by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
What’s the story, MMOrning Glory? (cntd)
These choices, along with ones about your character’s background such as education, values, and goals affect how the story unfolds and how the world reacts and interacts with you. Adding to the uniqueness is the fact that each race has a unique home city, and each player will have a unique area within their home city that will change with them. Do you want to help stop the fire at the orphanage? You can, or you can let it burn. The choice is up to you. If you do, life will carry on in town as normal. If you don’t, you’ll have to live with your choice by seeing the now-homeless orphans walking the streets. This may not sound very big on paper, but these things will add up to ensure that no two players will experience the game in quite the same way and no two play-throughs will be identical.
It takes a lot of guts to make a game in a genre dominated for years by one title, and then call out some staples of that genre as faulty (or at least not optimal), try new things, and hope that fans will follow you into the abyss. ArenaNet is trying to do just that. One big thing that they are trying to rid the genre of is the kill, collect, transport style of quests that most MMO’s rely on for a lot of their missions. In trying to avoid the boring repetitive quests, ArenaNet is opting to instead place focus on large public quests. These aren’t a new thing for MMO’s. The recent Rift does something very similar with its rifts, but it is new for the Guild Wars franchise. The developers say that this is an attempt to make the missions feel less like pre-scripted trails and more like real worlds. Since your team will often be an impromptu group of people that just happen to have stumbled across the same event that you have, strategies must be created on the fly. Making this more difficult is the dynamic flow of events. One minute you might be saving someone, only to realize a larger backup force is coming, after which you decide you and your group needs to hunt down the leader of this enemy group.
The fact that things flow so seamlessly from one thing to the next enhances player immersion, something that ArenaNet founder Mike O’Brien finds very important. According to him, the thing that all MMOs should strive to be is a complete and continuous world that everyone actually inhabits and has an impact on. He finds it silly that certain NPCs are always there needing or offering help, only to go back to exactly how they were for the next player. He finds it foolish when everyone in one world is running around doing their own thing, or even hindering teammates for personal gain. In his mind, these public quests and open events will bring people together, as well as making the world seam much more tangible, and making steps forward for the MMO genre as a whole. These events won’t just change the game world a tiny bit by adding or subtracting a character now and then. These will be large noticeable changes. According to the official website for Guild Wars 2, ‘One day there may be a thriving village filled with vendors and townspeople, the next day that village may be a smoking ruin overrun by centaurs.’ “But Wait!” I hear you cry, “I thought Guild Wars only lets you interact with the general public in certain hubs?” Not anymore. Guild Wars 2 will be fully open just like everyone other major MMO on the market.
The Staff is mightier than the Calculator
Another convention of many MMOs that Guild Wars 2 is attempting to remove is overly technical or mathematical combat. In many MMOs, combat isn’t really about fighting in an actual physical sense, instead focusing on managing recharge times, counting enemy health, and setting your character to auto-attack the proper enemy. This may be appealing to some, but ArenaNet thinks that combat in MMOs should be just as exhilarating and intense as any other type of game.