Ill admit that, at first, I wasnt sold on
style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars 2. Id
heard rumblings that this MMO was going to be revolutionary, but years
of exposure to the MMO gaming industry (not to mention the inexplicable
faith I once put in Vanguard:
Saga of Heroes) have left me allergic to hype. My symptoms
can include skepticism and occasional apathy.
Still, as hype for Guild Wars 2 grew, so did my level of
curiosity. Id played just enough of style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars, the
original, to know that ArenaNet had made at least one pretty game with
some interesting lore. I realized that, despite my symptoms, Im still
a gamer at heart. I pre-purchased, and awaited the first beta weekend
I went in red-eyed with skepticism and came away...red-eyed
from lack of sleep. Along with the Ten Ton Hammer editorial team, I
couldnt stop playing this game, and I believe Guild Wars 2 is going to
be a href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2/features/gw2-bwe-roundtable-impressions">game
changer in the MMO industry.
Yet despite the hundreds of thousands of players eager for
this games launch, and despite a massive amount of press coverage (or
maybe because of it), there remain some uninitiated gamers who have
either not taken an interest in Guild Wars 2, or whove sworn it off.
Misconceptions about this game float through the gaming community like
ragweed pollen, afflicting the sensitive. Let this article, based on my
hands-on experience and new understanding of Guild Wars 2, serve as
#1 - Guild Wars 2 isnt an MMO--its all instanced!
Oh, its an MMO. Its a very big MMO.
While instancing may have been the rule with Guild Wars, Guild
Wars 2 is not that game. In fact, if you wipe just one thing from your
slate of mistaken ideas about GW2, make it the notion that this game is
just an updated version of Guild Wars.
Know this: Guild Wars 2 is like Guild Wars in the same way
that a Ducati is like a Honda scooter. A Ducati has two wheels and so
does a Honda scooter, but thats where the comparison stops. Guild Wars
2 and Guild Wars share the same lore, and most of the same races and
professions, but you see where Im going.
My first steps into Guild Wars 2 werent into a player hub as
they once were in Guild Wars. I didnt venture out alone into the
instanced wilds to fight the Charr, or wrestle with my annoyance over
Gwen and her flute. What I did discover was a vast open world filled
with sprawling cities, places to explore, and tons of players to
explore them with.
Are there instanced dungeons in Guild Wars 2? Sure. Your
characters personal story is instanced as well. (Learn more
stories at Guild Wars 2 Hub.) But a big part of the PvE game
is all about exploring the wilds, encountering NPCs in need, and
participating in dynamic events with masses of other players.
Heres a little story to illustrate just how engrained the
its all instanced myth about GW2 is. One of my human characters
early personal story quests involved rescuing some medical supplies
from a cave full of bandits. I went to the cave on my map marker and
found that it was indeed an instanced area adjacent to an open world
location. I zoned in and completed my mission. Later, when I was back
in the same open world area, I encountered the cave entrance again but
assumed that it was instanced off and not accessible until I watched
some other players trot right in without zoning. It turned out that the
cave was only instanced when my character needed it to be. Otherwise,
it was open for me and other players to explore.
#2 - Guild Wars 2s PvE is just another Korean grind-fest
full of pointless quests.
Lets set one record straight right now--Guild Wars 2 is
developed by ArenaNet. Yes, theyre a wholly-owned subsidiary of Korean
NCSoft, but theyre an American company based in Bellevue, Washington.
NCSoft is the publisher for Guild Wars 2, but ArenaNet has complete
creative control. See their jobs page? It
even says so.
That said, knowing full well that Asia hasnt cornered the
market on grind, I went into Guild Wars 2 looking for evidence of it.
Heres what I found:
If youre looking to name quest grind as a reason to hate on
Guild Wars 2, your accusation wouldnt be entirely baseless, but its
still a bit of a stretch. ArenaNet has declared their dynamic event
system revolutionary in the way it changes questing. Heres a bit of
text from the official site:
involve walking up to a character who usually has an exclamation point
or question mark hovering over their head and talking to them. From
here, you get a massive wall of text hardly anyone reads that describes
a horrible or totally mundane thing going on in the world that you need
to help with. You run off, complete this task, then return and talk to
this character again to receive another wall of text and a reward.
Traditional quest systems rely on these blocks of quest text to tell
you what is happening in the world; this is just an outdated form of
Guild Wars 2s quest system is indeed different, but the
question might be: how different? When I first stepped into Tyria, as
promised, there were no NPCs with a great big exclamation points
hovering over their heads in sight. Nonetheless, there were NPCs giving
me some directions. Scouts around the area (they have binoculars
hovering over their heads instead) would direct me to locals who needed
my help by showing their locations to me on my mini map. And those NPCs
who needed assistance had the outline of a small gold heart over their
One of the first assistance type quests (and yes, Im going to
go ahead and call them quests) I came across had me helping a moa
rancher and his wife defend their flock of big flightless birds from
bandit poachers. On the surface, this seems a lot like any old quest in
any old MMO. To add to that familiarity, you also seem to move around
the area assisting characters in need in a more or less linear fashion.
(If you dont, youre likely to find yourself up against content thats
too difficult for your level.)
But Guild Wars 2 manages to keep things much fresher than the
typical MMO. Lets go back to the bandit quest. As I was searching the
bushes for evidence of bandit poachers, or lost moa chicks, and
gleefully picking off bandits as I discovered them, more players
entered the area. Pretty soon, a dynamic event began as a wave of
bandits came rushing over the rise (most likely wondering why we were
slaughtering their friends.) Without forming an actual group, the
players in the area came together to drive the waves of bandits back.
(Or, more to the point, mow them all down.)
So, its like this--in the open world youll encounter
characters who require your help. Its not all defending moas from
bandits, either. The dynamic events can be quite fun and diverse, and
they scale depending on the number of players in a given area so that
everyone who participates gets credit. If there are hordes of players
around, the game sends in hordes of bad guys, and the fighting gets
even more frenzied and fun.
And what of the level grind? Guild Wars 2 does have levels--80
of them, to be precise. But before you groan, take a look at this handy
dandy graphic ArenaNet has created. [ href="http://www.arena.net/blog/progression-and-leveling-in-guild-wars-2">Source]
Leveling in Guild Wars 2 quickly reaches a plateau where each new level
takes about the same amount of time to reach as opposed to taking
longer and longer as you progress the way most MMOs have traditionally
#3 - Guild Wars was all about PvP so Guild Wars 2 must be,
Guild Wars, the original, had 20 levels of PvE and an end game
that consisted of PvP, but Guild Wars 2 is not that game. Guild Wars 2
is, in fact, more like three games rolled into one. Theres a robust
PvE open world game, which Ive talked about already. And if you want
to test your skills against other players, theres PvP and World v
I didnt even delve into the PvP and World v World aspects of
Guild Wars 2 during my first beta weekend--I was having too much fun
with the open world content. But its there, and my coworkers and
friends tell me its a helluva lot of fun. If you havent already,
youd do well to read up on what ArenaNet has in store for href="http://www.guildwars2.com/en/the-game/pvp/pvp-overview/">structured
PvP. (And if that gets you amped for the next beta weekend,
you can get a jump start by reading href="http://guildwars2hub.com/features/editorials/dos-and-donts-kyhlo-and-niflhel">The
Dos and Donts of Kyhlo and Niflhel at Guild Wars 2
Hub to get some advanced tips.)
World versus world play offers a more objective-based and less
directly competitive game play alternative to PvP. Because Ive yet to
experience this first hand, Ill point you toward the details in
Wars 2 official wiki, instead.
Both World versus World and PvP scale the players level to 80
upon entrance, meaning that their game play is not so much level- and
gear-based as it is skill-based. In theory, a new player could enter
The Mists and participate in World v World straight out of the opening
The point here is this: in Guild Wars 2, PvP is an option, not
a requirement. From all early appearances, you will find plenty to do
in this game even if you never want to enter The Mists or tear it up in
PvP. The options are yours to explore at your leisure, and at your own
pace, with no pressure to race through levels in order to get to the
end game fun.
If you're still skeptical, I'll grant you this--Ive only seen
about 20 levels of game play; my perception could change over time as
my character progresses and the shininess wears off. That
scenario--where youre infatuated with a game in the early days only to
find the passion fading as time passes--is familiar to every gamer, and
Im certainly not immune. But Ive invested roughly $60 in a game with
no monthly fees, no pay-to-win monetizing scheme (another
misconception, but that's a different article), and I can assure you
that I already feel Ive gotten my moneys worth. Im looking
forward to the next beta event and launch in a way that I havent
looked forward to any game in a long while.
So, my hype allergies, at least where Guild Wars 2 is
concerned, are cured.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars 2 Game Page.