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Once My Most Anticipated MMO, Guild Wars 2 Is Now A Pass For Me
There’s a lot to like about Guild Wars 2. The art style, presentation, story elements, and character creation are among the top tier of MMO’s. The game screams for attention with its paint blotch visual effects that just seem so cool and fresh. Guild Wars 2 is a game that takes itself very seriously for a free-to-play MMO. As it should, too. To continue what Guild Wars did but on a grander scale would be a hard enough endeavour alone but to challenge how MMO’s are played and to try and take the throne is something else entirely.
You can’t look at Guild Wars 2 and say, “it isn’t trying to rival any other MMO.” Of course it is. ArenaNet wouldn’t be putting the kind of polish and effort into this if they didn’t think their product could make a run for the top spot. You’d be fooling yourself if you thought ArenaNet doesn’t have plans if Guild Wars 2 reaches one million active players, two million, four million, and beyond that. If they see World of Warcraft in their scope with a semi-clear shot, they will fire.
To be honest, though, that is the right attitude to have in this genre. Games that are made to “bring a new type of MMO to players” and not vie for the throne of the genre will die out. You can tell which games are being done with the intention of being the best they can be to hit that top spot. You can see the difference between a game made because they got the licensing rights and a UI concept and a game made to challenge the preconceptions of the genre.
With that said, I’ll admit that Guild Wars 2 challenges the genre. While sticking with tab-targeting combat, Guild Wars 2 manages to still feel fresh enough to get me past that fact. I am firm believer that tab-targeting combat is a thing of he past. It needs to end and die out. Games like TERA and DC Universe Online, which feature reticule aimed targeting, feel very action-y and I can see that being a focus for developers going forward. I, on the other hand, extremely enjoy what Funcom used for The Secret World. The Secret World employs tab-targeting but it isn’t something that you’ll be doing 100% of the time during combat. Some powers enable you to activate without a target for area effects and cones/columns. Some allow you to target both a defensive and offensive target for double effect. It makes The Secret World not feel static and allows the player freedom of movement and tactic changing in the midst of combat. Tab-targeting has seen its hay day. Without more developers taking high profiles games and trying something new, the old will never be pushed out.
Aside from that point, I enjoyed what Guild Wars 2 does in terms of skill unlocking for various weapons and the Borderlands-esque second wind mechanic. Battles aren’t afraid to be grandious in Guild Wars 2. The game will periodically put you up against seemingly impossible enemies just to continue giving you a sense of adventure, unknowing, and excitement. This isn’t much more of that past this, which I will get into in a bit. The areas are lush and fun to travel through. The cities are really well done and not once did I feel lost. The map system is very informative.
There is a lot that Guild Wars 2 is doing right. You may be thinking as you read this that I’ve gone on for over 550 words praising this game and only complaining about tab-targeting. So what is my beef with Guild Wars 2? The quest system.
Quest systems can make or break a game. If they don’t engage the player or feel tedious, it isn’t going to work out. Quests are what make the game run. It gives progress and reward: the two things you look for most in a game. Guild Wars 2 employ a map-based quest system which details where in an area you need to go to in order to find quests. There are different styled or tiered quests but overall all you have to do is hit the ‘M’ key and see where everything is. I really enjoy the amount of information the map gives you in Guild Wars 2 but having the quests littered in certain areas where all you need to do is be in those vicinities takes an experience out for me. I’m not going to spit World of Warcraft all over this article so I’ll use The Secret World for my example here. In Funcom’s latest, there are quests everywhere. You can see icons on the map for quest NPC’s but not all of them are noticable from anywhere on the map. The icons display due to proximity and in The Secret World these NPC’s or objects can be found anywhere. You would be surprised at how much can be found with exploration in The Secret World.
That is what is missing in Guild Wars 2. I have no sense of adventure. The use of the map for the quest system ruins that. You see just how many quests are in the area and game in general. I don’t want to see that number because then a tendency to complete them all for numbers only begins to creep up. I play MMO’s for the experience, thrill, and character progression. I like to feel like I accomplish things in the world. I know the game world won’t change and the most I’ll get is a phase change (which is still really cool!) but I enjoy that feeling of “yeah, I just did that…whew”. MMO’s can give a feeling like no other game. No other type of game can make you get out of your chair and just stare at your screen as you and 10,20,or 40 others take down a god or demon king. No other genre can give you the satisfaction you get when you finally complete that armor set that can only be found in the toughest dungeon in the game.
I don’t get that feeling with Guild Wars 2. I see an objective-based game where my main goal is to fill in the icons on my map and then move on. You sit there and pick crucial plot points for your character during creation but even they are objective-based when they come up. I don’t care about achievements. I don’t care about scavenger hunts. Sure, they can be fun but when it becomes the sole reason for playing, I can’t see the point. That is what Guild Wars 2 is to me, a scavenger hunt. Find 5 hearts, two waypoints, and a village before hitting the next area.
I don’t get that satisfaction by completing quests. There’s a bar to show me just how done I am with a quest and when it fills, all I get is a new mail icon and then I move on. There is an absence of adventure, character progression, and rewarding experiences due to story advancement.
I’m sure Guild Wars 2 will be just fine, though. Without a monthly subscription, the only thing players need to watch out for is cash shops. I don’t think I need to go into how a pay-to-win system will empty those servers quicker than anything else. I just can’t see Guild Wars 2 holding the attention of someone who enjoys the aspect of advancement and adventure in an MMO.