I was playing Guild Wars 2 casually since the three-day advance release, but my interest never peaked. I didn't catch the Tyria bug until months later. Why did it take so long for me to come around? This past summer and the passing fall have just been two really great seasons for games. My time was carefully juggling the many decapitations of soft-skinned gladiators in Chivalry: Modern Warfare with fighting for my viciously adorable life in Tokyo Jungle. That's not to mention that new WoW expansion released at the end of September.
Journeying through Pandaria gave me a chance to revive my WoW account and the dusty 85 shaman lost inside. It left me nostalgic and longing for the ways of old. You see, GW2 rejuvenates the clunky train-wreck that is MMO combat with a carpal tunnel-inducing cyclone of action guaranteed to keep players on the tips of their fingers. Rolling away from the thundering swing of a sword at just the right second feels accomplished. In dungeons, every party member must hold their own in order to survive. But as fresh as all this is, I was sad to see the “holy trinity” system of tank/healer/dps left by the wayside.
That was my opinion as of September. Recently, a friend picked up GW2, so I decided to give it the old college try, again. WoW has been collecting dust ever since. My opinion of GW2 flipped faster than a light-switch at an eight-year-old’s birthday party. But before I completely gush, I want to share four things that differentiate GW2 from other MMOs:
Exploration = rewards
The heart quests, random events you stumble upon, special events, and of course your epic story quest all reward your character with experience. Forget repetitive grinding and loot treadmills. GW2 is a fantasy adventure game that wants us to adventure.
Play whatever class you want
This would be the upside of breaking the holy trinity system. When partying, each group member must hold their own. Instead of one player “meat shielding” everything evil, it’s up to the group to overcome hostile situations with crowd-control, accelerated dps through use of combo finishers, and by juggling the loose baddies between open players. To top it off, the player-base has been much friendlier so far.
Your character has their own unique story and it’s actually fun
The stories themselves are fairly generic, comprised from a series of three-option choices decided upon character creation. But the storytelling and sheer effort put in to these serial quests is impressive. These quests include cut-scenes and often reward your character with a sweet chunk of experience and a powerful item. The quests become available every few levels and often coincide with what your character should be doing.
You have a life and that’s okay
MMOs are notorious for being unforgiving time-sinkers. Trying to explain to your guild that you can’t make a game event because you have stuff that actually matters rarely goes over well. GW2 doesn’t have an endgame per say—at least not one that can match WoW—but is that a bad thing? The explorative nature of the game provides great XP returns as long as you keep moving. You can log in for an hour or two and then log off with a sense of accomplishment.