Beta Weekend Experience

July 23, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 26 Comments
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This weekend I played a sylvari ranger to level 20, and an asura to level 5. I sat in character creation for hours, I played at least 10 games of Keg Brawl, wandered around in World Versus World racking up about 6 kills and 1 death. I got zone completion in Caledon Forest and The Grove, jumped around in 4 or 5 jumping puzzles, and stuck around for the finale. And I barely took a single screenshot because I’m dumb and hardly think about what screenshots I’ll need for the posts I’m about to write.

It’s probably not fair to review a beta weekend, but this is about as close as I’ll get.

Sylvari Character Creation

The bioluminescence is beautiful. I spent a bit too much time clicking the night/day toggle to see what my character would look like in the dark. You can pull off some really cool looking characters this way, the best part of character creation.

There were a lot of other cool things too like bulb ears that open or close as you mess with the slider, or cactus needles on one of the face options, The range of skin colours was really impressive and I’m glad I can choose just about any colour to go with.

On a down note, I really think they need to ditch the mushroom headed hairstyles, they’re basically just kind of awful. A poor choice for any player to make. I only saw people choosing it as a joke.

Playing Sylvari Story

I really liked some parts of my personal story. I chose the Green Knight which had some interesting fights, one in particular with seed turrets was really fun. Hopefully I’m not mixing this up with a friends story instance.

I did think the second story chain I chose was a little muddled. I don’t remember the name something to do with a potent hylek poison that turns a hylek shaman into a sun god or something. I wish I had chosen the story of my friend Spirit which was much more mystery orientated and lore expanding. It had an NPC named Malyck I think. It might have been “All things have a right to grow” but don’t take my word for it.

Asura Character Creation

Go with the afro if you must, but for me it is the asura version of the mushroom head.

That aside the only problems with asura character creation is that the male faces, and to a lesser extent female faces, all looked ugly to me. There were too few handsome looking options, if you can call an asura handsome. It’s like if you’re choosing asura, you’re choosing ugly.

The upshot is that i messed with skin patterns and colouring a lot. If you really want to you can make some very different looking asura.

I really liked what I could do with the ear sliders here as well, there aren’t a whole lot of options for ears but drop down to the ear sliders and you’ve got a lot of options.

Playing Asura

Didn’t play as much asura but my god the animations are fun. No other race is as well animated or just plain fun to run around with.

Golems everywhere. It was almost like a perfect way to teach children about the importance of the scientific method. I felt like I was walking around in Beakman’s World in a way. Testing, always the testing and where there is testing there is always the mad scientist.


Ranger was a lot of fun, but there are still a few problems with it. The major issue is still pets. They’re too squishy, everyone has noted it, nothing has been done about it. I won’t rehash this forever but having my pets, both pets, go down during a long fight is a major hamstring to playing ranger.

I also felt like I had to hunt around for pets more than I wanted. I spent far too long with only one underwater pet, and two pets overall. Maybe I wasn’t keeping an eye out but I pretty much only had a fern hound and jungle stalker to choose from at first. Having to hunt around the city, different starter areas just felt like I was going out of my way for something that should have been available right in Caledon.

Aside from that I’m still not happy with the skill tiers. I bought 3 skills I wasn’t interested in using just to get to the second tier. Meh.

Caledon Forest

Absolutely gorgeous. For most of the weekend the lag got worse the closer you got to The Grove for obvious reasons, but once I got out and exploring it was probably the most beautiful zone I’ve seen yet.

Filled with little references and tiny moments and fun voice overs. Like any other zone in Guild Wars 2 I suppose. I had a lot of fun exploring places like over by the tengu wall which just filled me with more confidence about my playable tengu theory. I saw the Ruins of the Unseen though I couldn’t find much evidence of the mursaat. I found an organ, a playable musical organ with 3 octaves that other people could hear being played. It was the shit, and there is a puzzle involved but I won’t spoil it further.

I think overall I had a lot of fun with the events and hearts. Perhaps too many hearts with a “Kill stuff!” theme. One heart north of Morgan’s Spiral had far too few things to do to complete the heart, a glaring annoyance. But there were great events everywhere if you were lucky enough to catch them. The giant crab at Morgan’s Spiral, the attack of the spiders on the kennel, the cave with the Alice in Wonderland theme, the pet broodmother, the mabon market mini-massacre, cool stuff wherever you go.

The more I play this game the more I realize just how many times I say outloud, “cool” or “wow” or “amazeballs” or something that underlines just how impressed I am by the work and artistry put into the game.

Jumping Puzzles

I did so many damn jumping puzzles. But to concentrate on a few, I did the two in Caledon and one of the puzzles in Metrica. These were incredible. The two asura themed puzzles blew my socks off. The challenge is one of the best parts but I’m not a big fan of ever having to fight stuff during what should be a break from fighting. There were no more fun moments than figuring these things out through extensive trial and error and then showing someone what you’ve managed to figure out.

A lot of the vistas are now essentially jumping puzzles. Not all of course but how I’ll incorporate the ones that are and not the ones that aren’t into my guide remains to be seen. Vistas are already on the map anyway, so I’m leaning to just leaving them out.

Keg Brawl

I played around 10 games of this. So much fun. It gets a little lopsided with the fewer people there are but that’s an obvious flaw of any PvP scenario. I only wonder if they might have had more people if the NPC had been placed closer to a more traffic heavy area. It’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere.

I’m not sure I should get into trying to describe the skills and strategy but I’ll give a basic description. Kegs fall in the middle of an ice lake, you pick them up and bring them back to an ale collector. The problem is the other team can knock them out of your hand, intercept if you try to pass, knock you down, daze you and evade. It makes for a fun game, especially when you get into the separate skillset the keg holder gets upon picking up a keg.

I was talking to Spirit and what she likes most about it is the hilarity. Grown norn beating the crap out of one another over kegs of ale. It’s sheer ridiculousness, the skills, the back and forth nature of it all. I find it manic in it’s desperate need to knock the keg out of another players hand. It’s also surprisingly strategic and with good players anything is popular. Spirit and I came back from a 10-5 deficit to clobber the opposing team 10-11. Epic.

The Finale

It was a riff on The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Players were split into two groups and dropped at opposite ends of an empty map. You were given limited ammo, limited heals, various other limitations. For some reason the elite was locked to me, and I assume only level 30s could use it. If so, that was a dumb decision considering this was supposed to be a one hour one time only event.

We had 5 minutes to practice and then a new event started where we were all returned to our spawn and began dying of hunger.

I ran around for 10 minutes and didn’t see a single enemy player, and I wasn’t exactly hiding, I went straight to where I thought people would be, the entrance to Rata Sum. I died of hunger. The rations were too underpowered and healed for basically nothing. I was trying to conserve ammo so I didn’t see much of the skills.

If it’s one thing I don’t like about World Versus World it’s that you spend too much time running around and attacking doors and not enough at other peoples throats. I had the same feeling here, got bored and left.

It was a good weekend and a lot of fun. I may have some criticisms but I think Arenanet has plain nailed it. A lot of the dynamic event hype and revolution talk is definitely overwrought but it’s a superior game, better than any other MMO I’ve ever played. I don’t expect 100% of players to agree with me but I had so much fun with my friends that I forgot about leveling and spent half my time not advancing my character at all and just exploring, and experiencing Tyria.



  1. I had a blast in the BETA weekends as well. Loved the Asura and bummer that we have to wait a WHOLE MONTH before we get to play more!

    • One whole month. For me, I’ve been waiting since 2007, so it doesn’t seem that far off to me.

      • I think it’s the closeness, in fact, that makes the wait more difficult. To me, it’s significantly easier to “wait” for something that’s just been announced to bear fruit, versus knowing something is *this close*. Regardless, my original comment was mostly just to say hello and that I enjoyed your blog. Carry on.

        • It’s cool, you have a valid point. I enjoyed your blog as well although I’m not playing swtor any more.

  2. I don’t wanna wait a whole month to play 😦

    • Too bad. You’re a big girl now, so act like it.

      • But…but I’m a Toys R Us kid 😦

  3. The elite in the hunger royale was def not restricted to lvl 30s cuz I used it several times. The problem I had was that I didn’t even know there was an elite skill available till I picked up the teleporter item. But in general the event was fun, it would just have been better suited to a smaller map. Also I think the devs were trying to funnel people towards the center of the map not the starter area by Rata Sum. I noticed a real dearth of ammo/rations in areas near the spawn points and a lot more of them towards the center of the map.

    • Ohhhh I had to pick something up. Okay that explains that. Well in any case the map was far too large, I got bored really quickly.

  4. I don’t know why yours was locked but I picked up the item for the elite a couple of times and I was only 16 or 17. Had plenty of rations to keep me up. Not that it matters now, but if you wanted to see people, you needed to head for the ammo stations. I kept my distance, grabbed lots of rations and ammo and picked off the starving players. If they were ever going to take it further, they’d need to up the stakes by forcing us together or releasing the mutants or a volcano eruption a la the actual Hunger Games, or something. Simply having the robots alert others to where we were wasn’t enough to force conflict. I think we ended with 1/1/1/3. It was great fun in any case, and pretty intense. The robot players tailing me creeped me out and made me waste a couple assassin cloaks before I released they couldn’t actually hurt me.

    • A way to force us together by the very end, I should say. Obviously a smaller map would have led to a faster conclusion but at the expense of eeriness and intensity, not to mention strategy.

    • There was a lot of work and thought put into it, and i’m sure a lot of people had fun, but I was put off from the very beginning because I’m a grown man who has not read the hunger games. *shrugs*

  5. I dunno about you, but my Asura is ADORABLE. Especially that mole under her eye.

    • Yeah you can definitely make more cute female asura than male asura, and yours is one case.

      • I damn well HOPE so, she took me ~20 minutes.

  6. The finale was rather meh, but about 30 minutes into it we FINALLY found someone to fight and that was fun for a bit. They really missed a chance to do something special with the finale, say have a massive skritt invasion, with items that would let you gather and control them to fight back with your own little skritt army. That is what I’d have done for a finale. 🙂 Maybe ArenaNet can do something like that for an asuran holiday event!
    After seeing the blue tengu I’ve changed my mind about them being a playable race and wouldn’t mind seeing that in an expansion.
    Overall really enjoyed the added races and areas, and I’m ready for the release.

    • They’ve had two pvp events essentially now so hopefully they’ll switch back to something more pve related for any future events.

  7. Yeah, regarding the finale, I so agree with you. At one point I logged off as well. too boring. The finale for BWE2 was so much better!

    • I liked the first beta weekend that ended in wayfarer, it was so much more bizarre and had a lot of weird things happening.

  8. Nice review. About the story quest thing, I think the one you were talking about was “Go where life takes you”, but it could have been “All things have a right to grow”. Either way, I did the one with Malyck. It was BY FAR the most interesting personal story that I have played in any of the betas because it actually had a huge, official lore confirmation about something that was merely hinted as a possibility. SPOILERS AHEAD. REPEAT, SPOILERS AHEAD, BE WARNED.

    Malyck, while initially thought to be a Sylvari that lost his memory, is eventually revealed to be a Sylvari from *another pale tree*. As we heard in the Sylvari week, the seed that became the tree was but one of many, and we never learned the fate of the other seeds. This confirms absolutely that there are entire other Groves out there, with Sylvari, and those are not altered by Ventari’s tablet. The Nightmare Court does not know this fact, and if they did, they would want to join them and spread Nightmare to them. Although he doesn’t share quite the sense of, uh, “honor/righteousness” as the PC, he certainly wants to fight against evil and has no illusions about the Nightmare Court simply being “misunderstood”. Like I said, this was an absolute treat for me, as I had speculated about the possibility of foreign trees to find one day in expansions or something.


    Anyway, I pretty much agree with everything you said. I did like the finale, but it is certainly a completely different pace, and I know that a lot of people don’t like that kind of “waiting game” atmosphere. I think it was really really great for a certain percentage of the player base, but it definitely didn’t have the broad appeal of some of the previous ones. Anyway, see you in game!

    • Thank-you so much for sharing that Greibach! That is some fascinating stuff to look forward to after launch.

      • Ehhh! What do you mean “thanks greibach!” I brought this up in the first place! All he did was add spoilers! 😛

        • 😉 Baby likes to be spoiled… lol

    • It wasn’t just the pace but the skills and frankly the whole theme. It’s like someone at arenanet said to themselves, “now what do the kids like these days? I know! Twilight! No wait, Twilight is too obvious, how about hunger games! and then we’ll add in battle royale to make sure they know we’re hipsters!”

  9. […] Hunter’s Insight — Beta Weekend Experience. “This weekend I played a sylvari ranger to level 20, and an asura to level 5. I sat in character creation for hours, I played at least 10 games of Keg Brawl, wandered around in World Versus World racking up about 6 kills and 1 death. I got zone completion in Caledon Forest and The Grove, jumped around in 4 or 5 jumping puzzles, and stuck around for the finale. And I barely took a single screenshot because I’m dumb and hardly think about what screenshots I’ll need for the posts I’m about to write.” […]

  10. […] a couple of posts”. So follow him to read them all! Hunter’s Insight is also sharing his experiences which include, of course, the sylvari and asura as well as various other things like jumping […]

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