Is Guild Wars 2 for you? Find out with the Massvio review
Did Guild Wars 2 Accomplish What it set Out to Do? I’ve pre-purchased Guild Wars 2 and have been participating in the Public Beta Weekend (for invitees and pre-purchasers). Guild Wars 2 set out to provide several things that other MMOs either lacked or were poorly implementation, while furthering the Guild Wars experience.
Things Guild Wars 2 set out to change/do:
A personalized story
Everyman for himself
Gear/Level based PvP
No grinding & minimal wasted time
Quests that don’t matter or affect the world
Notable Mentions (not in article due to time constraints):
Dynamic events and world events details
Structured PvP and WvW details
And any I’ve forgotten
A personalized story
There are two types of RPGs, a Single-Player with a very personalized story and MMOs that you can play with others. Guild Wars 2 set out to give the player both experiences in the same game. Guild Wars 2 does this by combining the epic scale through world events and on the individual level.
The individual story begins right after you create the look of your character. The character creation menu asks you several questions to describe what type of character you are. How your character responds to others and how others respond to your character are based on these answers. However the personalization doesn’t end there. Alongside adventuring in the world, you will have personalized story quests.
In which you can complete quests to help your home instance, friends (based on questions), a member of Destiny’s Edge, and etc. These quests are told through cut scenes and instanced zones, where depending on your choices will affect your home instance. A home instance is a personalized instanced zone just for your character where the environment and NPCs are changed based on your actions. Some examples are whether you choose to save a hospital or an orphanage and if you complete some epic feat the NPCs may erect a statue of you and etc. You will also be able to invite other players into your home instance.
There are also three Orders hell bent on fighting against the elder dragons. Each of these orders has a different view on how things should be done, so their stories are very different. Once you’ve unlocked the ability to join one of these Orders, you will unlock an entire new set of personalized stories through them based on their point of view.
So you can see that Guild Wars 2 does beyond what most MMOs do in terms of personalized story telling. You can have your cake and eat it too. A personalized story based on your character’s personality and choices. A home instanced crafted through your player choices, achievements, and/or failures. The home instance is a place from which you can show friends what you’ve accomplished. All of these goes beyond what most MMOs have to offer.
The available crafting disciplines are the norm in Guild Wars 2 as other MMOs. You have a weapon smith, a huntsman, an artificer, an armor smith, a leatherworker, a tailor, a jewel crafter, and a cook. Players will only be able to select two disciplines at a time. What makes crafting in Guild Wars 2 interesting is the way it’s implemented, such as no discipline is dedicated to gathering a certain resource, there are several ways to gather resources, leveling/discovery, and changing disciplines.
There are no dedicated gathering disciplines in Guild Wars 2. Everyone can buy gathering tools and go out into the world and gather lumber, ore, and herbs. Gathering isn’t the only way to get resources; you can also gain resources through looting and salvaging items. Gathering nodes are unique to each user, so if two players want the same node they do not need to fight over it. The node is there for each user to use. No one will come and high-jack the node while you’re fighting your way to it. You can also send resources from your inventory to your bank for storage to free up space.
Leveling a crafting discipline is unique in that each item crafted gives experience. The crafting system isn’t based on a fixed leveling proc of a font colored craft-able item as in other MMOs. Players can gain bonus rewards for crafting multiple items in a stack or through discovery of a new recipe. Some disciplines have overlapping items; such as the weapon smith and the huntsman both having cured leather hide. When you create a cured leather hide you gain experience for both disciplines (if both are active disciplines). If you decide to change your discipline you can do so at a trainer, which is normal. The un-normal part is the fact that you get to keep all your discipline’s levels and recipes if you decide to return to that discipline.
Crafting in Guild Wars 2 changes the fixed gathering roles, the ways to gather resources, the free for all with other players, the randomness of leveling, and of dropped disciplines.
One big thing happening in MMOs is the ability to customize your character beyond the initial creation screen. In games with a set tier system, every one eventually looks the same at the end of the day, for better or for worst. Guild Wars 2 changes that by its continuous of a dye system and transmutation of gear. Transmuting allows players to transfer the stats of one item to another. More customization is added through the Hall of Monuments where Guild Wars 1 players can complete achievements pre and post launch of Guild Wars 2 for classic Guild Wars 1 transmutable items and pets.
Dungeons are 5 man instances, where groups can participle in a story mode and an exploration mode. The story mode should be easy enough for any PuG to complete, while the exploration mode takes a more organized group. These dungeons can also spawn random events in them. Players making decisions can also affect the outcome of the dungeon during each exploration mode run. I have not personally played a dungeon yet, but there are many articles of players who have. I would suggest searching for some if you are interested in this topic.
There are a lot of things that make Guild Wars 2’s combat interesting weapon based skills, environmental weapons, damage/support/control, cross profession combos, active dodging, death, and traits.
The action bar in Guild Wars 2 has 10 slots. The first 5 slots are reserved for weapon based skills. 1H main hand weapons use the first 3 slots, while off-hand weapons use the other 2 slots. 2H weapons use all 5 slots. Every profession can swap between two weapon sets while in combat to change the first 5 skill slots, except for the Elementalist profession which only has one weapon set. However, the Elementalist has access to all the elemental trees on one weapon set.
Sounds great, but how does this work in play? I have a Ranger and a wolf pet. My pet usually goes out to tank mobs, while I stand back and shoot with my bow. Let’s say we unintentionally pull extra mobs. My bow only has one multi-target skill and my pet will not be able to survive multiple mobs at once. So I switch to my 2H sword and charge into the group and start dealing splash damage to all the surrounding enemies while shuffling crowd control between my bow and 2H sword skills. Having two weapon sets with two entirely different skillsets can be very beneficial to any encounter you run into. Many games allow classes to use different types of weapons, but what is the point of that if certain weapon types are no good for that class because they don’t have any specialized skills to use them. Guild Wars 2 gives you those extra weapon types and makes each profession proficient enough to use those weapons regularly.
As you explore the world you will run into environmental weapons whether they are turrets, mortars, or even pick-up items. What makes this interesting is that the items you pick up allow you to attack enemies with them. Pick up an iron pipe and you can use it to swing at an enemy or use it to stun them. Pick up an unexploded powdered keg or an unexploded mortar shell and throw it at an enemy for explosive damage. Pick up a boulder as an Elementalist and launch it into the air to use it to cast down a meteor on the target.
Almost all MMOs use the holy trinity system of tank, healer, and DPS. Players are usually only one of these roles in a group. Thus the entire system relies on the performance of individuals. If the tank or healer dies the chances of the rest of the members in the group surviving are greatly reduced. Guild Wars 2 does away with the tried and true holy trinity system and offers damage/support/control (DSC). This is a very dynamic system where there are no dedicated tanks or healers. Every profession has some capability of doing each of these roles. Fights become more dynamic between trading AGGRO, crowd controlling, healing, buffing, and etc. Fights are no longer static where the tank stands here, the DPS stands there, and the healer being bored out of their mind watching meters (I’ve played a Holy Paladin in WoW, miracle fingers non-stop). Having this system greatly reduces LFG idle times as well. You can go into a dungeon with any group make-up you want and still be able to complete the objective at hand with competent players. How many of us sat in a capital city spamming LFM or LFG? A lot of time can be spent doing this if you’re not playing a vital role such as the tank or healer. Or you have a group of friends, but never the right group composition. The removal of the holy trinity system allows you to group up with who you want no matter the group composition and still be able to complete objectives.
Cross profession combos really fit in with DSC by allowing different professions to easily combine skills to a greater effect on purpose or by pure discovery. An example of this would be an Elementalist putting down a fire wall while a Ranger is shooting through it, which in turn adds fire damage to the arrows. There are many different combinations to be discovered. Some professions also have dual purpose skills such as the Elementalist. The Elementalist’s water specialization damages enemies and can also heals nearby teammates at the same time.
Guild Wars 2 adds in an endurance meter from which the player can use to physically dodge attacks. Players can dodge twice within a short period of time then wait for their meter to recharge. This allows players to escape an enemy’s attack and gain a better position.
Guild Wars 2 treats death differently by having a downed state. When a player’s health becomes depleted, they go into a downed state which has a limited skillset. The player must kill an enemy before their downstate meter ticks down or be revived by a teammate or a pet. If the player fails to do any of those, they will die and suffer equipment damage. They can then choose to stay there until an ally can revive or spawn at a waypoint for a fee. All professions can heal and revive making combat more active. One player can kite the enemy away from the downed player, while another can go and revive them.
A player can select traits from which to improve their play style experience. If you use a sword, you can pick the sword mastery trait which increases sword damage and chance of critical strike. This is just one example of the many traits available. This feature however was not available in the beta build I played in.
Everyman for himself
If you have played any MMO, you would quickly find how frustrating and inconvenient it can be when playing in crowded areas. Players stealing gathering nodes that other players are fighting to clear. Players who tag large groups of quest mobs thus denying you credit. You help someone not in your group and then not receive any credit towards experience, loot, and kill counter.
Guild Wars 2 does a great job with removing these frustrations in playing in crowded areas. Each gathering node is unique to a player, so another player cannot steal them. There is no mob tagging systems in Guild Wars 2. If you participate in killing that mob you gain experience, credit, and loot. This helps elevate that problem where a questing party is already full and you still have other members who want to quest with you.
Some may say this system removes the forced interactions that the current MMO system uses, but indirectly Guild Wars 2’s system gets large groups of players to participate together without ever saying a word or grouping. Something that is very rare in MMOs. I’ve seen a lot of players risk their lives or go out of their way just to revive other players and I myself have done such things.
Gear/Level based PvP
In many MMOs, tiered PvP gear and a player’s level are essential to be competitive and/or effective in PvP. Guild Wars 2 does away with these two requirements and offers skill based PvP. This means every player is boosted to level 80 and everyone has access to all the skills, weapons, and armors. Players no longer have to grind hours and hours for points just to get the new gear set every few months.
Guesting is a featured offered in Guild Wars 2 where a player can invite a friend from another server to come and play with them. BUT… here’s the catch it’s absolutely FREE!!! That’s right you heard me, it’s absolutely free to guest into a friend’s server and play together. There are some restrictions to this system, such as you cannot WvW as a guest and any WvW bonuses are locked to your home server. If you want to officially transfer to another server, you would need to pay a fee to transfer your home server.
No grinding & minimal wasted time
The great thing about Guild Wars 2 is that the leveling system does not greatly increase in the time it takes to level as you progress further in levels. This doesn’t mean you level too quickly either. I put in several hours (~8-10) into characters whom are only level 10.
A lot of time is wasted in MMOs via travelling from point A to point B. When it takes ~15 minutes or longer just to get from one area to the next it’s just too much. Guild Wars 2 offers a shortcut via waypoints and Asura gates, which teleports players across a zone or to other major cities.
Quests that don’t matter or affect the world
Many MMOs quest givers tell you these groups of mobs are threating the area and that you must kill them. But when you get to the area they are just standing there walking around aimlessly until you get near them. That’s not very immersive. When someone tells you a group is causing havoc they should be causing havoc. This is exactly what Guild Wars 2 does. If a scout tells you to help defend a farm from enemies, there are actually enemies attacking the farm and not just walking around. When you kill them they die and you have saved the farm. Then game unlocks the next stage of the event or you move onto another area.
This is my favorite feature in Guild Wars 2. It allows higher level players to enjoy lower level areas without feeling overpowered. This system caps the higher level player’s level to the area’s suggested level, so the content is always challenging. This allows players who have a much longer playtime to go back and play with lower level friends without ruining the experience for the lower level player or making it too easy for the higher level player.
Guild Wars 2 set out to do many things and on many occasions I believe they hit the mark. Guild Wars 2 shows that it can provide that large scale story telling along with personalized stories. They have made crafting more accessible, simplified, and diverse at the same time. There are many ways to customize your characters through personal stories, dyes, and transmutations. Dungeons are accessible to PuGs, as well as challenging for groups who want to do exploration mode. The combat system in Guild Wars 2 is very dynamic and relies on a group as a whole rather than on individuals. They have removed many of the common frustrations of playing in a crowded area that other MMOs have. PvP is more skill based rather than who can invest the most time to earn points to unlock the latest gear. Friends can play together no matter what server they are on. Level grinding has been reduced compared to other MMOs and the amount of time wasted travelling from one zone to the other has also been reduced. Quests now make a difference by affecting the surrounding world. Sidekicking is a great feature for friends to play together or for higher level players to enjoyed content they missed without feeling overpowered. In the Guild Wars 2 Manifesto they said if you loved MMOs then this is the game for you and if you hated MMOs then this is the game is for you. I feel that this statement is very true based on my experiences with the Public Weekend Beta. I hope that this article has raised your interest in Guild Wars 2 and hope to see you in the next event.