Guild Wars 2 Breaks from MMO Standards «

 

Whenever a new MMO comes up in conversation, a standard litany of negative, pre-programmed phrases soon follows. “I hate paying that monthly fee,” for example, or “The tank/healer/DPS roles get boring.” Developer ArenaNet has taken each one of those complaints and attempted to address them directly in Guild Wars 2.

GW2 is an MMO, but its aim is to feature only the best things about the big titles that currently dominate the genre. The game takes place 250 years after the original Guild Wars, when the world sees a threat so immense that all the races are forced to band together to survive — even the Charr, who were the enemies in the original title.

No Monthly Subscriptions

Like its predecessor, GW2 will not require a monthly subscription to play. Even better, ArenaNet is bringing you more without requiring you to fork over the cash every month. GW2 will feature a persistent online world (a step up from the instanced world of the first game) full of cities and landscapes that offer plenty of space to go adventuring and exploring. Because the developers want to deliver regular content updates and balances, the game includes a microtransaction system.

Fortunately, ArenaNet seems to understand how to do it right. Players will receive a fully complete and playable game for their initial $60 purchase. The in-game store allows the purchase of optional time-saving and cosmetic items for your character. If you decide to spend real money in GW2′s store, you may be able to level up a bit quicker or acquire a cool new color for your robe, but you won’t be able to buy a giant new sword that other people don’t have access to. GW2 developers promise this isn’t the case, claiming they haven’t held anything back from the game to entice players to open their digital wallets.

Character Build Dilemmas

GW2 allows you to learn most of your skills from the weapons you choose to equip. Each weapon allows you to learn a new set of five skills, and these abilities will vary depending on your chosen profession. The rest of your skills are chosen from a profession-specific list that can be swapped out at any time. ArenaNet wants to give players a wide variety of weapons, skills, and abilities to swap out at any time while testing out new builds and combinations. In practice, this philosophy works pretty well. You unlock new skills by simply using the ones you already have. And hot-swapping weapons, such as a ranger using a shortbow before changing to a greatsword for close-range combat, allows for a large number of unique combo opportunities.

Shaking Up The Modern MMO Scene

The developers of GW2 in no way try to hide the fact that they aim to tear apart the traditional MMO roles of tank, DPS, and healer. Every profession has healing, damage-dealing, protective, and support abilities, and combat is all about positioning. The game allows you to do an evasive roll that makes you momentarily invincible and allows you to move back to safety if you get low on hit points. Meanwhile, the low cool down self-heal skill available to everyone lets you get back into the action quickly. While I was sitting in a room and someone was explaining this to me, my immediate thought was that ArenaNet is balancing combat to be relatively easy in order to compensate for everyone just running in, hitting stuff, and rolling around. Yet within the game itself, this didn’t seem to be the case. I reached the first dungeon around level 30. My group had to focus our attacks while making sure we didn’t try to fight too many enemies at once, and I quickly realized that timing my rolls to avoid incoming enemy blows wasn’t as easy I thought.

Grinding is Not Fun

Games in the vein of World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic often become a race to max level so you can join your friends and participate in the end-game content. So when you are finishing your 100th fetch quest or killing that 200th yeti, you realize that you’re ready for a break. GW2 aims to make leveling up fun again. One of the biggest innovations is the dynamic level scaling. Your character’s stats automatically scale down to whichever area you go to, but still allow you to retain your skills and armor bonuses. This lets you take your level 80 character and go exploring with a friend who just created a new character.

 

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