Guild Wars and it’s chapters have been a huge success for ArenaNet and NCsoft. With over 3 million current PC gamers diving into the subscription free MMO monthly, ArenaNet has a huge hit on it’s hands. Not one to rest on it’s achievements; ArenaNet announced today their latest projects in the Guild Wars franchise with Guild Wars 2 and Guild Wars: Eye of the North. Eye of the North is the first actual expansion pack for the original Guild Wars, set in the land of Tyria. Eye of the North will be the bridging chapter to the full featured sequal to Guild Wars with Guild Wars 2.
Jeff Strain President of ArenaNet let loose some details on the sequal:
Since the game is essentially starting with a clean slate, Arena Net decided to make some pretty substantive changes to the game.
First, and most importantly though, the game will remain subscription free.
This time around the game will have a persistent world, one still set in Tyria, but now hundreds of years after the events that took place in the original Guild Wars.
“The big new feature is a persistent world,” Strain said. “I think Guild Wars has some very radical departures from typical role-playing. One of those was the instancing model.”
“As each of the original Guild Wars campaigns was released ArenaNet took greater and greater pains to distance itself from everyone else, but using instanced zones. On the other hand, there are things that they missed out on, like the more organic type of community building where you wandering through the area and hook-up with other people.”
“In Guild Wars 2 we wanted to have the best of both worlds. We are retaining the strengths of instanced areas, but we are also integrating a persistent world. We are not making a World of Warcraft clone here, we are not trying to do what other MMOs have done.”
Arena Net’s new spin is sort of an amalgam of both instanced and massive environments, where instanced events can have domino effects on other parts of the world. “The idea is that there will always be something going on in the world,”.
He said that there will be hundreds of these types of events that happen in the world, some daily, some hourly, some will be triggered by specific player actions.
GW2 will feature predominately open worlds, with instancing as a secondary feature in (some areas) literally there will be hundreds of people in the same area, and choices that the population make as a whole change the quest structure around them. At time triggering dynamic quests that alter the world.
“That is what persistence allows us to do. That is the type of content and play experience that we can offer in Guild Wars 2 that we couldn’t offer in Guild Wars.”
Along with a persistent World mixed with some instanced portions, there are plans for four new races and more dual classes. Of course all of this will be wrapped around an entire new engine. Other Radical changes include an overhauled environment and character control system, redefined PvP play and retooled NPC companion system.
Sidekicks are similar to those in the MMO City of Heroes, allowing powers to seep from a high level character to a friendly lower level character near by, thus powering-up friends. NPC like Heros can join you (like a pet), and don’t count towards your party. Not using this feature lets you be more powerful. Every player can bring a single companion on his adventures and won’t take up a slot.
Arena Net, it seems, is trying to tackle many of the biggest drawbacks most current massively multiplayer online games face. Chief among them is level capping. Why, once you top out, should you stick around in a game?
Guild Wars 2 is trying to deal with that issue by using a system with a high level cap once that could be set to 100 or even boundless.
“So there is not a level 20 cap,” Strain said. “Either it will be a high level like 100 or unbounded, we haven’t decided.”
Besides these significant changes to the game, Guild Wars 2 will also introduce plenty of smaller ones, like the ability for your characters to do things like jump, swim, even climb trees.
The combat though, Strain says, will remain purely RPG
“Our belief is that role players aren’t playing a RPG because they want a twitch action,” Strain said, “there is a difference between playing a game like an RPG and playing a game like God of War.”
Guild Wars 2 is expected to hit public beta next year.