What Guild Wars 2 Got Right
- + Interesting combat system that’s not just rolling through cool-downs, but instead is just… rolling around
- + World is ridiculously detailed and intricate
- + Something for everyone
What Guild Wars 2 Got Wrong
- - Huge launch issues hindering the game
- - Lack of a real tutorial
- - Camera issues
- - Combat issues when too many things involved
Well, it’s finally come to pass. The reason I’m going to fail university. The reason I’m going to lose my job. The reason my life is going to fall into many, many pieces: Guild Wars 2 has released. Actually, it’s been out for a while, and since then I’ve done nothing but play as much as I can, absorbing all the content I have the power to.
In a market that’s slowly becoming saturated with MMORPGs, Guild Wars 2 attempts to do everything different: from a fresh combat system actually requiring some input to removing the generic “run to point A to get quest so you can kill 10 rats”, you can tell ArenaNet have poured their hearts and souls into making this title. So how is it?
With development being announced and commenced in 2007, a lengthy development time can mean two things: one, which is the developers want it to be as perfect as they can make it, or two, that it’s having troubles being conceived and taking a lot longer than the developers initially thought thanks to unforeseen problems.
Guild Wars 2 is not only the best MMORPG of the century, but probably going to be Game of the Year, too.
It’s definitely the first one, for sure. With the dissolution of the typical healer/DPS/tank trinity that plagues many other MMORPGs, Guild Wars 2 provides the ability for you to play your character however you want, and ensuring you can synergise with other players and whatever they want to do. Want to play the archetypical tank-y looking character as straight high DPS? Sure, knock yourself out. You can also play a seemingly-DPS character as pure support. The possibilities are high, and it ensures for a lot of fun.
But combat can also be, simply put, a pain in the ass. It’s more noticeable if you’re running around in a group in World vs. World, or you’re trying to clear through a dungeon: combat can be an imbroglio, and doubly so if you’re playing a melee class. The animation and graphic quality of spells and abilities being flung around is quite beautiful, don’t misunderstand me, but when you’re in a narrow hallway and there are 7 huge circles indicating that fireballs are about to rain down upon you, it makes it a bit of a chore to see and understand what’s going on – I really just rely on looking at my HP bar and smashing buttons until I’m free of combat, because I can’t reliably dodge in those situations.
This is compounded even more so by a glitch camera that doesn’t work half of the time. Depending on the race you’re playing, if you’re in a cramped area, you’re going to have problems. There are several puzzles that are made 10x harder by playing Norn, just because the camera decides to go crazy and glitch around everywhere. But when the camera decides to work, it can be purely beautiful.
ArenaNet made a good decision when they decided to include Vistas – really just areas that, when you trigger them, proceed to pan around with the camera and look really pretty. Some require a jumping puzzle to get to; others just require you to think outside the box when it comes to moving around the map. All are absolutely gorgeous and detailed. Oh boy, is the world detailed.
I’ve simply stopped and stared at my surroundings in several maps just because of how beautiful the view is. It’s not just the vistas, either; while they’re definitely the main attractions to the world, I’m pretty sure you could just pan out the camera and swing it around and be awe-struck with the views. Anything from sitting on a bridge overlooking a frosty waterfall in the mountains, with the view of a pirate town in the distance, to Lion’s Arch, the game’s central hub, ArenaNet have gone all-out with making an amazingly gorgeous world that anyone can access.
There’s something for everyone, as well. From the casual players who can only sink in an hour here or there, they have myriad choices in front of them. From straight regular PVE where they can wander around the map and kill and level and quest, to WVW where they can try and conquer maps and Orb’s of Power in the name of their server, to structured PVP that offers short, intense action, ArenaNet have made sure that everyone has the ability to do something at any time, no matter the time constraints.
But the game is far from perfect. While they’ve done an amazing job, and it’s probably been the best MMORPG launch I’ve seen to date, there have been a number of issues that make it fall short of the perfection it sought.
First up was that many of the base systems that Guild Wars 2 relies on – chat, guilds and the trading post – were broken from the start. Chat was laggy, guilds were so buggy there were cases (including my own!) where people couldn’t see their own guilds as if they were deleted. Then there were issues with representation. In the game, you can be in as many guilds as you want, but whichever guild you ‘represent’, you earn points for and can chat with. A fine system, actually, that doesn’t limit you to joining just one guild per character, which was really good… when it worked.
The second and most annoying launch-issue was the fact that the Trading Post – Guild Wars 2’s take on the Auction House, and the cornerstone of the whole economy – was not working for a long time. It’s up now, so these problems are in the past, but it was horribly annoying for the first few weeks. When you design a game and its economy – and even hire a full-time economist to manipulate said economy – you want to make sure that it has chance to get off the ground, and you want to make sure that your players have the chance to sell stuff they’ve found.
Because you cannot trade items to nearby players in Guild Wars 2, and that’s not a design flaw – they’ve purposely intended that anything you need, you can buy direct from the trading post, or get sent to you via mail from friends. This is so that there’s no chance for a “black market” to occur and so that Guild Wars 2 can balance the economy accordingly. It’s an interesting choice, and not one I really agree with, but I can understand why they’ve chosen to do it that way.
ArenaNet are really adamant about fixing their stuff, though, and that’s a good sign: between increasing the security of accounts thanks to reports of people being hacked, to banning a flood of people for exploiting oversights and glitches that can potentially ruin the game for others, their reactions to their community and their care is amazing. Like I said, they’ve fixed most of their launch problems: the trading post has been up for a while, guilds and chat works flawlessly, lag is a non-issue and the game is generally stable.
The Final Verdict
The game isn’t perfect. And honestly, I don’t think it ever could be with ArenaNet’s design philosophy. But it’s definitely the best MMORPG on the market at the moment, and the best we’ve had for a long while. With the combination of a flat-fee and no subscription fee, and a greatly detailed game definitely worth the cost, Guild Wars 2 is not only the best MMORPG of the century, but probably going to be Game of the Year, too. If you’re looking for something to do for an hour or two a day, here or there, this is your game. If you’re looking for something more hard-core where you can run through dungeons with your large guild, or to go have huge intense combat, this is your game. If you’re looking for something amazing, this is your game.
By Thomas Robinson