Saturday, May 21

From fantasy to a fantasy/steampunk hybrid, GW2- the shock of the new.

Guild wars in a lot of ways was a traditional fantasy MMO, as the game progressed and further chapters released the use of technology remained consistent, with the exception of a few anomalies (the giant robotic boss in Sorrows Furnace), the dwarves had their gunpowder while all else relied on the edge of their blade and/or their magic. It was only with the introduction of the Asura in 'Eye of the North' did we start to see any technology beyond the simple explosives of the dwarves. The asura bought with them the manipulation of magical crystals and their Golem creations, creatures fashioned from a magical technology previously alien to the races of Tyria and beyond. Somehow though they still fitted within the world, their technology seemed more magical than industrial, 250 years later the world has changed and with it the technology.

Over that 250 years the Charr has been the race to create the industrial revolution of Tyria, this sat well with the majority of the fanbase, the few minor outcries about the inclusion of what look like steam powered buggies in the Charr homeland video did little to temper its warm welcome.

The inclusion of guns had some fans upset that the world had moved too far away from its fantasy roots, but in my mind the progression from gundpowder to guns over 250 years seems perfectly logical as does progression beyond that. That progression became very real with this weeks profession release, it also marked a significant change in the way we look at the world of Guild Wars 2. Fantasy purists can pick up their coat on the way out of the door, Anet has made a significant statement this week - The world of Tyria is now firmly a fantasy/steampunk hybrid. Say hello to the Engineer.

I don't want to talk about the profession, watch the video and read this interview to get an overview on how the class plays.

What I'm more interested in is how this profession has created a split in what was a pretty consistent and solid fanbase and what your thoughts are.

The biggest gripe from that video has been the inclusion of a beeping/flashing mine, a technology too close to modern times to sit comfortably with a lot of people, more digital than clockwork, something that seems to have been a bad aesthetic choice by Anet, but something that can be easily rectified, get rid of the flashing light and its beeping audio, replace it with something clockwork and it's sorted. The fact that this is still close to the April Fools Commando Profession reveal can't be ignored either, the memory of that has influenced a few fans judgement on the Engineer as too much too far and not far enough away from the Commando to be taken seriously.

How is all this going to affect the fanbase and the future playerbase of the game? There seems to be a small minority who don't like such a sharp shift away from fantasy who are pledging that their interest in the game has now gone and they won't be investing come release, another section simply don't like the class, wish it wasn't there but will still invest and simply won't be playing it. It's hard to say what the majority feeling is right now, we need more information and to see it in action rather than the highly choreographed skill videos before we can judge how it will play, right now it seems OP but I felt that way about the Thief too.

Me? I like the move forward into a more steampunk feel both with it's environments and this new class reveal. I have the feeling this is going to widen the games appeal, the dynamic combat mixed with a gunner class is going to attract FPS and action orientated players from other genres, not a bad thing for Anet but likely we'll see far too many engineers on the playing fields at first. With Anets statement that the further in to profession reveals we get the more difficult and complex their gameplay becomes I figure we will see less as the game progresses as players discover there is more to the class than simply blowing things up.

It's a controversial move from Anet to take this profession so far, it's still a long way until release and as a company that listens to its fans it will be interesting to see how this will develop as more info is revealed, I expect we'll get more info very soon considering the controversy its caused.

I'm embracing the steampunk feel, I'm happy with fantasy but happier when it moves forward and it's a step in a direction I like, what do you folks think?