To say that we’ve been provided relatively few details about Guild Wars 2 since its announcement in 2007 would be an understatement. There’s only so much concept art a fan can take before they start drooling for something more substantial. Lucky us, with the arrival of Guild Wars 5th anniversary, ArenaNet has decided we’ve waited long enough. The veil has been removed and we’re officially getting our first looks at Guild Wars 2.
The vow of silence was broken beginning yesterday, when ArenaNet revealed the Guild Wars 2 Blog. The first post, a Guild Wars 2 Design Manifesto, gives you a look at the design principles behind the game. That’s not all though, because ArenaNet continued their information assault today with a first look at the Elementalist class, and an in-depth look into Guild Wars 2‘s combat.
In some ways, the Guild Wars 2 Design Manifesto has done more to get me excited about an MMO than anything in the past five years. Of course, every idea sounds great in concept, and we’ll have to wait and see how Guild Wars 2 feels in motion. Here are some of the main details that stood out:
- While keeping the epic “story of the world” like you’ve seen in Guild Wars, ArenaNet plans on taking the “personal story of your character” to greater heights in Guild Wars 2. This includes filling out a biography upon character creation.
- Rather than comatose NPCs with exclamation points over their heads, Guild Wars 2 features live events which a player can join or ignore at their own discretion. For example, a village beset by bandits could burn to the ground without the player’s help.
- A focus on a “cooperative PvE experience” that isn’t limited to soloing or partying. Guild Wars 2 wants to create an atmosphere where you naturally play with the people around you. To encourage this, enemies or quests will share loot and experience evenly between all seriously involved participants. It won’t be limited to the party or player that initiated the encounter.
- Worlds (servers, if I take their meaning correctly) will compete against each other through both PvP and PvE.
- Combat is being built to “feel immediate, active, and visceral”. Guild Wars 2 will retain the CCG-like skill system of the original Guild Wars, but go to greater lengths to make it more visual. For example, an Elementalist can lay out a wall of fire, and then an archer could shoot an arrow through it to gain extra damage.
- The environment of Guild Wars 2 will be much more malleable, featuring a multitude of interactive objects.
If anything, it sounds like ArenaNet wants to keep everything from Guild Wars that made it unique, but with a much deeper level of immersion and a much grander scale.
The Combat Article (Part 1: Skills) gives some much more defined details about Guild Wars 2. The article also includes two new comics from PvP Online creator Scott Kurtz, who has since stated he’s doing a number of comic for Guild Wars 2. Here’s some of the significant details in the article:
- A focus on the “joy of movement”, where jumping, swimming (swimming?) and simply moving about feels natural and enjoyable.
- Guild Wars 2 will encourage positioning and tactical movement. For example, a warrior might deflect the fire breath of a dragon while a rogue slips around behind. Then, the rogue could launch the dragon into the air, where the warrior could use a skill to impale the beast as it hits the ground.
- Skills will be visually distinct, so players can recognize the attributes of a skill and react intelligently, rather than create an anti-fun system where players are constantly surprised and annoyed by the unknown and indistinguishable.
- The skill bar returns! The skill bar will have ten different skills slots: the first five are reserved for skills specific to the weapon and profession of your character; one slot for a selectable epic skill; one slot for a selectable healing skill (everyone is a healer!); three slots for the player to mix and match to their play-style.
- Yes, every player will be required to have one healing skill. Whether that’s a slow healing aura, a direct heal, or something situational is the player’s choice.
- Yes, epic skills return! Infrequently used, but ultra-powerful, expect these to be better than ever.
It’s nice to see that Guild Wars 2 is sticking with a similar combat system to Guild Wars. Their CCG-style system was always one of my favorite parts of the game. Also, you can’t help but be excited to know that both jumping and swimming will be allowed. I don’t know how many times I’ve pressed the space bar in Guild Wars only to have my camera flip out in an important moment. Part 2 of the in depth look at combat will hopefully be coming out sometime very soon.
Finally, for now, we have the intro to the Elementalist profession. Featuring four different elemental attunements that are each helpful in different situations, the Elementalist looks just as deadly now as she was in Guild Wars. If you’d like more details, you should definitely check out the preview. Otherwise, take a look at this epic new in-game trailer of the Elementalist:
What do you think, Ranters? I’m having a hard time living without Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Don’t make me choose!
Guild Wars 2 is slated for release in 2011.