I’ve had my fair share of experiences playing different types of MMOs. I traveled from one to the other, both big name developers to others that few have ever heard of. I went on this quest for years, trying to find an experience that was different, epic and actually good. When I first downloaded and played the original Guild Wars, it was like Arena Net had kidnapped me while I was sleeping, hooked me up to a machine and read my thoughts on what I wanted. It was awesome. Now, Guild Wars wasn’t perfect, but it was the closest thing I could find to what I was looking for. ArenaNet has done it yet again with Guild Wars 2, and this time they seem to be getting what I want perfectly. How did they accomplish this? Well first by breaking the mold that most MMOs follow, but what I really want to talk about is that they listen to players. They look at how people play games, why people hate playing their games and what people are expecting.
Guild Wars 2 has some big differences from the original. The first is the raising of the level cap. This is something players really wanted. With the original only having a level cap of 20, it was easy to get to the max level. I did like this idea, as the game focuses on the skills you used rather than what level you were, but the feeling of your character actually becoming stronger didn’t last very long.
Besides actually raising the level cap, Arena Net also changed the way you level up. In other MMOs, players would either have to grind on creatures or do a ton of meaningless quests. No one in their right mind enjoys leveling using either of these tactics. Time and time again I hear people complain about this, and so has ArenaNet. To remedy this, they made it harder to level up, but it doesn’t take longer. Instead they kept the leveling curve for each level the same. So no more playing for two days and still not leveling up, we’ll have constant character progression.
Another thing that I have talked about in the past is having your character just look cool and unique. I still don’t think I can put enough emphasis on how important this is. It keeps us connected to our character. It doesn’t make sense for an Orc to wear the exact same armor as a Human, or as in other games, the same class looks exactly the same, no matter what armor you have equipped. ArenaNet has answered the cries of MMO players as we can now choose our armor types, from an entire catalog of colors, and customizations with our character’s physical appearances that give us what we want. This is a nice breath of fresh air, as now our characters can now represent us in the game, which is the way it should be.
Another thing that really bugs me that happens a lot in MMOs is that your characters build isn’t very unique. You may have a slight variation of someone’s build, but talent trees offer a very linear way of playing your character. You either play this tree, or that tree. The strategy isn’t there at all. The first Guild Wars games fixed this slightly by giving us access to hundreds of different skills, even letting us mix professions for unique combos. To me though, Guild Wars 2 is throwing it all out the window by getting rid of the holy trinity model, and throwing in action elements. Rather than just running up to an enemy and standing still while activating your skills, you’re moving constantly, and changing your play style in the middle of combat. This doesn’t allow copied builds to grab hold of the game and force us to play a certain way. Now we have choices in combat. Everyone is playing all roles and we all move, attack, support and heal in our own way, not necessarily by the skills we are forced to use. ArenaNet has thankfully broken the shackles, freeing us and our characters.
Guild Wars was the first game to really make guilds important in my opinion. They did this just by giving us the Guild Hall. I have seen this in only a few other games, even though all MMOs have guilds or clans. For the second game, they are keeping guild unity important by bring back the guild hall realizing it was very successful in the original games and the players demanded it. Though we’ll have to wait until after launch for this I believe.
I know ArenaNet isn’t the only company out there listening to what players want, and making changes to how games are made, but I think they are the best at doing so. I don’t want to sound like a fanboy for this game (too late?), but as a player and a person who works on games, I’m very happy about that. The result of their labors shows that they are truly looking to us, the players, and giving us what we want: a good game with no BS.
Have your cries as an MMO player been heard? Do you think ArenaNet is listening to you and trying to make a game to shake up the genre? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below, we love to hear them.