Guild Wars 2 week

Guild Wars 2 community update: play with us!

Chris Thursten at

Guild Wars 2 early access commences tomorrow morning at 8am GMT. For the last week, ArenaNet have been running regular stress tests in the hope of beating the odds and giving the game the painless launch that evades most major online games.

We've been making our own preparations. The PC Gamer Guild Wars community has been getting ready to make the transition from the first game for years. We've got new leadership, a new guild - PC Gamer [PCG] - and a new, community-run website.

Guild Wars 2 systems designer talks skill design, depth and balancing

Chris Thursten at

ArenaNet have been vocal about the way they're trying to redesign the MMO. Guild Wars 2's design manifesto is a confident statement of intent that has faced intense scrutiny of the course of the game's beta programme - and rightly so. MMOs have been the site of some of gaming's promises, and biggest disappointments. The manifesto promises a combat system that will do away with the "rote and repetitive" nature of most MMOs, replacing it with something "immediate, active, and visceral" that provides players with "limitless choices."

The way ArenaNet have chosen to go about achieving this, however, is couched within the existing structures of the MMO. Guild Wars 2 has action bars, cooldowns, and status effects. Its innovations - mechanics like the dodge move, and the more-or-less absence of a mana pool - occur among familiar ideas. It's also a relatively straightforward game to get to grips with, at least at first, and as such it can be a while before its purported depth becomes apparent.

I spoke to systems designer Jonathan Sharp about how ArenaNet have built the skill system, where the depth comes from, and the options available to help serious players speed up their progress.

Guild Wars 2 lore designers on rebuilding the world, and why they keep blowing up cities

Chris Thursten at

Guild Wars 2 advances the story of Tyria 300 years beyond the first game, and in doing so substantially alters the status quo. The first game starred humans only: now, five races divide the world between them. The Charr - Guild Wars’ orc equivalent, a rampaging horde that players worked together to subdue in the original - are now allies. Many of Guild Wars’ major locations have been destroyed or reconfigured following a series of environmental disasters. During a recent trip to ArenaNet, I sat down with lore and continuity designers Jeff Grubb and Ree Soesbee to talk about the work that goes into building - and rebuilding - a setting that has to hold the attention of players for years at a time.

Guild Wars 2 PvP guide: getting started on the road to victory

Chris Thursten at

There's more to being successful in Guild Wars 2 PvP than mastery of your class: it's just as important to know how the maps work, how to earn points quickly, when to push and when to back off. I've played a lot of PvP over the course of beta and I recently spoke ArenaNet about the techniques that will help good teams to stand out. Below you'll find general tips and techniques as well as overviews of each of the three maps that will be available when Guild Wars 2 launches.

These are principles that apply to every PvPer, regardless of profession or build. They apply whether you're playing with an organised team on voice chat or jumping in with strangers.

Guild Wars 2 PvP designer talks e-sports, spectator mode and streaming

Chris Thursten at

During the final beta weekends, players jumping into Guild Wars 2's structured PvP maps may have noticed the first signs of its broader e-sports aspirations, like the tournament tickets granted as rank-up rewards. The first Guild Wars had a booming competitive scene - it is, after all, an MMO named after its PvP mode - and according to systems designer Jonathan Sharp, the sequel is going to take things much further.

Guild Wars 2 video exclusive: 12 minutes of the level 50 Twilight Arbor dungeon

Tom Senior at

A few months ago we took a look inside the Ascalonian Catacombs, one of Guild Wars 2's level 20 dungeons. Chris returned to Arenanet a short while back to find out what lies beyond Guild Wars 2's early game, and took the chance to record a run through the level 50 Twilight Arbor dungeon with some expert Arenanet QA testers. We can show you up to the dungeon's first boss, the venemous spider queen.

Guild Wars 2 writer on MMO storytelling and "sneakily getting the player to tell us what kind of game they want"

Chris Thursten at

Telling a coherent story in an MMO is no easy thing. It's difficult enough in a singleplayer game, where writers and designers only have to deal with a single perspective, a single set of player motivations. Telling a story to thousands of online players is like trying to deliver a speech to a crowd at a funfair: you'll get some people to listen, but you'll lose just as many if not more to the merry-go-rounds, the shooting galleries, the things they're really there for.

I spoke to ArenaNet lore and continuity designer Ree Soesbee about how the Guild Wars 2 writing team has chosen to approach that challenge, as well as the difficulty imposed by having a fully-voiced player character and the importance of providing light-hearted moments amongside drama and tragedy.

Welcome to Guild Wars 2 week

Tom Senior at

This Saturday pre-purchasers will have the chance to dive into a game we've been waiting for since Gamescom 2009, an MMO that's consistently promised to alter our assumptions of what an MMO should be. From what we've seen of the beta, Guild Wars 2 isn't seeking to reinvent the MMO, but to evolve it. "If you love MMORPGs, you should check out Guild Wars 2. But if you hate traditional MMORPGs, then you should really check out Guild Wars 2," they say.

We'll decide for ourselves next week when we kick off our review in progress. Like any MMO, there's a lot to see, test and experience, and you'll be able to join our reviewer as they explore the world, documenting their impressions as they go. Until then we have a week of features for you, fuelled by interviews and footage recorded during our recent visits to Arenanet. We've invaded high level dungeons, quizzed Guild Wars 2 writers on the art of MMO storytelling, explored the upper limits of Guild Wars 2's skill systems, taken an in-depth look at Guild Wars 2's PvP maps and more.

Guild Wars 2 server list revealed

Tom Senior at

Guild Wars 2 early access starts a week on Saturday ahead of full release on August 28. After all the waiting, it's almost here. Now, to plan. Which class to play? Which starting zone to explore first? Is it worth starting with a bit of questing, or should you dive straight into World vs. World and start wrecking up castles? Allow me to add another question to that heap. Which server should you play on? ArenaNet have just released the full list of US and European worlds to help you decide. Read on for the full list, and for a few details on our upcoming plans for Guild Wars 2.