Guild Wars 2 – Promises, Promises
Much like Keen, I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Guild Wars. I bought it when it first came and enjoyed it well enough but it failed to lure me away from Everquest 2 at the time. Although I’ve heard plenty of good things about it, I’ve never played GW again since 2005 as I was put off by its heavily instanced, hub-centered gameplay. It felt far too much like a glorified arcade game and chat room system than an actual persistent, vibrant and flourishing virtual world (this is much my same gripe with Warhammer Online). Even though it’s very admirable and revolutionary in being totally subscription free, that in itself didn’t sway me either – which I suppose just goes to show that price isn’t everything (but that’s a different blog post).
Guild Wars 2 was announced what seems like several decades ago and smells like it’s going to be released next year. Although it has it a pretty rabid following, it hasn’t been on my radar much as, like I said, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original. Still, ArenaNet’s sexy new trailer is turning heads and rightly so. Aside from the gorgeous graphics and stylised presentation, the developers are making a lot of big – huge even – promises about GW2. Apparently it’s going to completely reinvent the MMO genre, doing to it what the musket did to the longbow, by removing grind, mundane non-heroic quests and allow the world to change as result of your direction actions.
Call me cynical but I somewhat doubt this. Wait, before you get you reach for your pitchforks let me qualify that statement a little : I doubt that these claims will be implemented in the way that the developers imply in the trailer. What do I mean? Well, watching that video leads one to imagine a normal, persistent virtual world, much like Azeroth or Norrath or Hyboria, being altered and affected by the actions of individual players as they take on huge, heroic battles and quests right from the get go, utilising revolutionary combat mechanics in the process. Now while I have no doubt that ArenaNet are working hard to give us exciting new features, I highly doubt that it’s going to happen to the extent that they’re portraying in their trailer.
Unfortunately I’ve seen and heard a lot of these sorts of claims before. Funcom was going to revolutionise combat and we got a couple of combo buttons. Sigil was going to revolutionise factions and diplomacy and we got an in-built card game. Blizzard was going to revolutionise questing and we got floating exclamation marks. Mythic was going to revolutionise PvP and we got battlegrounds queueable from anywhere. Not that any of these mechanics aren’t fun or good in their own right, it’s just they’re hardly turning the entire genre on its head. It’s evolution through tiny footsteps, not giant leaps.
Still, I can totally understand why ArenaNet make these claims. It’s called marketing. Coming out and making a bland statement like “yeah, we’re adding a couple of hot keys to the combat system and not resetting your instances” is hardly going to set the world alight.
However I think these trailers and hype tactics do owe it to players to be a little more open and transparent about what they mean. For instance, promising a virtual world that changes as you affect it and then providing one that’s populated entirely with instances is a bit of a cop out. Sure, my game changes for me but my actions still don’t affect anyone else in the game or even allow me interact with them in the same plain. Not only does this kinda defeat part of the purpose of playing a MMO but it also seems to me like being a teensy-weensy bit misleading.
Of course maybe I’m just nitpicking and being a dick about it all but heck, that’s what opinion blogs are for. Even though I’m sceptical and wary of some of ArenaNet’s claims (I don’t want to get my heart broken by highly anticipating another game that doesn’t meet my inflated expectations), it hasn’t stopped me from recognising some potentially great elements in Guild Wars 2 or perturbed me from trying it.
What are your thoughts on the trailer?