Updated Mon, Jun 06, 2011 by Sardu
Another standout aspect of the demo for me this time around is that I had a greater sense of taking my character’s destiny into my own hands.
In the presentation of the norn starting area (which you can see in this video), ArenaNet highlighted the option to seek assistance from a local tracker to help you find the rare beasts you needed to defeat before being accepted into the Great Hunt. But it’s important to note that seeking assistance from NPCs here is entirely optional, which holds true as you progress further into the game.
I feel that this is going to be another critical element in the success potential of Guild Wars 2. This means a couple of different things depending on whether you’re a seasoned Guild Wars vet, or plan on taking your first virtual steps on Tyrian soil in the sequel.
For players of the original campaigns, there will be an immediate familiarity to the world and you might not need to have someone tell you where to find key landmarks, so there may be a bigger payoff by simply going out in the world and seeing how everything has changed at your own pace.
If GW2 is your first introduction to the world, however, NPCs are there to help guide you on your journey as little or as much as you deem necessary.
I personally consider this a huge leap forward for the genre because it extends personal choice far beyond the character creation screen which is where the major choices in most titles end, and the magnetized gameplay rails immediately power up to largely control your destiny.
I've talked quite a bit about the overall accessiblity of Guild Wars 2 but don't let that fool you into believing that the game doesn't offer more depth than the industry has seen in a long time. But accessibility should never be undersold, especially considering just how vastly different GW2 is from the same tired old MMOG template we've seen for over a decade. Even given the radical departure from the norm that GW2 represents, the fact that I could sit down for 30 minutes and dive directly into the game without feeling lost or like I needed an NPC to tell me what to do speaks volumes about GW2's potential.
Having played the game at three different industry events now, I continue to be impressed even if there are a few random elements that raised red flags for me as mentioned above. There's also a lot of the game that we haven't seen yet, but if the current and previous demo builds are any indication, Guild Wars 2 is going to mark an entirely new chapter in MMOG history once it's finally unleashed on the masses. And for my gaming dollar, that day can't come soon enough.