Ever since Guild Wars 2 from NCSoft officially went free to play, (August 29, 2015), I’ve been playing it pretty casually. I don’t have too much time to sink into MMORPGs the way I did when I was younger, but I still like to sneak in an hour or so of grinding a day. Guild Wars 2 was a game I was always sort of interested in, but never to the point where I was ready to actually pay for it, so going free to play was the sole reason I finally got around to playing it. I actually think the decision to go free to play right before the release of the Heart of Thorns expansion was genius by ArenaNet/NCSoft. Given the game’s age, it was released in 2012, it’s safe to say the pace of sales for the base game slowed down dramatically. Since they aren’t selling very many new copies of the game, going free to play doesn’t cause the company to miss out on any new sales and instead opens the game’s doors to an entirely new set of players, like myself, who never would have played the game otherwise. So with a slew of new players, NCSoft is making more money than ever selling premium currency to their new users.
So like I said, I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 for a bit and so far I really like it. I’m only level 20 on my Necromancer, but there’s a lot I already really like about the game. The dynamic quests are unique and something I’ve never seen in an MMORPG before. I’ve literally played countless MMOs since I got into the genre from obscure titles like Nexus TK and Erebus 2 to more mainstream titles, but I’ve never seen anything like Guild War 2’s dynamic questing system before. The game’s questing system is essentially broken down into 2 facets; the first being standard run of the mill quests, which are called “heart quests” and the second being dynamic quests. Dynamic quests occur throughout the world of Guild Wars 2 randomly and nearby players can participate simply by completing the required objective. So while traveling, a player may see a notification for a nearby dynamic quest that requires him to help defend an area from bandit attacks or protect a caravan. Anyone can participate in these dynamic quests, so oftentimes a half a dozen or so nearby players will congregate and end up working together to complete one. Depending on how much a player contributed, they’ll earn either bronze, silver, or gold rating; the higher the rating, the better the reward.
What I like about this system is that it encourages teamwork from players. It literally brings players together in a natural way without the need for coordination. These group activities make Guild Wars 2 feel truly like an MMORPG. Frankly, I’m tired of wandering around zones in more traditional MMORPGs like Jade Dynasty and Aion and completing quests all alone. Even though players don’t group up to complete these dynamic quests, it’s always cool to see other players in an area working towards the same goal. It actually makes an MMO feel like a living, breathing world, rather than a largely single player experience, which let’s face it, most MMORPGs feel like. I mean, when I played Star Wars: The Old Republic, it felt more like a single player experience than anything else. I completed every quest by myself and reached max level while enjoying the story. I rarely even ran into other players and never needed to group up with others. Even newer games like Skyforge from My.com feels this way, because much of the game takes place in instanced areas. I’m glad that Guild Wars 2 is set in a large persistent world. This is a huge step up from the original game, which featured persistent towns, but instanced everything else.
Another aspect of Guild Wars 2 that I really like is that it features action combat; no point and click nonsense that older games like Shaiya and Last Chaos employ. The combat in Guild Wars 2 isn’t as visceral as games like Tera and Neverwinter, but it’s still best classified as “action” oriented. I know a ton of people started playing Tera when it went free to play and I suspect Guild Wars 2 will get a huge influx of new players. Anyone looking for an MMORPG like Tera should definitely check out Guild Wars 2. They both have persistent worlds and fun gameplay. Skills in Guild War 2 are broken down into 2 categories. Weapon skills and traditional skills. A player’s weapon skills change depending on what weapon they have equipped. On my Necromancer for example, I’ll have a unique set of skills if I have a dagger equipped and an entirely new set of skills with a 2H staff equipped. Every class, called profession in the game, has numerous sets of weapon skills (more than 2). Players can change weapons on the fly with a hotkey, which adds an interesting layer of depth to the game. Traditional skills in the game are equippable in one of 5 skill slots. There are dozens of traditional skills available and since only 5 can be equipped at once, players need to choose their skills wisely.
PvP wise, Guild Wars 2 is a lot of fun. Players can begin participating in traditional arena PvP upon reaching level 10. Like the original Guild Wars, low level players automatically get boosted to maximum level when entering PvP, so those purely interested in PvP, can begin enjoying that aspect of the game early on. This is a unique system that the original Guild Wars pioneered. In most MMORPGs, players need to get to maximum level on their own before being able to efficiently participate in PvP. Since Guild Wars created this system, dozens of newer MMORPGs have copied it. Echo of Soul for example from Aeria Games employs this exact same system.
Overall, I strongly recommend checking Guild Wars 2 out; it’s free to play, so you got nothing to lose!