Guild Wars 2 will be seven years old this year, and the game’s going strong still with over 11 million players and new content still rolling out. It’s seen its fair share of ups and downs, but among the reasons for this MMORPGs longevity is what it brought to the MMO landscape at launch, and what it still continues to offer. Here are 5 ways Guild Wars 2 differs from the usual MMORPG.
Equal Footing In PvP
Most MMOs don’t take the risk of omitting gear effectiveness from their PvP. Players that grind gear for months and even years would obviously like to use it in competitive modes to get an advantage. And why shouldn’t they, it’s their hard work! In Guild Wars 2 however, everyone is balanced and scaled equally, so it’s down to skill and understanding of the profession one plays rather than who’s get the best equipment.
By doing this, PvP becomes a lot more inclusive without entry barriers. That means a lot more people who wouldn’t normally participate in PvP will check it out and get a fair chance in structured PvP, which is why the PvP is pretty popular.
And one of the best things GW2 does very well is making sure that players don’t feel the burn that we’ve all felt from other MMORPGs. There are no compulsory gear treadmills and gear grinds, you only craft or get what you want. Take legendary weapons and ascended gear for example – they are a long term progression that undeniably makes your stats better for end-game content. But not by a significant amount from the previous tier. So it’s more of an achievement thing really. And players who don’t do end-game content won’t need it to get through difficult PvE boss fights. Some will like not having a gear grind, while others may want it if they feel like they’re not accomplishing anything.
But what that does for the game is it makes catching up to newer content much, much easier. Ever left an MMO for years only to come back and feel like there’s no way you can get caught up to enjoy the new content? Well that never happens on Guild Wars 2, because there’s no grinding needed that blocks you off from future content.
The World Is Alive
GW2 is not a sandbox, and falls under the theme-park MMO category. But the game world does stand out remarkably well because of the scripted dynamic events that happens throughout the various maps in Tyria. The events can vary from a small scale invasion to a large multi-tiered map meta that leads to the slaying of a huge world boss for great rewards. What’s awesome is that it never feels scripted, and it’s a spectacle when it happens thanks to player participation, especially during prime time hours.
It’s the amount of events in addition to how the world is so intractable through exploration and activities that makes it feel very alive, and that’s above and beyond most MMOs that have static worlds that don’t respond to the consequences of a player’s actions on the landscape.
And because the world is in someways organic, the player base responds in-turn, by organizing its community to tackle these events and meta progressions as often as possible. The result is a very active community that’s helpful, with mentors and commanders leading packs of players through zones to tackle content that arises. It feels very friendly and all inclusive, even to new players and returning players.
The social focus is very strong, and developers ArenaNet plays a part in that too, with active participation on Twitch in addition to hosting multiple Welcome To or Welcome Back events to Guild Wars 2. During these events, content such as Living World Episodes are given out free for both new and returning players to get into, and catch up on where the story and narrative content currently is.
What really keeps players invested in Guild Wars 2 is a combination of things, from systems, to mechanics and gameplay. But a common theme found in all of them is just how functional they really are. Let’s take guilds for example. GW2 doesn’t just add a guild system because it’s a compulsory MMO feature that groups players together. It adds layers of functionality to benefit the players. In GW2 you’re not just joining a guild for the sake of joining a guild. There’s benefits such as buffs, boons, and a guild hall to decorate and participate in guild missions and activities. Mounts are another great example. They’re not just a tool to get you from point A to B. They are masterfully crafted, with unique skills and abilities that makes travel and combat through Tyria a joy. Mounts in Guild Wars 2 are a masterclass on how to revolutionize something so trivial in the MMO landscape.
It doesn’t just stop there however. A lot of GW2’s systems have that extra functionality that many other MMO’s just ignore, either because of age or made in a time when things were simpler back then.