Guild Wars 2 announced release date

Are you prepared?
28th August 2012 - Release the kr---hounds!

HOM reward - Heavenly Bracers
Guild Wars 2 confirmed released date. It was a momentous occasion for many fans and Arenanet when yesterday they finally let us circle that special date in the calendar---28th August is the magical number and hopefully they will indeed have everything ready by that time, considering how zealous the company has been regarding the date up until now, the backlash would be too damaging in the event of the release and the game still have glaring problems as other mmos have done so.

HOM reward - Fiery Dragon Sword
To be fair, the bugs and most problems I encountered were minor in nature and easily fixed...except for the ranger pet AI in the stress test that seem to have regressed (possibly running a older build, even though I couldn't confirm) and the pet most of the time simply stopped attacking on it's own---which considering it's a mandatory profession feature means that it's quite game breaking, on a more positive note the server stability and overall connectivity/performance have improved to the point that gameplay was fluid even in mass scaled battles with many players, and that's a very important thing, games that have big scale events/battles surprinsingly and disappointingly tend to NOT be able to handle the heavy influx of many players gathered in the same area, resulting in a crippled game feature and consequent backlash (Aion and Rift comes to mind). Thankfully Guild Wars 2 seem to be heading in the right direction in that sense, and I hope come release this experience will be even more heightened.
HOM rewards - Ice Breaker and White Raven Companion

At the heels of a announced release date, a short reminder to any who still hasn't gotten this game why it could be good...

Eight professions, five races...thousands of character combinations 

Which profession will you choose?
The personal stories add a singular perspective to players and following it's predecessor, enhances the experience of each individually created character to a level never seen in other games, the thousands of combinations refer to the personal choices done throughout the game but they all originate from the first choices done after selecting race and profession---from that moment and every other choice made for your character's story afterwards will affect the development of it's personal story and also the type/story you will see if you lead your party in the dungeons.
The 5 race's iconic heroes

Dynamic Combat, complex and entertaining skill/trait system

Due to the very active combat system and creatively situational skill/trait system, even if some of the professions use the traditional names from older mmos such as thief, warrior, ranger and elementalist, in Guild Wars 2 they still catch the players attention with their unique play styles. The attempt to rid the holy trinity of tank-dps-healer in guild wars 2 can be deemed a success as throughout large scale battles and pve events everyone's role is active and equally important and useful, therefore eliminating situations like bottlenecks due to everything relying on certain professions such as tank or healer to progress anywhere in the game. The following video was one I found to explain quite succinctly what we can expect for the game's combat system and overal mechanism.

Be rewarded for your skills, for knowing when and where to use the right skill, for using anything and everything at your disposable including each skills effects--combination of skills merged with another players or the active dodge system! After having tried out the betas I can say that I wasn't disappointed, as the saying goes "everything looks good on paper" but in this case, it works wonderfully even in practice and I find myself gladly waiting for more game time after each beta---something that hasn't happened in a long time as I tried one after another mmo and was only disappointed come beta time.
It's viable to use anything and everything you find

Progress doesn't wait for any profession or lack thereof

Statistics will not cripple you in this game
Any and all group combinations will work

Dynamic and Heart events and a engaging environment

Regardless of the event or the scale of it, the active role they play in the world, how they affect it or simply for the reward that players of any level will get and find it equally useful, players will unavoidably find themselves engage in some activity constantly or simply whenever they choose to in their current area, character evolution takes on a more active and compelling form this way rather then the traditional quest systems and more importantly everyone can join in at anytime and contribute to the events in progress without fearing players stealing mobs or items as the reward for mob killing shares according to damage done while items looted by another will still be there for yet another player, even during the heavy influx of players in the starter areas during betas, the game experience was still exciting and stress free unlike other mmos where players have to compete and often times be rude to others.

Dungeons and secrets hidden throughout the world

As I had mentioned before, personal stories affects what you will get in the dungeon, depending on who leads the party that will brave the dungeon, the path you will take once inside and the story you will witness changes, this means that what you will find inside both in enemies and rewards will be different each time you return to the same dungeon, from the known and explored dungeons we can see that making use of what is within and solving puzzles is just as important in terms of progressing within as it was on the outside, this makes dungeon runs far more entertaining and re-run values increased in comparison, additionally, like dungeons there are secret areas in the world of Tyria that can only be found and accessed through meticulous exploration and at the same time requires some platform jumping and other interactions to reach/complete.

And while these are only a fraction of what the game has to offer, it's easy to see that for a subscription free game, Guild Wars 2 has already exceeded many's expectations and I for one look forward to the final product to when it finally releases in August!


Guild Wars 2 BWE2/Stress Test 2 Finale

The corruption begins...
The Crystal dragon can't wait, so can't we!
Near the end of both the second beta weekend and also for the small stress test that was held on the 27th, Guild Wars 2 hosted a finale event that was one of the most entertaining ones so far, one I hope will be part of the game in it's eventual release.

The event starts with the corruption of a few waypoints/players by the Crystal Dragon Kralkatorrik, the waypoints will become crystallized just as any "corrupted" players will take on one of the many forms of the "Branded", players who use the corrupted waypoints will also reappear as the Branded and the objective for this invading force is to contaminate other waypoints, kill players and ultimately invade the Black Citadel/eliminating Rytlock. While the uncontaminated player's tasks would be to destroy any invading force and to re-capture the waypoints by destroying the "Branded Crystal" at the sites.

Motivational Recruiter!

While Arenanet had already stated that there wouldn't be pvp in the pve environment, it was a fun change to have world pvp in the form of a meta-event where players can choose to be on either side and just fight it out as part of the story/event play out at the same time. The goals and objectives escalate in what I suspect is a system to balance out each side, in the very least the Branded at some point will spawn out Champion Devourers/Dragons that will march towards the Black Citadel and provide yet another event for players to accomplish in either defending or destroying these champions depending on which side you play as.

Branded player's underwater form
Branded Warrior Skillset
1 Branded Punch - Punch a single target with your giant branded fist
2 Lunge - Launch yourself at a target area, knocking down any enemies nearby when you land.
3 Throw Crystal Shard - Throw a crystal shard that cripples and bleeds your enemy
4 Corrupted War Cry - Removes conditions from allies and grants swiftness. Dazes nearby enemies
5 Crystal Frenzy - Knock down several targets with a massive kick, crush them with a mighty slam, and then unleash a torrent of lightning strikes on anyone left standing
6 - Signet of branded corruption (passive: grants regeneration and toughness) signet active (heal yourself and gain quickness)
Branded Warrior's skillset

Branded Ranger Skillset

1 Branded Slice - Slice your opponent with crystal fists
2 Flash and Brand - Teleport to your target, striking them and blinding nearby foes
3´Throw Crystal Shard - Throw a crystal shard that cripples and bleeds your enemy
4 ???
5 Crystal Mine Field - Create a field of crystal shards that explode and damage enemies
6 - Signet of branded corruption (passive: grants regeneration and toughness) signet active (heal yourself and gain quickness)
Branded Crystal/Contaminated Waypoint
The Shatterer's flyby
Need more Guild Wars 2!

While this was a stress test and of short duration, I noticed that there was virtually no lag during massive events although I'm still not sure at what point Arenanet is with the handling in general for the large scale events/battles...hopefully this is a good sign and while we wait...our friendly neighbourhood charr will cry for more!

Makai Kingdom - Time to play

Recently I scrounged up some time in the middle of my busy college exam studies(truth: should be studying 24/7) to play through one of the more recent release from the Disgaea Series, for those who don't know the background story of this franchise: it revolves around the concept that there exist many worlds(netherworlds) each ruled by a powerful(most of the time not very smart) entity called the Overlord, each release save the remake for other platforms featured a different world/story and naturally a new protagonist but it always revolves around multiple Netherworlds and even starring characters from the other releases as hidden characters/bosses or part of the storyline as a cameo. As a fan of both tactical and rpg games, the combination of both in these games has kept me coming back throughout the releases, what makes this series so appealing to me is mostly the light-hearted stories that while goofy(with impossibly goofier characters) and yet both story and characters are extremely likeable therefore making the player interested in seeing how the story develops through cutscenes before and after each map battle.

If only we can look as "badass" throughout the game

Much power and sheer luck equals ?
A "badass" book?
Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome stars Overlord Zeta, considered the most powerful across Netherworlds due to his immense Mana(innate power Overlords possess), on a certain fatidic day a prophecy from the oracle Pram foretold the destruction of his Netherworld and as any decent overlord woulddo (specially a self-proclaimed "Most Badass Freakin' Overlord In The Entire Cosmos"), Overlord Zetta blasted his way into the forbidden library to get to the Sacred Tome known to record everything and thus holding the answer to what threatened his Netherworld, and yet, in a goofy twist of faith, what the Sacred Tome had to say wasn't agreeable with the baddass Overlord as it blamed the Overlord's stupidity as the sole reason for the ruin brought upon his domain, in a fit of rage the Overlord set the book in Hellfire and watched it burn away---only to find out immediately after that the destruction of the Sacred Tome would *gasp* destroy the Netherworld(his) and as a last desperate move the he bound his own soul into the Tome and that's where our adventure begins.

in-between combat scenes

Battle: Unlike the normal Disgaeas which featured grids for movement and attack, Makai Kingdom took on the combat system from Phantom Brave giving player characters the freedom to move within a circle whose size is determined by the characters Mov(movement points), classes and weapon skills remain mostly the same from the other Disgaea games as skills are learned by mastering weapon types and while some classes remain the same, there are a few additions aswell as a couple others not in the game at the same time. While to deploy unit the game uses a similar system as in Phantom brave where you need to confine characters to objects, in Makai Kingdom this is done in the Homebase and the units will not go away after a certain number of turns once summoned, as it happened in Phantom Brave, additionally units can be set into existent buildings that the player already possess at the base, each granting different bonuses to characters housed in them and summoned into battle afterwards from the also summoned house unit. Lastly, the standalone feature not found in any of the other games from the same franchise is the addition of vehicles, they vary in size, shape and purpose but they are moving and generally faster then normal movement from the characters, they can also damage oponents and level up(although the system required for this is different then the characters and possibly more difficult).

Seriously, try it out, can't help but be charmed
Maps: As with it's predecessors, the maps are randomly generated with a feature called "extensions" which are hidden areas of the map oftenly unlocked by killing a key mob or object, save a few pre-set maps at the beginning of certain chapters, most of the RNG maps provide the player with a fresh replay value as each playthrough in the same map will be different both in objects, area and enemies, extensions also provide with a necessity for further strategy as accomplishing all the requirements and opening all areas at the same time might have the player's army quickly overwhelmed.

Finally, for anyone interested in turn-based strategy games this and the others from the same franchise (Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Phantom Brave etc...) are definitely something to check out, the light hearted humour/storyline and the combat system are something that make this game noteworthy and interesting to play with

GW2 impressions after 2 beta weekends and 1 stress test

Like all access for Guild Wars 2, it was a blast!
Last weekend was GW2's 2nd scheduled bwe and while it was meant to be basically the same content as the previous one(with fixes from the stress test), there is still alot that can be said for the roughly 48 hours period that the game servers were up.

Servers and connectivity

Game performance and stability was impressive compared to the 1st bwe, taking into consideration that the last week before the beta Anet had started giving out tons of keys through selected sites in simple contests and plain giveaways. This means that for this bwe at least, the amount of participating players increased both from additional pre-purchasers and others who were lucky enough to grab a weekend-only key---and the servers behaved well against the influx of both recurrent and new players.
    This isn't to say that it was perfect, sometime in the middle of the weekend there were moments when I was in WvW and would get disconnected repeatedly with no special pattern to it, both from the WvW map shutting down or random disconnects. On the pve side the game proved to be more stable save the uncommonly rare slower loading screen. Overall, while from the looks of it there is still quite a long while before the game will be ready, the progresses made in-between the beta weekends and stress tests, the game is steadily heading into a good direction.

Small changes

Utility Skill system

Traditional mmo leveling system - get what you want, get what you don't want so you can move on
While there wasn't much in the "new" department, there were noticeable tweaks done to the game in general, such as the utility skill system that is now grouped by their respective tier and the player needs to spend enough skill points in one tier before being able to unlock and advance to the next, this was somewhat a expected change for me as I remember commenting with fellow players back during the 1st beta that the leveling/skill up system was missing the "keep you interested" factor, the current game cap is 80 but even before level 30 players could already have all the skills they wanted as they could simply accumulate the unspent skill points to get only the skills they were interested in, but with the new change players are delayed in reaching that stage and possibly will need to be a higher level then before to be able to reach the last tier of utility skills and more so to get enough points to unlock them.
New dodge gauge position

Another one of these was the dodge gauge being moved to the middle of the player's skill window, not a big change by itself but personally I think it is easier to see that all important gauge now rather then it being on the far end to the right and during the confusion in battle possibly not the easiest thing to keep a eye out for, also not forgetting it looks slicker where it is now!

Mystic Forge
Fun feature to mix and mash items to get something new

The Mystic Forge uses a combination of random and non-random recipes. For example, throw four rare swords into the forge, it will return a random sword with a chance for that sword to be substantially better. There are also specific items that can be created by throwing four very specific items into the forge with no randomness involved at all
Eric Flannum Talks Guild Wars 2 Beta Change

This was a welcome addition that I didn't expect, save for console games I haven't seen similar mechanisms in the multiplayer scene---for the players it's a fun way to try and combine various items they might not even want anymore for a chance at something new and possibly useful, and as Eric Flannum has said, for the developers it's a easy way to introduce new and better content/items from time to time...even for consoles this sort of feature was something I always had fun with and spent much time(and materials)on and I'm looking forward to when we can try this out more in future betas--currently the forge will take 4 items(no more, no less) of the same rarity to create one single item with a RNG type and stats/bonuses, there might be a base rule for what type of item will come out but I don't think anyone had much resources and time to try this out in this last beta, what I have noticed is that the item was always slightly higher in level compared to the average of the 4 items I used to make it and the bonuses it can come up with aren't necessarily "inherited" from the old items as I have seen in some games as I had occasions where a brand new bonus such as healing would come out despite the items used to forge with didn't have that.

Black Lion Trading Company

Gem shop under new employment!

The Black Lion Trading Company out of Lion’s Arch has officially taken over operation of the Gem Store, Currency Exchange, and Trading Post. Its new owner’s first action was to completely overhaul the Gem Store.
As a result, the all-new Gem Store is easier to use and has a greater variety of items, from the decorative—like dye packs and costumes—to the whimsical—like the Box o’ Fun, which spawns a chest that applies random crazy effects to everyone who touches it. Each beta player will receive 500 free gems on their account, so do a little shopping on us!

With the provided free gems I had the opportunity to try out the nem items from the gem store, the one item that caused the greatest impression for me during the beta event was the "Box o' Fun", currently it costs 250 gems and has 10 accounted for transformations plus skill effects, it was "fun" when I first tried it out as we placed it in the field and curious passerbys would all gather up and try out the different effects the box could provide, aside from being able to get the skin of a sylvari while they aren't available for play at the moment, the other skill effect I liked alot was one who name I don't remember but the player had 3 seconds to strike a "pose" before being petrified into that state and I'm sure the readers can imagine the possibilities, it's definitely a fun item to bring to parties although I do hope there will be more things to do later on save the currently accounted skills because as much fun as this is, it's still a one time use item(couldn't confirm the time the box stays as the map went down later on but it did last over 15 min+). Other new items were unremarkable such as a couple of sunglasses as cosmetic and it's with sadness that I report that the dyes are still bound by character and not account...along with the costumes, if by release this isn't addressed or if this is meant to be so, I don't think I will be one of the fans that will buy much in that department as I am used to games with vanity shops yes, but I'm a firm believer that things like this once bought should be account wide and not just one character.


If your side learned that you don't bring down a door with only sticks and stones!
The best improvement in WvW for this beta weekend was the Squad system, players can now see the leader icon on the world map which gives everyone a much easier time in knowing where to be and what to do, this allowed for people to remain organized despite the times where multiple fortresses were attacked or under attack and also the communication has been enabled for both ways so squad members can now chat back with the commander, this last feature wasn't of much use to our Squad as we were mainly just a group of people sticking together and testing it out but I have no doubts that later on in actual WvW this change would come to be very useful as the default channel is usable for all three sides and everyone in the map can chat in it. Lastly on the topic of WvW, the siege constructs are still under changes as they have already modified range and damage on some over this beta but I'm sure that until release there will still be alot of changes underway.

The disappointment

Forever sad at the lack of real competitive pvp games

I'm not sure this was working back in the 1st bwe, or it might just have passed by me as I was immersed and distracted by everything else that was great about the game...but this beta weekend I came across a feature that is a absolute sinker for me in the world of competitive pvp: auto-facing. Personally, I don't believe that any self-respecting pvp oriented game can call themselves as such with a automated feature that has your character auto-facing your opponent with a simple click of a button, this was my biggest and at the moment *only* disappointment with guild wars 2---a anet staff actually responded to my thread about this in the guild wars 2 forum stating that this feature exists solely to help newbies and only works when our character remains stationary, while this isn't as bad as it could've's still a horrible feature to put in a game.
   The first instance that called my attention to this, that something was *odd* was during my skirmishes in structured pvp as a thief, no matter how I dodged/strafed or moved around my enemy *they were always immediately facing towards me*, in the beginning I had just thought that this was simply because I was fighting against players who knew what they were doing, but the sad reality is that was the devil at work: while I was losing my time trying to reamin out of line of sight from the enemy and hopefully landing a backstab, all my opponent needed to do was stay in one spot and spam their skill buttons while reducing my chances of timing a hit in their back for additional damage to zero.
   While the realist in me knows better, I still hope that anet will reconsider this feature, even if they try to downplay this matter the truth is that this feature alone is enough to cripple everything else they have made so far in trying to promote active gameplay from players, other games have signed their own death sentence by striving to please everyone and that simply doesn't work: a good game either caters to one audience or the other, staying in the middle between competitive and skill based play while enabling automated features such as auto-facing doesn't work for most, people who are used to them will want more(such as click to move etc...) and others like me who want a bona-fide pvp and skill competitive environment don't want anything to do with said features.

Lastly, for those who have come to realize by now(or not) anet has already confirmed that there will be a 3rd beta weekend and it's clear also that it won't be the last, between the 1st and 2nd beta weekend nothing was changed except for the fixes and there are still alot of work to be done, balancing issues and professions like the ranger class still missing three elite skills and I expect that there will be a bwe or two for the 2 missing races of sylvari and asura, all in all I'd say a release date in September can be called "soon" for the state of things as they are now.

Guild Wars 2 - Facebook Milestone Art

For those who might have missed this as they don't have a habit on checking Guild Wars 2's facebook page. Back at the end of April there was some promised art for the fans posted on the page at each 10,000 likes: from 450,000 up until the half a million milestone marker.
    Originally the "preferred" goal from Anet was to reach that marker before the end of the GW1 Birthday held at the end of the same month, although the goal was reached with a few days of delay it still kept avid fans eager on each piece of art they would release. I think it's one of the best selling points from Anet is that the artwork for both games were always amazing, players who had the chance to try out the beta will surely know what I mean as they have included their beautiful art in much of the game itself, even more so compared to GW1. Anyway, without further ado do check out the released art piece below.

Eir's Underwater Discovery
For hitting the 460,000 fan milestone, we give you some gorgeous concept art of Eir: "This piece by concept artist Jamie Ro shows the iconic norn heroine Eir Stegalkin making an underwater discovery."
Full-version: Link

Asura Golem art - GW2 artwork at it's best

A massive asura golem boss somewhere in the sun-dappled Maguuma Jungle. Note the tiny asura figure in the foreground, which gives you an idea of the scale of this huge magical construct. This art by Levi Hopkins is used in one of the load screens for asura players.
Full-Version: Link

Mesmer concept art - it's not a wallpaper but amazing all the same

A beautiful mesmer image from our concept artist Jamie Ro.
Full-version: Link

I fully expect to encounter this undead boss as a huge dynamic event at higher levels!

 We've reached our milestone of 490,000 Facebook fans, and we've got some brand-new art for you! Did you find the Shadow Behemoth big and intimidating? This Undead Globster Boss might make him look a little tamer. This early concept art piece by Matthew Barrett depicts a hulking maritime undead boss. Did this monstrosity make it into the final game? You’ll have to play to find out.
Full-sized: Link

They were'nt lying when they said epic - I will be using this as a wallpaper for a long time!

Ding! We've reached 500,000 Facebook followers and have the long-promised epicness for you: Destiny's Edge, together and taking on a foe that you'll find familiar. This is an actual in-game screenshot embellished by Daniel Dociu.
Full-sized: Link

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