The official full launch of Guild Wars 2 took place at midnight, Tuesday, August 28. The highly anticipated game, which is already being touted as the Online Game of the Year, successfully welcomed the general public to join the lucky players who received a three day head-start for buying the game in advance.
Tonight’s event was much smoother than last Friday’s early access launch. The servers were stable, although quite crowded, as was to be expected for a game that has been on everyone’s wish list for the last five years.
There is still one major glitch to be resolved by the hard working team at the game’s developer, ArenaNet; the in-game auction house is still not functioning. While this has no effect on the overall playability of Guild Wars 2, it does cause extra work for players who want to use the game’s crafting system. Normally, players will go to the auction house to buy the materials they need to craft. Without a functioning auction house, players are being forced to dedicate valuable leveling time to farming mats for crafting.
Fortunately, the auction house is the only major issue remaining. Even though the servers are packed to the rafters, the connectivity problems that plagued Guild Wars 2 during the first two days of early access have been effectively resolved. Players can now log in and out of the game at will without the fear of being unable to reconnect later. This means I won’t have to set my character on run while stuck in a corner just to stay active enough to maintain a connection. This, I should mention, is an old time gamers trick to avoid being logged out of a game as AFK (away from keyboard).
Old gamers tricks aside, Guild Wars 2 is a great game. While it doesn’t take MMORPGS (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) to the next level of technological advancement, it does the things that matter in a more imaginative way. The questing system, in particular, got a much needed overhaul for Guild Wars 2.
Players no longer roam about the game world looking for NPCS (Non Player Characters) with the standard exclamation point over their heads to get each and every quest. In Guild Wars 2, every quest hub has an NPC with a heart over his or her head who will give you all the quests for their area. Just getting to a quest hub may require players to fight their way through fields full of enemies, which gives them valuable loot and XP (experience points) while speeding up leveling.
When a player arrives at the NPC for a particular quest hub, the NPC will assign you a set of tasks or objectives to complete. Instead of telling you exactly where to go, what to do, and how to do it, they will give you your objectives and let you decide on several different ways to complete them.
In Guild Wars 2, the quest giver may tell you to assist a group of Norn soldiers trying to defend a nearby fort from rampaging trolls. The old fashioned NPC, in a typical MMORPG, would tell you to go and use a gun turret to kill 15 trolls. With the quest system in Guild Wars 2, you may kill the trolls hand to hand, help rebuild the fort’s crumbling defenses, man a gun turret, assist wounded soldiers, or forage for stolen supplies to bring back to the garrison. If there are no turrets available, you can look for wounded soldiers to help or trolls to kill; no more standing around, wasting time, waiting for your turn on the turret. Guild Wars 2 thankfully brings a wide variety of options to every quest.
Guild Wars 2 also gives players one more way to complete quests that is truly exciting and spontaneous. The game introduces the Dynamic Event System to questing. Dynamic events are on their own timer, and players never know when one may occur.
While a player is doing some of the more mundane tasks described in our example, a dynamic event may suddenly begin. You may be blasting away at trolls from your trusty gun turret when a notice suddenly pop-ups on your screen telling you to hold off incoming waves of attacking trolls for a specific length of time. Any other player and the NPCS in the area will be able to assist you. Best of all, even if you are just passing through the area for the first time and you haven’t spoken to the NPC for the quest hub, when you complete the dynamic event, you will get credit for it, and be on the quest line.
The Dynamic Event System is a real plus for Guild Wars 2 because it introduces a level of spontaneity into questing that is not found in most online games. However, even though players are excited about the improvements to questing, PVP (Player vs. Player) has inspired intense debate in the Guild Wars 2 community.
PVP in Guild Wars 2 has eliminated open world PVP. Players simply can not kill another player in the open game world when they are out questing, gathering, or just exploring the environment. While hardcore PVP’ers claim this takes the fun out of the game, ArenaNet has stated they want players to be totally immersed in questing without the fear of being ganked by a higher level player or massacred by roving swarms of players who have no other objective but to ruin the fun for players who are not interested in PVP.
The PVP system in Guild Wars 2 focuses on Structured PVP and World PVP. Structured PVP is called Hot Join PVP in Guild Wars 2, and ArenaNet describes it in the following manner:
“In Player vs. Player (PvP) matches, small teams of players compete to eliminate each other and capture strategic objectives on a map. In one match, players must battle over a ruined pirate ship, while in another match they may have to destroy an enemy siege weapon.”
“New and casual players can easily hop into an ongoing match and start playing right away without worrying about setting up a team. Competitive players looking for more organized play can try out tournament mode, which pits teams of five players against each other in a variety of monthly and player-run tournaments.”
“All characters are on even footing in both kinds of competitive play. Players use their regular characters, but everyone is adjusted to the maximum so that all characters are roughly equal in power.”
“We’ve designed a PvP experience that’s fun and easy for all players, regardless of experience. All we need is you!”
World PVP is designed to includes huge numbers of players from all the different servers in the game. It is described as follows on the Guild Wars 2 website:
“World vs. World (WvW) is PvP combat that involves hundred of players. Three huge teams —each representing a server, or world—battle for control over objectives on four massive maps in wars that last for weeks.
“Each map – one for each server and a huge “neutral” center map – is loaded with objectives that are worth points for the team that claims them. Players can band together to lay siege to castles, raid enemy supply caravans, clash with other players in truly massive battles, wreak havoc behind enemy lines, or build mighty weapons of war like trebuchets and siege golems.”
“While players are in WvW, they gain experience and loot just as they normally do while exploring Tyria. Plus, when their home world is doing well or wins a match in WvW, all players on that world receive special bonuses and perks.”
“World vs. World—it’s PvP combat on an epic scale!”
How the hardcore PVP community reacts to the styles of PVP offered in Guild Wars 2 remains to be seen. Judging by the comments I have observed in-game, the community is basically enjoying the PVP. Players are happy with what they have available, but they are asking for a greater variety of of game types for Hot Join PVP. Obviously, we are only one day into the official launch, and ArenaNet has said they plan to roll out more PVP game styles in the months ahead.
As it stands now, the launch has been quite successful despite a few minor glitches. The game is fun to play, and it makes questing a unique experience. Without open world PVP, fans of PVE (Player vs. Environment) can totally focus their concentration on the world around them without having to constantly look over their shoulders for attacking players. There is still plenty of action for PVP with more than enough active combatants to keep things lively and interesting.
ArenaNet has accomplished everything they set out to do when they first imagined Guild Wars 2 five years ago. They built 2 games in one with a separate world for PVE and PVP. The game looks terrific, it is a great deal of fun to play, and it is now running smoothly. It remains to be seen if players will stick with Guild Wars 2 for the long haul, especially without any open world PVP. The game is off to a great start with tons of new content promised for the future. All the pieces are in place to make Guild Wars 2 a highly successful and eminently enjoyable game.
Note: I would like to thank the Lethality guild on the Sea Of Sorrows server for answering dozens of questions as I prepared this article. I would especially like to thank Dharik and King Schnit for their assistance. I appreciate their taking time from leveling, to put up with my endless probing about the game.