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Guild Wars 2 has finally launched, but the question still remains, does it deliver? Not only did Guild Wars 2 reached it’s expectations, but it has also surpassed them. The original Guild Wars was remarkably successful game due to its free-to-play model, and fantastic gameplay. Guild Wars 2 stays true to the free-to-play model but with a bigger emphasis on microtransactions. Guild Wars 2 is a very big game; there is a lot to talk about, discuss, and explain. Let’s start with the art style of the game, and the overall look, and then we will get into the meaty stuff.
Art Style and Races
Guild Wars 2 art direction is superb, as it perfectly captures the look and feel of medieval/fantasy era. Guild Wars 2 has all types of different environments, starting with dense forest areas, spring, beautiful grasslands, snowy mountains, deserts, caves, lakes and ponds. Everything looks crisp and clear. However, the game’s overall graphical demand is pretty intense. In order to enjoy this game at its full graphical potential, then make sure your system is up to date with current technology, especially if your computer has not been upgraded for the last 3 years. It is an enormous game; there are a lot of people on the screen, monsters, particle effects, and of course the world itself.
Guild Wars 2 has 5 different races, Humans, Norn, Asura, Charr, and Sylvari. The Norn resemble the Norse vikings that live in the snowy areas and follow animal spirits. They are also 9 feet tall as opposed to the 6 foot tall humans and they look like real savages. Asura are the gnomes of Guild Wars 2 they are the most intelligent race in the game, and have a lot of connection with science and portal technology. Asura look like cute little aliens with oversized heads, eyes and ears. Charr is the semi-cat race they are the only animal related race in the game, with the addition of prominent horns on their head. Finally, the Sylvari are the Elves of Guild Wars 2 they mostly live in the trees, and connect with nature, as opposed to other races.
In Guild Wars 2, each race starts at their own capital city; there is a total of 5 races, and 6 capital cities. The Norn begins their adventure in a city called Hoelbrak, Asura start in Rata Sum, Humans start in Divinity’s Reach, Charr reside in the Black Citadel and Sylvari live in The Grove. There is also Lion Arch, a city where every race meets. ArenaNet’s artists have made sure that every starting city fits the race’s culture, they all have a unique feeling, and most importantly they all fit the game’s overall style.
The Questing System
The questing in Guild Wars 2 is nontraditional as opposed to other MMOs. The game rewards players by exploring the zones, rather than grinding quests and killing a ridiculous amount of mobs. In order to complete a map, must find all the hearts, interest points, waypoints, skill-challenges, and vistas.
When the player presses M to look at their map, they will see yellow hearts that are empty, those hearts represent tasks around the area. Once a player gets close to the heart, he, or she will get a little pop-up text on the top right. The text explains the player what needs to be done in order to fill up the heart. Once the heart has been filled up, the player receives his, or her experience. There is no such thing as talking to NPCs to accept quests, or to complete quests. No one ever has to check their quest log to see what they have left to do. Instead, the map acts as your guidance throughout your adventure it displays everything the player can do in the area.
Vistas appear as 2 little red triangles on the map these vista points are jumping puzzles on the map. Once the player is close to the vista point they will see a little floating map above the ground. In order to complete the puzzle the player must find a way to get up to the floating map, and press the F key to confirm it. When a player confirms a vista point, they gain experience for finding it and a pleasant in-game cinematic camera video of the overall environment. They are well designed, and fun to figure out. Here, is one of the vista camera shots below in the first Norn questing zone.
Way-points are the big diamonds on the map, as you explore the zone you will find them on the go. They’re not hidden from the player at all, their main purpose is to reward the player with shortcuts around the map and experience. Once you have found a few waypoints, all you have to do is go to your map and click on one of them to teleport. They’re made so that you don’t have to run all the way across a map in order to fulfill that last heart that you missed, or maybe you need to go to the nearest vendor and repair your equipment. It’s basically just quick-traveling around the zone instead of running.
Points of Interests are tiny little squares that you try to find in the zone. They don’t do anything special, and their only purpose is to give you experience and lead you to a cool looking monument, or some kind of a interesting area in the zone. These are usually the hardest to find because they’re very small and hard to see.
Skill-Point Challenges appear as blue arrows that point up. They’re usually found near interesting areas of the zone, and what they allow you to do is to take on a skill challenge that earns you experience and a skill point. Skill-Point Challenges are actually important for your character progression, as you level up you can gain access new skills, but in order to be able to use them you need skill points to unlock them. You can gain skill points by accepting these different skill challenges in different areas of the map and complete them.
One of the challenges required me to defeat a named mob that is somewhat hard to solo, but do-able if you understand how the combat system works and of course if you are good with your profession. Another challenge can just simply be completed by getting to the challenge itself and communing with it. That means you had to get through an area that was filled with monsters, but because you managed to do it, you are rewarded with the skill point just by simply getting to the challenge and clicking on it. These kind of challenges are usually found in caves filled with mobs, or other hidden places.
Fulfilling hearts, solving vista puzzles, getting all the way-points, completing all the skill-point-challenges and finding all the points of interest count towards your overall map accomplishment. As you do more tasks, and discover things, the percentage of the completion goes up, once you have reached 100% of the map you will receive a chest that has loot reward for you. It’s very fun to try to 100% a map, it can be quite time consuming to get everything, but Guild Wars 2 does it so well that you’re addicted and you don’t even care how long it takes you because it’s well designed and you’re just having too much fun.
There is one more source of experience while questing in Guild Wars 2 and those are random events. Sometimes when you’re just traversing through the zone you might get a random orange pop-up on the top right with red text on it. If you look at your radar at the bottom right you will see an area that’s circled in red, this shows the location of the world event and where it’s taking place, this circle only appears if your near the event. This indicates a World Event in the zone, most of them usually range from defending a certain point on the map from waves of enemies, escorting a yak that’s traveling with his merchants from one area to another, or killing a large zone boss that takes a large group of people to kill.
These random events create dynamic gameplay, they’re fun to do, and they’re on the go. You are never forced to do them, but if you choose to participate you will earn a great deal of experience, money, karma, and sometimes a chest full of very good loot. These events can repeat themselves and appear again, you can still do them all for more experience if you wish, but I personally skip them if I already did one of them. These random events do not count towards your overall map completion, they’re just there to break up the pace in the zone. Here is an image below that displays a 100% map completion with the reward chest.
Another cool thing about Guild Wars 2 is that when you look at the world map, it tells every zones level range. You never have to guess to which zone you have to go next. The very first zones range from 1-15, then 15-25 and so on. Also if you are playing as a particular race, but don’t like their starting zones, or their cities, you can easily just go to the hub city straight at level 1 and go to a different starting zone to start your adventure there.
You can also quest via Personal Story in Guild Wars 2. Personal Story quests are basically made for solo play, the story plays out different depending on the race you picked and the personality traits you choose. It’s an interesting concept, but I personally did not enjoy this type of questing due to the fact that the story characters felt somewhat dull, stereotypical and the fact that this is supposed to be social game.
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Amazing visuals and art direction, quality of a subscription-based MMO, phenomenal combat system, well designed gameplay and quest mechanics, fantastic PvP content, great music
Steep learning curve and can be very overwhelming to players who are new to MMOs, Trading Post had issues since launch and is still unavailable, personal story is not that engaging.
This is one of the most amazing MMOs I have ever played, especially considering the fact that its free-to-play. ArenaNet has not only delivered on what they promised, but also surpassed my expectations.
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