For the past month or so I have spent most of my free time lost within Tyria, the world of Guild Wars 2.
Having played the game non-stop, almost to the point of obsession – I can say with confidence that it is perhaps one of the most polished MMOs on the market today. However, I am sad to report that as much as I am enjoying the game, Guild Wars 2 has somehow managed to disappoint me in oh-so-many ways.
In the original Guild Wars, developer ArenaNet had chosen to ignore all of the traditional MMO conventions, and as a result created a game that was unlike any other on the market. It was fresh, it was bold, and it was different, utilitising a mass of concept and novel ideas that were unheard of at the time. Its multi-layered single server for example – or howabout the non-stats and non-level focus of the game? Not to mention the respec-focused design of the skill system; the multi-class customisable skillsets; the skill hunting/capturing system; the unlocking of upgrades from PvE-to-PvP; the customisable companions and henchmen… et cetera.
There were so many unique things in Guild Wars, and so much of that game were done just right – but, unfortunately there lies the source of my problem with Guild Wars 2.
The original game showed that it was possible to create a non-traditional MMO in this day and age and do well with it. Many players appreciated the non-cookie-cutter design of the game, and the unique experience that it offered. With Guild Wars 2 however, I find it both strange and frustrating, that ArenaNet had abandoned most of which that had made them unique in the first place.
This time round they have instead opted to offer us a title that is strictly cookie-cutter in many ways. Employing a more streamlined traditional MMO engine, while adopting features and design methodologies that were lifted straight from other games in the genre. Features like for example skills that change based on the type of weapon equipped; dynamic public quests that pops up in selected points of the maps; the inclusion of daily quests; a more rigid class system with more limited skillsets; as well as the traditional levels-based skill points unlock system.
Overall in my opinion the game is a perhaps a step back for the franchise It is by no means a bad game – quite the contrary in fact. Like I mentioned the game is very polished, and there are some nice touches like the autobalancing of levels and stats when you go into a lower level area, and an achievement system that combines and records your activities across all of your characters. But whereas the first title had, in some ways, help revolutionise the genre, every aspect of this follow up is strictly evolutionary, and does not bring anything new to the table. I have to say also that I find the lore and the characters to be much stronger in the original game, and I was much more immersed in the original world.
Lastly, to end this post on a sad note, I would like to say also that having encountered way too many immature idiots on one server, and now finding my new server dominated by multi-boxing bots and farmers, my experience is entirely ruined, and I am at a stage where I am just about ready to abandon the game.