Guild Wars 2 Reviews and Editorials

03 Sep 2012

A couple of publications seems to have made their minds already about ArenaNet's MMO sequel Guild Wars 2, while a few are still going on with the "in progress" review form, and others still offer their impressions in editorial form, and we've rounded up all of this (or what we could find, at least) for your reading pleasure.

Gaming Bolt, 9.5/10.
Guild Wars 2 is an incredible game. It’s rich with its story, visuals, fantastic combat and gameplay mechanics. This game is a pure gem and will go down in history as one of the most successful MMO games ever created, not to mention it’s free-to-play. I would rather pay $15 for this game than play it for free, because in my honest opinion the developers really deserve it. Well done ArenaNet, keep up on doing what you’re doing and I absolutely cannot wait for the future expansions. Stop reading this review and go buy the game please, thank you!

Ars Technica, "Buy It".
GW2 is not a radical reinvention of the genre. ArenaNet simply rearranged the dominant paradigm in such a way that makes the adventure more manageable, while borrowing the best ideas from the best predecessors. It's a combination of pitch-perfect iteration combined with calculated innovation. The result is a game that will feel instantly familiar and easy to play for anyone familiar with MMOs, but is also designed for those who may not have had the time or inclination to pick up an MMO in the past.

Too many supposed Warcraft-killers have come and gone in recent years to bother worrying about whether Guild Wars 2 will be able to “dethrone the king.” What we know for sure is Guild Wars 2 is a step forward for the genre and will make adventuring more appealing for those who wish to escape the confines of terra firma and wander off into terra incognita.

GameSpy:
I love WvW because it comes closer to simulating medieval combat than what I've found in similar MMORPGs. Not only do you have your class' basic abilities (which, in the case of my Ranger, come in handy when I want to rain down arrows on opponents from a keep's battlements), but you can also build siege engines like trebuchets and catapults to batter down the doors and walls of keeps. When it's going well, there's a feeling of accomplishment that I don't get elsewhere.

Take last night: we took back our server's own garrison, which had been taken over by another. We built our battering rams and siege engines, and we amassed outside the gates. A player who'd declared himself leader even broke into a rousing speech: "This is our home! They're in OUR HOME! Once we get in, rush to the parapets, take out the rangers, and then focus on the people in the yard from above!" The gate eventually crumbled, and we poured through and took out the frustration of innumerable losses on the overwhelmed inhabitants and defeated the keep's NPC lord. It was like something out of Helm's Deep or Braveheart. Even after the demoralizing pain of finding ourselves outstrategized every time I entered WvW, I knew I was experiencing one of the best times I've ever had in mass PvP combat in MMORPGs.

The Game Reviews:
Where to start? The graphics are absolutely amazing and the skills effects look awesome as they actually look like their descriptions. When your Elementalist skill says "Send a Phoenix" a very cool fiery Phoenix is flies out and attacks the target. Your earth spell states "Ground turns to lava"? Presto, the ground turns to a mound of lava. Just trying out your skills to see what they look like can be quite entertaining, and somewhat distracting. And you don't want to get too distracted because there are plaenty of creatures around to take advantage, not to mention the falls from great heights (trust me, personal experience on that last one and one of the few things in game that don't give XP).

Speaking of dieing, the mechanic for that is rather unique. Once your health points are down to nothing, you fall to the ground and are given a bar of health that continues to drop along with four "skills" to help you try and revive yourself to about a third of original health (called "Rally" in game). If that bar is exhausted, and you haven't Rallied, you can choose to respawn to a waypoint, or wait for someone to rez you. Since every character in GW2 can resurrect you, which is pretty cool, there's no more having your group almost wipe but for one person who didn't bring a rez.

Back tracking a bit here, I want to mention an important change to the game in how fast travel is handled. Much like the fast travel in the original Guild Wars, there are waypoints which are frequently scattered throughout the map, and often not tied to major cities and posts. There are many that are near forts, dungeons and points of interest, not all of which are "friendly". Along with waypoints, there are also Asura Gates, which travel to and from major hubs in the different zones. They are also used for travel to and from PVP, World vs. World PVP and major dungeons. No need to go to a ship port for other zone. Otherwise, same as the original Guild Wars, just pull up the map and click on a waypoint.

Forbes calls it "a grind":
ArenaNet has said a number of times that they want to get rid of the grinding that’s so typically associated with MMO-land.

Unfortunately, the fetch-quest has largely been replaced by dynamic events that still play out a lot like fetch quests. There are a couple different kinds of dynamic events. Some require you to choose between fighting off monsters or gathering eggs in order to fill your progress bar to completion. Others require guarding a messenger or caravan. Still others simply ask you to kill bad guys and destroy their buildings.

The variety is largely a mirage. The repetition becomes monotonous rather quickly, and the spontaneity of the events becomes evident after just a few outings.

Some of these events, once completed, never show up again. The world has shifted to accommodate your success.

Others, such as driving off certain foul beasts, can be done over and over again. None of them, so far, have felt particularly different from your average fetch-quest in a game like World of Warcraft. Different packaging and more options, but the options themselves are hardly compelling.

I’d rather fight off the monsters than water the plants, as it were, though perhaps some people play these games to do domestic tasks.

While Jim Sterling thinks it's (almost) the answer to his MMO prayers:
From the outset, Guild Wars 2 eliminates the formulaic “holy trinity” involved in character creation. Any player can choose any race and pick any class they like, while the classes themselves are all uniquely versatile and provide a varied arsenal to deal with any situation. There’s no more predictable healer/tank/DPS setup, where you’re pretty much tied to one of three templates. Every character has healing abilities, speed buffs, damaging attacks, and defensive boosts. Some feel this breaks down the need to play together, but I’ve seen the exact opposite in effect. Everybody’s fighting together, playing with each other as opposed to around each other. Because everybody’s capable of everything, folk aren’t hanging out, unable to progress because they’re lacking a healer or don’t have enough tanks. The combat is free, open, and casual — casual meaning that anybody can just roll with another player on the map without formalities and official grouping to get in the way of the action. It’s so easy to just start fighting uninvited alongside strangers that it makes sense people are doing it more. You strip away the rigid structure involved with grouping to make it feel like an open scrum where anybody can get stuck in, and people accordingly get stuck in.

This is helped by the regularity of big group events. At any time, a farm may need protecting or a giant troll might appear in the cave, and players nearby will rush to deal with the situation. Again, there are no invites, no official grouping up. People are just spontaneously fighting together, dealing damage, laying down healing spells, and reviving their fallen allies of convenience. While these events are as scripted as those found in any other MMO, the fact they happen all over the map and draw in a big crowd of players adds a level of dynamism to the world that makes it feel like it’s far less structured than it is. In essence, the world of Guild Wars 2 feels far more alive than those of other MMOs, where players are all involved in single-player fetch quests, getting tasks from NPCs that thirty other players are gathered around. To me, the benefit of an MMO is the fact that it can feel so alive and dynamic, and it’s infuriated me that so many “me-too” MMO developers have utterly squandered that ability. Guild Wars 2 takes a step toward fixing that.
 
 

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