Going free to play has worked out quite well for Anet as well as gamers, with the latter getting the best of both worlds
Guild Wars 2 recently went free to play. Released back in 2012, Anet’s MMORPG has won several accolades including game of the year and MMO of the year. Known for both its unique gameplay and its one-time pay scheme, the MMO sensation has now made itself free to the masses. Guild Wars 2 is set in the world of Tyria, which is friggin’ massive by the way. The game is an explorer’s wet dream and it actually encourages you to explore the world, with there being rewards and experience for those who successfully explore an entire map. And it is well worth it, for the world of Tyria is gorgeous. Anet has not spared any detail and it’s a pleasure to simply explore. One could technically level up to the level cap simply by exploring the world and clearing the events as they pop up. Events you ask? Guild Wars 2 features a living world. Yep, the world’s alive. No more NPC’s waiting for your permission to do stuff. Events could pop up at any time and at any place, and all players in the vicinity jump in to get some of that action.
Plenty of changes
Players of higher level are downgraded to the max level of the area so that they won’t drastically affect the newer players already in the area. This allows everyone to participate in any event that may occur without making the event too easy for them. Experience for everything is scaled according to your level, so you will be awarded more experience the higher your level.
They’ve done away with the traditional quest log. Its place is taken by a single main quest line that unlocks at level 10. Instead of traditional questing, ‘renowned hearts’ are scattered across all the maps. Completion of these renowned hearts contributes to map completion. They usually involve helping out a particular NPC with problems in the vicinity, it could be for menial things like watering crops to entertaining cows, or defending his farm from bandits and killing burrowed wurms. Each time you complete a task a bar fills up and once it’s full you’re rewarded with experience, coin, and some liquid karma, a kind of currency. The NPC becomes available as a vendor and will sell you certain items for that liquid karma you just got, talk about greedy.
The concept of killstealing or ksing has been completely removed from the game. The game encourages everyone to participate, everyone gets the reward and everyone gets the experience based on their contribution. Everything from mining, to chopping wood, to completing jump puzzles and reaching up to vistas or viewpoints awards experience. One would level up way faster simply by exploring the map and participating in events rather than eternally grinding on mobs.
Best of both worlds
Guild Wars 2 combat system is unique in multiple ways; it’s a mix of real-time combat and point-and-click or the usual select press 1-2-3 we’re used to. Characters abilities are determined by the weapons they have equipped. This means a warrior who has a sword n’ board equipped would have a completely different skill-set from a warrior who has a hammer equipped. This is backed up by a set of utility skills that are unique to each profession. This kind of setup allows for players to feel unique despite running the same profession. There is timing involved in observing the more dangerous bosses and knowing when to dodge.
Guild Wars 2 has done away with the dedicated tank and healer group set-up. Instead every profession can heal themselves and revive fallen comrades should they fall in combat. The game has five playable races and eight playable professions, not including the newly added profession that comes with the expansion. Each race has its own starting area and storyline that can be altered by players during character customization. Character customization itself has plenty of variety with adjustable scales and a lot of colours to choose from. There are no restrictions for free players when it comes to character creation either.
Definitely worth it
What are the free players missing out on? Not too much. There are restrictions to the number of character slots you can have and the size of your inventory. Areas that can be freely accessed by players who own the game are level-restricted for free players. Free players can’t convert in-game currency into gems, but have the option to spend real money to get gems, which can be used to buy items from the cash shop, which are mostly aesthetic. But, other than whatever the new Heart of Thorns expansion offers, everything is available to free players.
The question is whether it’s still worth your time? It definitely is. Guild Wars 2 offers an MMO experience like no other. The massive and detailed world coupled with its 2D/3D-esque art style is gorgeous. Not even counting the massive WvWvW where 100s of players battle it out or the several features not included here such as crafting and cooking. Very few will be able to resist the charms that Tyria has to offer.
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Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.