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Will Guild Wars 2 be your holy grail?

Shawn Schuster

We've all seen the brand new Guild Wars 2 trailer from last week, right? The one that starts out with lightly-animated concept art, but eventually breaks into actual in-game footage? That in-game footage caused one of the strangest sounds to erupt from the Guild Wars fan community: a mix of a sigh and a squee. It's quite a unique sound. You should try it.

With so much time being taken between our last bit of news and this full-blown trailer, GW fans were beginning to seriously lose hope. I have been an advocate for Guild Wars 2 since the day it was announced, although I did have some reservations about the divulged game mechanics at first. It seemed ArenaNet was giving up on its unique approach to online games and what the founders learned at Blizzard, and converting it into every other MMO out there. The original Guild Wars broke so much ground that it literally raised a new generation of gamers. Solved were the problems of finding a group, grinding for XP, discovering which server your friends played on and camping spawns. Guild Wars popularized the solutions to these problems and offered them in a streamlined package that didn't cost you a dime each month. It's exactly what many gamers were waiting for to get them into the MMO space, including myself.

So back in May of 2007, while the rabid fans were patiently awaiting news of the next chapter -- rumored to be called Utopia -- PCGamer magazine breaks the story that there will be no new chapter and in its place, a sequel. Well, ok, I guess that might work. What will this sequel be about? In the magazine, we get word that the GW team wanted to do so much more with the game, but they were restricted with the current engine. Despite the fact that Guild Wars was made to solve the problems of World of Warcraft and EverQuest, players wanted many of those game mechanics back. They wanted to jump. They wanted to run out of a city without a load screen. They wanted a freaking auction house. ArenaNet, being the customer-oriented company that they are, listened to the fans. They realized that to progress in the industry, it takes much more than solving flawed mechanics in other popular games.

So for the last two and a half years, we've only heard about a series of books that will be released to explain the story between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2. We were also assured that Guild Wars 2 was definitely in the works. But that's about it. During this time, we saw the rise and fall of two released NCsoft titles: Auto Assault on August 31, 2007 and Tabula Rasa on February 28, 2009. In addition to this, we've seen Dungeon Runners and Exteel turn into afterthoughts while unannounced projects fell into obscurity (Blighted Empires, anyone?). The publishing company went through some financial troubles and quite a few resignations as well, including one of ArenaNet's founders, Jeff Strain. Can you blame even the hardest of the diehard fans when they (we) got a little unsure if GW2 would really see the light of day? Sure it's not ArenaNet's fault, but would NCsoft put up with the lack of news and plummeting reputation?

That's what scared us the most. Not if ArenaNet could actually pull it off, but if NCsoft would give them the chance to pull it off. Yet, in their special ArenaNet way, they still blew us all away with this trailer. We forgive you, Anet! We forgive the neglect and the secrecy. Or at least I do.

So what is it exactly that makes so many Guild Wars fans excited about a game that may not release for another two years, based on a four-minute teaser?

I believe it's hope. Hope that Tyria will live on through a shiny new coat, and everything a player could ever want will be there. We have hope that ArenaNet will continue with its tradition of reinventing the genre and create a game that will blow us away as much as the original did over four years ago. Sure we've heard all about these "required" mechanics that will be in Guild Wars 2. There will be an auction house, there will be jumping (and swimming!) and there will still not be a subscription fee. But what many people may not take into consideration is how deliciously sneaky ArenaNet is. Do you honestly believe that GW2 will simply be just another fantasy game, but thrown into the GW world and lore? Will a z-axis and a less-spammed WTB/WTS channel make this game worth buying over Guild Wars 1? Our hope can only go so far, but what's really exciting is the fact that we're basing this hope off of what we know this team is capable of producing.

Here's what we know so far:

  • There will be an auction house
  • There will be jumping and swimming
  • The game will look more amazing, graphically, than the first.
  • While requiring more powerful hardware than GW1, GW2 is still said to have low system requirements.
  • There will be no subscription fee (although there may still be an RMT-based store like they have now).
  • The world of Tyria will stay consistent with what we know and love, especially in Eye of the North. Sure it will be 250 years later, but we will still recognize the general feel of it.
  • We will be able to play four additional races: Charr, Sylvari, Norn and Asura.
  • We will have persistence to the world, yet instancing will still be used in dungeons and missions.
  • There will be no more click-to-move.
  • Instead of following exclamation marks around the map, there will be a new Event System, much like an open quest. This will allow events to happen whether the player is present or not.
  • Jeremy Soule will be doing the soundtrack again!
  • There will be a day and night cycle.
  • A new Companion system will improve upon the current Heroes system.
  • PvP will be broken into Structured PvP (much like is in GW1 now) and World PvP (similar to Warhammer's Open RvR).
  • Current GW character names and Hall of Monuments achievements will carry over into the sequel.
  • There will be ... guns?

Here's what we hope for Guild Wars 2:

  • Our Hall of Monuments achievements are more than just titles. This connection between the two games is a major draw, and I hope it's something spectacular.
  • That the rumors of the game being sharded are false. That ability to play on one server with your friends is one of the most revolutionary design implementations in Guild Wars 1, and we don't want to lose that.
  • The dual class mechanic will remain.
  • We need mounts! With the implementation of that z-axis, hopefully we'll get flying mounts as well. Of course, this would contradict the fact that they solved the problem of long travel times, but I trust that ArenaNet could implement mounts for vanity purposes, while maintaining fast map travel.
  • A real crafting system, much like pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies, or even what Fallen Earth has now.
  • Housing beyond a Guild Hall. You can't deny the interior decorator in us all.
  • No motorcycles!

So come on ArenaNet, make us proud. Show us that our dedication to this game for all these years will pay off more than it ever did with Guild Wars 1. Show the rest of the doubting MMO community that they should have been playing this game all along. Show us our MMO holy grail.

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