Game Reviewed: Guild Wars 2
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Platform: [Reviewed: PC]
Rated: T for Teen
At last, the moment has come. NCSoft has released Guild Wars 2, the second game in the Guild Wars franchise and i’ve had the incredible opportunity to play it both as a beta game and during the countdown to its official release. The last few days have been a flurry of wonderfully majestic fun and horribly annoying bugs, but is Guild Wars 2 worth the impending addiction? This game has much to offer for MMORPG fanatics as well as newbies to the MMO Genre who are confused about where to start.
So, let’s start out with something we can all wrap our heads around; the graphics. This game is beautiful for an MMORPG.
MMORPG’s usually have their own style of graphical environment and Guild Wars 2 is no different. From the illustrations during zone switches and the animations of fighting and dancing, Guild Wars 2 definitely has high-caliber graphics and environmentally, there is much to be loved about this game; trees sway, butterflies flutter and water trickles and rushes off back alleys springs and forest waterfalls alike.
If you can manage to take the time to pause and literally smell the roses in this game, then you will find some of the best relaxation around.
Is Guild Wars 2 a good replacement for meditation, no, but it’s a start. To get my point across, I somehow have managed to take hundreds of screenshots, something I rarely ever do. This game makes it easy, however, to want to capture ever little moment, both in passing as you run through forests and towns, as well as in action as you achieve objectives and gain skill points.
The graphics in this game are beautiful enough to make it a game worth trying, but gameplay in Guild Wars 2 is what separates it from other MMORPG’s. Just like any other MMORPG, Guild Wars 2 is all about questing, looting, learning skills and trades, building an empire with guild buddies and putting your skills to the test with other players. What makes it different, however, is the way in which it approaches a very static genre and breathes some excitement into questing.
This game takes away that feeling of endless grinding, sure if you want to power-level no amount of reinventing can take that feeling away, but for the normal or casual MMO player there will be a big difference in how this game feels versus other big name MMO’s. Guild Wars 2 feels more open and more like a sandbox than any other MMO before. You simply walk into a new area and your screen automatically shows you what quest is available in the area you are. Instead of having to interact with a bevy of NPC’S and clicking through a bunch of script just to receive your quest, this game makes it easier for you and on you to get involved in the story. Thinking back, it is much like the Lazy Man’s questing, but after a while you don’t read those scripts and you don’t care about the story. Guild Wars 2 has managed to incorporate the story into this play style.
You can find the various quests and tasks for a specific area by talking to a NP C with a telescope above their head, who then reveals areas of the map to you where you can quest. You can also achieve the same thing by simply exploring and seeing where your feet take you. When you aren’t raiding you can upgrade your trade skills, meet up with friends to PvP against other worlds or participate in mini-raids called Events. Whatever your choice, this game makes sure that you can find something better to do than just fulfill simple tasks. Events often appear near questing areas and can be anything from helping a farmer stave off a wave of bandits to escorting a caravan through a trade route. There seems to be no end to the things that you can do in this game, even at low levels.
How this game re-invents questing, it also re-invents leveling. Don’t you hate it when, while grinding in a low-level area as alow level character, a player who is twenty levels higher than you comes through and kills all your mobs? You are then left with no XP, nothing to kill and have to wait minutes before anything else respawns.
Well, Guild Wars 2 takes an interesting, albeit sometimes frustrating, take on leveling. While in areas where your level is equal to that of monsters around you, you fight at your current level. However, if you move into lower level areas, your level is downgraded so that you are effectively fighting at a lower level instead. This is helpful for lower levels who want to be able to fight off their monsters in peace, but it also makes it harder for higher levels to quickly run through areas on the way to another objective without pulling everything in sight. The game does try to remedy this by placing teleport locations often, so one can easily teleport through these areas, but it does cost money.
It can be an issue if not updated correctly however, as I can attest, being a level 13 in a level 10 area with an effective level of 7 is not fun. Bad things, my friend, bad things.
There is so much to talk about with this game. It is rich in content, it’s beautiful and the community is very lively and so far friendly. You can leather work, armorsmith, weaponsmith, and cook as well as upgrade your character using trait points; which upgrade abilities and increase stats, or by slot skills; which are skills separate from weapon skills that can buff your character or provide extra damage.
With your weapon skills, this game is very fluid and adaptive with the way it treats your weapons. Players start out with a main-hand weapon and an off-hand weapon and depending on the order you equip your weapons, your skills change. For example, if you have a pistol in your main hand and a dagger in your off-hand, your skills will be different than if you had a dagger in your main-hand and a pistol in your off-hand. Instead of having a gun shooting skill, and an innate ability to shoot guns no matter the situation, players learn to adapt to whatever their weapon currently is.
Even underwater you have a separate set of skills for shooting harpoon guns or torpedoes. Instead of focusing on one weapon and upgrading that till you can’t anymore, the game constantly changes and almost forces you to know how to use all kind of weapons. Obviously a ranger will be less likely to use a sword and a warrior might not be interested in a boom-stick, but it’s very easy to pick up either of these weapons without having to go through a third-party to first learn them. That being said, some things are fully off-limits to certain classes no matter what.
As with any other MMO, this game allows you to customize your character across races, classes and even down to what starting stats are most effective. The storyline can further be split into as many as three different ways for three different categories leaving a high chance for re-playability with different quests. I’ve created four different characters and each time the story related quests are a bit different because of the different choices I made during character creation. I see parts of the city I’ve never seen and participate in quests and events that are new and exciting.
Now that I’ve touched a very small surface of how fun this game is, there needs to be some discussion of the negative aspects of this game.
Unlike other MMO’s, the game currently does not support cross server character creation. Whatever server you choose as your home upon first starting the game, that is the server in which all your characters will be created. So, if you have friends that play make sure you talk to them first about what server they want to play on, otherwise you will have to stay in the overflow queue.
The overflow queue, because the game is so popular and there are a lot of people playing, is where players from all servers in your region are sent when their home servers are full, to wait until a spot opens. The overflow queue plays just like the home server does, except the overflow queue allows you to play with players from all servers while your home server is isolated to just that server.
Guild Wars 2 is brand-spanking new and, as of writing this, it hasn’t been officially released yet. NCSoft is doing an amazing job of responding to reports of glitches and bugs in the game so much so that within the last four hours of play, we’ve had three new patches put in. That being said, there are still some bugs to work out.
If you have an Nvidia Graphics card or driver, you may experience intermittent crashing, about every 30 minutes, of the game if you haven’t taken care to update your driver to the beta version. I can tell you as a person that’s been playing for the last three days, having this happen in the middle of events, transactions, and just normal play, this can get really annoying really fast.
None of this, however, deters from the game-play or the greatness of this game. It is such a refreshing take on the MMORPG genre both in characters, gameplay and execution, that it would be a shame to miss out on it. Even with the worst bugs in the system, this game plays smooth and is continuous hours of fun. There may be come confusion as to how the game operates at first as the interface is slightly different from most other MMO’s, but once you get acquainted with it you will be pleasantly surprised.
If you are still confused, be sure to check out the guide on how to play Guild Wars 2 over at the game’s main website. It goes over, in greater detail, the trades and what you can do with them, as well as character creation. It may or may not go over the overflow queue, but for now keep this in mind. If you have friends on another server than the one you chose, staying in overflow will allow you to play with them. Otherwise someone will need to transfer worlds.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5