Guild Wars 2: A preview
The people who work on Guild Wars 2 really do think the game is great. In a recent promotional video Content Design Lead Colin Johanson makes the rather brave claim that “Guild wars 2 has the most replayability of any MMO ever made, period. Doesn’t even come close.”
Considering that we’re talking about MMOs here – the World of Warcraft dominated genre legendarily known for sucking people in and never letting go – Mr. Johanson has been raising a few eyebrows around the internet. But with less than a month to go before it's delivered to the public, Guild Wars 2 is building its hype to breaking point, in rather superb fashion.
In production for the best part of 5 years, GW2 follows its predecessor, replicating essentially the same recipe whilst changing a few of the ingredients. For instance, it will build upon the story set up by the first game and kept warm with the publication of several books( think dragons, magic, you know the drill here) – but will be set 250 years after the last expansion of the previous game. And with the same story means the same world, with its races, locations and lore that fans of the series will recognise and love. But the clever part is making it fresh again; much like WoW’s cataclysm expansion redesigned old areas of the game through natural disaster, so the world of Guild Wars has changed a lot in 250 years, and is looking better than ever thanks to an upgraded graphics engine and some of the best artistic direction in any game.
I should probably mention that the reason I’m speaking with some confidence on a game that isn’t even out yet is because for those who have preordered the game, it has been. Beta events (short-term testing of the unfinished product) have been going on for the past few months for a few days at a time, meaning fans could get a tiny taste of what the game will eventually be like. And much like trying to have half a cashew nut, or being intoxicated in the centre of York whilst avoiding The Willow, it was painful every time when, at the end of the beta, the servers would be shut down once more and we would be forced to wait another month until our next spoonful of gaming crack.
So how have they managed this injection of excitement? Through the creation of dynamic events, one of two aces Guild Wars is playing (the other being the personal storyline, something that did not tailor itself so well to a beta). In a few words, dynamic events just that stuff happens fairly randomly, on an almost Skyrim/fallout scale of random event generation, but everyone playing the game who is near the area is involved. Villages get invaded, forcing you to defend or reclaim them. A giant troll might steal a fish. A giant glob of goo might just start beating everyone up (this happened in the beta, I shit you not). And it really is quite fun, but not quite (so far) to the level of game changing-ness that they are going for in their video campaign.
I could talk a lot lot more about this game, despite only having played the starter stages for a couple of days. Dungeons, skills, the soundtrack, crafting, PvP, GvG, WvW, and many other fantastic acronyms sure to send the average reader glaze over in some sort of alphabetical trance. But the fact that I could do this from memory with no more than 10 hours of the game under my belt, tells us how close Colin Johanson is to the truth. The bastards at arenanet have finally found a way to inject heroin into an LCD. Let’s all just be glad that they’re not charging monthly for it. And that it’s not illegal. Yet.