Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft Side-by-Side Comparison
We’ve all played MMOs. We’ve ground through the levels, completing quests, massacring rats, picking flowers, saving the world from utter annihilation. We’ve also been really bored. Let’s face it; ever since the standard was set by World of Warcraft in 2004, the MMO genre has been unbelievably stale. No game developer in the field of online gaming has wanted to stray too far from WoW’s divine formula (yes, 10 million followers officially qualifies it as a religion). And why should they? It’s a safe bet, and there’s a ton of money to be had by all. Who cares if the players are bored?
But what if it didn’t have to be like that? Enter the contender in the red trunks that say ArenaNet. Guild Wars 2 is taking everything annoying and stagnant about MMOs—including boring quests, lack of impact on the game world, and nonexistent storyline—and fixing it.
Boring WoW Quests
And Now for the Replacement for Quests in Guild Wars 2
Does questing have to be a task rather than a pleasure? Let’s take a look at the Guild Wars 2 replacement for quests, dynamic events:
Throughout the Guild Wars 2 event, there is no wall of quest text to read, no 15/15 squirrels killed, and no stupid floating punctuation marks. These events will just happen. You wander by and get involved, without anything to dent the immersion.
While your standard quest is static, with the parameters never changing and the monsters respawning, dynamic events are different. Every time you join in on one of these events, it is at a different stage: invading army is setting up their siege weapons, invading the town, being driven back, and even having their own base attacked and destroyed. Depending on whether you succeed in driving them back or fail and have them push forward, the outcome is based upon your actions and everyone in that region of the world is affected.
And if the baddies are ever completely wiped out or if they ever manage to burn down the village and wipe out the citizens, ending that particular event, a new and different event will start happening nearby. For example, next a group of bandits starts poisoning the local water supply and running off with the village’s women. Or if the invading army won, they begin setting up a new base upon the ashes of the town and start sending out raiding parties further into friendly territory. This means that whenever you enter an area, a completely different event will be unfolding from the last time you were there. This also means that leveling additional characters won’t be stale. According to ArenaNet’s Lead Content Designer Colin Johanson, there will be thousands of these events, just waiting for you to get your filthy hands on them. And in addition to normal events, special events will be triggered by specific player actions. For example finding and removing a glowing orb on a pedestal deep in the ocean could awaken a powerful race of sea monsters, who start attacking shipping lanes and laying siege to port towns.
I like my graphics the way I like my women, gorgeous and anti-aliased. Err, well one of those anyway. Guild Wars 2 will feature use of normal mapping and specular lighting to enhance its visuals. However the developers have stated that the game will still be able to run just fine on a mid-level PC.
A Real Personal Storyline
When it comes time to buy a new game, we all face a dilemma. Do we buy the single player game and experience a deep story in which our decisions have lasting impacts? Or do we pick up a multiplayer title so we can play with our friends and meet new people? Guild Wars 2 has finally solved this problem: it has both. It has a fully persistent online world where players can meet and pillage together. It also has a unique, branching story for every class and race that is kept fully malleable through the use of instancing. When you engage in your own personal storyline, you will be separate from the rest of the world (although you can bring your friends in with you) so that each of your decisions can have a lasting effect upon your own story.
Unique Combat Synergy
In your standard MMO, RPG, or what-have-you, the interactions between players in combat is pretty basic. You cast buff spells on your buddies, making them more powerful, or you apply debuffs or status effects on enemies so that they are easier for your group to kill. With Guild Wars 2, a new form of gaming teamwork is being introduced. Let's look at an example.
A warrior, elementalist (like a mage), and archer are fighting a swarm of dirty lizard people. The mage casts a fireball, damaging enemies and setting the ground on fire. When the archer shoots arrows through the blaze, the arrows catch on fire and explode on contact. The warrior runs into the conflagration and launches into a spinning attack with his axes, hurling sheets of flame in all directions.
This relatively simple concept adds a whole new level of synergy and depth to a field of gameplay that has gotten rather repetitive over the years. The game will of course also include the slew of buffs, debuffs, and conjured weapons that are standard to the genre.
Leeching, Griefing, and the Antisocial
Lazy players leeching your items and experience has always been an issue in online games. ArenaNet plans to include a system to deal with this problem. Essentially it assigns loot, XP, and event rewards to players based upon their actual participation. Let’s say someone runs by and tags a couple of enemies but doesn’t really do anything. The system will assign him significantly lower rewards compared to someone who was actually fully participating in the event. The same goes for individual kills as well, but in a different way. If two people attack the same monster, they will get the same amount of loot and experience as if they had killed it solo, even if the two are not in a party together. This means that there is no longer any reason to scare off other people and work by yourself like in other, less friendly MMOs. Potentially, the new system could greatly improve the game’s social potential. As well, the Guild Wars 2 developers have stated that they are doing everything possible to remove all opportunities for griefing and exploitation from the game.
While details have not yet been released on Guild Wars 2’s player versus player combat, ArenaNet’s record speaks for itself. The tidbits that have seen light are still quite juicy. There will be two types of PvP. The first takes place in arenas and all participants are equipped with equal gear, character levels, and skill choices. The second is called World vs. World, and it will essentially be entire servers facing off against each other in massive battles. With each side number in the hundreds, castle sieges and all-out army clashes will be the setting for World vs. World combat. Apparently gear and level differences will not be balanced in this type of PvP. The outcome of these battles will result in one side gaining valuable resources and perhaps winning territory, as seen in Guild Wars 1.
Even More Stuff
A problem with many MMOs is the lack of balance in difficulty. Most fully persistent areas are designed and balanced for solo play. So if you bring in your friends, suddenly the game becomes much too easy. Guild Wars 2 intends to solve this problem by scaling monster spawning numbers and strength according to how many players are in the area. This means that a group of 20 people will find just as much challenge as a solo player. Like its predecessor, Guild Wars 2 will also have no monthly fees. You will only pay for purchase of the game itself, expansion packs, and certain special items and services (such as changing your character’s name).
With all these new ideas being thrown around, let’s not forget about other important concerns. Guild Wars 2 will feature a full crafting system, with a focus on usefulness and profit rather than repeated production of the same item to earn skill levels. Raids (large dungeons) will be featured more prominently than in the first game, with an emphasis on challenge and balance. The warrior and elementalist classes from the original game will return, while other classes still remain a mystery. In addition, races will be added to the mix, including the noble humans, brutal charr, towering norn, ingenious asura, and the nature-attuned sylvari. Each of these races will have their own homelands and storylines as well as special racial abilities.
Don't worry, you can turn off the one-liners.
Combat looks fast and brutal, with excellent animations and sound to keep things satisfying (fans of Dragon Age know exactly what I’m talking about). You will have a selection of 10 skills at any given time, 5 dependent upon your weapons (which means switching weapon sets in combat will allow access to up to 15), and the other 5 chosen by the player. In addition, Guild Wars 2 will feature an attribute system similar to classic RPGs. You may also choose from over 100 unique traits (similar to passive skills or talents) for each class to further enhance your character’s abilities and strengths. These traits are earned through completing certain tasks, such as defeating a weapon master in a duel to learn the Swordmastery trait. In place of respecialization fees and return trips to town, Guild Wars 2 will let you change your traits, skills, and gear any time you are not in combat, for free. The game will also make use of chain skills, similar to those seen in Aion (the game with all the angels and things). Chain skills trigger different effects when used multiple times on the same enemy, much like a combo. Guild Wars 2 will also make use of charge-up skills, powering up an ability before releasing it to wreak havoc on your enemies. And for all you WoW players and obsessive compulsives: YES, YOU CAN JUMP!
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