In the final hour of each Guild Wars 2 beta weekend, ArenaNet weave an epic adventure as a parting thank you for the participating players. For the last beta event before launch, ArenaNet showed their take on the popular book series (and smash movie hit) Hunger Games. What used to be a way to easily stress test the game is now a showcase of the development and design talents of the Guild Wars 2 team. And they’re good at this stuff.
An hour before the server's doors closed, ArenaNet posted the details of the event. “The final event of this beta weekend starts now! Join us in the Metrica Province!”. It was located in the Asura starting area, one of the two new races playable in this beta weekend. After getting there using the handy waypoint system, I was presented with a new outfit and a new bar of abilities.
My weapons had been replaced with a rifle which only had a certain amount of ammunition. Each of my offensive abilities depleted the ammo - hence the need to conserve shots. More alarmingly, my health slowly drained away unless I ate some rations, of which I only had three. More were scattered throughout the world, but they’re rare.
We had a few minutes to play around with our new setting and then gloves were off. Each server was split into four teams, Red, Blue, Green and Gold. To win, our team had to be the last man standing, or have the most people still alive when the timer expired. Ammo stations were the only thing marked on our map and using waypoints was forbidden.
After a quick jolly ramble, the inevitable happened. Four very hungry teams clashed in a bloody battle that nearly wiped out everyone. Each team limped from the war zone with its own scrappy band of hardened survivors after they’d collected supplies from the fallen.
The game strategy then shifted. At first it was all about running up and punching the other teams faces. Now it was about pure survival. Anyone who had died had returned as an Asuran robot with only three abilities. You could spawn ammo, scan for enemies on the map or put up a protective shield. The handful of each team that remained now had their own robot army, body blocking them and hunting down the enemies.
One by one the survivors fell, either to hunger or by assassination. It all came down to two survivors, one Blue and one Red. Like a swarm of mechanical vultures, the robots led them both to their final confrontation. It started as a pure bot-on-bot stalemate until the Red survivor figured out a plan. He stopped targeting the Blue survivor and started firing on the robots, rapidly reducing their numbers and turning the battle in his favour. Eventually he had such an advantage in numbers that he finished the Blue off in an epic execution.
There was silence for ten seconds, until everyone returned to life with fireworks in hand. A server message popped up: “We hope you enjoyed the last beta weekend. Thank you, and we will see you at launch!”. What’s great to know is that in a month's time, we will get to feast on what ArenaNet have been preparing for the past five years. If it’s fractionally as creative as these beta weekends have shown, then I think my MMO hunger might finally be sated.