely fresh at all times. You may be just strolling to your next waypoint when the game circles a part of the map near you and tells you to check it out. Before you know it you and 20 other people are fending off wave after wave of bandits. The rewards for helping out in these events are rich, while grinding monsters is almost so little experience that its not even worth the effort.
Exploration is another key motivator since the map is dotted with all sorts of points of interest, waypoints, special “help out” quests and even special places to earn extra skill points. All of these will contribute greatly to your experience bar, so its heavily encouraged to get out an explore from an early part of the game. This is the closest in MMO games that I’ve gotten to Skyrim-style exploration, although the game is still heavily segregated by levels.
Closing out the beta weekend was a short beta finale that at first saw us fighting back some corrupted demon-things, only to be swiftly killed and turned into corrupted ourselves! It was a fun way to send the weekend off, even if it was a little silly and extremely glitchy. Beta finales are a big staple in any MMO beta, which usually end in killing off all the players in a ridiculous fashion.
There’s lot more things about the game to cover, so I’ll get back to some of the points at a later date, I just wanted to give you all a quick snapshot of my thoughts. When the game is fully released we’ll look at doing some real coverage of the game. I hightly recommend jumping on this before the next beta opportunity.