Guild Wars 2 is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game developed by ArenaNet and published by NCsoft. Guild Wars 2 is the sequel to the 2005 original. Is Guild Wars 2 innovative enough to compete with World of Warcraft or does it just put its’ owns spin on the traditional MMO formula?
Guild Wars 2 tells the story of the persistent world of Tyria following the re-emergence of Destiny's Edge, a disbanded guild dedicated to fighting the Elder Dragons from the original Guild Wars. In terms of story, Guild Wars 2 presents two distinct storytelling techniques that work very well in this game. The first story telling technique is the use of hand drawn cut scenes that display two characters interacting in a dialogue as a setup to the story quests. All story quests are in instanced areas and the cut scene dialogue is fully voiced and varies in quality dependent on the voice actor and character they are betraying. If you are looking for type of cinematic story telling you found in SWTOR look else where. While I enjoyed the stories of the Char, Sylvari, and Asura races, I felt the Nord and Human stories were very fantasy generic in nature. The second story telling method that is actually done with great success is the ability to customize your personal story and make choices that affect the outcome of that story. This is done in two ways; the ability to make decisions during character creation that define your back-story and the ability to make decisions that alter gameplay situations based on the options you choose from various npcs throughout your story. Overall the story of Guild Wars 2 is nothing that is memorable and is totally skip able but has nice touches if you want to care about the main story. Guild Wars 2 does a better job of telling story compared to most MMOs who tell story through blocks of text from NPCs.
Guild Wars 2 is a gorgeous looking MMO. The real standout in the game is the hand drawn art which is found in everything from the maps, UI, world, and characters. The game looks like a beautifully drawn brushstroke painting and the level of detail is ever more apparent when you can zoom in your mini map and see the amount of polish that is taken to render the different locations you explore in the world of Tyria. The locations are vast and varied while the game runs smoothly on most modern PCs. The only drawback to the graphics seems to be the performance of the framerate during large dynamic battles due in part to the public event system.
As far as gameplay, Guild Wars 2 is the most innovative MMO to date. Guild Wars 2 is innovative for countless reasons but the most important being that the game has the most well executed quest system in a RPG to date. The quest system in Guild Wars 2 finally breaks the stale MMO tradition of going to an NPC in order to visit a zone where you most collect or kill a set number of items or mobs in order to return to the NPC and complete the quest for XP. Instead the game opts for two different types of ways to handle the quest system. The first being the heart system where you visit location throughout your map and complete tasks based around activities in that area. The second quest system is the random public event system. In this system, you are prompted with different tasks and are given a circular indicators of where those tasks are located and how to complete them. The beauty of this system is that you are never forced to have to return to or talk to an NPC. I like that anyone in that general area can gain XP and help you achieve your goal until your bar indicator is full. Also it is completely randomized leaving the feeling of grinding unapparent to the player. The next most innovative system is the way Guild Wars 2 handles skills and combat. Rather than simply dumping points into a skill tree to fill up an action bar, Guild Wars 2's skills rely on 5 skills based on a weapon type and 5 class skills. The 5 class skills include 1 healing skill of your choice and four other skills based on your level. I enjoyed that the 5 skills based on your weapon are gained by using the weapon itself. I felt this brought much needed variety to the gameplay as you picked up new weapons and could change out two weapons on the fly. The five class skills allowed every class to heal itself which eliminated the MMO holy trinity of DPS, tank, and healer. I liked that most classes allowed the player to become a jack of all trades. Another innovative feature is the variety of ways to level up besides combat which includes vista points, skill challenges, crafting, and PVP. Guild Wars 2 is also does a great job at cutting out the MMO fat and streamlining the experience with fast travel locations that are frequent and spread out equally around the map. Also the ability to sell items right from your menu screen is a nice addition. Overall what makes Guild Wars 2 stand out as a MMO is it feels like a living world where players socially work together to complete objectives for the common good. In the past, I often felt that even though MMOs where massively multiplayer there was no real cooperative element. I think this was due to the fact that you usual need a party in MMOs to feel like you are interacting together with others in the world. In my opinion, Guild Wars 2 does the best job of overcoming that hurdle to make a game that is truly massively multiplayer. With that said, the game does not come without its faults. My first one being that even though the combat is more action oriented with dodge rolls and AOE positioning, I would like to see it taken even further with combat similar to games like Tera where it requires more positioning and precision. Other issues include technical issues like buggy quests, the inability to easily party up with your friends on other servers, the issue of server overflow that occurs way to frequently in different instanced zones, the rarely functional auction house at launch, and a crafting system that is unintuitive. Lastly, the security issues that have been occurring with accounts being hacked and lack of quick and responsive customer service is a factor that kept me not playing the game for a whole day for no good apparent reason.
Guild Wars 2 without a doubt is the best $60 you can spend on a game if you have a PC that can run it. Even you aren’t a fan of MMOs, this game is different enough to warrant a purchase. The game features 8 classes, 5 races, and ability to level characters up to level 80 with tons of gameplay. Besides the huge world and tons of PVE content there are also two great PVP modes as well. The PVP modes include traditional structured player vs player and the unforgettable World vs World PVP mode. The structured PVP mode involves small teams of player competing to eliminate each other in order to capture strategic objectives on a map. The World VS World PVP has hundreds of players representing their respective servers battling over objectives in four massive maps for weeks. Players work together to lay siege to castles, raid enemy caravans, participate in large scale battles, and use siege weapons like golems and trebuchets. The great thing about both of these PVP modes are that everyone is scaled to max level, provided with those level based skills, and have the ability to max out to level 80 while only participating in PVP while receiving special bonuses and perks.
Guild Wars 2 is the best MMO I have ever played. I think with the games' unique quest, skills, and PVP systems, the game will appeal to veteran MMO players as well as new comers who were originally turned off by the genre. Lastly, the greatest strength of this game is there is no subscription fee, so you will never feel bad or that you are wasting money by taking time off to play other games or take off gaming itself.
Buy: Most innovative and best MMO to date. I believe Guild Wars 2 has the best MMO gameplay systems for veterans of the genre and new comers alike. Plus no subscription fee!!!