Guild Wars 2 August Late Stress Test Review

Guildwars 2 is nearing the date of its official launch date, 25 August. Two weeks prior, the game is in a very good shape.

For one, the game looks and sounds fantastic which is self-evident from the first moment on. MMO's are not exactly the kind of games where you expect to be blown out by the quality of graphics. Here it happens.

Getting into the game, you will have to pick from a number of professions and races. As far as any concerns go, you can make a blind pick. In the beginning the choice of you race will only affect your starting area and your personal story. The starting areas are not exclusive to the other races so you can visit them with your chosen character later in the game. No matter which profession you pick, by now I can guarantee you will have fun. Really. Each profession has so many equipment and skill combinations that for the first tens of hours you will be just running around, trying out the skills, playing the dynamic events.

Oh, mentioning the events... There are no quests in Guild Wars 2. Things just happen on their own and it is up to you to take part or choose not to. If you do, it is likely that the event will spawn other events, based on how well you perform. Based on your performance, the world will change. Sometimes just for a while, sometimes just a little bit, but who knows? One crucial effect of the event system is that the world of Guild Wars 2 feels very much alive. Anywhere you go, something interesting is going on. One day I was walking up a road to a village, when a messenger ran up to me, asking me to hurry up, since the village has been ambushed by a giant. I ran there and was literally awed by the size of the monster and the number of players who were trying to bring it down. An epic battle was happening right in front of me. I did not pick any quest, I did not intend for it to happen. It just did and about a hunder people had great fun.

Apart from the events, there are Vistas - special places, usually hard to reach or well hidden that when discovered give you bonus XP and a special cutscene. There seem to be a lot of them, which does add a lot to the feeling of exploration and discovery. Underwater sections of the game are stunning and underwater combat works well. Also it is different for each profession... such a nice level of polish. I can't think of any other game where underwater content would be so well realized and it is suprising it is not advertised more. On the other hand, there is so much that Guild Wars 2 does exceptionally well that it is difficult to know where to start.

I did not even get to touch the crafting system, but it seems very robust. The trading/auction experience is great and the developers went a great lengths to make sure buyers and sellers find each other in seconds. Unlike other games, demand and offer is matched immediatelly where possible, so you don't have to wait for days hoping to sell something. It just happens. Quick, magically and seamlessly.