We, the Game Craic hive mind, have happily whiled away hours of our lives engrossed in the familiar MMO trappings of World of Warcraft just like the many millions of subscribers currently strutting around Azeroth. Obviously there’s plenty of enjoyment in returning to familiar and comforting surroundings, going through the same routines and completing the same tasks, albeit sometimes with a bit of a twist to keep things interesting.
In that regard World of Warcraft is like a soap opera, with millions of viewers tuning in to follow the lives of familiar characters battling with recognisable problems. Well, if WoW is like Eastenders then Guild Wars 2 is going to more like something from HBO. It’s incredibly ambitious, while other MMOs closely follow the pattern that has made WoW so successful Guild Wars 2 seems to be tinkering with almost every component part. From the way you quest, gain abilities or engage other players in PvP right down to the incredibly impressive new combat system.
Also, it looks fantastic with a bright and colourful style and extraordinary spell effects so extravagant that they are almost detrimental. If you find yourself in a crowded area with a host of players firing of spells performance can suffer. It looks very pretty but you’ll be watching it in slow-mo. Presumably you’ll be able to configure the prettiness of all these effects in the graphic options and it is a beta after all so a few technical hiccups are expected.
After the initial enjoyment of simply looking at Guild Wars 2 you’ll find there’s plenty of good to stuff to actually do. Questing is a much more organic experience than in more traditional MMOs. Rather than turn up at an outpost and collect a handful of quests to complete in the surrounding area you are more likely following one main questline through a zone with some location specific quests popping up along the way. For example, relatively early on you come across a hold stead where all the parents are away hunting and foraging leaving the kids running amok. The poor soul left to keep them in check requests your help in keeping the children entertained and out of trouble. Completing the quest is achieved by fighting off some nasty looking insects that attack kids every so often or by engaging the little brats in a snow ball fight. Running around and collecting snow, throwing it at the scurrying children whilst at the same time dodging their incoming snowballs is just as effective a way to complete the quest as combat but of course any contribution counts.
The variety of quests on offer in the first few zones is really quite refreshing, not once has an NPC requested the slaying of certain number of a certain animal. You may well find yourself collecting fish from traps to feed to bear cubs, taking on a snow leopard form to dig out enemies or answering riddles at shrines. There’s a lot of stuff going on that is not found in the usual MMO grind and that’s not even taking in to account the multitude of public quests where you are working alongside other players in the zone to complete tasks.
Jay and myself sat down to play for a little while on the final night of the beta. We recorded some footage and blurted our thoughts out while doing so. To check out what was happening and hear us discuss Guild Wars 2 a little more, check out the video below:
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with enjoying the familiar trappings of traditional MMOs I have been looking for a game that will shake things up a little bit and approach the notion of massive multiplayer worlds in a new light. Initial impressions are Guild Wars 2 is going to do that.