By Mike O'Brien August 10th, 2010 It’s been a few months since I posted our design manifesto for Guild Wars 2, and since then we’ve written a lot about how we’re re-thinking the MMO – everything from combat and dynamic events to personal story – through dozens of detailed follow-up articles and interviews. You can tell by now how passionate we are about this. At ArenaNet we still dream of the promise that online worlds once held, before they all started following the same MMO formula: the same level grind and scheduled rewards; the same static, unchanging worlds; the same quest mechanics; the same “holy trinity” of class balance. We know the industry can do better. We’ve dedicated ourselves to innovating in online worlds, and we’re going to hold ourselves to the highest standards. So you’ve read these articles, and in general we know your reaction has been, “That all sounds great in theory, but I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, get ready, because we’ve talked the talk, and now we’re going to walk the walk. Today we’re releasing a video that showcases all this innovative gameplay we’ve been talking about, and next week we’ll present a hands-on demo to the 250,000 attendees of gamescom in Cologne, followed by a second showing at PAX Prime in Seattle two weeks later. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll see in the demo. You’ll be able to play a human character starting at level 1, or a charr character starting at level 47. For your first demo I recommend you play as human. You’ll get to experience the personal, branching story we’ve been talking about; you’ll get to band together with other players to defend human villagers and push back marauding centaurs in a variety of events; you’ll get to experience the active combat system and cross-profession combos; and you’ll have a huge open world to explore. Then, once you’re an expert at the game, come back and try playing again as a high-level charr. You won’t see as much story playing as a charr (since we don’t want to spoil the story for you that far into the game) but instead you’ll have a wide variety of high-level skills to experiment with, and you’ll be able to participate in some truly epic battles. You’ve seen footage of Divinity’s Reach, the last great human city. Now come experience it in person. It’s enormous and detailed, and full of amazing things to discover. This is where your human character’s home is located, and you’ll keep coming back to it as your personal story plays out. Check out the scene in the video with giant hands reaching out from the ground creating a vortex of destruction. That’s an earth elemental, summoned by an enemy shaman as part of a multiplayer event near the start of the human story. You’ll probably fight it as a level 1 character. That’s quite a step up from killing ten rats! That enormous steel structure in the video is called Steeleye Span. It’s a charr stronghold whose cannons hold the line against an army of corrupted dragon minions that rise up from the scorched earth in an area known as the Brand. Come play as a charr and man those cannons! And watch out for the dragon, named The Shatterer. He’s a special rank of dragon that terrorizes the Brand. You’ll see him in the demo too. You’ll even see us in the demo. We’re so excited to be able to play with you and show off Guild Wars 2 for the first time that our entire company will be playing the game remotely with trade show attendees during gamescom and PAX. In the case of gamescom, that’s going to be equivalent to a series of all-night LAN parties for us – we’ll be staying up from about 1:00 AM to 11:00 AM each day to play with you – but our fans in Europe are worth it! It’s a huge game world and a huge demo, and there’s more to experience than I could ever possibly write about, so come see it for yourself and tell us what you think. And even if you’re not able to play the game, if you like what you’ve seen and read, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more. We’re not exactly shy about our opinions. We hope to see you in-game!