Outdated! Guild Wars 2 in a nutshell – a FAQ

There is a newer version of this article which you can find here.

(Updated: January 17, 2012)

What do we know about the game so far? I’m trying to keep it as short as possible. Knowing me, I will fail at that. ;) For further reading, I’ll include links.

This is also for people who’ve just recently heard of Guild Wars 2 and now want to know more. :) Since the game is still in development and hasn’t even reached beta yet (note: I think I read a statement that they would like to get into closed beta before the end of the year. The release date will then be determined by how well the beta goes and what kind of feedback comes in), about everything is subject to change. Also, new information comes out every now and then which might outdate what you can read here. If you notice any of that – or just errors that I’ve made – please comment (with sources if possible).

I’m going to use the same categories that I’ve used for my “Rift vs. Lotro vs. WoW” posting already.

If you only want a very short overview, the following will hopefully be enough. There are lots of links leading you further down my posting if you want more information!


Before we start, we need to get two questions out of the way (as suggested by Pyzlnar on Reddit):
“Yes, you can jump!” – and no, this game is not an Asian-grinder and it is not made by an Asian company. It’s made by ArenaNet who is located in Seattle, Washington, USA (though they do belong to NCSoft but they only work as a publisher here while ArenaNet is the developer and thus, actually makes the game). Guild Wars 2 will also feature an open world and will not be heavily instanced like Guild Wars 1 is. Again, thank you, Pyzlnar, for these suggestions. You were right, they’re clearly missing and should be the first two points in any GW2 FAQ. ;)

OMG! When’s the beta? How do I get in?
The first closed beta phase started on December, 16, 2011 and ended on December 30, 2011. You weren’t able to sign up for it, though.
If you wonder about open beta, go read this interview with Angel Leigh McCoy. Planning of open beta has already begun, according to her.
Wait, what?

How much does the game cost and which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
You will have to buy the game itself but no monthly fees. There will be an item shop similar to Guild Wars. Weapons etc. that give you an advantage will not be offered for real money. Nothing is known yet about security like authenticators.
More on costs and security

What can I play (races and classes?)
5 races: Norn, Human, Asura, Charr and Sylvari.
8 classes (officially called ‘professions’): Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Warrior, Elementalist, Necromancer, Ranger and Mesmer.

No holy trinity! Every class is self-sufficient up to a certain point. No tanks, no healers! But classes can interact with each other through their skills and support others.
More about races and classes

What does the game look like?
In short: Gorgeous, artsy, picturesque if you ask me. It’s important to note that ArenaNet is a US-American company. So don’t even start with “Asian crap” here, please. ;)
Pictures and videos outsourced to below in order to keep the part up here short.

What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
No raids in this game! Instead, dynamic events in the open world that scale for up to 100 players. And dungeons (story mode and the more difficult explorable mode). No standard quests for levelling.
More about PvE

Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
Structured PvP similar to battlegrounds (WoW), warzones (SWTOR),… everybody will be max level and wear standard armor. So no gear advantages.
World vs. world vs. world is the second mode. Three servers will fight against each other (no fighting players from the same server. There aren’t any factions in the game like WoW’s Horde and Alliance etc.). Servers will rotate every two weeks. You can level your character in WvWvW.
More about PvP

Grouping and socialization
In Guild Wars 2, you will be able to join as many guilds as you like with one single character (I assume you will be able to create more than one character. So don’t misunderstand this sentence ^^). If you want to read our opinion about it, go here. If you don’t, well that’s just as well. ;)
Grouping will be in the game but in its own way. You will not compete for XP or loot!
More about Grouping and Socialization

I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
The first thing that comes to my mind is the personal storyline. When creating your character, you get asked a few questions and can choose between different answers. That determines the starting point of your personal story. Other choices later on will further determine how your story evolves. You can bring a friend along to your storyline. But it will essentially be your story.

Guild Wars 2 will also have achievements. So that’s something you can do. You can also roam the world on your own or play a lone wolf in WvWvW – though I’m not sure how viable the latter is. ;)
More about stuff to do solo

Crafting
8 professions (you can have two at a time): Weaponsmith, Huntsman, Artificer, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, Tailor, Jewelcrafter and Cook.
Every character can gather resources. Nodes can be used by several players. No stealing possible!
More about crafting

Fluff
There will be non-combat pets. Mini games were also mentioned but not much is known about them yet. “Bar brawl” was mentioned, for example. You will also have a home instance which should not be confused with what we think about when we hear “housing”! It changes with your personal story but you can’t put furniture in etc. Also, you will be able to change the way your armour looks. And there will be 400 different dyes in the game. Each piece of armour has 1 to 3 areas that can be dyed.
More about fluff

That was the short version. Its bigger brother will follow now. Including links for further reading (most of the information can be found on ArenaNet’s blog, though, or in the offical wiki for Guild Wars 2. Some other information came out of the recent GamesCom and PAX or from fansites/interviews).

The long version:

OMG! When’s the beta? How do I get in?
As said above, closed beta started on Friday, December 16, 2011. There were no sign ups which means it was “invite only”. There’s no further information if this will change for any upcoming closed beta phases. If you don’t know anybody at ArenaNet and if ArenaNet doesn’t know you, I guess your chances of getting into the beta right now are slim. Close to zero (I say that not knowing how they choose people. So this is just my own speculation from what I’ve seen). This, however, also means: Do not fall for scammers! You can’t sign up for a beta which means: There are no legitimate websites out there asking you to sign up! If you ever do want to check if you can sign up, go to their official website but don’t click on any random links offering beta keys etc.

If you wonder about open beta, go read this interview with Angel Leigh McCoy. Planning of open beta has already begun, according to her.

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How much does the game cost and which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?

No information about pricing yet, of course. We’re still too far away from a launch date for that. What we know so far: You will have to buy the game but you will not have to pay any monthly fees! In other words, it’s not the typical “f2p”. I’ve seen the term “buy2play” used more often here.

They will have an “item shop”, though we don’t know the details about that yet. You will not be able to buy better weapons etc., though. See my previous entry for more information (it includes a link to an interview and a transcription both in English and in German).

We can hope that extra security like an authenticator will be added in the future (not just for GW2 but for all games bound to our NCSoft master accounts). I saw a photo not long ago where there was a picture of such an authenticator and the names of several brands including NCSoft suggesting that they’re at least toying with that idea. But I haven’t been able to find the source anymore.

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What can I play (races and classes?)

ASURA! And kittehs. *cough*

There’ll be 5 races to choose from: Norn, Human, Asura (they’ve been playable in their demo but they haven’t had their “information week” yet. When that takes place, we should get even more information about them), Charr and Sylvari.

The character customization isn’t finished yet! Here’s a video showing the possibilities you had during GamesCom 2011. At PAX Prime 2011, ArenaNet said that they’re reworking the character customization. I don’t know if they’ll change everything drastically or just do a few touch ups here and there. But don’t take it as ‘finished’ what you see in the video.

8 professions. We have: Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Warrior, Elementalist, Necromancer, Ranger and Mesmer.

Here’s a video showing ranger gameplay with Kaboobie commenting and explaining about that class.

One important thing to add about the classes: There is no holy trinity anymore. Every class is supposed to be self-sufficient but group play will still be important to succeed in fights (as a single player won’t be able to fight against huge dragons alone). An elementalist, for example, can put down a fire wall. If a ranger shoots an arrow through said fire wall, the arrow will deal fire damage. There are more interactions like this and there will be classes/builds that are better when it comes to supporting others (guardian, for example). So if that’s what you like doing, you will probably still find a class that you love. There’s just no whack-a-mole healing anymore. ;) You will also have the ability to dodge (this isn’t a passive skill. You have to activate it) but your dodge costs energy and energy is a limited resource that refills over time. While dodging, you’re invulnerable. So use this skill wisely!

Depending on which weapon(s) you’re using, the first five skills are determined for you already. The other five skill slots can be filled individually (one slot is reserved for a healing skill – you’ll have a few different ones out of which you choose one. Another one is reserved for an elite skill. Again, you can choose one elite skill out of several ones. Of course, you can switch between those skills between fights if you want to!). By switching weapons, you switch your skills on the left. For example, a ranger can use a longbow to deal damage from far away, then run into the fight and switch to greatsword for melee AoE.

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What does the game look like?

I chose three pictures here that are supposed to represent Guild Wars 2. But it’s not really possible to only show a handful of pictures and say “this is what it looks like”. It never does a good game justice (and I remember having the same issues when I tried to do that with Lotro, Rift and WoW). So have a look at the 3rd Guild Wars 2 trailer:

We also took a few pictures of screens at GamesCom 2011 which you can look at in our Picasa album. Our YouTube channel shows a few PvP matches. I guess those will give you a good impression about the game and its looks. The official website has higher quality screenshots.

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What’s there to fight against (PvE)?

For those who have played Guild Wars or have heard about it, the biggest difference is probably that Guild Wars 2 will have a persistent world. Just like in other MMOs (Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, WoW, just to name a few), you will be able to meet other players in the world. There will be dungeons/instances but other than that, you will meet other players everywhere even when you’re not in a group with them.

Speaking about groups: They’re not necessary. You cannot target a friendly player. All support skills are placed on the ground instead. You will get loot and XP from a mob when you’ve participated in killing the mob. There’s no kill-stealing! Groups will still help (I think you can see where your group members are on the map, for example, and some support skills place priority on a group’s members before it also targets random other players) but all in all, the necessity to be in a group is diminished.

Guild Wars 2 will have a level cap of 80. It will not feature a level curve, though, where the XP needed for the next level raises exponentially. Instead, it does raise for the first few levels and then stays at the same amount needed for every following level.

There will not be the traditional quests for levelling up. Quests will appear as part of the personal storyline. As this storyline can be soloed, I’m going to write about it later in the category about playing solo. Other than that, you will participate in open world events for levelling. Those events scale dynamically. The mobs become harder and use more abilities the more players are participating. Think “public quests” from Warhammer Online if you know those. The events will be “dynamic” which means that one event can lead to a different one depending on the outcome of the first event. So you will at one point see the same event start again. But there will be a lot of different ones so it might also be that when you’re in the zone, you don’t see the same one again. At least, not on the same evening. ;)

There’ll be a sidekick system in place which means that you can get levelled up to a high level when you’re with a high level friend. Your gear will still be low level, though, so you will not fight exactly like a high level character would. But you’re closer to them all in all and can go and adventure with your friend(s). It also works the other way round: When you’re a higher level and go to a low level area, you’re downscaled. So you won’t be able to just go there and kill everything in sight and leave the poor lowies without mobs to kill. ;)

Guild Wars 2 will NOT have raids! If WoW-style raiding is what you want to do, you need to find another game. On the other hand, as I wrote already, events can be scaled for up to 100 players. If *that* isn’t a raid, I don’t know what is. ;) Anyway, the game will have dungeons. The official Wiki for GW2 says that there’ll be 8 dungeons at release. In order to unlock them, you first need to do them in story mode. After that, you can also choose the explorative mode. The story mode is easier to do while the explorable mode will each feature three different paths you can go within a dungeon (thus seeing different mobs/encounters) and it will also be more difficult (I assume like normale and heroic mode in WoW).

Another feature will be underwater zones and combat. Your skills will change when you’re underwater (a trident was mentioned as one possible weapon, for example). There will be no breath bar and your character will wear a breathing mask instead.

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Who’s there to fight (PvP)?

Guild Wars 2 will have two PvP modes: Structured PvP and World vs. World vs. World.

Structured PvP will be instanced with small groups. You can join via an interface that is similar to the FPS-lobbies. You can click on any game that still has open spots and join the game that way. There will probably be stuff like ladder systems, tournaments etc. ArenaNet apparently also wants to support its players by offering them the chance to host their own tournaments (this is only something they are considering. Having private PvE servers is out of question, though – source).One important thing that sets this apart from the usual battlegrounds, warfronts, scenarios is that when you join, your character is max level and everybody wears the same gear (that is, your elementalist and another elementalist have the same gear. You won’t wear the same stuff that a warrior does ;) ).

You will also get a premade build the first time you enter, so that you can jump right into the action. Of course, you can change that build to your liking and save it for later matches. You will not earn experience in this PvP mode (as far as I know). All in all, this means that there will not be a level- or gear advantage in structured PvP. What counts is how well you and your team mates play! If you found a group of players that you work well with, you can join the next game with them. It’s all about strategy and working together here!

The second mode is the more “casual” one (again: Whenever I use “casual” I do not mean it in a negative way. “Casual” here could probably also be substituted by “more relaxed”). You can go there whenever you like and find something to do. It’s called World vs. world vs. world because the server you play on will play against two other servers here. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have factions. In PvE, all players belong to the same side and work and play together. In PvP, you still belong to the same side and work against players from two other servers. The fight (that is, the maps the fights take place on) will be open for two weeks before servers rotate. If your server has lost, you will be matched with another server that has lost before. There will be objectives, like keeps to claim and lots of different stuff to do. So hopefully, no big zergs just in one place whereas the rest of the maps are empty. Guilds will be able to claim keeps. And the developers said that there will also be underwater areas. Characters can participate in WvWvW from level 1 on but they will not be pushed up to max level with max level gear. You do earn experience, however. So if you want to only do PvP from the beginning on, you can do that! What exactly you will be able to do there, how the maps look etc. remains to be seen… as actually most of the WvWvW remains to be seen, literally, as ArenaNet hasn’t talked much about it so far.

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Grouping and Socialization
As said above, you will be able to join as many guilds as you like with one character. This will give you the opportunity to have a guild with just your closest friends for when you don’t feel like talking to strangers, a guild for PvP when you just want to fight against others or maybe a huge anonymous server guild where everybody joins who just wants to do some PvE events? Choose whichever “groups” you like and activate whichever one you want at any given time. There’s not much other information given yet about guilds (for example: Will we be able to have custom ranks?).

(The following two paragraphs are more or less copied from the PvE-section above. If you’ve read this already, skip them)
“Groups” per se are not necessary. You cannot target a friendly player and all support skills are placed on the ground/around you etc. instead. Like a wall in front of the caster that protects anybody who’s behind it. You will get loot and XP from a mob when you’ve participated in killing the mob. There’s no kill-stealing! Groups will still help (you can see where your group members are on the map, for example, and some support skills place priority on a group’s members before it also targets random other players) but all in all, the necessity to be in a group is diminished.

There’ll be a sidekick system in place which means that you can get levelled up to a high level when you’re with a high level friend. Your gear will still be low level, though, so you will not fight exactly like a high level character would. But you’re closer to them all in all and can go and adventure with your friend(s). It also works the other way round: When you’re a higher level and go to a low level area, you’re downscaled. So you won’t be able to just go there and kill everything in sight and leave the poor lowies without mobs to kill. ;)

Also, no raids like you may know them from World of Warcraft, etc. But I won’t write anything else about that here. If you want to know more, go up to PvE.

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I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
The first thing that comes to my mind is the personal storyline. When creating your character, you get asked a few questions and every time, you can choose between three different answers. That determines the starting point of your personal story. Other choices later on will further determine how your story evolves. Some characters in the world will react according to what you’ve done in your storyline so far. You can bring a friend along to your storyline. But it will essentially be your story. If you’ve read Edge of Destiny, you’re already well familiar with Logan, Caithe, Eir, Rytlock, Snaff and Zojja. You will meet the key characters from the book again in the game during your personal story.

Other than that, I guess you can sneak around WvWvW and see what you can do there as long as you’re not running into a group of enemies. Then there’s crafting and with that, probably also resource gathering. Events will scale up when there are more people around. So you could try and find an easy event to solo – although I don’t know if that’s possible!

There will be achievements to hunt in the game. Depending on how you get them, you can go on achievement hunts solo.

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Crafting
There will be 8 professions (you can have two at a time): Weaponsmith, Huntsman, Artificer, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, Tailor, Jewelcrafter and Cook. No need to fight over resource nodes anymore either as everybody can use every node they see. Once you’re done, it appears empty to you (or maybe it despawns for you) but another player can still see and use it. So no more fighting over one resource node in the world!

The crafting itself will be like a mini game. You won’t have to buy recipes to craft something. Instead, you can put different materiales into the crafting window and find out recipes by trial and error. Once you’ve found a combination that works, that recipe will be noted in your interface for you to use whenever you want (which is good because I doubt I could memorize all those recipes myself ;) ). Of course, people expect all or most of the recipes to appear in the wiki before or not soon after launch. If you don’t like doing it as a game, then you can probably just look up the necessary combinations for any given item. But hopefully, nobody will be pressured into looking it up. I will certainly try to stay away from any wiki entries about crafting items as I want to find out that stuff on my own.

We know this game will have some kind of place where you can sell and buy your wares and items. Nothing specific is known about that yet. If I remember correctly, you’ll sell and buy from people independent of the server you’re playing on. So there will be one global economy not restricted to the server you’re on.

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Fluff

There will be non-combat pets. The Hall of Monuments (you get those rewards for doing certain things in Guild Wars) lists several non-combat pets like a spider or a cat. It’s safe to assume that this means that we’ll have more than just those non-combat pets (wouldn’t make sense to have those in but not add more). On that website, you can also see titles that you can unlock. Again, I assume that there will be more titles than just those. As far as I know, they will also be purely cosmetic and not have a function like they have in Aion (where wearing a title gives you a certain buff. E.g. +10 agility).

Mini games were also mentioned but not much is known about them yet. “Bar brawl” was mentioned as an example. Sounds like the perfect activity for dwarves. Too bad they’re not in Guild Wars 2 (not going to spoiler you here. If you don’t know what happened: You can find out in Guild Wars: Eye of the North ;) ). But I’m pretty certain that other characters will have fun in the bar brawl as well. I just can’t see Asuras step so low to participate. They’d probably rather call a golem to do so. ;) The official Guild Wars 2 wiki has more information about those “activities” (I’ve only seen them being called “mini games” so far). As seems to be usual for Guild Wars (1 + 2), the rewards appear to be mainly cosmetic and will probably not give you an advantage over other players gear-wise.

You will also have a home instance which has nothing to do with the “housing” of other games. That home instance includes your home and a bit of the neighbourhood. It changes with your personal story but you can’t put furniture in etc. So, if you have rescued somebody, they might appear in your neighbourhood. Or NPCs living in your neighbourhood will react according to what you have done in your personal storyline. You will most likely not be able to put some new wallpaper onto the wall. Your home instance will be different depending on which race your character belongs to. Asuras will get a lab, Sylvari will live at the Pale Tree, etc. When you’re in your home instance, you will be alone. No other players will be there around you. Unless you invite them to your party. Then they can come with you and you can show off what you have done so far (let them be in awe at the huge statue that you have gotten for rescuing a village maybe? – I have no idea if that’s possible, by the way. I just imagine it would be cool to have something like that ^^).

Also, you will be able to change the way your armour looks… of course. Or else the talk about cosmetic stuff above wouldn’t make much sense. ;) There will also be 400 different dyes in the game to customize your look further. Each piece of armour has 1 to 3 areas that can be dyed. If you want to know more about the dye-designing process, head over to ArenaNet’s blog where Kristen Perry wrote about her work. The “400 dyes” were mentioned during one of the panels at Pax Prime 2011, by the way. You will be able to set favourites and when creating a character, you’re given a few basic colours and can choose a colour scheme there that will be used for all new items when you get them. You can change that colour scheme, as far as I know. But this means that when you’re out in the world levelling up your character, he/she will not look like a clown whenever you’re rewarded with a new item because those items will automatically have the colours you chose.

I think I’ve now written about the most basic things. ArenaNet is releasing more details about the game the closer we get to its release (though I personally will be surprised if they’ll release in Q2 2012… the game sounds like it’s pretty solid already but that the details aren’t finished yet. So I’d think a Q3 release is much more likely).

5 responses to “Outdated! Guild Wars 2 in a nutshell – a FAQ

  1. ArcherAvatar

    That was a superior summary both in format and in substance.
    The next time a friend asks me why I’m not currently involved with any MMO title I can link them to this post and explain that everytime I try to play something else I’m constantly reminded as I play that it doesn’t have THIS, and the disappointment is simply more than I want to deal with. I’d rather simply wait for GW2.

  2. What archer said… I have a month left on my last wow gamecard and I regret even having bought it since i just don’t feel like playing any other mmo till this comes out. It’s gonna change the way not just mmos but action/adventure/fantasy games as a whole are developed.

    • Same here! It runs out in one month. I’m just playing a bit of Guild Wars in the meantime and try to play a few of my zillion offline games that I’ve bought in the last few years or so. ;)

      I definitely hope that it’ll be a great success because that would show the industry that you don’t need another WoW to be successful. :)

  3. Pingback: Guild Wars 2: A FAQ for new players | Nerdy Bookahs