NAG Online > Opinions > Six reasons why Guild Wars 2 is great

Six reasons why Guild Wars 2 is great

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<Mr. Movie Trailer Voice> In a world… where the MMO genre has devolved into gear treadmills and gated content meticulously designed to ensure that you pay for another month’s subscription, one MMO dares to challenge the established conventions.

Seriously though, Guild Wars 2 is an incredible MMO. It may not be a pure evolution for the genre, but it’s revolutionary enough that like its predecessor, it remains the uncontested king of its hill. Click through for why we think Guild Wars 2 deserves your attention.

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1. It’s nothing like Guild Wars

Guild Wars is an incredible online game that’s even better with friends, but there’s no reason to copy it. In fact, nobody has: the first Guild Wars still remains the only game of its type, and is still fun to play today. The visuals may have aged, but the gameplay remains solid. There’s even a benefit to playing it now, if you’re going to play Guild Wars 2, but ArenaNet made the wise decision to keep it an entirely separate experience.

Where the first Guild Wars had more in common with Magic: The Gathering, as you build decks of skills for you and your A.I. heroes, Guild Wars 2 is all about action. The combat is animation-based, meaning you need to watch enemy tells, dodge at the right times, block, parry, counter and set up combination moves with friends/strangers. It does raise the skill required somewhat, as you’re not just sitting there hitting number keys and going through a rotation. But the payoff is worth it: exciting battles you rarely see in the MMO genre.

What a handsome fella.

What a handsome fella.

2. The music is by Jeremy Soule

Better known as the “John Williams of video game music”, Jeremy Soule did the soundtracks for Icewind Dale, The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. Also, Dungeon Siege, Revenant, Unreal II, Prey, and more.  So there’s that.

3. You buy it once and then you’re done

No pesky monthly fees. Just like the first Guild Wars, you buy the game once and then you’re done, and have access to everything. There are vanity purchases you can make, or quality of life items to buy, but you don’t even need to spend money on that – everything can be bought using gold earned in the game. More character slots? Yup. Bigger bank? Yup. A mining pickaxe that never runs out and a dress that’s on-effing-fire? Done and done, no need to pay a cent. And there are plenty of ways to earn gold in-game. But if you like supporting the developer, you can throw a few bucks their way now and then and get yourself (or a friend) something nice off the Gem Store.

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4. Reaching the highest level isn’t the goal

Guild Wars 2 does have levelling, and a maximum level cap of 80 to reach, but that’s not the “end game”.  In fact, if all you want to do is PvP, when you go to the PvP lobby you’re automatically made max level and you can purchase all the weapon and armour types for free, to experiment with. But only while in PvP, of course.

No matter where you go in Tyria, your stats are adjusted so that areas always present some sort of challenge. This means that as you level up, content doesn’t become invalidated. If a friend starts playing, you can take your max level and go play with them without feeling like you’re hampering them by one-shotting everything, or getting bored because you’re babysitting the newbie.

The game is less about getting to level 80 fast so you can do all the “cool stuff”, and more about exploring a wealth of content that’s always relevant no matter your level. Every zone has worthwhile content to explore.

5. Cross-realm is the standard, not a feature

There are 24 “servers” for North American players and 27 for Europe. When you start playing, you choose a “home server” and that’s where your characters live. However, you can easily party up with people from other servers (provided those servers are in the same region), and do dungeons or other instanced content together. The Looking For Group tool, used to form up parties to run dungeons, is cross-realm, so you’re never left wanting for party members.

If you want to run around the open world with friends from another server, you can “guest” over to their server and do everything together except World vs World (which is the server vs server competitive content). It took World of Warcraft nearly 10 years to add in half this kind of functionality, Guild Wars 2 has it out of the box.

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6. Living Story

The world inside Guild Wars 2 changes. Time actually progresses, and the world is altered as events transpire. With the exception of holiday events that are on a yearly rotation, most Living Story updates are temporary, because the world simply isn’t frozen in time.

Even without the Living Story, there is a huge wealth of content to explore in Guild Wars 2. Your characters have their own Personal Stories that play out depending on what choices you make. Each zone is full to the brim with dynamic event chains, some of which take place across the entire zone itself.

And then on top of all that, there’s the Living Story. The downside of a themepark MMO, is that content becomes stale after a while, so players start jonesing for an expansion pack. Guild Wars 2 attempts something new and yet, a throwback to how things used to be in MMOs before World of Warcraft. Every two weeks, a new Living World update moves the plot forward. Events transpire, locations are added, content is layered atop existing content. New characters appear, and form part of a larger story that unfolds.

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Each update tends to bring with permanent content as well, but for the most part the Living World updates are temporary. If you miss them, you’ve missed them. That’s what makes the content unique: that you need to be there, or miss out. Sure, some people might feel like it’s unfair if they’ve missed out on content, but you can’t please everyone. An added benefit to the content being temporary, is that new players don’t need to “catch up” by playing through years of backlogged content – they can jump in any time.

Guild Wars 2 is an MMO that rewards players that invest themselves not with “uber leet gear” or yet another tier of gear to treadmill after, but with constant new content to experience. And even if you can only play a few hours a week, that’s more than enough: the game is structured in such a way that someone who plays a thousands hours a week, doesn’t benefit all that much more compared to someone who only plays an hour a day.

Bonus Reason: No Holy Trinity

There are no dedicated healer/tank/damage classes in Guild Wars 2. Every class can heal themselves (and others), every class is potent enough to mitigate their own damage, help buff allies, and use combination moves as a force multiplier in combat. So no waiting in a queue for a tank or healer so you can run a dungeon. If you want to form up with five other Rangers and try an all-Ranger dungeon run? You can! No one class is more important than another, although each does bring their own unique skills to the table.

Double Bonus Reason: It has the best dragons

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  • XCal1bur

    This is how MMO’s should be. Everything about this game is a plus point in some way. I am far more likely to dish out money to support Guild Wars 2 through my adventures than World of Warcraft and those types of MMO’s

    • FanieNel

      I know that The Secret World is also you buy it once and play it forever. All the MMO games should follow this pay system. I have played a lot of other MMO games and this game is in first place.

      My list favourite MMO games I have played.
      1 – Guild Wars
      2 – Tera (Worth checking out)
      3 – The Secret World
      4 – Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn
      5 – Star Wars The Old Republic
      6 – World of Warcraft
      7 – Lord of the Rings Online

      • XCal1bur

        I just wished Elder Scrolls Online would have gone the route of Guild Wars 2 and the like… man I would have bought that game in a blink of an eye then. Sub fees may bring you back to the game for longer each month, but seriously it takes the will out of getting it for me.

        • FanieNel

          I agree with you there. Subscription based gaming is getting a bit hard to do these days, and unnecessary. I pay once for a game and want to play it forever, and not to pay each month if I want to play it. Guild Wars 2 did a good job with what they did. Buy once, play forever.

          I know Star Wars went free to play, but it has severe limitations that doesn’t make the game fun. You have to grind a lot just to gain a level, while those that subscribes can gain levels much faster.

          I will buy Elder Scrolls Online and Wild Star when they release and I will play them to see if it is worth it to subscribe to them.

          • XCal1bur

            If they keep to what they said and there is a thirty day free trial period I will pick ESO up in a heartbeat and play the heck out of those thirty days and then when the time is up…well I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

  • Aequitas

    The amount of content they provide for free, along with the fact that it makes it feel like the world isn’t static …. <3 <3 <3

  • Alex Rowley

    Combat for this game is really good and honestly it’s hard going to any other MMOs when the downstate makes everything feel so fluid.

  • KomboKitten

    Still love jamming GW2! They should create mounts for us T3T Would be so prettyyyy.

  • Zewp

    GW2 is an incredibly mixed bag for me. I played it last year and I absolutely hated it because the DR threshold was way too strict and making gold was a massive chore, but I recently started playing it again and I’m hooked. The DR threshold is no longer as strict and making gold is no issue at all. 24 gold in two weeks on a new character is nothing to scoff at.

    That said, there are still some issues that niggle away at me, the biggest being the fact that they seem to want to replace expansions with the living story content, which simply doesn’t work. What the game really needs is a full-blown expansion with tons of new content to keep players interested. Tiny bits of content being released every two weeks cannot replace the joy at finishing your download and taking a weekend off to revel in all the new content of a new expansion. Whenever an MMO I play releases a new expansion I get all giddy at the prospect of all those new things I can get to see and experience. I simply don’t get the same feeling from playing new living story content.

    I cannot count the amount of times I’ve heard people say they’re going to stop playing GW2 until the next expansion, because they’re getting bored of Tyria. And I can’t help but feel the same. Living story aside, I’m getting really bored of going through all the same content on my elementalist that I had to play through on my Thief and Guardian last year. I want a new continent to explore, new places to see and new NPCs to meet.

    There is no reason why we cannot have both expansions and living story content.

    • Alex Rowley

      AS far as I know, there is an expansion being panned for it

      • http://dinosaur-signal.tumblr.com/ Miktar Dracon

        Not confirmed. NCSoft said there is, but ArenaNet have said they’re looking at the idea, but they’re not sold that doing a conventional xpac is the way to go, especially since it’ll split the playerbase. Look at WoW – you had people running around Northrend doing Lichking stuff, while Vanilla players did their own thing, and the two groups rarely met. It doesn’t help to split your playerbase so far apart, especially not with how GW2 is doing it.

    • http://dinosaur-signal.tumblr.com/ Miktar Dracon

      ArenaNet have said that the problem with expansions, is that they don’t actually solve the problem inherent in themepark MMOs. MMO expansions usually boil down to “more of what you’re already doing but different”. GW2 already does that. IF there was to be an expansion, it’ll likely be bigger than the conventional MMO expansion.

      “More of the same” (New zones, level cap increase, new weapon pairings / types, races) has always struck me as counter-intuitive when it comes to expansions. If non-players didn’t care about your game before, they won’t when there’s just more of it piled on top (especially when it’s piled on top; they now have to work harder to see it). It leads to a spike in returning players, which is good, but I can’t imagine it grabs a lot of new ones. Returning players also doesn’t seem to be a problem with GW2; I’m sure they lost the usual amount of lookie-loos (Jira calls them content locust, probably the better term) post-launch as all MMOs do, but the population seems to be pretty steady.

      • Zewp

        Well, it’s not like Arenanet are strangers to not doing expansions in the traditional sense anyway. Aside from Nightfall, all the GW1 expansions were separate campaigns so they weren’t being piled on top of each other. That, in my opinion, is the best way to go about doing an expansion, especially if they’d be willing to sell it on the gemstore.

        As for content locusts, I don’t quite agree. You don’t have to be a content locust to get bored of the existing content. I can only do the same heart quests and discover the same vistas so many times while leveling alts before I start wishing for new content (and not tiny chunks like we’re currently receiving).

        When you look at the amount of dead zones in the game, even on high population servers, it seems to indicate to me that there is a massive problem with people being bored of the available content. Aside from a handful of exceptions, it seems to me that the majority of zones between the starter areas and Orr are basically dead. Even finding dungeon groups for most of the available dungeons has become a problem. And that’s on Aurora Glade, which is one of the highest population EU servers.

        I can appreciate that they don’t want to split the playerbase (even though this happened in GW1 and it didn’t kill that game) but if they’re really serious about the living story replacing traditional expansion content, they’re going to have to step up their game massively, because so far it’s been pretty underwhelming. Especially because Tyria is, and always has been, one of the most boring and generic worlds I’ve experienced in an MMO.

        If things don’t start looking up soon I’ll probably shelve GW2 for good, which is a shame because it’s one of the best and most ambitious MMOs I’ve played in years. It just really feels like Anet has a lot of ideals and ideas that are much harder to make work in reality than they are on a drawing board.

        • http://dinosaur-signal.tumblr.com/ Miktar Dracon

          Guild Wars 1 was a very different game though – less of an MMO, and more of a single -player campaign with multiplayer lobbies. In GW1, the “end game” was meeting up in PvP after you’re done with the campaign, so it made sense there to have disparate campaigns that all end up in the same place. You can’t quite do the same with GW2, because it’s fundamentally a different paradigm.

          I can understand that someone might get bored of existing content, especially if one sticks to the same areas. To be fair to GW2, that each race basically has it’s own starting zone, which places you in a different part of the world, does keep things very fresh when creating new characters. Add to that, the differences in Personal Story / Racial Story / Order Story, there’s a bit more diversity than most MMOs have when it comes to opening content.

          As for dead zones, that’s something all MMOs face – the glut of the population ending up either in the higher level or lower level areas. GW2 mitigates this somewhat by moving the population around a lot thanks to Living Story, and that even when you’re max level there’s a reason to go back to lower level areas (Exploration + Level Scaling). I’ve never seen an area 100% dead, especially with World Events moving large zergs around non-stop. But it can get a bit lonely if an area just happens to be underpopulated. I can’t speak for EU servers though, since I play on US – but dungeons have never been a problem. Cross-realm LFG, and that people farm all the dungeons for various reasons (tokens, money, materials), means I’ve never waited for more than a few seconds to run a dungeon, any dungeon. But in Europe, I imagine the timing might be more important, since not all countries are awake at the same time, whereas in the US, I’m guaranteed most of the East and West coast populations at any time I’m awake.

          As for Tyria being “one of the most boring and generic worlds” you’ve experienced, well, that’s personal preference. I won’t say GW2 has amazing lore or a wholly unique setting, but I’ve seen worse. There are a lot of elements that make its lore a touch more interesting than generic – the hard sci-fi elements (humans being brought to the planet via god-tier tech), humans being the bad guys for a chance, the distributed-intelligence Skritt, etc.There’s a lot there for them to work with, and I agree that Season 1 of the Living Story has been, quite clearly, them experimenting, trying to figure out how to approach this.

          After all, what GW2 is trying, nobody else has done. Anet has admitted, they’re still working out the pipelines, the process, and feeling out how they want to move forward with this. You either appreciate that, or you don’t.

      • XCal1bur

        I agree with this. The living world updates keep me madly curious to what will happen next.

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