BWE2 – A Success!

Possibly the highlight of my weekend.

So, the second beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2 has come and gone. How did it go? Well, overall, things felt a lot more polished than they did the last time around. It was obvious that they put in a lot of work over the past few weeks since the previous BWE, and really, it paid off. There were still bugs and server crashes, but as a whole things seemed a lot smoother.

There are, of course, exceptions to that. There were a lot of problems with the finale, and some quibbles I had with it, though those really only apply to an event like that which I doubt will ever happen again, so they’re not a huge deal, but they’re still there.

The first change that was noticed immediately upon logging into the game was that there was a UI overhaul. The minimap could now be resized and dragged around the window (and apparently hidden, which I did on accident). The energy bar, used for dodging, was now a small curved bar that wrapped the top of the health globe – I particularly liked that, as that was really something that needed to be more centered. The icon for it was also gone, which was nice – that was never necessary I thought. Icons for boons and conditions were just to the right of the health globe and seemed a bit smaller and more streamlined than before.

The next thing that I noticed were the presence of tool tips. Those were lacking in the first BWE build, and it was something that I commented on before. While I never needed to really use them, the fact that they were there now was certainly very nice, and I’m sure was helpful for more than just a few people.

The gem shop underwent a massive change, and I think my absolute favorite thing ever came from that change. Yes, the Box o’ Fun. Among other things, interacting with it could turn you tiny, into a giant, invisible, into a sylvari (my favorite!), a skritt, make you part of a snowball fight, give you fireworks, make you glow different colors, simply make you explode…we spent about an hour playing with them while waiting for the finale to begin last night. So much fun.

Mesmer mechanics seem a bit more solid. Clones and shattering felt like they were actually having some effect, but still not enough to be hugely useful. I tried out the torch off-hand, which was decently fun. The Prestige is an amusing skill, though it’s usefulness is really rather limited – when you went invisible most enemies would wander away, so it wasn’t often I’d get the burning effect when it ended to actually work. Illusionary Mage is better, but sadly Confusion doesn’t seem to really do much of anything. Overall, I definitely prefer the pistol and sword as off-hands. The greatsword remained my main weapon throughout the weekend.

It seems like there was some adjusting of the difficulty level on the personal story – I did manage to complete the demo version of the story. I actually very much enjoyed it – I picked street rat and missing parents for my story options, and I must admit, the end of it made me tear up. I saw it coming a mile away, but the way it was handled in-game was great. The fights themselves were certainly easier than the last time – still a challenge, but not frustratingly difficult. Dak reported the same thing for the norn storyline as well, which is good.

I made and tried out a Ranger and…well, I do like the class itself. I used axe/torch and sword/torch, which I enjoyed. However, pets. Oh, those poor pets. I had Meow Mix the stalker and Mr. Giggles the hyena, and neither of them could stay alive for any period of time. Trying to keep them alive meant I spent far too much time in a fight paying attention to their healthbars instead of what was going on. Pets need to be stronger. They at the very least need to have more survivability. I also noticed that rarely would they actually do what I told them to. I’d tell them to attack, and they’d just stand there, more often than not. Rather frustrating, really.

There were some events that were really difficult. The ones that immediately come to mind were the krait blood witch and the bandit foreman in Kessex Hills. The blood witch was difficult not because of the witch herself, but because of everything else that spawned there. Veteran kraits and barracudas (the latter of which spawn MORE if you don’t kill them quickly enough)…the Svanir shaman at the Maw in Wayfarer Foothills was also difficult, but really not in a fun way.

The Shadow Behemoth, on the other hand, was awesome. I’m really glad I got to be in that fight, as I missed it last time around. Huge epic event which was a challenge to beat but not so difficult that it was frustrating!

Heart NPCs give out some sweet armor ❤

The dye system was, thankfully, changed so that dye unlocks are account-wide, dyes were random drops (I got quite a few that way), and dye packs you bought in the gem shop were a pack of seven. The only downside was that dyes (that were purchased, at least, I didn’t notice it for the drops but I wasn’t paying attention) were locked to your account, so if you got a double, you couldn’t do anything with it. I did get a couple of doubles and had to just destroy them since I couldn’t send them to a friend or sell them. I did get two rare dyes, though – Shy Lilac, in a pack I bought, and Hot Pink, as a drop. I really loved both colors ❤

Edit: I’ve been informed that dye unlocks are indeed character-wide, not account-wide. Which is really odd, as my own experience was not that – I had at least one dye I unlocked on a character over the weekend that I was then later using on another. Hrmmm.

Now, the finale…oh, the finale. Amusingly enough, earlier in the evening we’d been joking about how funny it would be if they turned on friendly fire. And then we learn that we get to hunt down and kill other players…hehe. Basically, there were branded enemies – ones corrupted by the Shatterer, around the Plains of Ashford. If you were defeated by one, youbecame one of the corrupted yourself! Which meant that eventually there were huge battles between players going on. It was really a lot of fun. I did get a short video of a large battle in it here:

As you can see, it got quite chaotic, and once we figured out what was going on, it was a ton of fun. The Shatterer even flew by overhead several times, though I never caught a glimpse of him. There were some issues, though. On my server, it happened, but it started about 15 minutes late. I’ve seen a lot of reports that on other servers, or in an overflow, it either started really late (not enough time to do anything), or didn’t happen entirely. Also, the fact that waypoints become contested and can’t be used when there’s an event battle going on near it really counted against this event, I think. All waypoints became unlocked, for ease of getting around, but half the time you had to run to where a fight was and hope you got there in time because the waypoint was contested. This also meant that I never got to fight against Rytlock, because he was near a waypoint that was constantly contested.

By the end of the weekend I was level 26 and showing off an awesome set of Seraph Armor that was dyed Hot Pink (rare dye) and Ebony (starter set dye). I do hope that they let us keep these characters again for the next BWE, because I’ve become rather attached to Verene the Mesmer, and also I would really love to be able to try the Ascalon Catacombs dungeon. I meant to this weekend, but sadly didn’t quite make it. We’ll see, though! I did take lots of screencaps this time around which I’ve posted on our facebook page, though not really many videos. What changes this BWE did you like the most? What didn’t you like or think should be changed further?


20 thoughts on “BWE2 – A Success!

  1. i experienced the same issue with Necromancer minions not attacking. My Shadow Fiend would begin attacking when I used its sequence skill (commands it to teleport to a foe and blind it,) but otherwise they would all just stand there until I took damage from an attack. But if I’m not at melee range I might not get hit for several seconds if at all. Very frustrating, especially for Bone Minions who need to be in melee range of my foes so I can detonate them.

    I agree that the game is especially hard in some points, perhaps more than it should be. Most notably I could not get inside the Blood Witch’s cave by myself because the Veteran Krait at the entrance kept getting a full heal somehow. Then again, the Blood Witch was labeled [Group Event] so they probably intended it not to be doable solo. You cited a few problems with mesmer mechanics not working well–clones/shattering and confusion–which definitely exacerbate the game’s difficulty.

    Other than stuff like that, I felt like I could really tear it up in PvE content a couple levels higher than me as a solo necromancer, so long as I wasn’t playing lazily. My groups on the other hand were pretty much unstoppable–I don’t think I ever had a full party wipe. I’m not happy with how event scaling currently works in practice, but I’m gonna save that for a post of my own. :p

    • Haha, we had like…20 people going after the blood witch at once? And we still had a point where nearly all of us got killed, because of the veteran krait and the barracudas in the cave with the witch.

      For the most part I was generally going after stuff a couple of levels higher with few problems, and yeah, I rarely had any problems when actually IN a group. But there are still some balance issues that they need to work out.

      Also, that centaur event at the bridge needs to be fixed…

  2. Uhm, maybe the shop bought dyes were account wide, but I’m pretty sure the ones from drops weren’t. My first dye drop during this BWE was on my mesmer, and it didn’t carry over to any other characters on the account.

    A shame imo. I believe I read somewhere that there’s over 400 dyes avaliable already. Multiply that by 5 (or 8, as I’m planning) chars and you’ll get yourself quite a bit of collecting…

    • I’m fairly certain they were account-wide, even the dropped dyes – I had one that I got as a drop on my Ranger, and I recall having it available for use on my Mesmer as well – I used it on her armor at one point, in fact.

  3. i have to say that the UI updates where what pleased me the most. During the first BWE I always had the question “What is this confusion status actually doing? Is it working?” And now there’s actually a unique damage notifier for confusion, super easy to read, super effective. There’s also nice shiny crit text and I love how they updated the combo notifiers when someone combos with your combo fields.

    all in all they definitely did the right stuff to make the UI sing. Super easy to read and all the information you need is right there.

  4. The only issue I had — and it’s a purely selfish thing, really — was that the medium Seraph armor was SO BORING compared to heavy and light. My ranger got the chest piece skin as a random drop during the last beta, so it was very disappointing to see the same thing from the karma vendors.

    However, the plus side to this is that I really got a handle on crafting and made a really sweet lvl 25 set via leatherworking.

    Overall, I thought the game was so much more polished than the last beta (and it looked great to begin with!) I didn’t have any technical issues at all this time and was never on an overflow server even once (despite being on Sorrow’s Furnace). The UI overhaul looked great. I didn’t know how I’d like the new mini map — the round compass style has always been my favorite — but after the first few minutes you didn’t even really notice it anymore.

    And did you ever get out to Gendarran Fields? The vistas out there were AMAZING. I loved being able to see LA and Vigil Keep off in the distance!

    • I only just started to go into Gendarran Fields towards the end, so I didn’t get a chance to really explore there much. Sad, because I heard so much about how awesome the map was. Next time, hopefully!

  5. Hyena pet was my favorite for the ranger, I liked axe/horn for the buffs and greatsword or longbow for the other weapon. Bears are by far the toughest pets but I thought the hyena did fine. Of course that was all based on the first weekend…

  6. I did the Catacombs at a couple of levels under par. It took a long time to get a group together- I am not the sort to go around hassling strangers to play (never been big on attempts to encourage (read ‘force’) a community together), so I kinda lounged around until someone asked me. Clearly I am in the majority as there were about a dozen people hanging around the entrance doing the same as me, and none of them was going inside. Just as in TOR, the ‘hang around waiting to see if someone forms a group’ technique of getting into places is awful. Hopes are they have a tool going for this at launch; apparently the NPCs by the dungeon may have suggested this.

    Anyway, it took a good two and a half hours to get the place done. I’m not a fan of such large time investments, but at least a cock-up generally meant you had to rez and try a section again, not that you got dumped out the dungeon like in GW (Mallyx and Urgoz both suck…). The individual bad guys in there are tremendously strong and trying to melee against any of them was a suicide run, though I still need to work on my melee skills in general (I suspect they will still make melee easier for people, as nearly everyone is defaulting to range in a crisis to stop form being one-shotted, letting the bosses attack your NPC allies instead). The lovers fully healing if left alone for a moment was also a godawful pain and we wiped a few times there. I felt like I was getting the hang of mass support with the Guardian, but I was utterly useless against King Adelbern himself. Every time I got near him…

    (Me vs Adelbern:

    Anyway, so that was awkward but doable. I am reading, though, that the explorable version you can do afterwards is insane. Pages of people complaining that it is impossible, or took them up to seven hours to complete etc. Argh! We can’t be doing that! I know there are elitists who want things that hard but it’s really insane- especially for what is one of the earliest dungeons! I hope they tone it down.

    Apparently World vs. World suffered a catastrophic matchmaking failure. I think that’s their number 1 thing to fix now.

    • I wonder how many of the people attempting explorable were actually at the recommended level for it, though, and how many were just like “Don’t care if I’m not there, I’m doing it anyway!”.

      I do know there was an LFG feature added to the game this time around, I noticed a few people using it.

      • The reports seem to be they were at the level or even substantially beyond it.

        The LFG thing right now is just a flagging system- as useless here as it was in TOR.

  7. Dyes are bound to your account, in the sense that you cannot trade them, but if you unlock one it only unlocks to your current character. I didn’t check if you can trade the unidentified ones you get from drops, but you certainly cannot once they are identified.

    The change to skip the “wait 24 hours per colour” system took away most of my annoyance with the system. Also of note: You could throw 4 dyes into the Mystic Forge and get another in return, with a chance of a more rare type. They have also hinted that there might be some means to control the colour the forge gives back, by adding specific crafting components to the mix. That seems to be set up as the place to take your duplicate dyes, once you unlock them on all chars.

      • Different classes have a different set of starter colours, if I’m not much mistaken, so perhaps the unlocked dye happened to be part of the starter set of the other character. That could explain the confusion.

        Whatever the case may be, there was a post on the beta forums where a dev specifically said that colour unlocks are per character, and went into some detail of why they went with that solution (short version: sense of progression and character differentiation within a given account). So it could also just be an old-fashioned bug that you found.

        I found something last beta that might be a bug, or just a neat little unintended sideeffect, though I didn’t recheck if it still worked this weekend: The Norn necromancer starts with a very vibrant green colour on their armor if you don’t change anything, that is not part of the starter set. However, you can set that as a favourite, you retain the use of it for future pieces, even if technically you didn’t unlock it. Slightly exploit-y, but it *is* a very nice shade of green. 🙂

        • Nope, definitely wasn’t a starter color, because it was listed under “Common dyes” on both my Ranger and Mesmer. So I’m guessing it may have been a bug, then.

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