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Guild Wars 2 beta questions: Answered!

The second Guild Wars 2 press beta weekend has come and gone, and Massively was there every step of the way. Stay tuned throughout the day today for even more guides, impressions, videos, and Q&As to get you ready for the highly anticipated sequel to Guild Wars.

Last week we asked for your Guild Wars 2 questions as we prepared to head into the beta weekend, and boy did you rise to the occasion! After sorting through all the questions, we made a list of the most interesting and frequently repeated ones to investigate. Have a question you don't see answered here? Tonight I'll be doing a live question-and-answer session on Massively's own livestream! Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT and ask away!

How does the storyline tie into that of the original Guild Wars? Does the team do a good job of explaining what happened with Adelbern and Ascalon and how it ties in with current events?

There's a very strong bridge over the 250-year gap -- especially in the early Charr territories. Most of the conflicts you'll see as a low-level Charr revolve around either the ghosts of Ascalon left by Adelburn's horrible Foefire or the sorceress Flame Legion, a fight that we saw the beginnings of with Pyre Fierceshot in Eye of the North. In the level 30 dungeon, players fight their way into Ascalonian catacombs alongside Rytlock Brimstone to find and rescue Eir Stegalkin, who's gone in on her own to try to recover asking Adelbern's sword Magdaer. For a human, a lot of low-level content revolves around problems with the White Mantle, whom we all remember from the original Guild Wars and more recent content in War in Kryta. So, yes, the storylines of the two games are well tied-together.

I'm very interested in the Personal Story of a Iron Legion Charr. If you can play through the first missions I would be very glad.

They're rad! You'll be able to read a more detailed experience (along with information about the other legions) in this week's Flameseeker Chronicles, but to summarize: As an Iron Legion Charr, you're a super cool inventor who's equally determined to create a new ghost-be-gone device, the Ghostbore Musket, and recruit more allies to your warband. Rytlock thinks you're the bees knees, but those pesky Flame Legion baddies keep trying to foul up your plans! Infiltration, invention, ghost-busting, and cleverness are all part of the low-level Iron Legion experience.

Are there any spells/ranged attacks that home in on a target? If so, do they require you to face the target when starting and ending the cast?

Some spells do automatically track their target. For example, the Mesmer's first greatsword skill will lock onto your target regardless of where you are and whether you're faced directly at them or not. Because the game's encouraging mobility, many targeted skills (like targeted gunfire) will do a good job of hitting their mark even if you're moving sideways or at an unusual angle to your target. It's key to keep in mind, though, that there's are many skills that don't require a target but will hit so long as they're properly aimed, and that other skills are ground-based AoE and are positioned by use of your mouse.

How far can mobs be kited before they leash back?

While pulling for aggro control is a viable option, kiting or training enormous distances doesn't work very well. In the explorable mode of the Catacombs dungeon, for example, we found it wasn't wise to pull a creature any farther than about 10 steps outside of the room he spawned in (on the other hand, I was able to pull a huge boss off of his dais, down some stairs, and partway into a corridor -- I might've been able to kite him farther, but I died horribly. Most bosses seem to allow for a farther pull to give players some wiggle room).

Is it fun to grab a small group in WvW and do the alternate tasks (like grabbing camps or recruiting NPC aid? Do you think those who don't play much PvP would find it approachable?

As far as I'm concerned, small groups doing little tasks are the spice of life for WvW.
While there's no denying that huge sieges, massed armies, and grand-scale assaults are awesome and necessary, the smaller tasks add up and can make a huge difference. It's really hard to be a viable fighting force with no supply camps, and those can can easily be captured and recaptured by smaller, more mobile groups. Winning NPCs to your side to distract the enemy or swell your numbers is not just a fun activity to accomplish with a small group; it's also definitely valuable. As someone without much of a PvP background, I found this very approachable and engaging. While I did enjoy my time in larger groups doing the more prolonged slugfests of assaulting major keeps and towers, it's nice to be in smaller groups where you can more easily see the direct benefit of your contribution.

Are the crypts from the beginning of Ghosts of Ascalon available to be explored in Divinity's Reach?

Where's the adventure in my just telling you? You might not thank me for saving you hours of highly entertaining but ultimately fruitless exploration, but no, they are not (presently) reachable in the world. According to Eric Flannum in an interview last year: "You won't be exploring them in the initial release, but you certainly will sometime in the future."

How does the game world seem to be size wise. Does it feel about as big as the original Prophecies with EOTN, or did ANet make the individual zones bigger?

Individual maps are very, very large in this game. For comparison: Plains of Ashford, the zone that holds the content for level 1-15 Charr, appears to be roughly equivalent to the area from the ruins of Ascalon City, South and West through all of Old Ascalon, parts of the Regent River Basin, and a whole bunch of unexplorable and unreachable territory from the original Guild Wars. The establishment of the Sylvari and Asura civilizations has opened up parts of the Maguuma Jungle and Tarnished Coast area that we've never had access to, the Charr have pushed farther East and North than we saw in the original game, and even though the Norn have withdrawn from the northern reaches of the Shiverpeaks, most southern areas have been expanded thanks to the land shift caused by the rise of Orr. It's been said previously that you can spend 10-15 minutes running through one map without taking fighting time into account, and that's entirely true. The world feels huge.

How much does respeccing cost, and how many minutes of grind, on average, are needed to acquire the needed gold?

Attribute respecs cost about 15 silver (or did, when I tried to with my level 31 character -- and trait swapping for unlocked trait slots is free). As an example of the time that would take, just about an hour in the level 30 dungeon got me almost 50 silver pieces, plus two new pieces of armor and a full inventory of loot to sell. Adventuring for roughly 25 minutes in a level 15 area got be about 20 silver worth of coin and loot drops.

If you and a friend roll new toons of different races, how soon can you join up together?

Players of different races have the option of playing together pretty much from the get-go. Asura Gates, which are free portals located in every major city, allow for fast travel between major cities. Since every race starts out right near their home city, you can basically start playing together as soon as you're out of the brief starter zone.

I'd like to know a little more about the dynamic events. Do they repeat themselves? So much has been said by ArenaNet about events having impact on the world around you, I'd hate to see something like this end up on some sort of internal respawn timer... even if that meant me missing out on the event.

I took a look at the mechanics of dynamic events a couple of weeks ago, so you should look there for more detailed reference about 'em. Some events are on timers based on where they are in a chain, some can only be reached by way of other events (you have to route centaurs from Fort Salma in order to pursue them and drive them from their own forts), and some are triggered by other means, but (so far as we know) there are no wholly unique events that can be triggered once and never again. That simply isn't feasible when designing a world for hundreds and thousands of players to share in.

Can you unlock and move the main UI, target frames, etc.? Is there any way to reposition or have custom hotkeys for the weapon slots? Like can I put the default #5 ability in say, slot #1 for my staff, but for the 1H, have the default 1-5 layout?

That functionality isn't in (yet?) -- there was almost no UI customization open to me within this beta. I can say that in the control configuration menu only identifies skills as "Weapon Skill 1" and so on; as yet, there's no option for "Weapon 1 Skill 1" and the like.

What about other preferences, such as video and audio?

The game allows you language settings for both text and speech (independent of each other; I could, if I wanted, have all my text in French and all my speech in German), quality adjustments for both video and audio, sliders for different audio channels (dialogue, background music, and the like), and other basic controls. There are other UI goodies such as camera rotation, compass rotation, camera shake, and name-visibility options. One preference I'm especially fond of is smart casting for ground-targeted skills. With that enabled, rather than activating a skill, positioning it with my mouse and then either clicking on the ground or hitting my hotkey again, I can simply have my mouse "aimed" when I activate the skill and it will cast wherever my mouse is positioned. While that may not be super useful before you're aware of the size and style of different AoE skills, after you get used to them it's wonderfully nifty. There's also an option to create and use your own playlists separated by content (independent playlists for battle, ambient music, and the like), but I was so busy enjoying the soundtrack all weekend that I wasn't really worried about subbing in my own music just yet.

I'd like to know if gear uses a bind-on-pick-up and/or bind-on-equip system like other MMOs or if it uses a customization mechanic like Guild Wars'. Are there attribute or level requirements on gear? Are there untradable items of other types, like the dungeon tokens? Can things that are untradable be moved between characters on a single account?

There are no bind-on-pickup gear drops in this game (except for some pieces of the very first armor set your character gets at creation and potentially some personal story rewards), although some items are soulbound (certain trophies and dungeon tokens) and others are bind-on-equip. Soulbound items are bound to a specific account, it seems. I was able to earn a soulbound leather coat on one character and transfer it to another, and I saw no UI text informing me that this was a special consideration. I did not see evidence of customizable equipment in the beta. No gear that I saw had attribute requirements à la Guild Wars, though weapons and armor have level requirements.

What emotes are there? I assume there will be a mix of voiced and silent emotes.

Not all emotes are in the game yet. I saw several common emotes: cheering, dis/agreeing, bowing, and the like. You'll find all the emotes I know of in a video at the end of this post, plus my favourite unrefined feature of the game. Dances are not viewable yet. There's also functionality to do emotes withs targeted player character by targeting them and typing, for example, "/salute @" -- the animation will be the same but the UI text will tell you that Lis Triggerhappy salutes Total Stranger. One thing that's been implemented which was sorely missed in Guild Wars is the ability to do custom (unvoiced, unacted) emotes: typing "/me" in front of any given string of words will result, for example, in telling the world that Lis Triggerhappy stands on her tippytoes and pretends she's a Norn.

Are crafting trainers centralized in cities or will you meet some out in the open world at towns and such?

Both! Every major city seems to have crafting trainers, but some towns in the world have them as well. I came across them in the Township of Claypool as a Human and in the Plains of Ashford as a Charr.

I'm interested in know how grouping will go about. I want to know if there are any tools to assist people in finding a group and possibly making a friend out of it that isn't on another server.

There is a LFG function on the in-game social menu. That said, playing together is very natural. Because of ArenaNet's policy of encouraging cooperation, the concept of kill-stealing and loot-stealing don't really exist in the game. That means that (since it's an MMO) you'll often find yourself fighting alongside people you come across in the open world, and you have every reason (combos, challenge, variety) to savor that experience. Several times while I was going about solo, I ended up palling around with a total stranger for a couple of events and hearts, which led to chatting and good times. In a few of those cases, we even formally joined a group for the benefit of group communication and pinging, but it always felt extraordinarily optional. So there is a specific UI tool to help find a group or a buddy, and between hanging around towns and fighting out in the world, you'll have oodles of chances to meet other players.

Even a Bookah like you knows that Guild Wars 2 is on the way, but it takes an Asura's intellect, a Human's charm, a Sylvari's wisdom, a Charr's passion, and a Norn's love of strong mead to dive into beta and make sense of a game this complex. Fortunately, we have all five on the Massively staff. Enjoy our previews, guides, and our weekly GW2 column, Flameseeker Chronicles!

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