Labeled as the series' first "true expansion," Guild Wars Eye of the North marks the beginning of a new direction for the free-to-play MMO. Don't expect another tutorial starting zone or new professions to level up till 20. Unlike the last three stand-alone campaigns - Prophecies, Factions, and Nightfall - Eye of the North has been designed from the ground up to cater to Guild Wars vets looking for higher level content to explore with their bank of characters instead of starting new ones from scratch. And, of course, it's also meant to serve as a bridge to the highly anticipated sequel, Guild Wars 2.
"We want Guild Wars to go out with a bang and leave a lasting impression on players, so we've decided to delve deep into RPG history in an attempt to recreate the thrill of the classic dungeon crawl," said ArenaNet's Eye of the North Lead Designer, Ben Miller in a recent developer diary. We just got a chance to pick the brains of Mr. Miller, and Marketing Director, Chris Lye about Eye of the North to glean some insights into what players can expect from ArenaNet's new take on our old favorite as we get ready for the upcoming expansion and Guild Wars 2.
GamesRadar: Considering the success of the previous Guild Wars business model, where each new campaign was playable on its own, why did you folks decide to require players to own one of the previous campaigns this time around?
Ben Miller: Part of the drive behind making an expansion is the fact that we can focus on creating the content that existing players want. And basically what that means is with the expansion we can devote all our time and energy and creativity into other more interesting things aside from making a brand new tutorial experience, which takes a lot of our time and a lot of our focus to reinvent the wheel…
No matter how exciting we would end up making a beginning area again, it's still the beginning area. The player has already invested a ton of time into creating their level 20 characters. So it was really exciting for us to be able to provide content for all these level 20 characters that had finished up playing the other campaigns and basically needed something to do.
Miller: Also touching on another benefit of making an expansion as opposed to a campaign is that with each new campaign we introduced two new professions that had brand new game mechanics and also a whole new slew of skills for all the previously existing professions. So that - in and of itself - was a ton of creative energy that we can now devote to other things that are in the expansion. But it also served to upset whatever PvP balance we previously had. So Eye of the North isn't going to be as tumultuous to our current PvP environment as say another campaign would've been.