Guild Wars: Eye of the North Q&A - Introduction to the First Guild Wars Expansion

ArenaNet game designer Ben Miller gives us some of the first details about all the new, high-level content in Eye of the North.

Since 2005's Guild Wars, ArenaNet has produced two stand-alone "chapters" that revealed more of the game's fantasy world, Ascalon, as well as introduced whole new gameplay features. Guild Wars isn't a massively multiplayer role-playing game, such as World of Warcraft, but it is played entirely online, it has no subscription fee, and you can adventure with other players or battle against them. With the recently announced Guild Wars: Eye of the North, ArenaNet is developing the first true expansion pack for the series. You'll need to have a previous Guild Wars game to play Eye of the North, but the reward will be lots of new, high-level content to explore. To learn more, we turned to Ben Miller, ArenaNet designer and the lead on the expansion. Eye of the North will ship later this year.

Eye of the North is the first true expansion to Guild Wars.

GameSpot: How does Eye of the North differ from the previous Guild Wars chapters, Nightfall and Factions? We understand that this isn't a traditional, stand-alone chapter like those, but something new.

Ben Miller: The biggest difference is its focus on content for existing Guild Wars characters. It packs new, exciting adventures for all those characters you already have and love. The expansion itself is much more open, with an emphasis on the feeling of exploration of new lands and new peoples. It also combines a lot of what people loved from everything we have done in Guild Wars, Factions, Nightfall, and our free live update, Sorrow's Furnace.

GS: What's the reasoning for making Eye of the North a true expansion rather than a stand-alone chapter? Was it to provide more high-level content for existing players?

BM: There are a couple reasons we chose to do an expansion rather than a stand-alone campaign. One is that with each new campaign, the game gets more and more complex and the tutorial areas become larger as we need to explain the new professions and the new mechanics. Instead of reinventing the "tutorial wheel" yet again, we are using that energy to develop more content for existing characters. This brings me to point number two, which is that we have been seeing players wanting content for their existing characters. Players have invested an incredible amount of time building their existing characters, and we want to provide those characters with new adventures, experiences, armor, items, and so on.

GS: In terms of content, how does Eye of the North measure up against the previous chapters? Is it about the same size as its predecessors in terms of both the size of the world and the number of quests and adventures?

BM: That is actually a difficult question to answer, as expectations of value are subjective. Added to that, expansions in general vary greatly in terms of both value and quality. With that said, Guild Wars has delivered games above and beyond what people have expected in many ways, and I see Eye of the North continuing that trend. Will it surpass player's expectations in terms of gameplay and visual aesthetic? Absolutely! It is by far the most gorgeous thing we have done to date. Will it have engaging content that will keep players entertained for countless hours? Absolutely.

GS: What can you tell us about the story and setting?

BM: The setting takes place in four major areas that sweep across the original map of Prophecies as well as to previously unexplored areas in the North. For the first time ever, players will get to see the Charr homeland, which is a beautiful, verdant land similar to what they experienced with pre-Searing Ascalon. The Far Shiverpeaks is home to the independent, Viking-like Norn. Everything about the Norn is huge and epic. Players will journey to an area of the southern Maguuma jungle known as the Tarnished Coast, where the magical Asura are coming above ground for the first time in centuries. Finally, players get to delve into the depths of the world itself and explore multilayered dungeons.

The story actually comprises several arcs that can be done at the players own pace and that tie into a much larger overarching narrative. Without giving too much away, I can outline the premise: Violent earthquakes have been shaking the world. This has opened up entrances into previously unexplored underground areas. Being the intrepid hero, the player explores them and gets swept away as a new peril stirs deep below. There are terrible mindless creatures that must be stopped at all costs. Along the way, we will be tying up loose ends with all sorts of previous characters, as well as foreshadowing the events that will set up Guild Wars 2. In many ways this is a prologue to Guild Wars 2. In general, players can look forward to fully voiced cinematics and an engaging, character-driven narrative.

GS: We understand that the three new races that appear in the expansion will be playable in Guild Wars 2. Is their appearance now just a teaser of things to come? What can you tell us about the races?

BM: What you see of them in Eye of the North is definitely just the tip of the tip of the enormous iceberg that is Guild Wars 2. The Asura and the Norn definitely get the most face time.

The Norn is an extremely boisterous, independent race that lives in the magical and dangerous Far Shiverpeaks. Everything about them is on an epic scale. They fight epic monsters, build epic buildings, and drink epic flagons of ale. You would see a typical Norn standing in front of a giant ice wyrm in a torrential snowstorm laughing because the wyrm doesn't stand a chance.

With a name like Far Shiverpeaks, it better be cold.

The Asura are an extremely cute magical race that is being driven above ground by the menace below. Don't let that fool you, though. They are among the smartest races in role-playing game history. Traditional gnomes, goblins, and so on, have nothing on these little guys. Instead of being mad inventors that build fanciful mechanical stuff that sometimes blows up, the Asura make powerful magical creations that work. Creations that would make a giant ice wyrm scared for its giant ice hide.

We definitely have a few surprises in store for players when it comes to everyone's favorite enemy race, the Charr. Not only will players get to do what any red-blooded Ascalonian wants to do (and that's kill more of them), you will also get to see the great depth that Charr society has and explore a part of their homeland.

The Sylvari are by far the biggest tease in Eye of the North. So much, in fact, that I am finishing this sentence with ellipsis...

Inherit the Stuff

GS: Each new Guild Wars chapter to date has introduced a new gameplay feature, such as the faction war and heroes. Will Eye of the North introduce any major features, or will you take advantage of the existing ones?

Three new races, 150 new skills, new regions, and more await.

BM: A good amount of both, actually. We definitely have a deep bag of tricks to pull from. So you can expect to see some cool stuff based on the things we have done in the past that we found to be really fun, as well as brand-new things that will surprise even the most jaded Guild Wars player. We are carrying over the hero mechanic into Eye of the North, so this is a chance for people who haven't purchased Nightfall to use the new system. In Nightfall, the Sunspear and Lightbringer titles were well received. We are going to be expanding that mechanic to include new groups that players can form allegiances with. These will in turn allow them to gain and power up brand new player-versus-environment skills. The biggest new feature, gameplay wise, is the multilevel dungeons. They add a whole bunch of fun gameplay elements that we have only glossed over in previous campaigns as well epic boss encounters and unique puzzles.

GS: There are 150 new skills in the expansion, on top of the hundreds that are already available. Is it becoming harder to juggle and balance all of these skills? Are there any notable new skills, or do they mainly just round out the existing skill sets?

BM: The more skills we have, the harder it has gotten over time, definitely. Luckily, we have some really talented people that know how to juggle like they were born in a circus. Eye of the North will have brand-new skills to help round out existing professions as well as some really exciting PVE-only skills. Some of these will be given away via quests. They will not only be superpowerful during combat, but also augment what players are doing outside of combat. A good example is a skill called Light of Deldrimor. It does a wide blast of area-of-effect damage to evil stuff, as well reveal hidden secrets with its magical radiance.

GS: How will Eye of the North tie into Guild Wars 2? And how exactly does the Hall of Monuments work? Is it a way to show off all of your accomplishments and also pass down your gear to a future Guild Wars 2 character?

BM: Eye of the North shows off the Norn and the Asura as well as foreshadows some of the plot that makes up the foundation of Guild Wars 2. Without going into too much detail, the Hall of Monuments is an instance that allows you to immortalize all your character has accomplished. The accomplishments reflected range from stuff casual players can earn to making sure the hardcore players get rewarded for the more spectacular feats they have done. Based on those accomplishments, we will have all kinds of neat stuff in Guild Wars 2 for newly created characters to "inherit."

Eye of the North will serve as a prologue of sorts to Guild Wars 2.

GS: Finally, will Eye of the North represent the last product for the original Guild Wars before ArenaNet transitions to Guild Wars 2, or are there plans for future chapters or expansions? What will happen to the original Guild Wars and the characters that players have built up, once Guild Wars 2 launches?

BM: So far, Eye of the North is the only announced product we are doing between now and Guild Wars 2. The future of the original Guild Wars is just as bright and healthy as a player and developer could hope for. We will continue to actively support it for as long as players are actively playing it.

GS: Thank you, Ben.

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Discussion

125 comments
chechak7
chechak7

I love this game alot and aim looking forward 4 Guild Wars 2

Firebourne
Firebourne

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

kingmario78
kingmario78

The Asura are the cute white little things we saw in the concept art?

-R4zi3l-
-R4zi3l-

0.0 sweeeet on every level i cant wait! im gonna get on GW now and get my ranger and RT ready!!!! i cant wait

Prophet11
Prophet11

Both GW:EN, and GW:2 look pretty good. I already reserved GW:EN. I just hope ArenaNet can make it fair. I read a different interview on IGN that when you die in any of those dungeons, thats it, you can't be resurrected. : ( . I also want to hear moe info about the sequel. I look up as much info as I can about these things and I counldn't find diddely-squat! All-in-All, I'm definitely getting both of them. -Commander Deej

Illscrewyoubig
Illscrewyoubig

yeah, I missed buying Nightfall, so I'm really happy I don't have to get it just to have heroes for PVP! I hope it doesn't cost as much though, cause then I'll just buy Nightfall, who wants to spend $100NZ just to get a couple new areas and monsters? I want a new storyline for that money

ascalon94
ascalon94

awesome i agree with anyone who like s this game. I cant wait ot get it

ascalon94
ascalon94

WOW might be a good game but Guild Wars is the best and always will be. yes there might be a short story line but there are way better graphics and there is a no subscription fee

comboz
comboz

"Not a bad game but any1 can get to max cap which means that the sense of achevement is low... but imo WoW is a better game with more diveristy and kick-arse endgame."-CRLCRL Crafting is the only thing that makes WoW more diverse in my opinion. the lvl cap in GW means nothing really...the amount of elite skills you have is more important. I played WoW for 6 months and enjoyed it, but 80% of the game is grinding. Grinding for crafting, your lvl, or an item for a quest. GW you actually have quests that have thought put into them.

birdeye84
birdeye84

My only wish is that we can have Gwen as a hero.

erec
erec

I have all 3 games cant wait 4 the next one

erec
erec

i have all 3games i cant wait 4 the next one

blazyboy
blazyboy

nice...but i'll see when i play....

kromkilt
kromkilt

"Since 2005's Guild Wars, ArenaNet has produced two stand-alone "chapters" that revealed more of the game's fantasy world, Ascalon, as well as introduced whole new gameplay features." Umm its Tyria not ascalon, Ascalon is a City/country

CRLCRL
CRLCRL

Not a bad game but any1 can get to max cap which means that the sense of achevement is low. it is very different from WoW but imo WoW is a better game with more diveristy and kick-arse endgame.

dragon247uk
dragon247uk

Guild Wars is a nice, well rounded game that anyone can dive into head first and still pick up what is going on easily. WoW requires a hell of a lot more time and is a bit to complex for those who actually have a life.

Pang_Tong
Pang_Tong

cyborg100000, that is the exact reason I play Guild Wars and not WoW. You don't have to slave hours and hours to get up levels, and the game is more focused on skill and strategy.

DkzH
DkzH

jackarse29 that might be true, but I know a lot of people that DON'T want to play this game just because the lvl cap is so low and you can get lvl 20 in 1 day >,..,

Wedge7
Wedge7

"In Nightfall, the Sunspear and Lightbringer titles were well received. We are going to be expanding that mechanic to include new groups that players can form allegiances with. These will in turn allow them to gain and power up brand new player-versus-environment skills." Definitely looking forward to this :-D I can't wait to get this game!

cyborg100000
cyborg100000

Guild wars 2? Isn't this just another expansion pack? I play WoW at the moment but i might switch to GW, i'm getting sick of having to grind for hours on end just for epic loot it's a real time killer. Why cant they focus the game more on skill other than gear!!!

BewilderedRonin
BewilderedRonin

Can't wait. :) GW2 is sounds pretty cool too. With GW2 there won't be any more "Guild Wars isn't an MMO" crap. Best thing, GW2 won't have a monhtly fee either. :D

X-tract
X-tract

I hope they'll leave the existing professions in it (and maybe add a few) cuz I cant imagine GW without my assassin, I completed everything with her! :D

nutcrackr
nutcrackr

Why not just release a press release? This interview is basically just advertising anyway.

Harteramo
Harteramo

You can't transfer the characters to GW2 because :D It takes place a 100 years later our char's would be old sacks of bones by then we have to start from lvl 1 XD but I definatley can't wait for this expansion and GW2 :)!

SP33doh
SP33doh

I will buy anything arenanet puts out. (been playing guild wars since the prophecies betas ;) )

BikerPunk
BikerPunk

OH BABY!!! This was my back up game to World of Warcraft, but now that i have recently disbanded myself, and broke away from WoW, i have turned back to GW. Now to see that there is an Expansion of Epic Proportions just ahead, this gives me a good reason to get back on, and start getting ready for it. Im super excited for this release.

ArabSolja99
ArabSolja99

yo kaimi man, in GW2 there will be a persistent world, dont worry guys this game is gonna OWN this and GW2 I AM SO PUMPED! AHHHHH

rex41e
rex41e

bloodyrooster Why hasn't this come to xbox yet? r u kidding? even the ps3 does not deserve this game. It too impossible to map the layouts to a controller. Besides MMOS rule on the pc, consoles meh! not everything works well on a console u know

NacresErut
NacresErut

whew good thing i didnt buy factions or nightfalls cause now ill have enough money to buy this, also i cant wait to get guildwars 2 i heard it supports dx10 and it will be completely awesome!!

Shinso-Zangetsu
Shinso-Zangetsu

@xatman911: I hope so too. I want to hit the ground running in GW 2 with my Primeval Armor and Chaos Axe. I don't care about levels, I just want my stuff!

xatman911
xatman911

Hope they allow instant but neat character transfer like when runescape was released after the runescape classic.

CyberKillerZ
CyberKillerZ

lOlOLolOL this is will be veary nice, i think!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

droppz
droppz

"If you've already hit level 20 and have no interest in PvP, your depth ends right there. And yet they still shovel experience at you, as if you need it for anything anymore, or as if it's some incentive to do the quests. The only incentive we had to do quests at level 20 in Prophecies was so we didn't have to fork over the outrageous price of 1k per skill. In Factions and Nightfall, they gave NO skills as quest rewards, leaving zero incentive to do any of them, zero incentive to do anything, period, and leaving people who actually want something new and interesting left in the dust, while people who enjoy vast, paper-thin breadth got their dreams come true; tons of weapons and armor that do absolutely nothing but look different." CaptainDingo: I think I speak for GW fans everywhere when I say: waaah? If you criteria for depth involves an increasing number on your character screen, then yes, you are correct. If you play correctly, you will hit level 20 quite early in the game, Then you have around 15 hours of storyline and missions to complete before you "beat" the game. But, if your not interested in an interesting and entertaining storyline or PvP, then I have to say you are playing the wrong game. GW is about gameplay, not grinding. If all you want to do is run around and increase your lvl, then GW is not for you. Now, I do get your point about exp. losing value after lvl 20, but then you don't have to complete any of the quests if you like, they are completely optional. If you don't want to quest, then don't quest. DOn't call it stupid if someone enjoys that aspect of the game. Focus on PvP or the more challenging elite areas after you beat the game. Just a Thought

Zeokor
Zeokor

"Since 2005's Guild Wars, ArenaNet has produced two stand-alone "chapters" that revealed more of the game's fantasy world, Ascalon" Ascalon is an area in Tyria, not the name of the world. Tyria is a contient like Cantha.

jackarse29
jackarse29

DkzH, you cant be serious. One of the major strengths of this game is that you dont have to be upwards of say lvl 90 in order to enjoy it. Its not about grinding levels for hours on end; rather about team strategy and/or your skillset etc. If anet ever raises the lvl cap that drastically, they will lose a large proportion of their suporters (including me) who dont have as much time to grind as the next person.

DkzH
DkzH

I just cant wait till Guild Wars 2 gets out! I really hope thay raise the lvl cap to 100 (they are still thinking about it) and a just love that there will be 4 new Races to play :D

Mikeh_515
Mikeh_515

I agree with Lime05 I wanna go play guild wars now haven't p[layed it in a while I'll work out the kinks :P

lime05
lime05

GUILD WARS ROCKS !!! :) ....... Guild War's is a surpreme work of Art !. Designed with a audience in mind that can appreciate both surperb storytelling , wicked gamplay , and on top of that , just the damn sexiest, most stunningly breathtaking Art Direction and Design ever witnessed in a game !. Sure it's not a cutting edge engine, but Anet have serious SKILLS!! , and they know exactly what we dig ! YES ITS THAT DAMN GOOD!, and ive been gaming for 20 year's so bleh to those who don't "get it" ............:P Do yourself a favour and come over to game that doesn't EXPLOIT YOU via charging ridiculous monthly fee's AKA WOW........ Seriously wake up. On top of that our community just kicks serious donkey bollocks !! CHEERS FOR GUILD WARS !!!!

Hikiera
Hikiera

I wonder what WILL happen when GW2 comes out? Anyway, great to see further development of a great game! :)

whiplash
whiplash

Guild Wars is the only MMORPG for me because I hate endless grinding, and I can't bother with monthly fees since I have so many games I like to play.

kaim_i
kaim_i

Guild wars is good for the first 3-5 months and it get boring after lvl 20, i only see ppl in town only, ...

jazilla
jazilla

Yeah, Guild Wars is an incredibly enjoyable game, and has absolutely nothing to do with WoW. People need to stop comparing the two, because frankly they both have their merits.

Ka-Shume
Ka-Shume

Can't wait. This can't come soon enough for me.

alexandregiroux
alexandregiroux

Looks great! I really like ArenaNet's graphics engine and art style. Keep up the good work!

Jin_the_samurai
Jin_the_samurai

@Arab Its okay but I don't know why you say WoW appears to be my best friend if I just said I perfered it, thats like if I say I like football more than baseball does that make football my best friend?, or if I like blue more than green does that make green my best friend? and etc... Maybe if I wrote 5 paragraphs about it then you can say that but I didn't.(I've only have played for 4 months and an hour or two a day if I have the time.)

Anti-personnel
Anti-personnel

Honestly, WOW is preferable... c'mon honestly....honestly honestly...yes.