I’ve been playing MMORPGs for quite some time now, and I have to say, I rarely come across RPGs that I can honestly say I “enjoyed”. Guild Wars 2 is one of those rare RPGs. Right off the bat when you fire the game up, you can tell you’re playing a game that had some serious thought and effort invested into it. ArenaNET did a terrific job with character creation – you get loads of options to choose from to customize your character’s appearance, skills, and one you don’t see in too many other MMORPGs: your character’s “story”. Not only will you progress through the game based on what type of skills your character has, but also your character’s personality, beliefs, and past experiences that you chose during character creation have an impact on your journey through the fantasy world of Tyria.
Guild Wars 2’s PvE ( player versus environment ) is quite unique in that ArenaNET did their very best in eliminating aspects of MMORPGs that felt like a chore. For many years, questing consisted of talking to an NPC ( non-player character ), getting a quest, running halfway across the world, accomplishing whatever task it was that was given to you, and then running all the way back to the same NPC to receive your reward. In Guild Wars 2, quests, in a sense, find you, as they will pop up on your mini-map as you explore the world. And there are no long journeys between NPCs and quest locations – as soon as you complete quests, you are given your reward instantly via the game’s “Mail” feature. With the click of a button, you can read a small message from the NPC that the quest belonged to and receive your gifts.
ArenaNET also took traditional, generic “point and click” combat and threw it out the window. There is no right-clicking and watching your character auto-attack monsters anymore. You attack by using your abilities which are bound to your number keys ( which are also customizable and can be changed to any other key via the options menu ). For example, Warriors have a basic sword strike ability that activates whenever the “1” key is pressed, and if there is an enemy directly in front of you, they will be slashed and suffer a moderate amount of damage. There are also action-based combat mechanics in the game, such as dodging, moving out of an opponents line-of-sight, and even knocking enemies to the ground are commonly used tactics. Fighting in Guild Wars 2 feels fluid and fast-paced as one simple barrel-roll to evade a lethal blow from an enemy can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Guild Wars 2 boasts a total of 8 classes ( and possibly more in the future via expansion packs ) each with their own traits and talents. Choose the path of the Ranger and you will be accompanied by your very own pet that will attack opponents at your command. Or select the life of a Guardian and throw yourself into harm’s way to protect and heal your comrades in the midst of battle. Each class has strengths and weaknesses and understanding them will allow you to make the most of every confrontation. Being an MMORPG where PvP ( player versus player ) is the main focus, knowing your class in Guild Wars 2 becomes even more crucial.
Aside from PvE, Guild Wars 2 has two more modes: Heart of the Mists and World vs World. Heart of the Mists is your average “capture the points” PvP mode where up to 16 people divided into teams of 8 have to maintain control of three areas located on the map. Players can make use of their environment as well – on some stages, there are bodies of water where a fighter near death may dive into to escape certain death, or large catapults that a player can operate to launch giant boulders at the opposition. And to top it off, no leveling is necessary. Upon joining Heart of the Mists, you are instantly boosted to the max level of 80, gain access to all skills and traits, and can start PvPing immediately. World vs World is similar to Heart of the Mists, except battles are much more massive. If you thought 16 players was a lot, imagine 60 on your screen simultaneously slashing and blasting each other for control of a castle, supply depot, or other strategic point. The more a player PvPs in both Heart of the Mists and World vs World, they gain points that they may exchange to unlock special weapons and armor to further customize their character.
As massive and polished as the game is, it isn’t without flaws. Guild Wars 2 severely limited the potential of how many abilities one class can have by restricting abilities to weapons. For instance, a Warrior wielding a Greatsword uses the same 5 Greatsword abilities from level 1 all the way to level 80. You gain 4 new abilities ( such as a heal, or a skill that can stun your opponent ), but during fights, you will still rely primarily on 5 abilities that never change unless you equip another weapon. Guild Wars 2 also had severe balance issues upon release, such as some classes being able to kill enemies almost instantly before their opponents even had a chance to react. A portion of players who reached end-game complained about a lack of content and felt disappointed after their long journey through the game. As a result, Guild Wars 2 is best described as a casual MMORPG. If you’re a hardcore gamer that desires an in-depth dungeon and raiding adventure, Guild Wars 2 may not be the best choice. However, those seeking a fast-paced action MMO focused mainly around PvP with less grinding shouldn’t put off purchasing this game any longer. For these reasons, Guild Wars 2 receives a 4 out of 5.