The MMORPG genre is growing faster now than ever before. From Everquest to World of Warcraft, Warcraft to Age of Conan, and in 2011 we saw two major titles released in Rift and Star Wars: The Old Republic. With the clock beginning to tick in 2012, there are multiple AAA titles scheduled to be released, but nothing grabs our attention more than Guild Wars 2. With the massive success of it’s predecessor, our expectations are sky high.
Last year we got our hands on the game at PAX Prime, and all we can say is that our expectations aren’t high enough!
To give a little background on the series, in Guild Wars 1 the only time you had to spend money was buying the box. It proved that there is a way to make a quality game, enjoyed by millions, and not require a subscription to sustain a high quality experience. On top of that, ArenaNet did a fantastic job of creating a beautiful world, with a unique art style that still looks great to this day. These are the two major features that both Guild Wars 1 and 2 share but beyond the story and lore, everything else has changed; changed for the better.
Guild Wars 1 did not have an open, persistent world. Players met in instances cities or towns where they could form groups, sell and trade goods and hire NPC mercenaries before setting off to do quests in individually created instances. Guild War 1 was also limited to the fact that you could not jump. Detractors of the game often complained that you had to walk around the smallest drop in terrain and much of the game was hidden behind invisible walls and closed off maps.
For those that weren’t Guild Wars 1 fans, they often assume that Guild Wars 2 is going to be exactly the same, but they can’t be farther from the truth. Guild Wars 2 will bring to you everything you would expect from a modern AAA title. GW2 has full modern control schemes, including jumping and swimming, along with a wide open and beautifully crafted world that is not only persistent, it’s dynamic. At PAX Prime we were shown the Charr starting area where the world appeared to be alive and doing things regardless if we participated or watched. You really got a sense that you were part of the environment rather than playing through the environment.
Let’s take a moment to explain the difference between being “part of the environment” vs. “playing through the environment”. Most modern MMORPGs have you playing through a series of scripted events or quests to progress your character, this is often referred to as a “theme park”. This is what we mean by “playing through the environment”; the world is there for you to consume in a certain scripted series of events or plot-lines and often does not leave you with choice. In Guild Wars 2, this is not the case: the player becomes “part of the environment”.
When we say you are “part of the environment” we mean that as the player you are not the main focus of the events going on around you. Yes, Guild Wars 2 has individual story lines for each character, but that is just a small part of the world around you. When you step out of the starter area you are immediately placed in a world where things are happening. You see friendly NPCs rushing to different points of interest and defending them from incoming enemies. You can see the world around you physically change as these events shift back and forth. When we say you are “part of the environment”, we mean that you are either the hero or the voyeur, the assistant or fighter; these events continue whether you do something or not.
The great part of these events is that you can change the outcome. You can choose to be the hero and complete local objectives to turn the tide of the events going around you, or you can run by and ignore them; it’s up to you.
In our opinion, if you are “playing through the environment”, the environment becomes a tool or a means to an end. When you are “part of the environment”, it alters your perception of the world around you and it becomes something bigger. You are now living in this world, and you become part of it. This is what Guild Wars 2 is bringing to the table.
Guild Wars 2 has taken the dynamic elements of Warhammer’s Public Quests and the spontaneity and open world dynamic content of RIFT and created a world around that design philosophy. From our experience with the hands-on demo, Guild Wars 2 is primed to become something special.
Guild Wars 2 Junkies is going to help you bring this experience in the months to come. Beta is just around the corner and release is coming this year. Stay tuned to our website as we share our experiences from PAX Prime and PAX East where we’ll talk about classes (hopefully the Mesmer is demoed at PAX!), weapons, skills, pvp and more.
Welcome to Guild Wars 2 Junkies!