|Release: August 28, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
There are tons of other unique features as well. Areas are capped by level, and players who exceed the cap are scaled down—so you can play with your friends on lower-level areas without overpowering them, and you can explore early areas you missed without being bored. There's a "guest" system that allows you to play with friends on other servers without transferring. When a server gets filled, players are directed to an "overflow" server where they can continue to play and level until the main server is ready. There's an online market for selling your loot (though unfortunately it wasn't working well in the days leading up to launch). There's underwater combat with a separate set of weapons.
The list goes on: Your PvP character has its own gear, and all PvP characters have their levels maxed out, so PvP combat is always based on skill rather than level. Each of the eight dungeons makes an appearance in the story mode—and then flips to exploration mode, where it's considerably more difficult and gives better loot. Fast travel comes with a small fee in in-game currency, but it's incredibly useful. Oddly enough, the leveling curve is flat—it won't take you any longer to go from 79 to 80 than it takes to go from 19 to 20.
Given all of this content and all of this innovation, Guild Wars 2 could be forgiven for a bad launch. But aside from the store being down and some complaints about overflow servers breaking up parties, I noticed very few problems in my days with the game. Not only are glitches rare, but the graphics are beautiful and lush, and the sounds do a fantastic job of bringing out the atmosphere of nature in a fantasy world. There are load times between areas, but they are incredibly short.
To top this, Guild Wars 2 costs $60—and that's it. There is no subscription fee. And that's what really ties everything together. Guild Wars 2 doesn't need to waste your time with quest givers and hiking from place to place and squeezing one extra level out, because the developers don't need you to keep paying month after month. They want you to think this game is awesome and tell your friends so they buy it too. They don't want to get you addicted; they want you to enjoy yourself.
Yes, at first blush, Guild Wars 2 seems like World of Warcraft with better graphics. But in countless ways, it's a complete overhaul of the way things are done. I've played a lot of recent MMOs—from Wakfu to SWTOR—and plenty of them were fun and had the potential to grow and improve. But this is the first time I could make the following statement: This MMO, in its current state, poses a serious threat to World of Warcraft.
Date: August 28, 2012