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Guild Wars 2 review

Ninjaturtles

Posted by: Mike Splechta

It isn't easy to make a successful MMO these days. Just ask BioWare. They had a seemingly infallible formula, but it just showed that you can't rush an MMO that didn't offer content for the hardcore players who rush through leveling, not to mention that a subscription fee just isn't an option in the age of Free-2-Play.

The original Guild Wars released in 2005, and while it was a drastic departure from standard MMORPGs and focused a lot more on PVP content, it did allow adopters to play without the burden of paying monthly and still enjoying everything the game has to offer. Between then and now, developer ArenaNet had a lot of time to figure out where the next game will be headed, how it will differ from the first, and what worked and what didn't. Needless to say, it was worth the wait — every minute of it — as Guild Wars 2 is easily the best MMORPG currently available.

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Band together and save Tyria from evil Dragons

Take everything you ever hated, thought was annoying or tedious, or quit another MMO because of, and throw it away. That is Guild Wars 2 in a nutshell. Honestly, every tedium you ever had in other MMOs is completely gone, and in its place is a streamlined product that makes everything from level 1 to level 80 completely fun! GW2 is never afraid of stepping out of the conventional MMO box, and honestly, that's what makes it so damn awesome.

Some classes make a return from the original Guild Wars, with a total of eight in total and five different races. ArenaNet cleverly decided to drop a healer class, and in turn give every single class the ability to heal. It's genius since there is no longer that person in a group that sits back, has no fun, and just keeps clicking heal the entire time. Whether you want to play as the defense heavy Warrior or Guardian, the magic imbued Elementalist, Necromancer or Mesmer, the stealthy Thief, the gun-toting Engineer, or the pet-dependant Ranger, each class has enough diversity to fit anyone's playstyle.

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The Engineer relies on turrets and long range weapons in combat

To further the customizability of each character class, every level starting from 11 nets you a Trait point, which you can then put into five separate categories. It's not as deep as skill trees in other MMOs, but it does let you focus on various attributes. You can go full DPS and be a glass cannon, or build more Tanky and be able to withstand more damage. Every 10 points in each category (totaling up to 30) will also let you pick a specialized Trait — like doing more damage when attuned to fire (Elementalist), increase damage percentually based on your Adrenaline, or do more damage when under 25% of health (Warrior).

Guild Wars 2 has an overarching storyline that not only dives into your character's backstory a bit (which can be determined during character creation), but also deals with the fate of the entire continent of Tyria and how the races must band together to defeat the threat of massive Dragons. The clever writing and terrific voice acting not only made me care about my character, but all supporting characters as well. That is truly a feat for an MMO.

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Fist bumping with this guy might cause your knuckles to bleed

Like I've said previously, it's about what Guild Wars 2 doesn't do, rather than what it does. Gone are standard exclamation points and question marks that signal the start and end of a questline. Instead, players can freely take part in Tasks that are scattered all around the world. Activating a Task is simple as running into an area and taking part in whatever the task requires. Sometimes it's silly stuff like catching bugs or watering plants on a farm, but more often than not, you'll be defending areas from attackers, killing various beasts, collecting samples from monsters and more. What's even better is that each Task consists of various things to do, so if all you want to do is help a lady water her plants until she's completely satisfied, instead of clearing her crops of giant Wurms, you have that option.

Taking things even further are dynamic events. Enemies sometimes take over settlements and in turn must be won back, a lab must be defended from a Krait invasion to protect the contents within, or a giant enemy spawns in certain areas that require multiple people to band together and take it down. Whatever the event, they're all great and are worth the experience and Karma (the game's currency for various special vendors) you get, which is also based on how much you participated during the event.

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Don't worry about stealing his kill, Guild Wars 2 encourages you to help out!

This takes me to groups. Quite possibly one of the best parts of GW2 is grouping, or the lack of a need to group. No longer is a monster bound to the person who attacked it first; if you see someone fighting an enemy, you're encouraged to help, since you both get the same amount of experience regardless of who actually killed it. It's a genius formula that makes grouping feel almost pointless, and yet reinforces player camaraderie to a level I've never seen in an MMO before.

Even better is the fact that resource nodes and player loot is instanced, rather than shared across the map. Remember when you saw that Iron Ore deposit from far away, only to see someone snatch it away from you and depleting it before you could even take a swing at it? Not in GW2. Everyone gets their swing at any resource — be it wood, vegetables or ore — everyone's entitled to it, no matter who gets to it first.

Tags: MMORPG, Guild Wars, ArenaNet, NCSoft

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