‘Guild Wars 2′ Initial Impressions

Published 2 years ago by

Guild Wars 2 Initial Impressions

The state of the modern massively-multiplayer online game is up in the air. From Diablo 3’s DRM debacle to Star Wars: The Old Republic’s failure to sustain itself under a subscription-based model, it has been proven to gamers that the MMO is in a transitional state as developers and publishers attempt to find a successful way to market their games.

One developer that has stayed steadfast in its view of how to sell an MMO to consumers is ArenaNet. The Guild Wars 2 head start ended last night as the servers were opened to the masses, and after spending nearly 20 hours exploring, crafting, fighting, and jumping, we came away feeling very positive about the future of the most hyped MMO of the year — despite some potential problems that could disrupt the carefully laid plans of ArenaNet.

The most important and ambitious innovation of Guild Wars 2 is the nearly endless amount of content available to players from the moment a new character is created. After completing the short tutorial for one of the five races, players are free to forge their own path, forgoing any and all quests if they so choose.

The much lauded quest system of the sequel is indeed more engaging and cooperative than the typical MMO laundry list that even the most recent entries in the genre have refused to break away from. Wandering into a dynamic event feels natural in a high fantasy world like Tyria, especially more so than providing services for a bunch of static NPCs with yellow punctuation marks flying over their heads.

That said, the action within the quests, whether they are within a player’s personal story or part of the tasks to complete the game’s Renown Hearts, is relatively standard MMORPG fare. You will gather items, you will kills monsters, you will save villagers, and you will continue to do these things until the progress bar fills up, rewarding you with gold, experience, and karma. This is not meant to be a criticism of the game, because completing these tasks is a lot of fun, especially when tackling screen-filling monsters with an army of other likeminded players.

Guild Wars 2 Initial Impressions Quests

The way Guild Wars 2 delivers its quests should be seen as more of a remix than a revolution, which is still much needed in a genre so stale that even attaching the Star Wars brand will not ensure success. ArenaNet obviously took a lot of care in balancing the new with the old, taking out aging elements of massively multiplayer games and replacing them with more modern mechanics and a fresh coat of paint.

Speaking of fresh, the combat in Guild Wars 2 is easily some of the most dynamic and exhilarating of any combat in a PC game in recent memory. Because of the fact that a player’s level is constantly scaled down to a region’s content, every fight can be fatal. After finishing up a level 18 Renown Heart, I warped back to an earlier zone I had not finished. Scaled back to level 12, I was ambushed by 3 enemies near my level. I did not make it out alive. As an MMO player from years back, it can be disheartening to realize your character will never be an overpowered titan, but making content relevant for all players at all times will likely work out in ArenaNet’s favor in the end.

The strangest success of all is that Guild Wars 2 has managed to strike a chord with everyone, from the most jaded of MMO veterans down to those who have never subscribed to World of Warcraft, just by removing the restrictions of every other MMO on the market. All the farming and grinding and loot stealing has been stripped away, replaced by an open world where everyone is free to participate as they see fit, and never punished for doing something their own way.

Guild Wars 2 Initial Impressions Combat

The PvE portion of Guild Wars 2 has its strengths and weaknesses, many of which will require much more playtime before we can draw any real conclusions about the overall quality of the experience. After these first 18+ hours, it is clear that this game was designed with non-MMO players in mind. Exploration is quick and simple, combat is skill-based rather than stat-based, and almost every activity players can participate in is unlocked early on.

Which brings us to PvP, the half of the game that gave Guild Wars its name to begin with.

The mode that has excited everyone the most from its announcement up to the game’s official launch today is World vs. World vs. World (or World PvP). Is this mode, three servers are pitted against one another on four giant battlefields, where keeps can be stormed, wars can be waged, and cattle can be slaughtered. I only spent a few hours in WvWvW, but I was surprised by how enjoyable running around massive fields with dozens of teammates could be. Siege weapons made overtaking enemy territory even more chaotic and entertaining by requiring the attacking team to be patient as the gates slowly crumbled before them, praying to Dwayna that the other team wouldn’t have time to amass a force large enough to foil their plans before the gates fell.

Guild Wars 2 Initial Impressions World PvP

With so much land and so few waypoints to spawn at, trekking across the Eternal Battlegrounds can begin to feel tedious even after a single death. It just isn’t fun running for ten minutes to meet back up with a group that may have disbanded by the time you return. Other than the issue of transportation though, World PvP is more than just an entertaining distraction, but worthy of serving as a replacement for the original Guild Wars PvP. Plus, everything a player does in World PvP, from gaining experience and loot to mining iron and chopping down trees, carries back over the the main PvE. Constant progress makes World PvP that much more rewarding.

The other mode, Structured PvP, should look familiar to World of Warcraft players who have dabbled in Battlegrounds, or basically any gamer who has had experience with King of the Hill modes. Two teams spawn on opposite sides of a map with three points to capture. Capturing those points starts a counter that ticks up to 500, at which point one team is declared victorious. Killing other players or specific NPCs is worth a set amount of points, as well. These battles are relatively short, but frantic and exciting all the same.

So there you have it, our first impressions of the most anticipated MMO of 2012. Guild Wars 2 managed to do the impossible and live up to the hype in basically every aspect it promised it would. What remains to be seen is how much lasting power this subscription-less MMO will have with a community of players constantly asking for more content. ArenaNet managed to maintain an exponential growth for Guild Wars — will it be able to do the same with this ambitious sequel? Check back for our full review soon.

Guild Wars 2 is available now on PC.

Follow me on Twitter @JacobSiegal.

TAGS: ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2, PC

  • fanofgames

    Gw2 looks great, ive personally been playing the secret world. imo the questing system in tsw is amazing. Ive never had such a fun or engaging time questing in any other mmo.

  • Vampet

    I’m having a ton of fun with Guild Wars 2. I love the personal storylines and combat in the game.

  • John

    Go many good looking games coming out and not enough money.

    I know first world problems right.

  • Mike.E

    I have to ask… is it “necessary” to do PvP in GW2?

    Like in WoW, you can get to cap, and enjoy yourself, without ever doing any PvP at all.

    is this possible in GW2?
    or is it “possible” but highly detrimental?

    • Greg

      Nah you don’t have to pvp. It makes you automatically 80 and carries over whatever skills you have. Or you enter the other pvp option forget what its called and you have a premade character with gear and weapons and can select whatever skills you want. They did that in GW1.

    • Vampet

      There’s also some dungeons to do if you don’t want to PvP.

  • Greg

    I’ve tried single player pvp & the world pvp and thus far its been very meh.

    I was duoing quite effectively with another rogue in one BG & suddenly the teams are autobalanced & my partner is on the other team now. Right before my team is about to win I’m autobalanced to the other team. That really makes me want to play more, really it does.

    I try world pvp. Run out to where I see some crossed swords and see enemies in the distance. Oh great I see that they all bare the same guild initials. I attack anyways and get killed in a matter of seconds. I went out about 3 more times what few solitary players I found usually just ran away to the zergs. I didn’t find it interesting at all.

    I think the people who are claiming this WVP stuff is so awesome have never really played pvp at all in an organized sense. DAOC was the best pvp around for its time. So far it seems like these level 1/80s are running out to die, respawn and run out again to cast a few spells and then claiming its the best thing ever.

    • Vampet

      Are you running with a group? Is your world even organized? You and your world aren’t going to win any battles if you don’t have a few leaders issuing some orders with a sense of strategy. Haven’t played single player pvp yet so I’m not able to comment on that but it seems your point is valid.

  • Greg

    No I’m not running with a group I play pretty casually. No there wasn’t any organization that I saw aside for people saying what place needed help although thats really required given the map shows you were battles are happening. I used that to avoid those spots :)

    I actually ran where the battles weren’t and picked off what stragglers I saw trying to run to the zerg. Another rogue who I didn’t notice before ended up tag teaming with me. We took out a few supply caravan things and captured some point before the zerg arrived.

    If you played WOW BG’s thats pretty much the same as these single player bg’s. Very similar to Warsong Gulch & Arathi Basin. The only thing I don’t like is auto-balancing. The game will adjust teams mid match to make things “more fair.”

    • Vampet

      Yeah, the World PvP gameplay pretty much revolves around being part of a sizable group to hit enemy keeps, supply camps and towers hard. Tiny groups usually take over sentry points and attack supply caravans.

      And yeah I’m a WoW player as well so I’m familiar with all those battlegrounds and how PvP works. Huh, I wonder why they implemented an auto-balancing feature like that. It seems like it is just screwing things up most of the time :/