Seven years of waiting are almost over.
Guild Wars, which released in 2005, redefined what an online RPG was all about. Competitor to 2004's World of Warcraft, Guild Wars was no clone; it's so different, in fact, that it's often referred to as a competitive online role-playing game (CORPG), rather than the term massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) that's used to describe WoW and its legion of (mostly inferior) clones.
So what was different about it? For a start, all of the gameplay areas were instanced, making it much more like Diablo III in that respect than what you might expect of a traditional MMO. It also focused heavily on player vs. player (PvP) action than WoW, which - while it supports PvP - is built more around a player vs. environment (PvE) end-game.
Seven years on, and ArenaNet are on the verge of releasing a sequel to the critically acclaimed original Guild Wars, and there's a legion of fans waiting for the servers to open on August 28th. But what do the developers have in store for them? What's changed? What should new players expect?
That's exactly the kind of stuff we wanted to find out, so we went straight to the source - ArenaNet - and asked them all about it.
Can you tell us more about the revamped skill system?
So the main difference in Guild Wars 2 is we’ve tied your first 5 skills to what weapon or item you’re holding, which allows us to do a number of things. For one, what weapon you use is a major, defining build choice, but this also means when you swap weapons in combat your skills change which allows you to adapt to an encounter or combo weapons together by swapping between them.
We can also give you different skills based on what item you’re holding, such as allowing a player to throw a large boulder at an enemy and knock them down or pick up a flamethrower and burn their foe. While we keep a limited skill bar of 10 skills, each skill does a lot. For instance, instead of a skill just summoning a minion, the skill will toggle into another skill that could enable you to blow the minion up, or turn into a command for that minion. These systems allow us to maximize the use of our skill bar.
Can you talk a bit about the relationship between professions, skills, and race? And how is a healing ability controlled by weapon skills?
I’ll start with healing. Every player has a healing slot, allowing him or her to take a healing skill more suited for his or her build. This skill is a very powerful heal skill and you are always your own best healer.
While other professions can provide some small amounts of support, no profession can dish out as much healing as your own self-heal. This dynamic means everyone is really responsible for watching his or her own health bar.
While every profession can perform different roles, they do so in their own unique way. For example, a thief is great at stopping large slow-moving targets by being quick and evasive and dodging each attack. A warrior can use his high armor and health to deal with a large number of smaller enemies. Each race has access to different utility, heal, and elite skills that you can unlock along with your profession skills with skill points.
Why did you decide to move the level cap up from 20 in Guild Wars, to 80 in Guild Wars 2?
We found a lot of people really like to level up while playing an MMO. Having 20 levels gave them fewer moments of this, so we increased the level cap while keeping our same philosophies from Guild Wars; a flat experience curve so the time to level doesn’t increase as you level.
For those of us who are still die-hard Guild Wars fans, how long can we expect to still be able to play that title?
As long as there are people out there who want to play Guild Wars there will be a place for them to play it.
We've heard that there have been some changes to PvE, with the typical overarching story approach being abandoned for smaller story arcs that are customized for the player. Can you tell us more about how this will work?
To be clear, the player’s personal story runs throughout the game from level 1-80, and includes an overarching story that tells the primary plot of Guild Wars 2. The personal story is generally told via smaller story arcs, but there is still a larger overarching plot. The smaller, more personal stories are meant to embed the player character in the world and give them a greater connection to the larger overarching story that comes later in the game, when the player has gained power, prestige, and met the characters that will help them along their way. We’ve chosen to focus the personal story on the player, and the choices they make, to give players more ownership over their characters, and more agency in how they progress.
As far as how it all works, during character creation the player will be asked a series of questions, and the answers they choose will shift and change what stories they encounter. For example, when you create a new asura character, you’ll be asked what your character’s first invention was. The invention you choose will appear in the game, and will directly impact the characters you meet and how you interact with them in the early parts of the game. As you progress through this plot line, you’ve be given further choices that will continue to evolve your character as they progress through the game.
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