Guild Wars 2-The Emperor’s New Clothes

It wasn’t until I’d played Guild Wars 2 that I realized how many other MMORPGs seemed intent on making me dislike other people. I hated the way I’d spend five minutes battling all the way to a named NPC for a quest, only to have some jackass swoop in while I was clearing the last two enemies and claim the kill for his own. I resented how people considered the numbers on my gear more important than my competence as a player in raids, and I loathed watching other players do their damndest to outrun me to resource nodes I approached. Things like this, I believe, contribute to the culture of petty vindictiveness in chat channels and forums that give the whole genre an inhospitable reputation, and that’s why I’m happy to see that they’re largely absent in ArenaNet’s long-awaited creation. Guild Wars 2 instead places a heavy emphasis on cooperation rather than competition and skill over gear, and that alone does much to justify calling it a giant leap ahead for the genre.

It’s worth noting that it achieves all this without ditching the well-worn conventions of the genre; instead, it takes the best elements pushes them forward. Classic kill-and-fetch quests are still here in abundance, for instance, but they’re disguised as “hearts” that activate once you get in range, and each allows several different ways of completing the objectives, staving off monotony. Its dynamic events have roots in games like Warhammer Online, Rift, and even World of Warcraft, but they reach new heights of variety and significance here. A marauding pack of centaurs may overrun the garden where you were picking cabbages for a local farmer, compelling you to join in with dozens of other players and put an end to them, or a frightened fisherman may come running up to you asking for your help, only to lead you back to an ambush at a bandit camp. Even better, many of these events are chains, and by leading you on epic quests across Guild Wars 2’s zones they inject life into areas that would be dead in other MMORPGs. It’s important to note that they’re scripted events that eventually repeat (and are not, as some players assume, completely random events,) but they have thus far never failed to ensure that Tyria feels like a living world.

And Tyria is such a beautiful place. Playing Guild Wars 2 is like playing in a painting, to the point that most screenshots of scenery look like ArenaNet’s painterly concept artwork. Such strong art design manages to walk a fine line between system-demanding realism and the clunker-friendly cartoony vistas of World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars 2 celebrates this beauty by including 266 “vista points” across the world that usually require complex feats of jumping and balancing on narrow passageways to reach. It’s a world that invites and encourages exploration, as stumbling across new villages or harvesting resources almost always grants more experience than simple enemy grinds, and often just striking out in a random direction is the best way to find new hearts.

I’ve found teleportation to be a nice touch that can bring dozens of players running to one location for a dynamic event. Coming from other fantasy MMORPGs, it may seem jarring that there are no mounts in Tyria, but then there is no need for them. As it stands, Tyria is dotted with more than 500 waypoints that you can teleport to within seconds for a tiny fee as long as you’ve already discovered them. In theory this fast travel would hamper immersion, and that’d hold true if you’re seeking a realistic fantasy world to play in; in practice in gw2 gold, I’ve found teleportation to be a nice touch that can bring dozens of players running to one location for a dynamic event through a simple call for help in the local channel. It especially proves beneficial if you’re struggling to find more hearts at your level in a zone, as you can quickly ‘port to another zone for your level bracket with ones you haven’t finished.