As I mentioned before, more of the Maguuma Jungle was unlocked this weekend to explore. To get to most of it, though, I needed to unlock some of the Mastery skills. Now we come to my biggest complaint about the weekend: unlocking the masteries. Players must pick a mastery line they are currently “training.” This just means they toggle a mastery skill that they want to gain XP for. For me, I needed to learn Glider Basics. In order to allocate a mastery point, players must train (i.e. get enough XP) a mastery skill to the point where they can learn it. This is done by the normal means of getting XP for a character (e.g. killing monsters, doing events, progressing the private story).
Unfortunately, however, since this was beta I could only do the one story mission, so that was out. Events pop up at pretty random times, and I ran across one or two that seemed broken (this is a beta after all). This left me with killing random monsters (which does not award a ton of XP) or waiting for events to pop up. There were a lot of events in the zone that were taking place in areas that were unaccessible to me at the time (because I needed some kind of mastery transportation), which felt a bit like a catch 22. All in all, unlocking one of the basic mastery skills took far longer than I would have wished. I’m sure on release it will be a bit easier (the story missions will be available then, after all), but it felt a bit like a forced grind, which is not something I’m very used to in Guild Wars 2.
After I unlocked Glider Basics, I took to the sky and was able to explore the other half of the area that was available this weekend. I think the transportation masteries are a really neat idea, but my one very small complaint about gliding is that it was unclear to me which areas were areas I could go and which areas were death. A couple times I ended up stranded and had to warp back to a waypoint because there was simply nowhere for me to go (I couldn’t glide up, only down). I was not able to try out the mushroom mastery system this past weekend.
All in all, this beta weekend I enjoyed the new elite specializations, but experienced some small frustrations with the Mastery system. I really like the idea behind it, but it felt a little grindy and unclear in its current state (and with the current restrictions of the beta). I’m hopeful, though, that it will be tweaked a bit between now and release. Still, the expansion is looking quite solid for fans of the game.