Release date, you say? August 28th, you say?
It's been a pretty exciting week for those of us anticipating Guild Wars 2. Last Wednesday we got some bonus time in the word of present-day Tyria (is it bad that I've already begun to think of Guild Wars as the past?), and then Thursday a cool video (yeah, that one up there) came out on ArenaNet's official YouTube channel. Shortly after the video, a blog post went up spelling out what the video implied: Guild Wars 2 has an official launch date of August 28th, 2012.
The blog also confirmed that there is one (1) beta weekend event remaining, and it'll come in the second-to-last weekend of July. It was a double scoop of delicious information, with the cherries of beautiful graphics on top, drizzled with tasty Zhaitan sludge. Yum.
While we're on the topic of BWEs, Eric Flannum didn't not say that the Asura or Sylvari might happen to be in the July event. When Eric Flannum says "distinct possibility" and Mike O'Brien says "optimizing" and "polishing," I tend to think, "Yep, we'll see the Asura and Sylvari."
Polishing and balance seem to be precisely the sort of updates we're hearing about lately, which is encouraging. O'Brien's statements in the release date post suggest that the content of the game is more or less handled, things are basically in place. Now, rather than raw generation, we can hope that the team is focused on refinement -- integrating improvements, tweaking things in response to beta testing feedback, and maintaining the fun factor.
In the past week(ish), both Chris Whiteside and Eric Flannum have talked about some of the improvements and adjustments being made. One of the most important changes, in my opinion, is the improvement of melee combat.
First, we are going to do some work on melee combat to give players more time to react to enemy attacks and behaviors. Second, we will be putting in systems that telegraph changes in the game states and behaviors of enemies and bosses dependent on how the group is interacting with them. - Chris Whiteside in an interview with RPGamerA lot of the other changes currently being discussed seem to touch on WvW gameplay (which, given the scale necessary for thorough testing, isn't surprising). We already saw tremendous changes in BWE2, with the addition of jumping puzzles, skill point challenges, a terrifying and thrilling open-world dungeon, and the like. We'll see others, whether at launch or during the beta weekend, like a mechanism for helping out severely undermatched servers. We don't have any more details on that one, but between that and the automated server matching system, people will hopefully feel as if they're able to have fun even if they're not winning every match.
I saw some people grousing about the underdog-helping-system (about which we know absolutely nothing except that it exists as at least a concept in the minds of the developers) because it subverts the natural order of things, I guess? I don't know whether it's because they're worried about the system being dreadfully overpowered (which would be an acceptable, if unlikely, fear) or because they think that if a server is losing, it deserves to lose horribly and should give up and roll over (which would not).
I'm in favor of this sort of thing because a large part of the philosophy behind Guild Wars 2 is that you should be able to play what you want to play when you want to play it. The devs have made it as easy as possible to switch between PvE, WvW, and PvP, so it makes sense that they ensure that players can actually benefit from their experience when they hop between the three. You shouldn't have to commit to being a WvW player most of the time, and you shouldn't have to pick a WvW-heavy server so that you have a good experience the few times that you really feel like WvWing. If I'm a PvE-centric player and I want to chill with my PvE-centric friends but occasionally pop over into WvW, I should still be able to have a really good time and not feel hideously frustrated and hampered by my server choice. Would I expect, in such a case, to be able to go out and faceroll everything? No, of course not. But I would hope that this sort of system goes in place to be sure that people who want to have a good time can.
In the world of Guild Wars, this weekend marked the annual Dragon Festival. This year's festival had no new rewards but rather allowed players to earn festival hats from previous events, which was met with the unending glee by those who'd missed out and cries of despair from people who staked their self-worth on the fact that they had a hat from way back when. Something similar happened with the last batch of birthday presents.
It seems like ever since the Embark Beach update, Guild Wars has been moving more and more toward maintenance mode. It makes sense, unless you're someone who loves Guild Wars and doesn't really care about progressing to 2. And it is progress. Guild Wars has aged gracefully and still meets many needs nicely, but my gosh. While I was dragging my sixth character through Panjiang Peninsula to destroy the festival baddies, I gave up on the notion that Guild Wars holds anything more than a candle to the beauty of its sequel. I also gave up the notion that jump-less, dodge-less combat is what I want, deep down. I will miss Guild Wars when nobody I know plays it and I haven't got time for it and everything's different, but we move onward to much better things.
So yeah, slow week. Nothin' to see here; move along, move along.
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.