I love writing these columns each week. I also love to read the comments that you guys throw up on the site, and one has recently stood out. You see, Guild Wars 2 is Guild Wars TWO, meaning that it’s a sequel. Any article we read, or in my case write, should also really look at it as a second game to a series, and should focus on the improvements it's made over ArenaNet’s first game, not just the genre. It’s time to go ahead and remedy this situation.
The original game was ahead of its time in a few ways when compared to other online games and MMOs. ArenaNet tried to change things up by going against the basic design we saw in other games. The first thing was making the game very easy to use for any player. We've talked a bit on the Guild Wars UI and controls, so in comparison how does the new game stack up?
THE NEW UI
A few changes have been made here and there. The UI has the same info, but locations have been changed slightly. The game also controls the same, plus a few additions to accommodate for the change in game play style. Getting around the options menu is also very easy to do and understand. In fact, it's exactly the same. So far it's coming along nicely. With most things being the same, I'd say ArenaNet is going with: “If it isn't broke, don't fix it.”
THE STORY IMPROVEMENTS
Onto the next comparison! In the original Guild Wars, your character was used in the cutscenes while you completed quests in the main story line. This gave your character a feeling of importance in the massive world you played in. This was seen in some games, but sadly the number was just too few. The only down fall is that everyone said the same lines in all the cut scenes. It wasn't personalized to your character, which destroyed some of the immersion.
Guild Wars 2 takes things to the next level. Your personal story is based on the decisions you make when you create your character. This allows for all your characters to take part in different stories. The same goes for your friends. The number of possible storylines is very impressive, and the length of these stories will you keep you playing for a long time. This gives your character a more unique personality than what we experienced before. They continue to use the cutscenes to tell the story, and they still incorporate your character using these unique personalities you pick. I'd say that the story is where Guild Wars 2 improves the most over the original, next to combat.
Guild Wars was an amazing game when it came to visuals. Even with low poly models it made almost every MMO and online game out there look outdated. The designs of the characters, environments, and weapons, were very detailed and impressive. Every visual element came together and worked in perfect harmony, immersing you in the land of Tyria.
The original game still looks pretty darn good, but of course with the advancements in technology, the average computer has more performance power. The new game is still in beta, but I believe a lot of the visuals are complete, and boy does it look amazing. The overall style that was used in the original game is carried over, but character and environment designs have more detail since the models have more polygons. Immersion is achieved without you even knowing it. Without a doubt this is indeed an improvement from the first game.
The last thing I'd like to compare real quick is the customization of your character's build. Guild Wars took a unique, and awesome, approach with how you made your build. Most games let you pick one class, but in Guild Wars you mixed two professions. This allowed you to combine skills in hundreds, even thousands of ways if you really tried. Cookie cutter builds did exist, but they weren't used that often. It also helped that you could even customize weapons and armor to make your build even stronger.
Guild Wars 2 takes out the idea of mixing professions. By having two different weapon sets available to switch from, it kind of replaces the need for a second profession. Each profession can use a variety of different weapons, and with a ton of utility skills to unlock, you still have just as much strategy. Combined with the ability to switch between weapons, you open up another level of possibilities. They also kept the traits, but made them easier to understand, and increased the impact they have on your character by unlocking passive abilities. Yet another improvement made over the original game.
So there you have it folks, that’s how Guild Wars 2 is shaping up as a sequel so far. Even though Guild Wars 2 is still in beta, it's far enough in development to really get a good feel for what we will be seeing in the final build. ArenaNet has done more than just try to improve the design of an entire genre. The original Guild Wars was just as unique in its own time. They took the spirit of the original, and according to my scooter, they leveled it over 9000 for Guild Wars 2. Which means it’s truly an improvement over the first game.