Guild Wars 2: Worth buying?
As a lover of lore, a fan of continuity, and an appreciator of challenge— I would say yes, Guild Wars 2 is definitely worth buying. If the first week is anything to go by, the months to come will be rewarding for the Guild Wars 2 community and any player looking to wet their feet in some refreshing MMO action.
Unlike a good portion of the players that had jumped onto the Headstart for the release of GW2 (that is— we had three days of game time before official release), I came into this game with very little idea of what to expect. I played one weekend of beta, and that was spent mostly on the character screen vainly attempting to recreate my face on a the feline-humanoid race of Charr. I wanted to go into this game surprised so I had a relatively unbiased vision going in. And surprised I was— Guild Wars 2 exceeded my expectations.
For one, the launch was one of the smoothest I’ve encountered. I was hosting a GW2 release LAN party and there was NO lag. None. ArenaNet implemented an “overflow” server method, which practically eliminates lag by pulling players into sub-servers automatically, while still allowing the player access to all normal activity (i.e. loot collecting, levelling, etc.) as if s/he were on the main server they signed up on. This helps mitigate the amount of players in the server at any one time as well. The only downside of this would be the inaccessibility of World vs World (WvW is equivalent to PvP). It was only until about 4am on the first day of Headstart, where I encountered my first problem that had to do with some error that kicked people from gameplay, but that was solved in two or so hours.
Game launch aside, after a week or so of play I’ve garnered a greater sense of just how awesome this game is. The world of Guild Wars 2 is incredibly dynamic. It truly embraces the genre of massively multiplayer online role-play game. There are events happening constantly that require multiplayer assistance, incentives to reviving fallen allies, motive to explore and complete whole portions of maps, and yet, still even more content if you don’t want to. Guild Wars 2 is set up in such a way that motivates players to have to help, to get invested in the cause of the environments around them— I mentioned the game is dynamic: if people ignore an event taking place such as an enemy burning down a building in a friendly base, that building will be burned, the base no longer friendly unless recaptured in yet another event.
GW2 also effectively removed the “grind” feel that many MMOs fall susceptible to. Instead of level caps increasing exponentially per level, GW2 made the levels take about as much time as the level before it, placing emphasis on gameplay rather than forcing players to torture themselves to the highest level. An even more interesting addition is how in World vs. World, players are all scaled up to 80 (the highest GW2 level at the moment) to help equalize the playing field; and that rule is reversed in the normal player vs. environment zones of the game, scaling down the player to appropriate levels according to the area (i.e. a level 64 will scale down to level 4 in level 4 zones) allowing gameplay to still be interesting and challenging no matter where you are.
The artwork of this game is also incredibly appealing and the details in storylines are interwoven beautifully with the fantasy world that ArenaNet provided for their audience. There are even rewards that encourage exploration and even better rewards for doing on-the-side challenges, such as jumping puzzles that give a nod to platform game fans.
I want to also mention that GW2 is casual-player friendly. It doesn’t matter if you have work, school, an internship or all of the above— you don’t feel pressured to log on just so you can get your money’s worth. The no-subscription fee gives you a stress-free environment to enjoy the game rather than make it another responsibility.
There are a couple criticisms I have for the game though, my main one being the economy and trading system. Not only has the Black Lion Trading Company (equivalent to an auction house, for all you WoW players) been up and down in maintenance making it impossible to hold stable prices or for players to find out what anything is worth on the market, there is no actual trade option between players. Most transactions currently taking place between players has to go through mail which also has been swiping in and out of accessibility. And when mail is available, there is no cash on delivery option, forcing players to trust that their money sent through mail will eventually come back with a promised item or vice versa.
There are also a couple of storyline glitches and problems: the game can fluctuate from a very easy event to a substantially more difficult one in the same zone, but these kinks are not atypical in new games and can be fixed as the game matures. The cons most certainly don’t outweigh the numerous pros for GW2 and I am certain it will have a lengthy longevity that will make its predecessor proud.
I can go on and on about this game but I think it’s better if you go and experience it for yourself. See you in Tyria!