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Guild Wars 2: The Evolution of Death in Tyria

Posted Fri, Jul 09, 2010 by Sardu

Part One - Death's Eminent Rebirth

There are a number of gameplay conventions that have been around since the dawn of MMOGs that many gamers have been eager to see vaporized and vanquished in the swirling ether of history rather than perpetuated in each upcoming title that dots the development horizon. Thankfully we've finally come to that crossroads where design paradigms are altogether shifting focus rather than simply adding incremental iterations on perhaps one or two minor aspects of gameplay and calling it a day.

The Voice in the Void

Dhuum was the former god of death and king of the Underworld prior to his defeat and imprisonment in the Hall of Judgment. Kept dormant by Grenth’s seven faithful Reapers, should Dhuum ever break free it would be bad news for all of Tyria.

On the one hand, he doesn’t tolerate the undead which would mean he’d no doubt see to it that Zhaitan’s army forged from the undead inhabitants of the ruined city of Orr was stopped dead in its tracks.

Then again, Dhuum also does not tolerate resurrection, which would make for one harsh death penalty indeed: permadeath. So let’s hope that even with the elder dragons ripping Tyria a new one in Guild Wars 2, Dhuum remains sealed within the Hall of Judgment, shall we?

While the original Guild Wars isn't without its flaws, that series has proven to the larger gaming world that developers ArenaNet aren't afraid to shake things up by challenging conventional MMO gameplay philosophies on a much grander scale. To paint the series in broad strokes, one could go so far as to say that the original Prophecies campaign and its successors have each attempted to push the limits of what is possible in online gaming without ever losing sight of the larger goal. In other words, when all is said and done, it's all about creating memorable social entertainment experiences. You know, that nutty thing commonly referred to as “fun” that many bizarrely punishing gameplay mechanics such as death penalties tend to lose sight of.

Given the rich history of the original series and the caliber of the skilled individuals that make up the development team for upcoming Guild Wars 2, it's easy to see how with each new gameplay reveal the hype factor exponentially expands. You see, one reason why so few titles have failed to claim a seat on the World of Warcraft success train over the past five years isn't so much due to lack of effort, but more so vision in that far too many games have been built using the exact same core gameplay philosophies in hopes of garnering the same explosive reaction amongst fans.

However, ArenaNet fully understands that for the genre to ever move forward, that same core needs to be melted down, reforged and hammered out into an immaculate shape unlike anything that's come before it. Sure, Guild Wars 2 will still contain many gameplay elements that have helped weave the industry as we know it today, but the most exciting bits are those that intend to break new ground and ultimately create one of the coolest MMOG tapestries in the great guild hall of online entertainment.

One such aspect of gameplay that’s been put under the microscope is the concept of death in Guild Wars 2, which is one of the major gameplay elements recently revealed on the official Guild Wars 2 site titled A New Way of Looking at Healing and Death. But before we get into the nuts and bolts of how the death mechanic will function in Tyria tomorrow, let’s first take a look at its role in Tyria as we know it today.


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