Community Beta Review – Page 2

The map of Tyria

By the end of the beta events we had access to all of five races, their cities, their starting areas as well as a few higher low-level areas. For the most part, this meant hanging out with one culture at a time, however, we could visit one city that equally represented every race:

Lions Arch (City)This one is my personal favorite, and feel it is also the most likely to become the central social hub. It has a diving board, a little arena for mini-pet battles and an endgame crafting station called “the mystic forge”. It is the only city other than Rata Sum that existed in the original Guild Wars. There is also a series of large targets on top of tall rocks lined across a large body of water. I have no clue what they are for, but I bet it is awesome.

The original Lions Arch from Guild Wars: Prophecies still exists, but not out in the open. You will have to look for it. If you did play Guild Wars before this, it is still worth taking a look. It is seated in one of the most beautiful areas in the city.

Human areas

Divinity’s Reach (City)Most of the respondents voted this their favorite city. It is gigantic! You would probably need 100 men standing on one another’s shoulders to reach the top of the front door. Just one segment of this city is about the size of many full cities seen in other games. Every section is filled with things to look at and characters to talk to. While most people will get 100% map completion on this area, very few will see every detail and hear every dialogue.

Queensdale (Level 1-17) – The map that all humans start in. It resides just outside Divinity’s Reach’s front wall. This are was the favorite starting zone to a few of the community reviewers including myself. It seemed easy to get around, find events and level at the same rate as the map itself. It is also home to a familiar Guild Wars location, Beetledun which has an entrance to a level 40 dungeon which we could not access in the beta. It was really cool how much of the zone was in visual range of Divinity’s Reach.

It was also the only area in the first and second beta with an epic boss that is so huge that it zooms your camera out automatically.

Norn areas

Hoelbrak (City) The norn like to make huge shrines and buildings, but they don’t mind walking to get to them. This is the most spacious city you can find in the game and it can be a relaxing contrast from the clutter in the rest of the cities. If you don’t like long walks you will find yourself using the waypoints a lot here. I have a friend who fell deeply in love with this city, but the community reviewers did not say much about it.

Wayfarer Foothills (Level 1-15) – This one is a little strange because it has a small green grassy area for really low level players, but then it connects through a narrow pathway to rest of the map which is all snow and ice. It often feels like two separate maps. Some people like it, some people don’t. The green area is a good place to get familiar with the norn spirits, you can do tasks for each of them.

To me it does not progress as naturally as Queensdale, but it does contain my favorite starting zone dynamic event chain. If you are ever using AoE weapons or skills, you definitely should keep an eye out for crowds and events at the cave near the renowned heart: Disrupt Grawl Worship.

Charr areas

Black Citadel (city)Not a very popular choice among the respondents, but one did choose it as a favorite. The charr don’t waste time decorating pretty cities. Practicality seems to be their main design motive, though I am not sure how they avoid tripping or stubbing a toe on all of those uneven walkways. It may be a way to weed out the clumsy charr, because tripping near any charr contraptions could be fatal. So many sharp pointy metal edges.

The Black Citadel really is an intimidating place. A great hang out for the more warlike players, or just those who fancy chains and metal contraptions. It has a pretty sweet crafting area too.

Plains of Ashford (Level 1-15) – There are a lot of familiar sites here for Guild Wars fans. The opinions I got from the community reviewers were very mixed. One thought it was too orange and brown, two thought charr structures were awesome, one did not spend much time there because he hated the owners for what they did in 250 years ago and I loved the area but not the feline brutes’ taste in architecture.

Plains of Ashford was a good refuge for players trying to avoid the Queensdale lag in the first beta. It was also the home to the only dungeon we could play in the betas: The Ascalon Catacombs.

Asura areas

Rata Sum (City)Second most favored city of the respondents. It is very amazing to look at, and like the other cities, quite huge. If you like staring at floating/flying buildings, you may never leave this place after you first arrive. It may just be one of MMOs’ most unique cities. It can become a little confusing to navigate as it is much more 3D than the map is and it also utilizes teleportation.

I did not get to explore it much myself, but I am looking forward to it when the game comes out.

Metrica Province (Level 1-15) – The most favored starting area among the respondents. One mentioned, and I would have to agree, the asuran architecture compliments the environment so well. The province is a fairly open area and easy to navigate. I think many of the fans were pleasantly surprised by the asura themselves. They are still arrogant, but they aren’t nearly as cold as they seemed to be in Guild Wars: Eye of the North.

Metrica Province has many cool sites to see and great characters to meet. What more could you ask for?

Sylvari areas

The Grove (City) –  Pretty much everyone who mentioned it said navigation could get confusing. It has several vertical levels so looking at the map will not help very much. It can get a little annoying at first, but I am sure everyone will get used to it. You can find a transport system that makes traversing the layers much quicker, but you have to know where it is.

I found it a little underwhelming from where I was standing. Looking up or down multiple layers would be cool if they weren’t so thick that it looked like looking at a ceiling. I am sure there are better angles to look at it though.

Caledon Forest (Level 1-15) – Some loved it, some liked it but thought it was confusing. It was introduced in the third beta weekend along with a massive population increase and serious server decrease. Needless to say, this place was crowded. It had a cool jumping puzzle that leads to a challenging area that had a pretty rewarding looking treasure chest. Unfortunately I don’t know of anyone who managed to get to that chest. The forest is also home to the second epic boss fight available in a starter area and an equally rewarding event chain but with a smaller boss.

If it weren’t for this area I would not have been able to get my traditional beta plant wolf screenshot. The one at the top of the first page.

Other areas in the beta

Very few of the respondents even leveled past the starting areas. The ones that did seemed to agree that the higher level zones felt more significant than the starter zones. I did not play much of The Ascalon Catacombs (Level 30+ dungeon), but two of the respondents did. They both had a great time there and agreed it was challenging.

In the first beta most of the crowd stayed in Queensdale so I stayed away from the human areas to avoid the lag, but I was able to return to my homeland to go to the less crowded Kessex Hills (Level 15-25) and I loved it. Despite the fact that centaurs were everywhere, I spent a lot of the first beta there. I actually was able to get 100% zone completion on it twice. Something happened to our characters between the first and second beta weekend that reverted some of our previously explored map points to incomplete so I was able to go back and do three or four of them again to get the map completion award a second time.

I also completed Diessa Plateau (Level 15-25), the second tier charr area, and it had a dynamic event where I played as a cow and a pretty nifty sort of mini-dungeon thing. You will hear a lot about “jumping puzzles” but the game has other types of puzzles too. Entering the mini-dungeon is a reward for completing a dynamic event chain, but it is not an event or map point in itself. However, it does have a pretty rewarding chest at the end. Stay on the look out for neat explorable challenges and puzzles like this all over the map. You can easily miss them even if you get 100% map completion, so only true explorers are guaranteed to find them.

The norn area, Snowden Drifts (Level 15-25), taught me a disturbing lesson about myself. I have no compassion for innocent animals. I attacked a wounded moa bird, and before I could stop to think about what I had just done, a flock of large angry moas came to its defense. I also got way too much joy out of slashing my greatsword across a rock in a cave and watching the small black birds who sat on it plummet to their deaths.

In the second beta ArenaNet opened a higher level zone called Gendarran Fields (Level 25-35). One of the respondents mentioned that it was more interesting and intense than the rest of the areas. It seemed somewhat lighter in map completion points, but I feel like its main attraction was somewhat locked out of the beta. It is the home to the Vigil Keep, a very significant story location. Unfortunately there wasn’t too much we could do there at our level of progress. I did find a cool dynamic event that had me following a group of children around on an adventure.

There was actually one child from each race except for the sylvari. Sylvari are spawned at full size so we all miss out on the chance to see little plant kids running around. This was actually the first time I had seen an asuran child and I thought it was pretty hilarious. I also saw a little norn girl wearing human clothes, and that is when I realized they match full grown human women in both height and breast size. At first I thought she was might have been the human boy’s mother.

Weird.

Proof that ArenaNet did take several measures to make sure that norn are not just humans with a higher scale factor.

Overall, the map areas in the game come with a neat variety of experiences and tons of new stuff to explore. The third beta did open a second tier area shared between the asura and sylvari, but due to a character wipe before the event, neither the community reviewers nor I managed to level up enough to explore it.

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