Guild Wars 2 – First Look

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Wow! Guild Wars 2 is finally here! For so many of us, a long wait is over. The much heralded 'followup to Guild Wars has launched as of August 28th and the servers are packed with the faithful. The game scenario they encounter once they login is that it's many years later and the Humans and Charr are now at an uneasy alliance, which oddly enough reminds me of the Federation and Klingons in Star Trek: Next Gen. A couple of new races have joined this Federation, the Asura and Sylvari, with the main hub being Lions Arch. But not all is at peace. 
There is so much to see and do in this game, it's hard to know where to start. In fact, this article was due to be submitted back on Wednesday, August 29th, but the game is very addictive and moves you easily from one thing to do after another very fluidly. You can often see in chat some poor soul stating "DAMN! I've got to go to work in 4 hours!" We all understand.
Where to start? The graphics are absolutely amazing and the skills effects look awesome as they actually look like their descriptions. When your Elementalist skill says "Send a Phoenix" a very cool fiery Phoenix is flies out and attacks the target. Your earth spell states "Ground turns to lava"? Presto, the ground turns to a mound of lava. Just trying out your skills to see what they look like can be quite entertaining, and somewhat distracting. And you don't want to get too distracted because there are plenty of hostile creatures around to take advantage, not to mention the falls from great heights (trust me, personal experience on that last one and one of the few things in game that don't give XP). 
Guild Wars 2 Sylvari glade
Speaking of dieing, the mechanic for that is rather unique. Once your health points are down to nothing, you fall to the ground and are given a bar of health that continues to drop along with four "skills" to help you try and revive yourself to about a third of original health (called "Rally" in game). If that bar is exhausted, and you haven't Rallied, you can choose to respawn to a waypoint, or wait for someone to rez you. Since every character in GW2 can resurrect you, which is pretty cool, there's no more having your group almost wipe but for one person who didn't bring a rez.
Back tracking a bit here, I want to mention an important change to the game in how fast travel is handled. Much like the fast travel in the original Guild Wars, there are waypoints which are frequently scattered throughout the map, and often not tied to major cities and posts. There are many that are near forts, dungeons and points of interest, not all of which are "friendly".   Along with waypoints, there are also Asura Gates, which travel to and from major hubs in the different zones. They are also used for travel to and from PVP, World vs. World PVP and major dungeons. No need to go to a ship in order to teleport to another other racial zone. Otherwise, same as the original Guild Wars, just pull up the map and click on a waypoint. 
Asura Gate in Divinity's Reach to Lion's Arch
The ingame economy is also like the original, insofar as it uses copper, silver and gold denominations. Gathering skills for crafting, such as chopping, harvesting and mining, still requires implements that can be obtained from merchants.  The salvage kits for converting armor and weapons to crafting goods also follow the same as the original, starting with crude salvage up to master salvage kits. The higher level kit gives more chance to gain upgrade items from salvaged goods. The level of weapons and armor are slightly different from what you may be used to, going from white at lowest, then blue, green, yellow and I believe there are some higher unique levels.
As you've likely heard, weapons and skills are tied to each other for all classes.  Each class has  a certain set of weapons they an use, with the Elementalist having the fewest options at 6, and Warrior the most at 14.  All classes except Elementalists have the ability to have two sets of weapons that are swapable during combat.  Don't pity the Elementalist though as they have available, through four different attunement, a very high damage skill set, a tanking set, a crowd control set, plus a nice healing one. For more info on weapons and and how they work ingame, I highly recommend reading Ten Ton Hammer's basic guide.  You can also see which weapons are available for each class by downloading the Guild Wars 2 Quick Reference Guide.  For the PVP inclined, you may also want to take a look at the weapon ranges available for each class.  
One other website you will want to favorite is the official Guild Wars 2 wiki. It's still pretty new, and doesn't cover everything, but it's a good place to start.
This is all I have time for right now.  In my next article, I'll touch on the races, the questing system and some of the cool combat dynamics. Until then, happy gaming, hope to see you in GW 2! 
Sseth Bloodlorn, Human Necromancer
of Philanthropy Guild on Ehmry Bay
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Developer: ArenaNet
  • Publisher: NCSoft
  • PC
  • Launch Date: August 28, 2012
  • Website:
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