Since the dawn of Everquest, players looking to team up with buddies across the internet realms have been plagued by a monthly subscription. Every cookie cutter MMO and its mom had a subscription. That’s just the way things were. However, Guild Wars changed all that by leaping ahead of the curve with a one-time purchase price and no monthly fee. Because there is no subscription, there is, of course, an in-game shop (micro transactions are the way of the world nowadays). In the future, the fantasy role-playing game may add XP boosts and other important features to the shop, but for now, the store provides mostly aesthetic changes for your character. For those saddened by the fact that you will have to purchase dyes for your character’s clothing to make your character look cooler than that one guy, get a job.
Players returning from the first Guild Wars will notice that the badass weretiger-like race known as the Charr are now available to play. If you’re interested in playing any of the inferior races, I’m afraid I won’t be covering them. I kid, I kid (kinda). GW2 has actually done an impressive job creating unique races with hundreds of customizable options. Players may choose from Charr, Humans, Norn, Asura, or Sylvari. Norn are basically mythological giants, Asura are baby-looking steampunk people, and Sylvari are plant elves. As I said before, there are a plethora of ways to customize your character from initial background stories up to the color of the armor. This game feels a lot like D&D in the sense of races and classes. And that, ladies and gentleman, is a good thing.
Classes (Professions) in this game span the horizons of most medieval MMOs: warrior, thief, engineer, necromancer, mesmer, ranger, guardian, and elementalist. The professions are pretty cookie-cutter, but what really sets this game apart from others is the weapon mechanics.
Each class has a wide array of weapons that may be wielded or dual-wielded. And here’s a bonus: each weapon comes with its own set of abilities for that character. That means that playing a necromancer with a staff is completely different than play a necromancer with a dagger. In a sense, it’s like spec’ing into abilities, but you’re using a weapon to do it. Plus, your off-hand weapon effects two of the six total abilities on your bar. Now, being limited to only about seven to eight abilities at a time might seem pretty bland to some. However, I like to think of it as less clustered and more focused, allowing you more time to master the skills you like, instead of figuring them all out. Cough, World of Warcraft, cough. That being said, you may have two weapons to swap out with at any point in time upon reaching level 10. This gives you a big enough set of abilities to kill your foes and smite your enemies.
Questing in this game is much like Warhammer Online. You have group quests and anyone can get credit simply by attacking the beast/foe required for completion. Honestly, I wasn’t blown away by the storyline of each quest, but the idea of ganging up on a group of mutated rabbits with fellow questers does appeal to me. To be noted: any of your friends can meet up with you at any time and play. That means your cousin who is level 20 by the second day because he loves the game so much, can down-level to your, lets say level 3, and quest with you with power reductions, allowing the two of you to quest with each other at any point in time, regardless of character level. If that’s not a selling point for casual and hardcore players, I don’t know what is.
Overall, the final beta weekend went smoothly. I noticed the player base was tolerant of new players with the occasional chat trolls. People seemed willing to help you if you needed it, and some were just giving weapons away in chat. The generosity likely came from the fact that everything was about to be wiped, but it was a nice touch. I can genuinely say that I had a great time this weekend, and will definitely be purchasing the game when it officially releases. And I was all against GW2 when the first beta arrived, but I can’t exactly place why. I guess I wanted to hate it, because it seemed to casual. After spending some time playing the game, it’s remarkably quite deep. With my hectic life style and need for sunlight, I suppose a more casual MMO is right up my alley, anyway.
I will be writing a second installment to this series when the game has released to talk about what has been polished, what hasn’t, and how the finalized PVP plays. But for now, check out the website and try to remain calm until release. I know, I know. Its hard, but think of it as a month-long Christmas Eve.