Updated Fri, Apr 27, 2012 by Shayalyn
If you’re reading this article you’re likely here for one of two reasons--you’ve heard about Guild Wars 2 but haven’t decided to follow it closely yet, or you’re already a fan and you’ve come here to validate the fact that you’ve hitched your wagon to a rising MMO star. Whatever the case may be (information or validation), we’ve put together 5 good reasons why you’ll want to pay attention to one of the most innovative and highly anticipated games to hit the gaming scene so far this decade, ArenaNet’s epic fantasy adventure set in the land of Tyria.
You’ll love Guild Wars 2 if…
In most MMOGs, after selecting your character’s gender, race, class and appearance options you’ll hit “Play” and head out into the world to experience the same story that everyone else is experiencing. Sure, a few quests may be race- or class-specific, but that’s where the differentiation ends.
In Guild Wars 2, your character has a Personal Story. Yes, you’ll still select gender, race and profession, and you’ll be able to tweak your character’s appearance, but then you’ll move beyond the basics and begin answering a series of questions that will define your character’s history and personality. Your human will have a different game experience depending on whether she grew up among the gentry, led the simple life of a commoner, or struggled to meet the challenges of a life on the streets. Is your norn gruff and intimidating or affable and kind? The answer will change how NPCs interact with him.
Each character will have a home instance, in their race’s capitol city, uniquely tailored to his or her Personal Story, and it’s through this home instance that you’ll see your character’s world dynamically change. The biography choices you make affect your home instance from the start, but major decisions you make as you adventure will also impact your character’s Personal Story.
Your Personal Story doesn’t have to be an entirely private experience, though--you can share it by inviting friends to help you achieve your goals and witness things they might not be able to experience in their own Personal Stories.
If you’re thinking this system has a familiar ring to it, like something you might have seen long long ago in a galaxy far far away, take a look at Personal Story in Guild Wars 2 vs. Class Quests in Star Wars: The Old Republic on guildwars2hub.com for a comparison.
You know the drill--in order to have a balanced group in nearly every MMOG you have to have a tank, a damage dealer, and a healer. If you’re lucky, you can throw in a support class for flavor and added utility. Anyone who has stood around waiting to head off into a dungeon while waiting for the right mix of classes to join the group knows that the Holy Trinity of MMOGs can lead to some unholy tedium.
Guild Wars 2 will eliminate that tedium by making each profession self-reliant. There’s no dedicated healing profession in the game, but each profession has some distinct healing skill coupled with the ability to revive other players. Not only that, but each profession’s skills are designed to work cooperatively with another’s, making just about any profession combination viable for grouping.
If you’ve ever stood around calling out, “Group looking for healer for Cool Uber Dungeon X!” in global chat for what seemed like hours you’re not groaning at ArenaNet’s decision to eliminate the dedicated healing profession…you’re breathing a sigh of relief.
Tab to target, trigger a hotkey or macro, wait for the cooldown, lather…rinse…repeat. You’ve been there, done that. Guild Wars 2 eliminates the tab-target-auto-attack scenario and challenges you to think on your feet (or think off your feet if you’re downed but not dead).
For starters, tactical positioning matters in Guild Wars 2--you’ll have to dodge, block, flank and use other maneuvers to be the most effective in combat. Not only that, but you’ll be able to play off other characters engaged in the same fight. Here’s an example from Guild Wars 2 lead designer Eric Flanum:
“I was watching two of our game designers--Jon and Isaiah--play the other day. Jon is using his shield to deflect the fire breath of a drake, when Isaiah hits the drake from behind with a skill called Devastating Hammer, launching it into the air. The drake is sent flying over Jon's head, who immediately turns and uses a skill called Savage Leap to impale and finish the drake right as it hits the ground. This was a very cool looking (and effective!) sequence of events that flowed very naturally from how combat in Guild Wars 2 works.” [source]
Sound good? Yeah, we thought so.
And not only does combat sound good, it looks incredibly cool. If you haven’t already, go see for yourself at the official site by clicking on any of the Guild Wars 2 professions and viewing videos of some of the combat skills in action.
In so many MMOGs, you get into the game world and run right up to the nearest NPC with a big exclamation point (or some other quest-indicating symbol) over their head to begin your adventure. No doubt, you’re going to be sent off to kill 10 of this or 5 of that for what seems like no logical reason other than whatever you’re killing has become some sort of nuisance.
In Guild Wars 2, you’re not going to run up to a quest NPC and proceed to read a bunch of text. If your task involves defending a village from an invading army, you’re going to see that army encroaching and see the villagers fleeing in terror. Would you rather run into the hills and beat up a random giant because some NPC’s wall of text told you he was misbehaving or defend the town when you catch said giant storming the gates and wreaking havoc?
The dynamic system also prevents time-worn MMOG dynamics like spawn camping by encouraging cooperative play. Dynamic events are scalable so that, when danger threatens, players can group together on the fly to ward it off. And instead of one person or group camping a spawn and reaping its rewards, Guild Wars 2’s dynamic events will reward every participant.
Not only do dynamic events encourage rather than discourage cooperative play, their outcomes actually alter the game world itself. Remember that invading army? Destroy it, and events will cascade based on that outcome. Fail to destroy it, and you might find an occupied village instead of a peaceful haven where the townsfolk are merely warning you of an impending threat that you’ll never actually see.
By now, you’re probably thinking that Guild Wars 2 sounds amazingly cool. (Don’t worry, it has the same effect on us, which is one of the reasons we built this great community site where you can explore Guild Wars 2 in depth.) But what kicks Guild Wars 2 up yet another notch is that all the great things we’ve described are yours for the price of the box (or the download). Like its predecessor, Guild Wars, GW2 is subscription-free. Yes, the game will have microtransactions to help fund its ongoing development, but they’ll be of the vanity or convenience variety, not of the pay-to-win variety. Also, plan for major expansions rather than free updates, a small price to pay for all this awesomeness when you consider the distinct lack of monthly credit card charges.
In pinning down our reasons to play Guild Wars 2 we discovered that it's tough to cover the highlights with just five. Perhaps we'll have to come up with a "5 More Reasons to Play Guild Wars 2" feature soon. Meanwhile, if you’ve decided that Guild Wars 2 is a good fit for you, you’ll be happy to know that pre-purchasing the game now will get you into the next beta weekend at the end of April, as well as future beta events, plus three days of head-start access. While you're waiting for launch, keep an eye on the guildwars2hub.com community for guides, features, videos, news and more.