In part one of this two part series, I listed 5 things I hate about Guild Wars 2. But despite my complaints, there’s plenty to appreciate about the game as well.
5: Exploration as a method for leveling
“But that was number five in your 5 Things I Hate About Guild Wars 2 list!” you say, “How can it be both?” Because it is. I love exploring in video games in general, but especially MMOs. Guild Wars 2 rewards that impulse to see every inch of the massive landscape they’ve given us. I often wonder what fun little details, beautiful scenes, and entertaining dialog I’m missing out in other open world games simply because this turn in the path looked more interesting than the other and then I never had reason to go back. Yes, I would still prefer more traditional quests, but the feeling of satisfaction when I open that zone completion chest makes up for it… more or less.
4: Well-balanced classes
In most MMOs, I find that there’s at least one really mediocre class that nobody plays, and those that do cry about how nerfed their class is and has been since launch. Protip: If your class has really been nerfed since launch, roll a new character. Guild Wars 2 seems to have a really well-balanced set of classes. Sure, maybe I see fewer thieves and more hunters than average, but it’s not like some games where you see nothing but the DPS classes, a couple tanks, and only the occasional support. Granted, I haven’t done much (ok, any) PvP as of yet, so maybe one of the classes is really OP in that respect, but thus far I don’t feel like any of them stand out.
3: Outfit customization
I mentioned in #1 of my previous post, I feel the need to like my character if I am to actually play as him or her. A large part of this often depends, at the risk of sounding really girly, on their outfit. For instance, I used to play a lot of Lord of the Rings Online, and LotRO has some of the worst looking low-level gear I’ve ever seen. But LotRO also has a cosmetic system, which allows you to overlay the look of other gear on top of your actual gear (the gear that’s actually giving you stat bonuses), so it really doesn’t matter how dorky your cloth hat looks, you can overlay it with a cool cosmetic reward from skirmish vendors. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have this option, but it does have a wide variety of dyes, which, once unlocked, can be changed at any time for free (which makes for much less stress in color choices), as well as plenty of free transmute stones for sub-80 gear. I still long for LotRO’s cosmetic system, but I have ever since LotRO diminished and went into the west. Also, Guild Wars 2 has a lot of actually nice-looking gear at all levels, so I don’t need to use my transmute stones very often.
Guild Wars 2 has some of the best MMO music I’ve heard in a while. It’s not in-your-face, but it’s also not the weak, bland, half-hearted pieces that plague so many games. I could actually enjoy listening to Guild Wars 2 music on its own if the mood struck me. The feel of the music fits the zone you’re in, and changes are not abrupt, or even noticeable most of the time. In short, it’s exactly what video game music is supposed to be.
1: Beautiful graphics
I just flipped through my sizable screenshot collection trying to find the perfect screenshot to add to this point, and couldn’t decide on one. The whole game is so beautifully detailed that I couldn’t settle on just one. Can I just upload my whole screenshots folder? Granted, it’s one of the few games that makes my gaming computer lag at full settings, and my 3-year-old ultraportable laptop overheats when I play it at minimum settings, but it’s totally worth it. I’m tempted to say that it has the best quality, most realistic graphics of any game I’ve ever played, but the Skyrim fanboys would probably break my kneecaps. They’re beautiful when they should be beautiful, desolate when they should be desolate, and do both equally well. The landscapes communicate the grace and beauty of the Sylvari, the endless struggle for survival in the unending winter of the Norn, the sci-fantasy magi-science obsession of the Asura, the bitter conflict of the humans with their various enemies, and the general angstyness of the Charr without even having to understand the backstories of the races. Yes, the graphics do start to get stale after a while, but when I stop and think about them, I still can’t help but stop and stare sometimes.