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GDC Presentation Report

Garrett Fuller Posted:
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At GDC this week we got that chance to preview some material from Guild Wars 2. The presentation focused on the Norn race, personal story elements, and the reveal of the Thief class. Overall, the game continues to impress every time we see it. In this latest update a lot of depth was presented in terms of the player’s story. We watched an early run through of the Norn starting zone which incorporated a lot of story. The Thief had a ton of options that were showed off and we will try to outline all of them. Lastly the action combat remained at the forefront of everything they showed. This is our first look at Guild Wars 2 for 2011, let’s start the run down and see if the expectations continue to be met.

The Norn are the classic barbarian race in Guild Wars 2. Combining Norse and Celtic styles with a very tribal feel the Norn are great for any fans of hearty warriors and shield maidens boasting of deeds over a flagon of ale. The demonstration started with the character creation in which the Norn Guardian made various choices about their personality. These biographical questions helped set the stage for how the character would react and be treated throughout the story. The Norn have four spirits to choose from: Bear, Wolf, Raven, and Snow Leopard. After the player chooses some personality traits and finishes character creation they start the game in the Norn village training to join the Great Hunt.

The events leading up to the great hunt allow players to interact with their environment to hunt down and trap trophies for their entry. The game does not use quest signals as other MMOs, it allows the player more exploration and discovery rather than just clicking on a quest giver. Once the Norn have the trophies to enter the hunt they are asked to slay a giant ice worm in their first dynamic event. As players enter the area anyone can join the fight. It will only add to the experience of characters, no one is impacted by loot drops as karma points are rewarded to by better loot. Therefore players can work together without competing against each other for rewards. Events scale to the number of players and there are over one thousand of them in the game.

The Thief was also shown during the presentation. This new class fights with a variety of weapons and uses an initiative bar to build up combos. Daggers and pistols are the Thief’s main weapons and the class can dish out vicious damage with both. There is a weapon switch key that allows quick changes to weapons and adds to the options in a fight. The class is highly maneuverable and very physically active. Players can dodge and jump in and out of combat to take their attacks of opportunity and release deadly combos. The Thief can also stealth and steal an item from foes to use a special attack on them. One thing players have to be aware of is that with the Thief dodges also take up energy so playing both offense and defense needs to be measured.

In the final part of the demo we were shown a large dynamic event in the form of a pirate invasion. The town was burning and the pirates had taken over. It was up to the players to drive them out and set the town right again. With several players fighting the pirates at once we got to see a great element of combat which is cross profession combos. For example, an Elementalist  put up a wall of fire. This kept some pirates at bay and the Thief was able to shoot through the fire and create burning bullets. This level of teamwork carries on among all the class, but this was the first example we were able to see. It will be interesting to see how these class combos in combat will work not only in major boss fights, but in PvP as well.

We were not able to play the game, just see the demo as the ArenaNet team played through in real time on the server. So everything we saw was live and in game. As we move into a new year of development with Guild Wars 2 the game continues to impress. There are a lot of options for players within the races and classes, the world seems much more alive than other MMOs, and once again we are left wanting to see more.


Garrett Fuller

Garrett Fuller / Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997 and writing about them since 2005. He joined MMORPG.com has a volunteer writer and now handles Industry Relations for the website. He has been gaming since 1979 when his cousin showed him a copy of Dungeons and Dragons. When not spending time with his family, Garrett also Larps and plays Airsoft in his spare time.