Could Guild Wars 2 take the cake?

It’s a very interesting time to be a MMO gamer, because we’re in somewhat of a holding pattern for the industry.  There’s a lot of interesting games on the horizon — and the further out you go, the more games there are — but as for the here and now, it’s “more of the same” with little new to be had.  In addition, it seems as though a lot of people are hunkered down in wait for The Old Republic.  I keep hearing things like, “Me and my guild are playing Game X until TOR comes out”, kind of like living in temporary housing until your colonial is finished.

Barring a major across-the-board miscalculation by all involved, it’s almost a sure lock that TOR will be a significant MMO — the only question is how significant.  Will it be a solid effort but nothing that sets itself apart from the rest of the pack?  Will it get huge numbers, and will they be new players or skimmed from other games?  Will BioWare’s bet that “story matters” be vindicated or be quietly shelved as the rest of the game steps forward to compensate?

We don’t know.  Yet.  But we’re in a holding pattern.

And then, of course, are people in wait for one of the many non-BioWare, non-Star Wars titles coming, and there are hopes, excitement and anticipation for them as well.

But oddly enough, I’m starting to get a really weird, gut feeling about Guild Wars 2, a feeling that’s been growing for some time now ever since they started ramping up the pre-launch information blitz.  My gut is saying that there’s a very, very good chance that this title is going to storm the industry in a way that few are prepared for.  My gut is saying that Guild Wars 2 could take the cake and be the next “BIG” thing, perhaps sharing the mantle with TOR, perhaps even surpassing it.

My gut is backed up by a few observations, of course (plus Lean Pockets).  It’s not just that ArenaNet has a huge built-in playerbase starving for more Guild Wars, or that they’re going to continue with their “pay just for the box and play forever” business model — although those help.  It’s not just the gorgeous artwork or the neat twists on the standard fantasy world — although those help as well.  It’s that from what we’re hearing, GW2 is taking risks and running forward while the rest of the industry is nervously baby-stepping into the future.

People like and respect risk-takers, and tend to root them on.  If the risk is backed by talent and success, you have a perfect storm of a blockbuster.

Tycho from Penny Arcade summed it up perfectly:

“I’ve read and re-read every article that breaks the surface of the refurbished Guild Wars 2 presence. I don’t care if they ever launch the game at this point. It’s already contributed to the health of the genre simply by being a judging, omnipresent force.”

The Guild Wars 2 team is showing a bit of take-no-prisoners attitude toward the standard tropes of the MMO genre, and man, that’s refreshing.  They’re already breaking the trinity (and eliminating the need for a dedicated healer), abolishing the rote quest system for dynamic events, and rethinking how death works in game.  Player housing?  How about an entire player neighborhood that changes depending on your actions?  These aren’t small neat little features, but pretty ballsy moves that will either result in GW2 falling flat on its face or launching into the stratosphere, with very little middle ground.

I’m certainly not retracting my excitement for TOR, but I feel compelled to acknowledge what I think is shaping up to be a serious contender in the field.  What do you think about GW2 so far?  Could it knock one out of the park?

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32 thoughts on “Could Guild Wars 2 take the cake?

  1. I’m more excited about GW2 than I am about Star Wars… I like the fantasy genre better than sci-fi, and so far I’m really liking the look and feel of the game… it’s beautiful!

  2. GW2 has grown on me tremendously. At the start i was very indifferent to it, thinking ‘yet-another-fantasy-mmo’, but after reading the morsels of delight the developers has released i am really really stoked for it.

    I see it like this, TOR is going to be the next big theme park roller coaster mmo, which is fine, nothing wrong with a roller coaster. But GW2 is shaping up to be the game that redefines what we think of mmo’s. Which is a good thing, mmo’s have been in some kind of stasis since, well since everquest. Always just polishing what was there before and never innovating. So i hope GW2 is going to be the swift kick in the ass the mmo genre so desperately needs.

  3. I think I am leaning more towards GW2, but I felt the same way about GW1, and than got into WOW beta, and never played the game.

    It just seems that GW2 is going to be better than TOR. I just hope one comes out way before the other so I don’t choose the wrong one, and get a late start.

  4. I think the big advantage that GW2 will have is that we won’t be able to say “this isn’t worth my $15 a month” etc. So, even if it doesn’t deliver everything perfectly, it will be easy to go back and have a look at it again and again and again. ;)

    Although, of course, I hope that they won’t need that and that they’ll be great from the start (but I did fall for Paul Barnett and all his great talk about what WAR is just to find out that… it wasn’t what I’d expected, so I’m really cynical and it spills over to my expectations for TOR).

    Guild Wars 1 already didn’t have the dedicated tank role and aggro is working differently. It’s the first game where I played a warrior and I loved it and I will play one when GW2 comes out. So I’m optimistic that they can also get rid of a healing class and make it work. It worked with the tank already.

  5. I’m still super excited for TOR, but the more I hear about GW2 the more I’m looking forward to it as well. I’m going to be checking it out for sure.

  6. Personally, I have high hopes for GW2. Especially the pay-once model; if any game has a chance to unseat Blizzard’s juggernaut it’ll be one that you don’t have to keep paying for month after month after month, yet looks amazing on even low-end systems.

    However, the MMO I have to say that’s really caught my eye lately is TERA. Even if it doesn’t really revise the vicious armed robbery and murder most foul questing model, at the very least, it offers more genuine player control than the autoattacknaptime that more or less occupies the entire MMOspace.

  7. “But oddly enough, I’m starting to get a really weird, gut feeling about Guild Wars 2, a feeling that’s been growing for some time now ever since they started ramping up the pre-launch information blitz.”

    I think there’s a lot of people with that feeling right now. Every time they release information on a game mechanic I get the same ‘Damn, that’s a really cool way of doing that’ reaction. Nothing follows convention for the sake of it, everything is designed for the best experience.

    The creativity, confidence, and ambition of the folks at ArenaNet is incredible… but at the same time you are left wondering why nobody took this approach sooner.

  8. I have been trying to *not* keep up with the upcoming titles. But I think it’s about time I start reading up on GW2. I bought GW way back when it first came out to help support a talented bunch of guys with a business model that I approved of. At the very least, I’ll do that again. Of course, it is also sounding more and more like a game that I could play for awhile as well, which is a bonus :)

  9. How many copies did GW sell? And each of its expansions? Seems like I remember seeing 5 million bandied about.

  10. TOR never really caught my interest as much as it could have. Maybe it’s because I’m not as heavily invested in the Star Wars universe.

    GW2 looks more and more promising as time goes on. TERA and Vindictus also look nice. Combat reminds me of Monster Hunter, which is a definite plus.

    Here’s a thought experiment:

    “I’ve read and re-read every article that breaks the surface of the refurbished Duke Nukem Forever presence. I don’t care if they ever launch the game at this point. It’s already contributed to the health of the genre simply by being a judging, omnipresent force.”

    Does that work? :D

  11. 6.5 Million copies sold is the last press release.

    If just HALF of those go to GW2, then yes, we will finally have a game that contends with WoW’s capability to have a ton of subs. Something that no other MMO has been able to do.

    I also am of the “pre-order” group actually…three copies to be precise.

    Cheers

  12. I have to say I agree 100%. They are taking bold steps to further the genre and their talent and vision is unsurpassed as evidenced by selling over 5 million boxes of GW1.

    The more I hear about the games being released in the next year the more I get excited for GW2 and the less I get excited about TOR.

    Changing game play to be dynamic is amazing and having the gall to break the holy trinity is even more so. If I had to put money on any game GW2 would have my bet as the next best thing that will expand the gaming horizon and become the new paradigm for mmos.

  13. GW2 sounds very cool, but there’s essentially only one big change — the move to a more dynamic world in a theme park-style game.

    I’ll be excited to see how it all works out, but keep in mind that dynamic content is rarely the panacea that its proponents imagine.

    Among a host of other pitfalls, dynamic content tempts game developers to abdicate proper design to the RNG, and the end result is snowflake-unique garbage.

    There aren’t many games where I’ve seen dynamic content done right, and there are many where I’ve seen it done wrong. The only really good example I can think of where a developer nailed it is Left 4 Dead.

  14. I’m already a fan of the company because of the business model. I’m a fan of the game design because it dares to be good, not just different. The “game” is theirs to lose, methinketh. If they pull off what they are trying to do, they will be in a class of their own.

    (Which isn’t to say that they are a WoW/SWTOR buster; they aren’t angling for the same audience. Guild Wars is playing in a blue ocean in the MMO space in a lot of ways. That’s to their benefit.)

  15. Didn’t people have gut feelings about Aion though? Remember the hype for that pre-launch too. Weren’t you crazy about Fallen Earth for the same reasons?

    Right now the game is still in its formative stages. It’s all promise, just like TOR was. And when more info becomes known, including gameplay vids and more concrete data, we’ll be able to see. And like how people are becoming more realistic about TOR, they will about GW2.

  16. I started blogging essentially to blog about gw2, so I might be a little biased, but i certainly think it has the potential to do very very well. The next class gets released in the next couple days, the gw2 novel is coming up, gw2 team will be at comicon. can’t wait to see how much attention they actually get.

  17. I believe the GW2 will be the “WoW killer”. Every thing is right for it. No good games in the last few years, people are tired of WoW just like people were tired of EQ when WoW came out.

    I honestly think that TOR is going to suffer from it’s story game play. I think it will limit people to much and make them grow bored quickly.

    There is no way that it can live up to the hype either.

  18. I’m in the odd position of finding myself LESS interested in TOR with every release.

    The first trailer was awesome. This year’s was meh – it just lacked something. And the multiplayer combat video nearly crushed my hopes. I’m thrilled Bioware’s putting story in, but what’s the point of story if it’s the same mindless, AI-exploiting slog getting from one conversation to the next? I’m very much done with holy trinity gameplay. Whatever hopes I had of it coming out differently were utterly destroyed.

    Which leads to my interest in Guild Wars. I’ll probably still give TOR a try, but it’s not the game I’m excited for at the moment.

  19. Guild Wars 2 is doing dev-talk the right way by…

    1) Pinpointing an issue.
    2) Giving relevant examples of why it is a problem by using examples of it, even if it came from their own game.
    3) Painting a gorgeous image of the future without sounding too bombastic.

    Point two is very potent for me. When the guys were talking about the no-healer article and brought up Random Arena, I knew exactly what problem they were concerned with, surprised that they picked it up with such clarity, and immediately became excited about their solution.

    That being said, when the game actually comes out, I doubt that the dynamic events will be as awe-inspiring as they say and that there will be a few missing features from the developer interviews. Moreover, I sense Guild Wars 2 will feel empty for many simply because theme-park, while very linear, has amusements prepared at every stop, verses procedural, which may pewter out here and there.

    However, Arena.net is exceptional at rewarding patience. Even now, GW continues to have exciting skill changes that border paradigm shifts with their skill rebalances, and I can still recall the violent excitement that I shared for each announcement of a new expansion.

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  21. I’m hoping to get hands-on with this at PAX… methinks Gamescom and PAX will be the reason to either get more excited or just go “meh” and leave it be. I’m hoping for the former.

  22. Eliminating dedicated healer is impossible, unless every class has identical healing abilities.
    There are many games witch have tried this one way or another.. the problem is that one of the classes will be found to be Teh Best Healah -class and how fast that class will be pushed in to the “healers-only” corner depends on the community.

  23. @ymrar

    Eliminating healing in any current game would be very difficult. But if you designed the game from the ground up to not have healing it would not be hard at all. Almost all FPS now do not even show health.

    The old time consuming Tank, DPS, Healer groups are going to go away and be replaced with who ever you want to play with.

  24. The MMO community is about as imaginative in their gameplay as a lobster.

    ymrar is right – players will find the closest thing they can to healers, and make them the healers. They NEED healers, just like they need tanks and idiotic AI. The real question is how well you can do without them.

    City of Heroes is a great example of this. My family and I have played two groups to high level. First was a Scrapper/Controller/Kinetics Defender. Second was a Blaster/Tanker/Controller. Notice anything missing in there? Yeah, no healers. And we did quite well. But it didn’t stop a friend who came back from the game going “Oh, you don’t have a healer? Okay, I’ll start an Emp Defender.”

    I think the CoH mechanic is what GW2 is working towards. Will there still be people who refuse to do anything unless the group has a “healer”? Sure. But as long as the game is balances so groups can do well without them, who cares?

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  26. As a long time Guild Wars fan I’ve always been looking forward to Guild Wars 2, but the more information they release the more interested I’m getting. At this point I think it has surpassed TOR for me in the “I believe this will be an excellent game” category. I will still play (and hopefully love) TOR, as I’m desperate for a sci-fi MMO that’s actually good (sorry Anarchy Online) and not solely based out of a shiny spaceship (sorry EVE online).

    However, I think GW2 is going to be the better game — I think it is going to be more innovative, more creative, and offer a more satisfying gameplay experience.

  27. Guild Wars itself was a great model in the beginning. Guild Wars “Prophecies” as they called it was one of the best games I had ever played.

    However, the more content they added via expansions, the worse the game got. I haven’t been impressed at all with any of the character videos. It seems very childish and cartoony.

    Despite its flaws, Guild Wars seemed real. There were some crazy things, but it didn’t have too much graphical fluff or too many ‘special effects.’

    I wonder how many people who are salivating over GW2 really played GW1 back when it first came out… and put in thousands of hours like a lot of us have.

  28. I’m looking forward to GW2, mostly because i was a fan of GW1.

    Don’t get me wrong, i’m still very skeptical about how well this will all be delivered but i think that’s probably the best stance to take. better to be pleasantly surprised than sorely disappointed. still, i (like you) have got that sinking feeling in my stomach; not because i THINK GW2 will be a huge success but because i WANT GW2 to be a huge success. I want to play a brilliant MMORPG in 2011 and to be honest, GW2 is the only thing that looks like it *might* actually be one.

    fingers crossed, i supposed.

  29. The game is already thrilling,and it’s STILL not done yet!

    3 years had passed since the announcement,ah damn i’m so excited.

    Exploring underwater,having pets without a fee,doesn’t take forever to level up,everything changes,interesting story,amazing graphics,big map (could be bigger),and most of all,one ultimate ultra super extreme all-in-one game,Guild Wars 2.

    Guild Wars was nearly as successful as World of Warcraft.

    IGN rated WoW 9.5
    and Guild Wars 9.0

    Could the new features make it a 10.0?

    This could be it,waiting for a good MMO,I’ve been searching for the right one,good graphics,nice story line,tons of players,most of all,no grind.Perfect World,Rappelz,Mabinogi,Cable Online,Silkroad,ah damn so many MMO’s i played they were so horrible.

    Most horrible game i played was Rappelz,i always see clones of myself.Too much grinding.And most of all the CC (Character Custimization) sucks,only white people -.-
    and 2 hair colors (black and brown) and only two shirts (one color black and red) WTF?!?!

    BUT,Guild Wars 2 will be successful,IT WILL,WATCH!

    Haha,seriously,never play Rappelz,play Guild Wars 2,Rappelz makes you bard poop (jk),Guild Wars 2 makes you a holy person (jk).
    But you get the point.

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