September 10, 2012

Doing Things Differently

Personal Reflections of Guild Wars 2

GuildWars2» The gaming industry is ripe full of MMORPG games and it seems that everywhere you turn, another studio is working on yet another MMO.  Both Free-to-Play and Pay-to-Play models exist and the market is saturated with a plethora of games to choose from. Only a few developers, however, are taking a long hard look at this crowded room and attempting to bring new life to what is quickly becoming a sea of clones.  One of these companies is NCSoft who recently released the follow-up to their hit 2005 title, Guild Wars.  As a fan of the original game,I was among the many thousands who anxiously awaited the release of Guild Wars 2 and have not been disappointed with what they have delivered.  What do I like about it?  Below I will list the top 5 things see Guild Wars 2 doing differently from other MMORPGs currently available.

A Real community of Adventurers

Guild Wars 2 feels more like a real world with thousands of fellow adventurers all around. When surrounded by enemies on both sides, you can be fairly sure someone is around to help you out; and you don’t even have to ask.  What I love about Guild Wars 2 is the ability to help anyone with any enemy kill and still get credit for it.  Gone are the days of tagging an enemy and having it count only towards your experience. Here, anyone can help anyone else out at any time, no grouping necessary.  If you die on the battlefield, your fellow adventurers can even revive you, and they will without even asking.  This truly makes the world feel like a real community full of friends you never knew you had.

Raids without the Raid Party

Guild Wars 2 has introduced the concept of World Events.  World Events are simply events that happen throughout the world map, quite often actually, that anyone can join in.  It is very often you will find yourself among 20 or more other players all trying to take down a tough Veteran enemy.  No need to find a raid party before venturing into this stronghold.  Just gather at the location clearly marked on your map when the event starts, and assist your fellow players.  Your participation at the end of the event is ranked and you receive a rating of Bronze, Silver, or Gold and some experience appropriate to your efforts.  These World Events add to the sense of Tyria being a real live world with struggles happening all around.  Whether or not you participate in these struggles is completely up to you.

You’re Never Too Overpowered to Help

Inevitably, as you level up your character it’s never easy to go back and adventure with a lower level character to help them level up.  Usually you are simply overpowered for the area and your friend gets little or no XP by grouping with you.  Guild Wars 2 has solved this in a way I think is brilliant: Effective Level.  No matter what your level, when you enter an area that is rated lower than your actual level, you are dropped down to a lower “Effective Level”.  Essentially your HP and your power will be lowered to match the area you’re in making you on par with your lower level friends and still allowing you to help them along.

No More “Quests”

Each character has their own personal storyline that you will follow throughout your adventuring through Tyria.  Other than this continuous quest, you will not find any floating exclamation marks begging you to go talk to this person or that and run an errand for them or go kill 20 creatures for a reward.  Instead, as you travel throughout the lands, you will enter an area where someone may need some help.  At that point, your onscreen quest log will automatically pop up with the objective for the area.  If you leave the area, that objective will disappear.  Your progress will still be saved, however, so you can come back and finish these tasks anytime you want.  Of course, since you will always have an effective level for any area, you will always have a challenge even if you come back 10 levels later.

A True Sense of Adventure and Exploration

Every area you will visit on your adventures has a certain number of exploratory points to complete on the map. These include:

  • Tasks: the missions as explained above
  • Waypoints: These are essentially ‘warp’ gates found throughout the map that allow quick travel
  • Points of Interest: obtained by visiting key areas on the map
  • Skill Challenges: These are challenges that will net you skill points to spend on your character’s ability tree.  Skill challenges range from a simple meditation task to an intense battle with a strong foe, usually requiring some help.
  • Vistas: found high above an area which, when triggered, show a great panoramic look at the area you’re in.  These usually provide a nice challenge to figure out how to reach them.

The inclusion of these five exploration points added to the sense of being out on a real adventure.  If you don’t feel like doing a whole lot and just want to wander around the map, you can work on visiting all the available Points of Interests, or figure out how to climb up to the Vistas.  Clearing each map of all these items nets a nice reward too.


Guild Wars 2 is a departure from the standard MMORPG fare that we’ve accustomed ourselves to.  NCSoft has done a wonderful job reimagining an MMO and making it more about the adventure and the community.  It really does bring people together in ways other games don’t.  It is not unusual to find myself either following some stranger and helping with the kills, or being followed by someone else.  This sense of camaraderie just can’t be found in any other game.

If you’re already playing Guild Wars 2, I’d love to know if you agree with these points or even have other points I didn’t mention.  What do you love or hate about it?  If you’re not playing and plan to start, come join me on the Henge of Denravi server.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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  1. I agree with most of the points you’ve made. I’m loving GW2, it really is a departure from your standard MMO. The one point I may contest with a bit is the community feeling. I’d say its more of a false sense of community. You are right, everyone helps everyone out, but you don’t really get to know the person. There is far less chat going on than I’ve grown accustomed to in other games, and meeting new people that you may “friend”, doesn’t seem to happen all that much.

    Another thing not mentioned here is the crafting. Nodes exist all over the place, and its a huge amount of experience doing so. The discovery process within crafting actually makes me want to try and find things, and not head to the typical wiki that has every recipe listed. It doesn’t feel grindy, and you can make some pretty decent stuff that benefits your characters right off the bat.

    All in all GW2 is where it is at for me. WvWvW, PvP, PvE, it does all of it very well.

    • Sean

      I haven’t had the opportunity to try crafting though I am gathering crafting supplies and I’ve chosen a profession. It’s on my radar, but I’ve been too busy clearing map areas. 😀 As for the chat in the community, I’ve actually found the opposite on my server. Just last night everyone around was chatting with everyone else, helping them find ways to the Vista, etc. Several of us continued to quest together for a time obtaining Skill points. This kind of comraderie just doesn’t exist in other MMOs I’ve played.

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