Gamers rejoice! The doldrums of the last few years have come to an end. The days of bouncing from one disappointing MMO to the next, looking for a game that will hold your interest for more than a week or two are finally over. Guild Wars 2 has put the fun back in Online Gaming.
While it is true that Guild Wars 2 had a bit of a bumpy ride during the first week of launch, the problems have all been resolved, and the game is functioning perfectly. Thanks to the herculean efforts of the development team at ArenaNet, gamers are now able to enjoy all that Guild Wars 2 has to offer. Accessing the game is a breeze, connectivity is excellent, the Auction House is open, PVP battles are raging, and the servers are packed to capacity with satisfied players.
Everything about Guild Wars 2 is a feast for the senses. The game is absolutely gorgeous. The images practically leap off your screen, pulsing with vibrant color. Imagine diving into a crystal clear lake, and when you come back to the surface, the screen is dripping with water that slowly evaporates as you clear your eyes, and you get an idea of how much detail went into the design of Guild Wars 2.
Spells and skills look amazing. Every individual attack has its own unique animation that brings it to life. Spells burst into rainbows, erupt in flashes of searing orange flame, crackle with brilliant arcs of electricity, and create miniature thunderclouds that pour healing rain on the caster’s allies. Swords flash in dynamic sweeps of energy, as they cut into their victims flesh, huge hammers mercilessly crush bones as they smash into an opponent’s skull, bullets hurtle out of the gun’s barrel leaving a trail of smoke, and arrows fly off the hunter’s bow followed by green ribbons of poison.
Guild Wars 2 Redefines Online Gaming:
Needless to say, Guild Wars 2 is much more than just a great looking game. From the moment you access the carefully designed character generator to build your in-game alter ego, you begin to appreciate that Guild Wars2 has redefined Online Gaming. Instead of trying to completely re-invent the MMO, Guild Wars 2 takes every aspect of the genre and improves on the concept.
Each of the the game’s playable races stands head and shoulders above the typical offerings of other games. You wont find the old standard of Dwarfs, Goblins, Elves, and Human’s here. Instead we are introduced to the towering Norn, fearsome Viking hunters who roam the frozen mountains of Tyria and the graceful Sylvari, sentiment humanoid plant creatures born of their mother tree. We may choose to play the diminutive Asura, who use their brilliant minds to manipulate magic and technology or the warlike Charr, an aggressive feline race who live for the thrill of battle. Finally we have the Humans, who are struggling to regain the lands and power they lost after centuries of devastating wars.
Here is a screenshot gallery of the five races in Guild Wars 2 for your enjoyment:
Exploration Is The Heart Of Guild Wars 2:
Once you have created your character, the fun begins. Leveling to the cap of 80 is so enjoyable, you will welcome every step of the journey. In addition to the general quests, and your chosen race’s story quests, player’s will dedicate a great deal of their energy to exploring every nook and cranny in the game. You will venture into rat infested caves, struggle to the top of remote peaks, and dive to the bottom of lakes packed with hungry Barracuda, to ferret out all the secrets of Guild Wars 2.
It is exploration that defines PVE for Guild Wars 2 and makes leveling such a refreshing experience. The game is divided into many unique zones, each with its own environment, terrain and weather. Players have five specific goals to complete a zone. They must locate waypoints, visit vistas, search for points of interest, pass skill tests, and complete all their assigned tasks (quests). Completing a zone yields a large amount of experience and a chest packed with useful goodies, including potions, buffs that permanently enhance equipment, tokens that can be used to create high level weapons, and a generous stack of much needed crafting materials.
Finding all the points of interest, reaching all the vistas, and discovering all the waypoints requires patience, perseverance and nerves of steel. Passing the skill tests, especially solo, will challenge players to perform at their best and effectively use the abilities in their arsenal. Completing your assigned quests will take players to creepy spider infested tunnels, remote hideouts packed with bandits, villages under attack by wave after wave of monsters, and enemy camps teeming with foes.
Having A Blast As I Reach For The Heights:
Playing Guild Wars 2 is a blast. I enjoyed the best Saturday night I’ve had in months, trying to discover a way to reach an incredibly out of the way vista, while battling a cave full of Dredge who never stopped spawning, I spent the better part of my evening clawing up ramp after ramp, only to find that I had taken another wrong turn. At long last, I noticed a set of dangling chains in the dim light on the back of a platform. After killing the elite monster guarding the platform, I tugged on the chains, and down below, the gate blocking my path opened, allowing me to continue my search. I tore up several more precarious ramps with my heart pounding, slashed through several more elite mobs, and at long last, I mounted the vista, high above the cave floor. I must have killed well over a hundred dredge, but it was worth the effort. Not only did I have the satisfaction of finally standing 200 feet above the ground surveying all the sites in the huge cave, but I gained almost a full level in the process.
In another part of the zone, I had to surmount a vista that stood at the top of an inaccessible cliff, surrounded by hordes of heavily armed monsters, who were guarding the many rickety towers that soared hundreds of feet into the sky. I had to constantly dodge incoming mortar shells and fight for my life against packs of Dredge, who literally sprang up unexpectedly from the very ground. After running around killing mobs for over an hour, searching blindly for a way to attain my goal, I looked up and noticed another player high above me who somehow managed to reach the vista. Ever industrious, I clicked on the player to find out their name, and I sent them a desperate message, pleading for assistance. Thankfully, Avi responded and spent the better part of another hour patiently coaching me through every hair raising step of the journey. Avi demonstrated how to make the chilling leap of faith over each yawning chasm, and even ran all the way back to the bottom to resurrect me, after I fell like an uncoordinated fool to my death. When we finally made it to the vista, I was so thrilled and exhilarated, I may have frightened my neighbors with my shout of joy.
Dynamic Level Adjustment Makes Grouping A Pleasure:
Another wonderful improvement over the typical MMO is Dynamic Level Adjustment (Down-leveling). In most games, when a high level player returns to a low level zone, they are able to one-shot every enemy and solo every dungeon. While being Superman may seem like fun, it gets really boring after about five minutes. Unfortunately, any lower level player in your party will find their experience reduced and in some games, they may even be awarded less loot, as a penalty for grouping with a high level player in a low level zone or instance.
Down-leveling changes everything by reducing the player’s level and stats to match the zone they are exploring. When you return to a level five starter zone to help your slowpoke husband level up his character, your level 70 warrior is temporarily down-leveled to a level six warrior, with the appropriate damage output and hit points. Mobs are once again a challenge and quests retain their intended difficulty. Your lazy spouse will be given the full amount of experience and loot for the monsters either of you kill and for every quest your party completes. Dynamic Level Adjustment is a marvelous concept that adds exponentially to the replay factor of Guild Wars 2. It allows you to play with lower level friends, guild-mates and family to enjoy their company or to help them progress through the game.
More to Come:
This is only a small taste what makes Guild Wars 2 such a great game. In the weeks ahead, we will explore Hot Join PVP, and massive World v. World battles. We will attempt to conquer each of the game’s many dungeon instances, and share with you our strategy for defeating the bosses that rule the dungeons. Eventually, we will report to you the details of the all important end game content, but, to be honest, I am not in a hurry to reach the level cap. My current leisurely pace is perfect for prowling around and exploring every inch of Tyria. Guild Wars 2 must be savored, like a fine wine, instead of indulging in another mad, headlong dash to the maximum level. At this point, all the pieces are in place, and Guild Wars 2 is beginning to surge to the top as my choice for Online Game Of The Year for 2012.
I would like to thank my new friend Avi, on the Sea Of Sorrows server, for being so incredibly patient and helpful. It is quite remarkable for a player to take more than a hour of their valuable in-game time, to guide a total stranger, as they struggle to reach a distant objective. It is equally unusual for them to maintain their patience and humor, as I stumbled my way up that tower and plunged to my death on several occasions. Avi’s kindness is an indicator of why a strong player community is so important to the future of any MMO, and hopefully, it is also a sign of the good things to come in the future of Guild Wars 2. Thank you Avi, for being truly amazing. Bravo!