Why GW2 Won’t Replace My Other MMO

Since Guild Wars 2 first began powering up the hype train, people have been claiming that it would revolutionize the MMO genre and replace the games that came before it. Nobody wants to play with yesterday’s toy after all (just ask Slinky). I’m here to tell you that, no, Guild Wars 2 will not be replacing my other MMO. And contrary to how that might sound, it’s not really a bad thing.

See, it’s easy for me to join along with each new MMO and put the previous one to bed for a while. I didn’t want that to happen with RIFT, so I’ve been keeping up with it, working through Ember Isle and trying to be regular with my expert dungeons. What I’ve found is that, surprisingly, Guild Wars has really taken nothing away from it. RIFT stands up against all of the innovations and gameplay changes GW2 brings to the table.I got to thinking, how can that be? GW2 is made of the finest stuff the MMO industry has had on offer these last 8 years, shouldn’t it make other games feel old? I think the simple truth is that Guild Wars has innovated its way right out of comparison. It doesn’t feel like other games, and what similarities it does have are pretty cursory compared to that feeling. Character progression is different. Moving through the world is different. Combat is very different. Exploration means something. And while a lot of people will tell you that its individual parts are like this or that, or that it’s still tab-targeting (“action bar combat fail!”), I’m here to tell you that those people are  either kidding themselves or are flat out jaded. A game is about an experience, the sum total of its parts, and some people just miss the forest for the trees.

So when I step back into RIFT, it’s like I’ve just saddled a whole different beast. It holds up! And while it doesn’t have dodging or trinity-less design, it doesn’t need them to be a great game. It’s good we have Guild Wars.  It’s great that they’re challenging conventions and trying new things. But some people like those old designs and they’re not wrong it.

Take the trinity for example. I am absolutely fine with having that in my game. While I like being self-sufficent and surviving based on my own skill (GW2), I also enjoy playing a defined role and having to fill that responsibility. I was talking to a friend the other day and the idea of not being able to play a real “healer” turned him off. He liked supporting his group. I can understand that. The idea of giving up tanking in exchange for pure dungeon chaos turns me off. I’ll get used to it, just like he will, because, hey, different isn’t bad. It’s just takes getting used to.

And that’s my take-away. GW2 isn’t a revolution, it’s different. It’s not going to replace other MMOs because it’s unique enough to co-exist without pushing others off the plate. This isn’t the second coming, it’s just an excellent game. I will happily play it alongside others. But taking something away from a game like RIFT? Not done.

Such a perfect business model for this kind of scenario, too. I guess we’ll really see whether players want more than one game this year.

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