Guild Wars 2 Review

Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2012-08-28
  • Massively Multiplayer,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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Another controversial choice is that Guild Wars 2 scales your character in relation to the environment. This means that if you are beyond a certain range in an area, you will be leveled down to match it (or in the case of PvP areas, leveled up to 80). This has both upsides and downsides in my opinion. The good is that you can go into low-level zones as a higher-level character and still enjoy the content - you won't steamaroll everything, and the experience and other rewards you'll get will still be worthwhile. This gives exploring the whole game world far more incentive.

On the other hand, though, this can significantly diminish the sense of progression and, to a degree, really limit the parts of the game world you can explore. I often found that I simply couldn't visit parts of the game world because the enemies would clobber me in seconds, but after leveling up a few times, and making no changes to my character or equipment, those same enemies posed no threat whatsoever. The game world does open up once you get a bit more experience under your belt, but it rarely feels like you did something right with respect to your character or strategy - it's a very artificial sort of gating. Unfortunately, some areas also tend to be oversized and lack any real gameplay other than hunting down collectables - if that's your thing, it's nice, but I wish there was better use of some areas, especially the larger cities.

Combat in the game is very standard MMO stuff built in the World of Warcraft model, with lots of constant skill-spamming, waiting on cooldowns and hotkey-mashing. However, Guild Wars 2 is a good deal faster-paced than a lot of other MMOs, and the addition of dodge moves (limited by a recharging stamina bar) makes it a bit more dynamic than some. Unfortunately, the limited skill load-out size and small number of weapon skills means that combat grows repetitive very early into the game. There is also very little strategy required even in big group battles, as most boss enemies are only "hard" because they have extremely bloated health bars. Most boss fights can take five or ten minutes, yet you'll be doing nothing of interest in them. Considering how much combat you will be doing throughout the game, it simply isn't good enough to remain compelling beyond the early stages.

PvP, Crafting & Economy

Guild Wars 2 also has a pretty obvious PvP focus based on name alone, although it's not emphasized quite as much as you might think. PvP is divided into a couple different systems which have some overlap with one another but offer slightly different experiences.

The first, standard PvP play, offers conquest mode revolving around capturing and holding points. This is fairly basic, but entertaining, and like similar team-based shooters there is a certain strategy in selecting your skill load-out and picking which points to defend or capture. The rewards are relatively limited, however - successes gain you glory points, which is a curreny used to unlock entirely cosmetic loot. There are only four maps, with new ones promised to be added in patches, and while they are fun, I grew tired of them fairly quickly.

World vs. World is the game's more ambitious, and far more interesting mode. Rather than pure PvP, it's a blend of PvP and PvE activities which also allow you to gain experience and rewards for use in regular PvE play, which immediately makes it more compelling. World vs. World puts hundreds of players from three different servers in battle across a number of maps simultaneously, and score is increased every 15 minutes based on the number of points held.

What makes this interesting is that while it's competitive, you don't have to actively be involved in PvP fighting to contribute. For example, many locations are guarded by NPC enemies to defeat, and the maps all have factions of neutral NPCs that can be swayed to your side by performing a particular mini-quest. There are also supply routes and convoys that need defending, siege weapons that need building, and so on. Interestingly, success in World vs. World actually grants passive bonuses to your entire server, such as better results when crafting items or more gold rewarded for completing quests, so there's another reason to take part beyond the battle itself.