The second that the world and its friends cottoned on to the fact that people would be willing to pay extra money every month to play a game in addition to the standard up-front fee, it was like massively multiplayer online games were a license to print money. That golden goose was killed long ago, but Guild Wars was unique in that Arenanet charged nothing one you had bought a license to entered Tyria. Seven years later, and it’s offering the same deal again: a flat fee for an MMO that other developers would otherwise charge extras for. Sounds too good to be true? Well it is – true, we mean.
Guild Wars 2 still plays to the same strengths that the original had, core values of team play and community-driven questing that should be by-word of every MMO, yet somehow has passed some developers by. In a nod to role-playing character creation of yore, your character’s quest is determined by one of the five races you choose and a series of (apparently) random questions. This, mostly solo affair is punctuated by world events, random and optional quests that can spring up in certain areas, like marauding waves of trolls or centaur warriors that require the might of you and any hero nearby to see off.
Guild Wars 2 still features simple kill quests and go-fetch missions, but these days it’s all about disguising the fundamental mechanics – and Arenanet is very good at honey-coating. Rallying the troops to finish off boss baddies is no longer necessary, your personal quest is being shared by others funnelled into an instance through careful level design. The sting has been taken out of traipsing back and forth across old ground via waypoints and Guild Wars 2 rewards you with experience for everything, from defeating bosses to discovering a new land, so even if you’ve wandered off-piste into a valley full of level 80 man-bear-pigs, at least you’ll get something for making the trip.
We probably should mention that Guild Wars 2 looks pretty hot too. Graphically it isn’t cutting edge (although it’s quite high-spec’d for an MMO), but the careful attention that has be paid to the interface and combat particularly, has paid off with an MMO that sometimes approaches the heart-stopping visual impact of a Final Fantasy game. For this and its value for money, PC gamers should give Guild Wars 2 considerable thought when it comes to their next RPG purchase.