On last week’s episode of Points of Interest, Rubi Bayer was joined by Game Director Colin Johanson to talk about the Revenant and Stronghold Beta Event that took place over the weekend. Colin reiterated that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ beta events are primarily meant to test gameplay and gather feedback. The release date for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will depend on that feedback.
Rubi mentioned that the definition of what a beta is has changed for much of the game industry, and Colin replied that he doesn’t think it’s a positive change. When beta tests are viewed exclusively as marketing events, he said, it paints an inaccurate picture for players and puts immense pressure on developers, who can’t be sure that what’s being tested is what they actually want to go live.
While Stronghold underwent massive changes since its first showing, the revenant hasn’t gotten many tweaks based on closed beta test feedback. When the revenant was available for play on the show floor at PAX East, demo characters were equipped with Celestial gear so that players new to the game would have an easier time surviving. During closed beta testing this gear was not replaced, and since those stats weren’t optimal for the available legends and weapons the revenant felt underpowered. One of the goals of the Revenant and Stronghold Beta Event was to gather more accurate feedback, and so every beta character was given a set of gear with selectable stats.
The ability to have beta characters on the live servers is valuable because it allows players to test the revenant in the entirety of the core Guild Wars 2 game. Colin explained the engineering department’s impressive feat: When creating a beta character, a copy is made of the account. Beta characters use the beta version of the account, which gives them access to all of the main account’s unlocks, resources, and items without affecting the main account or the game itself. At the end of the beta event, that account is wiped. Nevertheless, Rubi advised not to tempt fate by throwing anything in the Mystic Forge on beta characters, since Zommoros might be waiting to play a cruel joke by offering up a precursor you can’t keep!
The revenant’s Ventari legend and staff weapon were new to this test. Colin explained that Guild Wars 2’s combat philosophy doesn’t exclude support-heavy or tankier roles, and the goal is simply to ensure that no one is locked into those roles. One of the strengths of Guild Wars 2’s combat system is the ability to quickly swap roles in combat, but PvP takes the best advantage of it, followed by WvW. Guild Wars 2’s PvE gameplay doesn’t currently provide the kind of challenge which would make swapping to a strong support kit like revenant’s staff and the Ventari legend valuable, so the development teams want to address that with elite specializations, revenant, and unrevealed challenging content.
Next, Josh Davis and Hugh Norfolk talked about the changes to PvP’s Stronghold game mode since the first public test. Adjustments have been made to the trebuchet; a new feature allows players to queue for their preference of either Conquest or Stronghold; and matches will now enter overtime if a lord is in combat when the timer runs out. Mist Champions have changed dramatically from their initial incarnation, becoming a selectable element of player builds.
Mist Champions are meant to empower their allies to push forward to the enemy’s lord. Each of them differs in the abilities they perform, the amount of health they have, and their speed in progressing down the lane. Grymm Svaard has high health, but runs slowly. Nika is the fastest, but also the squishiest. Turai Ossa is fairly balanced. Which Champion you choose can have a big impact on your team’s strategy.
Sound Designers Drew Cady and Jerry Schroeder came in for a new segment called “Bells and Missiles,” where they demonstrated the weird and wonderful ways of making the bizarre creature sounds that bring life to Guild Wars 2’s world. Rubi also interviewed André “aRestless” Becker, one of the Overwolf Guild Wars 2 App Challenge winners.
If you missed the episode, you can check out a recording below!