Guild Wars 2
|Guild Wars 2
|Engine||Guild Wars engine
Guild Wars 2 is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed by ArenaNet and published by NCsoft. Set in the fantasy world of Tyria, the game follows the re-emergence of Destiny's Edge, a disbanded guild dedicated to fighting the Elder Dragons, a Lovecraftian species that has seized control of Tyria in the time since the original Guild Wars. The game takes place in a persistent world with a story that progresses in instanced environments.
Guild Wars 2 claims to be unique in the genre by featuring a storyline that is responsive to player actions, something which is common in single player role-playing games but rarely seen in multiplayer ones. A dynamic event system replaces traditional questing, utilising the ripple effect to allow players to approach quests in different ways as part of a persistent world. Also of note is the combat system, which aims to be more dynamic than its predecessor by promoting synergy between professions and using the environment as a weapon, as well as reducing the complexity of the Magic-style skill system of the original game. As a sequel to Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 features the same lack of subscription fees that distinguished its predecessor from other commercially developed online games of the time, though a purchase is still required to install the game. As reported by NCsoft and ArenaNet, by September 13 (about 2 weeks after launch), despite temporarily halting first-party sales, the game has sold over 2 million copies. The game's peak concurrency exceeds 400,000 players. As of January 2013, over 3 million copies of the game have been sold.
Guild Wars 2 uses a heavily modified version of the proprietary game engine developed for Guild Wars by ArenaNet. The modifications to the engine include real-time 3D environments, enhanced graphics and animations and the use of the Havok physics system. The developers say the engine now does justice to the game's critically acclaimed concept art, and that concept art will be integrated into the way the story is told to the player.
Guild Wars 2 will allow a player to create a character from a combination of five races and eight professions, the five races being the humans and charr, introduced in Prophecies, the asura and norn, introduced in Eye of the North, and the sylvari, a race exclusive to Guild Wars 2. The professions, three of which do not appear in Guild Wars, are divided into armor classes: "scholars" with light armor, "adventurers" with medium armor, and "soldiers" with heavy armor. There is no dedicated healing class as the developers felt that making it necessary for every party to have a healer was restrictive.
The race and profession of the player will determine the skills they can access. Guild Wars 2, like Guild Wars, uses a skill-based combat system, whereby players must select only 10 skills from a much larger pool, introducing an element of strategy. However, unlike Guild Wars, skill slots have predefined roles: the first five are determined by player's weapon and profession, the sixth is for healing, the seventh through ninth will be skills with no defined roles that are unlocked as the game progresses, and the tenth slot will be for an "elite" skill, which is also initially locked. In a departure from the high number of skills present in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 will focus on quality of skills over quantity and will also reduce the overall number of game modes to reduce balancing complexity — one of the most common issues present in MMORPGs.
The low level cap of Guild Wars (20) has been replaced with one at 80, which the developers state strikes the correct balance between allowing for character development and avoiding forcing players into the grind-based gameplay that too often accompanies a high level cap, the elimination of which was a core design principle of the original Guild Wars. Player versus environment features a scaling system that lowers the players level and stats to reflect the levels of monsters, thereby maintaining a global level of difficulty. In player versus player, entry to e-sport will grant access to all skills, items and provide a fixed level, so that all players will be on a level playing field.
In addition to the small-scale, tactical combat described above, the game features "World versus World", large scale combat taking place in a persistent world independent of the main world. Players are able to drop in and out "on the fly" and possess the ability to construct siege weapons, with rewards commensurate with their success. Guild Wars 2 offers eight crafting disciplines, allowing the player to practice two at a time, with a fee for switching. While there are basic recipes to follow, the player can experiment with different combinations of ingredients to discover new recipes. As the game is set 250 years after its predecessor, players are unable to carry over their characters. However, the achievements and honors accumulated by all the characters on players' Guild Wars accounts. Each achievement earns points which allow confer certain bonuses in Guild Wars 2. The accounts of both games must be linked in order to acquire these bonuses.
Guild Wars 2 takes place in the high fantasy world of Tyria, 250 years after the players' defeat of the Great Destroyer in the Eye of the North expansion. Five so-called Elder Dragons sleeping beneath the continent have awoken in the time since Guild Wars, causing widespread destruction to Tyria and corrupting its inhabitants. The once dominant humans of Tyria are in decline, supplanted from most of their land by natural disasters and war with the charr, who have finally reclaimed the last vestiges of their ancestral homeland of Ascalon from the humans. To the north, the norn, a proud race of Nordic hunters, have been forced south by the rise of Jormag, the elder dragon of ice. In the west, the technologically advanced asura have been forced to establish permanent homes above-ground after the minions of the first dragon to awaken, Primordus, took control of the Depths of Tyria. Near the forests where the asura make their home are the sylvari, a new race who have appeared in Tyria in the last 25 years, unaffected by the difficulties that plague the other races but with some as yet unexplained connection to the Elder Dragons.
To the south, the continent of Cantha has been cut off by an isolationist and xenophobic political climate, which is reinforced by Zhaitan's undead navy. The continent of Elona, too, has been cut off; the only hint of its continued prosperity being the ongoing battle between the lich Palawa Joko's Mordant Crescent and Kralkatorrik, the crystal dragon in the Crystal Desert, as well as occasional reports from Order of Whispers (a secretive organization) spies. The Battle Isles have been wiped off the map entirely by the tidal wave caused by the re-emergence of the fallen kingdom of Orr, which came with the awakening of Zhaitan.
The advancement of time from Guild Wars is reflected in the changes in culture, including armor and clothing, as well as in the advancement of in-game technology and a unified common language.
The player is tasked with reuniting the members of the disbanded Destiny's Edge, a multi-racial adventuring guild whose members' struggles and eventual reunion serve as a microcosmic metaphor for the larger-scale unification of the playable races, whose combined strength is needed to effectively combat Zhaitan, the undead Elder Dragon.
The decision to start creating Guild Wars 2 began in a design meeting for Guild Wars Utopia, back when the company was releasing campaigns on a sixth-month development cycle. The team realised that they would not be able to do everything they wanted within the constraints of the scope that they had previously defined for campaigns and the limited amount of time available to them, and at the behest of Jeff Strain, found themselves discussing how the continued addition of features and content in stand-alone campaigns was leading to more bloated tutorials and difficulty in balancing the ever-increasing number of skills. Eventually, the discussion evolved into a blueprint for an entirely new game.
Work on Guild Wars 2 began in 2007. It was announced March 27, 2007 to coincide with the announcement of the final Guild Wars expansion, which was designed to act as a bridge, in both gameplay and story terms, to Guild Wars 2. The development team abandoned the early open alpha and beta testing which they had used for the Guild Wars game. ArenaNet considered that player expectations for open beta tests of MMORPG had changed, and the beta was no longer used to test the game but to trial a nearly finished game prior to purchase. Beta tests scheduled for 2008 were cancelled to ensure Guild Wars 2 had maximum impact and appeal to these players.
In August 2009, two years after the game was first announced, ArenaNet decided the game had reached a state where they were happy to show it to the public. A trailer which mixed animated concept art and in-game footage was released at Gamescom, followed by interviews expanding on the lore of the game world and information about the player races.
In November 2009, NCsoft CEO Jaeho Lee stated the game would most likely not release until 2011, but a closed beta would be made available in 2010. The Q4 2009 shareholders notes further supported this when the CEO stated that "the current development target was the end of 2010 but, Guild Wars 2 likely won't be released until 2011." A playable demo of the game was made available at Gamescom (19–22 August 2010), Penny Arcade Expo (3–5 September 2010) and Paris Games Week (27 October-1 November 2010). The game was developed for Microsoft Windows with a "very small team" investigating the possibility of a console version.
ArenaNet conducted small closed alpha and beta tests in 2011. On 23 January 2012 it was announced that Guild Wars 2 will ship this year. In February, select press were invited to participate in beta testing. In March and April, the size of beta tests was increased significantly as the beta was made available to anyone who pre-purchased the game. On June 28, 2012, ArenaNet announced the game would be released on August 28, 2012 and those who prepurchased the game would be able to play on August 25. On September 18, 2012, a Mac OS X client for Guild Wars 2 was released; it is currently in beta testing.
|Computer and Video Games||8.9/10|
|PC Gamer (US)||94%|
Guild Wars 2 was released to universal acclaim. It received a score of 90.02% on GameRankings and 90/100 on Metacritic. PC Gamer editor Chris Thursten gave the game a 94% rating, calling it "an accomplished and rewarding online RPG that does a great deal to reclaim the promise of its genre." IGN's Charles Onyett rated the game a 9/10, commenting that the game is "one of the most exhaustively detailed and rewarding MMOs in existence, one that never unfairly penalizes and fosters an incredible urge to explore through a generous reward system and achingly pretty environment design".
GameSpot's Senior Editor Kevin VanOrd opens his review with "Guild Wars 2 is a paradise for explorers and thrill-seekers alike, and the best online role-playing game in years" and gave the game a 9.0/10. Computer and Video Games Games Editor Andy Kelly gave a verdict of 8.9/10 closing with "An entertaining MMO that combats the dreaded grind with smart design. The lack of a monthly subscription fee only sweetens the deal."
GamesRadar's Hollander Cooper writes in his review, "Everything a massively-multiplayer online RPG should be. It's original, massive in scope, and wonderfully social, removing many of the gates that held back the genre in the past. Being able to play with friends regardless of level or class is a gigantic leap forward, and one that, when mixed in with all of the other innovations in the genre, make Guild Wars 2 one of the best MMOs currently available." and giving it 4.5 stars to 5 and GameSpy reviewer Leif Johnson writes "To Guild Wars 2's credit, its issues do little to detract from the immensely rewarding experience of the whole. It doesn't overthrow the conventions of the MMORPG, but it presents them in fresher and livelier packaging than its competitors."
Time listed Guild Wars 2 as the top video game of 2012. Editor Matt Peckham noted that "Guild Wars 2 is one of those rare games that unexpectedly knocks your life off-kilter, like a meteoroid banging into a satellite", adding on that "Guild Wars 2 [has] the feel of a living world, and the sort of compulsive anywhere-you-go playability other MMOs only dream of."
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