Once upon a time, I heard that Guild Wars 2 would change the way MMORPGs work forever. Me being me, I took the sarcastic approach and said, “Psh, sure, like they can make an MMO that’s actually consistently entertaining.” Secretly drawn by the frail hope of finally discovering a good MMO, I decided to buy the game and give it the ol’ college try. Believe it or not, it has now been marked as one my go-to boredom games. That’s a good thing, just so you know.
It’s pretty damned different from other MMORPGs. There’s virtually no horrendous grinding. They’ve done it! The Guild Wars 2 team kicked grinding in the butt and sent it packing. It feels pretty great. There are so many ways to acquire experience, and yet leveling still feels like an achievement. Let me list the ways to acquire experience:
- Kill enemies and bosses. SNORE.
- Complete campaign quests.
- Craft things, or even refine raw materials.
- Explore points of interest, waypoints, and vistas.
- Take part in one of many area-based group events.
- Revive other players.
Essentially, when you play Guild Wars 2, you’re in a party with absolutely EVERYONE, and actually getting into a party only serves to simplify selective communication. I mean, you can teleport around the world for about 30 copper, which is nothing, so global parties are totally fine. Of course, you have to explore the teleport waypoints before they become available to you, so it’s not like the game’s giving itself to you on a silver platter. It wants you to expand and explore.
Also unlike other MMORPGS, direct combat skills are rooted in the weapons you use. That’s main hand and off-hand, so you can mix and match damage and utility to an extent. You always start off with the first skill, which has no cooldown and acts as the basic attack. Killing enemies unlocks more skills, which is where each weapon on each class feels truly unique. Even better? No mana. The only thing limiting your skill spam is cooldowns, and the cooldowns for really good spells rarely exceeds a minute.
What else is amazing about Guild Wars 2? Customization? Yeah, that’s definitely pretty great. There are five races, eight classes, a bunch of weapons, a bunch of different skills (level 5) and traits (level 10) to choose from. Something I noticed that really made me happy is that there is no mandatory healer class. Anyone and everyone can revive fallen comrades, be they NPCs or human players.
Back story effects your campaign experience dramatically this time around. Even if the choices are rather limited, it makes for a flexible experience on a per-character basis. You can pick your primary personality trait, your character’s racial alignment, and then their class alignment. What kind of epic quest do you feel like enjoying, hm?
Admittedly, I’ve been too busy fiddling around with the permutations of weapons, classes, and races to actually pump a character to 20+, but I’m definitely going to get there. Overall, the game feel is good. Nothing’s a pain in the ass, because there’s a convenience mechanism every which way you turn your head. They manage to do this while maintaining a moderate difficulty curve, so… wow. I’m wowed. You’ll be wowed.
I found a lovely review on TechSpot.com by KateCox that compliments the effort made by ArenaNet to break the MMORPG genre from its individual-centric mechanic manipulating grindy ladder climb, and I couldn’t agree more. This is a game that makes cooperation commonplace through a masterfully subtle yet dramatic (paradoxically so) tweaks to the standard MMORPG formula. Personally, there’s no MMO I could recommend more strongly. Here’s the review link: http://www.techspot.com/review/582-guild-wars-2/