During the Eurogamer Expo, my friend Valyks and I managed to get our hands on quite a bit of NCsoft’s Guild Wars 2. After our PVP excursion, we picked ourselves up and wandered around the stage floor, there was much to take in. At this point I separated from my associate, and decided I was going to get my hands on some of the lesser known titles across the convention. Long queues got longer and I didn't have the patience to try my luck standing for 2 hours to get my hands on Generic Brown and Blood Shooter 5: Murder the Enemies of Freedom part II: This time its personal. But I did manage to get my hands on some cute, and in my mind, run away winners at the convention.
Enter: The Adventures of Tintin.
Tintin is a familiar name to the young European lad, many a comic, cartoon and story have been told about Tintin, a young reporter from the Belgium, and his escapades across the world with his companion the Scottish Terrier known as 'Snowy' and the gruff Captain Archibald Haddock as they travel the world solving riddles and toppling an array of, quite simply, bad people. All in the name of a good story and adventure. Tintin returns to Cinemas soon enough, but the side-game which has been created for the PlaySation 3 is a delightfully fun and professionally developed game which should be able to crack even the most bitter and hardened gamers heart. The Adventures of Tintin is, quite simply, a good game. There's not much else to it.
Returning from the adult section and having gotten his hands on Battlefield 3 and subsequently moping about it not being what he wanted it to be, Velyks decided it would be appropriate for us to queue up for the PVE demo of Guild Wars 2, I found myself nodding in agreement, and we decided to position ourselves in the reasonably long queue and wait for our turn at the 40 minute demo.
Guild Wars 2 certainly wasn't the star of the show at the Eurogamer Expo, but the attention it garnered from Guild Wars faithful was considerable. We waited patiently, and got chatting to fellow players. Velyks reminisced with other players about his and their adventures in the game, and I used my extrovert personality to drag as many people into the conversation as I could in order for us to pass the time. Before long we were all engaged in ample chatter about Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, EVE Online and every other MMORPG under the sun. What can you say? MMO gamers are a social lot; naturally they would be since MMORPGs are social games. You play for the game and you stay for the community. That’s just the way it is, and Guild Wars is clearly no exception.
Eventually our patience paid off and we set foot into the world of Tyria. I immediately made sure to put my headset on securely and jack up the sound as high as I could possibly get it to go. If there's one thing that Guild Wars does, and it does it with incredible elegance is the unrivalled composition of its sound tracks. The legendary Jeremy Soule, responsible for the Elder Scrolls recent iterations sound-scapes as well as the original Guild Wars returns once again to treat our minds to some of the most beautifully composed music that has ever existed in video-game history. In my mind Jeremy easily rivals Nobuo Uematsu (creator of many a Final Fantasy soundtrack) in terms of artistic skill and musical composition. And, as expected - Guild Wars 2 delivered on his usual promise of incredible music which blends seamlessly into the overall feel of the game.
I immediately set about making a human female - yes, I play girls - an Engineer to be exact. Having gotten a handle on the Engineer earlier with the PVP experience, I felt I needed to investigate the class from a PVE perspective. Upon clicking ‘enter game,’ we're transported to a combat scenario, or at least a highly excited world filled with fire and mayhem. But before that, we're treated to the character creation screen, and subsequent personal story creation engine. We chose our history, we chose our heritage and we chose our identity. Initially didn't think much of it, but upon reflection I felt that having a backstory to your character beyond 'I spawned in a forest and killed wolves for the priory's table' would be a good thing. Roleplayers rejoice as you seem to be catered to.
Back to the action, and I was thrown knee-deep into the maw of madness. I alongside other players rushed about, shooting what appeared to be Charr and all sorts of elemental monstrosities. The event culminated with a battle with a pair of overgrown mud-paws who seemed to be holding farm equipment hostage, likely in exchange for mud-gloves for the mud-paws. I'm not sure, there may have been greater depth to the scenario but I couldn't find it. Elementals are usually vicious and nonsensically violent with their intentions regardless of whatever game you find them in. They just hate the living so much.
Enemies slain and farm equipment restored to the satisfactory state of not being used to bury me with, and I find myself waking to great the morning with a nurse telling me of my horrific injuries at the end of the battle. Happy for the help, I feel it only noble of me to help those who also suffer. An act is selfless altruism to be sure. New-found goals in hand, I made myself proper with clothing and weaponry and set out for adventure!
I took a moment to consider that the even I'd been through didn't feel trivial. While I understood that it was a component of progress, a part of getting from point A to point B in gameplay, it was fun, co-operative and insightful. Combat felt urgent, but not rushed. I could hang back when I was taking too much damage, and get into the thick of it at my leisure. The fight was dynamic and changing, and the challenge level actually shifted mid-way through it as many more players suddenly rushed in to join the fight. The enemy was multifaceted, I had a choice about which part to attack and my physical movements in the fight were meaningful.
As my attention returned to my screen I had wandered across a small farm. Not death farm, like the previous farm which came to life to apparently kill both myself, my friend and my anonymous counterparts, but a farm which had clearly run into a degree of ruin. Bandits, nefarious bandits no less - had tortured this man and his family for too long, enough was enough he thought in anger and summoned me, a fine lady of noble descent wielding a monstrous shotgun to help rid him of his troubles. Eager to prove my worth as a citizen and eager to collect delicious experience points I obliged him.
He set me about with a singular task: To re-order his disorganized farmstead. Seems easy enough but I'm not a farm-hand by nature and I'm fairly sure I have allergies. But, begrudgingly I wandered about the drudge work of a donkey. The quest, rather than having a set list of objectives, displayed a progress bar. I was given multiple choices as to how to go about remedying the problems of every day agricultural nightmares. And once I'd done just that, the quest shifted, and new variables were added.
The aforementioned bandits, seemingly enraged by the prospect of someone simply 'not committing evil deeds' decided it was time to raid and destroy the work both I and my trusty side-kick had put into it. Nonsense! I roared, and gunned them all down violently and gleefully with my oversized gun. Once done, the farmer was thankful for the help, and I was thankful for the experience.
I then faffed around. Faffing is one of my favourite pass-times in MMORPGs. I kicked some spiders out of a tree, shot a worm at point-blank range and repeatedly denied myself the urge to undress my character to see what level of detail had gone into... skin... pigmentation... Yeah. That.
But as I was merrily trouncing through the fields my time ran short, and I was ushered away from my noble lady and back into the waking world. Filled with only myself and my disappointment that I am in fact not a pretty girl. Now was the time to reflect.
Ultimately I felt that Guild Wars 2 provided a complete and total experience. Even though I'd only glimpsed the games potential, it's clearly there. A world of complex and dynamic combat but that allows you to step into it with ease, a visual aesthetic that rivals and improves upon the stunning groundwork that its predecessor, Guild Wars laid down, and finally an ever-shifting world where no two things ever appear to be the same, where live-events are a component of the story and game-play rather than a gimmick which eventually becomes annoying.
In short, Guild Wars 2 will likely be a day one buy for me, and I'm sure I'll extract many hours of enjoyment from it.
The Eurogamer convention went on and eventually wound down. The event is small and relatively new to London and Europe, but I can see that it'll likely grow from strength to strength. There was much to see and much to do, and in the end it was exciting, tiring and fun. I hope to be able to visit again next year, and provide you, the MMORPG.com reader with even more tales from the fantasy worlds we occupy, and hope to soon explore.