ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 comes out next Tuesday (or Saturday if you’re an eager beaver who pre-ordered the game), ending the long wait for the developer’s follow-up to its incredibly popular massively multiplayer online RPG. We’ll have a ton of content around the game’s launch leading up to our review (which is scheduled to post after we’ve played SO MUCH of the game), but before we even get into it we want to explain exactly why we’re so excited for the MMO’s launch.
The emphasis on playing with friends is a big freaking deal
We’ve talked about this ad nauseum, but if you’re new to Guild Wars 2 here’s the skinny: Whereas MMOs usually don’t include many features that make it easier to play with friends that aren't a) your level, b) on your server, or c) on the same quest, GW2 embraces it. We can jump between servers without a hassle and down-level to play with our lower-level friends. Plus, we don’t need to worry about our comrades being a different faction from us or on a different quest. Playing with friends is a focus of GW2, and we’re totally psyched about that… as long as it works as well as the developers have said it will. All of these features have existed, in some form, in other MMOs, but none have launched with all of them on day one. We still have some reservations as to whether or not it’ll all hold together as well as ArenaNet claims, but if it does it’ll be pretty awesome.
Sylvari are one of the most interesting new races we’ve seen in an MMO
We’d assumed that we had seen every MMO race fantasy games had to offer--even new races were usually re-skinned versions of other races from popular fantasy games. That was until we were introduced to the Sylvari, Guild Wars 2’s tree/plant/flower people. They’re a new race of plant creatures that literally spawned out of trees less than a century before the game began. This means we’re seeing the birth of an entire species, the beginnings of their laws and prejudices (we saw them discussing whether or not they should trust the Norn, as a species, because they had been tricked by one), which has cool story potential. So, yeah, obviously we’ll be playing as one of them.
Its mission structure rewards exploration instead of grinding
Pick up a few quests, go kill a few guys, get a few items, turn in the quests, repeat. This is, usually, the typical pacing of an MMO, with players going from one group of NPCs to another, picking up and completing meaningless quests as they go. While we’re not sure how different the quests in GW2 are going to be when we actually get to them (we have a feeling we’ll still need to kill ten rats), the way we get and complete them is new, with quests simply appearing as we discover them. It’s more like The Elder Scrolls than it is World of Warcraft, rewarding players for exploring the world.
We want to discover all of the jumping puzzles in the world
Jumping puzzles are exactly what they sound like: puzzles that are solved by jumping. After platforming across the game’s geometry, we’ll be rewarded both with a chest and an achievement, giving us an incentive to attempt to explore every inch of the world. Which… we plan on doing anyway, even if it means getting stuck everywhere.
It has a different take on end-game content
For as grindy as typical MMO quests are, end-game content is usually much more so. Repeating the same handful of dungeons over and over again for marginally better gear is one of the lamest treadmills imaginable. And though GW2 will likely have this in some form, it also has an alternative end-game: doing everything. Because of the aforementioned ability to level-down by exploring lower level areas, we’re able to complete quests that are way below our level as if we were of the correct level. This means that quests we skipped while leveling are suddenly open game again. This, mixed in with the game’s achievements, should make for a more interesting end-game than simply doing epic-level dungeons over and over.
PvP warzones look cool
Even though the game doesn’t have factions, it still has a suite of PvP offerings to jump between--just as the original Guild Wars did. Players can dive into ranked matches of PvP in warzones, fighting in a number of different interesting objective-based maps. You're able to do it at any time, too, meaning you can jump into a PvP fight at any time, from anywhere.
And the PvP continent looks even cooler
And for as cool as regular PvP is, it’s really the realm-versus-realm-versus-realm that has us super excited. RVRVR is a second persistent map, pitting three servers’ worth of players against each other in massive, open-world battles. It’s a lot like Warhammer Online’s PvP, with keeps and siege equipment and stuff, except sectioned off into its own map so as to not pollute the core game for those uninterested in PvP battles. The fact that it’s actually servers fighting and not different factions means it’s easier to balance and will, hopefully, mean it can sustain itself for longer than Warhammer Online’s PvP did.
The abandonment of the classic holy trinity is likely a good thing
Tank, healer, DPS – this is essentially the core of every MMO team. It’s basic, understandable, and totally limiting. If we don’t have a healer or a tank, doing anything in an MMO is a chore. Guild Wars 2 abandons this by allowing any class to resurrect, and by adding the “down but not out” system, which has KO’d players still able to cast spells and attack in hopes of taking down an enemy and getting back on their feet mid-battle.
It doesn’t have a monthly fee
So, yeah--once Guild Wars 2 is purchased there’s no need to pay a monthly fee. This sets it apart from just about every other game in the genre, which either has a monthly fee or is totally free-to-play, with walls barring players from getting to certain content without paying. Hopefully this doesn’t mean we’re going to be exploited in some other way--like through in-game microtransactions--but it’s still a good departure from the norm.
See you on the battlefield
Will it live up to our expectations? Will Guild Wars 2 end up being one of the best, most innovative MMOs in recent years? Only time will tell, so be sure check back in the weeks following launch for our official verdict on ArenaNet's MMO.
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