GW2: Heart of Thorns Beta Screenshots

gw2-masteries

Masteries are now in a more readable UI.

One has to select a mastery that one wants to level up, and earn experience towards that goal. Seems to be an alternate advancement system for those who love the leveling aspect of an MMO. Presumably after you unlock it with experience, you can then spend a mastery point to purchase it.

I got to within an inch of gliderhood but unfortunately didn’t quite get it before the first beta closed. Let’s see if they save character progress in between each stage.

gw2_verdantbrink

Much more of the Verdant Brink map was opened up, though only a few areas were heavily populated by Mordrem so far.

Map has a day/night zone cycle, day apparently set to 75 minutes and night at 45 minutes or thereabouts. I logged in to about 15 minutes of day, and then it quickly switched to night.

There seems to be an overall zone goal of holding/defending Rally Points, escorting Pact Soldiers to said Rally Points and bringing Pact Supplies to build up each Rally Point to eventually unlock more (unknown) stuff. So far only one or two Rally Points got defended consistently, so there will be more to do when it finally launches, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to more organized attempts at this zone goal.

(A beta map is naturally not a place for massive map coordination and organization, everyone’s squirreling off to see the new things, and about 85% of the people were Revenants unfamiliar with their skills and all that.)

After a first hour of intense battlefield Mordrem fighting, I found myself getting tired of the endless war going nowhere (need my organization fix) and wandered off to the quieter and probably still unbuilt areas.

I do hope that the designers don’t forget in their excitement over playing with complex and sophisticated dynamic event chains to look after the little guys, the solo explorers and casual levelers that need a calmer exploration fix from time to time, those surprisingly numerous players who enjoy and miss the feeling of leveling in their starter and intermediate leveling zones – more pastoral surroundings, less tightly packed and threatening mob densities.

Personally, I do suspect we will still have some of these areas, even in the Heart of Maguuma. Even the Silverwastes has its peaceful jumping puzzle, to take a breather from the constant combat chains.

From my short glance at the zone and the spaces and scenery therein, there seems to be a goal to pack a lot into it – something for groups (PUG or organized), something for achievement-oriented soloists, something for explorer-oriented soloists and so on.

But I dunno, I have no words to argue or defend the Vision that others seem to hate so much.

If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t.

So instead, I will just post the screenshots that -I- had fun taking.

gw2-purple

I remembered to take a PURPLE one for Eri’s theory of depressing endgame maps.

gw2-skyrim

I think this one is GW2’s claim to a Skyrim look-alike. The treetop textures, the lighting, the photo-realism just kinda blew me away.

gw2-itzel

I have… no words to describe the Itzel stare.

gw2-moreruins

More of those Maguuma Wastes-style ruins we’ve all come to know and love in Dry Top and Silverwastes. Dying to know more about the origins or creators of these structures.

gw2_pit

They weren’t kidding about the verticality of this zone. (I briefly considered spectral walking my way down – I played a necro rather than a revenant this time around – then in a brief fit of sanity, managed to find the NPC that teleported you into the pit.

Apparently it’s one of those new soloable “Adventures,” which usually challenge you to achieve some sort of task, except that it was either nonfunctional because it wasn’t done yet, or because we hadn’t unlocked the Rally Point that would unlock it, or I was just missing the whole point of what one had to do for the event.)

gw2_drop

The cloudy ominous drop that awaits clumsy glider-less travelers.

gw2_caves

There were some nearly empty caves under the Wyvern Cliffs, save for a few new Mushroom mobs, which were quite cute, in a nightmarish Mario Goomba sort of way.

And then I crawled through one snaking tunnel and went down another and stumbled into the as yet unpopulated Temple of Ameyalli. (Ameyalii possibly being to the hylek as Mellaggan is to the quaggan, an interpretation of the human god Melandru. Or maybe not and she’s just an unconnected animistic goddess of nature. Who knows, at this point.)

gw2_ameyalii

gw2_lights

gw2_shrine

One moment of perfect beauty.

That’s all this explorer soul needed.

GW2: Heart of Thorns Beta Sneak Peek / Test Thingmajig Thoughts

beta_wyvern

Brought down a wyvern out of the sky with about 8 people or so.

Felt pretty good.

Oh yeah, we killed it too, but that was only a matter of time. (S’ good no time limit.)

The defiance break bar felt quite good. Seemed like it would take about 5-6 people’s coordinated cc within a fairly short (5 seconds?) period of time to successfully land.

At first there was only me and another person landing cc at most.

Then I decided that everyone else hadn’t read the skill bar for their revenants (understandable, my eyes were glazing trying to make sense of their utilities and I told myself, meh, will learn it as I level the real one when the expansion hits) and outright announced which skill to use.

It took about 5 more break bars of practice, with one or two more people catching on each time, but as the wyvern dropped to about 1/4 health, we finally managed ONE coordinated cc spike. Just the one, but it was rather satisfying to see it crash out of the sky instead of flying off and coating the platform with flame.

I figure it’ll only be a matter of time before people learn. Seems learnable. And if it doesn’t work, it’ll just take slightly longer to succeed, is all. (For this encounter, anyway.)

Pretty small test area for the beta, but what was there felt overall good and tight.

beta_masteries

Masteries were there with readable tooltips.

It -did- take me a while to figure out where they put it, since I kinda skipped over the first popup tip.

Went through the hero panel with no success, becoming more and more perplexed until I finally spied the unfamiliar symbol in the lower right hand corner of my screen. Clicking on it pulled it up.

Revenant was on show with limited traits and weapons and stances (looks like the heavy armor equivalent of engineer and elementalist complexity, if you ask me, and I think it’s a class I will probably be more inclined to learn over the other two.)

Pretty wild skills overall. A ranged hammer and a mace/axe that felt melee-ish. A lot of rectangular line-shaped skills. Some kind of stored up energy system for utility skills and elites rather than the usual cooldown times. A ‘resistance’ buff that makes them ignore conditions for the duration (“Nooooo,” scream my condi PvP builds) and a lot of condition/boon manipulation possibilities, I think.

One ‘Adventure’ was on show, where you run around with a flamethrower and torch vine tendrils and try to reach bronze, silver, gold target numbers for doing it good, better, best. I managed bronze and unlocked a mastery point, so that’s one option for masteries. Seemed like a solo style scoring affair at first glance, not 100% sure. Might be a minor social issue of “you took my mob spawns!” if so.

beta_gliding

The only thing that I wasn’t 100% impressed with was gliding.

I didn’t like the delay between leaping off something, falling screaming a certain distance before the option to “Press Space to Glide” came up. I’m not sure if it’s a ping issue (~230ms, for the record) but I fell for like several character lengths (heights) before I could press space to trigger the gliding. That feels very awkward, compared with my memory of how smooth it was in Aion.

The glider also looked remarkably lame. Like I grabbed a pink flower to fly or something – too curvy, I kinda had the expectation that gliders would be more aerodynamically streamlined with straight lines…

Once the glider had taken hold though, the actual gliding experience felt ok.

Caught an updraft once during the wyvern fight (had to get out of combat to switch weapons) and that worked as expected. Fly into it with glider, thing lifts you like an elevator (or one of those aetherblade bounce pads, but slightly slower and more controlled) and you can glide out of it as desired.

Besides that, everything else felt decent. The one event chain that was on display worked. Fight a bunch of mordrem vines and stuff. Fight a bunch more mordrem while carrying bombs to blow up something. Lazy people who refuse to carry bombs can hang way back in a separate event to snipe mobs with a seriously overpowered sniper rifle, assisting in the otherwise highly tedious killing of Mordrem husks that get in the way of the bomb carriers. Succeeding let you board choppers to take out ze wyvern.

beta_crash

Very little need to comment about the scenery. All well done, aesthetically spot on in the usual ArenaNet style. Jungle definitely looking to be quite vertical, did quite a bit of accidental (then purposeful) falling and getting out of the beta testing area via gravity and getting forcibly zapped back to starting point as a result. Presumably will be even MORE vertical when the real thing hits.

Can’t wait.

(In the meantime, I need to get around to a post or series of posts about what I’ve been up to the past week or so, but bah, busy busy busy.)