Guild Wars 2 is an immersive, fantasy-based MMORPG which allows the player to progress in their own story-based solo play in a persistent world whilst also allowing the addition of missions and events that can be played solo or with others (called “instances”).
The story of Guild Wars 2 revolves around dragons, which are bad, corrupted beings that like to raise undead and corrupt the land. These dragons threaten the world of Tyria, requiring heroes to arise and different races to overcome their difference in order to work to defeat them. Whilst the dragons are general enemy, the storyline they create also offers a lot of interesting story missions focusing on diplomatic relations. For example, as part of my character’s personal story I had to protect two diplomats because a rogue group wanted to stop these two races from uniting and working against the dragons.
When I first entered the world the graphics completely surprised me: they were crystal-clear and had so much detail. This wasn’t just still artwork in the environment but the whole environment and all its moving parts (in my case, the plantlife, as I choose to play a Sylvari, a being of plantlike nature). In-game sounds are unique, yet they retain a similarity to the sounds of other games in this genre, and there are a lot of them. I quite enjoyed the variety of sound effects, which were far better than hearing the same sounds on a standard rotation that some games have (I will go into this more later with weapon changes). The soundtrack is also beautiful, so much so that I’ve found myself listening to it outside the game. There are a vast number of soundtracks and they add a really nice touch to the gameplay.
The UI in this game is simple, yet effective. I feel as though I am able to play my game with fewer clicks, yet still enjoy it as I have so much free space to see the game around me. Your action bar is only made up of your health and energy values, buffs, the minimap, five possible combat actions, a healing ability, three skills of your choosing and one elite skill. Other things, like the chat window, can be toggled on or off.
Combat in this game is pretty straightforward. There is a difference for your character based on whether you are in or out of combat, for instance health with not naturally regenerate during combat, instead only being regained through a healing action or potion. If a pet that you have reaches 0HP it will die, but will then follow you around as a non-combat pet until you leave combat, whereupon it regenerates health. One interesting thing about combat in this game is if you use a ranged attack like firing a bow or using a ranged spell, it will actually hit the first target on the line between you and the original target. I quite liked this as it let me set up many abilities to finish off a target in front and use the rest of the move on the target behind.
Each class can actually use a number of weapons effectively, so your character can be quite different each time, even if you created the same class repeatedly. Let’s use the example of a Mage: Mages can use staffs, but they can also use a dagger and an offhand weapon, but the spells that appear on their UI bar will change based on the style of weapon they are using. I found this really great, as it meant that I wasn’t stuck to a weapon choice; it also means that a simple weapon change can completely transform your gameplay, and might even feel like you are playing the game afresh. This is also true when you are underwater: your abilities change to reflect items and abilities usable underwater . Using the example of the Ranger: to be able to fight underwater a Ranger must have equipped a spear gun or a spear. As soon as you the Ranger goes underwater their new aquatic abilities will be on their action bar. As a spear gun user you can shoot enemies as normal, or use a special move, such as creating a cloud of piranha that deal damage to all enemies in an area. As a spear user your attacks cleave to nearby enemies and can even summon a large jellyfish to shock enemies in an area.
This game does have a crafting feature and the different branches of this are:
Armorsmith, which can make heavy armour and runes
Artificer, which makes magical weapons (foci, staves, scepters, and tridents) as well as sigils, potions, tonics and tuning crystals
Chef, which allows you to create foods that give you buffs, as well as clothing dyes
Huntsman, which makes shortbows, longbows, pistols, rifles, harpoon guns, torches, and warhorns, as well as sigils and maintenance oils
Weaponsmith, which makes melee weapons(axes, daggers, swords and spears) and shields, as well as sigils
Tailoring, which makes all things cloth-related for light armour, but can also make runes and inventory bags
Leatherworking, which makes all medium armour, as well as inventory bags and runes
Jeweler, which makes the equipment slots of trinkets, rings and amulets as well as making gems you can place within your gear to increase stats.
Like most games you can only have two active crafting professions at a time. The skills require levelling up and materials which can be found and collected yourself in the open world, bought from some NPCs or the trading post (more to come about that later).
Unlike other games, crafting in Guild Wars 2 has two features which I really, really, enjoy. The first is that when you are crafting a large batch of items the crafting picks up the speed after a few until eventually you are just speeding through the crafting. The second is that when you craft you gain character experience from it as well as crafting experience, meaning that if you want to level up this can be one and the same objective, allowing you to experience more of the game as a whole. Further, when you collect materials from the open world such as chopping down trees or mining ores, you also gain experience. This makes it very much worth taking the detour and getting the materials.
A big feature of this game is “events”. These can be things such as killing a particular monster, collecting armour parts, or escorting a person/cart to a particular location. They are all open world and anyone that manages to participate in some way will get a reward which can be achieved at three different levels: bronze, silver or gold. Each level of award rewards a different amount of XP, money or karma (another kind of currency in the game that can be used to purchase racial items and special items). Events can fail, some have time limits, some require that something does not get killed at all. One issue with events that I have found is that when there are a huge amount of people in the event it can actually stop you getting any reward because they could kill enemies before you even manage to get one attack off, meaning that you get no participation. The map you are on typically has several types of event, so the number of other players who might be involved in an event may vary depending on that map, as well as the time of day.
In this game there exists no end-game “raiding” which I was partially sad about because I enjoy the style of combat in this game. However, there are still many things to do, because in this game your level only means so much. The zones are all level restricted, meaning that if you enter a level 1–15 zone your level will be scaled down to be within a similar level (for example, I am currently stood about one third of the way into the zone and I’ve been scaled down to level 9). You get to keep any extra abilities you have gained from levels and passives from traits, so you are a little stronger in a way than one would be at this level. Dungeons are level-restricted also, so at 80 you will gain level-80 items in the dungeon but you are still performing near the level standards of the dungeon you are in, which means that it’s a challenge and you cannot truly out-level a dungeon, giving you a reason to still play in all the dungeons.
There are also a numerous amount of guild activities which are classed as guild missions, such as either killing a world boss or even a guild puzzle, which can only be entered as a guild. This game also features “Mist war”, which is a location purely set aside for PvP. Anyone who enters this area will be scaled up to level 80, so this is a way to compete and show the results of level, gear and any other combat-changing move.
The travel in this game is either on foot (luckily, many movement speed increases exist) or instant teleportation between waypoints. These waypoints need to be found first, but once you have discovered them you can pay a sum of money which increases the further you are away from the your destination waypoint.
There are features of Guild Wars 2 that allow you to pay real money for some things, but unlike many other paying games I haven’t experienced anything that makes me feel a non-paying gets less out of the game than one who pays. You cannot buy weapons and other item slots, and most things that you can buy are simply for convenience or character appearances. Note, however, that you can exchange in-game gold for gems to use at the shop as well, and the ratio is not all that bad. As such, I found that the ability to pay real money for things just slightly decreases the time it might take a player to progress, but also gives the non-paying players a chance to earn the money and buy the shiny outfit they desire for their character.
The only bug I have come across is bugged events: sometimes the enemies are dead and yet they still appear on the map, or an escort will no longer move along the path, but these bugs are not that game-breaking, as you can just move on and the problem will go away at some point.
The game is currently valued at £34.99, which now includes the core game and the upcoming expansion. I think that it’s worth the money: I’ve managed to get 40 hours out of it so far over two characters, for which 30 hours were spent on my current Ranger character. who is only level 48. I’ve also only managed to complete one dungeon out of eight, meaning that I have a lot of content still waiting for me.
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