Guild Wars 2 is finally here, but does it fall short or fly to new heights?
For years now, World of Warcraft has run rampant on the MMORPG scene, dominating every other game of its genre with over 12 million users at its peak. Numbers have slowly declined to 9.1 million users, as of August 2012, and its graphics and gameplay are starting to seem very outdated with other MMORPG's on the scene like Tera, that have some stunning visuals and skill-based combat systems.
The Traditional Questing System
MMO's quests have been plagued for a while. Boring fetch quests and constant back-tracking leaves the games feeling stale and repetitive. Almost all quests boil down to speaking to an NPC to collect one of the 5 Ds (Destroy, Deliver, Discover, Drop, or Defend). An NPC will typically give you a shopping list and ask you to collect a certain amount of an item or kill a certain amount of enemies and once you complete that task you have to walk back to the NPC to collect your reward. This type of questing is dated, repetitive, and frankly... boring.
Enter Guild Wars 2
GW2 has launched and promises a revolutionary questing system, but does it deliver?
In Guild Wars 2 quests appear as hearts on your map. Once you get to the heart you get assigned a number of tasks, of which you get to choose which ones you do to fill the progress bar and complete the quest. Gone are the days of talking to an NPC, collecting 5 bear furs and tirelessly back-tracking to the NPC to collect your reward. Thank god! However, these heart quests are essentially better designed and better covered quests of the '5D' variety, hiding behind a progress bar instead of a number on a list and giving you the choice of multiple categories of traditional quests instead of nailing you to one specific one.
But fear not. The heart quests were designed merely to get you moving around the map to discover even more interesting dynamic quests. These dynamic quests offer much more variety and can often have multiple parts. Other players tend to quickly flock to them to help out and share in the XP, karma, and gold you receive for completing them. Not to mention the excellent voice acting far surpasses old ugly text boxes seen in other MMO's like WoW.
While Guild Wars 2's 'heart quests' may not be the revolution we were all hoping to see, they are by far in a way the best evolution the genre has seen in many years, eliminating annoying back-tracking and boring fetch quests. On the top of this evolution are the dynamic events which set it apart from it's competitors, getting complete strangers to cooperate and team up and tackle the job at hand.
So for me at least, although this isn't ground-breaking it's the revitalization the genre so desperately needed and it IS the next step for questing in MMORPG's and sets the bar for developers to try and beat in the future.