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Guild Wars 2 Review

publisher: NCSoft
developer: Arena Net
genre: MMORPG

ESRB rating: T

release date: Aug 28, 12
» All About Guild Wars 2 on ActionTrip

So you hate MMOG's huh? It might be because you think they are all the same with their stupid questing grind. You might say they all have the same boring combat mechanics with the same old Mage-Cleric-Warrior player classes. Or (and this is a common complaint), it could be you hate the idea that you have to pay a monthly subscription fee after shelling out sixty bucks and that makes you feel like you have to play in order to justify the expense. The list can go on and on. However, with the release of Guild Wars 2, you might have to cross a few of those reasons off your list of why you won't play an MMOG.

If you read our preview back in April you already know that, GuildWars 2 (GW2) is the second title from developer ArenaNet . While the first Guild Wars had several expansion packs that expanded and enhanced the game, Guild Wars 2 is a true sequel. For those that care about continuity, the game is set 200 years after the events in Guild Wars and takes place (for now) on the continent of Tyria. Much has changed in the world during this time as ancient elder dragons have awakened and unleashed massive destruction in the process. Old races have been driven to the edge of extinction and out of their homelands, while new races have come forth out of the devastation.

As the game kicks off, players are welcome to choose from five playable races and eight professions before heading out to explore the world and in the process chart their own story. While creating your character, an interactive process of answering questions (which can be skipped if players prefer), will allow you to create your back story which will affect and flavor how your personal quest line plays out. When coupled with the VERY detailed character appearance creator, the player ends up with a character they can truly call their own. Regardless of what race or profession you choose, you go through a short starting area that culminates with a large battle that will introduce you to the basics of combat. This is where most players who are familiar with other MMOGs are going notice the first real game play difference. Unlike most MMOGs, GW2 combat is designed to be played like an action game (and this is why some people will argue it's not a TRUE MMO. Tell those people to stick a sock in it). Players who pay attention to positioning, enemy tells and what allies are doing are able to get an upper hand in combat by dodging incoming attacks, preforming actions that aid or augment your allies abilities and fire off combos.

This is by no means a quirk or gimmick; this is the meat and potatoes of Player vs. Player (PvP) combat Guild Wars is so well known for. To see it front and center in Player vs. Environment (PvE) is a great way to train people for PvP on the sly while offering a more rewarding experience when they are off questing. Of course the player can chose to use the same boring combat mechanics they have used in other games but they will quickly find their butts being handed to them on a regular and reoccurring basis. The dynamic combat is not solely limited to the stereotypical close quartered, hand to hand combat classes. Primarily because every class can engage in close quartered, hand to hand combat, even casters and those that use ranged weapons! In other MMOs there is a very specific way that classes are supposed to perform in combat: Tanks stay up front and keep the enemy occupied while absorbing attacks. Mages and other support classes stand at mid-range dealing damage and Clerics stand out of the way while buffing, healing and supporting the group. This is known as the Holy Trinity and while other games have tried to mix things up by blurring the lines a bit (Rift did a pretty good job at this), in GW2, every profession can get in close and hold the enemy's attention while soaking up damage (some longer than others, to be sure), or stay at a distance dishing out damage and buffs or drop some supporting effect that protects and heals your team. Sometimes all these roles can be fulfilled by one player all in a single encounter. The long and short of it is this: Guild Wars 2 is skill based MMOG. Every class has been given the ability to attack, support and protect through skills, talents and gear. It's up to the player to decide how they want to play and then craft their character to the way they like to play. While on the surface it may sound like it, you have a single class under window dressing of different skins nothing could be further from the truth. Every class that I have played so far has its own unique play style and distinct feel. Guild Wars 2's break from the traditional Holy Trinity system is like opening window in a cramped car on a long drive with a gassy older brother. That is to say, it's a breath of fresh air that has been desperately needed for a while now.

Another refreshing change is way players occupy their time in-game. Instead of being led by the nose from one NPC with a marker over their head to obtain quests, then moving out to the specified location to perform the required task, GW2 turns this process on its head by informing players when they move into an area of actions they can take to help NPCs. These actions can include the usual fare such as killing creatures, harvesting resources or finding and retrieving specific items but also offer a wide variety of other options as well. Once the required goals have been met the player gets an immediate reward of experience, karma points (an alternate kind of currency) and some other reward like cash or an item in their mailbox. If the player then actually goes and talks the NPC they aided (signified by a gold colored heart on their mini-map) they have the option of purchasing unique items with the aforementioned karma. The important thing here is the way this system is seamless implemented into the game world. You can freely flow from one location to another searching out combat, exploring the world or searching for resources to harvest and when you do enter one of these assistance areas you can chose to pursue the goal at your leisure. It's all voluntary.

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9.2   Excellent

Breaks the cookie cutter MMO system, skill based action combat makes for engaging gameplay, Beautiful graphics and audio, players can jump in PvP as soon as game is installed, no monthly fee;

Players expecting the usual gamut of MMO elements will not find all of them here and some are needed like player to player trades, longevity and player retention might be a problem after the PvE elements have been fully explored, micro transactions though not required, might be a turn off to some, a few launch issues that are being resolved.


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