Sunday, 15 January 2012

Why I have really high hopes for Guild Wars 2

Recently I was reading some comments on blogs when I came across a statement saying that Guild Wars was a really bad game because it was way too hard so much so that it is impossible to solo. My first reaction was what's this person talking about? I made it a point to finish the entire Guild Wars storyline including expansions solo and while I struggled a bit in a few place I did succeed in finishing every single mission without a single human player on my team. But then I thought a bit more. I too had struggled a bit at first, wait what I am talking about, in places I was still struggling after 300+ hours of game time. You see Guild Wars isn't like your typical MMO. In most MMOs if you're struggling it means you need to level up or get better equipment but that stuff is just a minor detail in Guild Wars. The game tries to tell you that with its really low Level cap of 20 and the fact most equipment has the same stats with just different looks. In Guild Wars if you're struggling it instead means you need a better strategy.

At its core in Guild Wars essentially what you depend on are 8 skills that you select out of a pool of 100s. These 8 skills range from Damage dealing, buffs, heals, conditions and Hexes. At first glance many of them seem similar but what sets them apart is how they interact with each other and with their target. For example a particular skill might do more damage if its cast on an enemy that's set on fire thus it is useful if you intend to use such a skill to have some other skill that inflicts a burning condition. There are really countless combination such as this that a player can make use of. Additionally with you one can either take 3-7 other player characters, henchmen or Heroes. Henchmen and Heroes are AI controlled companions with the deference between them being Henchmen come with there own immutable set of skills while you get total control on what skills, armor and weapons Heroes carry. It is amazing how important your choice of skills is. There is a particular dungeon called Glint's Challenge. This was just beyond me, I spend two whole weeks trying different builds to tackle this but I never made it past the 1st wave and there are 8 waves on has to complete in order to finish the dungeon!. I tried focusing on healing, group damage, interrupts nothing seemed to work. After two weeks or so I was ready to give up and thus I turned to the internet for advice. Someone was suggesting a Build that they said was able to complete the dungeon without any player interaction. I just couldn’t believe it but turns out it was true. That's the level of difference your choice in skill makes.

But I am running out of point, why does all this give me high hopes for Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet have promised a lot of things for Guild Wars 2 some of which is just amazing. I understand why some people are skeptic I would be too if I had not experienced Guild Wars before. People who did not give
Guild Wars a chance probably walked away with the idea that the game is cheap and devoid of content since it has a level cap of 20 and items have essentially the same stats. Had they experienced it properly I believe they would have realized that these design choices were needed because of the fine tuned balance of the game. At max level, if you do not pay attention you can still die in low level areas! Players that didn’t play Guild Wars might view the game as being cheap because it was instanced when in fact the instancing added to the realism. I still remember my first day in Guild Wars an NPC asked me to pick up some eggs for him as giant spiders made it impossible for him a simple farmer to accomplish the deed on his own but while in other MMOs you would expect the guy to just stay there waiting while you risked your life for him, in Guild Wars he came with me and asked me to guard him while he picked up the eggs, if he got killed I wouldn’t be able to just walk back and take the quest again as he would no longer be there were I met him the first time, well at least until you close and restart the whole instance. That simple act got me hooked to the game. For me that simple event added a lot to the immersion in the game world.

What I am trying to say here is Guild Wars already had a hint of what is being promised to us in Guild Wars 2. It might not have been a living persistent dynamic world but while in an instance things followed logic as one would expect. If an NPC died it stayed dead while that instance existed. NPC behaviour made sense. If someone asks you to join their fight, they're gonna be right there next to you when the fighting starts, they will not expect you to win the war for them while they remain comfortably at home. These little things made me realize how much attention to detail ArenaNet pay and because of my experience with Guild Wars I have no doubt that they know what it is that needs to be done to create a great impressive MMO.

I understand that knowing what needs to be done and doing it are two different things and obviously we'll not know if they will deliver on their promises until we play Guild Wars 2 ourselves. However if anyone can do what they have promised I do believe it is them. From what we have seen so far Guild Wars 2 has an excellent art style, amazing music and great lore. They also certainly have the right idea of how to build an impressive experience. Knowing all this I cannot help myself but have high expectations for Guild War 2. If they deliver all of it as they promise and I believe they really can, then we'll certainly get one great MMO that should not be missed.

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