So I have been a regular on the Guild Wars 2 circuit since it went live, roaming, building characters from the ground up and working for max level so I can participate in the group events more effectively. GW2 is certainly one of the more popular active MMORPGs out there now, and it is due to their ability to keep it fresh, add new content free of charge, and the large-scale group events that pop on a regular basis. I will go on record right now saying this is my favorite online, favorite MMORPG and the game I play more often than anything else on my console or PC. Let me elaborate!
First of all, the graphics are a 9, the color palette and design are one of the better sets out there. The shading and dynamic environment are excellent. The animations and cut scenes are above average and tell the story of individual characters, as well as the recurring NPCs and the world. The sheer array of available dyes and armor and weaponry (as well as special rewards that make for unique armor appearances) is extremely in-depth. The glitching is minimal in the graphics package (you know, the slash of green screen just off-center where the seam of a subzone doesn’t quite render right? Yeah, those), I have only seen this a couple of times in hundreds of game hours. This RPG is brighter than most of them in generalized terms, giving it a less gritty feel, almost cleaner in essence. The brighter appearance can help when you are looking for specific items or hidden items in the darker sections of the maps.
The sound segment of the game comes in at an 8.5. For the most part, the sound is an enhancement for all aspects of the game, some of the voice acting lets down a bit, as it comes off as forced or contrived at times. This is the area of the game that needs the most work, but even while earning that knock, the sound continues to add to the gameplay experience. The ambient sound compliments the experience, with appropriate clangs and bangs and GRRRRs in play. The music is soothing while traversing the open world map, and ratchets up the tension at appropriate moments while you are dancing around with a difficult opponent. The voice-overs for the storyline are mostly complimentary, and the discussions add to the overall gameplay and lead the storyline along the way fairly well.
Now for the gameplay, which is what really excels in this game. Gameplay comes in at a 9.8, with only minor dings for slow turning and sometimes coming off target while in battle. Even with the minor dings, the gameplay is extraordinarily tight for such a large MMORPG with so many zones and moving parts. Of all the MMORPGs I have played (and I started on the original Everquest, so I have been hacking and slashing for quite some time), this one does the best job of keeping the gameplay together while patching in updates and new content. When you attack something, it stays online and using special attacks is almost as simple as pointing and going at it – once in a while when there are multiple targets in the immediate vicinity, you will come off your primary focus, but this is not always the case. The fast travel feature allows you to map out from any location to any designated checkpoint you have visited. Another interesting feature is the travel gates in the cities, these allow you to teleport to any other city that has a corresponding gate (such as every town has a gate leading to Lions Arch, which is the main hub of the gaming universe here), this allows you to port in from some of the outlying towns and see more of the maps quicker than just running from zone to zone. Each zone has vista points to discover, some easy, some are exceedingly difficult. Each zone also has several designated waypoints/checkpoints that are discovered as you get to them, allowing you to port to them from anywhere. Each zone is scaled by level (1-15, 15-25, etc) allowing you to stay in areas that won’t get you killed every time you turn around, this is a vast improvement over the original Guild Wars, where you had to have a group to make it through certain zones, meaning you had to make friends in order to make it to all of the cities in the world. Each character class has its strong suit and role in a game group, Warriors are tanks, dealing decent damage and absorbing tons of it, while the Elementalist is better suited to summoning an elemental and raining AOE from a short distance away. The biggest change in the traditional MMORPG paradigm is the lack of a dedicated healer class, such as a Cleric, each class has its own version of healing spells, which takes some getting used to for tanks and damage dealers. The developers seem to have devoted a great deal of thought to making the majority of the game accessible to players in solo fashion – while reserving spaces and special events in the regions for larger collectives of players. Each 2-3 weeks or so, the development team releases a new content package with special events, holiday celebrations and storyline events. The largest part of the impact of these releases is the fact that it keeps the game fresher than any other I have ever played, while continuing the storyline past the traditional basics – it just keeps developing, and adding to the legends and adding/removing main characters from the universe. For you loot monkeys out there, the game is fair in the loot drops, reserving legendary armors and weapons for the large-scale events and group events (or you can visit the in-game market place and pick up something once you bank enough to pay up on what you want), but the loot drops at each level is appropriate and consistent.
The final score of the game clocks in at 9.1, one of the higher reviews I have done, and the game is well worth trying out. If you are new to the MMORPG universe (really gang, where the hell have you been?), this is an easy game to intro with, it is simple enough in mechanics, the crafting system is simple enough, the leveling is standardized, and you can travel fairly easily to most locations in the world. It releases enough new content on a regular basis that it can hold your attention fairly well. The world is large enough to support a 72 hour hack n slash fest, and yet compartmentalized enough that you can jump in, play for 30 minutes farming for supplies and not get too bored with the game. Warning, the higher end supplies for crafting may require you to group up or participate in a large-scale event to get – but with the in-game store set up, you can simply fly around and loot monkey to save enough moolah to get the items you need for higher level crafting. If you are looking for something to cause your divorce… erm, I mean to play during your down time that is pretty badass, and stays fresh consistently, skip Elder Scrolls, WOW and the other pay to play games and pick up Guild Wars 2. If you do, look me up in-game, my main is Ëin Mandragoran”!
To start off playing or do research, look up the GW2 page here https://www.guildwars2.com/en/
All screenshots courtesy of http://www.guildwars2.com