Disclaimer: I confess to being a fangirl of NCSoft, publishers of City of Heroes, which I studied for about 5 years. They have also published the Lineages, the original Guild Wars and Aion.
- accessible to the 'casual', newbie MMO gamer.
- highly instanced combat (Sir Richard cringed).
- grouping that includes NPC mercenaries.
- very beautiful emotes like the Monk's dance. Amazing landscapes, architecture, everything.
- alternative play modes allowing high-level play for the low-level n00b.
- observer mode: enjoy the gank gladiator-style, you emerge un-scathed.
- 'no loot stealing, spawn camping, and endless travel'.
- guild capes (I confess to leaving guilds if they had ugly designs that didn't match my outfits. How shallow of me!)
I have more than a few opinions about what an exciting, 21st century MMO might encompass. Happy to say it appears that true evolution is in the works. Deviations/expansions of established MMO conventions in Guild Wars 2:
- Doing away with the grind. Not all will agree this is a good thing, but as my kid says, there is nothing worse than a videogame that is both 'hard and BORING'.
- New character classes (professions) like the Ranger.
- Personalized story-lines. NPCs remember you. You are not on the exact same quest path as everyone else, with the same goals, outfits, spells, items, etc. at the same levels.
- Cause and effect prevail, personal agency is paramount. Changes you effect on the environment persist.
- Dynamic events, a mechanic that has worked very well for CoX.
- PvP in non-zoned, non-instanced areas. Huge-scale world vs world combat events.
- Variations on healing and death rituals.
And for the techno-geeky among you, it's all being built on a new physics engine, Havok, that allows the designers and developers to more fully realize their conceptual vision:
We're creating a world, and what's the point of exploring a world if
there isn't the awe and wonder, you know? We try to create those moments
of awe and wonder. - Jeff Grubb, ArenaNet
For those of you who don't readily embrace change, Guild Wars servers will continue running, and an ongoing free trial is on offer.
Any predictions on the effect on social dynamics, innovations that are likely to stick, etc? Other games trying new things? My kid, for instance, is obsessed with Wizards 101, a pay-for-stuff-the-kid-MUST-have MMO that creates accessibility and safety for the semi-literate aspiring gamer.
I think things are about to get very exciting in Videogame Land. To over-use an over-used term, epic!
More on GW2:
- The official website.
- Wikipedia is chock-full of up-to-the-minute details.
- Guild Wars 2 Community Hub (wiki, blog, video - share, share, share! - talk to devs and they will listen!)
- The art of Guild Wars 2, in coffee-table-book-format. (when you can't stand to look at your computer anymore)
- A playable demo of the game is available at Gamescom 2010 (August 19 until August 22, 2010). Another playable demo will be available at PAX, from September 3-5.