This past weekend was the long awaited Guild Wars 2 open beta weekend and all I can say is WOW! The graphics are even more spectacular then the original it really is mind blowing. Beta being an open beta the game is well polished. Very few bugs or problems from what I experienced. Now for the details.
Character creation is fairly standard. Pick a race, gender, tweak the character looks, etc, however, there is one slight difference. When creating your character you also create some back story for him/her. It's nothing in depth just some basics like being from the nobility or commoner. The game developers then take this elements and then interweave them into the overall storyline for the PvE portion of the game. I find this approach refreshing plus it gives a uniqueness to your character. Granted there will be countless others that make the same background choices as you but it won't be everyone. After signing the bio it's off to the tutorial and some story introduction.
Whenever I participate in a new beta the tutorial always flies by with me remembering very little. From just ogling at the graphics to being swept away by the rest of the players the whole entire point of the tutorial goes by the way side. What I do remember of it is the big bad baddie at the end that sends you off to the infirmary for some much need rest. It's the first hint that there is something evil lurking in the world.
When you wake-up from your little nap you are sent to the city of Divinity's Reach. OMG!!!! This is what I've always imagined a MMO city to be. Huge, Massive, and Gorgeous! I explored every square inch of the place and was amazed at every turn. I also had to find all the exploration points and waypoints. (Exploration points are just that places to go find. Waypoints are points for quick travel. They do cost a little to use but it beats walking half way across the map.) You are sent into the main city to start on the overall storyline and of course to familiarize yourself with the city. After finishing the story arc parts in the city it is time to go explore the region outside, Queensdale. This is where you Guild Wars 2 differs from Guild Wars. There are people all over the place in contested areas. No longer is it instances where the only time you see another soul is when you hit a town, outpost, city, etc. Quests are also a little different. No longer will they clutter a quest journal but instead will activate when you are in the area of the quest objectives and the rewards all come to you in the mail. Now there is nothing earth shattering new in the quest variety just the stuff you all know and love. Also something new this time around is the world events. If you've played Rift these would be the equivalent of rifts or if you have played Everquest 2 these would be the equivalent of public quests. The objectives for them range from kill, kill, kill, to escort and protect. I found them to be delightfully fun especially the ones they mark as "group". I did find that the objectives for the world event will scale depending on the number of players in the area.
One note on the overall quest arc. You get to make choices! Granted in the end everyone will get to the same point but you get to decide on the next step on occasion, such as going to a party or searching a home. This will bring some re-playability with additional characters since the next time around you can make the opposite choices.
Since I was concentrating on just the one area I really didn't venture past Queensdale. I did take the portal to Lion's Arch and it most assuredly was no the Lion's Arch of my youth!
All in all I can't wait for the this to go live! I look forward to everything I didn't get to see.