Guild Wars 2 Review — Part 1

Once you’ve loaded into the game, you’ll immediately be stricken by GW2′s impressive graphics and artistic style. The world is beautiful. The visuals are distinctly high fantasy, with grandiose cities and cinematic vistas. Your race will determine your starting location and initial quest before setting you off on your personal storyline, a series of quests that can be completed solo and tell an ongoing narrative centered around your character.

While GW2 doesn’t include full voice acting, most important conversations in your personal storyline are voiced. This helps draw in the player, but the implementation feels dated and lazy. When one of these conversations begins, you’re transported to a cutscene window with an out-of-focus background and two characters standing in the foreground, one to the left, the other to the right. Only two characters can ever be on-screen at once, so if a third party is included in the conversation, either the left or right character is temporarily swapped out for the new speaker.

While this was also the case in the beta, an “under construction” notice led me to believe that this was a placeholder system while the team worked on the animations for actual cutscene sequences with different camera angles, character movement, and environmental interaction. Instead, we’re left with this awkward school play with characters standing in place before the audience, taking turns speaking. But I’ll still take these semi-cutscenes over a visit from the exposition fairy and her wall-of-text wand any day.

The effort that went into the personal storyline is appreciated, but thus far, it’s falling flat for me. I enjoy playing through the story quests, but the plot is failing to engage me. Perhaps things pick up later, but in storytelling, it’s especially important to hook your audience from the beginning, otherwise they may not stick around until things get interesting.

Apart from the story quests, other missions can be found throughout the world. Rather than follow the standard MMO quest formula of, “pick up quest from NPC A; travel to location B; kill X number of monster C; travel to location D; turn in quest to NPC E,” GW2′s quests activate when you approach the objective area, can be completed by performing a number of different activities, and don’t need to be “turned in” to receive a reward. It’s a much more organic, varied, and efficient experience than most MMOs offer.

Further, a dynamic event system sees the spontaneous collaboration of multiple players. Once certain triggering conditions are met — which may or may not result from player actions — all players in the vicinity are notified of the start of an event, which scales in difficulty according to the number of participating players. Events are typically chained together, with the outcome of one event affecting the next. The system successfully encourages and rewards teamwork while granting players a feeling that their efforts actually make a difference in the game world.

Combat in Guild Wars 2 is visceral, deadly, and much more fast-paced than standard MMOs. Players are relatively fragile and need to actively dodge, maneuver, and heal themselves to stay in the fray. If you fall in battle, you are still able to perform some limited attacks as you bleed to death, and should you take down an opponent while you’re in this state, you’ll be back on your feet. However, when multiple combatants are on-screen, combat can get chaotic, and targeting becomes messy, especially given how characters move about so much.

Every weapon type available to a profession comes with its own unique combat skills, which are gradually unlocked as you use the weapon, giving you the opportunity to become acquainted with one skill at a time. But within only a few hours of play, you can unlock every skill on every weapon, which kills one of the exciting features of an RPG: leveling up and growing ever more powerful. There are passive abilities and utility skills that you can unlock as you continue to level, but it’s at least mildly disappointing to learn that the attack abilities you’re using at level 5 will be the same you’ll be using at level 50.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this review for a look at PvP, crafting, higher-level play, and a final score.

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11 Comments on Guild Wars 2 Review — Part 1

Luther

On August 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm

yeah that is really what killed the game for me, i fully leveled a couple weapons by the time i was lv 8 so there isn’t really any need for me to keep playing since I feel like there really isn’t much else to look forword to and it sucks when you don’t even like the abilities you get from the weapons. I think the games more about pvp and not really enjoying any of the classic rpg style play which is fine, im sure a lot of people really love this game.

Brine

On August 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Dude. What?
You haven’t done anything. What about traits? Skills 6-10? C’mon dude.

Jordon

On August 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Great game

Ted

On September 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

So far I love the game. However I do agree with the comments on the both the story and skills. We are for the most part using the weapon skills the most on our characters, so some variation would have been nice. I use my utility skills to a degree, but it is the weapon skills that see the most use.

And the story… is kinda weak.

psycros

On September 7, 2012 at 5:58 am

This sounds awful.

Shroom1Up

On September 15, 2012 at 4:26 am

first of sylvari and asura ARE NOT dryads and goblins. goblins are nasty greedy and slimy and their technology resembles more steampunk and explsions, which is in GW the tech for the Charr. the asura are much more inteligent and arrogant, but they can still be nice. their tech can contain purly mechanicl devices but mostly their tech is combined with magic. drydes are NOT plant people. they live in synergy with nature and became PART of nature due to it. slyvari are literly planted and grow in seed pots. and UNLIKE dryads sylvari are not as focused to safe everysingle plant and tree on the world. i found several sylvari following the profession of LUMBERJACKS. dryads would NEVER cut down a tree. also dryads migh be curious but only for thing coming into their theretory. sylvarii venture out and learn everything that is to learn.

and the weapons skill limitations. to be honest thats the best thign to do in MMOs. no mater WHAT you play be it WOW the original GW or others, it always boilt down to builds were only a certain number of skill is used. change ONE skill and you dont get invited to raids PVP etc.
GW1 tried to break this with constand changing skillz in PVP and changing and balancing skillz but i never caught on, since 80% of the skills avilable remaind unused. lmiting the weapons skillz to the ones frequently used in GW1 is not a bad thing. specialy since you can combine diffrent weapons beeing held: axe in main sword in off hand and revesed or wo sword or two clubs. the combination of these alone bring enough variaty to the weapon system allready, but you can also use weapons you wouldnt use in other MMOs. in which MMO you can play a warrior who uses a BOW or a RIFLE effectivly? non. they are mostly used as MobPull or to do minimal dmg to flying enemies. in GW2 u can be just as effetiv with a bow as a ranger.

Shroom1Up

On September 16, 2012 at 7:36 am

first of sylvari and asura ARE NOT dryads and goblins. goblins are nasty greedy and slimy and their technology resembles more steampunk and explsions, which is in GW the tech for the Charr. the asura are much more inteligent and arrogant, but they can still be nice. their tech can contain purly mechanicl devices but mostly their tech is combined with magic. drydes are NOT plant people. they live in synergy with nature and became PART of nature due to it. slyvari are literly planted and grow in seed pots. and UNLIKE dryads sylvari are not as focused to safe everysingle plant and tree on the world. i found several sylvari following the profession of LUMBERJACKS. dryads would NEVER cut down a tree. also dryads migh be curious but only for thing coming into their theretory. sylvarii venture out and learn everything that is to learn.

Shroom1Up

On September 16, 2012 at 7:37 am

and the weapons skill limitations. to be honest thats the best thign to do in MMOs. no mater WHAT you play be it WOW the original GW or others, it always boilt down to builds were only a certain number of skill is used. change ONE skill and you dont get invited to raids PVP etc.
GW1 tried to break this with constand changing skillz in PVP and changing and balancing skillz but i never caught on, since 80% of the skills avilable remaind unused.

Shroom1Up

On September 16, 2012 at 7:38 am

and the weapons skill limitations. to be honest thats the best thign to do in MMOs. no mater WHAT you play be it WOW the original GW or others, it always boilt down to builds were only a certain number of skill is used. change ONE skill and you dont get invited to raids PVP etc.

Shroom1Up

On September 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm

ok ill be honest. i double posted because the first MANY trys never showed up. until now -.-

Brad

On August 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I totally take joy in GW2. It is amazing, it has stuff that is catered to every gamer -type, the reward schemes and content are compelling enough to keep you active.. it’s just altogether a terrific MMOG. Undoubtedly one the better ones that’s been put out in quite a few years.