First Look: Guild Wars 2

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When you pick up a game whose title is identical to that of another game, but with a number on the end, you expect it to be similar to said other game, correct? Guild Wars 2 mauls that concept with its eagerly anticipated golden fangs. The soon-to-be released PC MMORPG is nothing like the first game… something that’s proving to act in the sequel’s favor.

I’ve already heard the joke multiple times: “Any MMORPG that needs a sequel is doomed to failure.” The authors of that one-liner have clearly not yet touched Guild Wars 2, for it would almost certainly blow them away. Since I seem to be praising it so much already, let me begin with the downsides: The world, in its entirety, doesn’t look or feel very large. The various quests and challenges you receive tend to hold you in the area you’re leveling in for a while as you complete everything that there is to be completed. You gain new abilities over time, but how these are used is not entirely self-explanatory. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that my Mesmer (illusionist-themed caster class) was creating fake images of himself that I could sacrifice to inflict negative effects on the enemy. What’s more, my auto-casting main attack cycled through multiple variations of that very attack without my consent – I didn’t even have time to see exactly what I was doing to the enemy beyond the damage I was dealing!

That said, some of my abilities were just plain awesome! Firstly, the character design of the Mesmer (I didn’t have the opportunity to try other classes) is so well-thought out! It’s my understanding that the Mesmer creates an illusion of himself/herself after either a set cycle of attacks or at random while attacking. These illusions are obviously fakes, but the Mesmer has several options at his or her disposal regarding how to use them. In just a half hour of play, I was practically exploring a buffet of choices. Hm… should I damage my enemy, confuse them, or daze them?

One of the more incredible facets to the Guild Wars 2 world is the system of dynamic quests. Several times, I found myself walking about the area, headed toward one quest or another, and an event would begin not 40 feet away from me. These “events” are akin to public quests in Champions Online, Warhammer, etc. and feature different objectives. In the back of my head, I knew everything was scripted ones and zeroes, but I was a little excited when the junk yard I was working in was suddenly besieged by waves of beasts from a rivaling legion.

It’s obviously too early to tell, as Guild Wars 2 features 80 experience levels, 5 races and 8 classes, but so far, I’m legitimately impressed. Extremely few MMORPGs have ever accomplished this feat. If you’re looking for a timesink to pour yourself into, at this point I have to tell you to look no further. After all… it has no monthly subscription.


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