I’ve played my fair share of MMO’s – in fact, I’m one of the seemingly rare original players of ArenaNet‘s original Guild Wars. I traveled the long and lonely world of Tyria way back when world-zones were instanced, and you either grabbed a party from the city hubs, or traveled with a team of NPC’s by your side. I grew familiar with the rich lore, and even remember recurring tracks from the original soundtrack that have made their way into the sequel. I played Guild Wars all the way up until Guild Wars: Nightfall, by which time I fell victim to the lure of World of Warcraft, playing that about a year or so after its initial release.

Since then, I’ve clocked hundreds of hours in WoW, AoC, LotrO, Rift, STO, ToR, EVE, Tera and probably a few others that my memory has failed me on, so as my views and experiences have developed over the varying developmental changes of MMO’s, my ability to reflect on that and apply it to the ethos’ of modern games in the genre (especially when it comes to changes between Guild Wars and its sequel) has served me well throughout my time in this, more streamlined Tyria.

Part one of a Guild Wars first look

Taking a little time to reflect on the original might be a largely academic task, but it seems reasonable given that, really, Guild Wars itself was an enigmatic refutation of WoW. It strived to do things differently, improving on what it believed it could (PvP, particularly) but fell short in places where its main competitor excelled (PvE). ArenaNet has always been the flip-side to Blizzard, and it’s fascinating to watch how they’ve adapted their method of providing high quality MMO experiences without a subscription cost.

The key changes in how the game plays between the original and Guild Wars 2 are long and subtle, but some of the major ones are as follows:

  • The world is open, whereas before it was instanced.
  • You do not require NPC’s to party with you.
  • Multiple races, each with their own town and story.
  • Instances (dungeons) are no longer milestones in the story, required to progress.
  • Less linear open world.
  • PVP and PVE aren’t as split as before.
  • Much larger choice of skills, more dynamic skill system.
  • More professions.

You can see from the list of more notable changes that ArenaNet have some-how managed to find the resources and means to produce an actual MMO in the classical sense. Guild Wars was admittedly more of World of Tanks kind of deal: your avatar hung around in a lobby, but when it came to actual game-play, you were restricted to a finite number of people in your party. Not really massively multi-player, unless you refer to massively as in, say, 40 people hanging around a small town, acting as a lobby. What I’m trying to say is that the open world was sparse and bare, and you’d not see anyone other than your party on your travels – making the game more of a Neverwinter Nights 2 gaming experience than an MMO one.

If you didn’t like, or weren’t interested in Guild Wars, then is there any hope for your enjoyment in Tyria this time round? Short answer: hell yes there is.

Guild Wars 2 is a fully realised MMO in the sense of the term we’re used to: it has a fully open, explorable world stacked with loot and world events; the questing is classical with a few refinements (more on that later) and there are dungeons and raids, including mini-variations and world bosses, which all amount to the ingredients for a fine MMO experience. The difference, in this case, is that Guild Wars 2 truly has everything else the competition has, but does it better.

Remember Rift‘s “you’re not in Azeroth any more” marketing that, whilst aggressive, decidedly divorced itself from the mundanity of World of Warcraft, whilst basically trying to sell the same product with a few tweaks? One of those tweaks were world events, which really served as the driving force of its marketing throughout its developmental phase. Oh look, a boss in the world, let’s all group up and kill it. Trion even commissioned live-action “Rift Forecasts” as viral videos to show where and when world-events would take place. This was one of the major selling points for what was otherwise a very derivative MMO, and where Trion poured a great deal of their time and money into this one (at the time) unique aspect, Guild Wars 2 have essentially the same thing, only better – and with more suave confidence. Oh, there’s a world-boss? Go kill it, if you want – totally up to you. It’s not that Rift‘s world-boss mechanic was bad so much as that it wasn’t worth all the hype, and Guild Wars 2 have rightfully put it in its place. Cool world bosses, take’m as they come. Simple as that.

This is a good example of just what ArenaNet has managed to accomplish without showing any signs of duress, and there’s plenty more to come.

The Game

Guild Wars 2 is set 250 years after the events of the original Guild Wars, after the Great Destroyer (an Eye of the North expansion boss) had been killed. Five Elder Dragons have awoken beneath the Tyria’s surface, causing mass destruction and decay to the world. The humans (the only playable race in Guild Wars) are now ironically in decline, with the Charr – who were the enemies of the humans in Guild Wars – reclaiming Ascalon, an originally contested area from the prequel. In a nut-shell, each race in Guild Wars 2 has been affected to some degree by the awakening of these five dragons, creating a sort of mutual-bond between each of the five races.

Your role as the player is the same for each race, however the story is played out differently and in different [questing] areas. Tasked with reuniting Destiny’s Edge – a multi-racial guild, you set off on a journey to eventually defeat Zhaitan, a zombie Elder Dragon.

Guild Wars 2 features an eclectic mix of five races and eight professions:

  • The Humans and Charr (present in the original)
  • The Asura and Norn (present in Eye of the North)
  • The Sylvari (exclusive to Guild Wars 2)

Professions are divided into classes: Scholars, Adventurers and Soldiers; light armour, medium armour and heavy armour respectively. The professions, by name, include:

  • Soldier: Guardian/Warrior
  • Adventurer: Engineer/Ranger/Thief
  • Scholar: Elementalist/Mesmer/Necromancer

Guild Wars 2 aims to achieve self sufficiency for each player, meaning that the triad build of tank/healer/DPS is now supplemented with individual player skills. There is no dedicated healing role, although some classes heal better than others. For instance, an Engineer can make for an effective party healer due to their tool belt skills.

A brief summary of each is useful, particularly when it comes to the Engineer:

  • Guardian: Effective tank
  • Warrior: tank/DPS
  • Engineer: DPS/Healing
  • Ranger: DPS/Some healing skills for party
  • Thief: DPS
  • Elementalist: DPS
  • Mesmer: Some DPS/CC
  • Necromancer: Good self healer/DPS

Whilst the triad system is indeed abolished from the dynamic of combat in Guild Wars 2, in the same way that Rift claimed you could basically talent and spec however you want, there are still obvious pros and cons to what you play, and how. In fact, it isn’t unusual to see groups calling out for a particular class for a particular role, and this is something I had expected. Whilst the triad system can be wiped off the games features at an administrative level, it’s still apparent to some degree – albeit a much lesser one, since every class can, in some way, contribute to self and group healing; some merely do it better than others.

My time in Tyria has largely been spent with my Ranger, Bjarkn – a Sylvari. Whilst I have played other races and class combos, I will focus on my time with the Ranger for this preview since I got furthest with him and got to know the game through his eyes.

Entering Tyria – Questing

Character creation in Guild Wars 2 isn’t anything revolutionary – it’s very standard. We’re not talking Cryptic character creation seen in Champions Online or Star Trek Online, it’s just a matter of picking your face, tweaking some features, and picking a hair-style you like the most. Some height and body adjustments and you’re done. It’s by no means lack-luster but it’s not unique, either. You’re navigated through some pretty nice concept art-work, and it’s a neat introduction to the game itself and the races, but I feel as though they could have done a little more to aide individual uniqueness considering they’re selling things like aviator sunglasses in the real-money trading station (more on that later.)

Once you’ve created your character and set a bit of lore for yourself through a system of questions, you’re introduced to the world through a cut-scene and race/character introduction. After that, you start at the front door of your races’ city, off to start your first quests.

Guild Wars 2’s marketing team made a bit of a hooplah about the way in which you quest in Guild Wars 2 – it’s perfectly fair to say that many people who ordered the game bought into the idea that traditional questing hubs weren’t apparent in the game. I suppose that on paper this is true, but it certainly isn’t when it comes to the questing dynamic. Your initial quests, regardless of race, will be the old “kill X ___” or “Collect X ____” with one major, very interesting difference.

Guild Wars 2 does have questing hubs dotted around the map, but these quests are automatically accepted when you’re in the vicinity of a hub. There are no (!) quest givers to speak of, but you “help” one person who is the proprietor of each questing area, by doing anything from 1-5 set tasks, which upon completion, stack up to fill a gauge. Once this gauge fills up, you’ve completed the quest(s). The key difference between a general MMO and Guild Wars 2 for all intents and purposes goes no further than the player not having to manually accepts the tasks – it merely makes task acceptance a passive action. Aside from this, quest hubs are dotted around with the same severity as any other MMO, and from experience I can at say with confidence that the tasks are similar-to-the-point-of the same, and at least as grindy. I’m not someone who tries to avoid a grind in an MMO, and in actuality I find it an integral part – something that adds context to achievement. I just felt a little bemused after all their marketing… what they said is true on paper, but it doesn’t affect the way you progress.

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to say that without pointing out that world events such as group-quests and world bosses, and even material collecting and professions, all give you experience points and help level you up. In fact, if you don’t partake in group quests, world events or at least one profession, you’ll find it very hard indeed to level up. I often found myself doing “karma” quests (the questing hubs) that were two or three levels higher than my level if only because I hadn’t spent enough time material collecting or crafting.

Killing monsters a few levels higher than you is also a great way to level; with a higher chance of a rare drop, and much more XP, Guild Wars 2 rewards you for taking little risks here and there. Story missions also give you a massive chunk of XP (half a level to around 75%) although they are somewhat few and far between, perhaps every 3 levels or so.

I learned very quickly that prior MMO knowledge does indeed apply to leveling up in Guild Wars 2: it is just as much a grind as any other popular MMO, but it rewards you for more and you’ve more options when it comes to the grind. That said, the grind still exists: it’s just a matter of what you kill and where, or who you help; what you craft and collect, also helps.

It’s not only gold and experience you get from aiding NPC’s in the world, you also get a currency called Karma (anyone heard of that before? Yeah, I know). Karma can be used to buy rare, or powerful items from Karma vendors. These items are better than drops and quest rewards, and can be anything from crafting materials to weapons or items. Recently 3000 players were banned for exploiting a Karma vendor, so try to remember: what comes around goes around in the world of Karma.

Currency

We’ve spoken about Karma, but other currencies include:

  • Coin: copper, silver, gold. Generic currency comparable to any MMO.
  • Gems: in-game store currency, purchasable with real cash. You can exchange them for coin.
  • Glory: used to purchase skins for PVP; only obtained from PVP.
  • Influence: this is spent on guild upgrades, earned through representing your guild in an event.
  • Skill Points: these can be earned through world-events and locations on the map, used to purchase new skills or recipes.
  • Supply: this is obtained through WvW to create siege structures and weapons.
  • Tokens: like WoW, these are obtained through dungeon crawling.

The curries you’ll find yourself collecting and using mostly throughout the starting areas are, of course, coin and karma. It’s not as easy as you might think to get rich in Guild Wars 2, at the lower levels, since a lot of the loot you acquire you’ll want to salvage for crafting materials, thus breaking any chances of selling it on to a vendor. Every quest type rewards you with coin, though, but at level 11 when you buy your first tier talent book to unlock a specialization, you might find yourself short of the 10 silver if you’ve been doing a lot of crafting. Repairs are also fairly expensive.

The problem with accessibility/short-cuts

Guild Wars 2 offers players a hell of a lot of short-cuts. From buying materials through gems to coin if you can’t be bothered to farm, from instantly zooming around the map using the system of incredibly close and dense way-points, Guild Wars 2 is a game created for those who don’t have a lot of time. This was my biggest worry coming to the game: that there’d lack depth, and the world would be at detriment to the need to instantly gratify the player. There are no mail-boxes, and you can even send mail to your friends from wherever you are. My purchase even got me a spawn-able banker, something added to WoW much later in the life-cycle. There’s also no under-water breathing issues (although it makes sense, and I’ll come to it later).

 Something I loved about Tera was the grandness of real-time travel. I love real-time travel in an mmo, it’s one of my ‘must-have’ features, so to speak. There’s just something wonderful about soaring over the skies of a huge and varied game-world, taking those 10 minute journeys as you go off to make a cup of tea. That’s all gone in Guild Wars 2, and if you’ve got a drive or a game-plan, executing it is as easy as clicking on the dot and spending the coin. Although it’s true that each way-point must first be discovered, it’s a shame they didn’t break them up a little more to add a sense of scale to the map. As soon as you explore the starting area, it implodes into a tiny teleportating chamber and, as a consequence, immersion is totally blown – but then Guild Wars 2 seems to come from the angle that MMO immersion is a myth, anyway.

I can’t shake the feeling that appeasing tired old World of Warcraft players has been to some degree a detriment to the fabric of the game, but I am one of those tired old Warcraft players, and perhaps any nostalgic desire for that feeling of “oh wow, this is so new and unique” isn’t going to come back simply because there’s less fast travel. I’m undecided on this, at the moment; I digress.

Questing, split between world events and world bosses or escort missions, and other similar group scenarios, offers a lot of to level up – and you’re literally rewarded for everything you do.

Combat and skill progression

I purposefully got my problems with the world out of the way so I could follow through with its redemption: combat and skill progression. I’ll be talking about the Ranger for this segment.

Being a ranger, you get a choice of pets. You can charm pets in the open world (including under-water), and you get to pick from 4 race-dependent pets at the start of the game. Pet statistics (health, armour, damage) are based on your base stats, so the pet scales with you.

The ranger is proficient with the following weapons: greatsword, longbow, shortbow, sword, axe, dagger (offhand), torch (offhand), warhorn (offhand). Under-water you’ve a choice of: harpoon gun or spear. There are also healing skills and 23 utility skills. If you want to be really pedantic, you can include downed skills (attacks which activate when you’re dying) and elite skills for the latter levels.

The truly unique thing about the Guild Wars 2 skill proficiency system is that every single weapon has its own skills, and each of the skills for each weapon are also class-specific on top of that. For instance, a short-bow plays dramatically differently to a long-bow.

You unlock new skills for each weapon set simply by using them. Equip a long-bow, start killing some stuff, and you’ll see skills gradually unlock the more you kill. It takes no time at all to unlock your second and third skills, with each skill after taking moderately longer than the prior one. You don’t need to train to learn to use a weapon, just pick it up and if your class can use it, you’re away. I count 84 total possible skills for my Ranger, including all usable weapon types.

This might seem overwhelming, but your skill bar is limited in that certain groups of skills can only have one equipped in combat at any one time. For instance, as you level up you unlock more utility slots. Each utility slot will have its own set of skills for it, and you must pick one. Using the skill currency, you can buy more skills.

Because of the way Guild Wars 2 handles skill-sets and combat progression, picking up a new weapon and giving it a toss is a huge amount of fun.

There is of course a talent trees system, and the Rangers consists of:

  • Wilderness Survival: toughness, condition damage
  • Marksmanship: power, condition duration
  • Skirmishing: precision, crit damage
  • Nature Magic: vitality (HP) and boon duration
  • Beast Mastery: healing and pet attributes

Aside from this, the actual skill afflictions vary depending on a scenario. For instance, if I hit something from behind with a certain skill, it might concuss it for a certain amount of time. If I hit it from the side, it might crit it. It depends on the conditions of the shot, or where and when you hit it. This makes combat much more dynamic, with variable out-comes for each skill. Truncated into a skill bar of around 9 slots, it’s easy to use and very fun to follow. Not to mention your initial attack will auto-attack, with the ability to ctrl+click more skills for this feature.

Combat is fluid and attractive, with animations smooth and exciting. There have been a few problems where physical knock-backs that seem to serve as aesthetic reactions to powerful shots have thrown me back off a cliff and killed me, and I consider this a major problem, but aside from that the combat is both functional and the right step forward. It’s in-between Tera and WoW, but feels fresh and modern.

Another integral function in combat is the ability to rescue yourself from impending doom. If you’re damaged too much, you’ll fall on the ground and activate a skill set that can either prolong your fate until you get revived (by any class) or kill your opponent and recover based on your victory. This is irrefutably unique, and it works really well for PVE – although I felt a lot of time spent in world bosses was wasted reviving careless party members.

Combat, in a nut-shell, is fun enough to make up for immersion lost through fast-travelling around the world like some kind of mad steam-punk Dr Who, and whilst it doesn’t deviate from the norm enormously, it does feel genuinely fresh and a step forward.

Tyria – graphical fidelity

Guild Wars 2 features some incredibly beautiful art-work. Unfortunately, this art-design hasn’t translated into the world with too much graphical fidelity. The game isn’t by any means ugly, but the ground textures and foliage look very washed out – with some precariously chosen bloom effects designed to blend it all together. This was particularly noticeable in the Human and Nord areas, but not so much in the Sylvari area. Sure, some will argue that it’s the best looking MMO on the market – and indeed it’s a conversation I’ve had a few times – but it seems that each of these people haven’t played Final Fantasy 14, or Tera. This is where someone jumps in and goes “well, graphics don’t make a game!” Sure, but this section is about graphical fidelity – a subject that is empirical and logical, something observable.

The design is great, but the buildings look washed out and have a sort of papery texture

Beta was lacking in those all important high-resolution character textures we see post release, and these really do help to sharpen the characters. In fact, the player models are quite good – nothing to complain about. Likewise, water is very nice – particularly under water. I don’t know why, but things like buildings and the texture quality of the world really sells the game short, and it already looks dated in some areas. I’m running on a 6950 with 16gb of ram and an AMD FX 8150, so I’ve pushed Guild Wars 2 to its highest, and whilst I’m not disappointed enough to complain, I am disappointed enough to comment. The game runs very well on low-spec and high-spec machines, though, and it uses a heavily modified version of their original engine used in Guild Wars. Luckily, this engine is much better than that single threaded piece of crap used for The old Republic (the Hero engine) which will be used in The Elder Scrolls Online which made both of those games run poorly, and feel clunky. In this case, Guild Wars 2 has a good mix of functionality with graphical fidelity, and what it misses on looks it makes up for with animations.

The world itself has enough variation in scenery, even in the starting locations, with the areas large and well detailed. Rift’s world was flat, sparse and largely empty – so I was hoping for something at least better than that. They delivered gloriously, with a game-world that matches World of Warcraft‘s vanilla efforts at least equally, with clear graphical improvements and a more three dimensional feel. The only other MMO I can think of with a world comparatively as awesome is both Tera and Age of Conan, both of which featured memorable and huge worlds I enjoyed immensely.

The visuals of Guild Wars 2 shine in the following areas:

  • Artwork
  • Animations
  • Lighting
  • Shadows
  • Character models
  • Fluidity
  • Particle effects
  • Water
  • Under-water immersion
The visuals fall short in the following areas:
  • Texture quality
  • Too much fog
  • Object quality
  • Some NPC models are a bit jagged

PvP and WvW

ArenaNet don’t need to keep you subbed, so they don’t need to keep you coming back for more. That hasn’t stopped them trying, though. They’ve kept up the dedicated PVP scene from the original Guild Wars, which was fantastic, and expanded on it. Along with the PVP comes WvW, designed to integrate non-naturally PVP players into a world of PVP combat.

You’ll remember Age of Conan’s USP in the name of siege battles. Essentially, this is what Guild Wars 2 WvW is: massive scale sieges, with destruction courtesy of an integrated Havok engine, between players.

Set in ‘The Mists’ WvW pits three different game-server groups on four different maps, with up to several hundred players. The idea to is besiege structures and capture points, such as keeps and towers, with siege weapons.

Joining WvW is as simple as hitting B anywhere in the game world and clicking on the world you want to enter. You can also access it from the Hero tab (usually the C key in MMO’s). From there, warp to Hall of Memories and take the asura gate to WvW.

WvW also features PVE objectives as well as PVP objectives, such as skill challenges (usually including killing NPC’s, or waves of them.) You can access WvW immediately after the initial stages of game-play, but you probably wont want to until level 11 or so and you’ve got a good sense of how to play the game. I settled my first round of WvW at level 13.

WvW is great in concept, but playing in a PuG can be a little bit hectic. It’s not easy to see what you’re supposed to do, and as I ran around a bit like a headless checking in PVP what I saw was an awesome spectacle. Although I’m a member of a guild, I went to WvW alone. A little like Wintergrasp in World of Warcraft, some leadership and cooperation obviously helps, but you can have enough fun just by hitting anything that shows up red. ArenaNet have surpasses the achievements of all other WvW type game-modes in other MMO’s, and this is a feature that adds certain longevity to the game.

The aim of World vs World is to achieve a higher ‘war score’ than the other team, with objectives are calculated and added to a tally of scores, and the objective changes. At the end, the team with the highest war-score wins – and items/karma and coin are distributed accordingly.

There’s no in-world duelling just yet in the game, but it may come later – instead, PVP consists of structured PVP and World PVP (as talked about above). Structured PVP is classical PVP with tournaments and competitions, with its own set of loot, etc. There are currently several PVP maps specifically for the game-mode, featuring a lobby system similar to any popular FPS game, showing players, etc. A notable PVP game mode, Conquest, is a structured PVP game mode where two teams capture objective points to win 500 points, subsequently winning the game. This is most comparable to original Guild Wars PVP game modes which were fantastic.

ArenaNet have taken what was consistently good with the original PVP in the first, thrown in some AoC and some Wintergrasp, increased the depth and scale, and polished it to high heavens. Incredibly good marks indeed.

Real money trading

In a nut-shell: EVE Online. I was concerned that Guild Wars 2 would swing too far to the direction of F2P MMO than premium subscription MMO, but I purposefully left this until last to give you an accurate impression of what is actually there. A subscription-quality MMO with optional extras. Like EVE online, players can access a real-cash store called The Black Lion Trading Company, where you can buy Gems with real money. For example, 800 gems will cost you £8.50. This investment which comes suspiciously close to the cost of a monthly sub will buy you items such as aviator sunglasses, or hour long experience boosts (which also drop in the game world, don’t fret.)

You can either sell gems for coin – effectively legal gold selling – or keep them to purchase clothing items. There’s nothing in the store that could be considered selling power, so PVP and WvW is safe – it is merely, at least now, a matter of saving time. Want to buy more materials for crafting? Go ahead. Want to buy an XP boost? Go ahead. At the moment there isn’t a huge amount to buy, and there certainly isn’t anything you need  to buy – but this might change, it’s a little shallow at the moment.

I can assure you, though, that I did not feel pressured to fork over any extra cash – at least not yet.

Crafting

Who’d have thought an MMO without a subscription would care about professions? Well, Guild Wars 2 has one of the most impressive profession systems I’ve seen in any MMO. Whilst it was a bitch to collect materials, since you can’t skin (I am a leather-worker) you can salvage items to get leather and refine them into usable materials.

Crafting disciplines:

  • Armoursmith
  • Artificer
  • Chef
  • Huntsman
  • Jeweler
  • Leatherworking
  • Tailor
  • Weaponsmith

Crafting is relatively expensive, requiring salvage kits which are consumable – with a few tiers of quality, which will heed better or worse results. With that cost there’s base mats such as threads, etc. Aside from that, money lost from not selling junk items makes this quite an expensive enterprise. It’s fun, though, and aside from crafting to learn new recipes, you can throw a bunch of random stuff together to learn new recipes that way – sort of like exactly like Skyrim. I’m not known for my crafting savvy; it’s not something I usually put much time into, but Guild Wars 2 makes it worth-while for the experience gained with every single item crafted. At low levels, you’ll want to wear your crafting items. In short: crafting has at least as much depth as any competing MMO, and in my view surpasses the fun-factor easily, with random creations just an experiment away.

Closing comments

Guild Wars 2 by no means matches the hype. It isn’t remotely revolutionary in any way, and whilst I can’t talk for the entire game since this is only a preview up to level 20, I can say that whilst it doesn’t revolutionize the genre, it does evolve it. It is a full-scale, full-throttle, well polished and good looking MMO with a beautiful sound-track, rich lore and fantastic races – all of whom I’ve enjoyed, albeit with variable functionality of the starting areas. It certainly merits the cost of the box, but with no subscribers to worry about, it’s hard to see the game remaining consistent – especially regarding the Black Lion Trading Co. Depending on how much money ArenaNet reel in, the fairness (if it doesn’t change too much from how it is now) is just perfect, with no real fast-track, only little things here and there to boost your PVE experience, which in turn helps you to get better in PVP naturally.

The game world is beautifully designed albeit a little washed out, and I have had immense fun in the game between my daunting start and time of writing. Is it a worth investment of time, though? It’s hard to say. There’s plenty to do, and the crafting is fantastic – it will be impossible to know for sure if grinding away in Guild Wars 2 will pay off, but I can safely say that if you get a few friends together, join or make a guild, you’ll have at least your monies worth of genuine fun until such a time as you decide whether or not to carry on.

I’ve never flip-flopped on my view of an MMO as much as this; with such aggressive and convincing marketing terms, and the idea that they had really revolutionized the party system and leveling dynamic, I was bitterly skeptical. Indeed, some of these claims haven’t been realised to any degree, whilst others have shone through to some extent. Where I was skeptical, though, I am now impressed – not with the pre-launch marketing, but with the post-launch game. It’s because I’m one of the rare MMO players who thinks that a ‘grind’ is integral to the over-all gaming experience that I am not left disappointed, but if you really hoped for a grind-free PVE experience, you may feel a little let down. Combat, world events and crafting really helps to break up the dynamic, though, and whilst this isn’t revolutionary, it’s at least something.

If you’re someone who just can’t get into MMO’s because they’re a massive time sink, but really love fantasy lore and the game-world experience that MMO’s have to offer, you’ll do better with this than most other MMO’s on the market at the moment – but don’t expect an easy ride to end game, there’s still quite a substantial amount between you and the latter levels, and not all of it is going to feel like time well spent. Alas, this is the curse of the MMO – and once you’ve come to terms with this, you’ll find a great compromise in the gameplay of Guild Wars 2 – a game that tries to, and largely succeeds in, pleasing everyone.