Exhibit 2, part 1 – Onwards and Upwards

Posted: October 9, 2011 in The Evidence at Hand

It occurred to me shortly after my last post that I may have gotten a step ahead of myself in this series. With only one post completed so far, I think that’s a pretty neat trick.

Before continuing the series further, I believe it’s important to lay down some groundwork and explain just how Guild Wars 2 differs from Guild Wars and also address what ArenaNet are doing to set Guild Wars 2 apart from the rest of the genre. There’s a bit to explain, so I’ll break it into two posts.

I’ll start at the beginning (generally accepted as a very good place to start) by highlighting the major differences between Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. These points won’t be entirely exclusive to the subject of post one either, as some features that differ between Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 will also differ between the latter and other MMO’s.

All By Myself… If you want to get pedantic about it, Guild Wars isn’t an MMORPG, it’s a CORPG (Competitive/Cooperative Online Role Playing Game). The only persistent parts of the world where you will mingle with other players are cities, towns and outposts. Aside from those places the entire world is instanced. Every time you step through a portal with your party (which can consist of you and 3-7 AI controlled heroes and/or other actual real people) you get your very own copy of the map to play on. While Guild Wars 2 will have some minor instancing the vast majority of the game will be a persistent open world environment. The instancing in Guild Wars 2 is limited to your personal story (you can bring friends with you) and dungeons (maximum party size of five).

We Don’t Need Another Hero First introduced in the Nightfall expansion of Guild Wars, heroes are NPC’s that you can add to your party in place of a human player. Heroes differ from henchmen in that you can customise their skills, attributes and equipment. Micromanagement extends to controlling the usage of their skills, their default behaviour and their location. Henchmen are also NPC’s used to pad out party numbers but their skills, attributes, equipment, behaviour and location are completely AI controlled. Given the aptness of henchmen and other players for getting one killed at inconvenient moments, heroes became very popular and Guild Wars turned into a largely solo-able game.

For a time early in development, Guild Wars 2 was going to include companions, AI controlled NPC’s with similar customisation options to heroes. As development of the game continued companions were deemed to be unnecessary and counter-productive to the open world experience and they were removed from the game.

It’s Classified Guild Wars doesn’t have any form of auction house or marketplace. If you want to trade with other players you need to go and stand in a trade-oriented city (the major one being Spamadan Kamadan) and spam the Trade chat channel with your wares. As there is also no mail system the only way to complete a trade with another player is to meet up with them and open a manual trade window.

Guild Wars 2 will feature a fully functioning marketplace with the ability to not only list items for sale but to also post ‘wanted’ notices, seeking a particular item or items at a certain price. All transactions will be taken care of automatically once entered into, with the purchased goods being sent to the buyer and the proceeds being sent to the seller. To keep a healthy game-wide economy the marketplace will not exist on a per server basis but will be global, spanning the entire game. Pricing trends will also be displayed for items.

ArenaNet have also decided to take the marketplace one step further – right out of the game in fact. A web-based interface and also a smart phone application will allow browsing of the marketplace as well as bidding on items, and cancelling your own auctions and offers.

Clean and Green Guild Wars has an energy mechanic, whereby activating skills costs energy and if you don’t have enough energy you need to wait until it regenerates. Professions vary as to their starting amount and also the amount they can reach (warriors have a much lower energy pool than elementalists for example). Guild Wars 2 had an energy mechanic for a while, including energy potions as an additional resource (Guild Wars didn’t have potions, if you ran out it was tough noogies). This feature has since been removed in favour of a dodge mechanic (to be further explained in part 2). No energy means no energy potions, which effectively removes a gold sink from the game. A replacement system is in the works but no announcement has been made by ArenaNet at this time.

Not the Face! Guild Wars was primarily designed as a PvP game and the addition of several PvE expansions over time, adding professions and skills to the game (resulting in a total of over 1300 skills), plus the ability of players to choose a secondary profession for their character caused massive balancing issues between PvE and PvP. ArenaNet have attempted to address this by designating some skills as PvE only and by splitting other skills into PvE and PvP versions. The massive skill bloat (of which only a fraction are viable for use in good builds) and a large number of PvP formats caused accessibility issues to PvP with quite a steep and unforgiving learning curve for newer players. All PvP in Guild Wars is instanced and varies from 4v4 up to 18v18.

Guild Wars 2 has two primary PvP modes – Structured PvP and World PvP. Both Structured PvP and World PvP will include destructible environments, allowing new paths to be opened up through the maps, or existing ones to be closed off. Structured PvP also breaks down further into two flavours, Tournament and Hot Join. Both types of Structured PvP see players boosted to level 80 (maximum level), granted full access to all the skills for their profession, maximum level armour and maximum level weapons. Tournament play is strictly 5v5 while Hot Join can vary between 1v1 up to 10v10.

World PvP (or WvWvW) will consist of three servers going head to head in two-week long battles against each other. Once the two weeks is up the winning server will receive bonuses (improved drop rates, faster health regen, etc), and servers will be re-paired based on their game-wide rankings to begin another two-week battle. World PvP differs slightly from Structured PvP in that while all players will again be boosted to level 80, your skills, armour and weapons stay as-is. The World PvP map will be a triangular arrangement, with each server having a home map that adjoins a central and initially neutral map.

Players will battle to take, defend and capture various objectives such as mines, villages, fortresses, castles and mercenary camps. World PvP is being designed to ensure accessibility to as many players as possible. Larger groups can assault castles and fortresses, mid-sized groups can protect resource sites such as mines and escort the goods to their castles and small “hit squads” can specialise in harassing enemy players and disrupting their supply chains. World PvP is not balanced numbers-wise and is expected to host hundreds, if not thousands, of players all participating at the same time.

That pretty much sums up the major differences between Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. If I’ve missed anything, misrepresented anything or just plain stuffed something up please let me know and I’ll fix it.

Disclaimer – everything written above is true to the best of my knowledge when it was written. ArenaNet have an iterative design policy in place so features are always open to adjustment, tweaking, reworking and/or scrapping. Please keep this in mind should something turn out to be different or completely missing once Guild Wars 2 launches.

  1. […] you haven’t read it already, first go read part 1. Unraveled talks about MMORPGs in the context of the design decisions made by ArenaNet for their […]

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