A greater degree of imagination in playable races and creature design is often cited as a reason for World of Warcraft’s triumph over the original Guild Wars, but the sequel levels the playing field. From the tree-like Sylvari to the fire-commanding Charr, Guild Wars 2 is as creative as any other MMORPG on the market. Players have five intriguing species to choose between, with their own rich lore and starter area, as well as eight professions to tailor their skills and a barrelful of customisation options.
Guild Wars 2 wastes no time establishing itself as one of the best-looking games around. The environments are overwhelmingly beautiful to an extent that is almost distracting. From the highest peak of its snow-capped mountains to the depths of its darkest dungeons, Tyria is a world that demands thorough exploration and rewards those who delve deepest. Character models are a cross between stylised realism and a cartoon aesthetic – a good fit for the series.
It’s the subtle touches that make the title one of the most visually stimulating experiences of its generation. The way characters’ hair and clothing shifts as they move, the droplets of blood shed during battles and the myriad environmental effects breath life into the game’s world in areas where its competitors appear static.
In many ways, Guild Wars 2 is anything but traditional. The quest hubs, logs and endless backtracking the genre is often associated with have been put to the sword. The emphasis has been placed on teamwork, with designated quest areas laid out across the map where players can collaborate. If you see a band of other users locked in battle with a horde of enemies, you can jump right in and assist them for an equal share of the spoils.These large scale battles often look like a chaotic mess, but there’s method to the madness. The game has been finely tuned to ensure that well-timed special attacks, ally revivals or skilful resource management are the difference between success and failure. Moreover, the quests themselves are usually a good deal more imaginative that the tired ‘kill X amount of enemies’ or ‘fetch item Y’.
Traditional MMORPG classes of tank, damage-per-second and healer have also been scrapped in a move that makes dungeon raids feel like a change of pace from what we have come to expect. Players must act as all of these things rolled into one, as and when the situation calls for it.
There are eight dungeons, which can be tackled in either story or exploration mode. The former provides a narrative as you carry out your raid, while the latter amps up the difficulty and encourages players to seek out new paths.
Although the deviation from established norms works in the game’s favor, those hoping for the epic group raids found elsewhere may be disappointed by the five-player limit. Dungeons are certainly challenging, at times overly so, requiring the same level of teamwork as the quest areas. The only problem is that when restricted within four walls, the game’s brand of player versus enemy (PvE) carnage becomes overwhelming.
The original Guild Wars had a strong Player versus player (PvP) focus, so it was of great importance that ArenaNet nailed it this time around. There’s a mountain of unlockable gear to earn, more than 80 ranks to ascend and dozens of tournaments to test your mettle in. As is the case with the PvE quests, skill and teamwork are the deciding factors here.
Structured PvP progression is account-wide, so if you tire of playing as a particular race, you can always start out as another and maintain your rank. An auto-balancing system has been implemented to maintain equilibrium, but we found it can be a hindrance. If one player leaves your team, the entire group is restructured, occasionally to your disadvantage. This is far from a deal breaker, but it’s a feature that could have been better executed.
Guild Wars 2: Our first 24 hours with the MMORPG
The world versus world (WvW) zone is a vast playground where groups from different servers can come together for an epic skirmish. It can be just as chaotic as the game’s other battlegrounds, but is everything the fans could hope for. Player can construct powerful siege weapons, lay waste to enemy strongholds, and even venture off to PvE areas to gather resources. The level of freedom on offer makes this section of the game one of Guild Wars 2’s greatest assets.
In closing, Guild Wars 2 is a staggeringly ambitious project that makes a bold statement about the future of the MMORPG. It is living proof that a game of this manner can thrive outside of the subscription business model and the genre’s established conventions. ArenaNet’s opus is visually breathtaking, crammed with content and a significant improvement on its predecessor.
Harebrained Schemes’s Shadowrun Returns is the latest Kickstarter success story.
With the new Double Fine Adventure and the Wasteland sequel’s success, Kickstarter has become the new hotspot for indie funding.
Harebrained Scheme’s Shadowrun Returns is the latest gaming-related project runaway success. Harebrained hoped to raise $400K for the iOS, Android, and PC videogame sequel to the original table-top game Shadowrun.
The Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter project closed a few nights ago at $1.8 million. Because the project has broken quite a few funding landmarks, Harebrained Schemes has promised a level editor, Linux and Mac support, and added new physical rewards for contributing certain amounts to the Kickstarter.
According to the project page, Shadowrun Returns is expected to hit in January of 2013.