No MMO can steal the limelight from Guild Wars 2, but this title came mighty close at last year’s gamescom. Sporting a unique visual style and a surprising flair for comedy, Carbine Studios debut stuck with us as we just wanted to see more of it! So many aspects just left us with more questions, like the quest momentum system which offers up more questing content without visiting a vendor, streamlining the commuting pain which plagues so many MMORPGs, and the pathing system which fundamentally shifts how players play the game.
Take the social-centric Settler, for instance. His/her ability revolves around buffing others and erecting persistent buildings in the world, such as medic-bot spewing hospitals. Now imagine you’re just a regular adventurer seconds from death when suddenly an automated bot comes along and heals you, enabling you to take out the boss that you’ve been searching for during the past hour. That element of random player involvement and empowerment is exactly what more MMOs should offer, and if Wildstar can deliver those kind of scenarios it would certainly win a gold star from us. Now whether it arrives this year with NCsoft so heavily promoting Guild Wars 2 is a different matter entirely, but we should at least learn more about it.
1. Guild Wars 2
Come on, did you really expect anything but Guild Wars 2 to top this list? ArenaNet’s sequel to their genre-defining debut is making all the right noise regarding ‘changing the MMO space’ and bringing inter-player camaraderie back to online-only experiences, but in truth that’s only part of the reason why this particular sci-fi/fantasy hybrid tops the list. The main one is that we’ve played GW2 already. We’ve sampled several hours of it both as a low-level Ranger and a high-level Engineer, and it already plays beautifully.
That faithful afternoon last year when we travelled to Berlin to just get a taster of how the sequel was shaping up provided some of the most enjoyable group questing we’d ever experienced, partly because the instance we sampled referenced the Prophecies campaign so clearly – Prince Rurik anyone? – and also because the lack of a dedicated healing class actually made the battles fought much more enjoyable.
We weren’t relying on somebody to solely buff our health, instead we could be a little more self-reliant and do our own thing. Even when our inexperience got the better of us, we weren’t out of the game entirely, as we entered a downed state where we could be instantly rezzed by our fellow adventurers but also help them out with some desperation-charged skills.
Match these intelligently designed combat systems with the refreshed continent of Tyria, which is just overflowing with deep fulfilling fiction involving races banding together to conquer the Elder Dragon threat, and you have what’s sure to be a fantastic and illuminating experience – it’s a universe crafted by ArenaNet after all.
And perhaps best of all there won’t be any kind of subscription fee. Instead, players will just purchase the game for a one-time fee and from there they’re free to make their impact on the world. Micro-transactions will factor in somehow, but judging from how the revenue model has impacted the original Guild Wars post launch, there should still be hundreds of hours worth of content to enjoy. Guild Wars 2 still doesn’t have a final release date, but the smart money says it’ll appear during 2012 – as long as testing proceeds smoothly.
To see this feature in all its glory, including the other entries, check out the latest issue of MMOZine.
Company of Heroes 2, Batman: Arkham Origins, Grand Theft Auto V, Watch_Dogs, Beyond: Two Souls and Night of the Rabbit previews.Download Now!