Guild Wars 2 Review

You expect to see only fields of grazing deer and idle monsters but when you turn the corner, there’s chaos. Crowds crush together, jumping around and blasting spells and swinging huge weapons. You join in, and though all possibility for any real coordination is lost in the frenzy, a sense of community, of belonging, solidifies as everyone strives to destroy a shared target. In Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet builds these events into every single zone, teasing you to explore by instilling a sense that despite Tyria’s colossal size, another surprise isn’t far away.

There’s no global player versus player combat in main zones where you’ll level up to the 80 cap. Like Turbine’s The Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars 2 establishes a friendly, inviting atmosphere by setting everyone on the same path to vanquish a seemingly invincible evil, and effectively removes many of the genre’s tedious restrictions on cooperation. There are no long lines to wait in, no cliques of high level players lording their seniority over the rest, no wristbands required to see the most interesting stuff, everyone can easily take part in the cyclical, world-spanning party.

Anyone who’s played Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and Rift should be familiar with the idea of public questing, which ArenaNet utilizes to achieve spectacular effects in Guild Wars 2. More than serving as simply another bit of busywork, the events fill out the fiction of each zone, requiring those present to do things like aid Asuran scientists in a fight against colossal fiery destroyers in a volcano’s superheated stomach or defend a drowsy mountainside shack from rampaging steam-powered creatures. Events are often linked, so what begins as a simple kill quest could eventually turn into a full-on centaur invasion of an otherwise peaceful township, making each task more exciting because it could be lead to some sinister and undiscovered threat.

These events serve as Guild Wars 2’s primary form of quests. They activate in every zone regularly, and at low levels involve kill, escort or collection tasks. While the initial event goals may not be especially memorable, they effectively bind your cause to everyone else’s and set the tone for the rest of the experience. There are no hoops to jump through to participate in an event. You don’t have to group up and make sure everyone’s on the same step. There’s no waiting around for a group that’s already engaged the enemy to finish up so you can beat up the mob when it respawns. Instead, when something happens, you just show up and play.

Need help in Guild Wars 2? Check out IGN’s wiki.In higher level zones the events become more complex in nature, until, in the level 70 through 80 areas, you get zone-wide stories culminating in thrilling climactic encounters in ominous coral-lined battlegrounds. Even before reaching those, the outcomes of events beyond the starting zones gain significance as entire in-game structures can be destroyed and rebuilt, and waypoint travel through contested territory temporarily blocked. These events never seem to cease, making Tyria feel chaotic and vaguely plausible, a place where the forces of good and evil don’t simply wait around for your permission to act.

You get experience and virtual currency for partaking in these roving battle parties regardless of which stage you happened to walk in at. By stripping away restrictions to join and generously blanketing all involved with rewards, ArenaNet provides ample motivation to bunch up and share the storytelling experience as NPCs shout orders and crack jokes while monsters attack. It brings the whole world together so naturally that there’s rarely a lonely moment, and anytime the in-game interface lights up with notifications and you see a big cluster of players, it’s always a joyous event.

One drawback of this system is, though the social experience and spectacle of the bigger event chains can be exhilarating, the gameplay doesn’t really match up. After running an event multiple times and learning the story and its mechanics, the initial sense of wonder melts away, and most are left doing the same old dull skill rotations over and over. Often such a big crowd gathers at an event that it’s easy to get lost in in the fireworks of spell effects and slashing of giant weapons, making it difficult to tell what effect you’re really having in the overall battle. As social storytelling devices the events are brilliant, but in making the experience accessible to all, sophisticated gameplay is sacrificed.

Still need help in Guild Wars 2? You can also check out IGN’s iOS app.Aside from events, the world of Tyria is dotted with quest givers represented by hearts on the world map, and the tasks they offer are more standard MMO fare. There’s still no quest log associated with these NPCs; their demands can be met by simply standing near them and completing specific tasks like rousing lazy workers, mending fences, killing enemies and retrieving artifacts. Compared to the hyperactive pageantry of the event system, the gameplay of the heart tasks feels tedious, despite ArenaNet’s frequent implementation of alternate skill bars to add variety. They’re something to do instead of something worth doing, which even ArenaNet appears to recognize because heart tasks appear nowhere in the post-level 70 zones.

Still, event chains and heart tasks are often built to overlap, so not too much time must be spend taking care of Guild Wars 2’s chores. Better yet, nearly everything in Guild Wars 2 awards experience, from mining to jumping up the sides of mountains to reach vista points to leveling your crafting skills by discovering recipes for stuffed mushrooms and cheese pizza. If someone else in the world is already attacking an enemy, you can attack too and still claim loot and experience. If someone is already mining ore, that doesn’t prevent you from mining it as well. So not only are other players barred from attacking and killing you in the PvE world, they’re prevented from inconveniencing you, which casts off a significant amount of unnecessary tension usually associated with MMO play. You’re constantly showered in positive reinforcement, given items or experience or currency or all three for nearly everything, and yet it never seems excessive to the point where the rewards lose their significance.

Guild Wars 2: The End Game

Right after creating a character and taking your first steps into Guild Wars 2 you’ll be able to participate in what’s essentially end game content. Player versus player arenas can be accessed at any time to hop into short-duration battles between two teams. Or you could drop into the World versus World system, a large, persistent battlefield where armies from three different servers compete for supremacy. You’ll fight for control of numerous types of structures, from lowly supply camps to heavily defended forts, build siege equipment and take part in battles with huge groups of players.

To solve the problem of power imbalance between low level and high level players all in the same combat space, ArenaNet bumps your character to 80 as soon as you enter into WvW. “If you come in at level two we basically adjust you up to what a level eighty would be like stat-wise,” said Mike Ferguson, systems designer at ArenaNet. “It’s not like most games that have PvP is across wide levels where it’s like ‘Oh, I’m five levels above you, I’m just going to smash you and kill you in one hit.’ We’ve tried to make it so that everyone can feel competitive at the same time but still have that kind of on-going progression. We don’t want is for people to feel like you have to be in level eighty for the real game to start.”

Making this experience comprehensible to a new player has been a challenge for ArenaNet. “We’ve added some things like instructors right when you get into the World versus World maps,” said Ferguson. “As you load in there’s a guy there with a little chalkboard over his head that you can talk to and he explains how the game works. What we’ve seen is people will just hop in and someone will notice they have a commander mark over their head and everyone will go to it like a moth to a flame. Then they’ll start running around with a group there and people will start learning the tactics. And after a couple of hours, people just kind of understand how to play naturally.”

Though there’s a lot of complexity to the skill system, its intricacies might be drowned out by the chaos of huge groups swarming into each other and using superior numbers overwhelm all else. ArenaNet hopes to curb the effectiveness of this ‘zerging’ tactic through a variety of objectives and methods to alter the tide of battle.  “We have so many objectives on every map,” said Ferguson. “Starting out with the supply camps, they can get flipped with one or two people if they’re really good. Or two or three people if you need a little extra help at lower levels. So sure, you can take sixty people and just run across the map like a mindless horde, but you’re only going to be able to take one point at a time. A team that actually coordinates is going to be able to set up siege weapons at choke points and be like ‘Okay, they’re at that keep, let’s just go take everything around that keep’. So zerging is effective but what we’ve seen is zerging is generally the first step of acceptance into the game. It’s the easiest thing for people to understand. You’re just in a big group, you’re running around, don’t really know what’s going on but [you’re] doing stuff. And then you start picking it up.”

According to ArenaNet, setting up things like siege weapons can have a huge effect on battles, so paying attention to the details of WvW play can really pay off. “One of the things we saw coming out of the [beta weekend events] is we were watching all the videos pop up on YouTube and you would see these guys, they would set up two ballistas on top of a wall or on top of like a ledge looking over a big fight and nobody on the ground was actually paying any attention,” said Ferguson. “These guys were up there just cackling and destroying people. A ballista will two-shot somebody in most cases. So within four or five seconds you’re taking down people and if they don’t come after you, you’re just going to sit there and tear them apart. Siege weapons are our equalizer.”

These weapons can also be effective while trying to break into enemy-controlled structures. “You’ve got flame rams, which set up right on the doors. You can stack a couple of those to bring the doors down really quickly, and they also have a secondary skill of a flame burst. The flame burst applies burning to anyone that hits it and it also gives you fear. So if you set the flame ram up, you can hit that flame burst so the fear chases them away and gives you a better chance to kill them and keep them from reinforcing the location. Trebuchets are kind of the opposite. They’re way far away but they can do a lot of damage to walls and gates so you can set two or three up on a ledge and just keep pounding away at a keep. And eventually [the enemy team is] going to run out of supply to keep repairing stuff so you’re going to knock the wall down.”

On the WvW map you won’t fight only players, but also computer-controlled enemies, which ArenaNet feels could be a good way for newcomers terrified by the idea of purchasing and operating siege equipment to get accustomed to the map and flow of gameplay. “The PvE events act as a little bit of a bridge between the normal PvE game and PvP,” said Ferguson. “There are some ambient creatures running around that you can use to level up or gain loot. And there are also mercenary camps. There’s, say, a camp of ogres and you need to help protect them against the harpies, which involves killing the harpies, destroying their nests and things like that. Once you actually befriend them then they’ll send out NPCs, like ogres, to go to the nearby locations so that they can help attack like supply camps or towers and give you extra reinforcement. So if you’re a single player you can go in there and kind of take that camp over and all of a sudden you’ve got like four or five ogre buddies running with and you can go in and take that camp that’s right next to the ogre camp.”

In case the concept of wide open battles bristling with ballista fire and mobs of kill-crazy players is still too intimidating, Guild Wars 2 also offers dungeons throughout the leveling experience in the level 1 – 80 world. Dungeons are playable in either Story or Explorable modes, and picking one adjusts the degree of challenge and the path from beginning to end. When you first find a dungeon, Story is the best mode to play, because with a somewhat organized you should be able to knock out the end boss and reap the rewards. Explorable mode is meant for more advanced players in more coordinated group.

“The vast majority of our fan base can go through Story if they wish to,” said ArenaNet’s Kevin Millard. “It’s easier, not trivial, but it is easier than the Explorable mode. Explorable mode is designed to be extremely difficult. We expect that a small percentage of our fan base will jump into Explorable dungeons.”

Millard explained how that difference in challenge level was designed, in terms of boss encounters in particular. “In story mode, what we’re going for is making the players think and discover a neat strategy. So for example, it might be as simple as when [the boss is] holding his sword above his head, you need to be far away from him. When he’s not holding his sword above his head you need to be close to him. That’d be a very simple boss mechanic that we would use in an early dungeon, or possible for a lesser boss. Another example is there’s the Story dungeon boss that has little wolves all around that you can’t normally fight, and the boss occasionally turns one of the characters into a cat. And you’re stuck as a cat until you hunt down one of the wolves and kill it, and when you do you transform back. So there’s strategy there, being a cat means the boss isn’t hitting you, right? So maybe this is an opportunity to heal up. So we want you to think and have strategy but we don’t want it to be overwhelmingly difficult.”

“When we move onto Explorable, we want to keep that same strategy but we want it to sort of be razor thin. If you don’t do everything in exactly the right order at exactly the right time, you’re going to die. So you need to develop a much tighter group. We expect that if you’re in Explorable you’re communicating with voice communication, you’re probably in a guild together and that you know each other, and this isn’t the first time you’ve gone through this. It is theoretically possible to pick up group through an Explorable. In fact, I assume lots of people will. But you probably need to wait until other groups have pioneered through it, you know, written strategy guides and such.”“Our goal is when you approach especially the major boss fights in the dungeon, we want you to stop and we want you to think.”

Star Trek Online Features


Become part of Star Trek®In Star Trek Online, the Star Trek universe will appear for the first time on a truly massive scale. In this massively multiplayer online game from Cryptic Studios, players can pioneer their own destiny as Captain of a Federation starship. Or, they can become a Klingon Warlord and expand the Empire to the far reaches of the galaxy. Players will have the opportunity to visit iconic locations from the popular Star Trek fiction, reach out to unexplored star systems, and make contact with new alien species. With Episode Missions, every moment spent playing Star Trek Online will feel like a new Star Trek episode in which you are the star. Immerse yourself in the future of the Trek universe as it moves into the 25th century: a time of shifting alliances and new discoveries.


Adventure in the Final Frontier

Explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations in a vast, expanding universe. Establish contact with new races, discover resources and uncover mysteries that will influence Star Trek’s future. In 2409, Star Trek Online exists in a timeframe beyond even the latest movies, so everything you experience will be brand new, but still based on all the fiction you love.

You Are the Captain

Star Trek Online will be the first AAA MMO to feature space and ground combat at launch. Missions will take you and your friends into the depths of space, across exotic planets, and even inside starships! As the Captain of your very own ship, it’s up to you to lead your crew on missions that span a number of locations. You call the shots, no matter where you are. When you’re in space, you direct the action – be it in the middle of a high-tension battle, where you can maneuver in 3-D space and fire a vast array of weaponry at your enemies, or as you enter warp to explore parts of the galaxy never before documented. On the ground, you lead your away team across exciting terrain, interacting with allies and battling enemies. Every Captain commands five subordinates on the ground, all of which can be directed to act in any manner you choose. Can you lead them safely through dangerous locales?

Total Customization

Using Cryptic’s Total Customization technology, every ship you command can be customized by you, from its color to its construction. Your ship will retain a Star Trek “feel,” but it will also represent your style. What’s more, anyone can create their own species in Star Trek Online, meaning you can tell your own story about how you came to be in the galaxy. Leave your mark on the Star Trek universe!

Built by Veterans with You in Mind

Star Trek Online is being developed by Cryptic Studios, creators of the massively successful City of Heroes and City of Villains. It’s built on the Cryptic Engine, a core technology that means our designers can focus less on a game’s nuts and bolts and more on creating a game that captures Star Trek’s essence, guaranteeing that both longtime fans of Star Trek and people new to the universe will feel at home.

Play Guild Wars 2 Early, Get a Free Hat

ArenaNet has announced a limited edition hat for anyone who plays Guild Wars 2 early. From August 25th through September 12th, every player will receive a Celebration Hat, “a baseball cap with the iconic Guild Wars 2 dragon logo” that ArenaNet calls “a stylish addition to your town attire!”

The Celebration Hat will be available in the Black Lion Trading Company for zero gems. It can be found in the Style category by pressing O during the game and cannot be traded to other players. The Celebration Hat will be available to any character on your account.

Guild Wars 2 officially launches on August 28th but will be available starting tonight through ArenaNet’s headstart program, which allows anyone who pre-purchased and installed the game to play early. For more on the game’s skill combat, check out our interview with systems designer Jonathan Sharp.

The Heroic Habits of Guild Wars 2

Despite the Thief’s best efforts, his traps and poisoned bolts, his amulets aglow with enchantments, his opponent struck him to the ground. In the waters of the swamp, he struggled to survive as the undead horror lumbered closer. He threw knives as he quaked, desperate to dispatch it. But at long last he succumbed to his wounds. His body crumpled beneath the murky water. Fated to remain entombed in the sick scent……until a fellow adventurer arrived. With deft sword work the armored Warrior finished the monster with a few easy strokes. With splashing and sputtering the creature slumped into the mud, defeated. Before departing, the Warrior came to the side of the Thief and began to work, reviving the Thief’s broken body. With his work complete, the Warrior vanished into the mist without a word, leaving the Thief well enough to escape the swamp and fight again.This is common in the world of Guild Wars 2.While many MMO’s rely on a healing class to support the player population, Guild Wars 2 strives for new group dynamics by giving every player the ability to both heal and revive their fellow adventurers with very little effort. And while each successful resurrection rewards the healer with a handful of experience points, the amount is too small to matter much. Why, then, do other players consistently go out of their way to resurrect fallen strangers?During my most recent bout of weekend play, I began to ask the strangers that resurrected me why they were compelled to save a stranger. No easy task, mind you, as sparking philosophical discussions in the midst of battle can cause its own set of problems. And while most of my healers ran off without responding, no doubt preoccupied with their own quests, I did receive some illuminating answers.

One player noted: “I hate it when I die in battle” — a touching answer revealing his wish to save others from his own frustration. Similarly, another traveler — an Elementalist partial to fire — said “I just like being nice.”

These responses represent a bead of water in the veritable ocean of players, but they still tell us that the benevolent and compassionate do exist in the Guild Wars 2 community. We are a social, cooperative bunch. Without a sense of togetherness and community, an MMO just wouldn’t be the same.The benevolent and compassionate do exist in the Guild Wars 2 community.The play in Guild Wars 2, of course, was designed with player cooperation in mind. The developers at ArenaNet set out to create a more collaborative world, separating the competitive elements into isolated systems that require an opt-in. Gone are the days of ambushes during your stroll through the countryside.

Instead, players always share experience without any fear of kill-stealing. Furthermore, dynamic events encourage — and often require — multiple players working together to complete. Even the charming jumping puzzles and hidden nooks that dot Tyria can be better found when tailing an experienced adventurer.But no matter how much ArenaNet pokes and prods, nudging players towards merry fellowship, no one is forcing players to resurrect a stranger off the well-trodden path. No high council watches from the mountaintops and dispenses judgment on those that ignore the needy. If you run right by a fallen player without helping, the Guild Wars 2 community will not care. It’s just a game.

Perhaps the sight of a fallen player reminds us of our own failures in the world of Tyria.Perhaps the sight of a fallen player reminds us of our own failures in the world of Tyria. When your character has been defeated on some far off trail, the sight of a fellow adventurer is like an oasis in the desert. That mysterious stranger represents hope. When we consider that feeling of need, that bated breath for a stranger’s charity, we may be more inclined to help someone else, somewhere down the line.Then again, maybe some Guild Wars 2 players are just honest-to-goodness saints. As I struggled to survive in the frigid beauty of Lornar’s Pass, a fellow adventurer explained that he was just “preserving the niceness in the world,” punctuating our short chat with a smiley emoticon.

Guild Wars 2 Details Halloween Event

The event, which is Halloween-themed and due to go live from October 22 and will last for a week, bringing a range of new items, dungeons and acts to the game for a limited time.It’s been over 250 years since Mad King Thorn was last seen, but despite this, rumours persist among the populace that something wicked this way comes.Shadow of the Mad King will explore the myth of Mad King Thorn, the spirit who spread insanity amongst the denizens of Tyria in the original Guild Wars every Halloween. Though he hasn’t been seen for over 250 years, the official event page teases “that something wicked this way comes.”In terms of what’s on offer, Tyria is set to be transformed with decorations, new mini-games, dynamic events, jumping puzzles, mini-dungeons and achievements. Most excitingly of all though, ArenaNet has described Halloween as a period “when barriers between the realms are weakest.” As a result, we should all prepare for “an epic adventure in four acts starting October 22 and running until October 31.”Brand new items will be available through the Black Lion Trading Company including Halloween costumes and transforms that’ll allow you to costume brawl with fellow players.Finally, Paid PvP Tournaments will be available for teams of five players. These require tickets to enter, which can be obtained by winning normal tournaments or purchased in the Gem Store. If that sounds like too much effort, you may want to reconsider; ArenaNet has revealed that the Paid Tournaments will offer much better prizes than their normal brethren, and participating teams will earn qualifier points that will allow them to compete in future, larger tournaments.If you’re looking for more info about Guild Wars 2, or need some help finding that elusive last point of interest, check out IGN’s Guild Wars 2 Wiki.

A World-Changing Event in Guild Wars 2

The next major event in ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2, called The Lost Shores, will begin at noon PST on November 16. According to a post on the official Guild Wars 2 site, at that time something will happen in the hub city of Lion’s Arch that will spread into other parts of Tyria.

Events will continue throughout the weekend until on November 18, a one-time event will begin that will run for “multiple hours.” The event will permanently alter parts of the world so that after it’s done, you’ll have access to new content.

The Lost Shores is the second big content update to Guild Wars 2 and ArenaNet has teased that it will somehow involve the Sea of Sorrows.

T3Fun Will Soon Take Control of Sword 2 After GamersFirst

GamersFirst announced that this month would be the last time for them to be the publisher and host of Sword 2. They will be out of the Sword 2 business at the end of this year.However, Fans of the game do not need to fret that they’re about to lose their world, because HanbitSoft’s subsidiary T3Fun will take control of Sword 2 from January 1st.Due to the transfer between companies, players will need to expressly consent to allow their game data to be transferred over. The announcement post contains instructions how to do just that. Also, Sword 2 players won’t be able to transfer their GamersFirst store currency, so spending it now is highly recommended.There are a lot of details to go over, so if this affects you, be sure to read the whole post very carefully. Sword 2 is competing with other games in MMOsite Reader’s Choice event. Vote for it now!

Guild Wars 2’s New Random Dungeon

In the upcoming Lost Shores update for Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet will add a lot of new content, including an all-new dungeon type. Called Fractals of the Mist, the dungeon is built to be replayed over and over again. It’s comprised of nine mini-dungeons, called fractals, though for each run through you’ll only need to clear three. The fractals you face are randomly chosen, so you’ll never know exactly what you’ll fight before starting a run.

To keep things interesting, after every run the overall difficulty of the dungeon will increase. Continuing to clear fractals at higher difficulties isn’t just for pride, though, as it also unlocks access to better rewards, including a new tier of Ascended items. This type of content should be particularly interesting to level-capped players who have already exhausted their interest in grinding through the available explorable mode dungeons, but Fractals of the Mist isn’t only limited to true level 80 players. ArenaNet is implementing a level-scaling feature similar to its World versus World PvP system so that any player who joins a Fractals run is auto-boosted to 80. Of course if you are lower level you won’t have very good gear or as many skills available as true 80s, so perhaps joining in before you’re at or near the cap isn’t necessarily the best idea.

You can see a tease of some of the dungeon’s fractals in the video below, and find more about how ArenaNet is building out its item progression over on the official Guild Wars 2 site.

Vanguard Updates For the Holiday

If I picked up XP boosters for Vanguard from the Station Marketplace recently, I would save them, and I hope you would save them, as well, because Vanguard’s new patch makes a few tweaks to several Marketplace items.

  • The duration of the 25%, 50%, and 100% Bonus XP potions has been increased to 8 hours.
  • Adventurer’s Pack of Knowledge, Crafter’s Satchel of Knowledge, and Diplomat’s Pouch of Knowledge now provide 10% XP gain instead of 5%.
  • New “Greater Knowledge” containers have been added to the Marketplace, each offering 20% XP boost in its designated sphere.
  • Debt Removal Potions should no longer drop individually from Gloriann Lockboxes. There remains a chance for them to be given in addition to another reward.
  • Keep an eye on the Marketplace window throughout the month of December for new mounts and items introduced to celebrate the holidays. Watch the Item of the Day window for great values on these new items, as well as some of our best sellers.

Other changes include the removal of Veteran Lockboxes from city banks to pave the way for future banking changes, Sprint is now usable once every 3 minutes with Improved Sprint set at 1 minute, and a number of quest and item tweaks were also made.