This is a pretty hot-topic that’s been coming out again and again over the past few months and got a little buzz recently due to some confusion over a “no stand-alone compaign” comment.
We’ve known ANet plans on adding expansions in one form or another for Guild Wars 2. Those sorts of things come naturally with most in this genre of gaming. But with their plans on bending MMO conventions, it’s fun to think about what exactly would an expansion entail. What sort of shiny, new gifts under the tree can we expect, or dare we desire, for future content? And how, exactly, should they be released?
Ignoring the stand-alone component, traditionally new expansions come with new explorable areas and quests, a new class or two, a brand new story, a few tweaks and upgrades to the world, graphics and mechanics, and something novel to the game.
When Factions came out, we were given scores of new skills, alliances, alliance battles, co-op PvPvE missions, as well as the assassin and ritualist. In an attempt to curb players being ran through the game which was common in Prophecies, Anet also changed the open-world explorable aspect and started a trend of locking areas until you had naturally progressed, a system which garnered a considerable amount of heat from many players.
Nightfall’s release brought with it the hero system, the ability to flag and control your h/h team, the short lived hero battles, a new god, and the dervish and paragon professions. With the Sunspear command post, we got our first real feel for an area directly effected by our progress; perhaps a precursor to our instanced home in GW2. It was also the first time the game required title ranks on top of progression to be able to move through the game.
Lastly, we got Eye of the North, the first and only true expansion to the game requiring a previous campaign. The expansion offered new heroes, skills, the hall of monuments to display our achievements, and high level dungeons.
The live team is also still hard at work getting content updates like War in Kryta on top of major overhauls to keep players engaged during the progress of the sequel.
Now with Guild Wars 2 being a new, persistent animal, there’s been a lot of talk and back-and-forth about what expansions for the game would include.
Full Expansions vs Content Patch:
Traditionally there are two ways that MMO content is released; expansions and content patches. The former are usually full-blown releases in their own right, available for purchase from game stores and come with all the bells and whistles you expect from a game release. Expansions carry the big guns. All the software updates and major new content usually comes with them. Generally it’s a brand new story. But the often ignored lesser release comes in the form of content patches, something Warcraft has done for a while now. Patches normally are much smaller in scale; you may get big balancing changes, one new major content (like a dungeon), and some advancement to a story. For example, RIFT does this: they recently released a new boss, for instance, and invited all the players to participate. Eve is another game that does wide-scale events; sometimes they are temporary, others they become a permanent part of the world. I feel GW2 lends itself to be the perfect setting for world events. They are hard to program, of course, and tough to execute when you’re placing a time limit so they would have to be sporadic at best. But with the nature of dynamic questing and scaling, such things would be amazing to see in Tyria. The civil war with the charr, political opposition in Kryta, the curious nature of the sylvari; all offer perfect settings for event-triggered grown and changes.
Cantha and Elona, Revisted
It’s already been confirmed that we would be seeing these areas again. They are probably are biggest candidates for full-blown expansions, and I think it would be nice to see an echo of Guild Wars’ current system of Tyria > Cantha > Elona (why not, after all?).
Cantha has cut itself off from the rest of the world after being unified under Emperor Usoku. We don’t know much other than the Luxons and Kurzicks being defeated and forced to be absorbed, as well as the purging of opposition to the mainland Canthan government. There’s been a lot of arguing over whether or not the unification and subsequent isolation was a good or bad thing; there’s no indication that the people there are suppressed and miserable outside of the feuding southern tribes.
Elona, on the other hand, we know is in a dire state. After barely recovering from the Nightfall, Palawa Joko, the undead king of the desolation, has pretty much taken over. He’s ruled over most of Elona since, having decimated the Sunspears and converted many to his bidding, either alive or dead. Although, cut off after the dragons’ awakening, the Order of Whispers has somehow remained in contact with the people there. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring and finding out what I can.
I think it may make more sense to re-visit Elona before Cantha this time around; the former is technically attached to Tyria and we have contact with them, albeit limited.
After that, there’s still plenty to explore; Tyria is a huge world and there is undoubtedly plenty more to discover.
This has popped up after the big reveal of the Kodan a little while back, and the new playable races vs professions debate has been ongoing since long before. Tyria is a world rich in story and has tons of possibilities for new playable races. The Kodan, for one, being an obvious contender. I also imagine the Tengu (if we get that above mentioned Canthan expansion). We’ve had a long history with them, and after being exiled from Cantha, I’d love to see what’s happened to these guys. The centaur would also be an interesting choice, although somewhat unlikely given the state of affairs between them and humans. The last possible playable race would be the dwarves. Although from a lore-perspective this is also unlikely due to their being a dying race, it could be interesting (choosing between flesh and stone! How epic would that be?).
The issue of new professions is one of balance; with every addition comes the process of figuring out where they fit in the game and how they will play out and synergy with the rest. New professions are always exciting, though, and Anet has done a pretty good job of introducing them to Guild Wars. If this continues in Guild Wars 2 (and I’m on the side of hoping for new profs!) I can imagine they’ll continue to follow this trend.
As far as WHAT exactly would be making a comeback or come out brand spanking new? Really hard to say. We’ve got a lot of new mechanics and weapons (guns being introduced, for instance) that could lend themselves for some exciting new professions.
I for one would love to see the legacy of the Ritualist and Dervish come back, in some shape or form. I imagine the former might be rehashed into a shaman-type profession but the concept of summoning spirits is unique, and I could see an updated mechanic being pretty awesome. The dervish may fall a little short, especially with the state of the gods on Tyria putting a damper on their main mechanic (in the avatars) for Guild Wars one. The use of scythes, however, and the AoE melee is something that I would love to see come back.
I suppose this is the part where I ask you guys what you think!
To the readers: What sort of content would you like to see in expansions? Would you rather see brand new things or revisit some lost older areas? Do you think new professions would be a good or bad idea? Any other race ideas? Etc.