The inaugural feature of the Guild Wars 2 blog is a 'design manifesto'. In the manifesto, devs duck no topic and answer with rare candor questions like "shouldn't great MMORPGs be great RPGs too" and others. Check it out!
It sometimes feels like our industry has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. When you play an RPG, you want to experience a compelling and memorable storyline. You want your choices to matter. You want your actions to leave their mark on the world. Let's start demanding those things of MMOs too.
The original Guild Wars was known for the level of storytelling it brought to online RPGs, so with GW2 we obviously wanted to take it to the next level. In GW you experience the story of the world, but the story in GW2 is the personal story of your character as well. You fill out a biography at character creation time that defines your background and your place within the world, and that starts you on your path. Then the choices you make will take the story in different directions. Each time you play through the game, you can experience a different storyline.
Some games mostly tell story through quest text. But we've all clicked so many exclamation points and accepted so many quests in our lives that we're pretty immune to quest text at this point. GW2 tells story by allowing the player to befriend and adventure with key characters, by presenting him with moral dilemmas that will impact the lives of the people around him, and by having him live through world-changing events and all the key moments of the storyline.
In addition to great storyline and important player choices, another hallmark of great RPGs is that they create a world that feels real and alive. Let's say a village is being terrorized by bandits. You don't want to find out about that because there's a villager standing there motionless with an exclamation mark over his head who says when you click on him, "Help, we're being terrorized by bandits." You want to find out like you would in GW2: because the bandits are attacking, chasing villagers through the streets, slaying them and setting their houses on fire. You can stand up for the villagers, or you can watch their village burn to the ground and then deal with the consequences. We've worked hard to create a living, dynamic world for you, where there's always something new to do.
There's a whole lot more to read about the necessity of social aspects in gaming and a new way of looking at combat. Be sure to head to the link above.