Let me get this clear from the start: IÂd rather be playing Guild Wars 2. Instead, IÂm here writing about it. IÂm 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 hadnÂt really paid much attention to it, then asked me whether he should. I gave him an unqualified ÂUh, YES.Â 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 youÂre anything like my friend and havenÂt given Guild Wars 2 a look because you figured it wasnÂt really your thing, IÂm going to share those reasons with you.
Please note that I selflessly do this even though IÂd rather be playing Guild Wars 2, because I want you to experience the MMO gaming epicosity (shut up, itÂs 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. ThatÂs incidental.
Now, letÂs make with the reasons:
ItÂs so far beyond the original Guild Wars that itÂs not even on the same planet. It doesnÂt 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 ÂclassesÂ), but thatÂs 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 itÂll make your head spin. More on those coming right up.
The world of Tyria is stunning. I canÂt count how many times IÂve stopped what I was doing, looked around and said, ÂWow....Â And not only is it incredibly cool, itÂs big. If youÂve explored one starting area, for instance, youÂve 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 youÂre in. You can go explore other racial areas without worrying that their content will be beneath your level. Also, youÂll never leave your friends in the dust again. If youÂre level 30 and youÂve got a friend just joining the game you can go back and play wherever heÂs at and still gain experience because your level will dynamically scale down to the areaÂs level plus one. Read all about Dynamic Level Adjustment.
The game rewards exploration. Go out and explore in Guild Wars 2! You wonÂt be wasting time; youÂll be gaining experience. For each new area you visit, or each scenic vista you climb to, youÂll get XP.
Say goodbye to quest hubs. Yes, I know theyÂre 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 donÂt 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 system 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 isnÂt 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 list from A-Z and still not cover them all.
No more kill stealing, loot whoring, and random rolling. If you fight it, youÂre getting experience for it--itÂs as simple as that. And if you kill it, and it has stuff in its pockets, youÂre getting loot. It doesnÂt 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 youÂre hanging out with other players. Nor will your loot stash suffer because youÂre 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 youÂll know it...this is not your mammaÂs MMO. YouÂll only engage in whack-a-mole combat if you like dying a lot. Otherwise, youÂre going to have to learn to dodge. ItÂs not difficult and doesnÂt require finger-twisting keyboard gyrations--just double-tap a direction and go. It does present a fun challenge, though, because youÂll 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 havenÂt already, head over to the official site and look at the professions page, then click on a profession to view its skill videos. I bet youÂll come away impressed.
Underwater combat rocks. Guild Wars 2 takes underwater areas to places theyÂve never been before. Swimming is fun and intuitive and youÂll have specialized weapons and skills for underwater combat. Plus, it adds all new spaces to explore. In GW2, if youÂre not swimming youÂre missing out on some incredibly cool stuff.
ThereÂs no holy trinity. While there are some professions that can play tank-like, and some that can play healer-like, thereÂs no holy trinity in Guild Wars 2. YouÂll 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. YouÂll even get experience for doing it. Strangers revive strangers in Guild Wars 2.
ThereÂs 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 thereÂs a bounty of potential combinations plus sliders to help you fine tune your look.
You can dye your armor easily. Right from character creation youÂll 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 youÂve acquired a dye, you can use it (plus your existing palette) at any time to change the color of your wardrobe.
YouÂre going to look and feel badass. YouÂll have decent looking armor right from the start--no running around in filthy rags. And thereÂs no endless leveling to get the ÂcoolÂ abilities--youÂll 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 youÂre holding (as well as your attunement, in the case of elementalists, and your tool belt if youÂre 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 whatÂs equipped. You can have two weapon sets ready to swap out with a single keystroke.
Your character has a Personal Story. YouÂll answer a few biography questions at character creation, and the choices you make will determine your characterÂs 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 sisterÂs body? Reclaim a treasured family heirloom? What inspires you? From myriad combinations you forge a destiny for your character, and itÂs 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.
Crafting is fun, easy to learn, and rewarding. YouÂll 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 youÂll 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 youÂll 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 youÂre 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 isnÂt a difficult game to pick up, but it does have a lot of depth. How deeply you plumb those depths is up to you.
ItÂs a completionistÂs paradise. If youÂre one of those people who likes to make sure youÂve filled in every blank youÂll love Guild Wars 2. You can gain rewards for all sorts of things from completely exploring a map to collecting mini pets. ThereÂs even a daily reward youÂll get for completing a series of tasks including killing a variety of different bad guys, harvesting, etc.
ItÂs free to play. No, really--it is. YouÂll buy the client at the average price, but thereÂs 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. YouÂll never need it unless you want something like a server transfer or youÂd like to massively expand your bag space.
If thereÂs one drawback to playing Guild Wars 2 itÂs this--itÂll make you a junkie. ItÂs difficult to stay away from a game this entertaining, and itÂs 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 IÂve encountered who has played Guild Wars 2 in the beta events and stress tests has sung some version of the same praise: ÂItÂs been a long time since IÂve been this much in love with a game.Â