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Bill Murphy: The War of Guilds and Stars

Column By William Murphy on September 08, 2011

For some reason or another, people seem to be pitting Guild Wars 2 against Star Wars: The Old Republic in an epic battle for the ages.  As if one game must defeat the other and a champion must be crowned before anyone can get on with their lives and enjoy the games.  But, I’m just not getting why one person has to love one or the other and damn the competition in the process.  Why is it that we must pit one game against the next?  They both represent two different types of gaming, and they’re not even really competing against one another considering the divergent revenue models, so why is it “One or the other or none at all”?

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There’s a tendency we have to pick our “one game”, even if that oneness doesn’t last very long and shun all others as if the survival of our game depended on it.  I just don’t get that these days.  In an industry where divergent revenue streams are happening with every new release and the pool of players expands at a steady rate, I’m not sure we need to have the whole “My game must feed on the soul of your game to survive” mentality. 

MMORPGs as a hobby aren’t anything close to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver… though that would be awesome. 

It’s the battle of the fan-boys, when we get down to it.  For some reason or another, those stalwart fans of BioWare and Star Wars have met their match in the frenzied and rabid crowd that worships at the altar of ArenaNet and Guild Wars.  But here’s the thing… they’re going to be completely different games, with completely different goals, and there’s absolutely no reason for anyone not to play them both short of personal taste.

The Case for Guild Wars 2

ArenaNet’s first opus was a genre-redefining CORPG that took the MMO world by storm.  Sure it wasn’t a true MMO, but it shared enough in common with the genre that millions of its players bought in and loved every second of the series that spanned several titles.  Heck, I’d be willing to bet there are hundreds of thousands of Guild Wars players that haven’t really touched another MMO besides GW.  The sequel has the potential to bring those players even further into the love of the MMORPG genre, because Guild Wars 2 is actually an MMORPG this time.  And it’s free (after that first $50 anyway).

With absolutely gorgeous artwork, unique classes and combat, distinct races with their own starting areas and capital cities, thousands of dynamic events that involve more than just Kill ‘X’ Rats... where do I stop?  It’s doing a lot of new and unique things, and more than most Star Wars fans would care to admit. And while I’m not about to say it’ll actually meet that level of anticipation its carrying, there’s every reason to believe that Guild Wars 2 will be great addition to the stable of games available to us all.

The Case for Star Wars: The Old Republic

It’s BioWare people. Regardless of anything else, this game is going to have one of the greatest stories ever told in an MMORPG. It’s Star Wars too, something the folks at BW know a little bit about.  It’s taking that tried and true universe, with its millions of fans, and injecting them directly into the canon of their favorite mythology.  This isn’t the prequels all over again.  The Old Republic is actually going to be good.  We’ve played it several times now, and each time the game gets shinier and shinier with the polish being applied. 

Touting the most in-depth and interactive story in MMO history, sixteen total classes (counting advanced), oodles of races to choose from, world PvP, dungeons galore, crafting, space combat, personal companions who enrich the story and fight alongside you… there’s a lot to this game.  More than most Guild Wars fans would care to admit. And while I’m not about to say it’ll actually meet that level of anticipation its carrying, there’s every reason to believe that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be great addition to the stable of games available to us all.

Why do Guild Wars’ fans pit it against Star Wars: The Old Republic?  Why do Star Wars fans raise their pitchforks at Guild Wars 2? Those are both good questions.  I expect it’s because everyone knows these two games will be releasing within six months of each other (or at least we hope they will), and both have been immensely popular even years before their projected launch windows.  It’s a lot like sports, really: when your team (never the Browns) is riding high in the AFC, you have to knock that team from the NFC that’s got the same record because there’s a good chance you’ll meet in the Super Bowl.  The problem is… there’s no freakin’ Super Bowl in MMORPGs.  These two games can exist just fine alongside each other. 

But now… let’s talk about The Secret World.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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