Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The War of the Dragon I

First thing you need to understand about Guild Wars 2, is that is tries its utmost to be a living breathing world. Secret World wanted to fill you with wonder, and TOR wanted to tell you a story; Guild Wars 2 wants to be living and breathing whether you’re there to see it or not. Quests are tied to areas, and while there is a little handholding, there is also a time when questing is all about finding logical outcomes. If someone is shouting ‘I need help’ then run up to them and talk to them and you’ll likely find a quest. If you’re going from point A to point B you’re likely to find someone who is doing the same thing and hey they have a quest too. Like Secret World before it, Guild Wars 2 is trying to do away with the quest hubs and trying to make it feel more organic. They still have spots where you will always find quests, ala their heart system on the maps, but they are only there as guides for the immediate area. If a heart has a number 11 next to it then it is likely an area best for level 11 characters. It allows an open feeling without having to say explicitly level 11’s come here. Because the players level scales down, anyone over 11 can go there and find some decent experience. In that spirit of ease, don’t forget to type back slash wiki, that will bring you to Guild Wars 2 wiki site right from the game.

Leveling was made to be as easy as possible in Guild Wars 2. Dynamic leveling is a big ballyhooed feature in Guild Wars 2, and what it comes down to really is choice. Personal storylines can be mostly ignored as you wish. If you find yourself having a tough time finding good quests for experience early on, then by all means go to Lions Arch. This city has teleports to each races major city, from there you can march to any races starting area and abracadabra you have more quests to run through. When you look at the overhead map in Guild Wars 2 you see more than a few areas of overlapping levels, which means quest areas can be switched back and forth. Not to mention pvp and WvW experience gathering and dungeon runs in both story and exploration mode combined with dynamic leveling mean that no matter how over leveled  or under leveled you get for an area you can always go to an lower level area and gather comparable experience for your level.

In keeping with the idea of a living breathing world though, just about everywhere I’ve looked at in Guild Wars 2 so far is climbable. No that ridiculous jump is not an accident. Guild Wars 2 has many a climbing challenge for the explorers out there. Every area has a select amount of Vistas, Guild Wars 2 version of TOR’s Datacrons. Getting to the Vistas gains you experience and bragging rights as some of them can be quite difficult. People talk to each other before they give you quests, npcs talk to each other about the world they lived and tell stories about their lives. Yes, they repeat quickly but it’s a nice little touch that lends itself to MMO progression where you aren’t likely to go back to some of these places anytime soon.

Combat is Guild Wars 2 is very solid. It’s no Tera but it does more with the tab bar than most any other MMO out there. Great sword play is a lot of fun with my Sylvari warrior. She is this tiny little tree person swinging a sword bigger than her body around and around, it always brings a smile to my lips. Do travel and quest underwater. Not because ArenaNet invented fire or because it looks it just looks freakin’ sweet, do underwater combat simply because it’s like finding a secret door in a house you’ve lived in all your life and thinking to yourself ‘how did I not see that’ (Yes, I did just drop a Doctor Who reference). It’s not that water combat is so cool, though it can be loads of fun; it’s just that after playing around in the water you realize that you must have been blind for a long time… water combat so simple and so genius.

If Guild Wars 2’s combat plays a lot like the lovechild of Warhammer Online and Rift. The story feels like The Old Republic meets The Secret World. Say what you will about where BioWare put its money in regards to story, it’s clear that they will continue to be the standard for storytelling in the near future. Guild Wars 2, falls into some of the same traps that Secret World did, with voice actors being used over and over again. Because Guild Wars 2 has more speech due to, not the least of which, it’s bigger world and longer storyline it’s much more noticeable, and when it’s bad it’s rather wincingly bad. That being said the storyline in Guild Wars 2 is still light years ahead of anything before Old Republic. The personal story is great; I’m especially having fun with the Sylvari Warrior I made. The female voice actor was instantly recognizable which helps when a line on the script is a little cheesy or badly written. More than a few of the voice actors involved should be recognizable if you play a lot of video games.

It’s early yet and I haven’t seen 20 yet on any of my characters (I have wicked alt-itice) but from what I’ve experienced so far there is legitimate reason to be impressed with Guild Wars. We need to see if ArenaNet can be successful with their new business model and of course we need to see how new content gets rolled out and how often but for now the skies are bright indeed.

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