World of Warcraft, Runescape, and EVE Online dominate in an otherwise stagnant video game genre known as MMOs (Massively Multi-player Online). Now, a new MMO seeks to squeeze out the competition with a fresh style of both artistic combat and creative story telling. Released last month, Guild Wars 2, an MMO designed by Seattle-based gaming company Arenanet, allows characters to fulfill their role in an ever changing world full of monsters, conspiracy theories, and constant attacks from unintelligent rabble.
Each player is able to choose a race to begin their adventure in the massive world of Tyria – the technical Asura, the natural Sylvari, the decaying humans, the powerful Norn, and the wild Charr. Every race follows a different story that eventually leads them against the powerful dragons that threaten to completely destroy the world. While each race in other games may have different abilities that allow it to succeed more than other races, Guild Wars 2 breaks this mold by using balanced race-based skills.
One of the better aspects of Guild Wars 2 is the free-roaming ability of every player. While natural barriers like mountains and cliffs may obstruct a player’s travel, the overall landscape allows for every player to explore and complete quests at his or her own pace. As players travel through the world, they may come across world events that give them the opportunity to play with other people to obtain a goal. The best part about these missions is that they do not force players to join a group or a team. The events naturally allow players to work together to obtain a goal. Group fights that involve at least 20 people really test a player’s skill and knowledge of his or her character. These events comprise the main focus of the game, and encourage exploring and fighting in groups rather than grinding and trying to get the best items in the game.
Many other MMOs have what is known as a metagame, a collection of the best and most powerful team builds that often dominate player vs. player (PvP) battles. Arenanet worked to break this trend by not creating one profession or team that is better than every other team. PvP also seeks to break the mold of equipment determining how often it is possible to win, by putting all players on an equal playing field. The game tests skill rather than how shiny an enemy’s sword is.
An expansion to the PvP combat is the World vs. World Arena. This environment consists of three different servers of players battling across four massive maps, struggling to hold onto castles, supply depots, watch towers, and many other objectives. The environment is constantly changing because while one team may control a point in the morning, by the afternoon, the enemy may have forced that entire team out of a particular section of the map. Teams often include up to 100 players that work together to obtain a goal, or split up to conquer smaller objectives.
Unlike other MMOs where players are forced to buy both the game and pay a monthly subscription, Guild Wars 2 does not charge a monthly fee. Many Korean MMOs function on a system similar to this, the main difference is that they sell items that any player can buy with real money, not in-game currency. Guild Wars 2 also tears down this aspect of MMOs by allowing players to trade in-game currency for store credit, or gems. This is achieved by allowing players to swap in-game currency for gems in a fluctuating gem market. Some days players will get more gems for their gold, while on others, the inverse may occur. These gems can be used to buy cosmetic items, limited experience boosters, miniature pets, and more.
Overall, for only $60, Guild Wars 2 is easily worth the money because it offers a theoretically unlimited number of game-play hours, incredible scenery and stylized fighting, and best of all, a mostly friendly and non-trolling atmosphere where many players offers to help each other all the time. For an MMO that truly breaks the mold, pick up Guild Wars 2 today.