As the presentation continued, ArenaNet Global Brand Manager Christopher Lye moved the on-screen demo to a different area of the game, this time featuring a higher level Asura character, to demonstrate some of the higher level content such as the open world dynamic events. The Asura, which are the small and highly magical race, were introduced in the Eye Of The North expansion for the original Guild Wars, however they will be playable in the upcoming sequel. The profession on show was the Guardian, a heavy-armour-wearing spellcaster capable of doing heavy damage to their foes, as well as helping to protect them. It was at the point that Lye pointed out that because the dynamic events happen randomly, each demonstration during the many press sessions had been different each time, so they had no clue which event would occur in the area.
The game loaded up into an area called Sparkfly Fen, a high level coastal area that is always under siege by the undead. The area we were dropped into was under attack by ghost pirates from a ship called the Ash Horizon. As part of a nine event chain, we were shown a small section of the different states the area could be in. With “lots of things to do during the larger scale events,” such as manning catapults to attack the Ash Horizon directly, a progress bar will show players how far through an event is, as well as how well the other players are doing at completing the objectives.
As we watched, the undead pirates storming the beach were destroying equipment such as cannons and slaying the NPCs in the vicinity. This meant that the player had two tasks ahead; repel the invaders, and revive the NPC engineers who would in turn repair the cannons to restore the assault on the pirate ship. At this point Lye commented on how players did not need to group up during these events to help each other to get an even XP split; all they need to do is turn up and participate, creating a sense of drop-in gameplay without too much hassle.
With the combat continuing to get a bit hectic, the demo moved on to show the underwater combat. Lye stated this was very different in Guild Wars 2, with large areas of the map dedicated to underwater combat, as well as having their own dynamic events. What was noticeable at this point was what looked like breathing apparatus on the Asura Guardian, and Lye confirmed this. When underwater all characters will have said gadget to allow extended periods underwater, removing the need for a breath bar. The idea was to remove the threat of drowning, which Lye did not feel was a heroic thing to worry about. It also meant that players had to opportunity to explore as much as they wished.
The biggest change from going underwater is the combat, with Lye saying that ArenaNet did not want land combat and water combat to be the same. For example, on land offensive abilities would have an area of effect but underwater abilities would have what was being called volume of effect, which essentially created a sphere. As can be expected, movement is slower while submerged, but players have access to a harpoon to bring their opponents over to them. The little touches to differentiate land and underwater combat were nice, and hopefully the feel between the two should break up the monotony MMO combat can occasionally fall in to.
When asked about the possibility of underwater arenas for PvP, Lye said that ArenaNet are looking into the possibility, stating that it would create different approaches and tactics in the gameplay, but there would not be any at launch.
Moving the demo on, the little Asura was quickly transported to an area where a dynamic event was about to happen. Players would be able to identify the start of such an event in the area by lightning strikes or an explosion in the distance, and all they would have to do is wander over like a moth to the flame, which is quite an apt metaphor seeing as the dynamic event we were about to witness involved taking on a dragon called Tequatl.
‘cos they breathe fire, get it?... and it’s dangerous…. ‘cos moths like to… what, carry on? FINE.
Lye pointed out that there was no NPC to talk to; all the player needed to do was walk up to the action in the world to become involved, with information on the event displayed on the side of the screen. This particular event was an “Elite Event,” named so because of its advanced difficulty. In short, it is not designed to be done by a single player, with a minimum of 10 really needed to defeat it, but the event was able to scale up to a maximum of 100 participants. With that, the dragon landed on a tower in the distance, crushing the ruins under its claws, before swooping up in the air to glide over and land on the beach. Lye mentioned that while some of these events would happen at various intervals (such as this one), other events could be triggered by players completing certain quest chains.
With the dragon in the edge of the water, we could see an established beachhead with turrets and other equipment ready and available for players to use against the gigantic foe (Lye highlighted they were the best way to take down the dragon.) Much like the smaller event we saw earlier, NPC engineers were running around making sure the equipment was up and running, so it will be up to the players to make sure they stay on their feet to ensure they can continue using the heavy hitting guns. However, just behind the main battle was a huge cannon called the Asuran Megalaser, a huge weapon that is designed not only to deal a huge amount of damage but to also stun Tequatl. Of course, this means that players will need to defend it from enemy attacks.
Luckily at this point the Megalaser was about to fire, and much like something out of an anime the massive beam burst forth from the cannon, striking the dragon and providing a window of opportunity for players to nuke the colossal enemy unhindered. While they did try, we were unable to see the action from inside a turret as other players had already occupied them, which Lye praised as them “being smart” with the encounter. The window of opportunity also allowed players to revive their fallen comrades, as well as NPCs that had been struck down, a reward of XP being given every time a revive is made.
Suddenly Tequatl constructed a bone wall between themselves and the turrets, which not only protected them from cannon fire but separated the melee and ranged attackers. This switched the focus of the event towards destroying these walls as quickly as possible. Sadly, because we were running a little low on time we had to leave the battle at that point to move on to the final part of the demo, with Lye once again reminding us that each demo had been a little different each time. However, there was no time to pout over the unresolved encounter, because we were about to get a first look at the other major aspect of GW2; the PvP.
Lye spoke of how ArenaNet took inspiration from FPS multiplayer when approaching the revamped PvP system, wanting to take the fun and instant nature of FPS games and transfer them into GW2. We were shown on the screen that players no longer needed to form a full group to begin PvP, as they could use a server browser to find a game with open slots and join instantly. The mode we were shown was Conquest, which will be the main game-type in GW2. Similar to domination modes in FPS’s, players must capture control points to boost up their score with the first team to reach 500 points being the winner. Lye was quick to point out that there would be variations on the mode available, but we were looking at the basic form available.
Each team has a player-operated trebuchet at their disposal, which is critical in their fight for victory. Parts of the map are destructible with the trebuchet, allowing players to gain more direct routes to control points on the map and ultimately increasing the pace of the battles. Also highlighted were the uses of movement skills, of which each class would have their own unique abilities available to them. With a good knowledge of the area’s layout, players can use these movement skills to get to various places quickly, providing them with an advantage or the element of surprise.
Lye reassured us that those that wish to make formal teams to enter into tournaments would still be able to do so, with tournaments and ladders available in addition to the new quickplay server PvP options that had just been demonstrated. As with the original Guild Wars, everyone who wishes to participate will be boosted to max level for PvP (their PvE characters will still exist at their lower level) as well as having normalised gear so that matches are on a level playing field and are purely skill based. At this point the press session came to an end.
Overall Guild Wars 2 is shaping up to be as fully featured as ArenaNet claim it will be, and when you consider that there will be no subscriptions, it should end up being an exceptional alternative to the other MMO heavyweights currently on the market. No release date has been announced as of yet, and beta tests have yet to be confirmed as well, but rest assured that we here at Dealspwn will be keeping an eye on this one, and will bring you any further news on ArenaNet’s next project as it emerges.
Be sure to check out our video interview with Lead Designer Eric Flannum!