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Flameseeker Chronicles: Information overload

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Early last week I had a fail-proof strategy in place for handling Gamescom. I'd diligently watch the Guild Wars 2 news coming from the event, and at the end of the week, do a nice neat wrap-up for all of you.

It's OK, you can laugh -- I am. Talk about trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon! There is one thing I can wrap up for you: Last week there were ArenaNet blog posts and site updates, over a dozen interviews and articles written, nine photo galleries (one from ArenaNet), 17 video interviews, and over 100 game footage videos.

So how do you even begin to process all of that, especially when you consider that there's another wave coming in just a few days? Follow along after the jump and let's take a look!

The power of community

First I want to commend the Guild Wars 2 Guru community and staff for the amazing round-up that they put together. Processing the details flooding out of Gamescom daily was a Herculean task, one that no single person could have accomplished. They've provided an incredible resource for fans and shown how great a gaming community can be when they work together.

Where to begin?

While a lot of hardcore fans devoured the information daily as it came up, I've heard from a lot of people who simply didn't have the time and quickly became overwhelmed with it all. Today's Flameseeker Chronicles is especially for you guys: I'm going to touch on the highlights and get you all caught up before PAX! I've focused heavily on videos here for two reasons: First, there are so many that they're easily the most overwhelming of the information coming from Gamescom. Second, what better way to see aspects of the new demo if you can't be there in person?

PvP was the big star of the show last week, with several other aspects holding slightly smaller spotlights, so we'll start there. Last Wednesday, Jon Peters and Jonathan Sharp gave an overview of GW2 PvP and a look at one of the PvP maps available. If you've not read those two pieces yet, you definitely need to start there. The Battle of Kyhlo map will have a very familiar feel to Guild Wars 1 fans, and it combines nicely with both articles to give a good feel for how things will work.

Ready to see some PvP in action? If you are looking at the huge list of PvP play videos and shaking your head in bewilderment, then you need to focus on the exhibition match video. This PvP match between ArenaNet developers and BOON Control features excellent gameplay footage that gives an extensive look at the map and various gameplay strategies. Best of all, ArenaNet's Martin Kerstein and Matt Witter provide commentary along the way, which helps keep things truly informative rather than a confused mishmash of players running all over.

Fair warning: The narrative is a mix of German and English, and gameplay doesn't begin until nearly seven minutes in, but it's still your best and most informative choice if you are looking for one core PvP gameplay video.

Character creation

ArenaNet kept character creation under wraps for a very long time, heightening the anticipation in a big way. It was finally revealed at Gamescom, and while there were several options still "not available in this demo," there was plenty to see.

Thankfully for everyone at home, Gamescom attendees got some great footage of the current character creation options. There is excellent, high-quality video of Sylvari customization, Asura customization, Norn customization, and finally a single video of both Human and Charr customization.

Sylvari, Charr, and Asura gameplay had a significant advantage over most Guild Wars 2 enthusiasts at Gamescom in that they were permitted to take direct recording of gameplay, so we get to enjoy some extremely high-quality footage as a result. The video of the boss fight against Tequati the Sunless in Sparkfly Fen has it all: an area we haven't seen before, an epic undead dragon (who, of course, is merely a little guy working for one of the really big dragons), a Sylvari fight, and a pretty sweet reward chest offering armor upgrades and a tasty consumable. The video is just over 10 minutes long and a must-watch if you've got limited time and a desire to get a good look at what's in the newest demo.

If your tastes run ... a little to the diminutive side, how about some Asura gameplay? TheAYLives managed to get a few minutes of underwater Asura combat complete with gigantic shark, and TubeElephant was literally all over the map with over 11 minutes of gameplay in various locations and environments. That second video also contains a ton of narration and further explanation from a nearby ArenaNet developer, making it even more informative.

Finally, there is some excellent footage of early-on Charr gameplay, including the first boss fight chock-full of names that longtime fans will find very familiar. This one also has the advantage of developer narration that not only gives details of the gameplay we're seeing but also the recent change in energy and dodge mechanics.

What's next?

Of course, there is much more to see. If you feel like you're drowning in details, however, these highlights are an excellent place to start in order to get caught up for PAX later this week. You'll have the basics down and know what's going on when the next wave of news starts rolling in.

I'll be attending PAX and have plans for a travel diary similar to last year's, so keep an eye out for next week's Flameseeker Chronicles. I'm going to go stock up on hand sanitizer and vitamin C -- I'll see you next week!

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at

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