In the world of MMORPGs, (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), innovation tends to come in the form of small additions to an established core. Ever since the MMO juggernaut, “World of Warcraft” (WoW) first saw the light of day, MMOs have more-or-less evolved around its tried and true formula. Recently, MMOs resemble WoW less as the genre continues to evolve, but elements of the older framework still pop up in most modern titles within the genre. Now we have “Guild Wars 2,” (GW2) developed by ArenaNet, which seeks not simply to break the mold, but to utterly decimate it.
There are more deviations from standard MMORPG conventions in this game than I care to list, but to start with one of the big ones: GW2 has a flat leveling curve. Anyone who has played an RPG, online or single-player, has probably encountered an experience curve in some form.
The player’s character grows as the game progresses, but that growth takes significantly more time as the end of the game draws near. GW2, by contrast, has based its curve in the idea that each level should take about an hour to progress. In effect, its experience curve is really more of a line.
What this means is that the player never needs to spend much time in one place to level up, because leveling never slows to a crawl like in so many other RPGs. In fact, GW2 encourages actively roaming around to level by granting players experience for discovering new places.
Potentially the most controversial decision ArenaNet made in developing GW2 was to abolish the “holy trinity” of MMORPGs: Tank, healer, and DPS (Damage per second).
The trinity has generally been a staple of MMOs when considering character class design simply because it works. This is how things have been done in the genre for a long time, and GW2 throws it completely out the window.
In GW2, any of the eight playable classes can serve any of the three primary roles of damage, control, and support, based on how they’re built. Notice the lack of tank and healer roles; the reason for this is that GW2 didn’t want one class more desirable when forming a party than another. This helps to promote more open party configurations for things like dungeons and structured-PvP (Player vs. Player).
Though GW2 will not please everyone, it is worth trying for any diehard MMORPG junkie because right now, there’s nothing else like it. The excellent game design at work in this game is truly astounding in a genre where fluffy content stuffing has become so common. To some, GW2 will represent a failed attempt to redefine the genre; to others, GW2 will be a breath of fresh air sorely needed in the stale pool of homogeneous MMORPGs.
Note: I will upload a more detailed version in the near future. Check back soon for the full review.