October 10, 2012
When you talk of investing time into an MMO, you're no longer looking at a few hours, or days, or weeks, but rather what kind of commitment you may be considering on a long term monthly basis. Content that other games may gleam over or simply consider an accessory to gameplay becomes critical in keeping accounts active, and should the developers keep updates frequent enough (and more importantly detailed enough) the players will be in for the long haul. Looking back at Guild Wars 2 over the past few weeks we've highlighted a lot of what makes the game so special. How classes and leveling works, what combat is like, and what kind of grind players may have ahead of them. It may paint a decent picture as to what you may be getting into, but at the end of the day only one question matters: is Guild Wars 2 worth buying?
One of the main advantages that GW boasts over other games is the lack of a monthly subscription. Completely aside from the content (which is fairly expansive on its own) not having to worry about a long term financial commitment to the game makes logging in a lot easier. Whether you're interested in PvE or want to log in for the WvW combat, there's never really a rush. It's very unlike most MMOs on the market currently. Not logging in every single day and grinding dungeons or struggling to capture keeps may slow your progress when it comes to getting the best gear, but it means that you can approach the game completely on your own terms. Outside of competing with friends, NCsoft has provided a way of letting players of any gear level (or literal level) participate in large scale combat.
That's not to say that Guild Wars 2 isn't a grind; no matter which way you look at it any MMO is a grind to get one type of equipment or accomplish one set of goals. What Guild Wars 2 does well is cater to a very specific type of online gamer. If intimate 1v1 PvP is your kind of game, or if you're the type of player who likes catching people off guard in the wild while they're sitting over a resource node then it may be best to stay away from Guild Wars' style of gameplay. Combat happens on too grand a scale, classes are built to survive in groups, and the typical tank-healer-DPS relationship is simply nonexistent. The real reward in-game comes in the form of cooperation and strategy on a grand scale, which may come as an extremely hard pill to swallow for a lot of casual gamers. For many being forced to actually communicate on the world map channels or ask players for information is unusual; larger developers have just spent the last few years streamlining party building to nothing but a queue time and the inevitable group formation.
Though having social interaction forced down your throat may or may not be appealing there are quite a few design elements that make the game a huge success. Group events and quests are amazingly fluid and provide players with rewards equal to their participation, and general quests having no 'turn in' NPC keeps the focus on playing the game and less on completing a fantasy grocery list of things to do. Removing the limitations from PvP (both in the smaller 8 man divisions and within WvW) also leave something for players to jump into without ever having to worry that they'll be left in the dust.
It all means that Guild Wars 2 is incredibly refreshing to play. It isn't a game that had a few millions dollars spent on an advertising campaign which promises changes to the shape of the industry - it just does it anyway. Just the fact that a player may be a part of multiple guilds alone would solve so many problems in other mainstream MMOs, guild perks and bonuses aside.
While Guild Wars 2 may have a few aspects that leave players a little frustrated it provides an incredibly solid experience for anyone interested in large scale cooperative play. It will be interesting to see what content updates NCsoft has planned for the future, but even assuming that all players have to look forward to is four or so months of patch balances before the next big content addition there's more than enough available now to justify the purchase.