Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guild Wars 2's comatose game world



Hey all, today I want to put some thoughts down into writing in regard to Guild Wars 2. Released last year, it was heralded as the MMO of 2012, and as such it was dubbed a "WoW Killer," much like Star Wars The Old Republic and countless others before it.

A year later, and it is evident that though Guild Wars 2 is a great game, it is not a WoW killer. Not even close.

Why is that? Well, from my experience with it, its main fault is the rather comatose game world.


A few of you may be surprised at that description. Indeed, from the exterior, Guild Wars 2's world is lively and full of interesting NPCs that go about their business. Also, there are always other players like you buzzing around, participating in quests and events.

Upon closer inspection however, I have found that there is nothing about Guild Wars 2's world that actively draws you in. The main story is bland, the main characters are unmemorable, the locations are nice but uninteresting lore-wise, and to top it all off your personal storyline quests are as vapid as role playing game quests come.

So I found while playing that, despite offering gameplay that was engrossing and mechanics that breathed fresh air into the MMO world (dynamic events and encouraged player cooperation), I found myself constantly asking, "why am I doing this? Why is this significant?"

With no quest text and only infrequent cut-scenes to guide you along, I found that my immersion within the game was greatly diminished. The lore never drew me in, and I never developed any care for my character, his surroundings, or his goals.

This is despite the fact that Guild Wars 2 has some of the most magnificent environments, cities, and graphics in the MMO genre. There's just something missing, and it is incredibly hard to describe. It is something that World of Warcraft has, something that drew me into that game years ago. Maybe the word I am looking for is "soul?" Perhaps. Guild Wars 2 did indeed seem like a hollow experience despite the polished exterior.

Luckily, Guild Wars 2 is buy to play so I can re-visit it whenever I want to see if it has improved upon its lack of character and interesting lore. Unfortunately, I doubt that this is something that the developers can magically inject into a game after it has already been released, barring a significant paid expansion.

Guild Wars 2's failure is part of the reason why World of Warcraft is still the number one MMO in the world today. While it does so much right, it failed in terms of providing the player with stories and lore that justify spending hours in an online world. WoW did that incredibly well, what with its witty quest text, colorful NPCs, deep lore, explorable environments, and engrossing atmosphere that all meld together to create an experience that pulls you in and keeps you asking for more.

SWTOR came close to replicating that in terms of lore, NPCs, and story, but it fails in giving you a lively atmosphere and vast explorable zones.

It is no surprise that WoW is still king of the MMO world. Though Guild Wars 2 put up a valiant effort, it was missing a few significant ingredients that prevented it from truly taking the world by storm.



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