GamesCom 2011 – Guild Wars 2 presentation

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The MMO that set the standard for free to play online games is back, proving that the best things in life are free indeed. Here are the highlights of the Guild Wars 2 presentation. Now, we’re face with an entirely new game, one that is setting out to improve on what came before it six years ago, while also avoiding the the stereotypical gameplay that seems to dominate the majority of MMO games that are coming out lately.

Global Brand Director Chris Lye seems enthusiastic to show off Guild Wars 2, so we take a seat back while his assistant Elijah fires up the game. We start things off with a slow intro sequence, that builds up steam as the action gets more intense and the orchestral soundtrack picks up pace.

Dragons, humans, Charr, Asura and Sylvari are showcased, amidst rampaging dragons and armies on the move. With that over, Chris begins explaining some of the thought that went into creating the sequel.

“There are a number of big changes, but most of all, we wanted to create a game that is relevant in todays context, while giving players a fully realized, online world. We didn’t want to create the same MMO as everyone else, that field is already overcrowded.”

“This is a living world that has no quest structure, a dynamic combat system that makes for an exciting combination. And frankly, MMO’s can and should be better. We’ve got a system wherein the player will have his own personal story, with their decisions making active, lingering consequences for the player.”

Chris then shows us a quick demo of gameplay, showing us how Guild Wars 2 will allow you to customise your character, whether you want it to be hyper detailed or just use a quick default setup.

We then see a quick setup of a Charr character, something Chris comments on as “players have been demanding that they be playable”, with some customisation of his backstory. Chris wants us to know how deep the story can be, as choosing the backstory of the Charr will already alter events in order to make the game more unique for the person playing it.

With his Charr character complete, and having decide on making his Warband party of the Iron Legion in order to boost his Engineer class, we go straight into battle, with our small platoon pitted against the dread forces of ghostly humans.

With our main character ready to kick ass, its clear that your AI-controlled party will play a major role in your life, as every death that they incur will come back to haunt you. This Chris says, “means that character choices will stay with you for a long time, deciding how the game plays out for you and affecting your home instance”.

We dont get to see exactly what this home instance is that Chris mentions, but he quickly explains it to us.

“Home instance, is a neighbourhood that grows with you and your decisions, reflecting your path. Save a beggar, and he might hang around the neighbourhood. Decide between rescuing either a flaming orphanage or a burning hospital, and you might just have a whole lot of orphans running around while the hospital smoulders outside.

We then get shown some of the persistent online world that Chris was boasting about, with a new character on screen, one of the diminutive little Asura, as he gets ready to take part in a massive battle against a huge dragon. This is just one of may similar events Chris explains, happening at any time and any where in the Guild Wars world.

High level events such as these require at 20-40 man teams, but it may be necessary to even have up to a hundred players battling. Chris tells us how fights such as these will help make the game feel more dynamic, with a drop-in approach that wont limit people to needing special classes for the event.

With the dragon launching his full scale attack on the Guild Wars staff who are busy fighting him, Chris shows us how the landscape is littered with objects, such as a massive cannon that weakens the dragon. With the beast finally vanquished, everyone gets their fair share of loot, according to their participation levels in the battle, thus ensuring a balanced approach to combat.

Chris then shows us some underwater sequences, which have none of those pesky “breathing limits”, because “Drowning is humiliating, according to him. Players get an entirely new area to explore, while taking part in more 3 dimensional fights that utilise unique attacks and spells.

Chris finishes the demo off with a quick PvP showcase, a mode that will put all players on a level playing field, and emphasising skill over stats. Maps are more varied, with the terrain playing a crucial role in obscuring your enemies, while allowing players to set up their own ambushes.

And after that presentation, we are finished, and I leave the room wit a much less jaded image of MMO games, thanks to Chris’ enthusiastic demonstration.

Last Updated: August 18, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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