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Sorry if this is to lengthy, I just really want to get my thoughts I had down out to the public.
So a year ago I took my first step into the world that is Guild Wars 2. Let’s be honest, I think it’s safe to say anyone who has researched on this game and is excited for it will agree with me and say, "This game sells itself!!" Instantly I was hooked on the game. Finally, this is the MMO I have been wanting, been waiting for. After playing so many MMOs this one could be the one to keep my interest for more than a few months. It was settled; I had to learn more, and as I learned more it turned into, ‘I have to get my wife and my friends and my co-workers to play this game!’ So I set out on my first dynamic event for GW2, my objective to get people to play this game alongside me.
Many of my friends, colleagues, or other online people I socialize with on a regular basis are gamers. Most are experienced with multiple MMOs and some others not so much, if at all. I find myself asking ANYONE questions like ‘’Have you seen Guild Wars 2 game play at all?’ or "Do you plan to get Guild Wars 2 when it releases?" To my surprise 99% of the time I either get a resounding ‘No.' In fact, after asking these questions to what I can only estimate to be 100+ people (online chat as well), I have only run across one person who had actually looked into the game. Anyone want to take a stab at how that one person felt about the game? Just like me and many others he is very excited for this game to release.
So why do most of these other say they don’t plan to get Guild Wars 2, nor even take some time to do research on the game? Also, why are people who have looked at the game in small chunks, did little research beyond the one or two videos they watched and immediately discredit the game as going to fail. Then they go post on a forum or YouTube and compare GW2 to one other MMO named XYZ that may not have done so well and state GW2 will be no different. All these people have one thing in common; they are not interested in GW2. Why? Most of the reasoning is because they either didn’t enjoy playing Guild Wars 1 or because they see a system that Arena Net is implementing in GW2 and they "know" for a fact the reason game XYZ failed was because that system was flawed and Arena Net will make the same mistake. I’m going to be brutally honest; whoever states the later is just ignorant. More on that subject in a minute. However, for those who just did not enjoy Guild Wars 1, I’ll be honest again; I can sympathize and agree with the people who just didn’t like the game. I own Guild Wars 1 and one expansion and the highest level I got was level (drum roll)… 8. I tried on four separate occasions to get into this game and for the life of me I couldn’t do it.
I was introduced into WOW before GW1, so the first thing that turned me off was the world was not a progressive world like WOW. Other things bugged me as well like having to go around this rock instead of just jumping over it, but GW1 isn’t the point of my story. This is all about Guild Wars 2 and how it’s restored my faith in finally seeing a true next-gen MMO emerge.
Now since you know my feelings on Guild Wars 1 you could be asking yourself, "So why aren’t you like the others who didn’t like GW1, and why are you writing this article, and why are you excited for GW2?" Well the answer is simple. I’ve kind of developed my own way of looking at media. For the majority of movies, never see the sequel unless the movie is based off a good book, or is an animated film from Pixar or DreamWorks. Why animated films from Pixar and DreamWorks? Well I am a 3D artist and animator at heart, and I know first-hand the work that goes into those types of films. Now for the majority of games, never discredit the sequel for a game because the mechanics can easily be improved on. Games can get better as time goes on and learn from there own mistakes as well as others. With that, I wasn’t beyond taking some time to do some research on the game and see what it had to deliver in spite of not liking GW1. Not only did GW2 deliver, it slapped me upside the head and made me question what kind of MMOs I’ve been playing for the last 9 years. Now don’t get me wrong, the MMOs I’ve enjoyed will always have a soft spot in my heart, but times are changing and my need for something more needs to be filled.
Now I said this game sold itself, and while I think it does, it doesn’t hurt to give people a little nudge in the right direction. I’ve turned a fair share of ‘no, I’m not going to by the game’ responses into ‘Yes I’m excited to play this game now.’ I’ll just go over some key points of Guild Wars 2 and see if I can’t convince a few more.
(Please be aware that anything stated below may not be 100% correct. My information is derived from content I have read and watched, and of course can be changed at anytime by Arena Net.)
While some might see this as a downside I definitely see it as a positive. When you have many friends who play MMOs its hard for them all the agree on one faction in most cases. There have been many times over the course of MMOs where my wife and I would prefer a certain faction or side and most if not all of my friends would choose the 'wrong' faction as we call it . We choose horde, others choose alliance. We choose Elyos, others choose Asmodians. We choose Defiants, everyone else chooses Guardians. In the end we are left without playing with some or all of our friends or stuck picking the 'wrong' side or the side we don't want just so we can play with them. This makes the game less enjoyable for us which in turn leads us away from the game. Also, there have been many times when we purposely choose the faction we don’t want to play with our friends and then the friends end up quitting and we are left with characters we didn’t want to play in the first place. In Guild Wars 2 instead of having to choose a specific faction just so all your friends can play, everyone on the same server is working together and on the same side. Don't worry though there is plenty of PVP for those who crave that sort of action. Which leads me to my next topic:
World vs. World PVP
Though extremely large scale PVP battles have been seen before in previous games, they have not been seen for a while. So not only will GW2 be bringing a large scale PVP battle to the table, they are putting their own unique twist on it and trying to improve on flaws from previous games as well. Though named World vs. World PVP, in reality it’s a 3 way battle for control of the Mists. During a two week period 3 separate servers will pit against each other in fierce combat full of hundreds of player, with towers and castles to attack, and siege weaponry to help tackle the toughest of castle walls. There are currently 5 siege weapons that players can build, ranging from ballista’s to trebuchets to even an Asura War Golem. Each server will earn points and certain time intervals determined by the locations that server has under their control. At the end of the two week long battle the game ends and whoever has the most points accumulated wins! Now in order to try and make this system as balanced as possible and make for some pretty epic two week battles the servers will not be playing the same opposing servers every two weeks. The winners will move on to play other servers that won, while the losing servers will move on to play other servers that lost, or something similar to that. ANet has stated that calculating the points and setting up the next two week round will not take long at all which means for those PVP players at heart, there will always be a war to fight.
Now while GW1 was a very instance heavy game, GW2 is a fully persistent world that you would expect to see in an MMO being released in 2012. During your initial character creation you have many choices to make to define your character. Whether you choose to be cunning, or choose who your sparring partner is; each choice will have an effect on how your personal story plays out. From what I've seen this also appears to have an effect on the dialogue your character uses while playing. Do you talk like a noble? Or were you raised on the streets? From what I’ve watched in videos, choosing these different options could possibly lead you down a different story path, even if its slightly different, so that means even if you play the same race twice you could get a refreshing story that you didn’t receive the first time through. For all those people opposed to MMO games, this personal story could be just your thing that draws you into the game. You can enjoy this personal story in a single player sense, and get to the point where you might want to bring someone into your world to check out your accomplishments.
While dynamic events are not necessarily new to the MMO world, ANet is really taking the initiative to improved upon this concept and make it something truly enjoyable. Getting away from the traditional style of questing seen in the majority of MMOs, dynamic events are what GW2 is going to be utilizing to make Tyria feel like a living, breathing world and help the immersion of the game. If you are not familiar with dynamic events, they are quests for all points and purposes that happen in a seemingly random, dynamic manner. For example, one day you might be wandering around and stumble upon a farm. Well the farmer might ask for some help around the farm doing chores. Without having to talk to any NPCs you will get a dynamic event pop up on your UI stating the farmer needs help feeding the cows or watering the crops. Now everyone in the area will also have the same dynamic event, and instead of having to fight over who is doing what chores you work together to fill progress for that dynamic event. Then when the progress hits 100% everyone is rewarded for the amount of work they contributed to the event. Arena Net is taking this one step farther to help this world feel even more alive. Say the next day you go back to the same farm, but instead of having chores for you; some bandits have decided to attack the farm and burn down his buildings. Not only will you visually see that the bandits are attacking and setting things on fire, you will be able to quickly jump into the dynamic event without having to talk to any NPC and help the poor farmer out by either killing bandits or putting out the fires or both. If that wasn’t enough ANet is taking it even one step further! Some dynamic events will be activated by the time of day it is or what type of weather that specific area is having. So you may find a graveyard but there isn’t much going on during the day, but at night you might find ghosts lurking about and get a dynamic event to take care of them. Also, you might find a dynamic event that only occurs when it’s raining outside and you have to save some villagers from a flood. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of dynamic events throughout the world of Tyria, and not only will this provide players with a sense of immersion in the game it will also allow for replay-ability of the game for many years to come.
One of my favorite aspects that GW2 is bringing with it is active combat. Take a collision detection system, add dodging capabilities, and throw in weapon swapping on the fly and you get a combat system where positioning matters, distance matters, and quick reactions can change the outcome of a battle. Just imagine fighting a Minotaur who is about to deliver a finishing blow, you then use your quick reflexes to dodge backwards out of harm’s way and barely avoid his reach. You then use your self-heal to gain some lost health, switch to your rifle and finish off the foe from range. All this is fast paced and possible with the use of only 3 or 4 buttons. Also, with all this movement and positioning requirements, PVP is really going to be determined by skill and not so much gear. Combat in GW2 really appears to be the case of ‘easy to learn, difficult to master.’ Are you game to try? I know I am.
So the active combat I’ve described still doesn’t sound like enough to you? Probably one of the most unique, and utterly amazing, things that GW2 is bringing to MMOs is there cross-profession combo system. Not only does this add diversity and tactics to combat, it also helps instill the sense of community when playing with others. What cross-profession combos are, are combinations of two abilities that provide a specific effect depending on the abilities used. Some abilities add a certain effect to do additional damage, some do extra buffs or debuffs or effects that you wouldn’t normally get without the combination. Some of the abilities can be done solo depending on the skills used and others will require you to have another individual of a separate profession to activate; and all of them require two skills to activate. One is the initiator and the other is the finisher. So the easiest example is an elementalist puts down a wall of fire on the ground, and then a ranger stands with the fire in-between the target and him or herself. The ranger then shoots there arrows through the wall of fire and the arrows catch on fire as they pass through and hit the mob for extra burning damage. Other combinations can be created to buff allies around you with things like Frost Resistance, while others can cause status effects to debuff your enemies like blinding all enemies around an area. This is something I’ve personally never seen in any other MMO I’ve played and I think it sounds amazing. More reasons to see how active the combat is really going to be for GW2. Don’t quote me on the number but I believe Arena Net stated there are more than 200 different combinations possible. That’s a huge number of possible combinations to play with and learn, so many that chances are you’ll stumble into new ones months after you’ve started playing.
More combat information? How can this be? Well because the combat system is so advanced and amazing in GW2 that they had to add underwater combat just to make sure you realized this is the game to be playing. Underwater combat is something I am SUPER excited for! ANet is taking underwater combat and adventuring to a level I have never even seen before in a game. Lush beautiful underwater environments to explore and the combat will even have a different feel and look to it that people will have to take into account. First off you will be adding in a 3rd dimension of movement. Second, ANet has implemented, and designed underwater specific weapons that are meant to help immerse you in this underwater fantasy. For example, if you’re an elementalist with a staff on land you will have a set of fire spells at your disposal. However, when you enter the water your character will automatically equip a Trident and you will receive a new set of skills for your fire attunement. Now I’m not sure how this works in your world, but in my world fire doesn’t hold up to well underwater. So what ANet did was they designed these skills you get with a Trident underwater to make you feel like they were fire skills but have different visual effects and actions. So instead of shooting a fire ball you might shoot a ball of hot magma towards your enemy, or instead of a wall of fire you might make a wall of hot steam that actually damages enemies using that 3rd dimension. With all the work ANet has put into the underwater combat you know that it’s going to take up a good portion of your game experience, and it will be something I’m extremely looking forward to. Especially considering how many MMOs I’ve played that won’t even allow you to swim.
Changing the Holy Trinity
Now not only has ANet added active combat into GW2 they have also changed the way that groups are going to play with each other. Now in traditional MMORPGs you have the tank that absorbs damage, the healer who heals damage, and the DPS who deal the damage. This is called the Holy Trinity and it is a good tried and true method which has been successful for many years. However, ANet is going about this in a slightly different way for many reasons. One reason is so they can completely discard the need for a group of four people to wait for that fifth member to join because they need a specific part of the Trinity. No more waiting for a healer or a tank, you can take any friend or guild mate or random general chat person with you and have a successful group. This leads to reason two. Taking who you want in the group means you get to play with who you want without the restrictions of the Holy Trinity. Have 4 other friends and want to go do a 5 man dungeon? Go for it, your free to grab those 4 friends, start a group, and play the game and not the waiting game. No more leaving a friend behind because you need a healer and this friend is a warrior. I mean who wouldn’t want this type of system in their game? I’d rather take one of my friends who I know and enjoy gaming with then some random player named FluffyPinkSlippers because he is the only healer responding and the group has been waiting for 30 minutes already. Sorry Fluffy, I’d seriously take you if my friend TotallyAwesome wasn’t on man I swear!
No Monthly Fee
Now I’ve paid my fair share of 15 dollars a month for a subscription fee, but now having my own house and a family and an 8 month old child in the home I’m gladly looking forward to having no monthly subscription fee to play. This is a good move by ANet, I still know people who utterly REFUSE to pay monthly for a game, and when the amazing reviews start rolling and word of mouth gets around I can see this game spreading like wildfire especially into the hands of those anti-subscription people. This also allows for people to have both GW2 and another MMO they want to play that they pay monthly for and not have to make the decision about which game to pay for. I mean come on though; if you have GW2 installed on your system do you really need another MMO any time soon? Seriously guys wake up.
Now, I’ve also seen many haters of GW2 stating that the game will fail without a subscription because no new content will get released, or for some other bogus reason. This simply isn’t the case they proved that with Guild Wars 1 easily. I know this and I didn’t even play the game for more than 8 levels. They had one of their biggest FREE content releases only a few weeks ago to honor the end of GW1 and help the transition into GW2. Also, there is still a nice size fan base still playing GW1. That doesn’t sound like a flawed system since GW1 has no subscription fee either.
So even though GW2 doesn’t have a subscription fee, they have incorporated an in-game transaction system or cash shop if you will. The developers have stated that all the in-game purchases will be purely cosmetic, so certain looks for your gear, maybe even special dye colors you can’t get in game. There will be nothing that will break the game by making you more powerful than another player. This means there will be no pay-to-win system. If you want to spend a little extra money to give your character a certain, more unique, look then by all means go for it. They have not fully released all they play to have in the cash shop, but rest assured you can 100% enjoy the awesome game without having to spend a dollar at the cash shop.
World Events, Community, and Fun
I really missed out on the world events during GW1 days. I’ve heard nothing but good things about these unique events, and I doubt it will be any different for GW2. Whether it’s during beta or the actual release of the game ANet always has something up there sleeve. In GW1 if you were to get a ban put on you for whatever reason, death himself would rise from the ground and with one quick slice of his scythe your character would die and your account would be locked out. People would get friends together and try to get a 72 hour ban put on their character just for the sheer fun of seeing the God strike them down.
It also shows dedication with the amount of world events they spend time on to create a fun and social atmosphere. The press closed beta just finished a few days before I finished writing this, and even though it was a smaller closed beta they still had an event lined up to celebrate its successful beta weekend. The developers gathered all of the press inside the major human city of Divinity’s Reach. Then after a few minutes of the press spamming magic all over the place, the developers unleashed this giant in the middle of town which led to this huge fight. That just proves to me that ANet is all about providing fun to the community and will stop at nothing to accomplish this.
I really get the sense of excitement from Arena Net about this game. Listening and seeing the sheer utter enjoyment the ANet team gets from just talking about Guild Wars 2. This isn’t something you see all the time from game developers and it just shows how much they love this game and the dedication they have towards it. I for one cannot wait to get my own access to beta because I can feel the excitement for this game and all the hard work the developers have put into it. Hopefully I turned some of you non-believers into excited for the game like myself and many others are. For all you people who still aren't convinced that Guild Wars 2 is for you, good luck with whatever game you do choose. For everyone else, I can't wait to see you all in Tyria!!