Previews
Guild Wars 2 Preview

Justin Clouse | 3 May 2012 16:00
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As you complete these events and quests, you'll be rewarded with experience and money, but there are a few alternate forms of currency that have interesting effects and usages. Karma is gained when completing events, and can be used to purchase items from the quest givers. For example, the farmer whose orchard you cleared of spiders has special pies that will buff you for a short time. This seems to take the place of more traditional quest rewards, so you can effectively pool them for an expensive item instead of having a whole bunch of random quest items to trash sell to the vendor. There are also PVP and Guild currencies, but the real game changer is Gems, which form the backbone of the Guild Wars 2's microtransaction market.

Slightly similar to PLEX in EVE, Gems can only be bought for real money, but they are a tradable item in the game's economy, allowing players to purchase Gems for real money and turn them into coin and vice versa. The items and services available for Gems run a wide variety from special cosmetic items that can transmute the stats from one item to another to temporary buffs. There are some questionable ones, though, like keys that are the only method for opening special chests dropped or found in the world. The items within are things like fun potions that turn you into an animal or short duration buffs, but I hope the developers will continue to stay on the fun or utility side of the fence rather than providing an indirect way to pay for power. Gems should also have a great side effect of all but eliminating the third party gold market since it's easy to convert real money into in game currency in a safe and legal manner.

Overall the combat in Guild Wars 2 has a great feeling of mobility and there's much less emphasis on predefined class roles. Like its predecessor, Guild Wars 2 focuses on a much tighter grouping of skills as you'll only ever have 10 skills at a time and one or more specific profession-based abilities. The thief, for instance, can steal temporary items to be used against foes whereas the elementalist can change their elemental attunement, which effects what their spells do. Your first five skills are determined by your currently equipped weapon, but you're given more freedom to pick your healing, elite and utility skills in the later five. In addition to the dedicated healing skills, there are a number of other systems for allowing players to move away from the tank, healer and dps trifecta. Every player has an action bar that can be used to roll and dodge attacks, and reaching 0 hit points does not instantly result in death. Upon running out of life you'll be knocked into a downed state with a limited selection of skills, but if you can kill a foe you'll rally back to your feet. This also allows other players to assist and revive you should they be able to get to you in time, removing the requirement for a specific class to be able to resurrect dead players.

While the beta weekend has already drawn to a close, I'm looking forward to more of them and Guild Wars 2's eventual release. The emphasis on working together with other players without jumping through hoops is something this genre has really needed.

Game: Guild Wars 2
Genre: RPG
Developer: ArenaNet
Publisher: NCsoft
Platform(s): PC
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US)Play.com(UK)

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