Where Guild Wars 2 Innovates

Mar 25, 2013

I remember the months leading up to the release of WOW. My friends were so excited; but, in my opinion, they didn’t really know Warcraft. They didn’t make boot disks in DOS just to load Warcraft 1 with enough available RAM to play it. They didn’t setup multiple PCs running Warcraft 2 on a LAN so when their friends came over, there was a ready-to-go 2v2 waiting of them. No, all they knew of Warcraft was the third installment. Which, while enjoyable, expanded the universe to the point of over-complication. Seriously, no Orc campaign? I remember being defiant and instead putting my stock into a Sony Online title called Star Wars Galaxies. I’m not ashamed to admit I was completely wrong. WOW turned out to be one of the biggest games of all time, and Galaxies took a nose-dive into oblivion. I’m reminded of the failure every time I look at the box on my shelf. I can’t imagine how the developers must feel. Although, Star Wars simply doesn’t translate well to video games. I took WOW for a test drive and loved it. But I couldn’t justify the continuous monthly expense to play a game that I felt had no real ending. It was at this time, that I tuned out all MMOs.

Then Guild Wars came out. Could it be? A WOW-like MMO without a monthly fee! It was true, and it was glorious. But MMOs are largely shaped by the friendships you make along the way, or those you transfer to the virtual world. The latter hadn’t occurred for me. My friends were still playing WOW years later. I would dabble in Guild Wars from time-to-time, but never get truly invested in the game or the community. I was also slowly becoming a console fan, and then met the woman who would become my wife. Life was changing for me and gaming was hard to fit in. The core mechanics of MMOs began to take form, and it became an iOS-like exercise where many of the MMOs began to function the same, but have different skins. There was a Lord of the Rings game, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, and then Star Wars: The Old Republic hit. And it was very static with no innovation whatsoever. It even moved to the free-to-play model which hasn’t helped them. The games had basically played the same way: fetch quests, raids, and NPCs that were dry and boring. Nothing really interesting happens. And unless you’re a fan of the IP, you won’t be a fan of the game.

Enter Guild Wars 2 in August, 2012. Now this is an MMO! The driver behind MMOs is to play in a massive world with your friends or those who believe in vanquishing evil from a fictional world. Working together, you accomplish missions, find exciting loot, and trade. Where Guild Wars 2 innovates is by tying these together in a meaningful and creative way. First, they combine team work with quests by allowing any players to play together. Because they level-down the gamer based on location, your level 30 character can play with a level 5. Without this system, the underpowered character can’t keep up and basically hangs out on the outskirts while their friend plows down enemies and earns nothing of meaning. By level 30, the early-content yields useless items and low amounts of gold. Second, if you fall during combat, anyone can resurrect you. Guild Wars 2 wants you in the action, all the time. They seem to understand that boredom leads to less logged time. Third, no mail terminals!!! I learned from other MMOs to disregard the mail system. Who wants to travel from one zone to the next just to check their mail? In Guild Wars 2, your mail acts like email on your cell phone. It also is a great log of history for when you completed quests. Finally, you can cast while moving. That means jumping, rolling and running are a go. No more boring battles. And as a runner up: I love that there are separate skills/weapon sets for underwater adventuring. You now have a reason to swim in an MMO.

It’s not too late to play Guild Wars 2. There is a healthy community out there. And we have a guild! Let us know if you’d like to join.