So the first Guild War 2 beta weekend has come and gone. It was quite an experience. Here is my take on the beta weekend. Before I start, a few things. First, I have been playing the original Guild Wars for almost four years now. Longer than most players; not as long as some. Guild Wars had its 7th anniversary this weekend. That’s a long time for anything, let alone a video game. So there is my bias front and center. Second, I am only covering impressions. Game basics and details can be found on gaming sites. I’m sure there is no shortage of coverage of the beta weekend there. So, how was it?

It is not the original Guild Wars. Aside from the overall background, the races, the professions, weapons, skill names, etc, it plays nothing like the original Guild Wars. Not even a little bit. I knew it wouldn’t be the same or close, and yes, it had me a little worried, but turns out, it is not a bad thing. The key is not to look at it as a sequel, but as a whole new experience.

The world even in this first public beta is massive. It would take months of just exploring to see it all. And it is not flat. You can go up and down. The world map has three levels for mapping. The underwater element was a nice touch. I feared it would just be patched on, but it is a completely functional and different world down there.

The skills are great. I only tried three characters, Norn guardian, Human elementalist, and Charr engineer, but I’m sure the other races and professions won’t be a let down. They are diverse and useful. I like how they change with your weapon. The story is excellent, so far. I purposely avoided following the storyline so I can enjoy it when it is officially released.

The event system is innovative and fun. It was just like I read about. I was wandering through the forest on my way to the next location when I got an alert. A nearby mine was being overrun with dredge (underground humanoids). They were building a tower. The call was sent out for heroes to stop them. So I ran over to smash some skulls. So did about 20 other people. What transpired was a five minute long assault on the senses. It was a mess. I couldn’t see what I was hitting. Fireballs, lightning bolts, pet bears and wolves, crazed players swinging hammers, it was all a blur. I wasn’t sure what the best skills were to use. I didn’t know who or if I should buff. I didn’t know which enemies were high priority targets. It was chaos. It was fun. Nothing at all like the battles in Guild Wars.

The outcome of these events had consequences and would lead to another event in the chain. It kept it different and fun. Events all happen in the same spot, so if you are in that mine mining for copper, which I did often, that event chain would start up every now and then. That can be annoying if all you want to do is get some copper and next thing you know, you stuck in a 20-person melee.

Speaking of copper, the crafting system is interesting. It looks pretty extensive and complex. No doubt many hours will be spent trying to find components and new recipes. Loot is plentiful, and my bags filled up quick when out adventuring.

Long story short. I had fun. I played it a lot, all the way until they kicked everyone off the servers at about 12:05am Monday morning. I am looking forward to the next beta weekend, but I’m going to try and play less. I want to save some excite for the official release. I do want to play the asura and sylvari; those two races were not available in this beta weekend. Now let’s just hope that the next beta weekend isn’t far off. I’ve heard they will try to do one every 4 to 5 weeks. And most importantly, that the official release date is not very far away.