The superlative “Most Revolutionary MMO of 2012” is most often used when describing Guild Wars 2. Seeing as I was a fan of Guild Wars 1 and played it quite a bit, I knew that I had to pick up this game the minute it was announced. I honestly have a hard time describing it as revolutionary playing the game for as long as I have and experiencing most of the content. The good thing is that Guild Wars 2 is still a fantastic game that does so much more right than it does wrong. I’m going to break down what are, in my opinion, the three main points about the game: the combat system, the story/interactions with the environment, and World versus World alongside the MMO tradition of PvP and PvE.
One of the most interesting things about Guild Wars 2 is the combat system. The abilities and your skill system are broken down into three parts: your first 5 abilities are dictated by what weapons you have equipped, your 6th is a self-heal, and your 7-9 abilities are utility talents that you can use to strengthen yourself or the environment. While at first it seems shallow only having the option to choose 3 abilities, those 3 abilities are useful and can define your entire play-style. For example, my Mesmer is built for support so her abilities are centered on locking other characters down and taking them out of the fight. Other abilities include gadgets, bombs, turrets, poisons and a whole slew of other fun things to play with by each class. Guild Wars 2 also has a trait system which acts just like talents from other MMOs to wither abilities or characters. The combat and skill system is surprisingly deep. Combine that with the ability to move and you’ll experience the blending of a traditional MMO meets MOBA game, even if some skills seem to not be working as intended.
Surprisingly, Guild Wars 2 has a very intriguing storyline. Set 250 years after the events of Eye of the North, the dragons (creatures of pure primal energy) have awoken and started taking flight across Tyria, laying waste to other parts of the continent. Your story starts off a lot simpler, but soon you discover what is really happening as you join one of the three orders of Tyria to discover how to stop it. While the story certainly grasps you, the NPCs in the game will call you hero or constantly thank you for your heroics and what you’ve already accomplished. It really draws you in when you enter Faction City or Lion’s Arch and people will stop to wave at you or greet you as you pass, interrupting their conversation to do so.
Last but not least, let’s get to the fun stuff that is PvE and PVP. PvE is divided into 2 types: instanced story quests and events. Instanced story can be done by you or a group of friends so you won’t have to fight solo if you don’t want. Events can be done in groups where you get experience and karma (a currency used to exchange for gear from event givers and certain merchants) for your level of participation. PvP is divided into two types as well: Structured (sPvP) and World versus World (WvW). Structured PvP is reminiscent of GW1 where everyone starts out at max with everything unlocked and access to all gear and gear mods. This mode is great for discovering class builds and how a character feels. Structured PvP is also the home of Tournament PvP, which is where the E-Sports and competitiveness of this game lies. WvW is a very fun alternative to leveling where you get boosted to 80 and stats modified to meet it without getting your abilities unlocked. WvW gives you a great way to get XP. All you have to do is level equal items and materials for crafting and you use those supplies to upgrade. It is very reminiscent of Dark Age of Camelot’s PvP where you capture towers, supply camps and castles. It is a great feeling to see massive armies clash and to see your guild flag fly high above a keep which hides broken bodies within the castle walls.
Guild Wars 2 might not be revolutionary but it is definitely a much needed evolutionary step. GW2 adds a fresh take to the MMO and adds a whole bunch of features and fun things to do. The game is flawed in some respects. Some classes have skills that are broken and there is a huge XP gain unbalance in WvW (which I recommend to level from rather than PvE from the speed alone) but it’s definitely a game worthy of your time. With a fresh look at Tyria and old throwbacks to GW1 that cannot be ignored, Guild Wars 2 easily gets a 4/5.