After hearing fantastic things about the wildly customizable character creation and beautiful game world, I recently started playing Guild Wars 2. Here’s my take on the game, for those of you who are considering it as well.
One of the great bonuses of Guild Wars 2 is that there are no subscription fees, unlike most of the mainstream MMO’s we’re used to. You buy the game, then you play it for free for as long as you want. That being said, the up front investment of purchasing the game isn’t too bad either. Prices I found ranged from $46 to $60 USD, depending on if you purchased directly from NCSoft or if you purchased someone’s personal copy for sale on Amazon or eBay, which I would caution you against, as those can be unreliable and can sometimes get you in trouble with the game companies.
When you open Guild Wars 2 for the first time and come to character creation, I have to say I think that’s the best part of the game. There are five races to choose from in the world of Tyria. The Asura are completely adorable little dwarf-like Yoda-looking dudes who are incredibly intelligent and great with magic and crafting. The Sylvari are billed as the “mysterious, noble plant beings” and have a really cool backstory. Having never been born, but simply awakening beneath the Pale Tree and pursuing a life of adventure and discovery, the Sylvari are mysterious and strikingly beautiful. If you’re more interested in a savage, warrior-type race, the Charr are big, tough, cat-like beasts that kick much butt. Then there are the Norn, who look basically human, but come from an icy wasteland and are supposedly “giant,” though I haven’t seen much proportional difference between them and the other races (save for the miniature Asura). And of course, if you prefer to go with a traditional Human character, that’s available too.
The next big step is to choose your profession. I won’t go into much detail about these, but you have your magical classes, your warrior classes, and your stealth classes. All of them can heal and support, and are pretty versatile, so what you’re really choosing is your basic combat role with the profession. I find them to be pretty well balanced.
Character creation allows you several choices for your physique, head, hair, and various other physical attributes in extremely high detail. Want a Michael Jackson nose? No problem! Just adjust the nose tip slider until it’s ultra skinny. It can be as detailed as you like. You can also change the colors of your armor set, which is super fun as you get further along in the game because you can acquire new dyes.
So now that your female Sylvari necromancer with the gigantic chest is created, you are delivered into the world of Tyria with some fascinating cut scenes. The cut scenes are pretty interesting and give you some great information about your history and what’s going on in the world now. They’re fun to watch at first, but I found them to be pretty long and now I tend to just skip over them.
Upon arriving in my starter area the first time, I really felt like the world was absolutely beautiful. I was honestly not as impressed with the graphics as I had hoped to be. Perhaps it’s the fact that so many of their character classes are a bit cartoonish that made it feel less realistic, graphically speaking. But with games like Skyrim out right now with the intensely realistic graphics, GW2 wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But it was beautiful, nonetheless.
The gameplay is pretty linear, from what I’ve played so far. You go from one quest to the next, but they do require some brains to figure out at times. It’s not mindless questing like in World of Warcraft, but a bit more puzzle-solving in many cases, which I found very enjoyable. Leveling feels very slow to me, and there isn’t much hand-holding to show you where to go and what to do, so you have to figure out your leveling technique yourself, for the most part.
One thing I haven’t experienced yet is the booming industry of crafting in GW2. Again, there’s not a whole lot of hand-holding going on, so without reading a guide on it, I honestly wouldn’t have any idea where to start with crafting. However, I’m told by some of my guild-mates that one can make a nice chunk of credits by crafting and selling items. It’s a nice draw to those who enjoy the trading and economy aspects of MMO’s.
So far, it doesn’t seem as social as some of the other MMO’s I’ve played. I do belong to a guild, but I haven’t even had a conversation with any players outside of my own guild. I suppose quietness is preferable to whiny kids, though, so I can’t complain much.
For those of you considering playing or not, the things I love about GW2 are the detailed character creation, the versatility of the professions, the quests that make you really use your brain, the beautiful game world and rich backstory. The only things I don’t love are the graphics, which I found a bit more cartoonish than I expected, and the feeling of “sink or swim” in some cases. It’s a game that definitely has a learning curve, and I clearly need to learn a little more of it. All in all, you’ll love how pretty it is and enjoy the questing, if you’re willing to put in the time to learn it.