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Guild Wars 2: A Budding Obsession

World of Warcraft frightens me. With three expansions, 10 million subscribers, and the looming threat of <a target="_blank" href="http://pc.ign.com/articles/121/1210478p1.html" target="_target"><b>kung fu panda warriors,</b></a> it stands atop an unassailable mountain, taunting amateur MMO players with a wave of its banner. Meanwhile, Guild Wars 2 already poured me a cup of tea, inviting me in with a smarter way of doing this whole MMO thing.<br/><br/>Guild Wars 2, from the talented developers at ArenaNet, enticed a massive crowd of gamers at this year's G-Star video game expo in Korea. Sitting among the excited throng of attendees, I played Guild Wars 2 for the first time. Though the MMO formula always appealed to me, I often find an intimidating barrier of names, places, and other complexities scare me away from prolonged commitment. But Guild Wars 2 vanquishes many of the complexities in favor of smarter player engagement. You don't need to form a guild and organize massive raids to enjoy Guild Wars 2 with other people. You just need to play. And it's easy.<br/><br/> <object id="vid_4e7a3997132c9a215600028c" class="ign-videoplayer" width="468" height="270" data="http://media.ign.com/ev/prod/embed.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"><param name="movie" value="http://media.ign.com/ev/prod/embed.swf"/><param name="" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><param name="bgcolor" value="#000000"/><param name="flashvars" value="url=http://www.ign.com/videos/2011/09/21/guild-wars-2-gamescom-trailer?objectid=896298"/><param name="wmode" value="opaque"/></object> <div style="width:480px"><a target="_blank" href="http://www.ign.com/videos/2011/09/21/guild-wars-2-gamescom-trailer?objectid=896298"><center>Guild Wars 2 trailer</center></a></div><br/><br/>The demo featured a town besieged by some nasty centaurs -- a familiar setting for those of you who have followed Guild Wars 2's development closely. Other players in the demo, already locked in battle with the invaders, fought bravely as I stumbled through the village. An NCsoft representative playing next to me pointed at nearby centaurs and mentioned that I could help defeat them without taking away from the other players' experience.<br/><br/>You mean I don't have to party up with people to cooperate with them? Fantastic.<br/><br/>Once the players -- united in a giddy battle against an earth elemental -- repelled the siege, the village opened up into a hive of optional activities. A farmer requested my help with these sand worms ruining his crops. Villagers called for aid as bandits ravaged the innocent. The threat of a poisoned water supply rushed through the town. All these events exist outside of one individual player. I can kill those sand worms without talking to the farmer and still save his garden. Then those sand worms vanish for the time being. The event doesn't immediately reset like a traditional MMO quest.<br/><br/>Subtler devices further facilitate cooperation and, more importantly, invite newcomers into the mix. Any of the eight initial classes serve every traditional MMO role; you no longer need to organize a tank, healer, and damage-dealer to create a complete party. And in ferocious battles, other players can assist you on a whim without any need to formalize the cooperative element. Some special abilities even benefit others around you, imbuing them with elemental bonuses, regenerative health, and other such pleasantries.<br/><br/><img src="http://pcmedia.ign.com/pc/image/article/114/1146338/guild-wars-2-20110126060847022-000.jpg" /><br/>Glowing shields are the best shields.<br/><br/><br/><br/>For those of you hungry for a challenge, ArenaNet recognizes your desires. The more players participating in an event, the more Guild Wars 2 automatically scales to suit the situation. Bosses gain access to special abilities to fight against overwhelming numbers, for example. Though ArenaNet wants this to be the first truly cooperative MMO, you still have plenty of harrowing fights to enjoy.<br/><br/>It's good to know that at least one of the many promising MMOs on the horizon keeps the Average Joe like me in mind. All I want to do is save the world, along with a few friends. Guild Wars 2 makes that very doable.<br/><br/><hr><i>This article is based on a 30 minute play session with an incomplete build of Guild Wars 2 featured at G-Star 2011. The demo was hosted by representatives from ArenaNet and NCsoft.<br/><br/>Ryan Clements writes for IGN's PlayStation Team. You can follow him on <a target="_blank" href="http://twitter.com/#!/PwamCider"><b>Twitter</b></a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://people.ign.com/clements-ign"><b>myIGN</b></a>.</i><br/><br/>&#169;2011-11-15, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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