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Guild Wars 2 Review

Background:

Like many others, I began playing MMORPGS with the advent of World of Warcraft. Since then I have tried many other games in that genre, but until Guild Wars 2 (GW2), no other game could touch the quality of gameplay that WoW offered.

That's changed.

Review:

Guild Wars 2 has been out for a few months now, and I've been playing it since the beta period. I can safely say that bar none, this is the best MMORPG I have ever played. 

GW2 features a questing system called dynamic events. Basically, dynamic events are random occurences that take place in the world, whether anyone is there to see them or not. Based on how those events play out, other events then take place as a consequence. This type of system results in a much more organic feeling world, and because the events occur whether or not players are present, it also makes you feel like you are actually an adventurer who finds problems that need fixing.

That's not to say that there isn't also a more "traditional" questing system. Scattered throughout each zone are what are called heart quests. The quests area typically encompass a given part of the map, and they offer a multitude of ways to complete the objective for each area. Usually while a person is working on completing the objective for a heart quest, one or more dynamic events will take place.

In terms of characters and storyline, GW2 offers a lot of customizability. There are five playable races, and eight professions to choose from. At the time of character creation you are able to customize your character's appearance greatly... from body size and shape, skin color, hair color, hair style, nose shape, chin shape, ear size and more. 

During the character creation phase the game will also ask you several questions about your character's history, and the combination of options that you select will uniquely determine the storyline that your character will play through, as well as how NPCs (non-player characters) in the world will interact with you.

Most MMORPGs feature what's called an end-game, and this usually ends up involving doing high level dungeons, called raids, or battling in player-versus-player mode (PVP).

In terms of raiding, Guild Wars 2 has none. In fact, the game's developer stated that they want the whole game to feel like the end-game. By that, they meant that they intend for the game to always be challenging, and always have that epic end-game feel. In this they have largely succeeded... when I'm playing I do feel like I am a great adventurer. A large reason for this is that the game has been designed to scale to the players. This means that as more players are taking part in some aspect of the game, it scales appropriately. Similarly, when a high-level player goes to a low level area, that player gets scaled down to match the content. This keeps the game challenging no matter where you prefer to adventure.

The other aspect of end-game, is PVP, and Guild Wars 2 offers some of the best, most balanced PVP available. There are several types of PVP in GW2: Structured PVP, Tournament PVP, and World PVP. 

Structured PVP and Tournament PVP take place on a group of small maps, and feature a capture and control type of gameplay. The combat on these maps is frequent and intense. In Structured and Tournament PVP, all characters are leveled up to maximum level, and given all skills and all weapons. Basically, it's a level playing field, and the PVP is more about player skill, and not about gear and level. Experience that you gain in Structured and Tournament PVP is called Glory, and it can be used to buy cooler looking PVP gear--note that the gear is only cooler looking, but does not have better stats--this is to keep the PVP about skill and not gear.

World PVP takes place across four massive maps, and features many types of gameplay: straight up PVP combat, fortress seiges, resource gathering, and more. In World PVP, all players are leveled up to max level, but you are restricted to the skills you have unlocked and the gear that you've earned in regular gameplay. In this type of PVP, you earn experience towards actually leveling up your character in regular gameplay. You also get gear and money drops from players that you defeat.

I could go on extolling the virtues of this game, but that would be impossible to fit into a single review.

So what about drawbacks?

Well, there is no open world PVP. I do find this to be a drawback some of the time, as open world PVP is where it feels most raw and exciting.

There is also a rather low limit to the default number of characters that you can create (five). I think that seeing as there are eight professions, there should be eight character slots available. Yes, you can buy more slots, but I'd have liked seeing a higher default number.

Aside from those couple of gripes, however, there's really not much wrong with this game. And get this--there is no subscription required to play! That's right, all that this game costs you is the initial purchase price!

Good Recommendations Summary:

If you're in the market for a great MMORPG, or even just a great game in any genre, I highly recommend that you buy Guild Wars 2. New content is constantly being added to what is already one of the best gameplay experiences ever, so there is always something new to see and do.

The world is massive and beautiful, and has such amazing attention to detail. Each of the playable races features a unique starting area, and the plethora of customization options ensures that unique content will be available well into the forseeable future.

Here are some other Guild Wars 2 resources:

A great guide to Guild Wars 2: http://www.guildwars2powerguide.com

The official Guild Wars 2 website: http://www.guildwars2.com

A good Guild Wars 2 forum: http://www.guildwars2guru.com/forum