The reason I am writing this is due to a simple fact. I was one of those that could not get past the stigma that Guild Wars made upon me. Even though Guild Wars was truly the first game to offer no monthly subscription fees. It was a game that compared to others that were out at the time of its release left a lot of folks wanting for more. So truly not worth the fact that it was free.
Only one playable race. A UI that made you feel uncomfortable to use. Graphics that were mundane at best. Still there were those that liked it, and there were those that over come the things the game lack due to the mere fact that it was free after the original purchase of the game. Plus the PvP the game offered. I could not get past any of this.
When I was first informed of Guild Wars 2. My mind flashed back on my experience within it's forerunner. Also due to my various other experiences in the MMO industry. I honestly had become jaded and suspicious over any new MMO being promised on the horizon. I had been present in the Anarchy Online debacle. I was there for the DC Universe disaster. I witnessed a solidly progressing game suddenly changed into a joke. My best example for this is Star Wars Galaxies.
Time and again I have been in betas of games that promised to breath life back into online gaming. Only to witness them fall short over and over again. I was in such a Beta towards the end of May, when Guild Wars 2 raised its head.
I received a beta key for Beta Weekend Event #2. When I went into the game I was expecting to once again encounter another EverQuest clone. Note I said EQ clone not a World of Warcraft clone. To me WoW is nothing more then an EQ clone, just a successful one. So I go into the character creation screen and I go through the different professions. I choose a warrior. I usually start with something that can take a hit and then make a caster as an alt later. I setup how he is going to look and then I expect to go right to a screen asking me to name my creation. That is not what I encounter though.
Instead I run into three questions. I look at the screen a second stunned slightly. So then I read the different options and answer. So I click the "next" button again, once again expecting to name my toon. Again three questions stare back at me daring me to answer one of them before continuing. And so I do, and continue onward once again. This time not sure what I would see next.
What do I encounter? More questions. So I answer and continue on through two more groups of questions; before I finally come to a screen asking for the name of my character. There I see a letter. Within it are references to my answer and at the bottom I must sign it. So I sign my characters name, and I am suddenly visually thrown through an introduction cinematic with the character I had made showing up as part of it toward the end. This was a first. I have seen intros before in other games, but never with the character I has just made in it. By now in Guild War I would have ventured out in to the starting zone looking for Skales or Grawls to fight.
Well This Really Is Different
I was starting to get curious now. I enter into the world and as is my practice I automatically go to the key binding screen, and proceeded to set the keys up the way I like. Being left handed using the W; S; A; D has never been comfortable. I use my mouse on the left side of the keyboard. So using the number pad keys for movement options has always been my preferred method. I was not aware that the key binding was a new addition to the game. If it had not been there I may have become unhappy with the game right then.
So then I start to look around for the quest giver. I don't see the usual (!) over a head but I do see a green star. I learned later that the green star is only relevant to your own personal storyline. I talk to the person there and I get my first cut scene. For the first time I actually hear my character talk. Now I have heard this can be found on Star Wars The Old Republic as well, but I refused to go anywhere near that after my SWG experience.
As I moved around the starter map in this game as compared to Guild Wars. I was not alone. It was like other MMOs with people running around. I quickly learned that I didn't have to worry about someone running up and killing what I just happened upon. Instead GW2 encourages people to work together. After talking to the scout which is the person with a telescope over his head. I went around to the Renown Hearts and was happy to see I didn't have to fight others to get the renown I needed for this person asking for it. In fact at one area a Dynamic Event started up and as those there start to fight off some attacking NPCs other people in the area came running in to help. By the time all there have killed all the baddies and razed those that had died (which gave me exp btw). I had gotten my renown for the area and moved on.
To me this really did feel like I had come into a game that I had never encountered before. In Guild Wars I would be running around with a little group of NPCs, but here were real people. Helping other real people. Defeating a common enemy and not worrying about if the other person was going to steal any of my hard earned coin.
The mere fact that I could actually go around a zone with other people around and not worry if they were going to attack what I was attacking. Or if I was suddenly going to find myself dead with another player standing over my dead corpse laughing at me. Well it was just truly relaxing and fun. Really fun. I was actually having fun. I was in shock.
Then the BWE ended. Let me tell you this is the first time in forever if ever I have wished a game would not be turned off. But it was. I then was in the third BWE because when I next got my paycheck after BWE #2. I purchased not one but two copies of the game. One for the wife as well.
In BWE # 3; for the first time I played all five playable races. Compared to only the humans with GW. I found them all interesting. Each for there own reasons. Not always for the race in one instance but for the profession I had chosen for it.
My time in Guild Wars lasted maybe three weeks max. The game was to me one of the worst out there at the time and I felt really uncomfortable playing it.
Now we have Guild Wars 2. To me it is completely contradictory of it precursor. It is something I feel I can play in a way I like to play and not have to worry about trying to be in a huge guild to have to do end game content or have to do PvP. It is a game that if all I want to do is PvE then that is all I have to do. I have read you can even craft all the way to level eighty if you so desire. If I come upon a large Dynamic Event in progress I know I can run in and help and not be yelled at for doing so, but actually welcomed. Because that is what actually took place. I look forward to August 25th. It can't get here fast enough.