Guild Wars 2 is a one time payment sword-and-sorcery RPG that takes place about 250 years after the events of the original Guild Wars, following the rise of the Elder Dragons who exist to frak up everything.
History and Development
Sometime in like, 2007, ArenaNet basically scrapped the potential fourth expansion campaign for Guild Wars, then titled “Utopia”. Instead, they split it into two things: a weird half-campaign expansion called “The Eye of the North” and the idea for Guild Wars 2. Basically at that point Guild Wars was sort of getting out of control and gaming was advancing pretty fast and I guess the development team wanted to implement changes but didn’t have the ability to do so, so hey, whole new game.
And man was that a great decision.
I’m going to make no secret of the fact that Guild Wars 2 is my current second favorite game of ever because it’s fantastic. Maybe I was bias to begin with because it was Guild Wars…but better…and you could play non-humans, but I don’t care, because my bias has turned out to be supported by like, everyone out there. Like, literally everyone. It’s got like, a 90% approval rating or something and that’s just crazy.
In development, ANet once again tried to toss off a lot of the usual MMO conventions especially, and I hope ya’ll will like this one, level grinding. Yeah, basically mass murder is sort of whatever in this game because the developers threw in all sorts of dynamic event quests so that you don’t have to do it. Instead you just run around and oh look, there’s an event over there that you can go dive into without having to do anything other than show up and help out. It’s really cool and solves that thing I was complaining about in Guild Wars where you feel isolated. It’s the opposite of isolating, but no one can take your stuff anyway. This game rewards like…cooperation and being a decent person. Shocking.
Also did I mention that you don’t have to play as a human because LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE NORN.
Okay, I know everyone has their favorite race in this game, but I saw the trailer for it back in 2009 or so and figured out that those super cool giant vikings were playable, I kind of flipped my shit. Please don’t ask me why, but I found it really appealing. And I was so not disappointed.
I am the viking queen of Tyria and no one can stop me.
In character creation, you chose from one of five races (humans, monster cats, vegetable people, tiny gnome-like mad scientists, or giant vikings) and eight classes (two heavy hitters, three technological or sneaky types, and three mages). Then you chose from a bunch of different options to create a kind of personality for your character and that determines the first part of your story quest.
Super customization-y and pretty smooth about it too so it’s not like, a total mess. My one complaint is with female humans and norn because they just look…weirdly pretty no matter what and I know that’s weird, but it’s sort of uncomfortable. The dudes do not look like supermodels, let me tell you, but the ladies do.
The overarching story of Guild Wars 2 is that 100 years ago a bunch of dragons came out of hiding to fuck everyone over. I’m not talking like, little dragons, I’m talking Elder God levels of dragon. They’re assholes. The personal story, as built into the game upon launch, is about taking down Zhaitan, who’s basically the undead dragon, and is all about the zombies. I’m not kidding, the zombies are everywhere.
The first half of the story is all about your character’s development as a hero which is kind of neat because they don’t start off going “YOU ARE THE GREAT HERO”, it’s more like, “We think you have some potential” and then you get to watch your character develop INTO the hero, which is a nice little touch.
The People at ANet ain’t no fools (okay, that’s debateable, but not about big things). They knew that the problem with their first game was how complicated things got, so Guild Wars 2 is heavily simplified. There are a lot less skills and you don’t have to run around to find them. You just pick up weapons that your profession (only one this time) can youse and wave them around and eventually develop skills. It’s pretty chill.
They also implemented a bunch of different kinds of quests that work together. First there’s your renown quests, which are always there and you can only do once. Then there are dynamic events, the quests that just start up at different times or with different triggers and you can either choose to do them or not. Then there’s your personal story quest which stems from the choices you made about your character in the creation process.There are a ton of different options so it’s pretty cool to be able to play with different characters and not just do the same thing over and over again.
Guild Wars 2 is also constantly updating so they have Living World quests which actually recently changed from achievement-related world boss flail fests to a continuation of the personal story that’s always there and it’s pretty cool because the whole personal story is about ONE Elder Dragon and the Living World basically introduces the idea of fighting the others and stuff. And also evil piratical psychotic plant girls. Just roll with it.
I was only sort of tangentially around for this, but even I know this can’t be good.
The world map is still huge and mostly unused so it’s exciting to see what’s coming next. And jumping around is a lot easier so while the world does seem smaller in a way, it also feels like you get to see more of it. There are a TON of achievements and one of them is for exploring 100% of the world. It’s really hard. But super cool to be able to finish and go “I AM THE MASTER OF THE WORLD,” which I haven’t done yet because you have to explore the PvP maps too and there’s this one tower that another team has had for a month and a half and…you know what, let’s not talk about it. (Since the writing of this post I have actually completed the map and I have never been so proud of myself in my entire life. I am 23. Clearly I need a better life.)
There’s also crafting and dungeons and large-scale PvP and small-scale PvP and armor collecting and guilds and honestly this is the MMO for someone who never wants to go anywhere else for anything.
Character Creation. Personal storyline. Updates (except they don’t come fast enough, sorry guys). Mechanics. Questing. Keeping it fresh. This game is FANTABULOUS.
Except Boobplate is back but you can kind of ignore it and not use it if you want to, thank god.
The community hasn’t gotten a whole lot better. I hear there are pockets of goodness in guilds but I’m not really privy to that since I’m still not the best at internet socialization. They are way more helpful and less screamy because they put in a player-to-player trade system so they don’t need to freak out about how much they want a certain item. Getting money is kind of tough at first and it instills this sense that you’re going to be broke forever which is nerve-wracking whenever you want to buy something. And since the level cap is now 80 and not 20, there’s that traditional period in MMOs around level 15-30ish where the game can be SUPER difficult because things just scale funny.
Look, I honestly haven’t got much for this. Nothing sticks out as physically painful. Crafting can be expensive and/or tedious? But no, because I honestly think crafting is kind of fun. The writing drops off every once in a while and is kind of weird I guess but it goes away fast enough that I don’t care. Look, this game is great.
Buy. This. Game. It’s still a little pricey (around $50) but it’s really worth it and hey, unless you want to buy things out of the gem store with real money, that’s all you’re ever going to pay for. It’s beautiful and fun and exciting and you get to be a giant viking or a Roman cat or a freakin’ flower person, I mean, who can resist that? Just buy the game, you won’t regret it and if you do, well, we may need to talk about what you’re looking for out of video games because it’s clearly not GOOD STUFF.
I could stare at this game all day and sometimes do.
Next Month: The Secret World, my innate fear of vagina witches, and some of the coolest MMO stuff of all time (look, there’s my opinion already, you don’t even need to read it–but you should anyway.)