Gamescom 2011
If you've never been to Gamescom before, let's simply put it this way: It's big. Really, really big. Forget most any convention you've attended; this is likely to be even bigger. Billing itself as the world's largest games event, Gamescom sees well over a quarter-million fans, journalists and exhibitors crowd into the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany to check out hundreds of games and companies.

Due to its size and worldwide prominence, Gamescom is a significant event for anyone following the MMO genre (and video games in general). There are plenty of MMO studios gearing up to share first looks, exclusive reveals, detailed Q&A sessions, and exciting hands-on demos for attendees.

Naturally, Massively will be paying close attention to all of the news coming out of Gamescom this week. For those attending the convention or merely looking to keep abreast of all of the games, studios, and information forthcoming, we've compiled a guide to the hottest tickets at Gamescom as well as a comprehensive exhibitor list of MMO studios after the break.

Gamescom's hottest tickets
Guild Wars 2

Hot off of Guild Wars 2's Sylvari Week, ArenaNet will be setting up shop in the NCsoft booth to shine a big ol' spotlight on its upcoming title. The studio has plans for a full weekend's worth of Q&A sessions, contests, and demos to get the crowd worked up about this promising MMO. It's here that players will be able to tinker with the game's character customization features for the first time.

In addition to the demos and panels, the Electronic Sports League will be hosting public Guild Wars 2 PvP matches in its arena. The devs are expected to mix it up in there as well, so this could be an excellent choice for those curious about how PvP functions in the game for real instead of in theory.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

The buzz word for SWTOR at Gamescom is "endgame." Selected community members will be able to check out the title's PvP action in the high-level Alderaan warzone, while the fabled Eternity Vault will be showcased by BioWare staff for all to see. Additionally, anyone who manages to get close enough to the booth (Jedi mind tricks are encouraged) can partake in a hands-on demo of the highly anticipated title.

With The Old Republic launching "holiday 2011," it's no small understatement to say that the public interest in this title is reaching a fever pitch, and millions of eyes will be combing through everything shown, revealed, and discussed this weekend. Some players have expressed concern that the game would launch with a skimpy endgame, a perception that BioWare obviously wants to change with the focus of this convention.

Carbine Studios' mystery MMO

Speculation is swirling around NCsoft's Carbine Studios, which is set to announce its new MMO at the show. We know very little about the project, apart from the fact that it's being supervised by MMO industry veteran Jeremy Gaffney, that it's presumably fantasy-themed (based on released concept art), and that the studio has been working to make "games that adapt to you, instead of the other way around."

The announcement should happen the minute the doors open at Gamescom, so attendees have the chance to be the first in the world to lay eyes on this future title.

Firefall

Our last hot ticket may not be considered a "proper MMO" by all, but it's certainly become one of the the biggest massively multiplayer games to watch. Developed by Blizzard alums at Red 5 Studios, Firefall looks to meld the fast-paced action of team-based FPS shooters with a cool sci-fi setting and a persistent world. Considering that it's going to be releasing this December, we have many questions for Red 5 and are looking forward to the opportunity to get a closer look this week. Lucky players will get to play the game demo, including "intense" co-op missions.

Gamescom MMO exhibitors
Strap on your walking shoes if you're going to Gamescom because the impressive list of exhibitors will have you questing all over the place!

Gamescom exhibit hall map

This article was originally published on Massively.
Break into the gaming industry as an ArenaNet intern