9 Ways Guild Wars 2 Is Better than Any Other MMO

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Matt Peckham

Here’s a surprise: I’m still infatuated with Guild Wars 2 a week after launch, entering the final 20-level spread of the PvE game with PvP and World vs. World and all the other potential character builds and instanced stories in the offing. At this rate, I’ll either need a TARDIS or a 12-step program to break away long enough to finish The Last Story, Dragon’s DogmaLittleBigPlanet (for PS Vita) and Resident Evil 6. If I sound like a broken record…well, a broken record wouldn’t play, so let’s just call me a skipping needle.

You’ve maybe seen my list of things I didn’t care for in Guild Wars 2, which honestly took some putting together given how few and far between the foibles are. Here’s another that took almost no time at all: a list of things I love about the game, and what I think it does better than any other MMO.

(MORE: Guild Wars 2 Producer: We’d Turn Off Sales to Preserve the Game Experience)

Dynamic everything, wherever you go. I’ve said it before: The dynamic world and area events are unsurpassed in Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet really hit it out of the park. You move through zones picking or passing on events that spawn periodically, which means what you’re up to depends on where you are, not what someone’s sent you to do, e.g. “drop some ring into a volcano half a world away.”

That also means no lazy NPCs doling out quests or drudging lists that make you feel like one of those home delivery grocery services. Instead, you’re diving into an activity ecology, jogging around a world-sized playground with dozens of events playing out at once, with or without you, picking from this or that one, maybe slipping off to harvest spices from a clump of grass or chisel a hunk of platinum ore off some outcropping, maybe just wandering willy-nilly to unlock some new vista. Even friendly NPCs get in on the dynamism, dashing out into the world when bad things happen and summoning passersby to the scene like town criers.

To be fair, Guild Wars 2 isn’t the first dynamic event MMO – Warhammer Online was doing dynamic events already in 2008 — but no one’s implemented them as well as ArenaNet has here.

No one has better PvE quests. Someone needs you to get food sacks to feed the starving townspeople, but the sacks are strewn along a mountain path plagued by Ettins, and if you’re struck while carrying one of these sacks, the food’s shot. Do you: Attack the Ettins, hoping to clear the path before more show up? Set frost traps to slow them and hopefully avoid combat? Or just go for broke, hoping to outmaneuver them as you zigzag with your arms full of foodstuff?

Guild Wars 2 is chock full of PvE events like this, each with its own interesting iterations, each offering multiple ways — risky or risk-averse, violent or nonviolent — to fill an event’s completion meter. And events are often chained, meaning once you do one thing, it may prompt another and another still. You might escort a caravan from an outpost to a small town, fending off attackers along the way, then find yourself further defending the entire town from an enemy onslaught before racing off to counterattack. Or you might be asked to help train a task force of locals, gathering supplies and testing weaponry, then — once they’re ready to roll — march off with them to war.

Waypoint travel. Guild Wars 2 eliminates the slog of overland travel by sprinkling its maps with electric blue, diamond-shaped waypoints you discover (and accrue XP for discovering) on the fly. To use them, the game asks that you pay a small travel tax that scales up the further you want to travel. This makes any part of the world that you’ve explored instantly accessible, and the tax is enough to mitigate zipping around arbitrarily. The clever twist: Sometimes world events can actually block access to “contested” waypoints, which brings me to…

What you do in Tyria actually changes Tyria. Really an extension of my prior plaudits, Guild Wars 2‘s PvE maps are often mutable — even more so in the higher-level zones — changing on the fly as NPCs attempt to snatch and hold areas like towns or garrisons in a kind of perpetual tug-of-war. This gives the entire world a wonderful sense of elasticity and treacherousness. That spot in the tent beside the weaponsmith in the town over yonder may look like a safe place to park your character, but could just as well be swarming with enemies moments later.

(MORE: Guild Wars 2 Isn’t Just About PvP or World Versus World, Says Producer)

You can hit your level maximum just by cooking, healing and exploring. Also: farming resources, crafting goods and reviving downed players — even pets. Max out all the crafting professions and you can zip to level 80 without killing a thing. Almost everything you do in Guild Wars 2 generates experience, and in a shock reversal of a cross-genre video game cliché, you’ll actually generate more experience from farming resources than killing an area’s stock bad guys.

The intuitive crafting system. If you could cook it in real life, it’s probably a recipe in the game. Want to make “Fancy Potato and Leek Soup”? Get potatoes, cream of soup base, leeks and saffron. How about “Lemongrass Poultry Soup”? Chicken, coconuts, herbed poultry stock and lemongrass. “Chocolate Raspberry Cake”? Baker’s dry and wet ingredients, chocolate bars and raspberry frosting. Wolfgang Puck or Giada De Laurentiis it’s not, but intuit two or three or four ingredients, and chances are you’ll unlock a new recipe and get an experience attaboy in the bargain (there’s no penalty for randomly trying either).

The way your character scales to lower-level areas. Most zones have recommended levels, just like other MMOs. But in other MMOs, if you go back to your starting area, you could sneeze and insta-kill half the zone. Not in Guild Wars 2, which has a way to keep even level 80 demigods entertained: Wander into a zone that’s lower than your character’s level and the game automatically drops your level and character’s abilities (though skills, traits and gear are left untouched, so it’s not a total nerf-job). And it’s no joke: If you’re not careful, a swarm of level four or five bears or wolves or minotaurs will annihilate you.

I worried at first that this might violate some crucial “sense of accomplishment” maxim — the inverse of Oblivion‘s automatically up-scaled fauna, say — but it actually livens up the exploration XP hunt, say you want to drop back into a level 1-15 area with your level 50 or 60 character to clear a map or play with a low-level friend or group.

The build-focused, action-angled, profession-agnostic combat. Guild Wars 2‘s combat system feels a lot like Diablo III‘s, where you’re starting with a handful of skills, gradually unlocking dozens more, but can never use more than a few in combat at any time. This forces you to make very specific build choices instead of spamming (or macro-ing) everything together in elaborate chains. It also makes your Ranger or Mesmer or Engineer much more likely to be different from someone else’s. And whatever class or race you play, Guild Wars 2 lets you switch between melee or ranged combat on the fly, mitigating the so-called MMO trinity (“tank-heal-control”) by letting players switch roles without radical reconfiguring or having to keep alts (alternative characters) on standby.

The design team at ArenaNet couldn’t be more responsive. Guild Wars 2 a week after launch already feels like a notably different game than at launch. You can see the first round of status updates here and more recent ones on the official Guild Wars 2 wiki. Roughly half the issues I was grousing about last week have already been remedied. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a design team work as fast or effectively to stomp out bugs and smooth over gameplay, and whether your particular issue’s been fixed or not, that’s something we should all raise a glass to.

MORE: Guild Wars 2: It’s the Pinball Machine of MMOs

27 comments
witchergothic
witchergothic

so what is the point of leveling if you are always weak and got killed from some low level mobs where is the entertainment I personally don't see logic in that

osanlu01
osanlu01

There is only one part of your review that I will disagree with as many people will.... War-hammer online did not have Dynamic Events...it had and still has Public Quests...there is a huge difference. The Public quest had to be initiated by the players and worked through 2-3 stages until completion and each segment was timed. They did not adjust in difficulty based on number of participants you either had enough people or you didn't. So again War-hammer had public quests not Dynamic content. RIFT was the first MMO to bring truly Dynamic Events that were AI driven into the genre....They adjusted according to server population and could be triggered by players and sometimes not...They had mass invasions of zones... War hammer never had anything like that so please give credit to the proper people for bringing Dynamic Events into the Genre. I am a huge fan of war-hammer  online still active account (subbed) and RIFT ( subbed) and TsW ( subbed) and my Favorite of them all and hands down the best MMO to ever come to being GW2 ( no subscription needed) win win!!!

padinstruction
padinstruction

Guild Wars 2 is really one of the most wonderful games that has been released back in 2012. 


Great part of what i like is the simple fact to play WvW with Guildmates aswell as Tournament. I don't know of any MMORPG that has both. They wheter have good Tournament, but bad Open PvP - or Good Open WvW and bad Arena.

Leveling in Guild Wars 2 doesn't feel like leveling at all with all those dynamic Events they have put in, i totally agree. There is a lot to discover and explore. Great features and scenarios.

Even if someone is only a casual player, he's going to manage to level up in no-time and reach max level! If someone struggles, there's a lot of help on the Internet like Guides and Profession Builds.

Andrew
Owner http://www.guildwarsguidebase.com

Stephen Abbott
Stephen Abbott

I totally agree with all of this. I bought this game the first day it came out and I haven't put it down since. Heck, I even started my own blog because I just loved the community and the whole that is Guild Wars 2.  Now I just gotta find a copy of the books, haha.

http://hotyria.blogspot.ca/ 

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The Guild Wars Gazette
The Guild Wars Gazette

I think it is great that the author highlighted the responsiveness of Arena Net. The team has constantly been churning out updates since launch and has definitely fixed a lot of the issues. To bring this further, they have even made some improvements in the process such as the crafting interface being integrated with your bank.

It is quite a challenge to actually role out fixes as well as respond to the comments and suggestions from the community in the process. Arena Net has done a terrific job around this.

pissed999
pissed999

Great game. Ignore hipsters trying to demote it. This is the king. Eat it.

scrag00
scrag00

"

You can hit your level maximum just by cooking, healing and exploring" - But not by PvP'ing.   - Fail

Ryan Tomasella
Ryan Tomasella

Almost all of the things listed here can be found in dozens of other games. The questing system is the same exact one we seen in WAR and will become stagnant in a few months when the level range of players becomes more broad. You can level up from gathering in other NCsoft games like Aion. Every game has a few skills at first and acquires more over time not just GW2 and D3 and the list goes on... I don't see why people are siting things that are the same in every MMO as "What makes Gw2 good" It's almost as like they've never played another MMO.

totaltitan
totaltitan

Have you considered the 9 ways it's worse than other MMOs?

- Security

- Performance

- Bugginess

- Grindy-ness

- Spammy combat

- Hollow story

- Too "gamey" and not "worldy"

- Targeting system

- Combat that isn't action and isn't targeted - a mid-hybrid of both, satisfying none.

kevin
kevin

Your forgetting 1 very important thing. 

Skills that you use affect other skills from your profession and others. This may not seem that big, but I was playing with it yesterday and It's a ton of fun. 

Plus the PVP as well. 

WrentheFaceless
WrentheFaceless

So honestly, how much is Guild Wars 2 paying you to write these articles?

osanlu01
osanlu01

@Stephen Abbott I use Blio.com and love them and they have cheap digital books or ebooks of both!!!!

osanlu01
osanlu01

@scrag00 you're pretty fail please move off this page.


Luria23
Luria23

WvW yes

In WoW, I can't cook, heal, explore to max level! >.>

osanlu01
osanlu01

@Ryan Tomasella The game is a masterpiece and if you can not see it that is sad but, you my friend are the minority here because MOST people feel this way. Just shut down your negative crap and go away. Let us enjoy the game and praise it how we want...you did it for your precious WoW for long enough but, move over bacon now there is something leaner!!!!

Eric Lai
Eric Lai

You mean all the good things found in dozens of separate other games could be found in one game, Guild Wars 2. 

osanlu01
osanlu01

@totaltitan Have you considered that there are plenty of blogs and threads by haters for you to go hate with and get supported? Here is not one of them.

Danaceb
Danaceb

What a bunch of pathetic tribe by an obvious WoW fanatic, try harder. 

Luria23
Luria23

-Security - every MMO has issues

-Performance - every MMO has issues

- Bugginess - every MMO has this

- GrindIness - every MMO has this

-Spammy combat - every MMO has this

- Hollow story - subjective and a lot of MMOs have this but I agree GW2 is weak

-Too "gamey" and not "worldy" - requires elaboration but personally GW2 is WORLDY to me

-Targeting system - omg elaborate...

-Combat that isn't action and isn't targeted - elaborate...

Too general, wishy / washy criticism

Gw2 is not the best game, but is definitely not as bad as you make it out to be. You even make WoW sound bad as it has the above characteristics yet is widely regarded as a very successful MMO.

conet
conet

- Security is an issue, but from the number of spam accounts, I can't say if it's worse than any other MMO

- It's a beast of an engine, my overclocked 680 gets 50fps on a good day with everything maxed. Still with my 4750 with setting in the middle everything ran just fine

- The bugs are pretty serious, game breaking at times, this is my biggest complaint so far

- Grindy-ness? Are you serious? Have you played any other MMO ever? I don't have a lot of comparison of MMOs in the post-WoW climate of making leveling super easy, but compared to MMOs of old, the grind here is virtually non-existent.

- True, though later on you have to put more thought into combat.

- Story was OK, not no SW:TOR, but at least there was one. It's an MMO, you take what you can get story-wise.

- I'd blame this on the quick travel, it's the same issue Oblivion and Skyrim had compared to Morrowind.

- The tab-targeting does seem random at times.

- Different play styles I guess. As I said, at higher levels it's more interesting.

Michael Riley Harrison
Michael Riley Harrison

 The targeting doesn't really change the way the game is played except for ranged. Even as ranged if someone gets in the way of your arrow it's going to hit him instead, and as melee I find myself playing without a target a lot of the time because it's better to stand facing inbetween mobs and cleaving them both. Targeting doesn't help you see tells on mobs or dodge out of the way either.

Really haven't seen any issue with security personally, performance could be better, but it's not horrible, yeah the last parts of the game are rather buggy but events breaking early in the game aren't really terrible things and are fixed pretty quickly, I've felt no grind, combat isn't spammy and trying to force a rotation onto your skills will probably get you hurt more than anything; try switching weapons more often in combat it really helps, the story could of been better but I did end up feeling very attached to both my character and the people around me (Tybalt), and GW2 is the most immersive MMO I've ever played in my life; it doesn't feel gamey at all.

Eric Lai
Eric Lai

The game is really good actually. It's not just TIME that's loving it, many other critics are in love with GW2. 

conet
conet

There's a guy who did it/is doing it in WoW through gathering and such. It's possible, but he probably hates life now.