10 Reasons Guild Wars 2 Is the Best MMORPG Right Now
I bet you don't believe that I can prove it.
This introduction was the most difficult section of this article to write. How do you convey that a game really is the best current MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game)?
After all, that’s kind of subjective. An old writing adage preaches that you should show your point rather than just state that it’s true.
Guild Wars 2, in short, is the best MMORPG I’ve tried thus far. It puts an innovative spin on the things you like in this type of game and removes or alters the things people don’t like.
With the awesome and attentive staff of ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2 has proven to be the kind of MMORPG we’ve been asking for. While I can’t cover everything in a 10-point article, I present to you the top 10 features of GW2 that make it the best MMORPG on the market right now.
1. The Living Story
Rather than have a static plot that requires the player to just follow along, the Living World story grabs you like a grappling hook.
It makes you feel like not only are your efforts valued but also that your character is valued on a personal level. Some of the greatest warriors in the world have noticed your talent and want to test your prowess on the battlefield.
This is not something to be taken lightly. Your favorite characters will sacrifice their lives for the cause of the greater good.
There is a plague in the land of Tyria—a host of humanoids and dragons that desire to expand their reach. And you will stand beside Destiny’s Edge and be grateful that you were able to be a part of this
The Royal Terrace
2. Representation of All Types
As a long-time member of a local gaming club, I’ve realized that one of the most important things when gaming is safety. I’m not really talking about fire hazards or anything like that—I mean the safety of personal comfort, plain and simple.
Many of the 60 active members were male, but there were several women, too. What’s important here, though, is that I didn’t feel unwelcome.
Not too long ago, a guy was being creepy and ended up scaring off a bunch of potential new members. I hadn’t realized how much I valued the safety of our space until then. The matter was taken care of, but the damage was done: we couldn’t bring back the people who had left because of him.
Guild Wars 2, for me, is a safe space. The NPCs (Non-Player Characters) represent people of all different types, particularly among the MOGAI (Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex) community. MOGAI is a term that is more inclusive than LGBT+ and doesn’t need to be edited every time a new group speaks up, so I prefer to use it (read more here: http://thedailyqueer.com/2014/10/19/what-is-mogai/).
At the center of MOGAI representation are the characters Marjory and Kasmeer (both humans), seen below.
They’re so cool~
Instead of the story focusing on how they’re in a relationship, the game focuses on the situations that you and your friends have to handle together. And it lets us see how freaking adorable they are—Kasmeer at one point says, “Jory, you scared the fluff out of me!” SO CUTE!
Just gals being pals! Hahahaha... no.
But wait! There’s more! ArenaNet made their support of the MOGAI community even more apparent after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of equal marriage.
Furthermore, there’s an entire race of (most likely) asexual plant people, known as the Sylvari. Because they’re born from a tree, they can’t reproduce. However, they do have serious romantic relationships that have nothing to do with gender.
Caithe, another important character in the Living Story, once had a romantic relationship with a female Sylvari that eventually turned to evil. This relationship is referred to on many occasions and is actually part of the basis for small segments of the story.
Seeds of Truth: a story path that focuses on Caithe
In a June 2015 patch, Aid Worker Symon became Aid Worker Sya, a canonically transgender NPC. The response to this transition has been widely received quite well by the community: https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/gw2/TY-Anet-for-Transgender-NPC
To read more about Sya, check out the official Guild Wars 2 wiki page for her: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Aid_Worker_Sya
But it’s not just the MOGAI community that’s represented: there are characters of all colors, sizes, shapes, and more.
Taimi is an Asura (a small race that looks like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch) who’s a major part of the Living Story. She is not only smaller than other members of her race, but she is also disabled. She has a very distinctive limp, and her tininess, cuteness, and apparent disability cause other Living Story characters to become rather protective of her.
But she doesn’t want this protection. She may be young, but she’s figured out how to get around on her own, so their protective nature actually makes her quite irritated. Taimi hates feeling like people think she can’t do anything, so she stands up for herself.
Oh, and she’s an amazing inventor who’s created a golem that she rides in. Rather than dwelling on her disability, Taimi finds ways to compensate for what other people would count as deficiencies on her part.
All about Taimi!
3. Personal Story
FIGHT ME! This character is a human warrior.
For me, the most compelling part of Guild Wars 2 is your personal story. Rather than telling literally everyone that they’re a special snowflake who can change the world, Guild Wars 2 puts you in the shoes of someone who has the potential to be a great hero someday.
Your character, with their mildly customizable back-story, will have a totally unique experience. A rich, human mesmer will have a very different life and adventure from a just-awoken Sylvari ranger who has seen a white stag in their dreams.
You begin with a simple mission, and your story escalates from there. You’ve slain a mighty beast—perhaps you could help with some other stuff. After that, you follow a path related to the answers you gave at character creation.
At the end of that story arc, you are presented with the opportunity to join one of three different factions. You complete a few missions with them and then hit another crossroad where you can choose something different. This pattern repeats itself up to the maximum character level (currently level 80).
More about personal stories!
4. The Mystery Surrounding the Dragons and Human Gods
One of the biggest characteristics of the Living Story is the quest to defeat the dragons that are taking hold of Tyria.
At first, you think that it’s what must be done. But the more you see, the more you realize that it’s not as clear-cut as you originally thought. Maybe the dragons are necessary.
A couple of dragons have been defeated by the end of Season 2 of the Living Story.
The revenant, the profession that arrived in recent expansion Heart of Thorns, focuses on legendary characters. This is the Herald specialization—it uses Glint, an ancient dragon, to deal damage.
If you’re in the mood, you can go fight against the dragon Tequatl for amazing loot.
A fight against Tequatl
But that’s not all… Around the same time that the six gods of the human race stopped communicating, six elder dragons were awakened.
So far, no one knows for sure what the connection between these two events is, but we do know that it’s going to be something big.
5. Objective Quests
ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR. This character is a human Tempest, the new specilization for elementalists.
Objective quests are another feature that improve upon typical MMORPG features. Rather than having a quest hub that you have to return to every 5 minutes, there are Renown Hearts spread across the land of Tyria.
Renown Hearts are like quests, but you can do them in your own time—there’s no quest log constantly filling up. If you want to do half of it and come back later, that’s totally fine.
What is Guild Wars 2?
Each heart is based where specific events are happening. Perhaps there are maggots infesting a farm. You would be asked to do things like dig up maggots, kill maggots, water crops, and feed the animals.
Get your Renown up to 100% for that heart, and you can buy exclusive, unique items.
What’s really great about the hearts is that you are de-leveled in areas that aren’t in the same level range as you are. If you’re level 50 and need to go back to a level 15-20 area, then you will be taken down to level 17 so that the difficulty level is more appropriate. This prevents people from two-shotting creatures and destroying the quest objectives.
Speaking of which…
6. Beneficial Cooperative Play Elements
Guild Wars 2 heavily rewards cooperative play. You gain experience points from helping other players—and even NPCs.
Reviving an NPC will provide you with experience points, as will reviving a player and helping them in combat.
Your loot is personalized to you specifically—you never have to worry about taking someone else’s stuff. If the body sparkles, then it’s yours to loot freely.
Dynamic events, though, are what really revolutionize this aspect of cooperative play. In nearly every area of Tyria, there is a chance to trigger special events.
These events are based on the surrounding areas and how many players are in those areas. A simple dynamic event is one in which you capture baby genetic experiments; you don’t need a lot of people for that one. A more difficult one is a raging minotaur stampede.
What are dynamic events?
Working together with other players is the only way to beat these events—every person’s effort makes a difference. The more you help other players, whether it’s reviving them mid-combat or helping them take down a Veteran Oakheart, the more rewards you receive.
In addition to these basic dynamic events are the holiday events.
Wintersday! Treat yo’self!
Each holiday event takes over a specific area, and there are all sorts of mini-games you can enjoy.
Wintersday (my favorite event) turns a portion of Divinity’s Reach into a real winter wonderland. You can do caroling, snowball fights, and a large-scale toy event hosted by Tixx himself!
Tixx is an Asura who is basically Santa Claus if Santa were a brilliant (but a bit insane) inventor. Fight off his inventions with candy-cane swords and wooden ballistas!
7. Combo Attacks
One of the most unique aspects of combat in Guild Wars 2 is the way that your abilities can actually interact with the abilities of other players.
For example, one mesmer spell creates a bubble of chaos that causes all non-enemy spells to ricochet and do more damage. If you cast a spell within that bubble, your abilities will be affected by it, too!
By using abilities near each other or in succession, you can create all sorts of cool effects that can be combined to take down your enemies in the coolest ways possible.
8. True Customization
A female member of the Charr race, a ferocious species that is all about war
If you’re interested in customization, then Guild Wars 2 is easily going to become your new favorite game. When you create a character, you choose a race, gender, physique, hair style, and much, much more.
You can customize the ways your eyes look down to the most minuscule of details. Your jaw line? Customizable.
Eyebrows? Customizable. Seriously.
For additional changes, you can purchase dyes, transmutation charges, and makeover kits. Plus, each race has special features that are customizable—Norns have tattoo options, for example.
Armor and weapons have varieties of appearances, and you can even use dyes to change the colors of your armor whenever you want for absolutely free.
It really is that simple to change the color of your armor pieces. This character is a Norn engineer.
You can also use transmutation charges to make your armor and weapons look like different armor/weapons. Plus, weapons’ abilities change based upon your profession—an engineer’s rifle is very different from a warrior’s rifle.
The gem store also has special deals on a regular basis, and it provides a variety of fun, decorative items. You can also purchase general upgrades, such as getting extra bank space or a new character slot. There are also specialty logging axes, mining picks, and harvesting sickles that never run out of uses and have cool effects when you use them.
Hero Points allow you to customize bonuses to your abilities and help you create a specialization that’s almost entirely unique to your choices.
Character customization video from 2011
In typical MMORPGs, you can expect to see a dungeon feature of some kind. Guild Wars 2 has two different forms of dungeon-running.
There are regular dungeons, which have a story mode and an explorable mode. For each dungeon, you get three options of how to go through it, and in both story and explorable modes, dynamic events can happen.
According to the GW2 website, dungeons “reward players who enjoy organized parties, epic challenges, and delving deeper into the secrets of Tyria.”
And then there are Fractals of the Mists: challenging dungeons that require amazing teamwork and effective battle strategies. Your party can do three randomized fractals in a row, and each time you complete a fractal, the difficulty of that fractal will increase. You’ll also increase the level of your rewards for doing that fractal.
More about fractals
Even better still, for the upcoming expansion (more information in the image gallery), ArenaNet has announced that raids will be added to the game!
10. Cross-Server Parties
Stronghold PvP Public Beta: ArenaNet Devs vs. Twitch Streamers
Something that’s been arriving in games is the ability to play with people who are on a different server from you. It’s frustrating to find out that you’ve been playing on the wrong server and can’t play with your friends. Once, I had gotten a World of Warcraft character up to level 9 before I found out that there were two servers with the initials “KT.”
It takes a lot of coordination to make sure that multiple people are doing what they’re supposed to on the same servers. So when your friend tells you that your server is full, you can’t help but cringe. But fear no more!
Guild Wars 2 allows you to create parties with your friends who are on different servers. All you have to do is invite your friend to your party, and they’ll be able to hop servers to run around Tyria with you.
Two of a kind...?
This feature is refreshing, even though it’s available in a few other games. Being able to play with people you know is always nice, especially when you started playing at different times and hadn’t discussed servers with them. It doesn’t punish you for making new friends outside the game, which ultimately allows you to benefit from helping and playing with others.