It’s Time to Get Excited: Guild Wars 2 Introduction: How long has it been now since LotD went full force into an MMO that was capable of withstanding our level of winning? How long has the online gaming community waited for a game that could launch with a completed product, free from login issues, bugs, and hacks? How far have we searched for a polished end game capable of not just attracting a large population, but sustaining it? How many times have you gotten excited about a game that you overlooked its issues prior to launch, only to have an inexperienced development team fold under financial pressure and fail to deliver while their subscription base crumbles? Too long, and all of these heart wrenching failures have torn the guild community apart like a wet paper towel. To answer all of those questions, it has been nearly a decade since a game has launched, containing world PvP, that could sustain its subscription base for more than 6 months. After launching with over a hundred members in Star Wars The Old Republic, Rift, Darkfall, Aion, Warhammer, and Age of Conan, each game has seen it’s launch subscriptions decline drastically by the 90 day mark. Will that chain finally be broken in the second installment of Guild Wars? That is the golden question we hope to answer. As always, I like to reference Hades’ two musings on what an MMO needs to do to be successful in today’s market.1. Is the game focused on the “Guild” community? Guild Wars 2, has the word “Guild” in its name. This game will lay the framework for MMO’s for the next decade. Nothing will kill a game like recycled ideas and content, whether that be quests or core game mechanics and Guild Wars 2 has done an excellent job at creating a unique system that allows multiple “guild” membership similar to Google’s circles. With the quests, dungeons, and “Events” created in their unique way, everything lends itself to building strong communities that increase success and enjoyment while playing the game.2. Is the game “Hardcore” and “Casual” friendly? Guild Wars 2, again has stepped up their game in adopting a structure that will automatically set your level to the level of the zone you are in. So if you are a hardcore gamer and hit level 50 in a two day binge of Monsters and a pile of hot pockets, you can still go back down to level 20 and help your guild mates as they continue to level and all the while, gain decent XP. Sure, the fastest way to level is to progress your own storyline, but at least the hardcore gamers aren’t completely isolated from the rest of more casual ones. PVP is another subject that definitely falls into this category. GW2 takes a similar approach to its predecessor, in allowing gamers to create a max stat, max armor character with no PvE required. Personally, as a die-hard PvP fanatic, I despise PvE as an evil beast spawned from Rick Astley and a 30 year old Brittany Spears. There just isn’t anything about it I find exciting, and this is where Guild Wars 2 wins the hearts of PvP’ers around the globe. Whether it be World PvP (Wv3) or Arena’s (SPvP), your character is automatically boosted to 80. While Wv3 relies on your advancements in PvE to unlock skills and armor, SPvP unlocks all of your abilities and you can place your skill points any way you want. Thus, from day one, every player is given an equal footing to start with while skill, teamwork, tactics, and strategy will dictate your level of success. 3. Is Guild Wars 2’s end game content sustainable? The question to answer all questions! Will the end game content of Guild Wars 2 be sturdy enough to sustain subscriptions past that crucial 90 day mark that has proven so deadly to every other MMO launched in the past decade? Simply, the answer is YES! Guild Wars 2 has a model for Wv3 that will keep the “masses” happy as no two servers will face each other for longer than two weeks at a time. With a rotating schedule, if Server “A” is dominating Server “B”, after 14 days, Server “A” rotates to face Server “C” and Server “B” now faces Server “D” and so on. The real genius though is that Guild Wars 2 has server rankings, as well as arena rankings of course. So, as servers begin to fill in population and as guilds/alliances increase in skill, they will find themselves paired against comparably skilled servers. This will keep the low population servers from being forced to run against a juggernaut (not to name names here, but we all know who I’m talking about). Allowing server rankings will keep the top tier servers populated by the most hardcore guilds while allowing more casual guilds to go to medium/low population servers and still see moderate success. No longer will LotD crush a server into an empty wasteland, instead we will face a foe for a short window of time and then move on to the next challenger. This system is built to sustain server morale while enticing activity and Wv3 sieging in order to bolster server rankings.4. PvP isn’t your life? Guild Wars 2 allows for those who enjoy PvP but also excel at the finer, more complicated aspects of MMO’s, such as crafting. With one of the most robust crafting systems at launch, Guild Wars 2 is poised to keep even the most experienced crafters busy for months. Hundreds of mats, hundreds of recipes, and who knows how vast this system will expand in the coming months. I can simply say that I am glad that there are those few talented folks who can dedicate themselves to these crucial roles within the guild so I can pleasantly keep pounding my hammer against someone's skull because I have the attention span of a raccoon. Like dungeons and public events? I can say that from my experience so far that this game has not only interesting storylines, but also some of the more challenging events, dungeons and bosses that I’ve ran against in any MMO I’ve played. Can you win? SURE! But it takes more than this simple minded PvP’er to accomplish such feats.5. But is Guild Wars 2 ready for launch? Yes is the simple answer. I have played in many alpha’s and beta’s over the years. Some of you will recall Fury and how the game slowly fell apart as launch drew near. More of you will remember AoC and how the first 20 levels were wonderful but how the game disappeared from level 30 on and how their end game was unfinished and even unavailable for early portions of its life. Even more of you will recall how polished Warhammer felt until you realized how easy it was for one side to cripple the other by departures or refusing to fight. Aion, the grind. Rift, the pointlessness. Darkfall, the hacks and broken mechanics. Guild Wars 2 has the polished feel, the established Wv3 mechanisms, the class balance, the guild mechanics, the synergy between hardcore and casual gaming and most importantly the sustainable endgame content create a lasting MMO.To Conclude: The online gaming world has stumbled into its own version of the dark ages and GW2 could very well spark the MMO renaissance. This game is that well put together and old LotD members are already coming out of the woodwork to join our ranks. So dust off your desktops. Buy a couple sticks of RAM. Put in your requests for vacation. It's time to get excited. Guild Wars 2 is coming and I personally invite you to join us August 28 as we launch Lords of the Dead’s newest and hopefully greatest chapter of the past decade.