Guild Wars 2 (GW2) is one of the most popular MMORPGs online. I bought a copy of the game when it launched and I have been playing it a lot. I just wanted to have a new player review it for this blog so here is a review of Guild Wars 2 (free to play) by Toni.

Guild Wars 2 Review
by Toni

Guild Wars 2 character creation
Guild Wars 2 character creation
Guild Wars II launched way back in 2012, and was hyped up to be a WOW killer. Then again I heard some people say that about Rift. Guys behind it are ArenaNet who, shockingly, made a game called Guild Wars before this one. Some of them worked at Blizzard prior to GW.

Game was also hyped up for not having a subscription model. You pay once, you can play until you’re dust! In its first two weeks, it sold a bunch of copies and still has a playerbase, whole three years later. So did Guild wars II turn out the way it should, or are people still playing it just suffering from a mix of Stockholm syndrome and buyer’s remorse? Let’s find out!

Personal Story

GWII does away with many contrivances of classic MMOs and changes it up by altering or improving them, while adding a few of its own ideas to the mix. One of these is what they named personal story. Unlike other MMOs where every single player is the ONLY warrior who can stop the evil force #35 that week, GWII tries to switch it up from that into something more personal, with multiple storylines there are to play through, depending on the background you pick for your character and decision you make in the story missions.

GW2 screenshot
GW2 screenshot of a character in combat
They went to such a lengths with this system that there’s little to no repeats in the missions. On paper, it sounds awesome, but does it hold water? No, not really. The first time around it feels pretty cool to play a more personalized story in an MMO, but the novelty of it wears off quick when it hits you that most stories are just uninspiring. The uninspiring badge also goes to the story missions gameplay, as they lack epic moments. Maybe it’s the fact that your character cares about what happens in the story just as much as you would if you heard some evil dragon was gonna destroy a virtual world in some video game. (that might have been a spoiler, I’m not so sure myself really)

To put it bluntly, if Guild wars IIs intent was to save me money on sleeping pills by having such a snore inducing storyline, it deserves high praise for it! But I give credit where credits are due, and I’m happy to say that GWII mixes up the standard formula of the big evil being a generic dragon. It still has a dragon as a big baddie, but this one’s an ELDER dragon! Wooo!

The races you pick at the start will only really dictate which one of the boring storylines you get to plow through. No race is locked from playing any class (called professions in GWII since being a midget mage in the world of Tyria is a job apparently).

Graphics and Design

player cooperation
Players fighting together
Your character might not have the most interesting story to tell, but that won’t stop him from looking good and putting on some awesome bling. Armor and weapons in GWII look damn impressive, there’s so many little details on each set of gear it’s a real pleasure to put on that new piece of gear.

So what else looks nice? The world sure does. It’s hard to explain GWIIs art style in words (why not look at one of our expertly taken screenshots for that!) but if giving that info to people was my job, I’d describe it as one that tries to look exactly like the concept art made for the game. Everything intentionally looks like a painting. And I mean the ones you find hanging on walls, not Devianart (this is a good thing).

What are the designs of the world and characters inspired by? Anything from Lovecraft to Eastern inspired structures, GWII coves a lot of ground when it comes to the way it looks. The important thing is that it all somehow works together, and makes for a beautiful words to explode. Three years old and counting, GWII still impresses with its overall visuals. For that, I can forgive it a muddy texture here and there.

Quests

“Where are the !?” is what every experienced MMO player will be asking themselves when they start playing. The iconic ! quest symbol on your map is mysteriously missing.

“Where are the quests then? What do I do? What’s the meaning of life?” and similar questions will surely be running through your head. The answer is simple enough, they are replaced by dynamic events, which randomly pop up on everyone’s map when they happen. These can include fighting a giant boss, defending an area, or stealing things from bunnies (no joke). They do a good job of varying things up with these, while everyone gets rewards for participating. Gets rid of those annoying moments in other MMOs where someone steals your progress on an objective. Props to that!

Guild Wars 2 free to play review
It’s free to play now
This new twist on quest structure has some neat benefits, alongside being more accessible and less time consuming than the ! kind, which is world building through gameplay. Yes, the good old ! quests might have a better story behind them and more of that delicious lore that every MMO fanboy pretends to care about, but I’m sorry to say it (not really tho), but I prefer better gameplay to a wall of text.

On top of these dynamic events, which can also be multistage and effect what happens in the world, you also have world bosses to combat. These are giant boss battles that require a ton of players to be taken down. They are fun and flashy at first, but after you’ve done them a few times the fun wears off. Still flashy though.

Combat

Guild Wars 2 review
Combat is fun
Combat is fun and feels skillful. You could take on that monster even though you’re under leveled, if you got the skill. GWII rewards you for combat awareness and positioning, which is great. Sure as hell beats the click-click-click-click gameplay of its competitors. There is a huge downside to this, as you won’t be able to surf the net while fighting. The overall enjoyment of the combat greatly depends on how fun classes are, but don’t you worry, as not only are they fun and all approach combat differently, but are also flexible enough so they can all heal, support and fill other roles if need be.

Final words
On paper, GW2 sounds like a game full of gimmicks, unnecessary changes and additions. In practice, this is half true, as some of them are lackluster, while others work great and make for an engaging experience.

If you want to try it out, now is the perfect time, as the game went free to play not long ago.


There you have it, a really honest review of Guild Wars 2.

What do you think of the game? Are you happy that it is free now? Leave a comment below.

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MMO games are my passion. I love to play MMORPGs and meet new people from all over the world. This blog combines my two favorite hobbies – writing and playing video games. I hope to have fun writing reviews. If you enjoyed reading my posts, please share or tweet them. Thank you.