GW2: Going in Dark

The day has finally arrived. We stand at the cusp of one of the most anticipated MMO launches since World of Warcraft, and to say that there is a palpable excitement in the air is an understatement. We’ve waited years for Guild Wars 2, many of us on the edge of our seats, gobbling up any bit of information we could get our hands on. Speaking for myself, I feared the day may never come. It was always so far off, too much like a daydream whose promise and excitement faded with the inevitable *crack* back to reality. Perhaps that sounds romantic and it probably is, but it’s also true. GW2 was a shared dream simply because ArenaNet dared to say “this isn’t working, here’s what we think will.” The game was presented to us as the physical embodiment of challenged conventions — who wouldn’t be excited about that?

Whether those daydreams become reality is a story to be told down the line. For now, I’m going into this thing dark. I know the basics; limited skills on the action bar, WvWvW, events, jumping puzzles, and cute-eared Asura. How it plays is a mystery. How it feels is yet to be determined. And I don’t care. If we speak with our wallets, I will emphatically declare that, yes, I support this; yes, give me more of what ArenaNet is selling because, for me, it’s as much about shouting from every rooftop that “DIFFERENT IS GOOD” as it is enjoying GW2 on its own merit. There is value in successful ideas over successful implementations and this is the upswing to break the mold. Whether or not Guild Wars 2 succeeds in its delivery, its success is in sales is a good thing for us all, fan or foe.

As an MMO blogger, this is the first time I’ll have gone into a launch with so little knowledge. I feel unprepared. I also absolutely relish the opportunity to go into this thing and have it be new. Even experiencing RIFT’s few beta events took some of that freshness away, 15 levels to be exact. From the very beginning, GW2 will be unexplored territory with surprise upon surprise in store for me. Quirks and idiosyncrasies others already take for granted will be the fodder for continued probing. I haven’t stepped into a game like that in so long… it makes me wonder if I’ve been over-educating myself these last five years. It’s also about as close to the average gamer as I’m likely to get.

Standing back from the upswell of hype has had an opposite effect, too. I missed out on the rising tide of excitement and was left with only myself to hype with. For what I gain in mystery, I lack in the infectious giddiness that’s come to typify launches up to this point. I am excited, there is no doubt about that, but I also recognize that Guild Wars is just a game like any other; it will be fun, I’ll make and play with friends, and I’ll feel satisfaction having spent my time there. Strangely, even knowing so little, it’s like going into Christmas morning already knowing what presents await you under the tree.

I don’t know that I’ll do this next time. For as much as we like to complain about the hype cycle, it truly is one of the most fun aspects of following MMOs and missing out changes something.

As someone who has been around the block with launches past, I’m excited at what blogging opportunities a fresh set of eyes might bring. Crazy as I am (and Syp too it seems!), I’m getting up at 3AM to be there for launch. Yeah, I’ll probably wait in queue for an hour or two, but you know what? I’ve been dark long enough.

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