I’m having a hard time balancing how very full and exhaustingly interesting the second day of PAX was against how incredibly quickly it seemed to fly by.
I was incredibly lucky enough to not be bucking for a shirt or a party pass by the time day 2 rolled around, which meant that while I was far from the first person to the booth (I’m guessing it was closer to number 200 or so), I was one of the first people to the demo stations themselves. This means my day started off right off the bat with a spin through the high-level asura engineer.
It’s been mentioned that some classes, like the guardian and the engineer, can take a bit more finesse and mastery to play to their fullest extent than other, possibly more straight-forward, classes. From my experience, and the experience of a few other fans I spoke with, that’s very much the case. I enjoyed the engineer, but I was never expecting it to be my favored class anyway, and I think it’d take a while longer playing the game to get really comfortable with the profession. That said, I did very much enjoy my time in the land of flamethrowers and equipment packs.
Despite its limited weapon availability, engineers have a ton of skills at their disposal. While I’m obviously not an expert at the profession, I find it hard to imagine that you can be ‘doing it right’ and using an engineer to their fullest extent if you’re just sticking to weapon skills and one-off utility skills (that is to say, utility skills that don’t in some way augment your skillbar). I spent about half the demo running around with the grenade satchel and mine kit in my utility slots, fiddling around with those. The grenade satchel, especially, I enjoyed – specifically while doing a group event defending a camp from waves of Orrian undead. It was super rewarding to wreak havoc on clusters of enemies as they grouped around other players or specific objective points. When I wandered away from the big, higher-player-count events and just met natural mobs in the world, however, I swapped out my kits for a flamethrower, a thumper turret, and the rifle turret. Because there were so many other effects going on in the battlefield for the special event, with guardians’ symbols and elementalists’ fields and big AoE blasts from the attacking Orrian ship (the Ash Horizon, I do believe), it was hard to really see what my engineer was capable of on her own, so after only about 15 minutes of the grand melee, I found myself drifting towards solo adventuring. Once there, it seemed the better part of wisdom to switch over to some turrets for some extra damage.
What possibly impressed me most about the engineer during the demo today was the scalability of the profession. Fighting alone, or with whichever ANet toon happened to be in the area, it was about as simple (relatively) to handle five or six mobs as one or two. By laying down turrets for steady damage and running around to keep enemies in range of both of them, I was able to use my flamethrower for more AoE type skills to slowly wear down the mobs as a group, and switch back to the rifle I was using for single-mob skills. While all of that was a bit of overkill for just a mob or two, it worked very well for larger groups – and made it easy to take small groups one after the other, by bringing them in towards my turrets. I’m sure the equipment packs would also be really fun and useful for this, but I was having such a blast with my turrets that I couldn’t bring myself to switch back again!
Another nice thing about the engineer professions is that they are, behind the guardian, one of the more overtly support-oriented options. In the dedicated healing slot, one has the option to put up a healing kit, which gives you skills to drop bandages for other players to use for heals, as well as a dedicated self-heal. Another option is, of course, the healing turret, which shares the wealth (and health! …sorry, I’m tired) with bursts of AoE heals. On top of that, the engineer has a truly delightful elite supply pack, which they can drop in an area to provide themselves and allies with useable heals and other goodies. I didn’t check how long those (or the med-kit bandages) stick around for once dropped, but it seems like a convenient way to provide heals and support to those who need them, while really fitting in with the ‘feel’ of the engineer profession – and not turning the engineer into a healbot. The engineer can provide his or her partymates with the tools necessary to heal themselves.
The next big event in my day was the big Guild Wars 2 panel in the Pegasus Theatre, a ~1000-seater auditorium that’s one of the main panel rooms for this whole event. That line was ridiculous, and the room was packed. A great deal of the information was nothing new – the new Gamescom trailer was played, and then Colin, Jon, Jeff, and Kristen all gave a relatively cursory introduction to the part of the game that they most interact with, and then Eric gave us a tiny bit of juicy information about guilds before opening the floor up for some tasty Q&A with the audience. Oh, and there were charr plushies. No big deal, right? Ten very lucky – and very, very happy, I’m assuming – fans walked away from the panel with a charr plush and an order for a customized A.R.E.N.A. jersey. The guild information released was:
+ Guild membership is account wide, and you can add as many guilds as you like. You will be able to choose, at any time and on any character, which guild chat you are viewing and what guilds you are currently affiliated with.
+ Doing different activities (“almost anything,” to quote Eric Flannum) with guild-mates will earn Influence for one’s guild, which can be spent towards guild upgrades (storage, etc), or special in-game boosts like a flag that grants extra XP to guild members within its range.
+ Specific guilds will be able to capture keeps within WvWvW PvP, and be able to use their Influence to create upgrades to those keeps.
Pretty basic, but pretty tasty. It’s nice to think that we’ll hopefully be hearing about the guilds of Guild Wars 2 fairly soon.
After the big panel, I had very little time before I was in a press demo and a brief Q&A with Colin (thank you, Leah, for being our awesome demo driver!). Aside from saying that it was very pleasant and informative, I’m not really to go into detail on that yet. I have it all recorded and notes written down, which you’ll hopefully see within the next week, once I’ve gotten some time to collect my thoughts on it.
The ArenaNet party was, I am entirely certain in saying, the crowning moment of my PAX weekend – as, I’m sure, it was for the other fans in attendance, and perhaps (hopefully!) some of the ANet team as well. For one thing, what’s better than spending time with other gamers in a place with tons of great food, tasty drinks, and a huge and well-equipped gameroom? For another, the atmosphere of the place can be chalked up in a big way to the welcoming and amiable attitudes of each and every one of the devs present. It was an incredibly comfortable and enjoyable experience. Everyone – fan and dev alike – was super approachable and the whole thing felt more like a reunion of friends than the first-time meeting that, in many cases, it was. I’ll note that there was fan-on-fan PvP available to play, but I was so caught up in enjoying the people that it didn’t even really cross my mind to go up to the usability lab to take a shot at it. There was plenty of talking and questions back and forth about Guild Wars 2 itself, but I know that conversations strayed very far away from that, as people went from being Guild Wars 2 dev and Guild Wars 2 fan and were, instead, fellow gamers and genuinely cool peeps.
If I’m lucky, I’ll write more about that later, too. Until then: thanks, ArenaNet. What a neat experience you’ve given us.
It’s late, and tomorrow’s the last day for PAX hijinks. I really want to get my hands on the recently-announced Wildstar, because I hear good things from people whose taste in games I find compelling. Until then….
There’ll be photos posted after PAX, and maybe some videos, too! Until then, make sure to check out what coverage other fansites are providing!
About the author: Elixabeth has been a Guild Wars fan since the release of Nightfall, and is now eagerly awaiting the release of Guild Wars 2. To bide the time, she began fiddling around with the online GW community and takes great pleasure combining two of her great loves (writing and games) here at TalkTyria. Follow her on Twitter, if you like!