All images are my screen caps while playing Guild Wars 2.
My favorite video game, far and away, is Guild Wars 2. This MMO and its predecessor, Guild Wars, have played a huge role in my life for the past 10 years, and in light of what could be (should be, better be) Guild Wars 2′s first expansion (further confirmed by this amazing video), now is the perfect time to talk about why this game is so special to me. And why it’s such a good game, of course.
But first, some backstory.
When I first started dating my now-husband 10 years ago when we were in high school, I went to his house one day and he was playing the original Guild Wars. I watched him run around for a while in this world and said, “This looks like fun. I’d be interested in playing it with you.” Having never dated a girl who really played video games, he bought me the game, and we started playing together after school. A couple of our other friends got the game, too, and also played with us. I fondly recall a snow day back in 2006 where we sat at our computers and played Guild Wars for eight solid hours, only taking a brief break in the middle of the day to all take showers and each lunch.
So we put some time into the game, to say the least. Finally, in 2012, conveniently when I happened to be funemployed about a year after graduating from college, Guild Wars 2 was released. I jumped into the world and it’s had a hold on me ever since. (You can read some more about what Guild Wars 1 meant to me and how hardcore I was waiting for GW2 in a blog post on my old blog.)
But why is this game so much fun? Why am I such a fan girl? Let me tell you.
First of all, this game is beautiful. Every city, every jungle, every mountain is just gorgeous. The gameplay and art quality is really just absolutely wonderful. It’s not cartoony, even when you’re running around as a three-foot tall creature with giant floppy ears and sparkly pistols. They put an incredible amount of detail into each map that makes the world come alive. Along with the art, the ambient sounds and dialogue between NPCs when you’re running by a random fort or shop add another layer of realism to the world that many games lack. NPCs aren’t just waiting around for you and only you to run up to them and start talking to them. Things happen independently of you in Tyria.
Another thing I love: the races and classes. There are five races and eight classes (or professions if you want to use GW2’s term). Everyone’s favorite race, including mine, is human, probably because their city and starting area are the best maps in the whole game. But I am also very fond of the sylvari, the plant people, because they’re such a unique race. I’ve literally never encountered another world with creatures like the sylvari. They’re not elves, but actual plants who are born from a tree as adults and share a Dream that teaches them about the world. The norn, asura, and charr, too, all add their own flavor to the world and your own gameplay experience. When you first join Guild Wars 2, you get five characters slots, and I strongly suggest making each of your characters a different race so you can get the full game experience.
The professions, like any good fantasy game, consist of light, medium, and heavy classes, but what GW2 doesn’t have, which I love, is the MMO “holy trinity” of tank/healer/DPS. There is not a dedicated tank class, though warriors come close. There is no dedicated healer. At. All. There were monks in GW1 that were in such high-demand if you didn’t have a healer you couldn’t play the game, and if you were the healer, you had the power of a god just by joining someone’s party. And there is no dedicated damage-per-second class. Most of the classes in Guild Wars 2 can do damage over time, but there’s also burst damage and ranged damage and magic damage and pretty much any type of damage to suit your unique style of gameplay. And you can do it as any class with whatever weapon combination works best for you. You can take care of yourself and you can play as a team, from two people in a party, to a dozen people doing random map events, to hundreds of people taking out one of the huge world bosses. I like playing by myself, but I do like having that option to join a group of people to accomplish the same goal.
The other thing I love is that you can play how you want to play. Do you prefer PvE (player vs. environment) to PvP (player vs. player)? Great! You don’t have to play PvP ever if you don’t want to (and I never do because I’m a PvE gal). Want to zerg across maps taking keeps and lighting other players on fire with burning pitch? Awesome! WvW (world vs. world) is for you! Like dungeons? You got ’em! Want to craft hardcore armor and weapons? Ya got that, too! Want to read a bunch of random history about a make-believe world to make it feel even more real than it already does? Books for days, friends. (I may like that particular option quite a bit.)
So there’s definitely a lot to do in Guild Wars 2, and the hundreds of hours I’ve put into the game can attest to that. You can also spend as much or as little time in Tyria as you want, because the best part? It’s. Free. To. Play. No monthly subscription. Yeah, you can definitely drop some cash buying mini-pets and keys to the million chests that’ve been dropped and stupid outfits, but hey. There are months at a time where I just need a Guild Wars 2 break. I love the game, but I can get burnt out on occasion. So when I do, I just step away for a couple weeks, then I come back when I want to. I don’t have to cancel or reactivate my account or worry about losing $15 per month. Guild Wars 2 is always there for me when I need it to be.
[With the exception of right now because I’m having connectivity issues that are preventing me from updating the game with the newest patch that contains the last part of the living story leading up to the expansion. So I’m kind of not okay with this particular development.]
But it’s cool, ArenaNet. I’ll be here for you when you get it up and running. And then I’ll be right back in Tyria on my ele ready to go.