Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guild Wars 2 Arrives!

It's's finally here...

I think we've been wating for Guild Wars 2 for something like 32 years.  Ok, maybe it's only been like three years...but it certainly felt like decades.  That's because in many ways the original Guild Wars kind of 'broke the mold' (yes, yes...that's what every new MMO that comes to the market says, and yes, yes I've been guilty of saying the same about The Secret World, etc.) in the MMO/MMORPG genre.  But it really is true of Guild Wars, insomuch as it gave us more of an episodic nature to the MMORPG concept and focused more on player-vs.-player (PVP) than many other games did at the time, and that it's subscription model was unique when it came out, in that it had no subscription - you just bought the game once and then never paid for it monthly fees.  This worked, somewhat to the surprise of many - including yours truly - since the original Guild Wars sold something like 6 million copies.

For all that, Guild Wars had a pretty big when plans to release Guild Wars 2 came out, fans of the somewhat niche game began to drool and gibber fanatically about the possibilities of the upcoming update set some 250 years after the time of the original GW.  And from what I've read (reviews, fan-sites, etc.) it seems to be worth the overproduction of saliva.

Firstly it truly appears to be a persistent world.  Guild Wars 2 is bustling with day-to-day activity, and that activity doesn't really care if your in it or not, i.e. it goes on whether or not you fire up your computer and login.  The world of Guild Wars 2 exists on some servers in Korea and does so on it's own - it matters what time you log into the game...the residents of villages and towns go about their business on schedule regardless of whether or not you're there to see it...seasons come and go...and it's a rich world with a lot (and I mean a lot) of back story and ongoing history.

Another big point here is that apparently it really doesn't matter what you want to be in Guild Wars 2.  One of the biggest issues that seems to burn you out on most MMORPGs is that you have to have every group of players figure out what role they will play...who will be the tank, who will be the healer, who will pull monsters in to get slaughtered, etc.  Not so with GW2...if you want to be a magic user type, go for it.  Prefer to be a short little guy that plays with swords, fine.  The game is not so dependent on the typical class type what you want.

No grinding.  (Ok I've said this before and then it turned out the game in question actually had grinding...but I guess we'll have to try again with GW2).  In Guild Wars 2 you get experience for everything you do...not just the typical 'go find a guy with a star over his head and ask for something to do, then return after you've done the task and get an experience reward from that same guy.'  Instead, run some monsters away from some poor farmer's sheep, get experience.  Decide you'd like to go off exploring some area not mapped out yet, get experience.  Spend a lot of time crafting, get experience.  Do a little PvP, get experience.  Basically, you get experience for playing the game.

Dynamic, persistent world.  Above I mentioned the persistent world...but let this bake your noodle as well.  MMO's have a concept known as 'instancing,' where there's an area that you can go to where there's an adventure you can partake in, known as an 'instance.'  You can go back again and again and redo the instance...which by the way get's silly 'cause then you get friends of high level that simply come with you again and again to gain treasure and experience and boost up your character in a kind of cheating fashion.  Not so in GW2, because of the dynamic concept.  Let's say you're wandering by a tavern in some town and see a fight break out.  If you choose to partake or break up the fight, then this may lead to yet another dynamic encounter, say the tavern owner thanks you for breaking up the fight and asks if you'd be interested in finding his daughter who disappeared a few days ago.  These things just happen...there's no little exclamation point above the bartender's head.  But let's say now that you decide not to intervene in the bar fight and go on your merry way.  If you come back to the tavern tomorrow...the fight won't break out again just like yesterday, and the bartender may not ask you to look for his daughter because of this.  What you do, and what you don't do, in each dynamic encounter, will change the course of the persistent world in which your character lives.  And that my nerdy friends, is what might make GW2 a true game-changer in the MMORPG world.

Metacritic scores Guild Wars 2 as a 93 out of 100...pretty impressive for Metacritic.  TenTonHammer gave this rather poignant statement in their review,

"When ArenaNet first released its MMO Manifesto we knew they were aiming for something revolutionary with Guild Wars 2. What we got is the first worthy successor to World of Warcraft."

That's some big pants for Guild Wars 2 to wear...we've all heard that this and that game is a 'WoW-killer,' but it seems that GW2 may indeed have the distinction of having the right kind of suspenders to hold those pants up.



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