Guild Wars 2 screenshot

Let me get this clear from the start: I’d rather be playing Guild Wars
2. Instead, I’m here writing about it. I’m a gamer on a mission.

I was talking to a gamer friend yesterday and asked him if he planned
to play Guild Wars 2. He shrugged and told me that he hadn’t really
paid much attention to it, then asked me whether he should. I gave him
an unqualified “Uh, YES.” Then he asked me why he should spend his
hard-earned cash on a game based on the IP from an older game that he
never really clicked with. I offered up a few reasons. Okay, lots of
reasons. And now, if you’re anything like my friend and haven’t given
Guild Wars 2 a look because you figured it wasn’t really your thing,
I’m going to share those reasons with you.

Please note that I selflessly do this even though I’d rather be playing
Guild Wars 2, because I want you to experience the MMO gaming epicosity
(shut up, it’s a word) that I have experienced over several beta
weekend events and stress tests.

Never mind that as I write this, there is no stress test and the
headstart weekend is still days away. That’s incidental.

Now, let’s make with the reasons:


It’s so far beyond the
original Guild Wars that it’s not even on the same planet.
It doesn’t really matter whether you think Guild Wars was a great game
or a bad one--Guild Wars 2 is not Guild Wars. It shares a lot of the lore, races and professions (the Guild Wars term for “classes”), but
that’s about it. Where Guild Wars was built around quest hubs and instanced areas, Guild Wars 2 serves up a vast open world built for
massively multi-player encounters. And it has so many cool design elements it’ll make your head spin. More on those coming right up.

Guild Wars 2 screenshot

The sylvari home city, The Grove, provides scenic beauty.

The world of Tyria is
I can’t count how many times I’ve stopped what I
was doing, looked around and said, “Wow....” And not only is it
incredibly cool, it’s big. If you’ve explored one starting area, for
instance, you’ve really only seen the tip of the iceberg, because each
race has its own impressive area for you to explore.

Your level adjusts
dynamically for the area you’re in.
You can go explore
other racial areas without worrying that their content will be beneath
your level. Also, you’ll never leave your friends in the dust again. If
you’re level 30 and you’ve got a friend just joining the game you can
go back and play wherever he’s at and still gain experience because
your level will dynamically scale down to the area’s level plus one.
Read all about Dynamic Level Adjustment.

The game rewards
Go out and explore in Guild Wars 2! You won’t
be wasting time; you’ll be gaining experience. For each new area you
visit, or each scenic vista you climb to, you’ll get XP.

Guild Wars 2 screenshot

Climbing up to reach a vista will reward you with a cinematic overview of the area and XP.


Say goodbye to quest hubs.
Yes, I know they’re the status quo for MMORPGs, but ask yourself
whether you truly enjoy hitting a town or outpost, collecting a bunch
of quests from various NPCs with exclamation points over their heads,
and then heading out into the world to knock them out before proceeding
to the next quest hub and doing the same thing all over again. In Guild
Wars 2, you don’t have to. Because...

Say hello to the dynamic
events system
Imagine adventures that you just happen to come across as you explore
the worlds of Tyria. You might have to work with other players to help escort an NPC to safety, or to destroy dangerous objects, or to thwart
an invasion force or take down a Champion monster. Dynamic events scale to fit how many adventurers are in the event area, so you should rarely find yourself seriously over- or underpowered.

But if you like more traditional quests... you can still do something similar.
The renown
allows you to find NPCs who require your assistance
and help them for experience and Karma. Experience, of course, helps
you level up. Karma earns you points to spend on cool stuff (including
nice gear) at special vendors.

Questing isn’t the only
path to experience
. There are so many roads to gaining
experience that our Guild Wars 2 fansite, Guild Wars 2 Hub, was able to
put together a href="">list
from A-Z and still not cover them all.

Guild Wars 2 screenshot

You never know what you'll find while you're exploring. I found a whale!

No more kill stealing,
loot whoring, and random rolling
. If you fight it, you’re
getting experience for it--it’s as simple as that. And if you kill it,
and it has stuff in its pockets, you’re getting loot. It doesn’t matter
whether you adventure solo or in a group, it works the same way--kill
stuff, get experience, get loot, end story. Your experience gain will
never suffer because you’re hanging out with other players. Nor will
your loot stash suffer because you’re rolling solo.


Combat is hella fun.
The first time you see a centaur come charging up to you, spin wildly
to a stop, and aim an arrow at your head you’ll know it...this is not
your mamma’s MMO. You’ll only engage in whack-a-mole combat if you like
dying a lot. Otherwise, you’re going to have to href="">learn
to dodge. It’s not difficult and doesn’t require
finger-twisting keyboard gyrations--just double-tap a direction and go.
It does present a fun challenge, though, because you’ll need to learn
when to dodge, and how not to overextend yourself by dodging too often.

Combat animations, for
both players and NPCs, are top flight
. If you haven’t
already, head over to the official site and look at the href="">professions
page, then click on a profession to view its skill videos. I
bet you’ll come away impressed.

Guild Wars 2 screenshot

Underwater combat is a blast.

Underwater combat rocks. Guild Wars 2 takes href="">underwater
areas to places they’ve never been before. Swimming is fun
and intuitive and you’ll have specialized weapons and skills for
underwater combat. Plus, it adds all new spaces to explore. In GW2, if
you’re not swimming you’re missing out on some incredibly cool stuff.

There’s no holy trinity.
While there are some professions that can play tank-like, and some that
can play healer-like, there’s no holy trinity in Guild Wars 2. You’ll
never have to stand around looking for a healer or a tank to manage a
dungeon run.

Everybody heals, and
everybody can revive
. Each profession has at least a
self-heal, and some have area healing abilities. And everyone can
revive--you just run up to a fallen ally and hit the F key to interact
and begin reviving them. You’ll even get experience for doing it.
Strangers revive strangers in Guild Wars 2.

There’s solid World vs.
World and structured PvP
. If you like to go up against
other players, GW2 will not disappoint. World vs. World pits team
members from three opposing servers against one another.


Character creation is cool.
Character models are attractive and detailed, and there’s a bounty of
potential combinations plus sliders to help you fine tune your look.

Guild Wars 2 screenshot

You choose your character's biography options at character creation, and that determines how your personal story begins.

You can dye your armor
. Right from character creation you’ll be able to
design a custom look for your armor with a nice selection of colors.
You can also find (or purchase from other players) dropped rare dyes to
add to your collection. Once you’ve acquired a dye, you can use it
(plus your existing palette) at any time to change the color of your

You’re going to look and
feel badass
. You’ll have decent looking armor right from
the start--no running around in filthy rags. And there’s no endless
leveling to get the “cool” abilities--you’ll have some awesome ones in
your arsenal early on, and some elite ones to look forward to later.

You really can play your
character your way
. The skill bar itself is simple--there
are no multiple bars to manage or tons of skills to juggle, yet there
are still plenty of skills. It all depends on what weapon you’re
holding (as well as your attunement, in the case of elementalists, and
your tool belt if you’re an engineer.) A ranger mowing down foes from a
distance with a bow can switch up to a sword and melee up close and
personal, and his skill bar will change depending on what’s equipped.
You can have two weapon sets ready to swap out with a single keystroke.

Guild Wars 2 screenshot

See? Badass.

Your character has a
Personal Story
. You’ll answer a few biography questions at
character creation, and the choices you make will determine your
character’s personal story. This is a quest line for you alone. Are you
charming, dignified or fierce? Do you want to find out who your real
parents are? Recover your sister’s body? Reclaim a treasured family
heirloom? What inspires you? From myriad combinations you forge a
destiny for your character, and it’s an intriguing one that plays out
in mostly instanced areas. You can bring friends along on some of your
personal story missions, but the story is yours alone, and there are
thousands of combinations.

href="">Crafting is
fun, easy to learn, and rewarding
. You’ll start producing
worthwhile items right from the beginning. My beta characters have
crafted full sets of armor after only investing a little gameplay time
collecting materials. Plus, crafting is another way you’ll gain
experience. Even gathering materials nets you XP, and it all
contributes to the same experience pool.

The leveling curve is flat.
Remember games where the higher levels took longer and longer to
complete? Well, no more. In GW2 you’ll level a little quicker in the
beginning, but then the curve flattens out and each level takes about
the same amount of time to complete. There are 80 levels and so many
things to do that you can actually enjoy the ride as you’re progressing
rather than slogging through a grind fest.


The game is as complex as
you want it to be
. Seriously. You can play Guild Wars 2
casually and enjoy it just as much as if you are a hardcore min-maxer
who knows every intricacy of his build. This isn’t a difficult game to
pick up, but it does have a lot of depth. How deeply you plumb those
depths is up to you.

It’s a completionist’s
. If you’re one of those people who likes to make
sure you’ve filled in every blank you’ll love Guild Wars 2. You can
gain rewards for all sorts of things from completely exploring a map to
collecting mini pets. There’s even a daily reward you’ll get for
completing a series of tasks including killing a variety of different
bad guys, harvesting, etc.

It’s free to play.
No, really--it is. You’ll buy the client at the average price, but
there’s no monthly fee associated with playing this fantastic game.
There is an item mall, but the items available there are for vanity or
convenience only. You’ll never need it unless you want something like a
server transfer or you’d like to massively expand your bag space.

If there’s one drawback to playing Guild Wars 2 it’s this--it’ll make
you a junkie. It’s difficult to stay away from a game this
entertaining, and it’s difficult to run out of things to do in this
game, which creates an endless feedback loop of fun, fun and more fun
(while invoking less and less sleep.) Almost everyone I’ve encountered
who has played Guild Wars 2 in the beta events and stress tests has
sung some version of the same praise: “It’s been a long time since I’ve
been this much in love with a game.”

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars 2 Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.