Finally, the wait -- the long, long wait -- is nearly over.
NCsoft said on Friday that early access to Guild Wars 2 for those who pre-purchased the PC game will be able to start playing on Saturday, August 25, as part of the Headstart Program. Everyone else won't be able to log into the MMOG until Tuesday, August 28.
"Five years ago we set out to develop a game that finally fulfilled the promise of online worlds," said Mike O’Brien, president and co-founder of ArenaNet. "We questioned everything that had previously been taken for granted and we never settled for ‘good enough.’ Now, we’re finally ready to introduce Guild Wars 2 to gamers who are looking for the next evolution in online gaming."
Back in March, Massively posted an excellent article on the differences between Guild Wars 2 and its predecessor, breaking them down to Lore, Creation, Progression, Death, Gear, Content, Grouping, Interface, Economy, Gems, Guilds PvP and Endgame. The biggest difference is in the setting itself, taking place in Tyria 250 years later. The land is a bit more technologically advanced, introducing elements like pistols and turrets.
Another big change is how Guild Wars 2 handles death. In the original MMOG, the player is resurrected or sent to the nearest shire. In the sequel, players have a chance to return from a "downed" state using special skills. This also gives other players and NPCs time to revive the downed character.
"If you are defeated in a downed state, you're allowed to resurrect at a nearby waypoint, which is sort of a blend of a resurrection shrine and the map hubs that permit GW1-esque instant map-travel all over the world... for a small fee," Massively writes. "Defeat has a chance to break a piece of your armor, something that might shock old-timers, but I promise you: It's much preferable to repair your gear at an NPC than suffer with massive DP (death penalty) a la Guild Wars 1!"
Also one of the biggest changes is how the world is built. Instead of instanced missions, exporables and dungeons stemming from social hubs (towns), Tyria is now a persistent world spiced with dynamic and random events. And like other MMOGs on the market, there will still be instanced dungeons for the single-player story and group XP grinds. Even more, Guild Wars 2 won't require a monthly subscription.
On Friday, NCsoft pointed out four major features Guild Wars 2 has to offer including:
Guild Wars 2 is a living, breathing world where events occur naturally and in response to players’ actions. This system fosters cooperation between players -- everyone who participates is rewarded, and players begin to naturally cooperate instead of compete.
Your deeply customized personal story begins when you first create your character, then twists and turns with each fateful decision you make.
Guild Wars 2is an action game at heart. Survival in combat is based on timing, skill, and movement. Well-timed dodges or combo attacks are integral to any battle. Guild Wars 2 rethinks the outdated class restrictions of other games, giving players the tools and skills they need to play with friends regardless of their class.
Player vs. Player and World vs. World
Competitive multiplayer in Guild Wars 2 consists of two exciting modes. PvP serves up intense small-unit combat that focuses on skill and strategy, not gear. WvW pits entire servers of players against each other in a two-week-long war on a series of huge maps.
"Guild Wars 2 is launching at a time when players are looking for something different in an MMO: a game that offers them an innovative and unique experience without a monthly subscription,” said O’Brien. "Guild Wars 2 is that game, and we believe it will fundamentally change the way people think about online RPGs."
For more information on the game and to purchase Guild Wars 2, visit www.guildwars2.com. For those of you who will have access to the game on Saturday, be sure to eat, get some sleep, and make time for a potty break.