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Ultimately my goal is to make the public more aware that Guild Wars 2 is not the same MMO you’ve been playing.
In fact, do you like MMOs? Then you need to check out GW2.
Do you hate MMOs? Then you REALLY need to check out GW2.
Credit where credit is due:
Some of the info was pulled directly from the GW2 Wiki I felt that there was no reason to rewrite some things. Some info was also pulled directly from guildwars2.com and the ArenaNet Blog.
Watch this first!
That large rock monster was a level 1 boss, the shadowy skeleton monster was a level 15 boss, the giant dragon (which is a baby compared to the Elder Dragons) is a level 50 boss and ALL of these are outdoor content that can be experienced by anyone, there's no content gating or huge time commitments involved. Intrigued? Keep reading.
• Dynamic Content – Gone are the days of looking for a symbol above an NPCs head to tell you exactly where to go just as everyone else has before you. Content in GW2 is run by the Dynamic Event system that is a completely persistent and hand scripted that changes how everyone in the world sees content based on your action or in-action.
• Active Combat – No more trading blows with a mob in whack-a-mole combat. Damage in the game is avoidable, if an enemy is lining up a big spell, you can dodge it and keep on fighting. Positioning relative to your enemy and your allies will be a key factor during combat, among other things.
• Underwater Combat – ArenaNet has built an entire underwater combat system, no more breath bar to manage, quick and fluid movement in water and entire weapon and skill sets to go along with it.
• The Holy Trinity – Dead. Gone. And good riddance. There are no defined class roles in GW2. It’s not fun to hope that one person logs in so that you can actually play a game. You can generally take any combination of professions that you wish into content and succeed in the same time-frame as any other as long as you communicate.
• Personal Story – At character creation you get to choose from a wide variety of biographical entries based on your race that will affect your personal story. ArenaNet aims to put the hero and identity back into the MMO genre rather than just a character sheet.
• WvWvW PvP – There’s 2 flavors of PvP, one is the Arena style combat that GW1 is currently known for, the competitive style. The second kind is World vs World vs World where 3 servers are pit against each other every 2 weeks to battle it out across 4 persistent maps filled with 2,000 people that involve capture points, resource gathering, castle sieging, etc.
• Level Scaling – You never have to worry about your friend being too high of a level for you to play with him, you can sidekick up to his level or he can sidekick down to yours so you guys can play together no matter each others level.
• Leveling Curve – There’s no exponential leveling curve in GW2, it’s linear and plateaus quickly. ANet aims to kill that “I have to grind so I can play the game” feeling you get in other MMOs.
• No Monthly Fee – It amazes me that not only is ArenaNet working to change how we view MMOs, but they’re still not including a monthly fee.
• Jumping – I nearly forgot, YES, you can jump. ArenaNet has built a fully realized 3D world for you to roam around in.
Dynamic Events - So there are no quests in GW2, you never go to an NPC and read a wall of text that says for you to go collect 10 bear furs. You see content as it happens, right in front of you and everyone else. Well how am I supposed to level you ask? The answer to that is Dynamic Events. They’re always happening everywhere around you, when you come across one you'll get a notification that there are new events nearby. Dynamic Events are structured so that you might see a single one-off event all the way to 20 events within a chain. Though a chain isn't a very accurate description, they're more like tree branches. Events aren’t merely black & white though, it’s not as simple as Event 1 goes into Event 2 and then Event 3.
Let me give you an example:
Say there’s a Dredge army making their way out of their base. You could possibly get together with people and defeat the Dredge allowing you to push into their base, defeat their commander, rescue captured soldiers, and then even defend the base against rallying Dredge who try to retake it.
Now let’s say you either ignore or fail to kill the Dredge army, that army will then create a base in friendly territory, they’ll build walls, create siege weaponry for defense, etc. They’ll then send out bands of Dredge to sack nearby towns, they might send out a sniper to the nearby hills to kill merchants. Now it’s your job to defeat them, destroy their new base, liberate any taken towns, and even then push back to their original stronghold. This all stems from ONE single event, the Dredge army marching from their base and there are 1,600 of these events currently, all hand scripted.
On top of all of this ArenaNet has said things aren't going to just respawn 5 minutes later, events can take hours, days, weeks, and even months to be back in the same exact way you may have seen it originally. Also, this has to take into account player interaction, if no player does anything the enemy will still move on and conquer the world whether you're there or not. Events also affect other events like a chain reaction, some events can have zone wide consequences, some are triggered through player interaction with an NPC or an object in the world, weather systems, day & night cycles, etc. Nor does this take into account the different experiences you'll have playing with different profession combos making even those experiences unique due to profession synergy.
I found these maps that I believe was labeled by ArenaNet to give people an idea of how DEs can be laid out.
Dynamic Event Rewards – When you complete an event you will be awarded XP/Karma(see below in the Personal Story section for what Karma is) and Coin. Based on how much effort you put into an event determines your reward level. There’s Bronze, Silver, and Gold reward levels, however it’s not competitive. There’s no arbitrary numbers or roll system that determines your reward level and there’s no unique rewards to the majority of the events so people don’t try to farm the “best” event and ignore others. There will be very large server wide type events that take 100 people to do, events like The Shatterer around level 50. When you defeat this dragon, who by the way is a baby compared to the size of the Elder Dragons you’ll fight at level 80, a large chest will drop in which everyone who participated can get loot. Inside the chest we’ve seen upgrade components drop for armor/weapons.
Content Scaling – So when you arrive at an event, you might be the only one there. As you’re completing whatever the objectives are for an event, someone else might arrive, and then maybe 3 more people arrive. During this time a few things happen, the difficulty of the encounters will increase, the loot will be more plentiful, more xp will be rewarded for kills, the enemies will actually gain new attacks, and in the end you will gain larger bonuses for having completed the event with more people than if you had just done it by yourself. This is all whether you grouped up with said people or not, GW2 is built with having everyone working together in mind.
Active Combat, Dodging, and Blocking – When any enemy (AI or player) attacks you, you can actively get away from the attack by double tapping in a direction or using a designated hotkey while moving in a direction, by using a spell that makes your character move like a leap or teleport, or even by simply running away. Dodging drains a "charge" from the dodge bar and currently there's 3 charges in the bar. Once you stop dodging it will then start to recharge. Dodging is something that you’ll have to know when to use and when not to. There are also skills that when "held down" will actively block incoming projectiles from their intended target. So this will allow you to "take a bullet" for other players if the situation arises.
If you are moving in a direction, the dodge will take that into account and dodge in that direction. If you are not moving, you will dodge backward. Dodging now also evades attacks, making it a more effective and understandable way to avoid big creature attacks or to get out of AoE spells.
Every skill in the game has now been added into the animation blending system similar to how the Warrior's Chains work. This makes it so every skill can be chain combo'd like an action game, you don't have to wait for the animation to finish in order to use another skill.
Due to the way targeting enemies works in the game, you don't actually have to target anything to use your skills and also if you use a skill that say has a wide swinging arc, it will hit any target in the trajectory much like an action game, so you're not bound to a single target when using a weapon.
There are a lot of intricate mechanics built into the game where distance plays a large role in combat. Here's some examples:
If a Ranger uses a Longbow, the further away from their target they are the more damage they do, similarly if they use a shortbow the closer they are they'll deal more damage. The Engineer has a skill called Blunderbuss that stacks more bleed effects on an enemy the closer they are to the target and the Flamethrower skill does more damage the closer you are as well.
A Warrior has a Burst skill on each weapon and each one does something different depending on the weapon you're using, but the interesting part is the longer you hold down the button the more damage you do, a stun will last longer, you'll immobilize your target longer, or even do 3 different things entirely per each "level" of adrenaline gained.
There are other combat mechanics to take into consideration as well. The Thief has a skill called Heartseeker that does the following:
Heartseeker seems to have three tiers of damage depending on the targets health. The first tier (paired with lowest damage) when the target is above 66% health, the second when the target is between 66% and 33% (median damage between the two), the third when the target is below 33% (with the highest damage).
The Guardian has a skill called Faithful Strike where you leap at your target and if you hit them, you grant regeneration to your nearby allies.
The Elementalist has a skill called Burning Speed where it allows them to sprint and leave a wall of fire in their wake. When that happens any ally can come up to that wall of fire and use it to inflict extra damage, a Ranger could shoot arrows through it and they would catch on fire, a Warrior could swing their axe and fire would be thrown at your enemies. See the Cross Profession Combos section for more on this.
Many, many skills in the game all have some form of extra condition or effect associated with them, they're not simply skills that just do damage with 1-2 skills that might stun or interrupt like most MMOs.
The Skill Bar - Each class has 10 skills, now you must be thinking “WTF ONLY 10?” Well it’s not as simple as “only 10”. Every class can do real time weapon switching (thanks PS3!) in combat, this switches your skills based on the weapon you have equipped. Take the Elementalist for example:
The Elementalist class has attunements you can swap instead of weapons; there are 4 attunements that you can go through. With the way GW2 is setup, you COULD sit there and only use one attunement and wait for cooldowns on them, but if you really want to play an Elementalist to the best of its abilities, you would want to be swapping attunements fairly consistently as to avoid cooldowns on any one attunement type.
The Elementalist can only use one weapon at a time and can't swap due to the attunement mechanic, but they still have access to just as many skills at one time as any other class (20). The Engineer also is unable to weapon swap, but instead they can swap out backpack kits, weapon kits, and turrets.
So the weapon type you have equipped defines the skills you have in your first 5 slots. Say like you have a a Staff equipped, with the 4 attunements that gives you 20 unique spells. If you equip a Dagger & Scepter, that’s another 20 unique spells. Currently the Elementalist can equip 4 different weapons; this doesn’t include their underwater weapon. Say you're a Warrior and you're using a 1h sword in your main hand and a shield in your off-hand, your first 3 skills will be sword skills while your last 2 will be shield skills. This is a bit different for the Thief though, say you're using a pistol & dagger, the first two will be pistol skills, the third will be a combination of the two weapons and the final two will be dagger skills. If you're using a 2h weapon all 5 skills will be from that weapon.
The other 5 skills on the bar are all changeable to whatever you wish; this isn’t locked down at all.
6 - This is always your heal button, you can change this to whatever heal spell you currently have access to.
7-9 - Are your utility skills you can choose from, for the Elementalist this consists of things like Conjuration, ethereal Forms, Glyphs that modify your abilities, and Signets which gives you a passive and active effect once you use it.
0 - On your skill bar is always your Elite skill, for now the only one we’ve seen of the Elementalist is the Form based ability ‘Torando’ which turns you into a tornado that you can move around dealing massive damage and launching enemies into the air.
So for a single weapon build of an Elementalist you’d generally have 44 spells to use. In total with all of the weapons accounted for, you could be managing 139 unique spells based on your second hotbar setup. Ultimately this is something you’ll need to learn because you will be expected to fill any role at any time.
Skill Acquisition - A weapon’s skills are now learned by fighting with that weapon. Because weapon skills are tied to weapon use, there is no reason to visit a trainer and make choices about which ones to unlock. Instead, it makes more sense to learn how to use the weapon by, you know, actually using it.
Once you learn all 5 skills for say a sword, all future swords you obtain will have the skills unlocked. So you just have to unlock all of the skills for each weapon type and you're done.
Skill acquisition for your healing/utility/elite skills will work differently than your weapon skills. You'll be undertaking something called skill challenges in which will grant you skill points. There will be 200 skill challenges in the game, though based on the info we have it doesn't seem likely that you'll have to obtain all of those in order to get all of your skills. With these skill points you can unlock any skill you wish as long as you have enough skill points. The cost of skills range anywhere from 1 skill point to 14 from what we can tell at the moment. So how do you obtain skill points? Well ArenaNet has described challenges as ranging anywhere from defeating difficult enemies, to solving riddles, to ingesting potent drinks.
Weapon Swapping – In combat you’re going to be expected to swap your weapon sets to maximize your effectiveness. A Warrior can swap from a Rifle inflicting conditions on a single target starting out and then into a 2h Hammer for AoE damage when his foes close in. You could use a 1h Axe & Shield for quick adrenalin building and high damage attacks, drop back out of the way and switch to Longbow for massive fire AoE damage.
Underwater Combat – So there’s no more breath bar in GW2, going in the water won’t be an annoying hindrance anymore. You can swim across the surface very quickly, but you’re unable to attack while doing so. If you dive under the surface your entire Skill bar will switch to give you 2 new weapons along with entire new skills for those weapons and even your entire utility bar will change based on what you have slotted for underwater combat. While underwater combat becomes a bit different than while on land, you have access to the entire Z-Axis and you’re able to use spells on the Z-Axis too, not just the X & Y. You might cast a spell that’s a giant beam of light and it will not only damage mobs right where you casted it, but above and below you as well. If you go into the Drowned State while underwater, you’ll get access to a small skill bar that has 4 “Drowning” skills on it. Like the Downed State on the surface, if you manage to kill a mob you will rally back and be able to keep on fighting with all of your skills again. While underwater you can also try to swim to the surface to rally as well, this will give you 25% of your health and you’ll return to your normal state.
You’re also able to pull enemies from the land into the water and this opens up entirely new sets of attacks for them that they otherwise wouldn't have. There’s also tons of content to be found underwater with the Dynamic Event system, not only this but you’ll find entire cities and civilizations as well.
When underwater you’ll be diving into the depths and it might become difficult to tell which way is up or down. As you descend the edges of your screen will become darker and as you ascend that darkness will fade. This makes it quite easy to tell which direction you're headed.
Holy Trinity – In pretty much every MMO, everyone has a defined role. These roles are Tank, DPS, and Healer. Where based on your class/spec you do one of these roles and only that role. Those roles don't exist in GW2. GW2s combat is built with control, damage, and support in mind. Every player will have the responsibility of doing everything; no one gets a pass and is allowed to not help out. While everyone has their own individual heal and some Professions might have another healing spell that they can throw down as an AoE, it isn’t something you can rely on and is more of a “when it’s absolutely needed” kind of thing. You’re not able to rely on that AoE heal to save you, you are going to be keeping yourself alive by dodging and paying attention, you’re going to be tanking, you’re going to be doing damage, you’re going to be buffing, you’re going to be debuffing, you’re doing to be resurrecting allies. Situational awareness is one of the most important aspects of GW2.
Playing With Your Friends - MMOs these days are designed so that you might play with a friend if you happen to be on the same quest together or around the same level, if not then you'll have to wait till the level cap and even then there's segregation due to the gear treadmill. In GW2 as soon as you exit the tutorial at level 2, you can go to a nearby Asura Gate and it will take you to the hub city of Lion's Arch. From there you can take another gate to any other capital city in the game and meet up with all of your friends right from level 2. The entire game is built around community, co-operation, exploration, and fun. The whole point of playing an MMO is to play with others and most of all with your friends, right?
Sidekicking - Ever start playing a new MMO and your friend is already 30 levels ahead of you making it so you have to catch up to him? Everyone has been in that situation at one time or another. Well, with the sidekicking system this is no longer an issue. If your friend is level 30, he could come back down to the Level 1 areas and play with you, his stats and gear are scaled down to match the area you’re in and he’ll have all of the skills he’s unlocked, just weaker versions of them. When someone goes to a lower level area they’ll still gain a good amount of Experience/Karma/Coin, it’s not quite as much as you’d get from doing on level content, but it’s enough so that you’ll want to go play with your friends.
So what this means is no one will ever be able to blow through content in the game and ruin it for everyone else. This also means that all content will always be relevant in the game, even after content patches and even after expansions release. Sidekicking isn’t just one way though, if you group up with your friend he can mentor you up to level 30, all of your gear and stats will match a level 30’s, but you’ll still have the same skills you have normally so you can go off and do level 30 content with your friend as well. You’d be able to continue unlocking weapon & utility skills even while playing in the higher level content so it’s not like you’re going to be hindered by playing with your friend.
Guilds - Currently we know a little bit about guilds. You'll be able to create your own guild as you'd expect, within this you can earn a form of currency called Influence that you can earn by doing things with your guild out in the world. Influence will allow you to buy things such as guild storage, a calendar, experience flags, fortify and upgrade the keeps you're holding, etc. As a guild you'll be able to capture keeps in WvWvW in the name of your guild and fly your banner for all to see. You'll be able to track all of your guildmates on the map as well as out of game (see the Extended Experience section below). Where GW2 differs from most MMOs in regards to guilds is you'll be able to join multiple guilds at once and jump between them with a simple mouse click in-game. So this allows you to be in many different guild types just like you're in many different social circles in real life.
Guild halls and player housing will come after launch.
"Hot join" games are the casual side of structured PvP. Hot join PvP can be played from 1v1 all the way up to 10v10.
Players can browse through a list of available games, each displaying the current map, the number of players, etc. Players can search by server population or friends list.
Tournaments are the more organized side of structured PvP. Tournament play is 5v5, but matches take place on the same maps that are used for hot join play.
Pickup Tournaments: These single-elimination tournaments wait for 8 teams to join before starting. Once they start, they go through 3 rounds of eliminations, with winners receiving qualifier points.
Monthly Tournaments: For monthly tournaments, you'll need a certain amount of qualifier points to join.
Yearly Tournaments: These grand tournaments feature the winners from the monthly tournaments slugging it out for the right to call themselves the best PvP players of the year.
Player-Run Tournaments: These tournaments will be customized by players, allowing for great flexibility and unique bragging rights.
Guild Wars 2 PvP features different maps that all dramatically alter a single game type called Conquest. In the Conquest format, teams compete over a certain number of capture points. Holding a capture point and killing enemies improves your team's score. The first team to reach the score limit—or the team with the highest score when time runs out—wins the match.
This is a game mode where 3 servers are pit against each other in a FFA across 4 persistent maps in a place off the world map called The Mists. This is joinable by anyone at any time, 24/7. Each battle lasts 2 weeks and the winner of the 3 servers then gets matched up with 2 other equally matched servers. A world's rank increases as it wins more often. During combat there is no direct way for these worlds to communicate with each other. At launch there will be 1 map that is split into 4 maps, 1 map that is the home map for each server and in the center is a neutral center map. Each map has resources and objectives to capture, things like castles, fortresses, mercenary camps, mines, lumber mills and villages. These sites, with the management of their capture and defense, allow teams of all different sizes to find a way to participate. For example, larger groups or guilds may take or hold keeps, while smaller group sizes or even individual participants might assist by disrupting supply caravans, weakening defenses, or capturing other objectives that will stop reinforcements. Maps will also be populated with defensively-oriented NPCs to set the pace of gameplay, but their presence is to allow defending players a chance to join in the defense as opposed to being a credible or reliable threat.
Resources gained from mines and lumber mills are used to rebuild walls, create siege engines, and generally defend the world's fortress. Once they move to the central map, players joining will start at their world's portal keep. From there they may continue to capture objectives while dealing with players from other worlds seeking to invade opposing home maps via the central map zone. Thus, play will travel between the central map and home maps as worlds gain and lose footholds such as keeps and strategic points that influence bonuses for their home world.
So all of the objectives in WvW use the Dynamic Event system. Say like your server takes over a mine, a new event will kick off to escort the minecart back to a nearby keep. Both of the other servers will have an event to destroy your minecart. If you get it back to a keep, your server then gains access to siege weaponry to use against your enemies.
Here's a screenshot of a leaked map, this is about 1/3rd of one of the four WvWvW maps to give you an idea of the size & scale:
Territories and control points within the map will confer benefits to the world that controls them, such as faster energy/health regeneration, increased drop rate or increased experience gain for a time.
Players can gain experience and level their character entirely in World PvP. Killing people in World vs World gives the player loot which means a player doesn't need to leave World PvP to get better gear.
Dungeons – At launch there will be 8 dungeons, but don’t fret! This doesn’t mean they’re the same static thing over and over again. Like everything else in the game, ArenaNet is shaking up how dungeons work as well. Every dungeon has a Story mode and an Exploration mode. The Story mode uses concept art and exposition to tell the story similar to the Personal Story. After completing the Story mode of a dungeon, you will unlock Exploration mode. Exploration mode is significantly harder than the Story mode version. Story mode is meant for pretty much any random pick up group, whereas Exploration mode is very difficult content that is meant for a coordinated group of players. Whatever results come of the Story mode version will play out in the Exploration version of the dungeons. Each of the Exploration dungeons have at least 3 paths that the group can vote on that will determine what path they take. The Dynamic Event system is also present in both versions of the dungeons, so even if you play through multiple times, that doesn’t mean you’ll see the same exact thing. Bonus events could spawn from player actions, by location or even at random and change your experience.
But what about the loot you ask?
Every dungeon has its own unique weapon and armor sets. The Story mode has the unique weapons and the Exploration mode has the unique armor sets. Not only that, even if you don’t actually get any drops, you WILL get a token that is redeemable for loot at a vendor.
Aggro will take into account quite a few factors:
Simple creatures use a system based on proximity, how much damage is being done to them, how much damage they're doing, health of the player, armor, etc. More complex creatures will use all of the above among other things such as using specific skills, attacking the player that is the furthest away from them, focus on players wearing medium or light armor and try to chase them. Some creatures might run away from you, swap weapons to have entirely new skills, dodge your attacks, use specific skills on players at specific times, etc. Different armies will also have their own systems that are based on different themes, skills, and AI.
Leveling – In GW2 the level cap has been raised to 80, though like everything else ANet is looking to innovate here as well. Most MMOs all have a very exponential leveling curve where each level takes progressively longer than the level before it. ANet has designed a linear curve where each level takes only a tiny bit longer than the last so you’re never going to dread stretches of leveling where leveling hits a huge incline. Their aim is to eliminate that grind feeling. Right from level 1 you’re playing the game, not waiting to hit that one special number that says “okay you can play the game now, for real this time”. ANet has said that once you hit level 30 it will take an average player about 90 min per level past that point.
Soloing – You'll be able to solo, but just not everything. Dungeons will require a group, though that's not to say you couldn't tackle them with less than 5 people or that you couldn't attempt and even win events that you probably shouldn't be able to. Though some events may be VERY tough to beat or downright impossible while solo. I saw a guy playing at SDCC 2011 where he went up against a named wolf and 2 centaurs, they proceeded to tear him apart very quickly. Saw another guy go up against a named mob, got hit for 1500 and then again and he was dead. That’s not to say you COULDN’T win, but it would be a challenge for sure. Thing is with soloing is even while you’re out in the world, you will be running across people and you will be helping each other out because you all have the same goals and you don’t need to be grouped for any of this to take place.
The Downed State & Death – When you run out of health in GW2 you will enter what is called ‘the downed state’. While you are down, you will have 4 skills that are specific to your class pop up on your screen. If you’re able to kill a mob or help kill a mob while you’re downed you can rally back and get a reprieve so you can keep fighting. If you fail to rally and are overwhelmed you will die, but you can still wait for someone to come resurrect you if you wish, you can also be resurrected while in the downed state. If you do die you can choose to release to whatever nearby waypoint that you have unlocked.
Resurrection – Every single player in the game can resurrect any other player or NPC, so you’re not going to be waiting around for someone else to do it. This can also be done in combat, this allows for the pace of combat to keep flowing.
Kill Stealing – There’s no kill stealing in GW2. Typically when you see another player in an MMO, you dread it. You say “He’s going to take that item before I can get to it!” Well in GW2, you won’t have to worry about that happening. Say you’re killing a mob and someone comes along and starts killing it as well, when the mob dies you both get FULL XP and loot for it regardless if you’re grouped with them or not. ArenaNet is designing a game where you no longer dread seeing other players around you, you WANT to group up with them.