PAX Day 2: Guild Wars 2
By Michael Dunaway (Spunkify), OnRPG Site Admin
This is Spunkify reporting in helping DizzyPW with the massive amount of game coverage available at PAX. During day 2 of PAX I was able to visit the ArenaNet booth and finally experience the MMO behemoth that is to be Guild Wars 2. Over the past year or so ArenaNet has slowly been showing off more and more of Guild Wars 2 at trade conventions and this year’s PAX was no exception. I was able to experience a full lineup of GW2 content both during the actual media event and afterwards at ArenaNet’s PAX party (more on that later).
Big Things Come in Small Packages
At the beginning of the demo I opted to experience some of the higher level content GW2 would have to offer. I ended up picking Asura as my playtest race, the Asura being a short statured race that makes up for their size with technical and magical prowess. To complement my small Asura, I choose Guardian as his profession. The Guardians, being masters of defense, can not only protect and shield their allies from nearby pain and destruction through the use of their protective spells and barriers but can also deal out quite a bit of damage from afar, using a combination of secondary weapon abilities shot forth from the Guardians mighty staff.
It Takes Skills To Kill
After I had created my character, the developer gave me a quick overview of the control scheme and UI layout. As a veteran MMO player, the control scheme and UI felt instantly familiar and I found myself quickly adapting to the controls. However there were a few nice surprises to be found within how the game played. While the game does use hot-key command style combat, (you press a combat skill after targeting an enemy to perform the skill) there is no auto attack feature. What this means is that every attack you make is an actual keystroke action. A few of my abilities were on short enough cooldowns that I found myself constantly cycling between them without letup, ensuring maximum damage was dealt to my foes. What’s more, the game also allows you to cast abilities even if you aren’t in range of your opponent or facing them. Mashing your keys without proper timing or positioning won’t get you far in this MMO.
That’s a Big Dragon You Got There
Once familiar with my controls I was dropped straight into combat with one of GW2 fierce dragons! This dragon, which was a part of a large public style quest, was no pushover. The dragon wasted no time destroying my seemingly small health pool and I found myself having to take a rez very quickly. Unlike the previous dragon Arenanet showed off at PAX East, this dragon had an entirely different theme. He seemed to be some sort of Necromancer as he constantly crafted large undead minions to go forth and explode upon contact with players.
Of course a dragon wouldn’t be menacing if he hid behind his minions and relied on them to do his bidding. During the fight the dragon spewed huge amounts of toxic filth all over large areas. Souls unfortunate to get caught in the puddles were slowed and dealt huge amounts of damage over time that lingered even if you were fortunate enough to get out. Even those that were close, but not directly inside the range of the AOE were feared in all directions creating frantic moments where the player must react and use their dodge maneuver to avoid these spots as quickly as possible. Once I was finally able to get into melee range of the dragon only to be met with underground tendrils that shot up through the ground and grabbed any unfortunates nearby.
All of these mechanics made for an intense but controlled experience. Teamwork was obviously a huge component to this encounter and I could see all across the battlefield my allies banding together to fight off the various mechanics the dragon threw at us. It wasn’t enough for us to simply attack the dragon. In fact out of the 30 to 40 of us fighting that dragon only about 10 to 15 were fighting the dragon directly. The others were busy dealing with the deadly tendrils, necro mobs, and other challenges presented to us. In fact, not all jobs on the battlefield consisted of fighting. Spaced out across the deadly oceanic shore the dragon currently occupied, were large player controlled defense turrets. These almost steam punk style turrets were used to deal massive damage to the dragon. The turrets however, were very susceptible to attacks and if destroyed required players to repair and reactivate them. Not only that but the dragon periodically summoned large bone walls that blocked the turret shots and needed to be destroyed before a clear line-of-site could be established once more.
A Challenge No Matter What The Size
Overall, this showing of PvE content has me excited. The sheer scale of the encounter felt amazing, the developer assured me that the content would always be challenging no matter how many players were involved. This is due to the dynamic scaling implemented into the public encounters. The system takes into account how many players are currently engaged in the encounter and scales both the damage and the actual number of mechanics the encounter utilizes. This prevents the content from feeling either impossible with too few players or a breeze with too many. I’ve been waiting to get my hands on GW2 for a while now and so far ArenaNet has not disappointed. Be sure to check back soon here on OnRPG as we cover the PvP aspects of GW2 in an upcoming article!