Hands-On with Guild Wars 2

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href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/89004"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/89004/preview"
alt="Guild Wars 2 Race Selection"
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Wars 2 Race Selection

first of our two part look at Guild Wars 2 from PAX Prime focuses on low level
human gameplay

weekend at href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/pax/2010">PAX
Prime in Seattle, Ten Ton Hammer
was fortunate
enough to get plenty of hands-on time with the live demo for href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2">Guild
In fact, we even managed to
play through full demo sessions of both
the low level human experience in and around the village of Shaemoor,
as well as the mid-level charr content including the epic Shatterer
event and a whole lot more.

Since the overall breadth of content to consume in the Guild
Wars 2

demo encompasses far more than what a single article could properly
cover, we have a two part look at the game in action. First up, Ethec
shares his thoughts and experiences in his first hands-on impressions
of the game, specifically as a low level human ranger. How is the game
shaping up so far? Read on and find out!


Epic First Excursion into Tyria

My href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2/features/previews/humans">human
came to life in a flaming village beset by centaur
warriors and archers. A nearby officer hurriedly explained that someone should
round up the cowering villagers and see them to the easily defended
Inn, so I set out on the task. The user interface prompted me with
green diamonds visible through buildings to help guide me to the
holed-up villagers. These diamonds, fighter pilot HUD-like diamonds in fact, were a big
help, but Combat Designer Jon Peters noted that such handholding
measures may only be available during the larger story missions. I
appreciated the touch –finding the villagers without help
would have slowed down the fun, breakneck pace of the experience, and
might have been that much more frustrating to boot.

The dev diaries promised that in
Guild Wars 2
wouldn’t just stand around in fields waiting for you to
attack them, and Arena.net delivered on that particular promise about 15 seconds into the
game. After receiving my marching orders, two enemy horsemen came
galloping up and attacked me, and I found myself fighting alongside
NPCs to quickly dispatch them both. That was just the beginning,
though. I had to fight my way through several sorties on the way to
distressed villagers.

After I’d completed the quest, a large green HUD star beckoned me
to the Inn. With a little time to breathe, I took stock of my
surroundings for a moment. The classically modeled medieval European
village was in bad shape, but not without its charms. A sandwich board
outside the Inn denoted the day’s specials in an unreadable
script, and helped give the impression that the attack had come quite

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/89003"> alt="Guild Wars 2 Greater Earth Elemental"

greater earth elemental encounter at the end of the human tutorial is
just as epic in scale as most end game raids in other MMOGs

With the villagers safely tucked into the Inn, a lieutenant asked me to
head to the nearby garrison that functioned as a chokepoint into the
town to try and stem the tide of enemies. Off I went, noting the green
compass marker that showed me where to find my next
objective.  The compass marker was miniscule, and until
you’re conditioned to look for green (green for guidance?)
you may not notice it.

This, and the fact that the floating combat numbers look
free-to-playishly out of proportion with the rest of the game text,
were my only criticisms of the interface. On the other hand, I loved
the placement and size of visual markers on the screen (which were
helpful without busying things overmuch) and the map view, which zooms
from map view to third person view Google Worlds-style.

Arriving at the garrison, I and a few other ungrouped players found the
doors wide open. This is never good standard operating procedure for a fort, and
as a result we kicked off an event - a wave battle. My ranger finally
came into his own now that I could put space between myself and my
victims, but quirkily, enemies were immune to my attacks until inside
the structure. Jon explained that this is so ranged DPS types
couldn’t just mow down approaching enemies, but I’m personally
all about mowing down enemies in general!

In any case, I saw how projectile damage increased with proximity,
encouraging ranged units to move around and find a sweet spot between
too little damage and too much aggro. The second of my two starter
abilities, rapid fire, had a simple but effective mechanic of allowing
me some bonus rapid fire time if I simply held down the
hotkey.  That is, it sounds simple until you try to hold the
number two button while WASDing around for better positioning, but
happily the game automatically targets the enemy closest to your target
reticule and switches targets mid-ability if you happen to kill your
first target.

Hands-On with Guild Wars 2

Finally the Champion Modnir High Sage came storming into the garrison
and, after taking some punishment, stormed back out again. 
This time we could follow., but much to our surprise, the High Sage had
summoned a hulking greater earth elemental. While not quite the size of
The Shatterer, this level 1 boss was easily the size of a endgame raid
boss in any typical MMORPG. Thankfully, despite a few knockbacks and
easily eluded stomps, he was nothing we couldn’t handle. With
the elemental down and the High Sage routed, the headless horsemen
retreated, and relative peace was restored to the area.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/89006"> alt="Guild Wars 2 Shaemoor Map"

I found myself in a slightly more peaceful version of the village area,
but Shaemoor had no lack of adventuring tasks to accomplish. I brought
up the map, and Jon noted several small, dark hearts with gilded edges
around the area. ArenaNet is tentatively calling this a
“scout system”, and it’s a nice
alternative to the typical quest hub you’d find in most MMOs
in that you’re working to improve an area through a variety
of different tasks and events. As you perform these tasks, the heart
fills up slightly, but events start to pop up that give you greater
amounts of favor with the scout. And when the heart is filled (a heart
of gold?) you’re rewarded handsomely with items and
experience for your efforts.

For example, I ventured across the bridge toward one scout hub where a
farmer needed help with a few random chores. I fed the cows, picked up
a water bucket and watered some crops; tasks which gave me a little
favor with the farmer. But as more players entered the area and chores
were harder to come by, the game began to trigger events. First, a wave
of bandits began to set fire to hay bales. Since I had a water bucket
in hand, I extinguished the flames, then dropped the bucket to fight
the bandits since we were tasked with dispatching x number of bandits
before y number of bales burned.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/89005"> alt="Guild Wars 2 Shaemoor Dynamic Event"
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/89005" width="630">

As if that weren’t enough to do, a giant boar appeared
nearby, and I seamlessly got the “public encounter”
notification to take it down. The boar had a charge and shockwave
attack that made things difficult for meleers, but I could easily plink
the boar from range, then dive out of the way of its charge by simply
double tapping one of the WASD keys. Eventually the boar and bandits
fell, and now that the heart bar was filled completely, I enjoyed a
nice boost to experience without having to turn anything in to the

As with any show demo, we only saw what Anet wanted us to see, and the
low level human experience might not have matched the high level charr
demo where players found themselves in a desperate battle against a
gargantuan dragon lieutenant, The Shatterer. But my experiences in
Shaemoor were unmatched in variety and intensity for any level 1-5
experience I’ve had in any MMORPG, period. If ArenaNet can
maintain that same level of excitement throughout the level-up
experience and into endgame, we may very well have a true WoW beater on
our hands with
Guild Wars 2.

Guild Wars 2 at Ten Ton Hammer

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars 2 Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.