As we eagerly await the release of Guild Wars 2 next month, our focuses switches to what we can expect from the highly anticipated sequel.
MMGN got the chance to have a chat with Sam Bierne, Game Designer and Isaiah Cartwright, Lead Systems Designer, at ArenaNet to find out how it compares to the original game and why fans will be captivated all over again.
MMGN: Where does the story pick up in relation to the first Guild Wars?
Guild Wars 2 takes place more than 250 years after the events of the original series. While locations will be familiar to players of the previous games, the world has changed dramatically. After thousands of years of slumber, the elder dragons have awakened and their minions are wreaking havoc across the entire continent of Tyria. Orr and the city of Arah, long forgotten areas that sunk beneath the ocean, have risen anew under the control of Zhaitan, the undead dragon. You begin your story as the races inhabiting Tyria are beginning to understand the threat posed by the dragons. From humble beginnings in your race’s home city, you venture out into the world to face that threat. The path you take, however, is up to you.
2 What work has gone into moulding an RPG experience as opposed to one, which is simply massively online?
Player agency, the ability to take action in the world and see consequences, is the key ingredient in any RPG. With regard to the Personal Story, this means putting you in control. We’ve worked hard to give you meaningful choices in everything from how you talk to one of your companions to the decisions you make as the leader of an army. Whether you’re playing alone or with friends, there is plenty of opportunity to role-play in Guild Wars 2.
3. What elements are in place to ensure every player has a unique experience?
When you create a new character in Guild Wars 2, in addition to choosing things like your profession and appearance, you define your character’s biography. These choices determine the character’s background and lead into the first part of your story. You might decide to be a human who grew up on the streets of Divinity’s Reach and never knew his parents. Or, you could be an asuran scientist who invented a butler golem during her studies at the College of Dynamics. There is a wide range of options right from the start that will take you on a unique journey.
During the game, there are opportunities to make decisions that change the direction of your story. Do you help your friend or work to preserve the safety of the many? Do you take the soldier’s route and charge in head first or sneak around the back? Choices like these allow you to take your own path through the world of Guild Wars 2.
4 Furthering that, is the Personal Story really that different?
Where else can you see armoured polar bears walking around a city constructed by pirates out of wrecked ships?
Guild Wars has always strived to be unique among the numerous trite fantasy worlds. We’ve taken that even further with Guild Wars 2. Where else can you see armoured polar bears walking around a city constructed by pirates out of wrecked ships? Or diminutive asura riding magically powered robots while helicopters piloted by the tiger like charr fly overhead? As your play your personal story, you’ll experience a world unlike any you’ve seen before.
5 Are there consequences in place for the player's actions? Do any such consequences take a toll on the emotional state of the character?
Every choice you make has a consequence. Some are small, like changing your character’s personality by choosing to be diplomatic or taking a threatening tone when talking to an NPC. Others have a much greater emotional impact. Tyria is a dangerous place. New allegiances are formed. Friends lost, sacrifices made. Your character will be shaped by your experiences. We hope that you will too.
6. Just how deep is the character customisation?
You can pick between five races, eight professions, many different story lines, and a visual item for your character to start with. Then we allow for many different character options from eye color to how long your asura’s ears are, or how intense your glow is as a sylvari. Most facial features also have sliders to further fine tune and customize your character’s appearance. Combined with an amazing dye system that contains more than 200 dyes, your character can look truly unique right from the beginning.
We understand making a character is an important step and players often spend hours picking through all our options to make the right character so it’s important that we have a large number of exciting options. We also focus not just on the physical attributes of a character but some of your character’s history to help choose what story you will be experiencing in the game.
7. How has combat evolved between Guild Wars 1 and 2?
Guild Wars 2 has a lot more action elements with the ability to dodge at anytime. Projectiles and spells can be used while moving, and can be blocked by interfering with the trajectory – so an ally can stand in front of an oncoming hail of arrows to defend an injured player. This gives all of our combat encounters a more fluid and dynamic feel. We also changed up the way you build your skill bar by limiting the ten slots into weapon choice, heal skills, utility and elite.
8. The combat system is one reason the typical RPG fan is interested. What else have you crafted in the game that a fan of the RPG genre will love about Guild Wars 2?
Guild Wars 2 offers a number of exciting non-combat activities from exploring a vast world filled with hidden treasures to challenging jumping puzzles that will test your platforming skills. For the completionists out there each map in our game is filled with things to discover, waypoints to unlock and beautiful vistas to discover, all resulting in a large number of fun achievements and titles to earn. Mini games, crafting and a deep story where your choices matter all provide additional activities to take part in. Our goal is to make a living breathing world with many activities for many different types of players so there is always something for everyone to do and enjoy.
9. How will the lore be expanded? Is ArenaNet intending to develop the lore concurrently outside the game, through books and online, or will everything be fleshed out within the game and its future expansions?
Lore is very important to us and we have always tried to use as many ways as we can to deliver lore to our fans, in game, books, interviews, articles. We know people who love the lore can’t get enough of it and we have many stories to tell.
Thanks for your time!