Guild Wars 2 • Page 3

First details of NCsoft's new fantasy.

However, player-versus-player has always been hugely important to Guild Wars - guilds regularly compete for thousands in cash prizes - and ArenaNet is obviously keen to keep the attention of its hardcore players, offering the same jump-right-in PvP system where everyone has access to the same skills and equipment, and success is determined by strategy. "We wanted to give our competitive players, who were a really important part of our GW1 audience, what they want," says Flannum. "Those people don't want to lose to someone who's just played more time than them. They want access to all the same skills as the other person, and they want it to be their skill in making and executing a character build to be what wins them the day."

In addition, there's also a new World PvP system, which lets you use your PvE character and equipment to play against other people on a more open battlefield, the Mists. "It's very casual PvP where you can gain levels and have ten-on-one fights or 100-on-20 fights or whatever, where everything flows naturally on the battlefield and there's no limits to how many players can be involved," elaborates Flannum, though the team can't go into specifics about exactly how players will gain access to the Mists.

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A massive zone; look closely and you'll spot a character standing by the water.

Splitting the PvP into two modes, Flannum believes, is the best way to accommodate the broadest possible range of players. "We gained a lot of experience with a lot of different types of PvP from GW1, and we grew to recognise that there were really hardcore PvP players, but there were also people who wanted that more casual, in-world type of PvP. And so we decided to give both groups what they want."

It's clear that lessons have been learned from the first game, and that goes for the professions and skills too, although ArenaNet can't tell us specifics about how they will work. "I think that we allowed GW1 to get too complex, and with GW2 we have a new opportunity to make it a game that's easy to get into but which has the depth of mechanics that keeps people interested over a long time," says O'Brien.

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More concept art for an area within Guild Wars 2.

"To give a simple example, we eventually had 1200 skills in the game. And I think that through adding three campaigns and an expansion and having ten professions and the number of skills that it did, Guild Wars grew unwieldy. We've come to realise, through developing Guild Wars, that what makes it such a fantastic game is not quantity - it's quality. This time around I think that we can really focus on the parts of the game we want to focus on, make a clean break, make sure that it stays true to the original intentions of Guild Wars, and make it the game that we always wanted it to be."

As for whether it's the game that Guild Wars players will want it to be, O'Brien is confident. "Guild Wars was a very unique game. It takes a different approach to role-playing. Looking at our competitors, it has its genesis in the Magic the Gathering tradition rather than a straight Dungeons and Dragons tradition, and I think players really appreciate that breadth. Because it was so different, I think we got a lot right, but we also got stuff wrong. Guild Wars 2 is the ultimate game for Guild Wars players."

Guild Wars 2 won't be going into beta testing until much nearer its release; ArenaNet is keen to conduct most of the testing within its own, fast-growing team. The trailer, though, and the team's enthusiasm, have redirected our attention to this potentially landmark sequel after two years of silence. If it retains the accessible values of its predecessor across a bigger, persistent, more interactive world - without forcing us to pay a monthly fee for the privilege - it could really shake things up for MMOs.

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