My Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event Impressions (with video and screenshots!)

I’ve shown you screenshots of Lion’s Arch, I have linked to other people’s reactions to the first Beta Weekend Event, what’s now missing is my own thoughts and comments on the beta.

On Friday and Saturday evening (not Sunday evening, though!), we couldn’t play much because we kept getting kicked from the server (on Saturday, my client decided to crash while I was sorting screenshots for my Lion’s Arch posting) and when we tried to log on again, we kept getting error messages and the friendly, yet sarcastic-sounding sentence “please try again in a few minutes”. I don’t think I need to tell you how annoying and disappointing that was! Other than that, they still need to optimize the performance (changing your graphics settings didn’t lower or raise the frame rate, for example) but that’s something I won’t comment on further until the game is close to or even past release. They even said themselves that the client isn’t optimized yet, so I’m not worried about it so far. I remember being in the Rift beta weekends and the first time I was in there, the performance was horrible! Only one CPU core was used. The next beta weekend, they had already managed to work on the “threading” (or whatever it’s called… this was actually the first time I heard about it as Riot’s developers explained what they were doing and why they were certain performance would go up) and this little n00b here was positively surprised. I will just assume that ArenaNet know what they’re doing and that it’ll be exactly like it was with Rift.

Anyway. Apart from those two crashes and the login issues (most likely due to too many people wanting to play), the performance was smooth. One other not so great point was that when there were lots of people in one area casting/using skills, it becomes a lagfest. Let’s hope they can fix this as well! This was during the “end of beta”-event with lots of people in one tiny place. Bookahnerk did take a video of it and we’ll upload it to our YouTube-channel later. Again, beta. We didn’t expect much else but it needs to be mentioned nonetheless.

On to the positive things: I didn’t get stuck in any terrain pieces, I didn’t fall through the environment, I wasn’t teleported to any regions, forwards, backwards, sidewards or otherwise. As I said, my client crashed twice on Saturday but I don’t know why that was… maybe because not long after that, the server crashed as well? I don’t know much about the technical side of games. No NPCs were stuck either, no bugged escort quests etc. All in all, the game is already a lot better than Warhammer Online during open beta (which is the only other MMO I really cared about from before its release).

But let’s get to the actual content. I started with the mesmer and took her to competitive PvP – only to realise that I had no idea what I was doing. I should apologise to the rest of the team. We won the match but no thanks to me! I think if I want to play mesmer in PvP effectively, I first need to play the class with all weapon skills unlocked until I have a good enough feeling for the class. I switched to warrior and played her in the low level area. The last time when I played a warrior, I was level 30 and had skipped the low level content. ;) I absolutely loved that class! It seemed a lot easier and more straight-forward than the mesmer. No tricky illusions, leaping out of the battle, hiding in stealth etc. Instead, I leaped towards the mob, I slowed them down,… Also, when I played her in competitive PvP, I felt like I knew what I was doing. Of course, still on a very basic level. But it felt a lot better than the mesmer. The competitive PvP in general felt very polished. No lag, no bugs that I’m aware of etc. I only wish that there was an option to leave the PvP queue after a match instead of being tossed into the next one immediately.

In PvE, I didn’t die often and in group events, I usually sticked with my rifle to keep my distance from mobs and had enough time to observe the battlefield and revive my dead comrades. All in all, those two classes are still my favourites (I tested others but stopped at level 2 or 3 – it’s boring having to “grind” up with the same events over and over while waiting for your skills to unlock if you’re doing that one class after the other ^^) and I’ll definitely create one of each and hey, why not have two mains, right? ;)

I didn’t set foot into WvW at all. Bookahnerk did and he tested claiming a tower, building a cannon, fortifying the walls – but he filmed it and this, too, will go up to our YouTube channel sooner or later. ;) From what I’ve seen on his screen, however, it looked like fun and I already enjoyed open RvR in Warhammer Online. So I’m pretty sure I’ll like WvW as well.

As you know, I also spent time in Lion’s Arch. Quite a lot of time. I found all 26 Points of Interest and while it wasn’t too difficult, it also wasn’t too easy. At one point, I realised that there are three layers to the map and that not all 26 POIs were shown on the middle layer because some were hidden on the top and the bottom layer. Being able to move around via waypoints helped out a lot. It would have taken even longer otherwise. But it’s great for completionists! Also, when you go to a city and the loading screen appears (yes, unfortunately, cities are gated by loading screens and not entered directly like in World of Warcraft. On the other hand, there weren’t many other loading screens, so it still felt like one big world), you can see how many PoIs and waypoints in the city you’ve already unlocked. Of course, you can also see that whenever you hit M to open the map (as seen on the screenshot). ;)

I’ve seen a few pretty tough fights. Here is one example. A fight against a shaman during an event. We didn’t think anything of it and ran into the fight. Easy enough, right? I was there with my rifle warrior and bookahnerk joined the fight after I had already died a few times. We were so many players so why was this happening? I also have to admit that I didn’t understand why I died all the time. I tried to keep my distance and didn’t see the shaman attack me. Bookahnerk, who had watched, commented: “Reflect is on… and there it’s off again… and on again… and off again… watch for the orb effect around him!” You can see this clearly at 1:26 (and a few seconds before that, my charr runs into the screen to revive bookahnerk! Hurrah! ^^). So, apart from having to dodge away (in case anybody wonders, yes, we have video footage of a fight against another mob where you were dead if you didn’t dodge in time!), you also need to pay attention to other effects that mobs activate.

All in all, I had fun. The server/login issues are the biggest problem that I see (and as I wrote, they weren’t there on Sunday) together with the lagfest when lots and lots of players are in one tiny area all casting spells. Several people complained about the overflow shards which separated parties. I agree this shouldn’t happen and I hope it was just an oversight and will be changed in the future. Other than that, it did feel very polished!

I feel like I’m forgetting something. But really, there are so many posts out there that mine is just one in a million… so… enjoy the video and the screenshots! I’ve selected just the best out of 600 (that you can see here and in the Lion’s Arch Screenshot Gallery).

Edit: HA! I knew it. I’ve forgotten one thing. Maybe you remember that during the interview at the EUFanDay in Brighton, somebody asked about the “too pretty female humans”. And ArenaNet answered that this is what they want. I disagree but it’s not my game nor my design philosophy. We, as fans, can only criticise and tell them what we think. I don’t know why but this time, we did have the choice to create a woman that looks “less porcelain-pretty”. Look at the second lowest row, the left picture. If you ask me, she IS pretty. But not in the doll-like fashion. She looks real and while at first, I saw that, loved it but thought: I probably won’t use it! – I ended up creating two characters with that face (who looked different thanks to the facial sliders that let you change eyes, mouth, chin, etc.). Thank you, ArenaNet! :)


  1. O_O

    I didn’t know the flame shaman would cast a reflect shield from time to time! I died to that mob so many times that eventually I figured out I would be more helpful ressurrecting others. He was also part of the reason I commented before that I thought the events of the charr starting area felt a little too hard compared to the human area.

    In an off-topic note, rogues with pistols looks fun! At least I assume the class in the video is a rogue.


    1. Neither did I! To be honest, I paid so much attention to my own skills, which dead person I could easily revive, when to dodge out of the way, etc. that it didn’t occur to me that the shaman could use a skill like that. ;) It’s a starter area! People already said that the mobs are too easy, etc. etc.

      Thief, by the way. ;) It does look like fun! I still prefer my rifle-warrior but it’s something that I will still try out. ^^


  2. I’m still recovering from the physical aspects of such extended, marathon playing sessions, and yet I’m missing the game so much already. I really would rather play the unfinished beta version of GW2 than any other game currently available to me.

    I had to say to Bookahnerk *double fist tap on chest + finger point* You’re the type of player that restores my faith in humanity. I was feeling a little bit discouraged by the sheer volume of posts around the internet by folks who clearly weren’t “paying attention” while they were playing this weekend, and it seemed like far too many were calling for the game to accomodate their “lazy thinking” rather than actually making the effort to truly “learn” in a new experience. So it was a refreshing relief to hear about your experience with “Dat Shaman.” You, and players like you, are what make these games SO MUCH fun for me to experience.

    I got my butt kicked by a similar boss mob in the human area (several times in fact) until I slowed down, stopped trying to just “blunt force” my way through the encounter, and started actually paying attention to what was happening. It was at that point that the off-hand focus weapon for the necro became my friend (the #5 Spinal Shivers skill removes boons from opponents) and all of sudden, Mr. Big-n-Bad wasn’t so tough anymore. (Amazing how it changes the difficulty of an encounter when you’re not killing yourself for the mob.)

    Also wanted to tell Paeroka (and everyone) that although you start with a minion in the healing skill slot for necro, I swapped it out for another healing skill at the earliest opportunity and played the rest of my time on Anec Dotal (my necro) without ever summoning another minion. I ended up using the axe/focus as one weapon set and swapping to staff on the other. Put my early PvE trait points into Blood Magic and tested out several of major traits with it. Mark of Evasion wasn’t working (filed a bug report) but several of the other traits seemed have nice effects and compliment my play style. The utility skills were Signet of Locust, Spectral Armor, and Well of Suffering (in that order) and were very complimentary to the active, risk-taking play style I want to implement. You might not think so at first glance but, 10% increased movement speed (all of the time) is much more influential in a game whose core mechanics emphasis mobility so much, and you can really notice the difference.

    I also played and enjoyed the thief and elementalists professions, but I was truly fearless, and nearly indomitable while playing the necro. I routinely soloed several mobs of higher level at the same time, and I lost count of how many times I took on elite/veteran/group boss mobs of higher level – completing the kill solo on several occassions. I especially liked the “in your face” style of the axe/focus weapon set, but I hot swapped to the staff for AoE marks with regularity. (I took particularly evil glee in the #4 skill on the staff and loved fighting mobs that used conditions because of it… there’s nothing quite as pleasurable as having a spider poison you, and then taking that poison off of yourself and putting it back on the spider… muwhahahahaha…)

    One of the side benefits of playing a minionless / vampiric style necro is that they are quite helpful in groups. Escort quests were a breeze in general, but were particularly easy because things like Well of Blood being able to heal the dolyak and npcs quite efficiently with the Blood Magic trait line getting points. Major traits like Vampiric Rituals really augmented this considerably.

    What did one cockroach survivor of a nuclear holocost say to the other? “Man, I wish I was as tough as that GW2 Necro!”

    If nothing else, this first BWE has solidly confirmed my “main” for the actual launch of the game – at least in terms of profession – I’m stilling wavering somewhat on the race… going sylvari or asura and right now I’m leaning sylvari for that profession but, a lot will depend on how my experiements with warrior go in the next BWE. If warrior ends up as my second character (all other professions are vying for second place after the necro at this point) then I might go sylvari warrior and asura necro. An asura would certainly suit the feeling of total fearlessness I had on the necro.

    Oh… the razer naga hex mouse survived it’s baptism by fire, and we’ve made friends with each other now.


    1. Your comments are getting too long for me to reply to them before I head to work. Grmpf. ;)

      But thank you for your insight of the necromancer class! You make it sound like a class I definitely want to try (not because of the survivability but rather the minion-less playstyle and Well of Blood and your enthusiasm!). Will definitely need to try out that class the next time and play her more than just for one level. ;)


  3. i had the same problem with taking screenshots, so i took few of them sadly, for every 5-6 i had client crush, and i was afraid to live all this waiting ..

    here: is my little album : )


    1. Really? I only had two client crashes when I was uploading screenshots but that didn’t have anything to do with each other. ;) Taking the screenshots was okay, though… except when taking the high resolution screenshots which froze my screen for a few seconds. ^^

      I need to have a look at those screenshots later when I’m back from work. :)


Comments are closed.