At one point in our demo of Guild Wars 2 we shot
a ridiculously large screen-filling dragon with a mega-laser. That’s not an
exaggeration either. That happens in Guild Wars 2. What’s more, this wasn’t
even a raid boss, but rather a completely random encounter that warped into the
main world like the titular rifts in Trion World’s Rift.
The random encounter pitted dozens of players
against the enormous wyrm, but the battle wasn’t as simple as a regular fight
(i.e. hack it until it dies). The dragon was the size of a small MMO town and
the battle took place over a huge portion of the zone. Not only were people
fighting the dragon, but there was another set of people defending turrets and
the aforementioned mega-laser against the zombies that the dragon was spawning
(did we forget to mention the zombies?)
After you’ve seen something like that happen in a
gameplay demo, you tend to lose focus a little bit and forget all of the other
things you’re being told. “Oh, so your character customization is ridiculously
deep, huh? OK...so when’s the dragon coming back?”
We did manage to keep our wits about us long
enough to glean a few interesting details about the experience though. We got
to see the character customization process in full effect on humans, Charr
(like a giant cheetah-bulls), and the Sylvari, all of which have an enormous
amount of options for crafting a unique character.
Guild Wars 2 doesn’t stop at looks when it comes
to building a character though. They told us that they want to really give the
player a chance to define more of who the character actually is. To that end,
they’re adopting a system not terribly unlike Mass Effect. When you create your
character you’ll also be quizzed about their background. What have they done
with their life? Who do they hold allegiance to? Are they gentle or wrathful? Who
are their friends?
All of these questions will shape the opening of
the game. Not just the quests, but the opening cinematic will actually branch
into different paths depending on your choices. MMOs have always struggled with
lack of player investment in their character. For the most part they’re just
little toys you play with in front of you, hence the nickname “toon.” So we’re
excited to see Guild Wars trying to make some strides in that area.
Another way Guild Wars 2 is trying to get you to
feel more like a character in the world is in the talking segments. Normal MMOs
would just roll out a big swath of text for a quest and wait there while you
read it. In Guild Wars 2 it looks more like an old RPG. It cuts to a separate
scene where you and the character you’re speaking to take up most of the screen
as you speak to each other in fully voiced dialogue (everything in Guild Wars 2
is fully voiced.)
As far as classes are concerned, Guild Wars 2 is
taking a very fluid approach. It’s not quite the no-classes system of The
Secret World, but it’s less restrictive than World of Warcraft. There are no
dedicated healers in GW2. Instead, everybody has some limited healing
capabilities. There is also the ability to switch weapons instantly. So you can
warp from a wand to a giant mace in moments.
All of that is just single-player content though.
NCsoft is also putting a ton of focus on PvP as they’re aiming to be a major
force in e-sports. To that end, in PvP they’re letting to automatically play as
a fully-leveled character regardless of what level you are.
The game mode we saw was similar to Arathi Basin
in World of Warcraft in which two teams vie to control 5-6 points on a map.
Guild Wars 2 introduces so awesome new mechanics though. Chief among them:
giant trebuchets. They’re not just for attacking though. You can also use them
to collapse building and create new paths through the level for your team.
There’s some other instances of destruction as well. You can knock out windows
with attacks so you can leap directly into buildings.
Guild Wars 2 is without a doubt one of the most
exciting MMOs in development today. With WoW’s subscription numbers starting to
slip, it’s beginning to look like there will be a power vacuum in the MMO
market in about two years. When that time comes it’s going to be an insane
battle between the likes of Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Firefall, and
whatever Blizzard’s secret MMO is. There’s a really interesting age approaching
in the MMO genre, and games like Guild Wars 2 are going to be leading the
Sep 2, 2011