EG Expo Editors' Game of the Show: Guild Wars 2

ArenaNet is ready to take MMOs forward.

Guild Wars 2 has been selected by Eurogamer.net editorial staff as Editors' Game of the Show at Eurogamer Expo 2011.

Although still without a release date, ArenaNet and NCsoft's massively multiplayer online role-playing game impressed with its fine polish and forward-thinking design in playable demos and at two packed developer sessions.

Guild Wars 2 was selected from a list of 10 nominees, all playable on the show floor at Earls Court.

We'll reveal the Top 10 games of the Expo as voted for by attendees later this week.

Nominees

  • At a Distance (Terry Cavanagh)
  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady/Warner Bros.)
  • Battlefield 3 (DICE/EA)
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Infinity Ward/Activision)
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Valve & Hidden Path)
  • Dark Souls (From Software/Namco Bandai)
  • The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks/Bethesda Game Studios)
  • Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo EAD Tokyo/Nintendo)
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog/Sony)

Editors' Game of the Show

  • Guild Wars 2 (ArenaNet/NCsoft)

Perhaps it's because games publishers really are becoming more risk-averse; perhaps it's just because we're late in the generational cycle of console hardware. But looking around the games on offer at the Expo, you had to admit that, while the quality bar is set incredibly high, innovation is hard to find.

That's what made Guild Wars 2 really stick out of this year's line-up. As we found out when we visited ArenaNet this year, the developer is aiming for the very top but isn't content to imitate its peers. In fact, it's challenging many of the dominant conventions of MMO design.

ArenaNet's manifesto for Guild Wars 2.

And the genre really needs it - arguably a great deal more than the slick shooters, role-players and action games that make up most of the rest of our nominees. MMOs have barely moved forward since World of Warcraft was released almost seven years ago. The challenges of simply releasing a stable game with enough content are too great for most rivals, let alone finding a way to drag MMOs into the present day, and the genre is running the real risk of creative atrophy.

Step forward ArenaNet, with a game that marries radical thinking with superb presentation (including the gorgeous artwork of Daniel Dociu and his team). It feels familiar enough to play - effortless, in fact - but you can't overestimate the impact of ArenaNet's decision to junk the traditional questing structure underpinning most MMOs.

You could get a hint of this from ArenaNet's developer sessions at the Expo, where designer Colin Johansen spoke of fluctuating events and battlefronts in the game's world that scale to the number of players participating. Everything in Guild Wars 2 is about bringing players together, rather than segregating group and solo pursuits the way its rivals currently do. Meanwhile, the crisp player-versus-player demo allowed Expo-goers to sample its fluid combat: more dynamic than the hotkey rotations of its rivals, yet still accommodating the relaxed play the genre invites.

This is what online worlds were always supposed to aim for, and in its showings to date, ArenaNet has yet to put a foot wrong on its ambitious path. Other games at Eurogamer Expo 2011 showed perfections of gaming's present; Guild Wars 2 was the one to open a window to its future.

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