Tonight Guild Wars 2: The Dream dies, to be replaced by Guild Wars 2: The Reality, and for many the best MMO ever will cease to exist. Fear not, the cycle of life in MMO land will go on, and the next ‘savior’ should be with us in a month or two.
Not since Warhammer Online have we seen a game get this much hype pre-release (Tortanic was 90% corporate hype, as all but a few (paid?) fans believe it was going to work. Rift was very 50/50 pre-release), and the similarities are interesting. Both games came from trusted studios with MMO experience, with well-known brands, and very positive beta feedback. Both games share a familiar themepark base, but claim to mix it up significantly thanks to X and Y (PQs/Events, RvR/WvW, hotbar+ combat). Both games provide plenty of PvE content, but are ultimately relying on PvP for the ‘real’ ‘endgame’.
And while I don’t believe GW2 will share a fate similar to WAR, where the bubble burst fairly quickly and crushing flaws never get fixed, I don’t believe it’s totally out of the realm of possibility. It’s easy now to look back on WAR and say ‘broken’, but even deep into beta everything seemed to be working like a charm and people were LOVING the game. ‘White shades’ is what people today remember about WAR hype, but look back to 2009 and you will realize the hype was just as loud from fans in beta as it was from a guy lying about bears.
And even if GW2 does deliver, and it is a solid game, it will still disappoint some. There are plenty of people who have been ‘playing’ GW2: The Dream for 3-4 years, yet how many of them are going to be playing GW2: The Reality for that long? How many of them will have MORE fun actually playing than they did ‘playing’ with others on forums/blogs/podcasts/etc, dreaming about what might be? Going ‘all in’ on the MMO hype cycle can itself be all-consuming, and what does the software actually have to deliver to justify those years of waiting, reading, analyzing, and hoping? Are those people going to be satisfied just having fun playing 2-4 months after waiting 2-4 years?