'Guild Wars 2' Hands-On Preview

Guild Wars 2 Hands-On Preview

NCSoft and ArenaNet held an event during PAX East at a neighboring hotel to show off their newest work of titles, including Guild Wars 2. Their upcoming MMO is one of our most anticipated titles for 2011, so we naturally checked it out to provide more evidence to back the game's anticipation.

The stations for Guild Wars 2 were set up nicely on beefy Alienware PCs, accented with Razer headsets, keyboards and mice. The game was on screen and ready for some play time.

The experience started with character customization, first with choosing your race and gender. In our demo setup, each race had their own starting level, as well as varied look and feel. We played as a Human with the Warrior profession. Races that will be available in the full game are Human, Charr, Norn, Asura and Sylvari and the some of the professions will be Elementalist, Warrior, Ranger and Necromancer.From here, you can choose an appearance to your liking, and then pick out personal traits that will develop a backstory for your character. This feature is a great inclusion to add depth to the storyline, and to truly make your character your own.

Once you’re happy with customizations, you proceed to the backstory narrative. This is where you’ll recognize the traits you selected as they unfold in the story of your character.

At this point, you are placed into the game. The starting environment for the warrior is a mountainous environment, and the gorgeous graphics are portrayed quite nicely here. The HUD/Menu system is filled with information, but kept clean and unobtrusive. About 90% of the screen is the game environment, ensuring the focus is in the environment versus balancing the menu system. Once you get your bearings, the first thing to do is find some NPCs to start quests.

Guild Wars 2 Warrior

Upon meeting some NPCs, you engage in a dialogue scene. Every time you talk to an NPC, the dialogue becomes engaging and intuitive by making those in the conversation focal, accented by their surroundings in the background. There is also full voice-over for the dialogue, so you don’t have to worry about reading a pop-up box of text.

The first couple of missions we checked out were fairly simple and introductory, although they didn’t feel like the stereotypical and task-like RPG quests where you have to collect ten herbs or kill twelve beasts.

One early mission asks that you answer riddles on a collection of raven statues to find information and build experience points. The riddles were clever, some easier than others, but also a fun addition to the game, and again differentiating from predictable RPG quests.

Guild Wars 2 Environments

When in battle, you are equipped with the usual RPG elements. Numbers are assigned to various attacks, some based on if you have enough energy to perform or if enough time has gone by to perform certain attacks.

One other interesting feature is the ability to revive downed NPC’s. When coming across a defeated ally, you can revive them to fight on if you choose to. This doesn't guarantee, however, that they won't see defeat again.

There are a few features in the game we didn't get to witness - such as the dynamic events and other weapons, professions and races - but the abbreviated hands-on we had was more than convincing that the title has a lot to offer.

Guild Wars 2 Combat

Overall, Guild Wars 2 provided an impressive experience and definitely held its own in the MMORPG sphere. The graphics were clean, the customization was strong and the personal storyline creation provided depth and immersion. Guild Wars 2 definitely maintains its place as a top anticipated title for 2011.

Guild Wars 2 is rumored for a November 2nd, 2011 release for PC.

Follow us on Twitter @jonlavallee and @gamerant and tell us what you're most looking forward to in Guild Wars 2.

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