Guild Wars never really interested me much. It seemed too much like other MMOs, sans subscription, and I couldn’t really gather the interest to play it. I’d heard it was heavily instanced and didn’t have basic movements like jumping. I did attempt the trial once, but they never sent a trial key, so I gave up. So I also never paid much attention to Guild Wars 2. I couldn’t understand why it had the highest excitement rating on MMORPG.com, even higher than ArcheAge.
So I started looking closer at it. And I’m really liking what I’m seeing:
Dynamic events in the place of quests.
Traditional quest systems involve walking up to a character who usually has an exclamation point or question mark hovering over their head and talking to them. From here, you get a massive wall of text hardly anyone reads that describes a horrible or totally mundane thing going on in the world that you need to help with. You run off, complete this task, then return and talk to this character again to receive another wall of text and a reward. Traditional quest systems rely on these blocks of quest text to tell you what is happening in the world; this is just an outdated form of storytelling.
In Guild Wars 2, our event system won’t make you read a huge quest description to find out what’s going on. You’ll experience it by seeing and hearing things in the world. If a dragon is attacking, you won’t read three paragraphs telling you about it, you’ll see buildings exploding in giant balls of fire, and hear characters in the game world screaming about a dragon attack. You’ll hear guards from nearby cities trying to recruit players to go help fight the dragon, and see huge clouds of smoke in the distance, rising from the village under siege.
There is a second fundamental flaw to traditional quest systems: what the quest text tells you is happening in a quest is not actually what is happening in the world.
For example, in a traditional MMO, the character who gives you a quest will tell you ogres are coming to destroy the character’s home, and you need to kill them. You then get a quest which says, “Kill 0/10 ogres” and you proceed to kill a bunch of ogres standing around in a field picking daisies. Since every player in the game needs to be able to do this quest, the ogres will never actually threaten the character’s home – they will just eternally pick daisies in the field. The ogres aren’t actually doing what the quest says they are – the game is lying to you!
At ArenaNet, we believe this is NOT good enough. In Guild Wars 2, if a character tells you ogres are coming to destroy a house, they will really come and smash down the house if you don’t stop them!
Kill stealing isn’t possible. In fact, helping out rewards everyone.
The event system in Guild Wars 2 is designed to specifically address this problem. All players that fully participate in an event are rewarded for doing so; everyone who helps kill a monster or blow up an enemy catapult will get credit for doing so. There is no kill stealing and no quest camping. Everyone works together towards the common goal of the event and everyone is rewarded for doing so. To help ensure there is always enough for everyone to do, our events dynamically scale, so the more players who show up and participate in the event, the more enemies show up to fight them. If a bunch of players leave the event, it will dynamically scale back down so it can be completed by the people who are still there playing it. This careful balance created by our dynamic scaling system helps ensure you have the best and most rewarding play experience.
Exploration sounds like an actual, viable option.
As an added bonus, we’ve also hidden hundreds of events all over the world that require interaction with the game world. This helps give an extra sense of reward and discovery for those who seek to explore the entire world. Finding an entrance to a secret cave deep at the bottom of the ocean and removing a glowing orb from the cave could let an evil creature loose from its ancient prison and kick off a chain of events as the creature terrorizes the ocean shipping lanes. Reading the spells written on an ancient wizard’s spell book in a ruined castle at the top of the highest mountain peak could open a portal to another world and trigger a chain of events as creatures from that world come through the portal.
I love the “oops” factor of that last one.
A player’s biography choices immediately tailor physical parts of the game to their character. Each character is given a home instance, personalized to their biography choices, located in their racial capital – Hoelbrak for the norn, the Grove for the sylvari, and so forth. Within this home area, things are more personalized to your character. Your home instance never stops updating; as your character becomes more involved in their story, it will alter accordingly. Two norn will quickly differentiate their personal area through choices in the storyline. They will encounter different adventures, make different decisions, and their home will change to match their story.
(And housing right at launch!)
Choosing specifics of your character’s biography, or making decisions during a storyline, will alter your character’s story within the game. Some of these differences will be tangible, like having special NPCs or merchants in your home instance, getting pretty town clothes, or seeing special cinematics.
High level instanced dungeons that require groups.
Each of our dungeons is divided into story and explorable versions. The story version of each dungeon comes first, and completing it unlocks the ability to run the explorable version. In turn, the explorable versions of the dungeons have several options (usually three), each of which creates a different set of challenges and goals in the game. So, when we say that there are currently eight dungeons, we really mean there are thirty-two dungeons, as each dungeon has a story version and three explorable versions.
Those sound like a cross between standard instanced dungeons and raids, but with more story.
Other stuff I’ve heard about include underwater exploration and combat, firearms, and a last ditch death system that sounds a bit like Borderlands. I’m definitely keeping a closer eye on this game now, and I look forward to hearing about how it’s faring on release.