“The explorable version will continue the story that you started in the story mode, but it won’t necessarily be about Destiny’s Edge anymore,” Fairfield said. “It’ll be something about the dungeon itself and the consequences of your actions in the story section. Killing King Adelberg, for example, allows the gravelings to run free, who have been kept in check by all the ghosts running around in there. They start attacking other ghosts and taking over the dungeon, and you’re told to put an end to that.”
“Each playthrough feels a little different than the last… In our dungeons, you might run into a boss that wasn’t there before, or there might be a trap that you didn’t realize was there.” That switch is impressive in itself, but I was more intrigued by Fairfield’s revelation that the dynamic and random events of the outside world make their way into the explorable dungeons as well. “Each playthrough feels a little different than the last,” he said. “Something that we’ve tried to get away from are dungeons that you just rinse and repeat once you’ve learned the pattern. In our dungeons, you might run into a boss that wasn’t there before, or there might be a trap that you didn’t realize was there. In the Catacombs, there’s an event where a troll will break through a section of wall and you really never know which section of wall he’s going to come from. And since players always like to kill critters, and we’ve kind of punished you for that by triggering a spider boss whenever you kill too many spiderlings.” I’d had a taste of that myself when I messed with a clickable sarcophagus and triggered a mass of spiders that threatened to kill us all. If that weren’t interesting enough, Fairfield mentioned occasional puzzles that need to be completed while engaging in combat.
I found myself wanting to cancel my flight just so I could experience all this myself, but what I saw in the story mode was enough to make me realize that Guild Wars 2 has plenty to offer for players who aren’t so turned on by PvP. ArenaNet plans to have eight dungeons ready for launch (and almost all news up to this point has centered on the Catacombs), but the combination of available story and explorable modes means that there are around 40 different experiences waiting for players. The main issue that I see is that Fairfield says that much of the same gear will be available to people who PvP and those who prefer PvE combat in the dungeons, with the main difference being that the dungeon gear will have a different model for cosmetic purposes. That should theoretically make everyone happy, but in reality players might start griping that it’s easier to get gear for one or the other. I also have to wonder how good of a substitute this will be for gw2 gold. When I asked Fairfield about the existence of a group finding tool, he simply said that he thinks all MMOs in 2012 should have one in some form or another. Beyond that, though, he refused to elaborate.
Guild Wars 2 seems to be more about the fun of the experience than the intricacies of progression snobbery. But Guild Wars 2 seems to be more about the fun of the experience than the intricacies of progression snobbery, which also shows up in ArenaNet’s decision to let you fight in dungeons you’ve long outleveled. “Let’s say you go to Ascalonian Catacombs with your low-level friends when you’re at the level cap,” Fairfield says. “You won’t be level 80; you’ll be dynamically leveled down to 35 or 37 when running through there — we haven’t decided. But you’ll still have all your abilities and all your traits. Your gear will be slightly ‘normalized.’ You’ll be a little more powerful, but it’ll still be a tough encounter.” I’d seen a little of this when my level 30 Engineer was running around in the Charr starting zone, and I loved how it brought some life to zones that would be all but dead in a mature game.
I also liked how the focus on movement does away with the restraints of boss fights other MMOs. In Guild Wars 2, you’re generally encouraged to pull a bosses to areas that might be ripe for exploitation in, say, World of Warcraft. “You’ll see some mechanics that we’ve resurrected from games like EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot,” Fairfield says, “but then you’ll see our fresh takes on those mechanics as we try to spice things up.” One example of this is a pair of bosses that grow stronger when they’re closer together. In WoW, these bosses might reset if you tried to pull one of them into another room; in Guild Wars 2, that’s considered using your head. “We tried to make bosses fit in with our visceral combat. It’s more about placement and control than just standing there and getting beat on and healed.”
I found myself reluctant to pull away. Not only because I wanted to get as much experience as I could for this article, but simply because I was having fun. Eventually, ArenaNet’s PR representative started tapping his watch to remind me about my flight (now less than two hours from take off), but I found myself reluctant to pull away. Not only because I wanted to get as much experience as I could for this article, but simply because I was having fun. I looked around me. Every single one of the developers I was playing with was laughing and having a good time, even though they’d probably run this same dungeon hundreds of times before. Watching them, I could believe that it actually felt different with every playthrough. They continued to play after I got up, and another even took my place and they finished together.
Not long after, I received an invitation from them asking if I wanted to finish running dungeons with them in the upcoming beta weekend since I ran out of time on my trip, sounding all the world like normal gamers out for a good time.