ArenaNet have updated their Guild Wars 2 FAQ, mentioning that they will be running closed alpha and beta events later this year. The success of the closed testing events will decide when a public beta will go live, and will be used to nail down a release date for the game.
ArenaNet posted the news on the Guild Wars 2 FAQ “We will be conducting small closed alpha and beta tests in 2011. The feedback from these tests will determine when we will do public beta tests and ship the game. Guild Wars 2 is a very large and ambitious game, and Guild Wars players rightfully have very high expectations. We want players to be absolutely blown away by the game the first time they experience it.”
Posting on the Guild Wars 2 Guru forums, ArenaNet’s Regina Buenaobra said that “the existence of friends and family closed alpha and closed beta this year has changed nothing about the release date. The release date continues to be: when the game is ready.” There’s currently no way to sign up for the Guild Wars 2 beta, in spite of a series of scam sites claiming that there is. We’ll let you know when ArenaNet start offering beta invites.
ArenaNet have recently revealed the Guardian profession, and have been talking about how combat will work in Guild Wars 2. We’ve had some first hand experience with Guild Wars 2’s scraps. Read our preview for a taste of ArenaNet’s refreshing take on MMO combat.
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Arenanet designer Jon Peters has been talking about combat in Guild Wars 2, specifically about how Guild Wars 2 plans to reject the traditional MMO damage dealer, tank and healer roles in favour of something new. He explains that “holy trinity” of combat roles won’t be a part of Guild Wars 2, saying “frankly, we built a combat system that just doesn’t allow it.”
Peters shared his thoughts on Guild Wars 2’s combat on the ArenaNet blog. In the place of typical MMO classes, there are professions. Each will have their own play-style, but won’t fit into a typical DPS, tank or healer role. Each profession will be able to do a little bit of everything. As Peters explains: “Everyone has a dedicated slot on their skill bar where they must place a healing skill. These vary greatly and are an intimate part of the Guild Wars 2 build-making process, but ultimately they are your most efficient and reliable way to sustain yourself in battle. Why did we do this? Because we think it is a more interesting way to create sustained encounters for solo players AND groups while keeping players focused on themselves and their surroundings.”
This extends to reviving players, too. “From level 1, every profession has the ability to revive everyone else. This means that players don’t have to rely on one profession in case someone is defeated both during and after combat.”
There are a few other key differences between Guild Wars 2’s combat system and other MMOs. One is a lack of any allied targeting. Typically you’d expect to be able to target a healing spell or buff by clicking on an ally in the world, his health bar in the group section of the HUD. In Guild Wars 2, all friendly abilities must be aimed. “Everything must be done using positioning, ground targeting or other unconventional methods.”
“Instead of watching red bars, we want you to watch your allies in the world.”
With player positioning playing such an important role in combat, player mobility is even more important. Arrows can be dodged, double tapping on a key will cause your character to roll, and spells can be cast on the move. Peters says Arenanet’s aim is to “create a combat system that is more like a first person shooter where finding real cover, flanking and other more realistic fighting techniques find a lot more use.”
“In a first person shooter there can be a variety of weapons, from sniper rifles to rocket launchers to machine guns and shotguns. No one looks at these weapons and says, “They’re all the same, they all just do DPS.” Why should an MMO be any different?”
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ArenaNet have just revealed the fifth profession in Guild Wars 2, the Guardian. The Guardian is a master warrior who can summon spiritual weapons to devastate his enemies, or employ a variety of virtues to protect his allies. Read on for a summary of the Guardian’s skills, and videos of a few of them in action.
Like all of Guild Wars 2’s professions, the Guardian is multi-talented. He can protect himself and his friends with special wards that can freeze foes in place, and can use his Aegis ability to block incoming attacks. He can also throw down arcane symbols that can be triggered by allies or enemies, healing and protecting brothers in arms and blowing up monsters. He can wield a variety of weapons, too, from staffs to huge double handed hammers and greatswords.
Here’s a summary of the Guardian’s skills and specialties. You’ll find full details over on the Guild Wars 2 site. Below you’ll also find four videos of the Guardian’s abilities.
- Spirit Weapons—The guardian can summon spirit weapons to fight at his side for a limited time. Spirit weapons cannot be attacked by enemies and can be commanded to inflict a powerful attack before disappearing. For example, Hammer of Wisdom can be summoned to fight alongside a guardian, then commanded to knock down an enemy and vanish.
- Symbols—The guardian places symbols on the ground, where they inflict damage to enemies or deliver a benefit to allies. Symbols persist for a few seconds and then go away. For instance, Symbol of Faith is a hammer attack that leaves a transient symbol on the ground, giving allies the Vigor boon.
- Wards—A ward is a marked area on the ground that stops enemies from passing through while allowing allies to move freely. For example, a staff-wielding guardian can create a Line of Warding in front of him that keeps enemies from reaching the allies behind him.
- Aegis—Guardians are adept in the use of Aegis, a removable boon that blocks the next attack. Guardians have access to this boon through the virtue of Courage.
Guardians also have their own range of ‘virtue’ abilities which offer passive combat buffs. The benefits of these virtues can be exchanged for an area of affect ability that confers the effects of the skill onto the allies around the Guardian. The virtues come in three flavours, including:
- Justice—Every fifth attack causes burning. Use this skill to make nearby allies’ next attacks cause burning. (This disables your Justice for 30 seconds.)
- Courage—Every 30 seconds you are granted Aegis, blocking the next attack. Use this skill to apply Aegis to all nearby allies. (This disables your Courage for 120 seconds.)
- Resolve—You regenerate health. Use this skill to remove conditions and apply Regeneration to all nearby allies. (This disables your Resolve for 120 seconds.)
Hammer of Wisdom
Shield of Absorption
For more Guild Wars 2 information check out our Guild Wars 2 preview.
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The Future of RPGs: Looking Forward At Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 And MorePosted on January 01, 2011
We looked to the future as part of Epictober back in, er … October, but suffice it to say, we’re still looking forward to 2011. We’ve updated these posts with the games that were announced since then, and here’s what you can start looking forward to in 2011 and beyond. Just as a friendly reminder, 2011 starts in less than a week. So start your anticipating right now.
As we look ahead to what lies in store for lovers of quests, booty, dialogue trees, and dozens upon dozens of hours of character progression and inventory management, the forecast for the future of role-playing games is whatever the video game equivalent of 72 degrees and sunny is.
Obviously, you have your heavy hitters like BioWare and Blizzard, who will be delivering some of the most highly sought after games of this generation (Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Diablo 3, etc.). However, for as much innovation as these developers are trying to cram into these titles, there is still something relatively “old-school” about them; especially when you consider what the folks at inXile entertainment are doing with their co-op focused Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, or the lengths to which Eidos is going with Deus Ex: Human Revolution to create the kind of RPG-shooter experience that fans of the franchise have been dreaming about for many years.
Still, whether you’re talking about traditional RPGs or RPG hybrids, the future has never been brighter for this time-intensive yet deeply rewarding genre. And on that note, we present to you our list of the top eight RPGs on the horizon that have us +45 excited.
Release Date: 11/11/11
We don’t know much about The Elder Scrolls 5, except that it’s finally actually coming out, and will arrive on 11/11/11. Perhaps the best news of all around the announcement of the game was the fact that it would be using an entirely new engine, rather than the beginning-to-show-its-age Gamebryo engine. Plus, when you have Max von Sydow narrating your game trailer, you don’t really need that many details about your game.
We’re sure that more information will be forthcoming in the new year, but we do know that the game will feature Dragonborne characters. The name Skyrim refers to the northernmost provence in Tamriel, which is snowy and mountainous. Five of the world’s highest peaks are located here, and it’s been the site of many previous battles. It’s not new to the Elder Scrolls universe of course, but it sounds like the conflict that’s brewing there will be, dare we say, epic? Snow, mountains, dragons …. new engine? Count us in.
Release Date: TBA Q4 2011
The second BioWare offering on the list carries some added weight because it will (likely) be the first title in the developer’s critically acclaimed sci-fi RPG franchise to launch on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. We honestly couldn’t be happier that PS3 owners will finally have the chance to experience the brilliance that is Mass Effect 2 when the game makes its way to Sony’s console in January, and having everyone able to share the love on day one for the highly awaited trilogy-ender would be a harmonious conclusion indeed (even if the narrative’s conclusion ends up being anything but).
We finally have to wonder about Mass Effect 3 no longer, as the recent debut trailer gave us some insight, like the fact that Shepard will be watching London burn at some point. Plus BioWare’s on site had this blurb:
Earth is burning. Striking from beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race. As Commander Shepard, an Alliance Marine, your only hope for saving mankind is to rally the civilizations of the galaxy and launch one final mission to take back the Earth.
We also know that players can expect an even deeper character/save file transfer system, more sophisticated enemies and combat, and, sadly, more mining, albeit via a more streamlined version of it. While it will most likely be a little less than a year before ME3 hits our disc trays, BioWare will be bridging the gap between ME2 and ME3 through DLC. The recently released Lair of the Shadowbroker was the first of an unknown number of DLC packs in the works, so ME fans will have plenty to keep them busy until Commander Shepard’s epic journey comes to an end.
Defining Feature: Seeing how player choices from the first Mass Effect influence events in the final chapter will represent a true milestone for the genre.
Release Date: TBA 2011
No one knows how to jerk around with PC gamers’ emotions like Blizzard, and now that StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty is out, and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is coming in December, all eyes, ears, and index fingers are focused entirely on the uber-awaited threequel Diablo 3. This year’s BlizzCon is expected to the “biggest yet” in terms of Diablo 3 news, which leads me to believe we’ll finally hear a release date and the last class will be revealed. Fingers crossed. When they aren’t clicking the left mouse button.
Until then though, visions of the game’s countless new features including the Artisan system, which gives you access to traveling craftsmen (blacksmith, mystic, or a jeweler), or the new Skill Runes system, which lets you fundamentally change skills in a variety of ways depending on the rune you use (i.e. acid-spewing poison Hydra heads vs. chain lighting powered Hydra heads). In short, Diablo fans are in for an experience that should feel simultaneously familiar yet fresh and exciting. If you know a better combination, I’d love to hear it.
Defining Feature: The Artisan system adds logical depth to character development and class management, and means more time spent battling and less time traveling to towns.
Release Date: TBA 2011
ArenaNet has every intention of giving fans of its hit MMORPG franchise everything they’ve come to expect from the series (an expansive, co-op focused, subscription-less, graphically impressive MMO experience ) while also providing many compelling reasons for newcomers to the genre to finally take the plunge. Consider the Mad Libs-inspired character creation system, which lets players not only select a race for their character but also establish a rich back story that factors into the events of the game. It’s a lot more intimate than just rolling up a Fighter with a blank slate.
Or the fact that the events in the game unfold dynamically based on your actions in the world. You’ll still encounter NPCs who will provide you with quests, but the system is designed to make the process feel much more natural than in typical RPGs. Players can also, like some of the other games on this list, mix and match class attributes to make the hero that fits your personal style. Want to be a run and gunner, or a ranged attacker? You can combine talents and attributes to make that work. And really, in the end, isn’t that what a great RPG should be all about?
Defining Feature: Character bios that influence the narrative and dynamic event chains create unique experiences for every player.
Release Date: March 8, 2011
BioWare came right out and asked gamers, “What didn’t work?” in Dragon Age: Origins when it started development on Dragon Age II, and the feedback the team received from this question directly influenced how they approached every aspect of the sequel. For starters, the game sports an improved graphics engine and art style that will give the game a much grittier tone. The controls for consoles have been reworked to take full advantage of the controller. Combat will be more fluid and put a premium on thinking tactically during battles.
Your character is fully voiced this time around as well, which will help to flesh out the new 10-year timeframe that serves as the backdrop for the overall narrative. Toss in a Mass Effect-inspired dialogue system just for good measure, and you have a recipe for one meaty sequel that should provide PC and console players alike with a fantasy RPG experience that’s shaping up to be second to none.
Defining Feature: Setting the narrative over 10 years means player actions and decisions will have far reaching implications over the course of the game.
Release Date: TBA 2011
A fully-voiced MMORPG is something that might have seemed damn near impossible a few years back, but leave it up to BioWare to actually make this absurdly ambitious prospect a reality. This also happens to be the first Star Wars-based title from the developer since it unleashed one of the greatest games of all time, RPG or otherwise, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, so it has that going for it, which is nice.
Throw in branching storylines for each character and the fact that you get your own spacecraft (which can then be used to blast space fools out of their space-fool rides), and it’s easy to understand why gamers are chomping at their bantha bits to get their hands on this game. Also, as we recently learned, Smugglers get their own personal Wookie, which just sounds so badass. Guard your arm sockets, suckers. Me and my Wookie don’t take no guff.
Defining Feature: I’ll say it again: the first fully voiced MMORPG. The script is estimated to be as long as 40+ novels. Simply. Ridiculous.
Release Date: TBA 2011
The “Gears of WarCraft” descriptor that the developers at inXile Entertainmnet have applied to their fantasy RPG makes much more sense when you see the game in action. The two-player co-op-centric gameplay lets players assume the role of two distinct characters: the brutish, hack-n-slasher Caddoc, and the impulsive, bow-toting vixen of violence E’lara. Not only does the game support jump in/jump out co-op, but players can switch between both characters in single-player as well, just in case you want to mix things up.
And while you’d expect a fantasy RPG to feature spells, what has us particularly excited is to see how each character and their spells interact with each other on the battlefield, as there are going to be various ways for players to combine their skills to create devastating attacks. There will also be a fair bit of exploration and puzzle solving thrown in to vary things up even more and lead you to bigger and better weapons. Again, it’s the way the two characters combine their abilities to solve problems that has us most looking forward to seeing more of what Hunted has to offer.
Defining Feature: Co-op spell casting and combat abilities will reward teamwork and add a distinct depth to the gameplay.
Release Date: February 2011
Eidos’ cyber-punky, Blade Runner-ish techno-thriller brings the acclaimed RPG-shooter series to the next generation with a visual style perfectly suited for its exploration of a world in which bionic augmentation is threatening to tear humanity apart. The Deus Ex franchise has always been known for offering players tremendous freedom in the way they played the game (focusing on stealth, action, hacking, etc.). Human Revolution takes this philosophy even further by ensuring that, not only are all playstyles supported, but those playstyles can be mixed and matched freely throughout the game.
Want to go guns blazing for a little and then do some stealth? Go for it. Hack a little here, convince someone to share a password there. It’s up to you. This kind of freedom will ultimately create an experience that is different every time, which has quickly become a staple of modern RPGs. How Human Revolution will differentiate itself in this regards remains to be seen, but you can bet we’re going to be there to find out when the game releases early next year.
Defining Feature: Being able to mix and match playstyles on the fly means every moment is a chance to experience something new gameplay-wise.
Release Date: TBA 2011
CD Projekt’s long-awaited sequel has us excited for a couple of reasons. For one, beneath the painfully long load screens and somewhat unsatisfying combat of the original game was an expansive and rewarding RPG that, among other things, taught us just how sleazy fantasy realms can be (should a developer decide to populate the world with an endless array of fast and loose damsels in undress). For the sequel, the developers have focused a lot of attention on the non-linearity of the experience by giving players an absurd number of ways to progress through the game. For expample, one jailbreak sequence has over 600 possible variations!
The game’s combat has also been ramped up and is now bloodier and more visceral than ever. And if you thought the first game was massive, you’ll want to start getting into shape, because the game world is expected to be absurdly huge. As far as adult RPGs go, The Witcher 2 proudly asserts itself as one of the leading contenders, and we, as adults, can’t wait to embark on this dark and mature adventure.
Defining Feature: An ever branching adventure that should satisfy our craving for a mature fantasy experience.
Looking Beyond…To The Future!
No list of this kind would be complete without some mention of the titles that we expect are in development but that have yet to be officially announced. You just know BioWare has at least a couple new epic franchises in the works, and their aspirations on the MMO front suggest many more happy years for RPG fans ahead. And if pencil and paper RPGs are more your speed, Wizards of the Coast just re-released the classic Dungeons & Dragons Red Box, giving you a completely packaged D&D experience, ready for some hot, D20-rolling action.
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Nothing is sacred. The developers at ArenaNet are tossing out ye olde MMO rules to make it easier than ever to team up with friends and succeed together, thanks to Guild Wars 2’s groundbreaking world events and mind-blowing class design. Witness ArenaNet’s coup on tradition and the hands-on action in this first of a five-part preview. The first two posts contain the info revealed in the PCG US December 2010 issue, and the following three are jam-packed with brand new, never-before-seen info and art! Stay tuned all week for all the Guild Wars 2 knowledge your brain can handle!
In 2005, Guild Wars busted into the MMO scene with a heretical proposition: that players could have a quality, triple-A online experience without paying a monthly subscription fee. But what seemed absurd then appears brilliant in retrospect–ArenaNet’s bold, beautifully realized and susbcriptionless MMO attracted hardcores and curious outsiders alike and has sold over six and a half million copies to date. And five years later, Guild Wars 2 looks ready to shake up the genre once again. But this time around, instead of upending business models (GW2 will also be a boxed game with no subscription), ArenaNet wants to revolutionize the way players work and adventure together.
Haves and have-nots
The traditional model for grouping in MMOs relies on three roles for players to fill: healer, tank, and DPS (damage dealers). Players design their characters to fulfill one of these roles and rarely deviate from it while in a group. If you’re the healer, for example, you wouldn’t expect to stop healing until the dungeon is cleared. This model has been in place since the birth of grouping in MMOs, and very few games have seen success when they attempt to break away from it. Would ArenaNet dare desecrate this holy trinity—the most sacred relic of MMO-land? You bet your Charr they would.
Now, before defenders of the status quo begin screaming blasphemy and rioting in the streets, let me reassure you—ArenaNet isn’t on a crusade to destroy the healer-tank-DPS tradition entirely. Instead, it intends to transform it into something even more accessible and enjoyable. As Lead Game Designer Eric Flannum explains it, “We don’t want players to take on strict roles, but there are still roles that need to be fulfilled in combat… Every character is versatile, so it’s up to you to recognize what other players are doing, what the situation is, and react to it.” The developers still want players to tank enemies, restore health to their friends and tear through enemy flesh like tissue paper as they always have in MMOs. The big change is that they want each player to do all of those things, as the situation warrants.
Think on your toes
It’s all about flexibility. Groups will still want someone to run into the thick of things and take the brunt of enemy aggression, but why should that player be locked into that role at all times? Why can’t a gun toting Charr pull out a mace and shield when he sees his friends in trouble and protect them? Why can’t a magic-blasting Sylvari use her powers to heal her friends when that’s what’s needed most? In Guild Wars 2, they can.
But it’s not all loosey-goosey–players still choose a definitive class when they create their character. The four announced classes so far are Warrior, Elementalist, Ranger and Necromancer–a healthy balance of the usual class archetypes (only Monk and Mesmer haven’t been confirmed from the first game to return).
Choose your weapon
Unlike the original game—where players could cherry-pick skills from a massive pool of options—the skills that you have on your bar in GW2 are now determined by your class and the weapons you have equipped.
A warrior who equips a shield will see two tanking skills appear on his bar, for example, and if he equips a mace in his main hand, he’ll be given three additional skills to stun and attack his opponents. Each player will have 10 skills on their bar: the first three determined by what’s in their main hand, the next two determined by what’s in their off hand (a two-handed weapon will determine all five), and the last five skills will be chosen by the player within categories—one self-healing skill, three utility skills, and one elite skill, which is very powerful but has a long cooldown.
Weapon restrictions will follow common sense logic—Elementalists won’t be able to equip shields (although Flannum told me that he ran a five-man group filled with Elementalists that fared pretty well in dungeons, such as the two revealed in tomorrow’s feature), and different classes will utilize the same type of weapon differently. For example, both the Warrior and the Ranger can equip a longbow, but the Warrior will use it for spray-and-pray AoE attacks while the Ranger will utilize it more elegantly as a long-range, single-target sniping weapon.
Out of combat, players can mix and match weapon sets to their heart’s content, but before going into battle, they’ll need to pick two sets of weapons that they’ll be able to switch between freely during combat. The one exception is the Elementalist, who can’t swap weapons during combat, but accomplishes the same thing by swapping between his or her four attunements (fire, earth, water, and air).
Flannum describes his vision for the game’s combat as “controlled chaos fun,” adding that “in MMOs, combat gets really fun when things go wrong. When the tank goes down and you have to yell at the off-tank to grab the boss’s attention—that’s when things get exciting. Our combat makes that the constant state of things, so you’re always in an exciting situation… but we try to over-communicate visually what’s happening around you, so you always know what’s going on and it’s not just mass chaos.” It sounds good to us, but can they pull it off effectively?
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Guild Wars 2 Hall of Monuments launches, earn rewards based on achievements in original game (Guild Wars 2)Posted on October 10, 2010
Looking forward to Guild Wars 2? Head over to the official website and enter the name of your character from the first Guild Wars or Guild Wars: Eye of the North into the new Hall of Monuments reward calculator. From there, you’ll be able to see what kind of in-game rewards you can look forward to in Guild Wars 2 based on your character’s accomplishments in the earlier games…
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The reclusive masterminds at ArenaNet break their silence in this issue’s exclusive look into the dungeons of Guild Wars 2. Once you’ve read our story, you will be certain of one thing: it’ll be unlike anything the MMO genre has ever seen.
Also within: previews Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Diablo III, lose-proof build orders for winning in StarCraft II, and a detailed examination of OnLive – is PC gaming’s innovative game-streaming service worth your time? Reviewed: R.U.S.E., Dead Rising 2, Worms Reloaded, City of Heroes: Going Rogue, and the scariest game we’ve ever played.
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