Preview: Guild Wars 2

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Guild Wars, like many other MMO games, interested me. I have never spent the time to delve far into these online worlds, however, this does give me the ability to look at Guild Wars 2 with fresh eyes. I decided it was time to see what the fuss was about, and was offered the opportunity to jump into the weekend’s beta, and had a blast. Check out the details below.

This gives a new meaning to forged in fire...

MMOs are a strange world. From World of Warcraft to Ultima Online, these games have been afternoon entertainment for some and a life for others. Personally, I’ve avoided large doses of this kind of world for both reasons of sanity and a lack of time. The latest of these mammoth online gaming worlds has arrived and Guild Wars 2 is aiming for the MMORPG throne, WoW is struggling to hold its empire and fans of the genre are looking for something new. The question is there and gamers are asking… is Guild Wars 2 the new online king?

I started the experience without too much effort. The game installed and subsequently downloaded a solid 13GB of data, after which it launched without a hitch. The choices in character creation were broken into three available races with two more unselectable. Once you pick your race and class you then make some choices about personality and are thrown straight into the fun.

Chaaaarrggeee!

As the world loaded into view I was given a few seconds to orient myself and then the missions began. All the new players were herded into a proving ground and pitted as a team against a giant ice worm and, though the fight itself wasn’t that hard, the cinematic approach did make it a more exciting approach than most MMOs I have tried before. Players fight in the same way you would expect: number keys choose attacks and the skill comes in how and where you use them. A nice change, though, was that weapon skills have been separated from character skills and can be learned quickly as a player spends some time using it.

As long as you are fighting, the skills will open up along the way, making weapon proficiency feel learnt, not given, and sports you a chance to work out the best uses for each move. I found combat in Guild Wars 2 a lot more stimulating than most MMOs; the move sets seemed to allow for combos (even if they are limited) and allow the player to tackle larger groups of enemies tactically using skills that blow enemies away, nail them to the ground or cause damage over time. These concepts aren’t new in this genre, but they make the simple style of online combat feel like more than just number pressing while watching TV.

Can your magic shield protect against BULLETS?

Beyond the gameplay, Guild Wars 2 has all the important things you would expect: a huge map, massive cities and plenty of things to do. Missions vary nicely, players will do some missions alone and some with other people. However, the quests seem to change based on the amount of people participating.

One instance a mission had a group of five people swamped by enemies. I joined in and we got trampled. When I returned after the heavy knock to my pride, I found that I was the only one there and the mission scaled back so I could handle it alone. This pleased me to no end as I play these games as a bit of a lone wolf and quickly grow weary of waiting for enough players to kick off an unscalable harder group mission. On the other hand, group combat felt a lot more friendly than the WoW-style worlds I have dabbled in. The gameplay pushes players to play to their strengths and even the greenest of player helped when dealing with a large horde of enemies.

Cue Reservoir Dogs soundtrack

In all, the experience was the best online game I have tried, to date. The combat and world design are amazing, the graphics are über pretty and the missions will interest both the hardcore and the casual online player. Guild Wars 2 has legs that few online experiences can offer. Although The Old Republic has fans glued to their machines, Guild Wars 2 offers fun and diversity. This is a must-play for online fans and may be a good entry point for people sitting on the fence of the game or the genre.

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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