Guild Wars 2 is the MMO Revolution That Star Wars: The Old Republic Promised

Rather than just share their impressions of the Guild Wars 2 beta that they and many other journalists participated in over the weekend, the editors at Game Informer have issued a bold statement: "Guild Wars 2 is the MMO revolution that Star Wars: The Old Republic promised." I certainly hope that it lives up to such a lofty achievement, but until we're able to see the game ourselves, I can only leave you with some of their favorable text:
Even from the start, tasks are wildly varied and often involve more than just "kill x enemies." For example, the early norn tasks are based around paying honor to the various animal spirits that the norn worship. To honor the wise raven, I answered riddles posed by raven statues and helped gather raven eggs. To honor the leopard, a shaman transformed me into the animal, allowing me to scare prey out of bushes and hunt them.

One of the coolest parts of this system is how quickly and smoothly tasks can transform into random world events. At one point, I was near the bear shrine, performing the task of fighting off trappers and disarming the bear traps they sent. Suddenly an ice drake broodmother appeared marching down a nearby river. I decided to fight it, and three other nearby players joined me. By the time we took the beast down, I ran back to the bear shrine to discover it was under attack. The trappers had mounted an offensive, and I decided to help defend the shrine against waves of attackers.

All of this happened naturally as I explored the world without needing to talk to an NPC and skip a bunch of boring dialogue. It's a strange system at first, especially for gamers used to the hand-holding nature of the most recent batch of popular MMOs, but I quickly realized how much I prefer it. Guild Wars 2's quest design rewards exploring the world and helping other people. In other words, it embraces the things that actually make it an MMO rather than just trying to imitate a single-player experience.

There are a ton of other smaller things I want to praise in Guild Wars 2. I love the brief, simple cutscenes that usually just feature two characters standing in front of beautiful concept art, saving the action for when you're in control. I love that the only time I made a decision in my main storyline, it was a decision that immediately and powerfully impacted the gameplay of the next quest. I especially love that Guild Wars 2 features a travel system, arguably making it the first MMO that genuinely respects your time.

But above all else, what sticks out to me is that Guild Wars 2 is so clearly in love with the idea of being a massively multiplayer game. For a while now, MMOs have been convincing me that all I want is a mostly single-player experience with chat room functionality. Guild Wars 2 reminds me of the joy that can come from having this huge world to explore full of other people to team up with, and it does so without sacrificing any of the approachability or care for storytelling that other games have focused on. This is the revolution that we deserve.