I spent a couple of hours with the beta for Guild Wars 2 this weekend, and by golly, am I stoked. The experience itself is familiar for anyone that has played your standard WASD MMORPG, but with additives. The initial character creation involves choosing answers for questions posed that alter your character's given abilities, personality, and origin. Where did you grow up? The streets? In a wealthy family? Were you adopted? Did you witness something tragic when you were a child that haunts you to this day? These questions sound like a quiz you take to figure out what Twilight character you are, but it has an almost immediate impact as soon as you begin the game. You jump in, take part in a huge battle against a pair of hands surrounded by a swirling vortex, then go home. Go home. You may help out the local farmers first, but you inevitably head back to wherever you came from. The wealthy district. The streets. Or, as I chose, something a little more common.
A lady friend, a barmaid, needed to know I was okay. So, in a typical fashion, I ended up in a huge bar fight after some guy started pushing people around. I became an action hero, leaping over bar tops, crashing my weapons down onto the poor sap that rode along with the rest of the bandits. I climbed a bunch of stairs, turned a corner, and suddenly a challenger appeared. He taunted me. It all happened so fast, so I'm not sure what he said. I imagine he made a comment about my Mom being a Moa, or something. Instantly I was reacting, rolling out of his range, firing my pistol and unleashing a bomb of smoke to blind my foe. After whittlin' down his health, he knelt and admitted defeat. Like a boss, I ignored him and ran up the spiral staircase he was guarding. Big Nose Ted was there, the guy that started it all, acting like a fool thinking he was going to get out of there alive. Even though he did. Not without hurting my friend's father, the owner of the bar, though. What happened next was a call to adventure. Get the herb to heal the father, slay some bandits, learn some political intrigue, get the girl. I think you get the girl, anyway. I didn't get that far.
Maybe I chose something that wasn't too common, after all.
The world itself is a wonder. Everywhere you go people are responding to you, talking, and living out their lives like a sandbox game. The beta's central city hub, Divinity's Reach, is a three-story metropolis of buildings, streets, and hundreds of NPCs walking around just to walk. The place was huge, with several instanced districts (like everyone's home district, which changes depending on their origin) and props filling it up like a barrel of monkeys. Book carts were all over the place too which, when read, showed the title of a book that always had something to do with the original Guild Wars. The World on a Turtle Shell: My Time with the Luxons by Mhenlo. Travel wasn't difficult with a variety of waypoints scattered throughout the city. Once discovered, you can teleport there for a small fee.
The city was alive with the sound of peeps.
After adventuring in the countryside, I ran across a farm littered with players killing spiders and collecting apples. I jumped into the fray, assisting a few people that needed help with my trusty dual wielded pistols. After collecting enough apples, for amazing pie, the event transformed like Optimus Prime. A giant spider appeared, coaxing everyone around the area to gather, unleashing massive amounts of special effects at once. Fire, ice, bullets, magical sword swing beams, smoke bombs, huge hammer strikes, and a chuckle from my end surely followed. After the spider fell, most of the people involved dispersed, but some remained. I imagine they stood there motionless because the players themselves jumped out of their chairs and danced around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose.
Needless to say, I'm excited for the release. I'm anxious to kick off my Sunday shoes and partake in plenty of adventures.