I have a new addiction, it’s called Guild Wars 2. The longer I play this new, unconventional MMO the more I find to like about it.
When someone asks me what makes it so great, I find it difficult to expound upon any one detail about the game because it contains numerous original and outside-the-box mechanics that the genre has been in dire need of for quite some time.
I have compiled a short list of features that Guild Wars 2 incorporated that makes it standout from the constant stream of “me too” MMOs out there.
1. The Return of Civility
|or ”I like MMOs, but I hate the people”|
Probably the most innovative feature of Guild Wars 2 is it’s entirely radical approach to player interaction.
In pretty much every MMO of merit, players group together in small parties to share XP and quest objectives. This created a very stark “Us vs. Them” philosophy where every other player in the world besides your teammates were rivals who only served to steal your kills and camp on all your resource nodes.
…very organically promotes altruism among it’s players
Guild Wars 2 eschews this tired convention and instead creates a system which very organically promotes altruism among it’s players.
Assisting a player with killing an enemy nets you full experience. You might find yourself fighting a losing battle and at the last moment a player will leap to your defense, saving you and instantly creating a very humanizing bond between two strangers.
I have often found myself wandering the overworld and upon seeing a fellow player in danger, I rush to their aid.
It’s in my best interest to assist them for multiple reasons. The enemies their fighting can also grant me experience, they may be heading in the same direction as me and for a time we can kill mobs together and even ressurecting a fallen player gives you comprable experience to killing a creature of equal level.
2. An Organic Questing Experience
|or “No more skipping page after page of quest text”|
Instead of entering a new zone and walking to the cluster of NPCs with “!” above their heads at the center of town, all your quests outside of your personalized main story are dynamic occurrences in the world. You could be walking along and suddenly a fort will come under attack by centaurs. If you liberate the fort, a faction specific vendor might become available to sell you special gear. If you fail to protect the fort, it might be ransacked and set ablaze, then you have to pick up pails of water to try and dowse the flames.
All your quests…are dynamic occurrences
Regardless of the outcome a short time later you may find that the fort’s commander wants to send supplies to a neighboring village and you can choose to escort a caravan to a neighboring town, fighting off ambushes the whole way.
It’s nice to be able to actually interact with the world and feel like your actions make a difference. It’s also incredible lucrative, it’s not uncommon to gain a whole “bar” of experience for doing well in one of these dynamically evolving tasks.
3. The longer they live the more their worth
|or “Let’s shake this grinding thing up”|
As enemies and critters across the world respawn they are worth a base amount of experience, but the longer an enemy goes without being killed the more XP they will reward when defeated, sometimes over 400% more than their initial spawn experience worth.
This means if you’re adventuring in a less traveled area, killing the local wildlife like deer and hawks might net you more XP than fighting three meter tall centaurs in the usual “tourist traps”.
It’s an ingenious addition that promotes exploration “off the beaten path” and entices players to “take the road less traveled”.
4. Dye to your heart’s content
|or “My socks don’t match the brim of my hat”|
Once you obtain a dye in GW2 it’s yours to use without limit forever. There is no need to empty your coffers trying to make your gear match.
It’s a small addition but very welcome as one of the problems in many MMOs is the fact that you start to really clash as you start equipping different styles of gear hailing from all corners of the world.
Being able to experiment and find a color scheme that is flattering to your style sensibilites goes a long way in helping build a repore with your virtual avatar.
5. The Map in General
|or “So thats where I am in relation to everything else”|
Guild Wars 2′s map is as good as Skyrim’s map was bad. I think that speaks volumes.
Guild Wars 2′s map is as good as Skyrim’s map was bad.
When you hit ‘M’, your view will zoom out like a spy satalite from your toon to a scrollable/draggable/zoomable overworld map which very clearly displays every object of interest in the entirety of the world (that you have so far uncovered). From here you can easily select “quick travel” points, find repair and trash vendors and even check on the status of dynamic events unfolding around the world.
It’s seamless, easy and intuitive. What a good idea to make a map that actually allows you to get your bearings and plan your travels accordingly.
6. Auction House Anytime; Anywhere
|or “E-commerce that works like e-commerce”|
Anywhere in the world you can open up the auction house interface and shop for new gear or even post your vendor trash for sale. You can even shop for and “order” items that aren’t even listed on the auction house, so when one does become available the system will automatically purchase it for you even if you’re not logged in.
It’s liberating to be able to shop for and sell items anytime you’re out of combat. It sure beats catching an eight minutes griffon flight back to Stormwind, run up the street to the clogged auction house, buy an item, then run across town again to the mailbox and await its arrival.
7. Feels like a real place
|or “I think I’ll just keep walking”|
Asheron’s Call was my first MMO and as such it shall always remain on a nigh untouchable pedestal, rose tinted by nostalgia. The most stand out feature to me with AC was the openness of the world. No artificial boundaries or funneling players through the single entrance into a region.
Guild Wars 2′s world reminds me of this type of freedom of exploration. It’s terrain is much more open and organic than many other MMO relased in the last decade. No more countries which are little more than “grass skinned corridors”.
If you want to get to an area that is across a vast sea you don’t have to follow the coast to avoid invisible walls, you just start swimming.
Being able to wander off in any direction and discover new places and set pieces is incredibly rewarding and makes the world seem like a place filled with mystery and excitement around every corner.
8. Attack multiple enemies at once
|or “Like swinging a dead cat by it’s tail”|
All the melee weapons, and many of your abilities have a built in arc which will damage all enemies in range, and not just your selected target. This allows you to fight multiple enemies at once without having to “tab” through targets throughout the fight.
This allows for larger groups of enemies to attack the player at a time while still keeping the gameplay balanced. It removes that “rock’em sock’em robot” combat where you simply exchange blows with a solitary target until one of you emerges victorious.
9. Fight for your life
|or “Anybody got a rez for me?”|
Guild Wars 2 takes a page out of Borderland’s book by allowing players to make a “last stand” after their health drops below zero. With luck and a little bit of skill a player can triumph over an adversary and rejoin a battle all on their own instead of falling down dead and having to wait for a teammate’s charity after the battle has resolved.
Being able to fight your way back from the brink of death and each class having access to their own set of healing capabilities gives you a sense of self-sufficiency that other MMOs are sorely lacking.
10. No subscription Fee
|or “Did I get my 60 cents worth of fun in today?”|
This fact shouldn’t be glossed over.
Anyone who has ever seriously played an MMO with a monthly subscription fee knows that there comes a point when your playtime becomes something of an obligation, because in the back of you’re mind you’re always conscious that if you’re not playing you’re wasting money.
Guild Wars 2 provides you with (at this time) eighty content packed levels of advancement at launch, whether you want to feverishly grind out those levels in a few weeks or play it on-and-off over the course of the next year, all it costs is the initial price of admission.
Imagine buying a game and being able to play it whenever you want!
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