So here we are; the finale of our Guild Wars 2 review. We’ve got a few more things to cover before we give our final judgement, but if you need a re-cap, or if have only just stumbled upon our review, you can navigate your way around our coverage by using the mini-hub below (with all sections within previous parts of the review re-labelled for your viewing ease.)
Human Start Area + Area Events | McGarnagle’s Story Part 1 + Vista Viewpoints | McGarnagle’s Story Part 2 + Skill Points | McGarnagle’s Story Part 3 + Shadow Behemoth | Jump Puzzles + More Vista Viewpoints
Right then. If you’re all sitting comfortably, let’s finish this.
The original Guild Wars contained a rather extensive PvE section, but the longevity was in its PvP side. Unfortunately there was a little bit of a snag for those that wished to get their hands dirty fighting other players; you were forced to play the PvE sections to unlock abilities. ArenaNet have eliminated this problem in both aspects of the PvP this time around, so let’s take a look at the quick-fire Competitive PvP first to see how they have achieved this.
First of all, all players, regardless of their level, are boosted to level 80 stats for Competitive PvP and awarded all abilities to choose from (even weapons are free from vendors, although more powerful ones cost currency that comes from winning.) This creates a (mostly) level playing field amongst the players, putting more emphasis on knowing your class, the layout of the three maps, and team tactics to ensure victory. All players need to do to begin is go to The Mists; a special lobby area that contains PvP vendors and NPCs that provide access to a server list similar to other online gaming browsers. To prove how easy this is, I made a new character, a Charr Warrior named “A Handsome Charr”, who after doing the intro sequence was able to join in the CPvP and sort out all of his abilities, all at Level 1.
Here comes my first major gripe of GW2 so far; the NPC browser, and joining a match in general, is painfully slow. With no indication of how quickly I would be joining a game, I was stuck there twiddling my thumbs waiting to get in. However, once into a match players are split into two teams of eight and tasked with capturing three zones, accumulating points by holding said zones and killing other players. Each map has its own unique spin, throwing in NPCs which might need protecting or, when killed, provide buffs for your team, but otherwise the setup is similar across all three maps. As such, the casual PvPer who wants quick bursts of player-slaying action should find their fill here relatively easily, and tournaments are also available for those that wish to dive deeper into the world of CPvP.
World Vs World PvP
For those that want something a little more substantial or large scale, heading to the battlegrounds of World Vs World should be your port of call. Here, hundreds of players team up with their chosen server to do battle two other servers over the course of a two-week war. Bases, ranging from small supply depots, to guard towers, all the way up to gigantic forts, are up for grabs if players can attack (and ultimately defend) them properly. Teamwork is the name of the game here, although if all else fails players will usually group up to form a “zerg rush” trying to slaughter anything in its path (to mixed results.)
Much like CPvP, players taking part in World PvP are boosted to level 80, but the difference here is that they are still able to level up as normal whilst taking part in WPvP. Just with PvE, players can able to discover new locations, acquire skill points, and activate Vista Viewpoints whilst in these battlegrounds, and you can even gather resource materials whilst running around (although you only level 60+ characters will be able to harvest them successfully.) It means that anyone can take part, although those with better gear will always have the advantage, but the scaling allows a chance for players to take a break from PvE content for a while and fight for their world.
This is because the rewards from WPvP translate into bonuses for all character on your chosen server, ranging from increased XP gains, more effective healing, and better defence stats against monsters. How this is calculated is by the amount of points the server manages to secure every 15 minutes, with different totals allocated to varying structures. Once a server reaches a milestone, they gain a bonus, encouraging a constant effort from all the players involved.
This can be made easier (or harder) through the use of the upgrade system. Here, players are able to spend their Karma points and gold to upgrade the various keeps and outposts on the map, providing them with more guards, adding defences such as cannons and burning oil, or strengthening the walls. On top of this, players are also able to repair gates and walls should they get damaged during an assault, but to do so players much spend a much needed resource called Supply. Delivered by pack mules which roam the map, these caravans are the lifelines for any assault or defence, meaning smart groups of players can effectively starve a fort of Supply during a raid until the walls come crumbling down.
With the inclusion of siege weaponry such as cannons, battering rams, and the intimidating trebuchets, these battles can not only be rather intense but a visual spectacle when in action. Players pooling money together to purchase upgrades such as Waypoints for travel and respawn purposes creates a sense of community and comradery that I feel has been sorely missing in the genre. Of course, ultimately the mode is purely for bragging rights, but it provides a welcome middle ground between PvE and CPvP, and more importantly it gives the player more choice in what to do. This is dependent on being able to get into the Battlegrounds, however. Even with four available (one for each server, and one in the middle) expect queues to range from 5 minutes to an hour during busy periods. However, once in solo players should be able to find the action easily (although they may have to run a fair way occasionally) but if I’m completely honest, those in Guilds will find the most reward in this mode.
Which provides me with a lovely segue into…
For The Guild!
Having just covered the “Wars” part of the title, it almost seems rude not to cover the “Guild” part as well (many thanks to Hurrakan for reminding me!) The Guild system is a fairly robust one that, as with pretty much everything else in GW2, provides choice for the player. This is achieved by allowing players to join multiple guilds, although they can only actively represent one at any given time. With no penalty for switching, the idea behind this is that players can be a part of different friendship groups, going between them as they need to.
Whilst representing a Guild, players will accumulate Influence points for their guild simply by playing the game as they normally would, although the total Influence gained does increase if players are participating with other members of their guild at the time. Once a guild has earned enough points, they can be spent on upgrades that provide benefits across four areas; Architecture, Art of War, Economy, and Politics. As well as providing temporary upgrades such as increasing Supply totals in WPvP, or a a three-day gathering bonus, Guilds can also increase the size of their guild bank, provide tabards for their members, or provide special items to create a sense of uniform.
It’s a system that provides a sense of progression for groups that intend to stick with the game for the long haul, as it is no quick (or easy) task to attain everything for a Guild. There are charges for expanding the roster beyond the initial 50 spaces as well, but this isn’t too much of a barrier should a guild want to increase in size. Overall, the guild system provides one of the more flexible community tools we’ve seen in the genre, and this is without the planned enhancements such as out-of-game communication and in-game Guild Halls.
Also, to answer a question I was previously asked, there is no Dealspwn guild…. Yet. Perhaps if Harry McGarnagle had some company on Gunnar’s Hold that might change…
So, here comes the big question; Is Guild Wars 2 worth your time and, more importantly, your money? The lack of any subscription fee is initially balanced out by the purchase of the game, as it is one of the more expensive PC titles (at the time of writing, £35 is the cheapest price for a copy.) That said, for the amount of time it would take to get around experience everything in a game of that size, the value for money is almost undeniable for those looking for an MMO experience. Thankfully Microtransations do not create an unfair advantage, providing only cosmetic changes and convenience, with players able to completely ignore it altogether should they wish.
Has the launch month been a success? For the most part the answer is yes, but even now connectivity issues still occasionally mar the game, and with more players joining in server loads will continue to feel the strain during peak play times. However, once in the game the world of Tyria is a rich and frankly beautiful place to explore, although perhaps more importantly it is a fun world to explore.
The critic in me must point some things out though; Guild Wars 2 isn’t quite the revolution in design that ArenaNet has proudly said it is. Quest hubs may be gone in a traditional sense, but the necessity to do a number of tasks in a given area before moving on is still there. Should you wish to stick purely with PvE content you will find yourself having to complete every last area event (or heart) and discover every last Skill point and Vista before moving onto the next area, forcing a completist attitude upon players (which I find perfectly fine, but others may not.)
However, time is not the issue here thanks to the Buy-To-Play method of entry for GW2, and with levelling scaling available newcomers can fight alongside veteran players, be it now, or in a few months’ time, or even a few years. This is perhaps ArenaNet’s greatest achievement with GW2; providing a platform for players to play together in any scenario, be it PvP or PvE. Even the classes allow players to find a play style that is to their liking, with a variety of different skills that are both effective and fun to combine in battle (the Engineer’s exploding battering ram from the chest never gets old. NEVER.) Although the MMO ‘Holy trinity’ may not be as long-gone as ArenaNet might hope, the control system in the game provides the best change to the genre in years. Cooldown bars and timers may well still be here, but the feeling of fast-paced gameplay is present (lag permitting, of course.)
Whilst PvP will keep players engaged, I certainly hope that ArenaNet do not rest on their immediate success and continue to add content in all aspects of the game. My only worry is that eventually people will get burned out (as we all do from time to time) by the sheer size of the game, and players will perhaps need a new reason to return. However, this is a problem that all MMO developers must face, and if the first month of play is any indication, people will almost certainly be returning to Tyria on a regular basis.
- Numerous ways to play, be it PvE or PvP.
- The best change to traditional MMO mechanics in years.
- Boasts an art style that is almost second to none.
- Though improving, server stability and population limits could prove annoying.
- A faster response time with the PvP Browser needs to be implemented.
- You may end up gawking at the game fairly regularly.
The Short Version:
A few teething problems may have snuck in at launch, but ArenaNet have ultimately crafted one of the best MMOs to emerge in recent times, showing that a lack of subscription fee in no way means a lack of quality. Completists will be in their element with so much to discover, and with a focus on freedom and ease of play MMO newcomers and veterans alike will be able to join in the fight together. The world of Tyria is as fun as it is beautiful, a combination that makes Guild Wars 2 one of the must-have PC titles this year.