Guild Wars 2 Impressions

The debut trailer was unveiled at GamesCom 2009, and ArenaNet was on hand to provide some more juicy details.

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Fans of Guild Wars have been patiently waiting for a full-blown sequel to the free-to-subscribe massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and from what we saw in its debut trailer, it certainly looks worth the wait. Guild Wars 2 takes fans back to the fantasy world of Tyria and takes place 250 years after the events in Guild Wars, following the awakening of the powerful elder dragons, described by NCsoft as pure "engines of destruction" in the game. If that's not daunting enough, the dragons have also enslaved an undead army to help them in their quest to corrupt and consume Tyria. The four playable races--humans, Charr, Norn, and Asura--have banded together to stop the dragons in their quest and are joined by some extra help.

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The Sylvari are an all-new playable race in Guild Wars 2. The plant-based creatures aren't "humanoid in the way we know," says lead content creator Jeff Grubb. According to Grubb, they're quite different from the other races and don't understand the culture and logic of the other races. He explains that they're unified as a culture and share the common dream of eradicating the dragons bent on wreaking havoc on the world of Tyria. Sylvari are born fully aware and are characterised as a noble race. Despite this, not all Sylvari have good intentions, and certain splinter groups have arisen to challenge their way of life. The last piece of information we could gather is that, like their owners, Sylvarian armour and weapons are also organic and are grown from roots and leaves rather than being forged with fire.

The other major feature in Guild Wars 2 is the addition of playable underwater areas, which was hinted at in the trailer. According to NCsoft's Chris Lye, this will grant players substantially more "freedom of movement" and the freedom to explore Tyria's landmasses and the oceans below. Lye says the ability to explore Tyria's underwater world, and the complexities that go along with that, is one of the reasons it's taking a while to develop the game. The team didn't go into details on how this new experience will affect gameplay, but we're excited to see how they'll incorporate this into the game.

The Sylvari join Guild Wars as a playable race.
The Sylvari join Guild Wars as a playable race.

As you can see in the trailer, there's some beautiful concept art at work, and the team plans to use this in the game "in one way or another," as a storytelling tool. "It's a major component to our visual style," says lead art designer Daniel Dociu. The entire trailer was generated in-house at ArenaNet, and Dociu says it has helped crystallise the direction in which they wanted to take the sequel. "The trailer is very representative of the overall sensibility of the game" says Dociu. ArenaNet now has a graphics engine that they feel finally does justice to the concept art, according to Lye, and is something they believe hasn't really been possible until now. While the gameplay footage in the trailer is certainly far from final, it's a promising first look at the much-anticipated massively multiplayer online game, and fans will have to sit tight until more details are released.

Guild Wars 2 has yet to be given a firm release date. For more of our GamesCom 2009 coverage, visit gamescom.gamespot.com.

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