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Review: Guild Wars 2

Review: Guild Wars 2


Platform(s): Microsoft Windows / MAC version coming soon!
Players: Online Multi-player
Release Date: 28th August 2012 
Developers: ArenaNet
Publishers: NCSoft
Genre: Fantasy MMORPG
Price: €54.99 (no subscription fee!)

I don’t think review is the right word for this article, taking an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) apart isn’t the same as tucking into a beat em up or the latest action adventure game, there are so many elements and layers to these types of games that it could take me several thousand words and a few pages just to get beneath the surface. Luckily for you though I won’t be doing that…yet… no this review will be more of a reflection of my own experience in the world of Guild Wars 2 and Tyria, from the game mechanics and gameplay to the community and finally an overview of the whole thing followed by a gallery of my amazing adventures!

You won’t see any comparisons to other MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Aoin in this feature either. Why? It’s pretty simple you can’t compare Guild Wars 2 to these other games, those games should be compared to Guild Wars 2, lower their heads in shame and told to go back to the drawing board and figure out where they went wrong! A once off payment with no subscription plan, a promise to focus on creating a world to lose yourself and to change the way we play in the world of MMORPGs, developers and publishers of Guild Wars 2 promised a lot and delivered way more than I could ever have expected.

Straight off the bat, Guild Wars 2 does one of the best things any game can do… it gives the player a ridiculous amount of choices in an effort to help them feel like their character is unique in a world where there might be a couple of hundred Norn Rangers with the same starting pet or Asura Elementalists with a love of fire. From gender to class, physical makeup to the colour of armour, most players will invest some thought into who they want to be but the real hard decisions come once you’ve decided on what you look like you need to ask yourself what kind of character will you be and where will your story take you.

After nearly four weeks of gameplay I have used up four out of the five character slots that are made available to you (with the option of spending some money to add additional slots for more characters which I foresee myself doing before Christmas!). Rather than give you a synopsis of each race and profession I picked, I’ll go with the first character I made, a Sylvari Mesmer by the name of Aernin.

I love magic, the idea of wielding amazing power be it Arcane, Elemental or Necromancy, it has always been my favourite class or profession to play within but rather than go for my usual path of a Water wielding elementalist (Don’t worry my second character was/is a female Sylvari with a penchant for water spells!) I chose the Mesmer profession because it seemed to be a twist on the role of the magic user. Casting illusions and phantasms, twisting the reality around enemies and allies, granting boons and punishing with conditions, I was having a field day right up until level 11.

Your characters skills change according to the weapons you are wielding, each class has specific types they can use and some hold the ability to have a secondary set to swap between during combat. In the beginning Aernin was a dual wielding sword master who could swap out a scepter and a focus, and between levels 5 and 11, I believed him to be a devastating force in combat cutting through drakes, moas, trolls and the Nightmare Court. All of that changed when the ability to unlock traits became available and I will admit to being left a little confused at first, throwing points in here, there and everywhere before finally resetting and turning to other Mesmers on the Map for advice. Taking their words of wisdom on board I built what I would now consider a monstrosity, some sort of inbred magic throwing up troglodyte barely able to maintain a Phantasm for more than a few seconds.

After you level up your character is awarded with a skill and a trait point, skills allow you to unlock secondary or utility abilities that are locked to your profession and race while traits allow you to build a character with specific focus on power, health, armour, accuracy and so on. So my first two builds didn’t work but I’d finally gotten my head around the Trait system and Aernin quickly became a devastating force once more but I’d learned how to work with his abilities and traits and after dropping the swords, I picked up a staff, I traded the focus for a pistol and he has become a one man (with three illusions) army inflicting long lasting and brutal conditions on anyone or anything that steps in his way.

When developing the game, ArenaNet said that they were doing away with the need for the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the MMORPG, that being the need for a ‘Healer’, a ‘Damage Dealer’ and a ‘Tank’ and would instead aim to make it so each player could stand on his or her own feet without having to rely on friends or fellow players to help make it through challenges and quests while also allowing groups to venture through dungeons without having to wait for necessary roles to be filled out. 

For the most part I have played Guild Wars 2 solo, I’ve teamed up with friends to explore and tackle dungeons but at no point have I felt like I can’t handle a specific task even if I have lost to a Veteran Centaur repeatedly, the game challenges you to play at your best, to think about what you are doing and how you are going to approach every situation both in terms of how you tackle combat situations but also how you progress in your own story.

So long story short, mechanics of the game are different and a little overwhelming at first but quickly become second nature and after a while you will, like I have; find that your character and the awesome power he or she wields is ready to be unleashed with skillful timing and the push of a few buttons. After investing so much time in building the character I wanted I found myself taking time to decide what course of action he would take when faced with choices laid out before me by the story I had created in the beginning. It’s my story and my Wyld Hunt will lead me to Zhaitan, the Elder Dragon  but not until I’m ready and finished exploring Tyria for myself!

For the record, I’m happy to play on my own but I will admit that at times I do wish I had others to converse and play with… and thankfully I do. While a few friends joined me in the game, I have nothing but good things to say at this point about the community. As a player on the Aurora Glade summoner I’ve yet to come across a chatbox dominated by aggressive players or trolls, I’ve yet to see a novice guardian torn apart by an experienced necromancer for failing in combat. What I have seen are genuine players who for the most part seem to be engrossed in the game as much as I am sure we may all have different ways of approaching the game but at the end of the day we share the same world and many players are often happy to help in locating a missing point of interest or revive you when you’ve been bashed about by shrieking harpies. Do things change when you  tackle PvP or WvW? Certainly, conversation does tend to get a little heated, these situations require a lot more focus and skill but other than a few caps locked shouts for reinforcements or a quick chewing out for failing to stay and defend the Keep it has never escalated  into anything unsavoury or nasty.

It’s still early days yet but I have high hopes for the community and the level of respect shared by players for one another so for now I’ll just keep my fingers crossed.

Now at this point I’m sure some people are looking at this chunk of text and thinking that maybe I’ve gone off the deep end a little and maybe I’ve played a little too much but I really haven’t, Guild Wars 2 is a lifestyle, no matter what way you play the game, each player will approach it in their own way, whether that means gallivanting across every map uncovering every single point of interest, vista, quest and skill point (yup, that’s how I play!) or burning furiously through harvested items and tackling your job as a Jeweller or Artificer, maybe you’re a level grinder with a furious taste for PvP or WvW. In all aspects of the game you are immersed in your role as a player in the world of Tyria. Whether you are exploring the land and discovering your destiny, working on a Guild or you’ve taken to borderlands and engaged in World versus World, Guild Wars 2 isn’t simply a game you just switch on and point and click and drag monotonously, it is almost like a second way of life.

Is Guild Wars 2 perfect?

It’s not but it’s not far off it either! It has its bugs, server complications in the early days were a nuisance for some players but it’s only in it’s infancy so we can’t expect perfection just yet. The game is fantastic, it can barely be faulted and it’s worth mentioning that all stages of the early problems following release the team kept players updated at all stages which is something I know many people appreciated and it was great to see a company holding its hands up and saying ‘We made a booboo but we’re fixing it!’.

Should I buy it?

…(If you have to ask this question please envision me giving you a very blank and befuddled stare from the other side of the screen!)… yes of course you should buy it! If you want something new from an on-line game you should buy it! If you want to start experimenting with on-line gaming you should buy it! 

Have ArenaNet broken promises?

No they haven’t! Guild Wars 2 is without doubt the best thing to come out of 2012! It has forever changed the way gamers engage with the MMORPG genre and the team behind the game deserve credit not only for this masterful piece of work but their initiative and drive on breaking the mould and giving us something new to play and experience.

Good Points

Creative and engaging gameplay
Clean, sharp and beautiful visuals
Great background music 
Abundance of choices from character creation to story advancement 

Bad Points

If I think of some I will let you know

Rating: 10/10

With a game this size it’s not possible to cover everything without boring people to tears so keep an eye out over the coming weeks and months as our adventure in Tyria is only beginning! For now though here are just some of the shots I’ve taken of my early adventures in Tyria across a few of my characters: