By Jaye Sonia
Before we launch into this month’s Geeks & Gamers, let me put out a much needed disclaimer – this isn’t a ‘hate on World of Warcraft’ article. I’ve played WoW pretty consistently since it released in November of 2004 and while it’s no longer the reigning champ in my book, it’s still a pretty tight game. It’s definitely one of the standards when it comes to MMOs. All of that said, I cancelled my subscription to WoW (sorry Blizzard) last month because another game won me over.
Welcome to Guild Wars 2!
I bought Guild Wars 2 when it was released last August, but didn’t play much, at least initially. I was home on vacation at the time, so a new MMO wasn’t something I was looking to spend a lot of time with. I was, however, pretty impressed with the character creation process, as well as the game’s graphics. The game had a metric ton of potential. I was, however, preoccupied.
Several months ago Abdul, one of my buddies from my Star Wars circle, suggested I check out GW2. He had, in short order, stopped playing KoTOR and immersed himself in the lands of Tyria. He said I should check it out, too. At the time, though, I just wasn’t into it. I had a lot of other things going on and wasn’t sure if I had time for another MMO. Plus, I was still sort of bothered about the last WoW release. I had had such high hopes for it. I was, in simple terms, experiencing the– “meh.” He was persistent, though. Every time I popped over to his villa he was playing, too.
Finally, about a month ago, I broke down. I had already bought the game and there were no subscription fees, so why not? I entered the world of Tyria.
Within the first hour of playing, I knew exactly what Abdul was talking about. Holy smoke! This was an amazing game! Not only did it have all of the standards you’d expect in an MMO, it had all of these extras – things I didn’t expect to find in an MMO. The first thing that I found spectacular was the fact that my character, which I had created last year, had a whole list of abilities that changed according to what weapons he was wielding. Better yet, I could change weapon builds with the click of a button. So, I could essentially select two major combat trees at a time. This was in addition to how I allocated points for his class and profession build. Better still, his weapons were linked to the game’s environment, too. So, if I was swimming in a lake in the Wayfarer Foothills, I could select either his spear or his trident (both water weapons) and each would bring up a whole set of associated combat abilities. Once I was back on dry land, he’d revert to his land-based set of combat options. If I picked up a weapon from the game’s environment, one that he wasn’t trained with, this also stood true – I could throw boulders or slash an enemy with a broken bottle.
I could literally pick up an Ogre’s club and use it against him.
Which I did – over and over.
The next thing that hit me was how easy and immersive leveling was. I wasn’t really watching my experience bar. I was just too into the game.
Ask any MMO player how much of a pain in the posterior leveling can be. A lot of those players will lament the fact that they have to ‘grind’ (battle repetitively through a given area or against a specific monster) just to get high enough to really enjoy the game content – which is normally the best toward the end of the game. This hasn’t been true in GW2.
Not in GW2. No sir. The game, by default, scales your character’s level to the region you are in, so you can explore the game’s fantastic environment and still earn the appropriate amount of XP. So, once I level ‘out’ of an area, I can continue to accomplish my goals there. Likewise, if I want to go into PvP (or epic, World vs. World combat), I can. The game automatically scales me up to level 80. The same goes for fractals (GW2’s version of ‘dungeons’).
The game just accommodates players.
Dailies in GW2 are a lot more involved, but accomplishing them generally lands you bonus experience, coin, and karma (WoW players might associate this with conquest points), the latter of which you can spend at various vendors to buy recipes, weapons, armor, and other goodies for your character.
Speaking of recipes; crafting in GW2 is epic. It’s similar enough to WoW that new players won’t be lost, but unique enough to keep people from getting bored. First, crafting multiple items speeds up the process, so if you’re working on 25 similar items, the time to craft them decreases proportionately. My personal favorite part of crafting, however, is the ‘discoveries.’ Whenever you’re at your crafting station (unlike WoW, you can only craft in town), you can open a panel and place random items into it. If they’re compatible, they’ll form to make a new type of material. You can do the same with magic weapons and armor, too, once you find the Mystic Forge.
All in all, it’s an amazing game. I’m really not surprised that it topped Time Magazine’s list of best games for 2012, either. So, if you haven’t played it, I’m telling you to go out and try it. Just don’t start your character on Maguuma; that server is filled with crazy snow leopards.