ArenaNet has announced the date of the first public beta weekend for Guild Wars 2. Players who have pre-purchased the game will have guaranteed access to all future beta weekends, and ArenaNet is likely to offer other ways to obtain keys for further beta events.

The public beta will run from 3 p.m EDT on Friday, April 27 until 3 a.m EDT on Monday, April 30. This weekend will be the first chance many players will have to play Guild Wars 2 since its announcement in 2007.

If you’ve pre-purchased the game and registered your account, you’ll be sent a link to download the client next week.

All eight professions will be available to play. Players will be able to create human, charr, and norn characters (the asura and sylvari remain unavailable) and can participate in PvE, World vs. World PvP and structured PvP. Most importantly for Guild Wars 1 players, the revamped Lion’s Arch will be explorable for the first time! Check out the ArenaNet blog for more details on what will be playable.

As a thank you for reaching 460,000 likes on its Facebook page, ArenaNet has released a beautiful piece of underwater concept art. Further art will be revealed as this number reaches 500,000.

Eir Swimming

Want to know more about Guild Wars 2? Take a look at the official website and 30 mins of recent beta footage from Game Informer.

Do you have beta access next weekend? Let us know what profession and/or race you’ll be playing in the comments below!

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