As you may have seen in previous articles on the site, this weekend was the final beta testing weekend for Guild Wars 2. I logged on Friday, having waited since 2007 to play, and took a deep breath - and spent the next 15 minutes trying to decide what race to play as.
I had already decided that I wanted to try out the new Guardian class, an armoured powerhouse that specialises in defensive magic. This profession specialises in getting between enemies and allies, using deflection, teleportation and brute force to protect and assist, before wading into the thick of it with a sledgehammer. I'd need to be strong, fierce and intimidating. So I settled on the Asura, a 4 foot tall race of incredibly sarcastic scientists. In Guild Wars 2, race doesn't affect ability - only starting zone and appearance - so it wasn't going to be a disadvantage. I just loved the idea of wading into battle and throwing around magical barriers to protect people up to 3 times my size.
GW2 character creation begins simply enough. Race, class and appearance are dealt with first, with a wide selection of customisable faces and the ability to dye your starting armour. After this however, is where things differ from most other MMOs. You are presented with a series of questions based on your class and race, and the answers to these affect your starting story, starting equipment, stats in three dialogue categories (charm, dignity and ferocity) and a bunch of other things, with effects that'll echo long into the game. In the weekend, I didn't get to see a remarkable amount, but even the tip of the iceberg was exciting given its persistent-world MMO stylings. Branching dialogue was affected by your proficiency in dialogue stats, characters in your back story were referenced or introduced to guide you in new and different ways - all usually the reserve of single player story driven games. Arenanet have been serious about making the MMO into something where the player feels important in the world at all times, and they seem to be succeeding.
One name decision later, and Vieri Talcor, charming Guardian of the Asura people, was ready to take on the world.