Let’s make no bones about this: Guild Wars 2 is very pretty. While we all know that sharp visuals do not a great game make, it’s equally important to consider that if you’re to spend dozens, scores or even hundreds of hours in a game world interacting with its inhabitants, it’s not going to hurt if that world and her inhabitants are attractive. This is perhaps even more important to capturing the attention of people who’ve cut their teeth on single-player, offline RPGs.
Typically in MMORPGs, recruiting a group of players to plunder the depths of the local dungeon or storm the spires of a loot-filled castle can be a little like sending out party invitations to strangers and hoping someone turns up. To this end, Guild Wars 2’s dynamic events and early quest-structure act almost as an introduction service. Players in a local area will be alerted to a nearby event, be it a merchant caravan requiring an escort or a local village under siege by pirates, and participating in these brief, emergent events not only rewards each individual based on their contribution but also facilitates players working together without preamble.
The so-called “Holy Trinity” of character roles is based on the notion that each player assumes a primary responsibility in combat, electing to form either the vanguard of an assault (colloquially known as a Tank), the self-explanatory Damage Dealer or support-based Healer. But if you didn’t know that before, you don’t need to know it now, because Guild Wars 2 is intending to remove these roles, freeing up players to play in a style shaped more by their chosen character class than having to find a place in this predefined triumvirate.
For those familiar with the original Guild Wars and comfortable with its lore, premise and gameplay systems, it goes without saying that Guild Wars 2 has a tremendous amount to offer. Elsewhere, those knowledgeable about the established tropes of a online RPGs will be confident in their ability to identify and appreciate the myriad ways in which ArenaNet is breaking from the traditional MMORPG mould.