Saturday, September 4, 2010

PAX: "Guild Wars 2"

I have loved the original Guild Wars ever since it was sold to me with a masterful misdirection. The idea implanted in my mind was that the choices of skills going into a round of PvP in Guild Wars was like building a deck for Magic the Gathering. They told me something was going to be like something I liked, building decks. It was unfair really, I had no options at that point. Turning away from the game would have meant lying to my self, while following the game meant accepting what I knew was on some level a lie.

Guild Wars was special though. Not just its monthly fee (which is non-existant), but in the structure. It was a PvP game first, and that was the difference. The game was built around it, the way you made a character, the way items were balanced, the abilities were crafted to it. We couldn't hide this, not when one overpowered team composition could lead to PvE changing when an ability was 'rebalanced'.

It was all in the title. Guilds would fight one another, war even. You knew what the game was about just by picking it up. I played for years, took months off but always came back. I could play a little alone, but the game shined when my friends and I created teams that we hoped could take on all comers. They rarely could, but it is never about the result of a journey now is it? Laughs were had, frustrations were vented, people raged and new ideas were formed by the steam. Then we would try yet again.

So, having a chance to play Guild Wars 2 is something close to touching a warped memory. I know the world, I know the races and classes, yet this was not my Guild Wars. The system for everything seemed different, the game moved fluid in PvE, things were not the same.

The creators let fly facts as I waited to play. The game had dynamic events, connecting players to fight great beast that had no schedule, and could show when you least expect it. Weapons related to your skills, 10 now instead of the 8 I remember being compared to a 60 card magic deck. With the weapons you equip, some of your skills automatically change with, making them so much more important.

This felt like, dare I say it, a PvE focused game. It was a world where people roamed the overmap, and fought large monsters, hoping to defeat it and get cool loot.These were things that 'could' be done in their own ways in Guild Wars, but in the end it was all to benefit that all important war. You leveled so you could fight other guilds, you got money so you could buy gear to fight other guilds. The game was not deep, but it did not feel the need to be.

So I worried, even as I enjoyed my time as a ferocious Charr warrior. I enjoyed the carnal ripping of my enemies, but wondered what I might lose in the PvP sections of the game. There were aspects I liked, the events reminded me of the community merging open quest of WAR. The skills reminded me of my past love, Guild Wars. Yet it was the movement, smooth and intentful, that doomed it.

Yet it has the benefit of the doubt. Unlike The Old Republic, storytelling will not drive this game through boredom. I will stick to it though, let it take me where it wants to go, and at least give it a shot. No monthly fee says it cannot be so bad as to ruin me.

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