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Guild Wars 2 Review

Updated Tue, Aug 28, 2012 by Shayalyn

Guild Wars 2 screenshot

ArenaNet’s MMO magnum opus, Guild Wars 2, has been in the works for five years. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here, promising to revolutionize the gaming industry by eliminating some time-worn MMO standards such as the holy trinity of tank/healer/DPS, static questing, and auto-attack-and-walk-away combat. Above all, it moved to eradicate the last vestige of the triple-A MMOG--subscription fees.

Did ArenaNet succeed? Ten Ton Hammer’s team stormed Tyria early on via Guild Wars 2’s press beta, and then spent many a sleepless, caffeine-fueled night making the most of the Beta Weekend Events, followed by headstart and now launch. We’ve seen many sights, played many toons, and talked for hours about GW2’s strengths, its shortcomings, and everything in between.

Guild Wars 2 is a big game, which introduces new mechanics and revamps old ones. Let’s dive in--we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

Cautions

It’s an MMO--expect violence, because you’re going to have to beat things up. Beyond that, the storyline, sounds, and visuals in Guild Wars 2 are family friendly. You likely wouldn’t have a problem letting your 10-year-old roll a character just for kicks. (Although, if the kid masters the game faster than you do he or she is totally going to have to go.)

Gameplay

90Great

From the moment you create your first character and step into Tyria, you’ll know that Guild Wars 2 is not like the MMOs you’ve become accustomed to over the last decade or so. Although there are enough features designed to invoke a sense of familiarity, there are also plenty that feel new. First and foremost would be the lack of static quest hubs.

A System of Renown

After you finish the initial tutorial instance for your race, you’ll find yourself directed to an NPC who’ll give you the lay of the land, and instruct you to follow your map to some folks who need your assistance. The NPCs offering tasks to do will have gold hearts outlined over their heads, which explains why the system is called Renown Hearts. When you’ve completed their tasks, the heart will fill in, and you’ll have gained just a little more street cred in Tyria--otherwise known as Karma. The Karma Points you’re awarded for completing Renown tasks will allow you to purchase special items from Karma Vendors.

Guild Wars 2 Renown Hearts

Renown Hearts can give a quest-like file to an otherwise dynamic progression system.


While the Renown Hearts system itself is a solid one, completing Renown tasks alone won’t get you the experience you need to progress through the zone. Although Guild Wars 2’s aversion to static questing is refreshing, the Renown Heart system in itself can give the illusion of static questing, which is confusing for the uninitiated. So, you’ve helped the poor moa rancher drive the bandits out of the bushes and protect his flock of flightless birds, but...what next? What if the next Renown Heart is in an area outside your level ability? How will you fill in the gaps?

The lack of direction beyond the initial introduction of Renown Hearts can leave some players feeling lost. There are plentiful ways to progress besides Renown Hearts, and they’re a lot of fun, but Guild Wars 2 falls down a bit when it comes to pointing new players in the right direction. It wouldn’t take much to improve on that. Perhaps that first Renown NPC could point you toward a nearby vista you’ll want to explore (and thus gain experience for.) Or maybe he could suggest that you explore the strife-ridden lands and look out for opportunities to protect Tyria and its citizens from harm, thus pointing you toward Dynamic Events. He could send you to talk to another NPC who can teach you about the wonders of harvesting and crafting (both means of xp gain.)

Those who love discovery and seeking out information on their own will adore Guild Wars 2. Those who find themselves outside their comfort zones might initially find the game a bit confusing at first, and may take longer to engage.

Dynamic Events

Dynamic Events are, more or less, the bread and butter of the Guild Wars 2 PvE experience. As you’re traveling across the lands of Tyria, you’ll encounter all manner of struggles that bid you to intervene. The most engaging thing about Dynamic Events is the way they unfold organically as you explore. You might be harvesting some resources, intent on honing your crafting skills, when some frantic villager runs up begging you to help because the outpost is under siege by centaurs. And sure enough, if you (and others like you) don’t help...you’re going to find that outpost (and often its associated travel waypoint), contested and inaccessible until the invading force is driven off.

Guild Wars 2 Dynamic Events

Dynamic Events give you an opportunity to adventure en masse without seeking out groups.


Dynamic Events have an amazing effect on Guild Wars 2--they make the game feel vibrant and alive. What’s a little disconcerting to the completionist types is that you just might miss some events as you’re moving through the world. Fortunately, though, Guild Wars 2 makes it possible for you to go back and revisit content you’ve missed. Your level scales dynamically to suit the area that you’re in, so the creature that attacked you in the newbie zone is going to yield experience when you kill him.

The only other drawback to Dynamic Events is that their scaling mechanism (they get bigger as more players engage) means that your enjoyment of them can depend a lot on how many people are playing at any given time. During launch, of course, finding other players to wreak havoc with won’t be a problem. Later, however, it might be more of a challenge to find either events that a player can complete solo (although they often are) or to spawn the truly massive events that make this game a thrill to play.

Other Means of PvE Progression

What’s great and innovative about Guild Wars 2 is that just about everything grants experience to the player, from helping a Renown NPC to participating in dynamic events to exploring a new area to gathering and crafting.

If there’s one drawback to this plethora of things to do it’s that, again, Guild Wars 2 needs to do a better job of making players aware of the available options. Veteran MMO players should figure things out in fairly short order (although it can be difficult to break out of the quest hub mindset.) New players will likely stumble around for a while, and hopefully not become too frustrated as they go.

Combat

Your character begins his experience in Guild Wars 2 with a single weapon, although depending on his profession (the Guild Wars 2 term for “class”) he can yield anything from several to a rather vast array of them. Initially, he’ll have just one weapon skill and a small healing ability. As he uses that weapon, he’ll quickly learn more skills.

What isn’t immediately apparent to the uninitiated is that each weapon must be unlocked individually. If your Ranger wields an axe at the beginning of his adventure in Tyria, and then acquires a bow later when it drops off some defeated foe, he'll have one basic skill for the new weapon and will need to unlock the rest. On one hand, unlocking your profession’s various weapons can lend a quick, down and dirty sense of progression--look how fast you’re mastering that greatsword, Ace! On the other, once you’ve mastered them all you might feel like you don’t have much to look forward to. Although you’ll unlock additional utility skills for your hotbar as you level (and gain Skill Points), they’re a little fewer and further in between.

Guild Wars 2 trail of flames

That's what we call trailblazing.


Still, all in all, the combat system just works. You’ll have one skill that’s an auto attack you’ll never have to worry about once it’s triggered. Then, you’ll trigger other abilities that range in scope from the utilitarian to the truly badass. Once you watch a staff-wielding Elementalist fire a flame bolt at a monster’s head (the auto attack), trigger bubbling lava below its feet (a ground-based AoE), then evade back leaving a trail of flames before raining down a hail of flaming meteorites you’ll have a true sense of the flavor each profession brings to the table in Guild Wars 2. (And watching a skilled Elementalist shift elemental attunements on the fly and invoke Fire, Water, Air and Earth is, well...magical to behold.)

While we wouldn’t call Guild Wars 2’s combat twitchy, it is active and engaging--you’ll have to watch what you’re doing most of the time in order to play well. It’s going to be necessary for you to dodge (just double-tap a movement key to dodge in that direction) and use strategic tactics, especially as you gain levels and the bad guys become more intelligent and evasive themselves.

And finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention underwater combat in Guild Wars 2. Quite simply, everything about it makes for an amazing experience, from the way it looks to the way it sounds to the way it plays. Moving underwater is intuitive and fluid (pun intended.) You’ll have special weapons and skills for underwater combat, too. (This writer’s favorite happens to be her Ranger’s ability to call on a school of flesh-rending piranhas.)

Character Progression

We touched a bit on character progression already by discussing the way skills are unlocked. If there’s one thing to add, it’s that Guild Wars 2 could do a better job of introducing players to its unique naming conventions. MMO gamers who are used to stats like Intelligence and Wisdom might not know how stats like Power and Precision relate to their build. There are tool tips to help you out, but it’s not quite as intuitive and seems a bit unnecessarily confusing.

Guild Wars 2 underwater combat

Finally, an MMO has done underwater combat right.


Personal Stories

At character creation, you’ll choose your character’s biography options. Is she charming, dignified or fierce? Does she regret passing up a chance to perform with the circus, or does she really wish she would have recovered her sister’s body? The choices you make create your personal story, with a vast array of combinations that unfold as you go.

Personal stories not only yield fantastic experience, but they’re incredibly engaging. Some, we’ve found, are better than others depending on your biography choices and the choices you make as you move through the quest, but all of them seem to have the potential to open up into a bigger and bigger story as events unfold. It may take a while for the consequences of your actions (when the bandits were plotting attacks, did you save the hospital first or the orphanage?) to become apparent, but they will be revealed. And all roads lead to the big, over arching story of the Elder Dragons.

One of us loved her beta character’s personal stories so much that when Guild Wars 2 went live she created a character using the exact same biographical options so that she could see how the story played out. Another found himself so engrossed in his personal story, and the way it hooked back into the game’s meta-story, that by the time he was able to delve into Guild Wars 2’s first dungeon the story had given him a compelling reason to. Those are indicators of solidly crafted story.

Graphics

97Excellent

Astonishing! Next topic.

But seriously, there seems to be a unanimous consensus among Guild Wars 2 players--the graphics are some of the best we've seen. The art style is distinctive and should withstand the test of time. Each racial city has its own architectural look and feels vibrant and alive. Character models are gorgeous. (Almost too gorgeous. Are all humans and nords potential underwear models?) The attention to detail ArenaNet put into building the worlds of Tyria is second to none. Each time you see the feathery tuft of a dandelion seed pod floating by, or observe the silvery shadows on the wall as you pass through the glass underwater tunnel in Divinity’s Reach, you'll experience another one of many "Oh, wow..." moments while playing Guild Wars 2.

Guild Wars 2 Queensdale dam

That's "dam" impressive.


Animations are incredibly realistic. The little asura will run and then skid to a halt rather than simply stopping dead. (A body in motion tends to stay in...oh, never mind.) Enemy centaurs spin and wheel on you like a horse and rider running a barrel race. They also succumb gloriously to knockbacks, skidding across the ground on their sides, legs flailing. What's not to love?

What makes the graphics all the better is that they’re not demanding. Guild Wars 2 provides all this with DX 9 technology and a minimal 15 gig footprint. On lower graphic settings, the game looks good; on higher settings they’re jaw dropping. I’ve encountered a couple gamers with aging rigs who’ve encountered some lag, especially during dynamic events, but my own 2 year old box has never had an issue rendering dozens of players and spell effects on screen at once.

Sound

97Excellent

You know how you always turn off in-game musical soundtracks after a while and perhaps substitute your favorite MP3s? You’re far less likely to do that while playing Guild Wars 2 and listening to the scores composed by video game music legend, Jeremy Soule. Soule, the man behind the Elder Scrolls scores you know and love, makes Tyria come alive, from the sweeping opening theme to the driving combat music right down to the atmospheric, mood-invoking tunes you’ll hear while wandering an area.

Ambient sound is also impressive. While a few NPC vocalizations and other related sounds can get a bit repetitive if you linger in the same area (do you really care that the guy in the apple orchard hates bruised apples but doesn’t mind the tart ones?), overall we’ve found that the sounds in this game seem so real that we're repeatedly blown away. You might venture up behind a large structure and hear the loud and authentic whir of heavy machinery coming from within. The sound will even seem to modulate itself depending on your proximity to the building. Circle around and you'll discover that you've come upon the Monastery Brewery.

In essence, even when you’re soloing through Tyria, Guild Wars 2 is a truly multiplayer game. You’ll participate 70-466 practice test in dynamic events with multitudes of players. Not only that, you’ll encounter others on your journeys and find that the social feel of Guild Wars 2 truly enhances your experience, even if you don’t group 70-465 exam or interact in chat. Someone may come along and revive you in a time of need (everyone can revive, and everyone gets experience for doing it.) 70-465 practice test You may find yourself in over your head in a fight, and another soul will charge in to help. In that sense, GW2 feels like a uniquely 70-466 exam social experience.

I just bought that game and played for half a week. It really looks like another WoW. Not a lot of innovation there... The only innovation I saw is that they made it actually quite confusing, I imagine the poor guy who never played MMO before, even I was lost, lots of features that are not explained at all.

Come on m8 people like you are unable to play diferent games than WoW easy gear pawn everything that's why they dont like GW2 or RIFT , move on GW2 its not for you.

Shayalyn,

You wrote:

"I’ve encountered a couple gamers with aging rigs who’ve encountered some LAG, especially during dynamic events, but my own 2 year old box has never had an issue rendering dozens of players and spell effects on screen at once."

Wrong.

Lag is the delay involved in sending messages back and forth across the internet between your computer and the server.

Lag is not a drop in frames per second.
Lag is not the result of an old CPU or video card.
Lag not affected by the level of detail you select in your video settings.

When you call poor computer performance "lag" you sound stupid. Hopefully this message will help you avoid sounding stupid in the future. You're welcome.

I for one thank you for pointing this out. It's unfortunate that pointing out ignorance on the internet acquires backlash from wanna be know-it-alls.

I blame the general ignorance of online gamers that have morphed the word LAG into meaning anything performance related when it was initially used to describe latency.

Unfortunately, LAG these days can apply to hardware performance issues. It's weird how terms like this can change in meaning when applied in common usage over a generation. Gone are the days when "LAG" was purely ping related. I know what you mean though dude. I too feel contempt when I hear someone use "LAG" to describe a drop in FPS.

Lag
Verb:
Fall behind in movement, progress, or development; not keep pace with another or others.

Therefore if you are seeing a hang on your display due to an inferior computer trying to play GW2 at high graphics, your screen is falling behind the progress of the program, or what you would expect to see if it had continued smoothly. This, due to the definition of the word lag, is called 'frame lag'. Frame lag is then shortened to lag. You have lag. There is no mis-use of the word lag in this post.

I know something to keep you from sounding like an asshole.

#1.) Stop typing.

You're welcome.

Regardless of tone, my post educates people. In some small way, it actually enriches the minds of those who take the time to read it.

Your reply, on the other hand, contributes nothing. It is simply an emotional response showing us how uncomfortable you become when you encounter somebody you perceive as smarter than you.

I don't have any issues with the folks who don't know. It's the folks who won't learn that I have a problem with.

Ah, but there's the crux of it--your tone. Abject douchebaggery does nothing to facilitate what you've so generously termed "enrichment." It serves only to alert people to the presence of, you know, a douchebag.

And, by the way, though your terminology may be technically correct, "lag" has been a catch-all term for a very long time. Calling a drop in framerate "lag" isn't exactly "stupid." Calling someone out, in a mocking tone, for using such a term...well, that's another story, isn't it?

I congratulate you on your ability to form a coherent statement. You articulated yourself so well that you even managed to persuade a couple of random lackeys to take your side in this meaningless standoff. That's awesome, actually. I wish half the people I dealt with on a daily basis were able to do the same. Maybe then I wouldn't have a desire to point out such gaffes in the first place.

Am I an asshole? A "douchebag"? I can handle that. This conversation has motivated you to portray yourself in the most intelligent manner that you know how, and that's exactly the goal I have been reaching for this entire time. Even if you're the only person I've "motivated" today, it's a win in my book. Kudos to you and anybody else who tries their damnedest to speak with intelligence and authority. The world needs more of you.

I think you just missed anonymous up there who countered "your definition" by using another definition of lag. With this definition, whether it's hardware issues or latency issues, it can still be called lag or delay.

Just wanted you to see it. Maybe you went passed by it.

Good work.

somebody you perceive as someone who needs to put others down to feel good about themselves.

FTFY.

Nice review, no matter what haters say. It's an all around presentation for the uninitiated of a massive game experience, which is rather hard to include in just a handfull of words.

Still, I disagree with the Cons part. Imho, since every MMO had several problems at its launch days, should we consider soemthing that will be fixed in a week or two as a disadvantage of the game? I mean, I would consider ugly graphics or lack of content as a con since it's something more or less permanent but occasional glitches are something disturbing but unavoidable so far.

Other than this gj with the review!

P.S.: With all those mindles haters running loose I was afraid GW2 would get a 3 in user score (see D3 and ME3 etc) but thank God it prevailed :P

Never have I played a better more rounded mmo then this one, and it just released. It is game breaking and altering period.
The way everything comes together is second to none and the fun factor is crazy.

Great review and spot on.

Technically, Guild Wars 2 is a DX11 tessallated superstar.

But artistically. ARTISTICALLY!

The game is amazing! AMAZING!

From an art standpoint from the little I have seen is a little too saturated for my tastes. It looks best when it tones down the colors. It reminds me of Halo: CE in that respect except that game didn't bug me as much.\

Guild wars 2 compared to most MMO's I have seen is a Masterpiece of art and design. I knew the original guild wars looked nice but I wasn't expecting this.

I would have avoided this game actually had I not seen the visuals. Not that pretty looks would have been enough but it is what hooked me. Then I started hearing about all the cool features of the game and, curse me, all the convenient anti-traditional MMO additions, the size, the depth, the combat. It's awesome. This all I found out a few weeks ago.

Tera, actually, was actually my first choice. But the combat which is what originally hooked me... I dunno. Not to mention all the grindy, dyed in the wool, traditional structure of the game. The combat looks good but too hack and slashy (I haven't played it so I might be wrong). More your average action game than Ninja Gaiden. Still a great achievement for an MMO but can I really endure that for hours on end? I know there's more to it but lost interest and never tried it. I might later depending on how I feel about GW.

It feels like I'm the only one who reads or comprehends anything sometimes.

This review was stated already to be written by one person, but expressing the opinions of more.
Read it. Understand it.

Though I have to more or less agree that the graphics score is a bit high - it's not a huge deal. In fact, i'm glad the graphics aren't using fancier because it allows more people to play this game on more computer rigs. That said there is something to be said for what you get for the requirements of your computer - I haven't seen a game look this good using such low tech since... well never.

Guild wars 2 is just so innovative in so many ways.

It IS a bit overhyped at the moment, but that just shows you how desperate the MMO community is for something that isn't a WoW clone.

The value imo should be a perfect 100. I mean any other MMO you would have a subscription fee - I think most people play a game like this for 2+ years so with simple math you can see how much better it is for your money than so many others.

this game is awesome and a ton of fun to play

it's great being able to just jump into the PvP without the countless hours of grinding to even be competitive.

it takes SEVERAL MONTHS to gear up in WoW, EVEN AFTER REACHING MAX LEVEL to be competitive in PvP. unless you play at the launch of an expansion then MAYBE you will be on equal footing if you spend as much time grinding as that one guy who plays all day everyday.

i don't know about you guys, but i was really getting tired of this time-sink filler mechanic stretching a small amount of content out into tedious, repetitive, meaningless, unending grinds to keep fools "hooked" on their sense of elitism. (this coming from a 2200+ arena master, now i see how stupid it all was)

that's just one of the many downsides to subscription fees, they are going to stretch out content with painfully repetitive, time consuming filler to keep you subbed for another month or two.

if nothing else, support GW2 for that alone!! VOTE NO on subscription based games and corporate greed!

lol.. is this a joke? who payed this clown?
bad reputation for this site.

So, you're pissed off at, what...the site or the reviewer because their opinion doesn't match yours? Do you think the site would publish a review that the editors didn't agree with? This is probably the majority opinion, even if one "clown" wrote it.

Looks like the Metacritic score (94) agrees, too. Only reason the user score is 8.5 (which is still high for Metacritic) is because of butthurt people who are pissed off about the usual MMO growing pains. But a majority of those problems didn't show up until just recently.

I get the feeling people are just looking at the scores and not even reading the review to get the opinions and see why the scores are what they are, then getting pissed off because it doesn't match what they would have scored. Stupid. Look up the definition of "opinion."

By the way, I would score the game at about a 90 overall. But you don't see me pissing and moaning because the scores here are too high.

I just lost alot of respect for Tentonhammer!!! Shame on you. While GW2 is a great game, no way is it worth 95%. There are glaring issues with dynamic events, direction, trading post, their own forums.

95% no way 85% max.

it's an opinion, just relax. I personally agree with this score, but you may disagree however, and are entitled to your own opinion, but am i going to think of you as a lesser person because of that? no of course not.

I would subtract 10 points from every category and the review would be accurate, from my perspective. Definitely not 97 on the graphics. As other have mentioned, except for some animations, TSW has better environment graphics overall (I play both games).

You can wax poetic about the "beautiful" and "lush" landscapes of GW2, but to me they're not all that special. They're good, but don't "blow me away". Then again, I wasn't on board the hype train and really only paid attention to this game when I bought it last weekend, so perhaps my perspective is too fresh.

The best 2 things about GW2:

- It loads quickly
- It's free, so I can still play another MMO without doubling my cost

The 2 worst things about GW2:

- Normalized PvP with full access to a profression's abilities/traits, even you're only level 2
- Horizontal character progression at 80, especially in pvp

Normalized PvP is a bad thing? I have to thoroughly disagree. For once in an MMO we have genuine skill-based PvP with no power-creep from ever increasing gear tiers. If you take joy in seeing bigger numbers with new gear then you are in the wrong game. Guild Wars 2 was built to reward those who have mastered their classes and how to fight while giving new guys equal footing to get in and learn without having to grind out gear just to be competitive. This also applies to horizontal progress: if you need a stat stick you enjoy your MMO you bought the wrong game. Not trying to insult you, or say it is a perfect system, but that's how Guild Wars 2 works. Personally, I love it. Power-creep is what kept me from returning to PvP in other MMOs time and time again.

Yes, it's bad, unless you're playing an FPS shooter.

I don't look "power creep" as a bad thing. I look at it as a set of continuing goals for improving my character. If someone does more damage than me, or heals for more, or tanks better, etc., I don't crawl in a shell and bemoan about power disparity. No sir. It motivates me to play *more*. It gives me goals. It keeps me looking forward to what I can achieve. Most importantly, it keeps me engaged in the game and increases my chances of buying something from the cash shop.

sPvP is also disappointing from the perspective of character development. It's normalized pvp gives you access to all your profession's level 80 abilities, traits, and gear, even if you aren't level 80. In fact, you can be level 2 and still get all the level 80 goodies. What's the point in leveling your character past level 2, if all you plan to do is sPvP?

When I level a character, I look forward to gaining new abilities and seeing how they do in PvP. What GW2 does is take away the motivation to level. Why bother if I can just click a button and get everything given to me in an instant? That might be fun for some who just want to PvP like the game is an FPS shooter, but it's not my cup of tea for long-term enjoyment.

Your first step in the game after creating a character, and doing the tutorial, directs you to a scout. There's your first point of direction.

You'll find all the hearts, if you keep the map open, while the scout is talking. Don't close it down immediately. From thereon, you're all set as you visit the hearts. Don't hesitate to take on those mobs as you make your way around. That area, as you work through it, will take you to group events where everyone works together. Those are fun!

Gather as you adventure. You can either craft or hang onto them in your collection tab in your bank. Bags getting full? Hit I, click on the gear in the upper right corner and select "Deposit all collectibles". Back at your bank, you can see what you have when the bank screen is open, just click on that second tab. Banks are noted on the city map by some inventory bags. Close to the bank, you'll usually find the auction house.

Crafting gets you xp, btw. Gathering gets you xp. Vistas get you xp. Completing events get you xp. There is no chance of boredom. Yes, there's problems. They're working on them.

I also admit, I'm a fan. We're all a specific kind of player who enjoy certain games.

Seriously WTF... 97/100 on graphics made me laugh. When talking about graphics, try Secret World.. look carefully at GW2: yes this is ugly as shit...

TSW?? Seriously?? The intro videos made me laugh, it was like I was playing some 2005 game! Char movement reminds me of minecraft and battle animations... hoho hehe... ridiculous is a light word for them (look mummy I can fly!! *deals 100dmg to zombie*). Yes it has it's good points but, hey, don't talk about graphics plz.

+1 TSw looks worse than first 1 month AoC caracters issues , oh wait its from the same company where i saw this before....

I know 97 on gfx - seriously???? You got to be kidding me. NO way.

You clearly dont know the difference between aesthetics and graphic fidelity. oh well ..

So we have a TSW fanboy raging around... WHY? this game has no monthly fee, you buy it or don't... peace kid =)

I read these reviews and laughed. Your all accusing of pay offs and fan boyism. You simply accuse why not just ask for a specification of what they mean by graphics. Also clarifying technical and artistic would be helpful. BUT the game was made to be for widescale distribution and playability. not everyone has or wants a super $1-2k rig. This run on pretty much all mid range pcs. Id give it a 97/100 on graphics for that alone. I can play on my laptop or rig. Laptop low mid range A6 with a Radeon HD 6520g. Second experiencing the actual game and well reading about it are two different things. Yes its overhyped after playing id be the first to agree, but i love this game. Ive never felt so free and unh restricted in a game. I dont HAVE to do anything. Simply exploring i leveled to lv 10. I dont even want to fight mobs sometimes but man sometimes events come to you. Ive played wow and this is a perfect replacement. The game has a well composed feel. Its got bugs and glitches a few downsides like over flow server, mail si buggy at times, auction been down a few days, but ive never had so much fun in an mmo before. Forget grinding. Forget left click left click left click left click. I actively run around laying traps and aoes while avoiding hordes of mobs. Being able to move and cast. Knock back animations well done. The tiny details make this game totally worth 80 bucks i spent for digital deluxe and my girlfriend does not regret her $150 collectors edition. Its like mixing tera and wow together with a little lotro and gw1 all in one the trying to find the perfect middle ground

Loving the game so far. Make no mistake, this game is a huge world. I highly doubt I'll cover even a fraction of it.

(1) Graphics: that's first thing I noticed as being quite something. It's just beautiful with so much detail.
(2) Sound: this really stands out for me. From the Azura gate noises to skills and wildlife, it's fantastic.
(3) Music: Jeremy Soule...say no more.
(4) Questing, crafting, 101 ways to gain experience: yes, if you're bored of one way, find another, you're pretty much granted experience for doing everything there is to offer.
The Karma guys as I like to call them (Renown Hearts) offer really fun 'tasks' that are not mundane at all. Believe you me, there is lots of variety to spice things up here. Some are tense, some are humorous and some of it completely new to me. This is not boring fed-ex crap. So, that keeps my interest and motivation to carry on.

Complaints?

(1) I'm not too pleased about the constant "You've been place in an overflow server"....message each time you go to a new area. Come on people, I chose a server...it's got my name reserved on that server. Stop placing me in a queue that I shouldn't have to be on in the first place.

Alright, so that's my server ignorance. Yet, weren't we specifically told to chose a server? Aren't there a finite [MAXIMUM] number of people allocated to each one?
I guess not, otherwise we wouldn't have this annoyance.

I'm playing solo for now, I can only imagine the annoyance a group of guys would have when they keep getting placed in some obscure overflow server and then have to find and meet up with each other, over and over. Considering it's pretty pervasive, I have a feeling ANET is on top of this experience and will find some way to alleviate the annoyance.

(2) Could have used an even deeper tutorial. There are quite a few icons/activities etc. that really require an explanation to someone new to these type of games. I mean, hit 'M' and just look at all those nifty icons. I've got the hang of it now, just not very user-friendly that's for sure. I could see new players completely missing out on particular activities if they don't just stumble upon it.
Really could use a further zoom-in on the main map, to separate closely clumped non-player characters.

Summary:
Amazingly fun, immersive. A few gripes that I'm sure can be improved upon in time.

What an excellent review and I couldn't agree more. I planned to power level my first character and keep getting sidetracked and messing around.

I don't know if the lack of hand holding at the beginning of the game is really a mistake though. It makes everything you discover fresher in some way and will encourage us old dogs to teach the noobs when they come along, which will make the game better for both in the long run.

Best I've felt about a game since WOW, and that's saying something.

Completely agree. I think we'll all experience the world differently if left largely to our own devices - it's nice to get lost exploring the vistas, or searching for an undiscovered poi... I can get locked and loaded on a specified path so easily. I'm already at Level 9 - and I've *just* started my personal quest. I spent the first 8.5 levels exploring, joining events and getting (happily) lost while trying to discover just one more spot... :-D

And yet...

DUNGEONS are BROKE! People cannot get inside the instances as a GROUP (if at all) without trying OVER and OVER for hours.

That might be a nice addition to this shiny review.

Never had that issue myself. Did you all ensure you were on the same overflow prior? All it takes is a right-click and selecting "Join" (not insulting your intelligence, but a surprising amount of people do not know about this). Just ensure no one enters the actual server, sync up on one party member, and AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

Don't you just hate trollers? Thank you for your well balanced review. IMHO it has been the blinkered focus on graphics that has stifled innovation. What makes a truly great MMO is the sense of immersion that comes about by all-round crafting of gameplay. If all you want is graphics, then watch TV instead.

NO way is this "review" balanced. The words arent so bad I get the feeling the editorial bumped up the scores a bit. Common practice i'm afriad.

"Do yourself a favor and pick up TSW, Rift, Tera, or Lotro. Those MMOs are beautiful with layers of graphical options."

Whuuuuuuut?!?

No offence mate, but you should quit huffing paint stripper. I've played all four of the games you've mentioned and the only one that competes graphically and atmospherically is TSW. I still play LOTRO as I love their interpretation of Mr. T's rich lore, but I can barely stomach the geriatric graphics engine. Rift Looks like it was designed by 10-year-olds, it's THAT ugly... And as for TERA, its puerility detracts too much from its pretty backdrops.

I was never a GW fan, but am now. The game is stunning and immersive. Who cares if they are using an old engine (Who doesn't? It's an unfortunate problem caused by big budget games that take years to produce), what they've done with it is amazing. There's always a toss-up between bleeding-edge graphics and accessibility to a wider pc-using market, but ArenaNet has definitely hit the sweet spot. Kudos...

I actually agree with you regarding the balance between appearance and performance/accessibility, and for GW2 they did a good job. Especially considering you get massive battles in WvWvW and it still needs to be playable.

However, I think you're letting your fondness for GW2's gameplay cloud your judgement. This is not a gameplay discussion - I'm talking solely about graphics and visual art. The game quite simply does not compare to the mmos I listed. The technical specs of these games blow GW2 out of the water. In your critique, I actually thought it was interesting you think Rift looks worse considering it probably resembles GW2 the most visually. Lotro as well - it looks fantastic for a game that is 5 years old. Tera and TSW...there's no question they are the 2 best looking mmos on the market today.

Meh. There's graphics (technical), and then there's aesthetics (artistic). I agree that there are MMOs out there with better graphics than GW2, but for aesthetics and art direction, I haven't seen better. To my tastes, which I know are subjective and personal, all of TERA's lovely graphical fidelity can't stop it feeling like sandpaper on my eyes. I hate their character design almost universally.

Glad to see I'm not the only one who can make the distinction between technically good graphics and (subjective) design choices in videogames. Besides the awful texture resolutions and polygon counts, there's also major camera issues (centered on the characters butt, really? who signed off on that one?) and some animation bugs - altough I'm sure theyll fix that eventually.

In terms of massive innovations GW2 brings to the table - it doesn't do even 1 new thing. Not one. That's an amazing fact to consider in light of how heavilty this innovation is touted in GW2 - it's at the core of every argument made for this game. And when a knowledgable person explains that these features are not actually new, and proceed to list the games they were ripped from, you usually get a response like "this is not WoW, you just don't understand, it's a completely new way to play". As if we're unable to grasp GW2. Insulting.

Having said that, GW2 is a great game, especially considering it's value for money. A PVP-centric fantasy game with decent character progression and variety, with solid gameplay mechanics. But please, let go of the freaking messiah rhetoric already.

This is a pretty common argument against Apple. Sure other games may have had included just about every feature that makes GW2 great, but did any of them make it really work? I knew a guy ten years ago with a tablet, but it wasn't worthwhile. I had a PocketPC but it wasnt quite special. The arguments I hear against GW2 remind me so much of what you hear against Apple. Thing is, they seem to have done it right. They took their time and made the best they could for everybody. Diehard gamers will learn the intricacies of real time combat as opposed to just grinding, new players can run around exploring and just having fun. And most of all, it's a game that respects those of us without 50 hours a week to donate to a game. It allows you to play the game in a very personal way. I love having a game that respects my time, now if only I didn't have to boot camp.

You guys are hilarious, go back to WoW and stfu. GW2 is amazing, #1 mmo there is not even a discussion here, the graphics are amazing, sorry but you must be running on some really shit computers. And "korean mmo combat"? Lol, confirmed trolls.... trolls everywhere!!!! :P

I have 3 suggestions for those being vocal in their discontent for this article.

1. Go to Metacritic.

2. Click on any of the other several reviews on it to be directed to it's respective site.

3. Be a bitter Grumplestilskin in their comments instead.

Why, can't people have another view on games? Also technically that is not 3 suggestions but 1 suggestion put into point format. Try harder, North Korean censorship officer.

I played in my entire life lots of mmo's, including WoW. But I have to say this is the best mmo I ever played. Who talking bad things about guild wars 2 its because is some fan boy from Wow, or from another mmo. Guild Wars 2 crush Wow in all ways. And in my honest opinion lots of free mmo's out there with more content then wow, or even better graphics or however better! Why you should pay fees to play a old game when you have free games better then him lol!, or more important, why pay fees to play game? buy it is not enough! Guild Wars 2 is the best mmo so far, who said otherwise is just hater, or just don't understand nothing about gemming industry.

PC gaming @ 1080p is not PC gaming. This game looks absolutely beautiful at 2560x1440 on an ips panel @ 60fps. Anyone complaining about graphics, do yourself a favor and throw away your garbage 1080 tn panel. Geez, your better off on a console.

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