Magnificent And Important Advent Calendar: Day Seven

On the seventh day of the month of Horace we are obliged to remember that some people are still at a lower level than we are, and haven’t defeated all the bosses that we have. It’s important to keep such things in mind as we cast our eyes upon the gilded shores that lie beyond the seventh window of the advent calendar. What could it be?

It’s… Guild Wars 2!


Maybe it faded too quickly from my consciousness, like a snowman being urinated on by a direwolf, but for a few weeks of Guild Wars 2 was the most engaged I’ve been by an MMO in, ooh, years. While this may sound like damning with faint praise, perhaps you need to understand just how great my antipathy towards MMOs had become. I’d been disappointed time and again by worlds that seemed to offer so much promise then turned into the same old round and round and round, and was still licking open wounds from a huge attachment to WoW a few years previously that had violently crumbled upon realising the futility of what I was doing.

The thing about Guild Wars 2 was that it didn’t really make grand promises about reinventing the genre, as so many its recent predecessors did then summarily failed to realise. Instead, it focused on improving and remixing what already existed. Acknowledging that this was a mechanical game from the outset, it tried to make those obvious cogs and gears that much satisfying, immediate and reconfigurable.

And so it was I felt myself positively hurtling around GW2’s shimmering world, levelling up with an albeit slight sense of choice rather than just jogging on the same treadmill as everyone around me. Crafting, which forever holds an eerie compulsion for me in games, proved to be my major route to experience points, and beast/man slaying became essentially a means of finding crafting parts rather than the primary focus. As a solo endeavor, as GW2’s launch-time grouping bugs somewhat necessitated it be, it felt substantial and flexible and not too far short of a decent singleplayer RPG – unlike The Old Republic’s hollow progress quest.

As for the personal storylines, I can’t say I felt at all invested in the procession of instantly-forgettable NPCs babbling lore at me, but smart, instanced quest design meant there was reliable variety and a steady procession of big, exciting fights. Similarly, the frequency of stumbling into a high-spectacle public quest in the open world and being able to do something useful within the frenzy meant I was truly spared the dull collection of rat livers.

Also, jumping. Thank the god of thigh muscles for jumping.

Guild Wars 2 is a qualified entry in this calendar, however. I haven’t stuck with it and there is good reason for that. It feels more like a step (a huge, expensive step) towards rescuing Everquest-descended MMOs from the cynical, grindy doldrums than it does the rescue itself. It’s an important step though, and one that, crucially, embraces and expands upon the essential short-term-reward nature of these games rather than tries to pretend it’s something else entirely.


I didn’t play the first Guild Wars so the excitement about the sequel was shrouded in mystery. When I asked people, ‘how is it any different to WOW?’ they would often snub their noses at me or make rude gestures in my general direction. Because I was talking to them on the internet, I didn’t notice any of that so I’d just carry on, rattling away with a series of inane questions and comments.

“It’s very colourful, going off the screenshots, I’ll give it that, but isn’t it just another big, shiny world built with the express purpose of consuming as much of my time as possible? What’s my reward for sacrificing so much of my precious time at its altar of levelling and loot? Aren’t those botanical blighters just elves really, except more elvish because instead of just hanging around in trees they’ve decided to grow a few leaves out of their armpits? And that’s a gnome. That’s almost definitely some sort of mad reinterpretation of a gnome.”

Begrudgingly, I signed up for an account. Might as well see what all the fuss is about, right? My greatest fear wasn’t that I’d find the game dull, it was quite the opposite. If I actually found myself caring about the processes that life in Tyria involved, it could only mean trouble. I don’t have time for another life, especially one that involves guilds, which sound threateningly like groups of mutually aligned strangers. Would I have to maintain relationships in this new life? Relationships with people that choose to look like this?

As soon as I started playing, my questions and comments changed somewhat.

“When can I go over and look at that floating city? Right now, you say? Even without magical trousers of unsleeping devotion? Intriguing. Why is my map doing things, it’s not supposed to do things is it? How can an event be happening when I haven’t spoken to a person to make it happen? Is this world not strictly controlled by triggers and prompts? Madness. What about that man over there, is that a shopkeeper or a real person? If shopkeepers aren’t real people and the United Kingdom is a nation of shopkeepers, who or what am I?

“I should probably follow this cluster of people because they’ll be going to fight in one of these Guild Wars I’ve heard so much about, surely, but, no, wait, they’ve all just started dancing in a field and I think it’s some sort of mating ritual. I’ll just watch for a while until that feels creepy and then go and look at a vista. I like vistas.”

I managed to get out before the hooks managed to latch onto my bones, but I could already feel the sinew tearing and the cartilage cracking. When a game relies, to an extent, on the size of its playerbase, I always feel it would do well to provide a variety of play styles. As an expert fisherman has probably never said: “six kinds of bait, a mish mash of fish; one kind of bait, ain’t nowt but trout”.

Guild Wars 2 doesn’t break the mould but it does offer rewards to players, like me, who are content to spend their time wandering, without feeling the pressure of constant self-improvement. That’s not only because it offers goals based around exploration, it’s because the world does manage to make most horizons feel like invitations and the dynamic events give the world an added semblance of life, which thousands of actual living participants can so often fail to do.

I have a weird dream that involves waiting until all of the expansions are out and the world is absolutely definitely complete, and then taking a month’s sabbatical to run around taking screenshots. I’d probably do the odd spot of crafting as well.


  1. Totally heterosexual says:

    My friend will not stop gushing about this game.

    • zbmott says:

      “My friend”.

    • AngoraFish says:

      I took my time playing 250 hours leveling two characters to 80 and one to 40, and couldn’t stop babbling about how great it was.

      Eventually I got one character to the final personal-story mission, only to discover that, while everything else could be soloed, the final quest was a five man dungeon that could only be reached after a complex event-based quest chain that only seems to trigger a couple of times a day, and even then requires a ton of other 80s to tag along for the several hours the thing was going to take.

      As someone with kids, a job and a life, I have minimal patience for the inevitable hormonal angst of guild chat, and I don’t have time to sit down for a several hour long randomly triggered quest chain. The revelation was a total game breaker to me, and after attempting and failing at several work-arounds, I have literally never logged in again.

      One-time only, one-off special events at 4am in the morning didn’t help either.

      • Xzi says:

        “I took my time playing 250 hours (solo)…”

        Complains about the 4 hours he has to put in actually interacting with others in a massively multiplayer game. I’d say you got your money’s worth, even if you are completely unwilling to come out from under your rock and discover the new age of broadband inter-connectivity. Playing online PC games is certainly not the same as playing on Xbox Live, and angsty teenagers are definitely not a guarantee.

        • AngoraFish says:

          Please troll someplace else.

          • Xzi says:

            I’m stating my opinion, same as you.

          • jrodman says:

            No, he was sharing experience, you were awful.

          • x1501 says:

            I realize it’s a bit late, but I’m 100% with Xzi on this one. Ultra-casual gamers who whine and throw tantrums about eventually being forced to group up with up to four (gasp!) other people in an MMO game (that’s Massively Multiplayer Online, in case you didn’t know) is one of the biggest reasons the entire genre is in the crapper right now. You had no problems with spending 250 hours on the game, but you don’t have the time, patience, and, from the looks of it, skill “to sit down for a several hour long quest chains” to finish the final quest? Seriously? Cry me a river.

        • SubparFiddle says:

          “Kid’s these days and their newfangled ‘trolls’… stay off my bridge!”

        • malkav11 says:

          It’s not a matter of whether one should have to interact with other players in a theoretically multiplayer game. That battle was lost the better part of a decade ago. It’s solotown now and that’s that. But it is really really silly to take a storyline that is -exclusively- (even if you want you can’t bring other players) singleplayer until it’s very very end and then suddenly tack on a requirement to involve a bunch of other people.

          • Ateius says:

            What? Yes you can. If you’re in a party and any party members are in the same zone as you, they get an automatic invite to join you in your personal quest instance when you enter it. This was broken when the game first launched, but they’ve fixed it ages ago. I’ve done the vast majority of personal story quests with multiple people tagging along.

  2. Kinth says:

    I just couldn’t enjoy GW2, I really tried but it just bored me. It had great ideas but in the end it just felt like I was doing what I had been doing in every other MMO. Sure the quests were more open and easier to do but in the end it was still just kill x amount of animal, pick up x amount of this etc.

    If anyone is interested in a GW2 account for £20, they can have mine.

    • MrLebanon says:

      Agreed. I bought into the marketing of “don’t worry! this isn’t another generic MMO with a new skin!”

      Feels like WoW with no subs, prettier graphics, and a tacky dodge mechanic.. which makes it “skills based”

      Guildwars 2 gets a “meh” out of 10 from me

      • Xzi says:

        Anybody trying to play Guild Wars 2 as if it were WoW is going to have a bad time. Not only is that completely missing the point, it’s making your character far less effective than it can be. In PvE and PvP.

    • Sarissofoi says:

      Pretty nice game but shallow.

    • f1x says:

      I disagree,
      So far I can’t see much similarities with WoW, there are more with GW1 and maybe Warhammer:Online

      I too thought the combat and the game was just too simple, but as I got far into the game I’ve seen that its definitely not like that

    • loshon says:

      I agree, coming from 4K hours of GW1 I was expecting more of the same, instead most of what made that game great was thrown out the window for MMO mechanics and limitations. Ah well, you can’t win them all, I guess.

  3. President Weasel says:

    Aye, there’s not much wrong with it apart from the fact that it’s another hamster-wheel MMO. Really pretty cage, with a pleasant variety of wheels to run and run in- and they’ve gone to the trouble of putting in things like the jumping puzzles for people who like to explore, a really nice touch I thought.
    I had a good time with it before I stopped playing; it never grated on me the way bits of the Star Wars one did.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I think the jumping puzzles remain one of my favorite parts. Makes me wish there was a proper “grab ledge” function, though I guess that would trivialize it. Either way I wish there was more platforming required just to get around the world, rather than sticking them all in corners or caves. Would break up the obvious pattern of do event > run along road to next area > do event…

      Also I’m not a fan of the jumping puzzles that drop you into a nest of respawning mobs every time you fail. Gah.

  4. Ian says:

    I played it for a bit, found it largely to be just a decent MMO and gave up after a few weeks. While it’s vastly superior to SWTOR it has one similarity: I left it wishing I could just play the personal stories and ignore the grind.

    Given all the “Noooooooooo, it’s totally different to those OTHER MMOs!” stuff I was hoping for more. It’s very pretty and I like all the things/places I saw but not enough to care about the grind.

  5. Jenks says:

    Just another rung on the ladder to fully autopilot MMOs.

  6. Doghaus says:

    Well I like it.

  7. I Got Pineapples says:

    Played it a while, enough to get a character to 80 and…

    I liked it. It was pretty okay.

    The public events were interesting but the heart quests were not only generic mmo quests wearing a funny hat, they were kinda dull ones and the personal quests were a touch hit and miss in places. It just all felt a bit desperate to hide that there was a kind of generic mmo in there. Which is is absolutely fine because I like a generic MMO but Guild Wars 2 is clearly a bit ashamed about it and in the end I was honestly more impressed with Pandas of Pandaland.

  8. alexheretic says:

    Hah, quite the lukewarm calendar entry

    • Caiman says:

      Hardly. Probably my GOTY, or at least a very strong contender. Fantastic game that made the MMO fun again, really if you avoid this game because it’s an MMO you’re missing out, because it could (and does) serve as a great single player RPG (that just happens to have other people in it). The combat is dynamic and fun, and while it essentially revolves around pressing skill buttons it’s far more dynamic, forcing you to dodge and weave, fire off a spell, switch attunements, fire off a different spell, dodge again, swap attacks and generally have a great time, unlike the tedious 1, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2 of WoW. The scenery is beautiful, the music is great, and it’s just enormous fun to explore and discover amazing things in its fantastic world. Easily one of the best games of the year. But oh, it’s a Meh Meh Mo, *yawn*. Whatevs.

      • alexheretic says:

        That may be so, I was referring to the writing above, and the tepid praise it contains. Rather than the game itself.

        Wasn’t that obvious? Do people describe games they don’t like as ‘lukewarm’?

  9. Jonfon says:

    I loved this…

    …for about 3 weeks and then the samey zone design (“I have to run around fighting Centaur incursions? Again?”) meant it just fell out of my brain, never to return.

    Even the authors seem to be the same; it’s a good game but I don’t really fancy playing it at the moment.

    • derbefrier says:

      yep I lasted about a week. I didn’t even make it to level 30. There are things i liked and disliked and had much of the same complaints already echoed in other comments but in the end I just got bored and quit playing. As soon as the shiny new wore off I just lost interest. I am not one of those people who put in a ton of hours hoping it gets better. my time is too valuable these days, if it doesn’t suck me in right off the bat I tend to move on to something that will pretty quickly. This is the first purchase I have regretted in a while but at least my brother is enjoying his free account.

    • frightlever says:

      I played it constantly for a couple of months and didn’t look at another game, but I took a bit of a break and although I’ve been back a couple of times since the magic is if not entirely gone, diminished considerably. I can see me popping in for events though. From the point of view that I paid about the same as I would have for a standalone game I definitely got my money’s worth out of it.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Good point, the zones started to feel extremely repetitive after a while. Made me appreciate the brilliance of something as simple as WoW’s unique zone color palettes. When you moved from Bright Orange Savannah to Desaturated Purple and Green Swamp you really knew you were in a different place. And even now, 7-8 years on, I have a strong impression of the themes and stories of many vanilla WoW zones like Ashenvale, Duskwood, Hillsbrad Foothills and the Plaguelands.

      In comparison my impression of zones in GW2 is basically “uh jungle. Er, centaur and bandits? Snow and vikings!”

      Goddamn I suddenly have a really strong urge to play Vanilla WoW again. :( It might have been less convenient, but the game had so much more character before Wrath of the Lich King…

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      That’s what really, really struck me about it more than anything. They obviously put a lot of loving care into a world that just wasn’t very interesting. There’s no real sense of identity or flow to it’s zones. Which I guess is partially intentional, but it made for a kind of dull, substanceless experiences.

      I mean, say what you will about about WoW but even as far back as Vanilla, you at least got a strong sense of ‘That’s what the deal is here’

    • Carra says:

      The same here. It’s a fun game and kept me busy for a week or three. I’ll probably get back to it to level some more though.

      MMO’s in general can no longer keep me entertained for more than a month. That’s what playing WoW for three years pretty much non stop does to you. Time for something really new.

  10. says:

    I opted out of joining my old Guild Wars friends in playing the sequel, citing new married life and time constraints, but the original game was the best multiplayer/MMO RPG experience I’ve ever had. I had fond memories of Asheron’s Call over a decade ago, but Guild Wars exceeded those without even charging a sub.

    On top of that, it showed me that RPG combat can actually be fun and engaging. The 8-skill bar seemed like a limitation at first, but then you realize that it’s essentially like a card game. Like Magic, you can be innovative in creating new decks or builds. Sure, all of the good ones eventually get posted to forums and wikis to be set in stone, but the system is still wonderful.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, the original was brilliant.

      Unfortunately, this one is an MMO.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      GW1 did have impeccable profession and skill design. Resources were finely balanced, precious but quickly restored out of combat. Skills felt meaty, easy to misuse but hugely rewarding when applied intelligently.

      Then the expansions came around introducing power creep and PvE skills, which sort of broke the whole thing. But it had a good run for a while there. Frankly, I don’t think any other RPG has come up with a better skill philosophy. Unfortunately that includes GW2. :(

  11. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It’s a reasonably competent MMO, but I haven’t gone back to it in ages.

    Something really drastic needs to happen to MMOs in my opinion. I know there’s a core market who love the same, endless mechanics – and it’s fair enough if they don’t want to rock the boat for this reason – but it feels like a genre that’s becoming less and less relevant to me.

  12. DerNebel says:

    I tend to find that the most important MMOs and their worlds has taught is that I really don’t need them. It sounds so great, a living world with lots of people in it, running around, helping each other, communicating like we humans find so natural. The problem is just that the MMO is nothing but an extra layer of life to go through before we reach the toys that allow us to have fun. In order to play you must first sort out your obligations both to yourself and to the world around you, and when you play an MMO it adds another layer of obligations before you can reach the big dungeons, the teamplay in big raids and the rewarding PvP aspects.

    Contrast this with League of Legends, with Dota2, with Tribes, even with single player games that have nothing to do with MMOs. Contrast these arbitrary obligations with Thief or with Minecraft or with all the weird and wonderful games out there. They are toys to be picked up and played. Most of these don’t care how much you play, they care about letting you play.

    Big worlds are great. Detailed, beautiful worlds are great, but the MMO trappings are simply not needed. We already have lives, bigger and more beautiful than any genius could ever build for us in a lab. Sword of the Stars is a great world, Sins of a Solar Empire is a hugely detailed world that we have explored through the games, Aquarium and They Breathe had brilliant worlds as well. Those games build worlds way better than any MMO ever did for me, because they didn’t try to strap another life on top of it all.

    Robert Florence wrote an article on GW2 (In the Lost Humanity series, the only reason I had to visit Eurogamer) that he loved the enviroments in MMOs, that he would be looking at walls and admiring the dungeons instead of actually playing the game. The worlds are more intriguing than the games they are trapped in. GW2 did everything right, but it was the wrong genre to do it in. It tried to be more toy than second life, but fell short of games better equipped genre- and connectivitywise. Games like Dishonored and Don’t Starve and Far Cry makes worlds of their own, but the gameplay is not trapped in an MMO, the fun is not trapped underneath levelling up, and that is the only thing GW did wrong. It trapped itself inside a genre and then tried to widen that cage enough to call it a room.

    • says:

      That’s generally how I feel about MMOs, and probably why I’ve enjoyed most of the alternative games you mentioned. I really don’t need an additional layer of obligation in my life. To be fair, though, LoL and DotA2 have some of that, even if it’s just nailing down a solid 30-60 minutes to play a full match. Tribes, though… that’s still a pretty fun game to play when you’ve got a max of half an hour.

      I think it’s also why I’ve always enjoyed Elder Scrolls games, despite their flaws. They’re like an MMO world without most of the obligation trappings.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Huh, very well said indeed. If that’s not a fully realized rebuke of all that is critically and emotionally wrong with modern MMORPGs, nothing is.

      /Internet clap

  13. cyrenic says:

    Loved the game at release, made it to lvl 80, and then started to lose my enthusiasm when I hit the “end game” (farming for exotic gear and doing WvW). Went back to exploring the world and now I’m having more fun again.

    The design choices that make impromptu cooperation so common are the crowning achievement of the game. People will go way out of their way to rez you if you’ve died. Raw crafting material nodes are unique for every player, so there’s not people sneaking in to ninja nodes while you fight the monster guarding it. The way the hearts and events work, if you run into someone while doing one you’ll often find yourself working together.

    For example, a few nights ago me and my wife were trying to get to a skill challenge at the top of a decaying wizard tower. There was a short jumping puzzle to get up there, but the last part of it wasn’t obvious how to proceed. After making a few failed jump attempts, another player comes jumping up to meet us. We all wonder how to proceed, when I finally see what looks like a way up and make a successful jump. We make it into the wizards tower, which contains books detailing the history of the area. As we are reading the books, an undead mage appears next to us and an event starts to defeat him. We win the fight, and then the player we had teamed up with decides to see if he can jump from the tower to the nearby sea. He makes it, just barely.

    Stories like that have been very common for me. Exploring the well crafted world, and actually working together with other players without having to use a Looking For Group tool.

    • Ateius says:

      “Loved the game at release, made it to lvl 80, and then started to lose my enthusiasm when I hit the “end game” (farming for exotic gear and doing WvW).”

      Pretty much this. Once I finished both storylines (the personal story and the tangential one told through the dungeons) and hit max level I stuck around for a little while longer, farming for mats/gear, but just got tired of that. I’ve never been a fan of the “endgame” in any MMO and GW2 is no different in that respect.

      I still get on from time to time to run around with friends and explore a new area – really the highlight of the game for me is that stuff – but I’m not an active player anymore.

  14. Brun says:

    Enjoyed this for the ~4 weeks I played it. Was a nice upgrade after 9 months of SWTOR. Once the new WoW expansion came out I went straight back there though and haven’t looked back.

  15. Foosnark says:

    I like GW2. I have now stopped going for the daily achievement every day, but would categorize myself as actively playing it more than anything else right now.

    I am not a big fan of the personal story; while some of it is fun and some is amusing (“that’s right, we’re just big, floppy human bandits” my Sylvari partner-in-crime said), the balance of them is kind of weird at times. I like the ability to run around and explore everything and run into quests at random and go back and fill in map completion stuff I haven’t done yet. There is no grind, unless you are fixated on crafting for some reason. (And you shouldn’t be, because except as another means to gain some XP and sell some materials, you are better off buying stuff from the AH.) You just… have adventures.

    Where it stands out from other MMOs, to me, is that other players are not these foul xp-and-loot-stealing demons to be avoided, nor bags full of quasi-social obligations. You see some people running around killing stuff, you might want to join in for mutual advantage, whether you party up or just zerg around. Even if they are rangers, I mean goldfarmers.

    Indeed I would have to put GW2 at the top of my list rather than Borderlands 2, which was the absolute best at everything right up until I finished playthrough 1 and then I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

  16. dE says:

    It’s a great MMO and a step up from the usual MMO Pace. It’s not a great Guild Wars though. Yet I’ve only got my personal expectations to blame for the fact that I bounced right off. I saw someone stating that “Guild Wars 2 is made for the people that hated Guildwars”, I think that’s pretty close to it.

    What’s with the “Alas, we hardly knew thee” plot? The game has a huge cast of redshirts and burns through them at a pace faster than Star Trek and George R.R. Martin combined. Yet it somehow tries to invoke feelings for characters you haven’t even met before. It’s like they took Rurik and stitched it to every part of the story.
    Same with the Characters from the Books, I did not particularly care for their childish banter and bickering, yet the game treated them as the biggest and greatest and focussed their entire dungeon lore around their emotional drama. Yeah okay cool, would it have hurt you to include at least some basic information about them for the “few” folks that didn’t read the books? As it is, it was one huge “who are these guys and why should I care enough about them to keep trampling into dungeons for their sake?”.

    • malkav11 says:

      That’s a big, big part of my problem with the singleplayer plot. It makes like you should know or care about these characters, but you don’t and they’re offscreen too fast for you to ever get to know them.

    • The Anonymous Mr P says:

      Aye, the Happy Fun Buddies™ actually somehow managed to be more annoying than Mhenlo & Friends (©). It’s like, I get it, they want a group of ‘relatable’ characters to demonstrate the world and its inhabitants, but Christ alive, I didn’t sign up for marriage counselling.

      It’s like they decided the inherent stupidity of your party in the first game being the saviours of the universe simply wouldn’t do for the sequel, so they forced that same (still ridiculous) role on characters I couldn’t give a shit about.

      EDIT: I will concede I liked the bit in Lion’s Arch (where you first meet them all) where a bunch of playing kids conveniently drop the backstory in an exposition-laden argument about who pretends to be who. That was cute, if lacking in subtlety.

  17. Xanadu says:

    I missed the WoW bandwaggon. I think I was busy with marriage and early parenthood at the time. A year or so back I stumbled upon GW1 and liked it. For gamers of a certain stage of life then a monthly sub seems a waste when some weeks real life stops you playing, so the sub free model appealed.
    Most of the guild migrated to GW2, on release and I did too.
    It’s not perfect, and there are several respects in which it’s a step back from GW1: higher level cap and grind to get there, payments of in game currency to fast travel, less flexibility in builds, partly due to no secondary classes, and the fact that you can’t quite just do the story as it levels you too slowly so you need to mix it with quests, exploration or grind.
    That said it’s a whole lot of fun despite being the usual mix of competent generic fantasy RPG and facebook that you expect an MMO to be. There’s a whole lot of different ways to play – exploration, story, PvP, quests, crafting, dungeons, and the carnage of World v World. Solo play, planned guild runs, or even just joining up with complete strangers to overcome a common foe.
    GOTY – probably not for most, though I know I’ve enjoyed playing it so much it’s stopped me playing most other contenders for the title.

  18. nk says:

    I’m still playing, and loving it. It displays a degree of polish in the environments and gameplay that I had not come to expect from an MMO game. Regardless of its MMOness I find it a fantastic game, period. The main downside is that my games backlog is now filling up again (Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Far Cry 3 among others).

    • BrokenSymmetry says:

      This was my biggest disappointment of the year. I loved Guild Wars 1 so much, with its flexible skill system (select 8 skills out of thousands), instanced areas with non-respawning enemies, epic story missions, henchmen and heroes to round out your party, smartly-composed enemy groups, memorable NPCs, beautiful environments and music.
      Guild Wars 2 has none of these (except maybe its art and music, although even these feel more bland than in the original game.). Instead it feels exactly like every other MMO, with badly designed, buggy, and poorly-described skills, uninteresting story with boring NPCs (Trahearne!). Enemies that respawn within seconds. No way to find groups for the dungeons. And already now many dynamic events are impossible (even if they are not bugged, which amny still are), because nobody wants to do them anymore.

      • f1x says:

        Thats curious because, I’ve been doing lots of dungeons (and lately fractals) and usually there is not much wait time, considering the groups are formed by spaming the chat (like in the old times)
        maybe you need to move to another server,

        dinamic events: most of them scale depending on the player presence in the area, only some lvl 70-80 events are difficult to impossible to solo

        Regarding skills, they may seem poor at the start, but once you have all your trait points things change quite a lot, you can create lots of different builds that will have sinergy with the adequated weapons and play a lot with small changes to adapt to your prefered playstyle, I’m running a bleed build with my warrior with a mix of signets and shouts and every skill / weapon skill etc is functional with the rest

        About Trahearne: Yeah there I agree, one of the most annoying npcs ever, plus he tends to get emo about everything

  19. rawrty says:

    Played it on release and got sucked in for a month or two. I actually forgot it even existed until this post.

  20. Brise Bonbons says:

    It is a good attempt at a virtual world, I thought. Unfortunately it is a virtual world where basically everything ever comes down to bashing something in the face. I do appreciate that you can level so effectively via crafting, but I think GW2 needs more non-combat player activities out in the world.

    I would love to hire a yak and run from town to town trading, for example. Or scour the world for ancient relics to research.

    And while the combat is decent, I can’t let it escape completely unscathed. The pacing has never felt right. Fights last a bit too long, making enemies feel spongy. My individual attacks all feel pretty week, and without a resource system, even thoughtful fighting starts to feel spammy. Nothing I do with my skills really stands out or feels notable to me. And while the combat does reward skill and a certain amount of attention, it’s all very reactive and falls into rote routines easily. I feel like my fingers are engaged, but the critical and emotional bits of my noggin are left to wander aimlessly.

    It’s not a game I dislike, but I don’t play it unless I know friends will be on, and even then I’ll usually try to get them to play a game that engages me more broadly.

  21. CletusVanDamme says:

    “The thing about Guild Wars 2 was that it didn’t really make grand promises about reinventing the genre”

    Were we privy to the same pre-release information? I felt that was pretty much all it – and it’s fanboys of course – did. I do agree with the rest of Alec’s sentiments though, it didn’t reinvent the genre but it did do what it does very well. I’m with a lot of the other commentors in that I played it for about two weeks and then just lost interest. And not due to burn out as I’m sure some others did – I’d reached levels 35 when I last logged in and just haven’t felt compelled to do so since.

    Thankfully since there’s no sub I can check it out if I ever fancy another look.

  22. Shooop says:

    GW2 is just like Rage – it’s a great magician but once you learn its tricks, the magic is over.

    The combat system is just… UGH. It’s blatantly obvious the dodge rolling was just thrown in as an afterthought. You can only do it twice every 5 seconds or so which means every fight is more about trading blows and hoping you kill the enemy before they kill you. Every attack in the game feels weak despite the nice visual flares and explosions they make because enemies are made of damage sponges. “Veteran” and “champion” enemies are just vanilla enemies with astronomically high HP and one-hit kills taped on.

    And worst of all AreaNet has failed miserably to encourage any sort of community. Most the players are just standing in front of dungeons repeating, “LFG” because the game has no group-finder. The ones who aren’t are grinding for rare drops in the level 80 zones. AreaNet’s created a massive, beautiful world that no one actually visits.

    If this is the best MMO RPG the gaming world has to offer, then the genre can’t die off fast enough.

  23. origo says:

    Hey, Guild wars 2! A game that was quite amusing for first 20 levels. In the end i feel disappointment when i think about it. And if someone were to ask to voice my opinion about it, i’d use word ‘overhyped’.

    They promised dynamic world where something was happening, where you could influence global events. In reality just your typical zone quests with several stages that rotate. All it is – just quests with no quest giver – enter the zone, follow the marker on minimap, do whats written on the screen, receive reward, go somewhere else, do the same thing there. If you stay at the same place a bit longer you’ll be able to do the same thing again.
    Having played both Rift and GW2, i feel Rift did a lot better job at massive dynamic events – if server was full of people, huge invasions would turn world upside down and make it into a scary place. Guild wars 2 wasn’t even close to that scale.

    Combat was interesting at the beginning, each weapon has its unique skills. Seems so many ways to go around killing enemies (though really there’s a lot less choice, since weapons are not balanced between each other and a better choice is clear). You can unlock every available weapon skills before level 10, remaining 70 levels will unlock some passive stuff and few other abilities, who usually have long cooldown, or are even better used as passive stat boosters.
    After trying out all classes i felt that only thief class was more interesting, since its the only class without cooldown constraints on weapon skills.

    Gathering and crafting can only be described as boring.

    World is big and beautiful at the starter levels. So many other sentient races living here and there, going about their own business. Yet as you get to higher levels the main theme – fighting undead becomes tiresome. Hey, i’ve arrived to the a new map, what’s new in it? Few new subtypes of zombies, more greyness. In the end i got sick of it.

    Personal story, no depth there, linear journey with what most people describe as underwhelming ending. Sometimes you are given an illusion of choice, but its like the Mass Effect 3 ending where you could choose the color of explosions.

    Vistas are fun, though some of them are really hard to get to, but really those were the only thing in this game that asked me to use brain. They were good.

    Yeah, PvP can be fun, but its the same as with other mmos – it depends on people you play with – they make or break PvP experience.

    If there was a scale of game rating between good – mediocre – bad. This game can be safely called mediocre.

  24. Nick says:

    It’s fun, I enjoy the world and the mechanics, but dear god the writing in the personal story is horrible, its like a 14 year olds fanfiction or something. Really can’t believe it, as the Guild Wars storylines varied from competent to engaging.

    • Archipelagos says:

      That’s the reason I have avoided it so far. Story is pretty much king for me when it comes to an MMO: if the world, story and characters don’t engage me I’m not going to spend time in it.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        The writing out in the world was actually quite good, if you just go up and talk to the NPCs. The personal story is almost entirely ridiculous, however. They apparently decided to reject the idea of ambiguous characters and instead aimed for evil people who were totally evil for no reason, good people who are always entirely good – because nice people are good of course – and a protagonist who everyone loves immediately and irrationally because reasons.

        It’s like some weird combination of fairy tale, golden era comic book, and the highest of high fantasy fan fiction, and is extremely out of place in an otherwise well realized fantasy world.

        I remember even before release they essentially admitted that they fucked up the personal story and made everything too clean cut, but it was too late to change at that point.

        Oh, I will say that the Asura personal story stuff was quite good, from what I saw. The little assholes are all so selfish that they actually come off as somewhat believable.

    • j3w3l says:

      The developers wrote it themselves… can you tell?

  25. Spider Jerusalem says:

    i enjoyed it quite a bit, then i stopped playing. not sure i can ask for more from a game these days.

    i think what did it for me was the awfulness of the final zones. undead people, undead eagles, undead slime things, undead turtles, undead sharks, etc. i know it makes sense from the lore point of view, but it was a rather dull design choice.

  26. Mentalepsy says:

    I played GW2 for a little while with one of my guildies from EQ2. I felt that it did many, many little things impressively well and cut out a fair bit of MMO bullshit, but unfortunately, the big picture got old for me as fast as any other MMO (a few weeks). Part of the problem was that around level 35-40, I walked into the fourth zone in a row that was pretty much the same thing I’d been seeing since level 1 – yet more rolling green hills, giant spiders and centaurs attacking human settlements. I thought about jumping through the asura gate to see if I could find something new, but by that point the repetitiveness of the combat was wearing on my anyway, so I just put it down.

    The biggest thing I enjoyed about GW2 was that it just let me jump in and play, without having to find quest hubs or ride on taxis like most recent kill-stuff MMOs. I just log in and go do whatever, and I’m rewarded for it. I never paid a shred of attention to the story quests – I honestly didn’t care. I preferred to just wander around and see what I could find.

    I don’t regret the purchase and I’m sure I will go back to it at some point, but I can’t see it offering a lot of longevity for my guild. I expected that going, in, though, so that’s not a surprise. If it had been a subscription game, however, I wouldn’t have bought it.

  27. bill says:

    From reading the comments here it seems like a lot of people loved it for a while and then quickly lost interest.

    So it seems like by fixing all the annoying grind of MMOs they’ve also removed the addiction factor.

    How many people are still playing? Because it must have cost a lot to make for a game people play like a singleplayer game.

    • Shooop says:

      The grind’s still there bill, it’s just less obvious.

      The grind is dungeons and the game’s final area Orr. People run dungeons and Orr like bots because it’s the only way to win them – you can’t overcome the enemies in them with skill or strategy, you have to just grind them down with repetition. In fact, just about every enemy in GW2 is all about repeatedly spamming attacks. The talk of GW2 being “skill based” was a bold-faced lie.

      The people who left GW2 either got fed up with the grind included in a game that proclaimed it wouldn’t have any or realized the drop rates of the gear they’re grinding for is about as low as a Korean F2P game.

      There is absolutely nothing that sets GW2 apart from any other MMO out there in terms of gameplay. So for anyone who actually likes the mind-numbingly boring “gameplay” of clicking little boxes at the bottom of their screen and waiting until they win or die, WoW is still their champ.

  28. Josh W says:

    I’ve had a persistent fascination with guild wars 2, because of how much it’s shown me that my interests are apparently not a place but a direction: I don’t want MMOs to be like guild wars, but I want them to be more like guild wars in a number of aspects.

    I want them to also have trading, zelda style puzzle dungeons with slight randomisation, more variation in enemy types, routines and defense strategies, and an outleveled=more xp difficulty system, that actually rewards clever specialisation to meet threats.

    I’m sure when someone makes that game I’ll find I want something else too, but until then, I’ll enjoy this particular mix of partially-realised potential.