Just about every MMO player is excited in some way about the upcoming sequel to Guild Wars- Guild Wars 2 and we at Gameogre.com are no exception. Humbling ourselves at the feet of Arenanet and NCsoft we put away our ogre clubs(or at least hid them behind our backs in case Arenanet said no) and convinced them to give us some of the details about Guild Wars 2 in an interview. Gameogre: How does the Guild Wars 2 storyline tie into the original Guild Wars? Will existing Guild Wars players be able to carry their current characters over to Guild Wars 2? Regina B: Guild Wars 2 is set 250 years after the events in the original Guild Wars. As such, existing Guild Wars players will not be able to use their current characters in Guild Wars 2. However, through the Hall of Monuments, available through the Guild Wars Eye of the North expansion, Guild Wars players will be able to record the achievements of all the characters on their account and receive rewards in Guild Wars 2. For more information about the Hall of Monuments and the rewards that veteran Guild Wars players will receive in Guild Wars 2, we have written an article with more details. Gameogre: Will there be new races to expect in Guild Wars 2? If so, what are their relationships with the currently existing races? Regina B: In the original Guild Wars, players could play as humans. In Guild Wars 2, players can play as one of five different races: human, charr, sylvari, asura, and norn. Each of the playable races has their own perspective on the world. Players have already interacted with the charr, asura, and norn in the original Guild Wars and the expansion, Guild Wars Eye of the North. The charr are feline-like humanoid creatures that the human nation of Ascalon went to war with in Guild Wars. The charr have developed mechanical technology since Guild Wars. The asura are small, extremely intelligent humanoids that are skilled in magic. The norn are a race of giants that prize prowess in battle and honor. The sylvari are a new race of plant-like humanoids, having magically emerged from a tree planted by a venerated, pacifist centaur and a human, who were both trying to escape the war and violence in the world. Because the sylvari are a young race, they have yet to discover much in the world, so they look at everything with new eyes. In Guild Wars 2, the five major races will need to form potentially uneasy alliances and work together if they are to overcome the threat of the great dragons. In addition, there are NPC races, such as the grawl, hylek, and quaggan that live in Tyria and interact with player characters as they adventure through the world. Gameogre: Can you tell us about some of the new zones or environments in Guild Wars 2? What are some of the new features players can look forward to? Regina B: One new feature in Guild Wars 2 that was not in the original game is the ability to explore underwater environments. We can’t go into this in great detail now, but there are incredible underwater places to explore. A feature in Guild Wars 2 is the use of environmental weapons, such as boulders and other objects. Equipping an environmental weapon temporarily replace the first five skills on the skill bar. There are a variety of environmental weapons, from buckets of water to weapons conjured by specific professions in battle—for example, an elementalist can use a skill to conjure fiery sword, which other party members can use. Gameogre: What are some of the new monsters, bosses, etc.? Regina B: While we don’t want to reveal all the surprises in the game, we can talk about a few of the bosses players could fight in the demo we showed off at our summer convention appearances. The first boss you encounter in the human starter area is an Earth Elemental that has allied itself with a group of invading centaurs. It appears as a massive pair of hands made of rock and earth coming out of the churning ground. The elemental is many times the size of the player. As earth churns in a swirling tornado between the giant hands, it throws out debris and lighting at the player, who must defeat it to put an end this centaur incursion. Godslost Swam lies the vicinity of the large human city of Divinity’s Reach. In this swamp lurks a Shadow Behemoth. The Shadow Behemoth is a towering shadow creature, with bright yellow eyes gleaming out of its form. It has a massive toothy maw and long arms ending in huge claws. The Shatterer is a mid-level boss located in the charr area, the Dragonbrand. It is a rank given to the lieutenant of the elder crystal dragon, Kralkatorrik. Kralkatorrik corrupts organic matter. The Shatterer itself has a rather deadly breath weapon attack. It appears as a huge winged dragon, almost skeletal in appearance, and looks to be made of dark crystal shards. When it charges its breath weapon, purple lightning coalesces inside its chest, and you can see this evil light pouring out between the gaps in the dragon’s crystal skeleton. The Shatterer is so huge that it is difficult to see its entire form your field of vision if you stand close to it. If you move away from the front lines of the battle to a position at the rear, the massive scale of this boss is apparent—it dominates the battlefield with its huge size, and players are akin to mice trying to attack a cat. It takes an enormous concerted effort to defeat this monster. Gameogre: I would imagine there would also be some additions of new loot and rewards, can you tell us about some of those and what players might expect to find? Regina B: One of the things I can talk about right now in terms of loot and rewards is what players can receive through the Hall of Monuments. The Hall of Monuments celebrates the achievement a player earns in the original Guild Wars with rewards in Guild Wars 2. The rewards that Guild Wars 2 characters earn are exclusive to the Hall of Monuments and can’t be picked up or earned anywhere else in Guild Wars 2. Depending on a player’s achievements in Guild Wars, that player may be able to unlock cool stuff like titles, animal companions for rangers, non-combat miniature pets, weapons, and armor sets. New Guild Wars 2 characters will be able to use these items right away, and we will provide players the means to use the items as players advance to higher levels if they wish. If you have a Guild Wars character that has unlocked the Hall of Monuments, you can see your rewards by putting your character name into the Hall of Monuments Reward Calculator. Gameogre: What has made Guild Wars 1 so successful, and what aspects from the first game are you definitely keeping? Are there any features you are purging to make Guild Wars 2 even better? Regina B: Of course there are a lot of little things that go into making a game successful but I think that our general approach of trying to make a visually stunning game that innovated in both gameplay and business model was at the core of our success. We have tried to apply those same ideals to everything we do in Guild Wars 2 and we feel that this more than anything else is what will give us the best chance for success. Beyond our general philosophy there were numerous features that we felt worked when carried over from Guild Wars such as the concepts behind several of our professions and skills as well as the gameworld and lore we had spent so much time building. At the same time there were also quite a few features that didn’t make sense to include in Guild Wars 2 such as dual professions. We felt that we needed to look at every feature and evaluate it on a case by case basis picking only the things that we thought would make Guild Wars 2 a better game. Gameogre: Were there any ideas that have been sparked or inspired by features in other MMO’s when developing Guild Wars 2? Regina B: There have been moments when we look to other games for inspiration, but we really love to look at games outside of the MMO genre as well as beyond games. We’ll look at films, TV, literature, nature, just about anything. You never know what will spark a great idea! Gameogre: PvP has always been huge in Guild Wars and definitely considered by some to be the main aspect. Are you keeping this focus on PVP in Guild Wars 2? Will there be any changes made to the PvP system? Regina B: PvP was a prominent aspect of Guild Wars, and that isn’t changing for Guild Wars 2. While the number of hardcore PvP players is much smaller than those who primarily enjoy PvE, we will have a robust and fun PvP system in Guild Wars 2. We’ve learned a lot from PvP in Guild Wars and we will carry over what we learned into Guild Wars 2 with a view to improve the format. One of the significant changes to PvP from the original Guild Wars was a change in party size, from eight players per team in Guild Wars to five players per team in Guild Wars 2. The designers found that it was easier for players to get together a group of five people than eight. There will also be different modes of PvP , such as World versus World PvP, in which hundreds of players can participate in unstructured, or a more casual format of PvP. Casual play is something that the original Guild Wars did not emphasize to a strong degree, and that was a barrier to entry to some people, who found PvP too complex, intimidating, and requiring too much detailed knowledge of skills to be effective. At this time we’re still working hard on PvP, and will share more details when we’re ready. Gameogre: Can you describe how the two different modes of PvP, competitive, and open world PvP, will work? In open world PvP, will players be allowed to fight against characters from all over the world? Regina B: World versus World PvP is a format in which hundreds of players of any level can join people on their World in The Mists to fight against players from another World. Combat is open and there are a variety of objectives and roles within such large scale battles that players can take. Even though low level characters can participate, they can still contribute to the battle. In the structured form of PvP, players compete against each other on equal footing. Characters playing in structured PvP will be given the same level as opponents and all skills and items will be available without requiring unlocking in PvE. Tournament mode is where organized teams of five fight in tournament play. Pick-up mode lets individuals or groups join a game against another team based upon maps selection and other factors. Gameogre: What drove your decision to abandon secondary careers and introduce a class system? What added features or benefits will the class system bring to Guild Wars 2? Regina B: With Guild Wars 2, designers questioned everything with a view for improvement. They initially started working with a two-profession system as in the original Guild Wars, however they felt that it constrained them from doing really cool things with the skill system. Given that they were looking at incorporating racial abilities, and the move to weapon-dependent skill bars, the complexity of the skill system was increasing to a degree that designers felt that it was detrimental to fun, approachable game play. Secondly, in examining the skill system of the original Guild Wars, designers also found that not many people actually spend a ton of time dreaming up new and complex skill combinations. Most people kept the same skill bars on their characters all the time, and just wanted to get into the action quickly, with a skill set they knew would work in a predictable, effective way. Gameogre: So many players really like the freedom Guild Wars had in building their character’s skills and style, but others are not so good at creating elite characters. Are you making any improvements to aspects of Guild Wars 2 to help those who may be struggling a bit? Regina B: One of the things the designers goals for Guild Wars 2 was to make the game more accessible and understandable to the majority of players. While there is an element of strategy and room for players who want to delve into the intricacies of skill synergy, players who don’t want to do this will find the skill system approachable and understandable from the get-go. Gameogre: Guild Wars has always kept an impressive pay once and play forever platform. With so many games going free to play or offering other versions of pay systems will Guild Wars 2 remain with their current payment options? Do you think Guild Wars will ever become completely free to play in the future? Regina B: Guild Wars 2, like the original Guild Wars, will be a subscription-free model, in which you purchase the main game, and optionally purchase smaller microtransations content. At this time, there are no plans to make Guild Wars free-to-play. Gameogre: Has an exact release date been set yet for Guild Wars 2, and is there anything else you would like for our readers to know about Guild Wars 2? Regina B: We have not announced a release date yet. Our fans expect the best from us, and we want to make sure the game is absolutely ready before we announce launch plans.