Guild Wars 2: Living in the World of Tyria
The game is currently into its early-access head-start phase and when 28 August 2012 arrives, everyone who purchases a copy of Guild Wars 2 will be able to play it. Over the weekend, I have posted screenshots of the game. Obviously, I have been running around in that game for quite a bit and I have a lot of good things to say. I'll try my best not to turn into a fan-boy as I write out this "First Impressions- cum-Review" of Guild Wars 2, but I implore you to read this. You will thank me later. I'm not going to write about the mechanics of the game, neither will I write about what the game is about. That can be found in an earlier article where I have detailed why I am excited about Guild Wars 2. What you will see here is the type of experience you are in for when you log in to Guild Wars 2. Personally, this experience can be grouped into 4 aspects that I've labeled for myself: Exploration, Personalized Adventures, Sense of Achievement and Community Dynamics.
Guild Wars 2 is a huge world and you will see its overwhelming size when you hit the "M" key on your keyboard to bring up the map. The developers have also integrated a little activity - Map Completion. In each map, there are Waypoints, Points of Interests, Vistas and Skill Challenges for you to discover and each discovery gets you closer to attaining a 100% Map Completion for the particular zone. Map Completion gives you an additional chunk of experience points and special vanity items.
Vistas are like platform puzzles where you attempt to get up to higher ground and see the world around you. This is like climbing up a tower in Assassin's Creed and using "Eagle-eye" to scan your surrounding area from high ground. In Guild Wars 2, Vistas can be situated above a cliff, on some ledges, or even underwater. To get there, you might be required to do some tricky jumps, search for hidden entrances and even find an underground sewage from across the map to slingshot around. Luckily, I had some friends with me to help with reaching up to those Vistas. Then again, there's always the help of YouTube and Google to find out how to get to where you want to be.
Skill Challenges give you skill points that is used to unlock your healing and utility abilities. There is no excuse for not getting these because they make your character more skillful ultimately. Unlike Vistas, Skill Challenges are easy to get to, but it is what you have to do to attain the skill point that makes it another thing to prepare yourself for. Sometimes, it is as easy as eating some weird goo for your skill point(yes, I am not kidding) and sometimes it could be taking down an enemy that requires a group. Thankfully, the server I am in has a lot of helpful people and I have not found a hard time getting a group to do those tougher Skill Challenges.
Finally, your crafting can take you places as well, or should I saw resource gathering. The mini-map that is on the bottom right of your screen, by default, performs as a radar and reveals locations of trees to chop wood from, mining nodes to mine copper and other stones and crops to harvest. These are required for crafting and will always be valuable in the marketplace for crafters. Anyone is able to collect all of these resources whether or not their chosen craft needs these materials.
This is my favorite aspect in Guild Wars 2. Right from the beginning, the character you create will have his or her own story and the game will nicely ease you into it. Your character's story will also take you across maps to actually do stuff that means something. You don't just go to a location and kill ten rats for a reward. You have to protect a certain NPC, hunt a particular animal, or even defend a town. Sometimes, you get to test experimental weapons, like I had to test out a weapon that was meant to exterminate ghosts only.
The adventures do not end there. Along the way, you could meet other NPCs who are heading in the same direction and for a slightly different purpose. You could be going to location B to search for a missing scout, while the NPC you bumped into is heading to invade an ogre camp beside location B. Since you're in the same direction, you might as well help them out anyway. This type of unpredictability is rampant in Guild Wars 2 and I simply love it(okay I need to kill the fan-boy in me now)
I have always believed that community plays an important role in the success of an MMO. The stronger the community, the better the game and when I talk about strength I mean things like players helping other players out, causing drama on chat and all sorts of random things. Whether you like it or not, the game can become monotonous without these random chats.
Activities in the game should also encourage this community building and it is evident when you see players work together during the World vs World vs World massive battles. Watching everyone come together to defeat an opposing server does wonders to building a community, especially when you are winning. The only way to win? Work together as a team. A big team. A community.
Sense of Achievement
The Achievement system has been around a for awhile since the days of Lord of the Rings Online, in the expansions of World of Warcraft and other MMO titles. Guild Wars 2 also has that system but it actually rewards you for everything you do. Kill 100 bandits to get the Bandit Slayer achievement and earn points for it. These points accumulate and can be compared with other players. Competitive players will probably want to earn as much of these to show off.
Everything you do in the game grants you these points. Harvest 150 carrots, craft 100 swords, salvage 100 chest pieces, and even doing the daily and monthly tasks will give you those points. Even if it feels like the new highly elaborate "Skinner box" and we're all mice in it, we are very happy mice.
Why I would tell everyone to get into the game
If you love the MMO-genre, there is no excuse not to get this game and here is why. The game has seen one of the smoothest early-access launches ever for an MMO. The server only went down once and then it was back up and running again. While I won't say that it was a perfect launch, it is good to see that ArenaNet was hard at work telling their customers what they are working to fix, listing out what are some of the minor errors to be expected, even when it felt like the game had no problems at all. How many developers have actually done that?
Guild Wars 2 is expected to release tomorrow, and I am excited to watch how things go when more people come into the world of Tyria.
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