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Guild Wars 2 a.k.a. MMORPG 2

Guns evolved from fishes. Deal with it.

Guns evolved from fishes. Deal with it.

As we look back, Guild Wars 2 isn’t just a sequel to Guild Wars 1, itself a successful franchise. It is a sequel to the whole MMORPG genre.

You heard me right. Guild Wars 2 is the sequel to every single MMORPG out here. All of them combined.

Although providing more of the same is a fairly safe way of making money[1], innovating games will always stand out. Here I review some of the ways Guild Wars 2 innovated over the genre. But the full list is much longer…

Gamers will debate of course, that’s what they do. They will debate what consists of a “sufficient change” to count as truly innovative. But they won’t debate that Guild Wars 2 is the next evolutionary step in the genre[2].

EverAndEverAndEverQuest 2

Hearts is the next step to quests. You generally have many ways to complete those, gone are the days when you need to kill big rats but there are only small ones left. Now you choose between killing stuff or interacting with stuff. You also don’t have to talk to the NPC, unless you really are that interested in the daily troubles of Farmer Joe #163. And as a bonus, other players actually don’t mess up your ability to complete those quests.

Dynamic events is the next step to public quests, because rather than resetting on a timer, it links to other dynamic events in a chain. Also, those can be failed, in which case the next event differs from if it had been a win. For example, if you protect a town from invaders, failing that will lead to you needing to retake the town, but winning that will lead you to pursue the invaders or repair the town.

City of LFG 2

Remember “GLF monk, will pay arm & leg”? Or finally getting a group together and spending 2 hours tweaking builds? Ugh. Admittedly, it was fun as a healer because I automatically got quality spots in teams. But it was not a very good system.

Guild Wars 2 is PUG by excellence. Sure, some people will still do dungeons with carefully selected builds. But for the most part, if you want to play with others, you just need to pop into persistent areas and head into the action. You can also reasonably quickly build a team for having fun in instances or persistent areas. If the team needs more healing, you can change your build between fights to adjust… just about every profession can bring more team support of some kind.

The ability to assemble a team is there, but it is no longer mandatory[3].

Age of Bashing Stuff on the Head 2

Everyone has their favorite combat systems. Some prefer games where you can dodge attacks, others prefer to drool on their keyboard. Some prefer hitting skills in a particular order (aka rofltation) while watching TV.

Personal preference aside, I really enjoy dodging in Guild Wars 2. Also, weapon swapping allows to essentially bring two builds with you (more with engineer or elementalist). Also, I like skills that don’t just differ from each other on cost & efficiency. For example, a guardian plays quite differently with a greatsword or with a hammer, or a warrior plays quite differently with a longbow or a rifle.

Also, foes can block, bury themselves, use stealth, charge, etc. And they often do. So while spamming your big attacks will get you kills, playing intelligently will make killing stuff more efficient.

Dungeons & Big Static Lizards with Huge Health Bars 2

Aside for getting giant bosses starting at level 2, there’s not a whole lot I know about them, or how they compared to big bosses in other MMORPGs. But OMG we are getting major big bosses starting at level 2!!! HOW AWESOME IS THAT??!?!?!

I’d love to compare Guild Wars 2 big bosses to those of other MMORPGs, but I never got that far out in those games. Because of premature boredom. All I can say is that every big boss fight I had in Guild Wars 2 was a lot of fun.

I did fight a number of dungeon bosses in WoW, but as a healer, all I saw was red bars going up or down. Sadly, I can’t even tell you what they looked like, or what they fought like. Contrast that with Guild Wars 2, I know exactly how the various level 2 bosses look like, and some of their attacks.

One is a dragon. Which you fight at level 2.

Guild Wars: the Old Cinematic 2

There’s a few ways to tell a story. (1) You show it in a cinematic. (2) You wall-of-text it. (3) You have a cinematic where some dude tells you what’s going on. (4) You make it happen around you, as you are playing the game. ArenaNet goes for option 4 as much as possible[4].

What happens most of the time is something like that: you see monsters running in, killing NPCs and setting fire to stuff, you then run in and kill those monsters as well as throw water on the fires, and if you (and others) do a good enough job, you get to drive off the attackers and perhaps even attack their camp. Instead of some NPC telling you he hates the orcs and you should go kill them before they pick all the daisies.

Orcs Must Die, yes, but I think we should leave them alone if they’re only picking daisies.

Lord of the Subscription Failed Turned Cash Shop 2

Oh wait. Guild Wars 2 is not a subscription-based MMORPG. Buy the box, play until Guild Wars 3 is released (or even beyond[5]).

The cash shop sells a lot of fun cosmetic stuff you can live without. There are also boosts to XP gain or karma gain, but you can also live without it. Basically, every cash shop boost there is, at most, you can make up for by playing a bit longer. There is no evidence suggesting that you could pay cash in order to make dungeons easier, in a way you could not make up by playing longer.

Do expect microtransactions to include more dungeons, perhaps unlocks for weapons (like the greataxe for warriors), it’s unclear at this point. What is clear is that there will be stuff you can spend on, but stuff you would find in expansions, perhaps in smaller chunks so you can vote with your wallet[6].

Bughell: London 2

Please explain to me…

Why do MMORPGs contain such delightful features as kill stealing, node stealing, griefing, leeching, and all that other stuff that makes you want to punch strangers in the appendix rather than play with them? I mean, we are talking about MMORPGs which, you would think, you are paying big bucks to … oh I don’t know … play with other people? Well, I call these features “bugs” that have plagued the genre.

Guild Wars 2 actually fixed all of those, or at the very least made every single of those bugs far less prominent in normal play.

Warning: in Guild Wars 2, seeing other people may cause happiness.

World of Progress Bar Craft

As you gather stuff in the wild using your three gathering professions (which everyone has), you can send all that crafting stuff to your bank using an inventory option without having to go back home. When you craft, the bank slots for materials are open. Easy, right? So you don’t actually have to travel to town each time your bags are full. Oh, and you can sell stuff too without going to town.

If you craft 100 items, the progress bar goes faster and faster really quickly for additional items. So it’s not like you can start the crafting, take your shower, make coffee, and come back in time to see it complete. Crafting 100 items is more like click the craft button, call in sick, and have to hang up mid-sentence with your boss because the crafting is already done.

Also, talking of “World of Wasting My Gaming Time Which I Pay a Monthly Fee For”, I might as well mention that map travel is instantaneous, so you won’t have time for a biobreak and reconnecting with your family while you travel from one main city to the next one[7].

Concluding remarks

Please don’t sue me for misusing the names of past MMORPGs. To all MMORPG devs and their fanboys, if I insulted your game, I apologize[8]. I just think Guild Wars 2 is the next evolutionary step in the MMORPG genre. We can still argue about how big that evolutionary step is … is it a giant leap, or an epic leap?

Notes:
[1] Except when clones fail to maintain a subscription because people realize it’s just a clone and flock back to the original.

[2] Some still prefer Guild Wars (original) over other MMORPGs and over Guild Wars 2 due to its many good qualities. I for one would love to see both games getting more content in parallel.

[3] Except for dungeons. Seriously dude, don’t go there without a team.

[4] Yes, there’s still some cinematics including of the “dude yammering about” variety.

[5] They actually added a quest series in Guild Wars 1 this week. It’s limited time offer, so go play it if you missed it. It gives you a tormented weapon.

[6] Like rich people do with Super PACs and all that nonsense.

[7] I blame map travel if my daughter forgets my name.

[8] Not really. Stop whining.