Variety isn't a spice, it's a necessary ingredient — one Guild Wars 2 forgot to add.
Guild Wars 2, the massive multiplayer fantasy followup released by ArenaNet. Guild Wars 2 is set in the world of Tyria, where five races fight against elder dragons as their world is torn apart by evil. And you, playing as one of these races, will help save the world from the forces that threaten it.
It's a pretty common theme, and not just among fantasy series. The commoner or foot soldier who rises to become a hero and saves the world. What's more, the game allows you to choose certain classes and specializations, go on solo or group quests and pick up talents like mining or crafting.
Sound familiar? It should. It's World of Warcraft.
It's not that Guild Wars 2 is not a worthy play. The game is vastly entertaining, with amazing graphics and stunningly beautiful artwork. Its character customization is one of the most advanced among MMOs, and its talent tree is engaging and innovative.
What's more, your level doesn't determine your abilities. Your weapon does. And better abilities unlock as you use your weapons more, which allows players to choose whether they will play tank or melee regardless of class or race.
But despite some distinctions, Tyria and Azeroth feel strikingly similar. When I play Guild Wars 2, I want to play WoW. When I play WoW, Guild Wars. The mechanics are different, but the world feel is the same, to the point where this Lich King veteran sometimes forgets which game she's playing.
Which becomes the biggest downfall of the game. High fantasy fans are already pulled in several directions by games that borrow from medieval themes — Dragon Age, Legend of Zelda and Trine, to name a few. But World of Warcraft is definitely a powerhouse in both fantasy worlds and MMOs. It's the death knell of any game developer to be too similar.
But the good news is that MMOs are entities which are constantly evolving. Guild Wars 2 is still within its first few weeks of release and time often leads to ingenuity.
ArenaNet must capture a separate spirit that will call players back again and again, instead of dividing their interests. If it does, then the prophecies of Guild Wars 2 success will be guaranteed.