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Flameseeker Chronicles: Back to (the other) basics

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

I had originally planned this week's Flameseeker Chronicles to be a detailed overview of Gamescom and the necromancer. By Friday afternoon, I decided that the subject had been done to death and that more words on it would just be repetitive clutter. There's enough of that on the net already, thanks.

Instead, I took my thoughts in another direction: the extreme hype of Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars 2-interest is at an all-time high, thanks in large part to Gamescom and PAX, and more people are beginning to take notice every day. The majority of those people are unfamiliar with Guild Wars and ArenaNet, and they've got a lot of questions.

Most of them are the same questions that veteran fans feel like they've answered a hundred times, and since I covered the basics of Guild Wars a few weeks ago, it seemed only fair to give the same kind of attention to Guild Wars 2. I love my fellow crazed-fans, and I promise that next week's column will contain all sorts of treats from PAX, but this week is for the newbies.

If you are new to ArenaNet's world and wondering what the deal is with Guild Wars 2, welcome -- I'm so glad you're checking this game out. If you've been around for a while, pass this on the next time you see someone asking what the deal is. There are several good -- and very detailed -- informational sites for the game in existence, and I'll wrap up with a bit of info on those. This one is intended as a starting point to cover the basics, complete with links for proof where needed, because the really extensive ones can get a bit overwhelming.

Follow along after the jump and let's get you started.

When is this game released?

Ah, the eternal question. Don't feel bad for asking this, and don't listen to those people fussing at you for asking it. While it's a simple question, it tends to get buried under the waves of new information and discussion that come out every day. Guild Wars 2 does not have a release date. "Yes it does, it's coming out November 2nd of this year!"

No, it's not. I promise you that the release date you have seen is not correct. Community Manager Regina Buenaobra has stated that the date you have seen is merely a placeholder created by retailers. When there is a launch date announced, you will know. It will be plastered all over the Guild Wars 2 site. If you happen to miss the news there, the giant frenzy in the Guild Wars 2 community and on MMO news sites will clue you in.

"I promise you that the launch date you have seen is not correct."

OK, but what about beta? How do I sign up for testing?

Right now, you don't. For now, there is very limited information on any sort of Guild Wars 2 beta testing. What you need to know for the time being is that this is a joke, this is a scam, and as with the release date, you will definitely know if and when beta signups are available. Right now, there is no way whatsoever to apply for beta testing, and if you hear otherwise, don't buy into it.

From time to time you'll hear ArenaNet mention thoughts on beta testing during interviews, but for now, the official word is, "Although we publicly beta-tested the original Guild Wars while it was still in early development, with Guild Wars 2 we will commence beta testing closer to the game's release."

Will Guild Wars 2 have subscriptions, or will it be free-to-play?

The short answer is "neither." Guild Wars had an unusual business model that has worked very well for the past five years, and ArenaNet will be using the same model for Guild Wars 2. You will purchase the game, then that's it. No subscription fees, no game time cards, no paying to unlock premium content, nothing like that -- your purchase of the game gets you full access to everything. Any future expansions will work the same way.

There will almost certainly be microtransactions, but we don't know what they will be. So far in Guild Wars, ArenaNet has restricted store items to "fluff" content: permanent access to extra storage, cosmetic items like costumes and makeovers, and shortcuts like skill unlock packs. Those items could be considered a preview of the direction microtransactions will take in Guild Wars 2, but again, there is no official word from Arenanet.

Okay, this sounds great! I want to know more and talk to more fans, but there are almost 12 million results on Google and it's confusing and everyone is saying something different and and...

Yeah, I know. Like I said, the hype is huge right now and everyone's got something to say. Now that I've answered the most basic questions, let me give you a few links that won't completely bury you in minutiae while you're just trying to get your bearings. The official Guild Wars 2 site is kind of a given, and it's one of the most well-laid-out, user-friendly MMO sites I've ever seen. The FAQ there covers a few more details, and is a good next step.

On the fansite front, GuildWars2Guru is the main fansite for English-speaking fans, but hold on there. If you just run in and start browsing the forum I can promise you that you'll be confused and overwhelmed in about 15 minutes -- it's pretty huge. Introduce yourself, check out the Q&A forum, and look over the main forum list to see what catches your eye. Things move pretty fast there, but it's maintained well and if you take a bit of time to get acclimated you should find it a valuable resource.

Finally, check out my Guild Wars 2 community guide. If you are looking for a podcast, social networking sites, or more forums for GW2, you'll want to bookmark this and hang on to it.

So, there you go. Now that you've got the basics, and access to the next step, let me welcome you again to the future of Tyria! Watch for Flameseeker Chronicles next week -- I'll be at PAX in Seattle and I'll have plenty to tell!

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