Thoroughly Gilded: Guild Wars 2 Preview

By Quintin Smith on August 30th, 2010 at 4:31 pm.

Man. Real life is rubbish, isn't it?

Last week in my The Secret World preview I mentioned that Guild Wars 2 was “Reinventing the MMORPG with the force of a plastic explosive.” Elsewhere, I said that the words on everybody’s lips at GamesCom were “Oh my God have you seen Guild Wars 2.”

I think you guys are long overdue an explanation. Follow me down the jump for a guided tour of Guild Wars 2’s features and ideas. Did you know that it’s impossible to look straight at Guild Wars 2? It’s true. And I’ll tell you why.

The sheen of money on this game is blinding. The UI, the main menu, the character design and the world itself- it’s all completely beautiful and smooth as silk. Which is partially down to ArenaNet’s spectacular art team, but when you play GW2 you’re instantly aware of a luxury that extends beyoned the visuals. Everything bears a sense of love and time spent. ArenaNet is clearly a mightily-funded studio after shifting 6.5 million units (!) of GW1, and that funding is being put to good use. Before you know a thing about what Guild Wars 2 is doing, it’s already something you want to get involved in.

As for GW2’s design and its ideas, I’ll start at character creation and work from there.

After you choose your race, class and appearance in Guild Wars 2, you also answer a series of multiple-choice questions that make up what ArenaNet call your bio. For a human necromancer, these include what was your biggest regret growing up? Were you raised by nobles, tradesmen or peasants? What dark creature do your paint on your face? And do you get yourself out of tricky situations with charm, ferocity or honour?

Your answers to these questions then personalise your experience, in a way that MMORPGs are traditionally quite bad at. What was your biggest regret growing up? That’ll affect your character’s personal story. Who raised you? Again, that affects your personal story, and who your friends are in the human capital city. What do you paint your face with? That gives your necromancer a unique bit of visual flair.

How do you get out of tricky situations? This is, perhaps, the most exciting part. Depending on which of these three personalities you chose, your character will get different dialogue in conversations with NPCs, and the world will react differently to you. The sole example we were given is street kids either following you or running away, so it’s impossible to know how far this’ll extend. Still, it’s a wonderful idea.

The phrase ‘personal story’ surfaced a lot during our presentation of Guild Wars 2. Basically, it’s an attempt to individualise the player’s personal experience of the game’s narrative. Again, it’s impossible to know how far this’ll extend, though there is already one incredible-sounding feature relating to your personal story. Let me tell you about the Home Instance.

One district of your race’s capital city is instanced. When you go there, you go there alone, and what you find there relates to your personal story. Your home instance is filled with friends, family and quests relating to the answers you chose in your bio, and this place will actually evolve over time, depending on whether you choose to save the hospital or the orphanage when they’re both found burning, for example, and any people you save out in the public game world might be found later on back at your home.

If you’re like me and play MMORPGs to do some actual role-playing, this feature should set your heart alight. If you’re just interested in character progression, dungeons and action, well, Guild Wars 2 has you covered too. And how.

Here, it’s hard to know where to begin. On the subject of MMORPG combat, ArenaNet’s Chris Lye simply states “We can do better”. In a move meant to keep players’ eyes on the fight, GW2 has more tactile rules for attacks, meaning it’s often possible to send your character rolling out of the way of damage. Character classes will all have different specialisations you can flick between at the touch of a key- different elements for the elementalist, say, and different weapons for the warrior. Spectacular set-pieces and boss fights are being inserted into the first 15 minutes of the game, and, following feedback on GW1, the level cap’s being raised from 20 to 80, although you’ll go bouncing through those levels pretty fast.

To my mind the most exciting new combat feature is the combo system, and I’m praying it’s fleshed-out rather than a cool extra. Certain skills can be used in tandem with the skills of other classes, with the sole example we were shown being a warrior’s psychotic tornado spin whipping up fireballs when you send them through an elementalist’s wall of fire.

As for quests, ArenaNet’s anti-grind philosophy is back, but the plan here is also to make quests less work-like and more organic. An optional ‘scout’ system causes quests that are waiting to be accepted to appear on your map, and the concept of players competing or queuing for quest objectives is being eliminated. If more players show up to take down a boss, that boss grows in strength and gains special attacks, and it’ll also give up more loot. For everybody. So rather than wanting to keep rare spawns to yourself, you want everybody nearby to pile in.

Another problem being eliminated is players trying to get the right group together for a dungeon, because – wait for it – everyone in GW2 is a healer. Although it’s up to you what, specifically, you want to spec towards, allowing players who enjoy being DPS or supporters to focus on that, every single class gets healing abilities and anybody can drop into the role of a healer at any time.

The spectre of death is also receiving a kicking. GW2 will feature a checkpoint system, meaning you’ll respawn closer to the action, there won’t be any kind of XP debt or other punishment when you die, and, most excitingly, there’s a new knockdown system like we’ve seen in some recent 3rd person shooters.

Losing all your health in GW2 only sends your character slumping to the ground, where you’re free to prop yourself up and use up to 4 class-specific ‘down’ skills. Low levels warriors get to throw rocks, while high level warriors can stand up again for a brief, last-ditch assault. The necromancer’s down skills sound particularly cool, with you transporting your consciousness to an ethereal form that can run around and attack with special ghostly powers. And while you’re down, any other player can try and help you back up before you take the extra damage that’ll kill you for real.

Sounds like a package that’s full to bursting, no? And I haven’t even talked about the as-yet unrevealed underwater areas, how all the capital cities feature unique minigames with loot rewards (the humans get a shooting gallery), or the presence of an item system that’ll allow your character to carry and use quest-specific items (a bucket of water, say) in a convincing way.

Talking to ArenaNet about GW2, they have an animal confidence to them; they seem hugely excited that they have all these ideas, they have the money to actualise them, and they’re not fucking it up. I’m posting an interview with GW2’s global brand manager, Chris Lye, and designer Eric Flannum tomorrow, but for now here’s a choice snippet:

“We’re not just designing an MMO. We don’t want to make the best MMO ever. We want to make the best game ever.”

I’m know that’ll strike some people as arrogant, but it makes me happy. What would you rather a developer wanted to do?

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130 Comments »

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  1. Bob says:

    Boobs

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Thanks, Bob.

    • Patrick says:

      Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have her covered very well.

    • Xercies says:

      More well then most games i have to say.

    • 1nightStand says:

      Thanks, Boob.

    • Dominic White says:

      She’d be a Norn – Viking were-giants. She’s also very dressed compared to a lot of the men, who insist on wandering the frozen reaches without so much as a shirt.

    • Zogtee says:

      Seventh image from the top, guy on the right, does he have an axe buried in his dick area?

    • Kadayi says:

      John will hate it then? Oh no, it’s fantasy he’ll be ok with that ;)

    • RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

      Have you seen Caith at GamesCom?

    • Bob's Lawn Service says:

      “Seventh image from the top, guy on the right, does he have an axe buried in his dick area?”

      No, he’s just happy to see you.

  2. Hyudra says:

    I loved Guild Wars, but the last expansion was rushed and really disappointed me. Enough so that I told myself they’d really have to win me over to sell GW2 to me.

    Now I find myself conflicted. The raised level cap, the presence of a potential ‘you lose control of your character’ effect via. Necromancer’s Fear, and some other minor trends seem to be pointing towards this becoming more mainstream. That ‘home city’ instance sounds marvelous… but I wonder if it’s just going to turn out like the Hall of Monuments from the expansion I mentioned above. Much hyped, but ultimately disappointing.

    On the plus side, the polish shows (though one must recall what Kieron said about polish in his Elemental: War of Magic article, still on the front page – I very much agree with that) and the way you can affect the world sounds brilliant.

    I’m following along, for sure. Suspicious but hopeful.

    • DrGonzo says:

      ‘More’ mainstream? I always thought Guild Wars was by far the most casual and mainstream of the MMO’s. That’s why I played that and no other MMO’s coz I didn’t like them at the time.

    • Hyudra says:

      Read that as “more like generic, mainstream MMOs”. It feels like it is getting away from the things that made the original Guild Wars a stand out game.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Well from the article it says leveling will be fairly quick. So it sounds more like Diablo leveling than say WoW leveling. But of course I don’t know that for sure.

  3. Ignorant Texan says:

    Quintin,

    You sound smitten. But, hell, so am I.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Can I play as that Flameygator thing? I’d pay a sub for that.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      You know, you could probably make a really awesome fast-paced management game about running an MMORPG world. Spawning monsters, managing an economy, trying to distribute the players evenly.

    • Jimbo says:

      Majesty 2 was a bit like managing an MMO.

    • Tei says:

      No. Making the nobles happy in Dwarf Fortress is somewhat like managing a mmo.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      @ Quinns: I’m sure there was a wee indie game which did just that, can’t for the life of me remember what it was called though.

    • Wulf says:

      @Jimbo

      Noap. But you CAN play as a gigantic feral catman who wields an incredibly dangerous looking makeshift bazooka!

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      @ mildlyannoyed: Yeah, that’s it.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Well, would you pay a sub that you wouldn’t be playing GW2. Because it’s sub-free.

      Just sayin’.

    • Adam T says:

      Quentin: “You know, you could probably make a really awesome fast-paced management game about running an MMORPG world. Spawning monsters, managing an economy, trying to distribute the players evenly.”

      Maaaannnn… Eventually someone will make a DF-lite clone so that I can log in and control a gang of thugs that loiters around a certain territory, offing MMO players. I’ll log in and set density, aggro, flee and other params. Decide if I want my mobs to stay in one location or roam a pathway. Pick a corner to dominate. Specify friend and foe organizations from the other MMO antagonists, decide if I want to put my XP into increasing my group size or average level. Check on how many HP of damage dealt out, and how many MMO players we offed. Change mob skill and item builds… etc. etc. etc.

      And know that my mobs are fighting an unending stream of actual live MMO players.

      That would be sweet.

    • MWoody says:

      Hoooly shit, THAT is what I want to see when they finally do a proper WoW2: Home bases for a character or guild that can be invaded by players from another faction. And not just bases; entire zones with certain smaller areas controlled and owned by other players. Put up items to lure in questers, and get paid when they die or otherwise fail to tackle your evil machinations.

  5. BigJonno says:

    This does indeed look rather amazing. It better be good, otherwise I’ll not only be disappointed, but likely to be lynched by all the people I’ve shown the videos to.

  6. Pijama says:

    Looks interesting for reals, even for someone who isn’t into MMOs.

  7. Nuyan says:

    This sounds a hell of a lot more like an Online RPG rather than a ‘real’ MMO. But that has always been the discussion with Guild Wars 1 as well.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I never teamed with people I didn’t know in Guild Wars, you could play that whole thing solo. That’s one the reasons I liked it, so I do hope the sequel is the same. Solo or party-style co-op is really the best way to go, as it appeals to the most number of people I believe.

    • Urthman says:

      “More of an Online RPG than a traditional MMO” is a tagline that would make me much more interested in buying this game.

    • Dominic White says:

      Weirdly, everything they’ve done seems to point to this simultaneously being a stronger solo and co-op experience than the original. You’ve got your whole personal story-arc that plays out in instances that you can invite friends into, but the ‘overworld’ is a proper shared MMO type dealie, only instead of everyone doing their own things, their own quests and trying to avoid stepping on each others toes (lest you get called a kill-stealer), it sounds inherently cooperative.

      If you see bad stuff happening, you go and stop it. Other players can join in, and the event will scale up to match. There’s no partying required, no guilds you need to ‘raid’ with. You just go out and do hero stuff, and help other heroes when you see them.

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      Lambchops says:

      I concur with Urthman here.

      Both this and the Secret World may threaten to finally end my non playing of MMOs, though I will of course have to wait to nearer the time to see if the things talked about which make me more inclined to play actually surface to a large enough extent.

  8. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Finally, all classes can heal.
    Ive been waiting for that for a long long time.
    Such an obvious fix to a huge problem.

    • Jeremy says:

      Seriously, so simple. I’m sure the hardcores will think it is “dumbed down” and maybe it is, but I love it.

    • Arathain says:

      I would prefer solutions that marginalise healing altogether. It’s a mechanic I dislike, even in high fantasy games- one chap exists mostly to have chunks carved out of him and some other chap magically makes those chunks grow back so they can be carved off again, like a co-op version of the punishment of Prometheus. If you make buffs, debuffs and controls strong and interesting enough then players can pro-actively prevent damage using a broader variety of abilities, rather than relying only on reactively making it go away once it happens.

      Still, giving everyone heals of different sorts seems worth trying. Particularly if you can inject some variety to them. I presume Warrior types will get mostly self-heals for that feeling of rugged independence, while more support-based casters will be better with group heals, that sort of thing.

    • Dominic White says:

      As an example of one healing spell, Necromancers get ‘Summon Blood Minion’. A tentacled, lovecraftian-looking floating horror that sucks the blood out of enemies. If you hit the summon button a second time, you consume the minion to heal yourself.

      Which is a helluva lot cooler than a generic ‘heal 50 damage’ skill, don’t you think?

    • Arathain says:

      @ Dominic: Now that’s what I’m talking about. Only much, much better.

    • Dominic White says:

      Another thing I read – Elementalists can switch between the four elements at will, changing all their skills. A basic fire attack spell will do damage + burning over time on a target, but if you switch to water attunement, your shots will do basic damage to the enemy, but heal any allies in a small radius too.

      So, less ‘support class’ and more ‘support mode’, which is even better.

  9. Simon Dufour says:

    I’m thrilled by Guild Wars 2 . After seeing the Gamescon videos on GameTrailers, I’m even more convinced that this will be a truly unbelievable game. I love MMO but I usually have problems getting groups togheter to do something. I either lack time or prefer doing things at my pace. I still remember playing Lord of the Rings Online (a really cool game btw) and having to skip story elements or immersion just to follow a group of people that didn’t really care.

    The event system on Guild Wars 2 is really great for that. It’s a drop in/out system where you can just tag along a group. Everybody seem, somehow, responsible for himself, but you still can work togheter on a same goal. It worked for other games before like L4D2 for example. You don’t have to wait for anybody and if, at some point, you have to quit or anything, you won’t ruin everyone’s experience. It looks so time-friendly and solo-friendly that it’s almost unexplainable (solo-friendly but still in group nonetheless). What’s even better is that it makes sense. Races are fighting for survival. Everybody’s fighting and helping each-other against another force. There’s no inside competition.. well.. not as much as in regular MMO where you try to grind more monster than the other beside you.

    I agree with you that it seemed incredibly polished for a demo. The transition between the map and the 3rd person view is slick. The scout on the map is terrific. The weapons switching that change your quickbar is awesome.

    My brother, who’s kind of a MMO fan, wasn’t as excited as me. To him, it seemed like every class was invincible. I made him watch a couple of movies and he didn’t understand who was the tank and which class was the healer. I wonder how MMO whore will adjusts to these changes. Personnally, as a gamer veteran, I think it’s awesome. Each classes will actually feel like a hero now. The skills are terrific.

    BTW.. in your article you’re talking about the combos. In the GW2 Manifesto, you see a couple of other combos.

    Archery through fire (including the one that shoot 3 arrow in a wide arc) will make fire arrows. (He also mention it in the dragon raid in the GW2 demo on gameTrailer)

    Archery through static field of some kind will make electric arrows.

    Whirlwind defense (?) of the ranger through a firewall throwed fireball.

  10. Mitza says:

    Thank God!

    These are some sane, intelligent ideas. Not revolutionary, but I get the feeling that these guys are some of the first in the MMO business that started thinking about how to make a cool MMO rather than a WoW-killer. And that’s why they will probably succeed.

  11. Tei says:

    I expect a very good package. A demo of what can be done with real art direction. But nothings revolutionary.

    *tryiing to control his expectations*

  12. enVy says:

    I dont like those big ear fluffy characters that most japanese games have but at guildwars i can live with them. Guildwars 1 was great especially the pvp was awesome! And from what i’ve seen at the GC its again a small masterpiece, maybe finally a worth competitor to world of warcraft.

  13. cjlr says:

    See, this is what I like. A lot of quite talented people rather less restrained than is usual in game development. As in, don’t just copy lame-ass WoW.

    I played a LOT of Guild Wars. Here’s hoping GW2 is good for at least a few hundred hours too.

  14. cyrenic says:

    I like seeing a company figure out an alternate business model, in this case avoiding monthly subscriptions, and succeed with it. Monthly fees are the big thing holding MMO’s back from an even bigger audience (and free to play hasn’t been done right by many people yet).

    The only thing I see weighing this game down would be over obnoxious micro transactions. I’m expecting them to be there though, they certainly dabbled with them in GW 1 enough.

  15. Wulf says:

    Oh, hey! Look at that!! The Charr front paws DO have pads, haha! Thanks Quinns, I’ve actually been looking for confirmation of that in various videos, but could never quite tell enough, and I completely forgot about that screenshot. But there they are, pads, right behind the claws. I was hoping for ArenaNet to not disappoint me in this area with a feral race, this is something that so many artists get wrong.

    Great preview, anyway. I’m terribly excited about this for more reasons than I can even begin to remember any more. Mostly Charr, currently. I blame Ghosts of Ascalon, which was a very good book which I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys that sort of fantasy tale.

    • Wulf says:

      For those who’re wondering “What the heck is he blathering about?!” (which I’m sure must be wondered a lot about me, and would be unsurprising, in all fairness), I’m talking about this picture:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/images/10/aug/gw4.jpg

      Usually, critters of that ilk have no pads, they just have fur around their claws. This is a huge mistake made with even the most convincing werewolves, usually, and it makes me tweak because it’s so inefficient. Fur lessens tactile feedback, and that’s why animals have pads. Which are incredibly sensitive if my dog and cat are anything to go by. I’d be mildly disappointed if the Charr were just ‘furfingers’, but no, they’ve been handled properly.

      Blessed be the ArenaNet artists.

    • Razz says:

      Wulf, are you a wolf in real life?

    • Wulf says:

      Nope, just ridiculously enthusiastic about believability in my fantasy beasts, some are just so poorly put together that they’re a shambles really, and I feel very ‘meh’ about them. An example of this are the Khajiit and Argonians in Oblivion. Now, I know why Bethesda did that, they only had a single skeleton to work with for animations (budget constraints), but for me it made the beast races completely unbelievable, and in doing so invited the uncanny valley effect.

      The more believable a beast race is, the more suspension of disbelief is allowed to work in regards to a beast race, the less the uncanny valley effect can take hold. And thankfully, insofar as the Charr are concerned, the uncanny valley effect is nowhere to be seen as they are, quite entirely, believable bipedal bestial critters. Stuff like this matters to me, and the devil is in the details, usually you can tell just how much a developer cares about their game by noting how much they pay attention to these little details. They could’ve skipped over the details that I cared about and the vast majority probably wouldn’t have noticed or cared, that they didn’t and that they bothered to invest time in details that only a few will actually care to see speaks volumes to me about how much their world matters to them.

      The devil really is in the details, and it’s in the details you can tell how great something is going to be.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Razz: He’s covering up. He’s really a wolf.

      KG

    • Wulf says:

      Curse you, Kieron! Now I have to go up the 80 flights of stairs to the top of my tower and activate my Electrophinasia Ray, so that I may surgically remove those who know the truth from the face of the Earth.

      …buuut I’m feeling lazy, and it’s warm and comfy here, and it’s cold up there. Curse you for giving me such dilemmas to deliberate over! >8C

  16. Xercies says:

    Really looking forward to this absolutely loved Guild Wars myself and definitely different from other MMOs. Which is a good thing!

  17. Cvnk says:

    I never played GW but based on the name alone I had always assumed it was heavily focused on PVP and players duking it out in arenas or something (or maybe I had heard that). This preview doesn’t mention PVP at all so maybe I was wrong. And there seems to be zero penalty for dying. Is this accurate?

    • Wulf says:

      FAO: Guild Wars

      Guild Wars had, in equal parts, PvE and PvP elements, it was two separate games in one, after a fashion. It had three, long story campaigns, the storytelling of which was far superior to any real MMORPG I’ve ever layed, and better than a lot of single-player RPGs, too. :p It was pretty good, then, yes. And the expansion, Eye of the North, leads into Guild Wars 2, and has a lot of fun story and lore there. They’ve also been adding some new lead-up story missions to the game as well, relating to Guild Wars 2.

      FAO: Dying Penalty

      You don’t actually die in Guild Wars 2, there are two states, downed and defeated.

      Downed: Here you’re at your last stretch, think of it like Borderlands. You have a number of abilities and a short amount of time, the more you’re attacked the less time you have. If you can kill an opponent when you’re in downed state, you rally and are restored to life. There are also a few abilities which can rally you in other ways: such as Rangers having a ‘Lick Wounds’ skill with their pets.

      Defeated: If you’re downed, and then you’re taken down from there, you go into defeated state. If this happens then you have to go back to a nearby waypoint (map travel, there are lots of waypoints though from what I saw in the Gamescom gameplay, looots of) and pay a small gold fee.

      Other players can rally both downed and defeated players, but it has a charged-timer attached to it, so they have to make sure the area around them is clear before they do it.

    • TwoDaemon says:

      The original Guild Wars could almost be seen as two games using the same basic mechanics – one story-based single-and-co-op RPG, one team-based arena multiplayer deathmatch game.

      It is my understanding that the death penalties in GW2 are close to bugger all, aye. Assuming you actually die properly, instead of being picked back up off the ground (something anyone else can do for you) you just ping back to the last checkpoint with all your XP and the like intact.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      In the PvE parts of GW, there was a death penalty(loss of max health and energy) that either gimped you or could end the mission/dungeon, in case of party wipe and mode(ie normal vs hard). In PvP, it depended on the type(as in, you either respawned or were eliminated).

    • Sobric says:

      PvP in GW1 was a series of match-making arenas: random arenas (i.e. random teams), team arenas (pre-formed teams), hero arenas (1 on 1 with AI controlled companions), Glibert Arenas (…) and the more structured Guild vs Guild and Alliance Battles mode (more like battleground in WoW. Sort of).

      So far, from what has been hinted at but not previewed, we know that PvP in GW2 will at least have an area called “the Mists”, which will be a persistent world PvP, rather than matches, and appears to be Server vs Server (although, that’s not confirmed). It’s also been suggested that the Arenas will all make a comeback, and frankly I’d be shocked if they didn’t (except for poor Gilbert of course, who has been banned for pretending to shoot someone).

    • malkav11 says:

      PvP was the original focus of the Guild Wars experience, but it became quickly evident that there was a substantially larger PvE playerbase and that end of things got more and more love as time went on.

  18. NewBlood says:

    I’d say the words “They’re not fucking it up” are a very bold statement indeed. And hopefully this ambitious design vision will be executed properly and to its full extent.

    But sadly, I feel there’s been a recent inconsistency between a games’ pre-release ambitions and expectations – by developers and fans respectively – and its resulting post-release manifestation. As if visions (such as this one) never actually make it into the actual game. Or perhaps rather appear in a cut-up form, with original tidbits scattered all around the final product. When games turn out to be different than expected.

    So the question is: How can we be sure that these exciting mechanics won’t be lifeless, dumb or lost in post-production?

    I’ve even begun questioning whether it is even possible for a developer is to succeed in the difficult task of equating a creative vision (like described in the article) with a playable game. I hardly pre-order anymore because of this, and have a hard time getting excited over pre-release information.

    Anyone recognize this trend? I’d tag it with “The ever-devious pre-release hype”, but surely that can’t be the whole story?

    Regards

    • Wulf says:

      Not so much, it was played by a lot of people at Gamescom and they were not disappointed. I think this is a game that’s going to be exactly what people expect, but ArenaNet are good at that, they defied the naysayers with Guild Wars 1 as well, to equal levels. Every time they make something, it both pushes the boundaries and is rather good. They have a track record, and I trust them.

  19. Dominic White says:

    Here’s a high-res, direct-screen-feed presentation done by Arenanet. Really shows off the game better than any printed preview.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1kN4Bccx2M
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE5ZE4SebTk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STsjcWT4XSA

    Game looks damn fine, and from what I’m seeing here, they’ve made good on the promises they made in their big ‘MMO Manifesto’ video.

    The game looks fun, simple as that. And for an MMO, that’s the rarest thing of all. Immersive, maybe, addictive, perhaps, but just inherently fun? That’s a rarity.

    • Wulf says:

      I buffered that when I was on mobile Internet, and slow speeds… and I loved every bloody second of it. I even enjoyed watching the human segment, which I wasn’t expecting, but I’m not going to play one of those pink, squishy things. :p And the Charr part… eesh, the Charr are beautiful, magnificent creatures… and seeing them run on all fours like that was a joy.

      Really, they’ve done what I’ve always wanted in a playable race as a werewolf fan. They’re independent, they’re not a slave race, they’re not there as comic relief, their lore isn’t some kind of silly Native American pastiche, they self-deterministic, they’re pragmatic, they’re intelligent (lookit those brainpans, no wonder they’re leading the technological and industrial revolutions in Tyria), and everything I saw of them in that presentation just cemented my choice of race.

      Yes, watch those videos. Really, really, really do.

    • Chris D says:

      The Charr do look fantastic. The game loses a point for the slightly dodgy voice acting but gains lots of points for pretty much everything else. Especially the character design and that last boss fight.

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      stahlwerk says:

      Quinn, the shady friend who got into trouble with his gang…

      thanks for the videos! The game looks incredible most of the time. I could have watched that constellation “room” for hours. And they don’t even spam the bloom, very tasteful art direction, all the way down to the shaders. The cobblestones could use a bit more parallax, but that’s nitpicking.

    • Wulf says:

      I will never be able to stop making that correlation, now.

  20. Cooper says:

    What gets me most ecited is the touted back-and-forth of the game world.

    The example being touted around is an NPC camp growing and wiping out villages, and continuing to do so until the players fight back, at which point you can push right back aginst the NPC group, but they’ll grow stronger as you push.

    Not quite a ‘living breathing world’ with you in it – but that’s fine, it nevertheless promises to provide a sense of -something- going on in the world that is player lead, that is other than simply questing. Not quite EVE, but more than WoW. Which appeals. A lot. I hope it works well..

    • Wulf says:

      This is actually demonstrated in Dominic’s videos above. The players failed to defend Steeleye Span, a fortification at the edge of the Dragonband that stops the corrupted creatures from spilling out into the lands beyond. In failing to stop them, the fortress was overrun by these creatures, and instead of defending the fort, the objectives changed to driving out the infestation. It’s good stuff. And these are persistent things, they don’t go back and forth immediately, after you save a town, it stays saved for a while, and people actually remember those who were involved.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I’ve lost count of the number of times in MMOS, I’ve found a camp that’s supposedly the last defense against the barbarian/monster/undead hordes and are constantly battling them.

      And yet they never fight, because the enemy are just sitting fifty feet outside the gates, just chilling and waiting for a player to hit them. That presentation above shows something much, much better – a frontline fortress WILL be under attack. if the walls are breached, then you have to fight inside and protect the base commander. If he dies, the base is lost and the area becomes hostile, and a mission begins to retake it.

      It’s logical, without being some unworkable high-concept idea of trying to implement advanced AI and unscripted action into an MMO.

    • Tacroy says:

      I have to wonder though – what happens if nobody cares? If the Guild Wars 2.1 expansion comes out, and all of a sudden nobody gives a shit about Steeleye Span? Do they let the corrupted creatures run rampant across the newbieland countryside? Do they have in-game NPCs deal with it, so you could, for instance, tag along with an army caravan full of low-level NPC conscripts going over there to fight because the heroes are all off playing in the Planes of Doom?

      Allowing this much dynamism is just so very interesting, but it’ll require a lot of upkeep.

    • Wulf says:

      One player can do an event to the same extent as 50, events scale based on player contributions; so if you have one player fighting, it’ll be a different sort of challenge than if you have a crowd of 50 players there. So as long as someone sweeps through the area occasionally, it’ll be fine.

    • Urthman says:

      If a city falls and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

      Like Wulf says, it looks like the events might be sufficiently dynamic for a single player to head over and liberate Steelyeye Span.

      And if literally zero players care, then it doesn’t really matter because no one will see it.

      Although I really like the idea of a world in which all the players with any interest in that part of the world have already liberated Steeleye Span as many times as they care to, and so now there’s this corner of the world where evil is triumphant and no one cares. Just like the real world.

  21. Ira says:

    I hate MMOs, the few that I’ve tried. I love the concept of MMOs but the execution so far has been a big turn off to me. This is the first MMO I am excited about. I hope it does well and other companies pay attention.

  22. Dominic White says:

    Really, anyone who considers voicing doubts, hold them for half an hour – watch those three videos I linked above, in order, then consider that a great many people actually played the game at Gamescom and reported that yes, that’s really how it works.

    If you’ve still got fears and/or complaints after *that*, share em.

  23. Premium User Badge

    mcnostril says:

    Ah, Guild Wars 2.
    A game that looks awesome if it weren’t for the cutesy gnomy things.

    God I hate those bloody things.
    I don’t know what it is with this trend of having a race of small cutesy creatures. Ever since the WoW gnomes, everyone’s been getting in on this action.

    • Dominic White says:

      Those cute gnomey things also pilot power-armor with flamethrower-arms and plot the enslavement of all lesser races (see ‘everyone but them’). The Asura are complete bastards who just happen to look adorable.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      And, they don’t like each other very much, either. My only(very minor) complaint is they have definitely ‘cuted’ them up from EoN. Well, and the dam tree-hippies that are strikingly analogous to f-ing elves.

    • Vinraith says:

      I like the Asura well enough in EoN (where they were gray), but they look sort of creepy in that flesh-tone.

    • Seras says:

      well the gray flesh made sense when they had been living underground forever, having now lived on the surface for 2 centuries, they’ve gotten their tan on =)

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, there’s actually a very good story reason for them to look cleaner and healthier – they’d previously been living underground and constantly at war. Now they’re living on the surface, they’re less filthy and pallid.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      As long as they remain hilariously bitchy and condescending, I’m cool with the ‘Hello Kitty’ look(I imagine we’ll be able to choose their color in the character creation process). That, and the fact their technology was as likely to back-fire as work(kinda like furry, midget orks), was their charm for me.(Although the cut-scene at the end of the Asuran story-arc helped to make them more likable.)

    • Vinraith says:

      @Seras and Dominic

      I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense, just that to me they look really creepy with that skin tone.

  24. Davie says:

    What…What?

    Could this be…and MMORPG I actually enjoy?

    Duck and cover, my friends, the apocalypse is upon us.

  25. roy7 says:

    Thank you for posting those video links! The 2nd one showing examples of the dynamic event system was great.

  26. Razzel says:

    If anyone would be looking for news & forums on GW2, here’s a good and friendly (no trolls!) fansite I just joined:

    http://www.gw2fans.com

  27. Jake says:

    Is there any info on how the endgame content works? It sounds like levelling will be great fun, and the world event boss dragon certainly looked amazing, but are there raid instances? Things your guild can work on at the level cap?

    • Wulf says:

      The end-game will be just the same as the game content, which will be comprised of short events, long event chains (in the open world), 5-man dungeons, and personal story stuffs. It’ll be mostly focused around incredibly challenging dungeons and long events from what I’ve heard, though.

      They have to get the Elder Dragons in somewhere!

    • Antilogic says:

      And of course theres world V world PVP as well as normal Group V group PVP

    • Jake says:

      Do you think it’s likely that there will be anything similar to WoW’s endgame? I can see a guild working together to beat a tough event, but if it isn’t instanced can it be scheduled for a raid group? Are there going to be guild rivalries/races to down the toughest content?

      I am sure I will play this game for the levelling experience, I am just curious if it will have the longevity of WoW – a game I levelled up in once but raided in every day. I think for me it will only have very long term appeal if it has a similarly demanding raid game. Although that said I escaped WoW and I am not sure I want to get drawn back into something that time consuming.

    • Antilogic says:

      Wows endgame is an endless gear grind. If it has that I will be sorely disappointed.

    • Dominic White says:

      There’s been almost nothing endgame-related revealed so far, but I’d imagine that it’d be roughly the same as GW1 – a bunch of high-level quests/events, and PvP.

      It’s not a subscription-based game. You’re not meant to play one character for years (or even months) on end though. If the dev diaries are to be believed, the core plot branches quite a bit (beginning with your choice of race/class being a pretty major thing), so rolling a new character will likely be a more logical alternative to post-plot grinding.

    • Frye says:

      Of course the endgame will be an endless gear grind. What other reward can you give in a game apart from slightly better gear? Your money back? I just hope the game doesn’t end at maximum level with nothing to do.

  28. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    GW2 is currently near the top of my ‘most wanted’ list, and has been consistently climbing that list since I first started paying attention to it.

  29. Mag Gamer says:

    Looks like something fresh and new for me. I love guild wars 1 and mainly rolling solo or with hench/heros. I think its time i got into some serious team play and GW2 looks like its going to be major fun :) I am very very picky when it comes to online games and very very few ever interested me to the point of a purchase. Bigups to ANet, cant wait for this baby to show. Thanks for the info :)

  30. Doikor says:

    They did say that endgame pve content would be events and 5man dungeons (5 being the max group size too i think)

  31. Orange says:

    GW1 was a brilliant pvp game. Interesting to see how much they are going down the pve route, it’s understandable but I just hope they leave plenty of pvp in there as well.

  32. Ramei Arashi says:

    Fear is only 2 seconds and removable. For PVE there’s a trait to make it longer but Arenanet has said that for PVP it won’t be more than 2 seconds.

  33. Andrige says:

    I’m just waiting for the special-edition information to come out. So many ideas that they are actually implementing that are great and new takes on the usual boring setup of how you usually play an MMO.
    I have high hopes for this game!

  34. ScubaMonster says:

    First MMO I’m really looking forward to in a very long time. This will be great.

  35. Mashakosha says:

    I have a few choice words to describe my feelings towards GW2. They are as follows.

    Want. Want very much.

  36. DXN says:

    Coo. This is the first MMO I’m tempted to actually have a go at!

  37. Garg says:

    I want that first screenshot in a desktop background resolution :(

    • Wulf says:

      The one of the rangers or the one of Destiny’s Reach?

      Sorry, I wasn’t sure whether you meant before or after the cut.

      I might be able to oblige you there, anyway, once I know which one you mean, but I’m guessing Destiny’s Reach?

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Wulf –

      Not intending to come across as a pedantic, fanboi prick, especially as you and Dominic are both performing yeoman’s work informing us on GW2, but the name of the city is Divinity’s Reach.

      (A question that may interest only me – On this side of the pond, why are twats called pricks, and on the other side, pricks are called twats?)

    • Wulf says:

      I know it’s called Divinity’s Reach, I really do, I can hear Logan Thackaray’s voice saying it in my head. I also know that Destiny’s Reach is the name of the five man party that Thackaray was a part of, the five heroes. I know this. So why do my hands keep mixing them up when typing them?! @_@

    • Wulf says:

      Or was that Destiny’s Edge? It was, wasn’t it?

      Too many soundalike things!!!! >8C

    • BlooDeck says:

      Ritual Suicide is the only way you can redeem yourself now.

      But seriously the city is beautiful, even if it’s just a Minas Tirith clone on the outside and an Imperial City clone on the inside. The artwork in the human intro area of Divinity’s Reach side on from the sea made me want to book a holiday there.

    • perilisk says:

      No, I think Thackeray’s band of heroes was Destiny’s Child. Until that goddamned diva broke them up, anyway.

  38. skittles says:

    I agree that it seems to be going more generic. For starters I suspect that the “Home” area is simply an extension of GW1 opening scenes before the timeskip, and simply uses heavy usage of instancing. In fact everything they have said about the game makes it seem even more heavily instanced than the first game was. Heavy story instancing is generally avoided because of the fact it breaks up the world so badly. The fighting sounds decent though, but hardly revolutionary, it has been done and failed before.

    The reason so many MMOs rely on a boring click interface is because they have to. The directional combat in AoC, the evasion in Tubula Rasa, dodging in D&D etc. are absolute horrors when playing with any significant lag – we do not all live 5 feet from the server. Try playing counterstrike with a central server miles or even countries away, this is why MMOs avoid reactionary combat. In other words there are simply so many ways for GW2 to balls it up. I do not see why there is so much growing hype about this game online, hopefully it goes well, but with so many ways to fail terribly you are all setting yourselves up for a severe disappointment.

    • Dominic White says:

      Erm. Given that EVERYTHING in GW1 was instanced, and they’ve confirmed that only your personal story-events will be in GW2, wheras the rest of it is shared open-world stuff, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Vinraith says:

      In fact everything they have said about the game makes it seem even more heavily instanced than the first game was.

      That’d be lovely, but unfortunately it’s the exact opposite of what they’re doing.

  39. Serenegoose says:

    @Skittles:

    BORING. Total buzzkill, seriously. I’d rather be excited and disappointed than cynical and unsurprised.

    Besides… you played GW1. Didn’t you notice quite a lot of instancing? Isn’t that rather what the game was built around? That everything except the city hubs were instances?

  40. surlyben says:

    @Zogtee, No, he’s just happy to see you.

  41. Manley Pointer says:

    The only thing that worries me — and a lot of the other stuff sounds great — is the very small death penalty thing. Isn’t that going to kind of ruin PvP? I feel like the best MMO PvP has a huge risk/reward mechanic, but it sounds like there will be very little risk here. If people respawn close by, it might feel like a pointless, never-ending battle. Then again, I assume most of what’s written above is about the PvE systems, and hopefully they handle death differently in PvP.

    • Wulf says:

      Death will very likely be handled differently in PvP. *nod* PvP will be a separate experience from PvE.

    • Randomessa says:

      Death is handled differently in PvP in that when you are downed, opponents have the ability to do a finishing blow on you and send you immediately into defeated state (thus requiring a trip back to a waypoint), bypassing your downed abilities and the ability of your allies to revive you. This can be used strategically to remove troublesome players from the field. Further details have not yet been released.

      It also seems reasonable to assume that the waypoint respawns won’t be “a stone’s throw” away from the battle; indeed, in the demo, respawning took you a nice run’s distance away from the point at which the character was defeated.

  42. John Peat says:

    This is looking great, yet there’s still a TONNE of stuff I never did in Guild Wars (two whole expansions I didn’t get around to for starters – the Feats of Strength in the original ground-me-down)

    GW was a masterclass in how to make a great solo/co-op ‘Diablo’ but it was never an MMO (too many instances, no auction house etc.) – this looks to improve on that tho so here’s hoping.

  43. irongamer says:

    Wow,

    I had not really been keeping an eye on this title. But a number of key features have moved it to number one on my watch list.

    1. Everyone can heal.
    2. Combos! They may not be exactly like Chrono Trigger style combos but close enough.
    3. Actively dodging attacks.
    4. Combat / Skill system that leads to an uncluttered UI. Too many MMO have a few graphics to go along with the UI. More game less UI, yes please.
    5. Scaling events / dynamic events
    6. Randomly generated maps.

    Will be interesting to see how this title turns out.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, the combos are incredibly exciting to me.

      My Charr gun specialist, Synn, is going to be carting an Elementalist around with her everywhere just so that she’ll be able to giggle helplessly at the effect that electrobullets have on opponents. This was shown in the Manifesto video, it’s a very comical effect, and great stuff. Basically, the Elementalist creates a field of electricity and the Charr with the gun shoots through it, and hilarity ensues.

  44. Baka says:

    She almost SPILL his DRINK!

    • Baka says:

      Also, in the third Video someone tries to recruit people for his guild “United Warlods”.
      Very good.

  45. neofit says:

    Will they still limit us to using 8 skills out of ‘hundreds’? This is what killed GW1 for me, as soon as I got my 9th skill. I want to fight to expand my abilities, not become and uber-expert at one. I have 3 dozen skills on my hotbars in EQ2, and I manage to use nearly all of them in an evening of play.

    EQ1 had 8 “diamonds” for skills/spells, but at any time one could “learn” any spell/skill from his books into these slots. The Chronicles of Spellborn had this limit too, but as in EQ1 one could change the skills between each fight. In GW1 the 8 skills were set for a whole multi-hour instance. Since allegedly GW2’s world is not instanced, I wonder how ArenaNet’s beloved skill limit will work.

    • Dominic White says:

      You have a bar of 10 skills. The first five are decided by what you have equipped. Warrior-types can switch between two weapon sets for two sets of skills, elementalists can switch between elemental attunements, etc.

      The latter five skills in your bar are fully customizable, although one of them has to be healing-related (although some heals are offensive spells, too), and one of them is an Elite skill, which tends to be a big character-defining power with a longer cooldown time.

    • Wulf says:

      I actually think Elementalists have the weapon switching elements too, and that the attunements are actually traits on top of that. I say this because of the gameplay video that featured a Charr Elementalist with fire daggers.

      I have to say, Charr Elementalist with fire daggers pushes so many happy buttons in my brain.

      CHARR ELEMENTALIST WITH FIRE DAGGERS! >8D

      Okay, I’ll stop now.

  46. luckystriker says:

    As a lapsed WoW player looking for an alternative, the enthusiasm on RPS is very much getting me interested in this game. Will definitely be on the look out for more information about it.

  47. dingo says:

    Don’t forget the best new thing in GW2:
    JUMPING is in!

    As a hardcore WoW player the lack of being able to jump down some small slopes etc. was a real turn-off in GW! Very happy that they included it in GW2 (as well as in The Witcher 2). :)

  48. Benin says:

    This is a fantastic article talking about guild wars 2. I wish I could upvote more then once, the guild wars team REALLY REALLY tries there best and more to come up with new creative things to bring to the MMO world, its good to see at least one company coming up with new ideas then just, dare I say it… another WoW clone. And in my opinion thats what you really need to do in the MMO business now-a-days.

  49. SanguineAngel says:

    Dear RPS,

    I had firmly resolved never to buy an MMORPG again. I had come to the conclusion that they were boring, bloated, time consuming, overly expensive, and utterly, utterly pointless.

    I am going to be buying Guild Wars 2 because of you.

    Good day!

  50. GHudston says:

    Wow. I hope this lives up to the hype. I was never a fan of Guild Wars but THIS sounds more than perfect.