Whether you’re new to the MMORPG genre or a veteran, you might have heard about a game called Guild Wars 2. Developed by Arenanet and released in Q4 2012, this amazing game has taken fans by storm and has grown a huge following since its release. If you’ve never played Guild Wars 2 — or if you played it and left — I would like to inform and remind you just why this is an awesome game — and why it is (still) worth playing.
Financially More Viable Than Many Other MMOs
If you don’t already know this, GW2 offers a “buy-to-play” model, which means that you pay for the full game once and you never have to spend a single cent after that. That’s right, a full-on MMO without a subscription fee! GW2 makes most of its money from the in-game cash shop.
Now I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry. The game has not even gone close to being pay-to-win. The cash shop (Gem Store in-game) basically only sells convenience items or cosmetic items. In the four years since its release, they have remained true to their commitment to bringing quality content for only a single purchase. This also means it’s a game that you can leave for a bit and return to whenever you like. You no longer have to worry about making sure that your subscription money doesn’t go to waste. You play when you feel like it!
Even if you don’t have an existing account, you can still enjoy GW2 without paying a cent! Guild Wars 2 boasts a free-to-play plan for anyone to try. Sure there are some restrictions compared to the full game, but it’s more than enough to try the game out before you buy it. If you then buy Heart of Thorns (the expansion), you will receive the base game and the expansion all in one! There’s no doubt that GW2 is as consumer-friendly as can be.
More Focussed On Cooperative Gameplay
Many MMOs out there aren’t designed for people to play together. In those games, if you hit the enemy first or deal the killing blow, you would get the experience and the loot. So naturally, people would get quite upset if you happened to “steal” their kill. In Guild Wars 2, this is no longer a problem.
If you and a friend kill an enemy, you both get experience and loot regardless of what the other person did to the enemy. Everyone gets experience and loot for their assistance in killing enemies. This applies to both open-world PvE and Dungeons and Raids.
That doesn’t just extend to kills, though. GW2 has dynamic events in the world. Some are small and solo-able. Others are large and require groups of people to complete. Regardless of the type and the amount of people, you still get experience and loot because of your contribution (regardless of whether you killed anything or not).
Clearly, Guild Wars 2 was built to promote cooperation between players when fighting enemies and doing most of the game content. Not only does GW2 reward you for cooperative gameplay, but it also promotes cooperative gameplay in other ways. If you revive another player who died, you get experience (and a title if you do it enough). If a friend is struggling with a story-quest, you can join in and receive a decent helping of experience as well. Even in these subtle ways, the game encourages players to work together and help each other. It’s no wonder that GW2 has such a kind and welcoming community.
Gloriously Beautiful Visuals And Sound
Not only does GW2 have an excellent OST orchestrated by Jeremy Soule and various other talented artists, but it also has some of the best sound design I have come across in a game. Every attack and ambient sound is amazing in its own right. The voice actors also do a spectacular job of creating realistic and amazing characters.
If you love a game with great graphics, then you’ll love Guild Wars 2 as well. The game has a beautiful in-game world with an amazing style to it all. The models are fresh, unique, and of quite an advanced quality. When it comes to things like art, cutscenes, and the UI, however, there is a different art style at play.
The cutscenes are done with a beautiful brushed-on paint effect to them. Even the UI has the same artistic effect, drawing it all together beautifully. The concept art of the game sometimes looks like it could be framed and hanged because of just how good it looks. Overall, Guild Wars 2 is a feast for both the eyes and the ears!
Excellent Game Mechanics
One of the game’s core attracting aspects is the remarkable game mechanics it has. The first example of this would be the combat mechanics. Instead of how some other MMO’s do it, GW2 has a skill-system where your combat abilities are tied to your weapon. So you would do different attacks with a sword as compared to attacks with a mace (which makes sense). And, if you want, you can even make combat more dynamic by toggling “action combat” in place of tab-targeting.
There are also combat mechanics that make players work together more (in theme with the previous section). A player can use an attack that, for example, makes the entire area around them burn with fire. Of course, this not only damages enemies, but it also serves another purpose. This is what the game calls a combo-field. Different types of fields have different effects. When another player uses a combo-finisher within that field, you get a special effect. For example, using a “blast-finisher” in a “fire-field” would grant all players nearby a boon that increases damage. Mechanics such as these cause players to work together in a more tactical way.
Not only does the game have cooperative combat mechanics, but it has mechanics that also ensures that the game is challenging regardless of your level. Events, for example, scale up in difficulty depending on the amount of people there. If you go to a low-level map as a full-level character, your stats are scaled down so you can still help your lower-levelled friends while avoiding boredom from being overpowered. And when you finally get to max-level, you don’t have to worry about loot-grinding. The game’s linear-progression lets you focus more on your own skill than your gear.
Of course, there is always the option to craft yourself some amazing gear. Guild Wars 2 has an excellent crafting system that is not only simple, but inspired and amazing! If you want an MMO with excellent mechanics, you can’t go wrong with GW2!
Continuous, Free Updates
Before going on to my next point, I have to, at least, quickly point out the fact that Arenanet constantly pushes out new content. With the exception of a paid expansion (and cash-shop items, of course), all the new content added to the game is entirely free of charge. NCsoft constantly updates the game with new story quests to push along the game’s narrative (which also adds new maps to the game). In addition to that, they also regularly add new features to the game (like a wardrobe, for example). Not only do they add all these things regularly, but they have a balance team that also constantly keeps the game’s balance in check with regular updates, so PvP players never have to worry about fighting certain classes. GW2 just adds more value for money with each step of the way!
PvP (Player vs Player)
Speaking of great balance for PvP players, there is a whole side to Guild Wars 2 that has grown quite immensely in recent years. GW2 has 2 basic PvP modes: sPvP and WvW.
sPvP mostly focusses on the “conquest” game mode. In conquest, two teams of 5 players each fight on a map for control of 3 main points. The longer your team control these points, the better. This game mode has been balanced to perfection by the developers and it has even emerged into a competitive eSports scene (in both EU and NA) that boasts prize-pools of quite a considerable sum of real money.
There are also in-game “ranked seasons” for players to enjoy. With the advent of their free-to-play model, anyone can get an account and play purely PvP for the eSports value of it if they so wish! This type of PvP is constantly being refined and balanced with new maps being added fairly regularly.
Of course, there is also World vs World. There are 4 gigantic maps (a “homeland” map for each server and a final one called the Eternal Battleground). In the maps there are sentry points, towers, and keeps that your server can control. Enemy servers bring their best forces along with battering rams, trebuchets, catapults and a ballista or two to break through and conquer the structure. In WvW it’s a constant struggle for power and dominance. If you like epic, large scale battles in a game mode that offers great loot and experience (as well as a separate ranking system) then this mode is for you.
Heart Of Thorns
There was no way that I could talk about GW2 without mentioning its largest addition to date: the Heart of Thorns expansion. Though the content that the expansion added was numerous and diverse, I want to at least briefly touch on a few of the main additions. These will be the Elite Specializations, Masteries, and Raids.
Elite Specializations were added with HoT and it is basically a way for you to modify your profession (class). For example, a Mesmer (illusion-based mage) was only able to use a few different weapons before (remember that weapons affect the skills that can be used). With the advent of Elite Specializations, Mesmers can now gain the use of shields (which were previously unusable) and gain the use of new, special skills. The Mesmer becomes a “Chronomancer” (time-mage). Basically, Elite Specs allow you to augment your class into something new and totally different and it’s awesome.
Masteries was Arenanet’s answer to the problem that many MMO’s have to face when adding an expansion: level-cap raising. Of course, any MMO wants the expansion to feel like it adds more progression for your max-level character. Arenanet didn’t want to fall into the trap of adding a new level-cap and basically ending up with nearly double the original in a few years. Masteries was the solution.
Masteries are special skills and abilities that helps your character to better interact with the world around them. These are non-combat skills that are hard enough to obtain that it still feels like progression without turning into a grind. The classic example of a mastery added is Gliding. Your character can now jump from any height and glide down to the ground gracefully.
Raids are a pretty huge deal for Guild Wars 2 fans. For years, GW2 had no hardcore PvE content that required a large number of people to train and progress until they could master it. To many, it was the thing that made them leave the game. Well, people wanted it and Arenanet listened. Raids in GW2 consist of 10-man content that requires not only the ability to deal enough damage to kill a boss, but also the coordination to navigate difficult encounters with bizarre mechanics. If you are a fan of Raids in other MMOs, then GW2’s Raiding is for you.
Guild Wars 2 offers not only great PvE content within an excellent business model, but with its focus on PvP and WvW, it easily becomes a well-rounded game. GW2 is a beautiful MMORPG that I would recommend to anyone.
Have you played Guild Wars 2? If so, what do you think? What are some of your favourite MMORPG’s? Let us know in the comments below!