The dark cloud hailing down on any MMO is World of Warcraft, which exists as the enormous, grind-inducing yardstick by which all other MMORPGs are measured. In fact, just reviewing MMOs almost always boils down to a basic fill-in-the-blanks scheme:
"X feature is a welcome inclusion to the genre, and I hope it catches on. Unfortunately as a whole, WoW is still better. Maybe WoW will steal X feature and use it, in addition to Y feature from Z game. That would be perfect."
Guild Wars has been a bit of an exception. It's an MMORPG developed to avoid the grind scenarios that have been status quo in the genre: WoW rung in a new golden era for the kind of slack-chinned tedium that came from having to kill 50 Kobolds consecutively, and GW sought to move away from that.
For instance, Guild Wars had an almost hilariously low level cap in the early days – 20 to WoW’s original 60 – and created a massively multiplayer environment that was largely based in instances. But Chris Lye, Guild Wars 2’s Global Brand Director, tells us how this didn’t really work in the game’s favour:
"We learned a few things when it came to instancing. We learned it’s a great way to do both custom storytelling and encounters that are focussed just around your group. But we noticed that one of the things we were losing, because we didn’t have the persistence, was the social glue and cohesion that you get from having a continually persistent world. Without persistence you can never really deliver that whole feeling of a virtual world. We had a sense of community in our outposts, and as soon as we got beyond the outpost in the instance areas you were alone. There was a dramatic change you were suddenly aware of. You’d have hundreds of people in the outpost area and then suddenly you’re alone. A persistent experience would expand that out so we’d have the feeling across the entire game."
Guild Wars 2 is an attempt to find a different route around the social problems that leaking out of GW1 since its release, and one of the primary ways of remedying the social side of Guild Wars comes from the newly implemented Dynamic Events.