Guild Wars 2 is the newest released game featured in my “Battle of MMOs” review series. This is indeed quite an advantage, but visually I consider it to be the best looking MMO out there, with the in-game vistas begging you to pause to admire the detail and epicness. Like the first Guild Wars, it is just a one time purchase, with no subscription required like RuneScape or World of Warcraft. Sadly as a big fan of the original series, it has introduced a lot of change, and not all of which is an improvement in my opinion. This isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable; there are many positive aspects to the game which they achieved better than its predecessor, and the non subscription means that I’ve kept it installed and can easily return to Tyria whenever I get that urge.
I think having a story in an MMO is important – it gives players something to distract themselves from the expected grindy nature of the genre. In GW2, the plot takes place 250 years after the end of the original series, and features a much changed world having been the victim of the now awakened Elder Dragon’s destruction. The story involves uniting the major (playable) races to put aside their differences, to form a pact to combine all their strength to fight back against these Elder Dragons before it’s too late.
While I don’t find the story as engaging as I found Guild Wars, it’s still interesting. You play an active part on how you wish to proceed with many different paths to choose, something uncommon in MMOs. Perhaps my reason for not being as hooked to the story is how you need to be a certain level to be able to progress. This is fair enough – it’d be silly if you could complete the main story as a noob – but the original series did have a much lower level cap of 20, meaning the story flowed quicker and felt more like you were exploring new areas to fit with the plot, than in the sequel where I found it felt more of a side, instead of the focus.
It has been out for just less than two years now, having been released at the end of August 2012. While no expansions have been announced to increase the game’s content, the game has a rather unique feature called the “Living World”. The developers, ArenaNet, add in new stories and features on a fortnightly basis. Most of this is temporary, but the content is big enough to satisfy the growing number of people who have completed the main story, providing something fresh to look forward to twice a month.
A good example of the Living World would be festive events like Halloween and Christmas. They add in new themed monsters, npcs, quests, items, drops, activities, even new zones, for the duration of these events. Then the content is often later removed. This can suck if you miss it, but a plus is that makes you feel rewarded with exclusive items for taking part.
The Living World, aside from these festive events, are all tied together, with a continuous story with new developments keeping you hooked to see how it unfolds. The second Season has actually just started. It is set after the end of the main story, therefore targeting end-game players who may be considering leaving.
Class combination, playable races and teamwork
I feel that Guild Wars 2 rewards teamwork. I think they purposely made enemies tough enough to present a difficult challenge to those who wish to solo, therefore encouraging you to work together, instead of taking down enemies in a single hit. The classes each have their own unique feel but they do all combine well together.
There are also no defined healer classes that are common in others MMOs, each class has their own healing skills. The two heavy classes are the Warrior and the Guardian, they are the most durable and are often in the face of the enemies. The three medium classes are the Engineer, Ranger and the Thief, they each have a good mix of range weapons and melee weapons – giving players a lot of versatility. Finally the three light classes are the Elementalist, Mesmer and the Necromancer, these three are often fighting from afar using an arsenal of damage dealing spells.
The five playable races are the Asura, Charr, Human, Norn and Sylvari. These races are obviously differing in appearance, but it is also important to note that it affects your starting area and the first few steps in your personal story. I started with a Norn Ranger and and have since made a Human Thief, Asura Elementalist and a Charr Warrior.
I consider the replay value to be sufficient, maybe because of the gaps of time between me creating these characters, but going through their races starting zones and own little story was interesting enough to keep the word repetition out of my mind.
To look towards the negatives of the game is rather difficult. While there are aspects which aren’t so great, I find there is often a positive counter argument.
The requirements to run the game smoothly are significantly high in comparison with other MMOs, but the game needs this in order for it to look as magical as it does – with a lovely viewing distance which makes the world really feel alive.
Once you’ve hit the level cap and completed the story, it has often been asked what’s next. Well the game features an extensive list of achievements which give rewards for each tier of points you collect. There are dungeons which reward you with tokens which you can trade for unique gear. The Living World is producing new content every two weeks for you to enjoy. There is a built-in crafting system which allows you can create your own sweet looking legendary weapons, which you can instead save up for.
If you’re growing bored with completing the PvE zones then there are plenty of alternatives, you can try your hand at PvP in a massive World v World format, or you can have a laugh trying to complete the frustrating yet highly amusing jumping quests that often cause you to fall to your death if you slightly mistime your jump! Good times…
There was a lot of hype towards Guild Wars 2 prior to its release. It’s difficult to say if it’s met it – I was a bit underwhelmed at the start but it has grown on me since – however there is no doubt that this a quality MMO experience. The lack of a monthly subscription is the icing on the cake for me. The world is beautiful and leaves you eager to explore it all. The wide variety between classes and races gives you plenty of replay value to check them all out, and find your perfect combination. The fighting, especially the epic boss fights, feel really satisfying when you master your class and take down huge enemies. I’m not sure if I’ll look back with as much nostalgia as I do with its predecessor, but this may change the more ArenaNet add to it. Overall, Guild Wars 2 for me is by no means the flop that some people make it out to be. There is a lot of content to enjoy and is still very much a high populated world.