Evolution of the MMO: Guild Wars
MMOs, or, Massively Multiplayer Online games, have become a large part of many game players’ lifestyles. Hundreds of thousands, even millions of people buy a single game in order to be able to play with millions of other people, either cooperatively, or competitively. Most MMOs are created for the PC, and range from free-to-play, buy the game and play free, or a monthly fee to play. MMOs include everything from role playing games, to racing games, even to rhythm games. Every day the MMO industry is growing, with new and unique ideas coming from every direction.
One such game, though, is technically not an MMORPG, although most people would consider it to be. ArenaNet actually coined their most popular game Guild Wars with it’s own genre label: CORPG, or Competitive/Cooperative Online Role Playing Game. Unlike other popular MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars contains many instances in which you, the player, are by yourself, or with your associated party members. You will not see any other player while you are out of a town since you are in your own special instance, but in doing this, it allows for a much wider variety of options in Quest creation. Since every player is in their own instance, NPCs can be added, and certain events can be triggered based off of what Quest that player may have acquired, without it interfering with another player’s exploration at all. Another popular unique feature is the limited eight-skill bar and changeable attribute point allocation, which forces players to use more strategy in choosing which skills to use, and where to distribute your attribute points in order to succeed in beating the enemy that you are presented with. Finally, the most important part of the Guild Wars model is that there is no monthly fee. As soon as you purchase a campaign, you are free to play it for as long as the servers happen to be online, which ArenaNet has stated that they plan on continuing support for it far after their newest installment is out.
While Guild Wars has made it to four campaigns, ArenaNet wanted to create something bigger and better, but found that with their current model that they were unable to bring their ideas to fruition. Based off of that, they decided to create a brand new game altogether, and call it Guild Wars 2. Not only being a graphical improvement, if that was even thought possible, many new and unique features are being added to the newest addition to the Guild Wars franchise.
The main question on everyone’s mind though, was were they going to continue their same Guild Wars payment model that they were planning on using before. Their answer was yes, which is a smart idea. Guild Wars has a good thing going by making their game free to play after you purchase the campaign, and I’m sure players have wanted to take a break and come back later, to find that they could still use everything they had worked so hard in making before.
The first important new feature is the addition of new playable races. In the original Guild Wars, you were limited to a male or female human character, and they varied by which class you chose for them. In Guild Wars 2 you’ll be able to choose from the Humans, the Charr (main enemies in the beginning of Prophecies and also Eye of the North), the Norn (introduced in Eye of the North), the Asura (also introduced in Eye of the North), and the Sylvari (yet unknown). Unlike most MMOs, ArenaNet has strongly disapproved of the grinding aspect, of which I greatly agree with. In lieu of that, they’ve looked into the idea of removing a level cap from the game, and also adding in a “Sidekick” system, which can be found in another NCsoft game, City of Heroes. While I believe that this will be a nice addition to the game, I can still see people grinding in order to consider themselves the highest level in the game, although it wouldn’t necessarily be mandatory for players to do so. Also, I wonder about how they would have to approach enemy’s levels. If a player were a Level 100, would they adjust the enemy’s level in an instanced space, or in a non-instanced space, would they be forced to cap the level of monsters at something such as 50, to be able to accommodate for most other players? Just like the original Guild Wars though, Guild Wars 2 will be able to be completed without ever having to join a human group in the game. I find this an excellent feature because, well, let’s be honest, sometimes other humans aren’t exactly the most fun people to play with.
Guild Wars 2 is faced with a few issues, one of the most notable being what they will be doing for old players who don’t want to give up everything that they have just to be able to move up. ArenaNet has confirmed that players will be able to reserve their character names for the new game, as well as they’ve implimented the Hall of Monuments, which allows you to showcase your more prestigious victories in the game which will translate to some sort of bonus in Guild Wars 2.
Obviously, there are a lot of upgrades that ArenaNet wishes to add to the new game. Jumping is being added so that characters can jump over obstacles, as in games such as World of Warcraft. This feature is highly anticipated by many players, and I’ll admit I’m interested to see if I’ll really like being able to do that. An Event System is also being added so that in non-instanced areas, massive battles can take place against an AI opponent and any players interested in joining the fight will be able to, with the winners sharing the spoils of victory. Obviously, there are a lot of features that haven’t even been explored yet, and that ArenaNet has kept under wraps, but when the Beta comes out, you can most definitely expect me to be right there on the cusp of it all, really to take on the brand new world that surrounds the lore of Guild Wars.
Oh, and my favorite part of it all: Jeremy Soule will be returning to compose the music for Guild Wars 2. I can’t wait!