I often wonder what life will be like after Guild Wars 2 is released.
Being an equally cold and boring day last week, I decided to load RIFT for the first time in months. It was the first day of their new “Lite” program (letting you play for free until level 20), so I figured, “Why not?” The patch took ten minutes and making a new character took twenty. Smooth as expected.
But when I loaded into the tutorial zone and played through it to the actual game itself, I started to wonder if I will ever truly be able to play a MMORPG like this again after Guild Wars 2.
Now, I’m not saying RIFT is a bad game; by all means, RIFT is a very fun and polished experience, but it’s safe. It’s full of functionality that you would expect, and nothing keeps you guessing. Playing it feels like clockwork because it’s fine-tuned to play like all other MMORPGs: get a quest, complete its very typical (killing or gathering, usually) objectives, gain experience and repeat. It’s nothing innovative, honestly. Now, my question still stands: if Guild Wars 2 is everything and the kitchen sink when it comes to MMORPGs, is fun to play and innovates the genre as we know it, will I really be able to play something stuck in the last decade of online gaming? Will there even be a point to it other than for nostalgia’s sake?
Just looking at what ArenaNet is bringing to the table with Guild Wars 2, those questions go through my mind all the time. I’ve been conditioned like so many to play with and enjoy linear point-A-to-point-B quest lines, huge leveling curves and filler-based endgame that it blows my mind that I will never have to deal with those outdated systems again. I will be given a huge, living world to explore with initially over a thousand random events happening all over it to participate in; I will be given the flexibility to play on my own time and not anyone else’s, and never have to worry about out-leveling my friends or not leveling enough; I will be given an expansive “Personal Story” system that lets me give my character personality from the start and shape how he is through NPC interaction—the list goes on. I think you get it.
I guess I’m equally as excited about what’s to come as I am absolutely terrified. Excited because–well, you know; terrified because I really do want to like the old games I’ve played. I’ll cherish them because of the memories I’ve made in their unique worlds, yes, but will that be it? Will I try to step on their digital soil once again only to find that they’re simply, well, boring? It kind of pains me to think about it, and I don’t really want to admit it, but the answer may most likely be a resounding yes. I mean, how could I enjoy going back to games with boring “Holy Trinity” mechanics, level grinding and stand-still combat? Or, even worse: QUESTING? My future self would probably faint.
Melodrama aside, it’s simply mind-boggling for me to think that one game could completely change how I play and enjoy an entire genre, or how it could raise the bar so high that I no longer enjoy its predecessors. No other game has done that before for me because they simply haven’t innovated in the true sense of innovation. They’ve reworked existing mechanics or added tweaks to them to smooth out their processes, but they haven’t completely abolished them like ArenaNet has with Guild Wars 2.
Now, I understand that I may be setting myself up for future disappointment considering there really is no “perfect game,” but I’m not trying to paint a picture declaring Guild Wars 2 as perfection–what I’m really trying to do is ask the question, “What will Guild Wars 2 do to me?” On the off-chance that it actually disappoints me, what will happen? If it spoils me, will I really be able to play MMORPGs with older mechanics? These are questions that will be answered in the coming months upon beta and release, but I wish I could know now. Hell, I’m probably just kidding myself anyway; even when I played Final Fantasy XI–my favorite and longest played MMORPG–for a little over five years, I still juggled Guild Wars, World of Warcraft and plenty of other games on the side. But those were games still centered around the Holy Trinity and quest grinding (not so much for Final Fantasy XI, though), so that might not even be true in this case at all. In all honesty, I could even argue that I’m so excited for this game not only for its innovation but because Guild Wars was my first real online gaming experience and, through thick and thin, has always been around for me to enjoy.
I suppose my endless speculation gets me into trouble sometimes, but I–like so many–have very high hopes for Guild Wars 2’s success, which sometimes leads to me having fits over what the alarmingly near future holds. I guess I do want the game to have a sense of permanence like Guild Wars and Final Fantasy did in my life many moons ago (even though I MMO-hopped like no one’s business, as I covered before). Perhaps, though, I shouldn’t be so finite when it comes to games–I mean, after all, they’re supposed to be fun, right? And, touching on that topic, why would it matter if Guild Wars 2 really did overshadow its predecessors? Just because something is older or has different mechanics doesn’t mean it can’t be revisited in a different light or with a different mindset. In the end, this really is something only time will tell. I just need to loosen up and realize that, in the end, everything will work out as intended: Guild Wars 2 will launch, other games won’t magically disappear and all will be well. At least I hope.
My musings go too far into rambling territory, I swear.
To the readers: What are your expectations for Guild Wars 2? How do you think the game may affect the way you see other (or older) games, if at all? Do you feel GW2 is going to be as revolutionary to the genre as the hype suggests?
Sykriar is the newest addition to the expanding TalkTyria krewe! We’re pretty stoked to have him on board. Everybody give him a warm welcome! ~Izari