Guild Wars 2? Oh, WoW!
There is no Guild Wars 2. The Guild Wars two demo at Gamescom 2011 shows how far it has moved from the original game: right into World of Warcraft territory, in fact.
Guild Wars is Dead. Long live Guild Wars.
Even if ArenaNet ever launches Guild Wars 2 – and it’s increasingly looking dead in the water – it is not the game that Guild Wars fans know and love. In fact, it is so far removed, that one can’t help wondering if they’re looking at the heyday of World of Warcraft, with its 12 million players, and are aiming at that market instead.
What more could players want than an enhanced WoW experience, with better graphics and no monthly fees? Um, they could want Guild Wars, for a start. The recent playable demo at Gamescom 2011 confirmed that Guild Wars 2 is closer to WoW than to Guild Wars.
The character I created was a male Sylvari engineer, aptly named Anathema Jones. At no time did I feel I was playing Guild Wars. Too many things were wrong. After the engineer announcement, I played both World of Warcraft and its new free-to-play clone, Forsaken World. Guild Wars 2 fits very nicely into that mould.
The Sylvari in the demo come into play just below level 58. There is no personal story, but the customisation options were still there. At level 58 you have a full skill bar, and over 10,000 life. Skill 1 allowed me to shoot from the hip while moving.
The game has the same fast pace as the WoW it is cloning. You take a quest, head off in the direction indicated, and immediately get invited to join a nearby event: to kill a dragon. When you accept, you load into the new scenario and start fighting almost immediately. One of the right-hand skills allowed me to change my weapon to a flamethrower, which changed all the left hand skills immediately. These had lovely fire effects, especially the Napalm. (Isn’t it amazing that they moved from medieval magic to napalm in just 300 years?)
Unfortunately the flamethrower doesn’t work terribly well in underwater combat. Parts of the skillbar grayed out. And while I had smelling salts to heal and revive fallen allies (smelling salts and napalm in the same kit bag!), there is no party mechanic to make rescuing allies easy. You play in a group, each one separate from each other. I guess it all gets down to the dynamic event format that ArenaNet has been going on about.
A chest spawns at the end of the event, but there is no loot: only orbs. During my 40 minutes I was offered about four events, and reaped a chest for one other, although that did not require a special acceptance. Forty minutes is also a very short time to evaluate the game as a game, even if it isn’t Guild Wars. Perhaps it will be fun to play. I haven’t gotten beyond level 30 in Forsaken World, nor even to level 30 in World of Warcraft, as I find the solo levelling very, very boring. ArenaNet says their levelling will not be a grind – in my opinion, ongoing solo play is always a grind.
So what is missing from Guild Wars 2, that makes it a completely different game? Let’s just summarise the core values here, in case someone from ArenaNet ever reads this and takes heed.
1. Guild Wars has a level cap of 20. You level up to learn the mechanics of your profession, and then the game starts. It is not a levelling game.
2. Guild Wars is all about your skill bar. You have eight slots, you have umpteen foes, each of which respond to different kinds of damage. You build your skill bar before you go out; if you fail, you go back to the starting point, rebuild, and try again.
3. Guild Wars is mostly instanced. You play with your friends (or heroes) in your own instance without interference from others.
4. The professions in Guild Wars are mythological, medieval, and magical ones: warrior, assassin, ranger, dervish as melee fighters; necromancer, elementalist, ritualist, mesmer and monk as spell casters; and paragon, a master of motivation.
5 .The only playable race in Guild Wars is human.
Now what does Guild Wars 2 have to offer?
1. Guild Wars 2 has a level cap of 80, making it a levelling game, just like WoW and Forsaken World.
2. Guild Wars 2 adapts your skill bar to your weapon. Certain slots are reserved for certain skills, like self-healing. It’s not about builds any more, though I guess you could have fun with a weapon collection.
3. Guild Wars 2 is persistent. You can’t avoid Shing Jea: the potty talk in chat will follow you wherever you go.
4. The professions in Guild Wars 2 only nod towards the original game: warrior, ranger, necromancer and elementalist. For the rest it’s all new: guardian, thief, engineer and one still unannounced. We know there will be no monk.
5. WoW and Forsaken World have multiple playable races, so Guild Wars 2 has introduced them too. So far, all have access to the same professions.
6. Guild Wars 2 has introduced crafting as well, I guess because that’s what you do in WoW and Forsaken World.
In addition, Guild Wars 2 has done away with using mouse clicks to move, and has reverted to the older AWSD technology.
Hearsay has it that Guild Wars 2 was just about finished when ArenaNet hired someone new who sent them back to the drawing board. It has been years in development now, and will be released “when it’s ready”. However, all that development time costs money, and pockets may not be deep enough to see it through to being “ready”. Certainly at Gamescom 2011, NCSoft gave equal time and space to Wildstar, a new game on its books.
Guild Wars 2, if it launches, may turn out to be a nice enough game, but most likely it will be too little too late. Forsaken World is already offering a free-to-play enhanced WoW experience, with loads of daily events and instanced quests. Who needs Guild Wars 2? Guild Wars players won’t recognise it. WoW players may not much care.