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Guild Wars 2 Review

Justin Clouse | 28 Sep 2012 20:00
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If personal glory is more your thing than saving the world, much like its predecessor, Guild Wars 2 is also heavy invested in PvP gameplay and in making that gameplay accessible from the get-go. The original Guild Wars had you create separate characters for roleplaying and PvP, but that's all been rolled together for Guild Wars 2. This is accomplished with scaling based on which type of PvP you want to participate in. Structured PvP boosts everyone to an even playing field, ensuring that a player's skill becomes the deciding factor. World vs World PvP has 3 servers vying for control of the same resources and structures, and your stats will be scaled to max level while still only retaining your unlocked abilities.

Similar to the original, you're going to be working with a limited number of skills in combat, only 10 in total. Your first five skills are dictated by the weapons you're currently equipping, and the rest are your healing, utility and elite skill slots. These later skills, along with trait points that you receive for leveling up, are where character customization comes in, but it also causes a problem. You'll unlock all of the weapon skills rather quickly, and by around level 30 or so, you've probably unlocked most if not all of the other skills you were interested in. This creates a huge stretch where seldom is anything new introduced to your character's proficiency. Technically you still accrue talent points, but these are largely passive bonuses.

My other issue is that the game will get rather bogged down and laggy with a large number of players fighting on screen, and since the game so actively encourages teamwork, expect to see it frequently around big events and World vs World sieges. Even with the settings optimized for best performance I would still struggle at times. Unless it gets particularly bad though, the stuttering was not enough to diminish the enjoyment of, say, laying siege to a gatehouse with a big group of players, and most of the time the game handles smoothly.

This last point is likely to be the big point of contention for a lot of people when it comes to Guild Wars 2, but the simplest way to put it is that Guild Wars 2 isn't a weeknight raider. There isn't that traditional endgame that a lot of people have come to expect, and it does more or less come to an end. There is still plenty of replay in PVP. There are also legendary items to create, you can continue to run dungeons and, in theory, the whole world can become new content through level scaling. When a high-level character enters a low-level zone, they actually get scaled down so everything still presents a challenge, but you're still rewarded based on your actual level. There is even something to be said about the game not having a subscription cost. If you're unable to login to the game for an extended time, there isn't that feeling of missing out, and Guild Wars 2 still feels like money well spent.

The MMO industry has been tirelessly chasing the coat tails of a certain game, attempting to capitalize on being the same formula but with something like better storytelling or PVP. In a fresh contrast, the developers behind Guild Wars 2 have taken the time to truly examine the MMO from the ground up. Guild Wars 2 may not completely revolutionize the genre, but it certainly appears to be the new standard that future MMOs will look to.

Bottom Line: The sense of adventure, teamwork and exploration in an MMO has never been better.

Recommendation: If you're at all a fan of MMOs, you should be checking out Guild Wars 2.

What our review scores mean.

Game: Guild Wars 2
Genre: RPG
Developer: ArenaNet
Publisher: NCsoft
Platform(s): PC
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US)Play.com(UK)

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