Is Guild Wars 2 ready to become Massively Multiplayer? In their largest Beta Weekend Event yet, we ask Gazimoff to report on ArenaNet's developing MMO.
Last weekend, ArenaNet threw the doors to Guild Wars 2 wide open, inviting everyone who had pre-purchased the upcoming MMO to join in a Beta Weekend Event. With over a hundred thousand players ready to explore Tyria for themselves, the event would be GW2's first test by the gaming public at large.
During our previous adventures in the Guild Wars 2 beta, we've shared our first impressions of the MMO and how it seeks to reinvent the genre. We've also considered its eSports aspirations and the arguments against the game. This time, we wanted to see if it could truly scale to the massively multiplayer, as hordes of fresh faces logged in.
That said, this is a snapshot of a continually evolving beta. Over the coming months, bugs will be fixed and features will be improved. Although the beta weekend has been an undeniable triumph for the team, there are likely to be a few bumps on the road between now and launch later this year.
Instead of remaining on our previous server (Anvil Rock), we decided to move to one of several new servers brought online for the weekend. These new servers were definitely needed, as ArenaNet made the decision to temporarily suspend the pre-purchase program in order to avoid congestion. After picking up our allocation of gems and selecting our new home, the actual transfer process was nearly instantaneous, although we did hear of queues building up once the gem cost had been removed.
European servers were also introduced at the start of the event, with players from Europe able to select US servers to play on if they wished (and vice versa). One obstacle we did encounter was that it's not possible to whisper or friend players on a different server region. It's also not clear how intercontinental gaming will work: will players have a home server in each region, or will they be able to guest overseas?
Picking a home server requires careful thought. It's this server that you'll be representing in World vs World, with the boons earned dependent on your home server's success. You'll also want to pick a server with plenty of other players in order to tackle the large world events, but avoid one that regularly places you in Overflow so that you miss out on the action.
While the Overflow mechanic is great in providing us with a way of playing the game while we wait for a spot on our home server, we also saw a few teething troubles with the invention. Several players mentioned that they didn't understand what being on an overflow server meant, or what restrictions it placed on their gaming. Others mentioned that they had trouble establishing and maintaining groups on high population servers, as they'd regularly be placed on different overflow servers.