I probably could just leave it at that, but frankly, that would be rather lazy and doesn’t really make for a very interesting post. So I shall further elaborate as to why it is fucking awesome.
Now, this isn’t going to be a particularly in-depth review, as my highest-level character is currently level 33 (the level cap is 80), so there’s actually a lot of content that I haven’t really had a chance to explore yet. Consider this to be more of a first impressions-type post rather than a full-blown review. For example, I am not really qualified to comment on the PVP aspects of the game, as when I play an MMORPG, I tend to focus more on the PVE side of things.
Guild Wars 2 is the creatively named sequel to 2005’s Guild Wars. Now, while I do own the first game, but as of yet have not played it extensively (it is on my increasingly long list of games I need to get off my ass and actually finish), I can’t really make a great deal of comparison between the two games. I can say that the second is quite a bit more World of Warcraft-y than the first game is, but that is not necessarily to its detriment.
You don’t really have to have played the first game to understand what is going on in this one. It’s really your basic fantasy story: a giant dragon has arisen and started laying waste to the world, and it’s up to you to stop it. What makes it different from almost every other MMORPG I’ve ever played, though, is its episodic nature.
The game employs a mechanic known as a “personal storyline,” which is something that takes up the bulk of the game besides daily events and general questing. Basically, the story of the game changes based on which race you choose, as well as other choices that you make during character creation as well as other points in the story.
The game has five races: humans (naturally), the diminutive and highly intelligent Asura; giant, obviously Norse-inspired Norns, the feline charr, and the plant-like Sylvari. Considering the fact that out of the eight characters I currently have, I obviously find the Sylvari to be the most interesting, with their roots in Arthurian legend and other British and Irish folklore. Any of those five races have all eight character classes (elementalist, mesmer, necromancer, engineer, warrior, guardian, thief, and ranger). These classes are separated into different groups: warriors and guardians are considered soldiers; rangers, engineers, and thieves are adventurers; and elementalists, mesmers, and necromancers are scholars. The scholar classes are probably the most fun to play, although thieves are pretty fun as well.
This game also adds something that the previous one did not have: a rather WoW-esque crafting system. This, however, is actually something that I did not feel was really implemented all that well. I tried tailoring and artificing on my first character, but found materials too hard to really come by without having to spend money on the trading post (a system similar to WoW’s auction house where players can sell their stuff to other players), which ended up costing more money than I was getting from the crafting. Which brings me to my next point: gold is more difficult to come by, but it tends to even out since things tend to be a lot less expensive than in WoW. The fact that the bank is accessible to all characters makes it easy to share money and other items, especially since the game bars you from sending mail to other characters.
Another flaw with the game is that you are limited to only one server (or world, as the game calls it), with only five character slots to start out with. You can switch worlds every seven days, but you can only have characters on one world. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you can add character slots, but you have to pay about $10 per additional slot. While it is somewhat inconvenient, I do understand the reason behind it: The Guild Wars games do not come with a monthly subscription fee, so the money that goes into keeping the game up and running has to come from the original purchase and microtransactions.
Another item I found interesting about the game is the combat system. On the right hand side of the skill bar, you have four slots where you can choose to place class-specific abilities, starting with one healing ability and then adding other abilities as you level up. The left hand side of the bar, however, is taken up by 4 class-specific spells or abilities that change depending on what type of weapon you have equipped. This is actually something that makes a great deal of sense to me. You’re not going to wield, say, a broadsword that same way that you would wield a dagger, so the fighting style would necessarily have to change.
All in all, Guild Wars 2 is a solid MMORPG, with a few flaws that don’t really take away from the fun of the game. I definitely recommend it to any fans of the MMO or fantasy genres.