Guild Wars 2 was a title highly anticipated by the PC gaming community. The original Guild Wars was a massive success and to this day is revered as one of the most played PC games. I myself have never taken the time nor have the opportunity to play the original Guild Wars game. This review will be from the point of view form someone who has no idea what Guild Wars is. There is a lot to cover about this game and I will not cover every little detail. The fun from a game is to be surprised.
The story is different for every race. I have only played the Norn in this instance so I cannot speak for the other races. I can assure you that the story is not the same for every race. The Norn is a race of animal lovers who have mastered the art of being Animorphs. Their race is under siege from an evil dragon that is a false god and corrupts the minds of easily manipulated people. His power is growing too strong and it is up to the player to end his reign of terror for good. Pretty standard story if you ask me. Bad guy wants to kill everything, you must kill bad guy. Very classic, but not entirely imaginative however, just because it is a standard story does not make it terrible. The story unfolds in a fluent fashion and it works.
There are many issues with this game in terms of gameplay. While the fancy art style and appealing graphics are a wonderful touch, there are issues with this game that I cannot overlook. When I talk about GW2 with friends these are what I shout in anger and disdain. First off, the camera, this also falls into the line of bad controls in general. To move the camera one must hold said mouse button and move the mouse to the desired angle. In the middle of a fight this will cause you to lose track of where you are and often result in death. I would like to make a comparison. Raiderz is a similar MMO and the real time control scheme works very well for it. The camera is controlled with the mouse and the targeting system is dictated where you are looking.
Next up is the character controls. Standard WASD is used to move, while Q and E are used to strafe. If you double tap a key, you will roll. I find strafing to be useless and on many occasions my mind will slip off the designated formation of adequate movement. As I am fighting I will start strafe rolling at odd angles, then I will have to respawn or start climbing a mountain all over again. The placement just doesn’t work and the dodging mechanics are too clunky to work. Now comes the platforming elements, this game involves a lot of jumping and while I appreciate the inclusion, I wish it wasn’t so unpredictable. The distance and height seem to vary and if you take a step after you land, you seem to skate along and be in a fit of aggravation.
The controls become increasingly irritating when you are trying to discover the various Vista locations throughout the game’s maps. These are special locations that offer a scenic view of a given area. You gain experience, achievements, and completion points when you discover all of them in the different areas. Some are obvious, but others are placed in places that seem impossible to get to. Not to mention the vistas that requires extensive platforming to reach. This is when that strafe/rolling crap makes me want to rip my hair out. I do not see much of a purpose for these Vistas to be in the game. As of right now, they exist only to piss me off.
The combat itself is actually solid and well developed, unlike the other controls. The way you level up your skills is through use. Go figure, you use a sword long enough you will get better at using it. Every kill you get with the weapon or skill gains you experience to gain more skills to use. Every weapon type has a unique set to it. The same goes for the underwater weapon skills. Every weapon has their own skills and every race/class has their own specific skills that must be purchased with skill points earned from unique missions mostly they involve buffs and healing abilities. As you progress in the skill tree you will unlock the unique skill only useable by your race. For the Norn it is the ability to transform into the animal you worship.
Some more stuff I like is the different combinations of classes, races, and focuses to choose from. For example, the Norn can choose between four different animal spirits. Depending on the spirit you choose, your Norn will be more adept at other weapon types and depending on the focus you chose it will determine how your character will grow stat wise. This is something I can really get behind. However I must return to the negatives of Guild Wars 2.
There is an extensive crafting system available and there is little the game does to wean you into crafting stuff. If you do not start early, you will screw yourself late game when you can make better equipment because your smithing skill is not high enough. You learn the different crafting skills through a variety of teachers in the main cities and in some cases; the places are so damn cluttered you can’t find anyone. If you haven’t crafted anything by the time you are level 15 you are going to be spending a lot of your time making stuff that would have been useful 10 levels ago. You will make it, sell it, rinse, repeat. Often times you will be selling said items for cheaper than what they cost to make so in many ways, you are losing money.
My final complaint(s) is the mission system and leveling up. The game’s level up system feels incredibly slow and once you hit level 10 it seems to take ages to gain a level. You can’t just progress through the story either. The story has specific levels you must be to do them efficiently. For example, when the mission description says the recommended level is 19, you better be 19 or higher or else the enemies will destroy you. To gain more experience you must fight enemies a higher level than you. That presents a problem considering if an enemy is 3 levels higher than you it may as well be a boss character. The scaling is off and rather irritating when you just want to go through the story.
The next bit is how the missions are completed and carried out. The risk and time put forth into some of these quests is not worth the reward. You could spend 15 minutes doing a quest and when you finish, you will be forgetting what you earned. The balance may as well not exist. Not to mention finding some missions and mission objectives is a damn chore because the map system UI is terrible as well when in cities or caves.
While the class system in Guild Wars 2 is great, and the skill progression is quite unique, Guild Wars 2 just falls short of being a game that has the polish required to be an amazing game. The controls are bad, the map UI is not helpful, leveling is too slow, and the mission progression is not scaled or balanced. These are flaws I cannot overlook. I give Guild War 2 a 7/10.