Guild Wars 2 Gameplay: 10 Things You'll Love

Excuse me, adventurer. Do you have a moment to talk about Guild Wars 2?

If MMOs Could Be Puppies, Guild Wars 2 Would Be One.

...a giant, fire-breathing puppy.

Or, it would be better than a puppy, since there's no real maintenance required once you get it. With three years under its belt, its first expansion only now coming up on the horizon (October 23rd, to be exact), and no intention of lifting its level cap in this or future expansions, Guild Wars 2 has persisted where other MMOs of the past few years have burst onto the scene and burnt out, or failed to cement themselves at all. So, how is Guild Wars 2 different? It's alive.

Those two words, however, aren't enough to convey just what sort of rollicking, friendly, living, breathing creature this game truly is; overflowing with reasons to sink hours of your time into playing with it. There are so many things to love about its gameplay, we'd need a substantial list to cover them all. For now, though, we'll stick with 10.


1. As Stated: It's Aliiiiiiive.

Guild Wars 2, gameplay

In place of a cackling mad scientist, have a visual DING – because a living story is a good thing.

Though the Heart of Thorns expansion is around the corner, Arena Net hasn't just sat on its laurels for three long years. Be wary becoming attached to specific places or things, though. Not too unlike George R.R. Martin, ANet is not afraid to destroy the people and places you love with spectacular plot arcs and chains of events that literally change and progress the game as a whole.

The beauty in this willingness to demolish pieces of it itself, however, is that the land of Tyria and the playerbase is forced to endure and eventually rebuild, making old things new again to veteran players, while giving everyone the sense that they're growing and changing with this world as they fight through the story together. And so, without needing a single expansion, new content has been added regularly while the game map has changed and grown.


2. No, Really. It Just Keeps Growing.

Guild Wars 2, gameplay, Fractals of the Mist

Introducing The Fractals of the Mists – a dungeon that advances with you.

While dungeons in most MMOs are one trick ponies or limited to “normal” and “heroic” mode, and while the dungeon system in Guild Wars 2 in general is unique, the Fractals of the Mists evolve. A single run is composed of a series of randomly selected encounters. After finishing the prescribed set of encounters for the level, you can elect to try the Fractals lottery again on the same level or move onto the next one. The higher in level you get to, the better the loot.

However, with great loot comes great responsibility – every 10 levels, the difficulty goes up a tier, with 50 levels available at the moment. On this journey, you'll become best friends with the term “agony,” and not just because, after a point, it becomes a very visceral real-life feeling if you're trying to push ahead with “filthy casuals.”

Along with other tweaks introduced after level 10 to challenge you, agony is a mechanic that increases exponentially with each new tier and which you will eventually have to gear around. Most of the gameplay, from open world experiences to explorable mode dungeons to the first 20 or so levels of Fractals, does not require much in the way of min-maxxing, so, if you're looking for a challenge, higher level fractals provides just that. Happy PVEing! Bring kleenex.


3. It's Not Clingy.

Guild Wars 2, gameplay, GW2

That's right. It won't throw your things out on the lawn if you need some time to yourself.

Did you find something younger with perkier quests? Did some terrifying space monkeys steal your computer? With a permanent level cap and no subscription fee, you can put the game down whenever you want. And when you finally make it back to Tyria? Though it may look like you've just stepped out of a time machine into some alien, vine-ravaged world, you'll find that you haven't really been left behind. You can dive right back into the game without needing to worry about weeks of grinding to catch up in level and gear.

There's even a Living Story journal in game that you can access to catch up on what you've missed – even play through it for the immersion and achievements it offers. It will all be waiting for you and happy to see you again.


4. Crafting is a Real Option to do Some Significant Leveling.

Guild Wars 2, GW2, gameplay

Would you like fries with that?

In addition to providing the best weapons and armor in game, you can craft your way through level after level. With some tweaks and research, it's whispered that you can even get all the way to 80 on crafting alone because, in Guild Wars 2, you can choose to learn every crafting discipline in game. And, thanks to the overhaul in one of the last major patches, its more streamlined and user-friendly than ever.


5. So is PVP.

Game designers Matt Witter and Mike Ferguson show off just how epic GW2 PVP can get.

From the day you arrive on the planet and, blinking, step into the Mists, you can go out and murder your fellow players. Entering the Heart of the Mists, the Edge of the Mists, or the Mist War (the game has a thing about mist, okay?), you're automatically adjusted to level 80 and gain experience and loot like you would out in the open world.

This way, when you come back out of whatever mist you've stepped into and your magical level 80 adjustment is stripped away, you're not suddenly some deranged, level 1 murder hobo who needs to go kill a billion spiders to make his or her way in the “real” world. In fact, you never have to leave your PVP du jour in order to hit 80.

And, PvP to your taste. Want a quick 10-man match with points and objectives to guard?: Heart of the Mists. 4-hours-long Server v Server v Server (aka World v World) zerg-stravaganza?: Edge of the Mists. Enjoy the persistence of week-long WvW battles, taking keeps and taking names while earning perks that directly benefit the people of your realm?: Hop into the Mist War for a bit.


6. The Combat is a Buffet of Style, Preference.

If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a life-ending game mechanic.

Along with variety, the combat in Guild Wars 2 is also forgiving and nurtures a sense of self-reliance. This aspect of gameplay alone could fill its own “top 10 things you'll love” list. Each weapon has its own unique abilities that diversifies depending on your class and whatever weapon is in your offhand while the effects of those abilities are further enhanced when used in combination with abilities used by other players.

Each class has its own set of flavorful skills and utilities and the build systems allows you to tweak or completely change your spec at a moment's notice without needing to see a trainer or fork over some silver. The fighting is fluid, even acrobatic, and exceptionally mobile for every single class. You can run and shoot or run and cast and not become less effective.

And gone are the days of the “holy trinity” of tank, healer, and dps, as every player can dodge out of harmful attacks, has a specific healing ability slot with a variety of healing spells to choose from, and can pick itself up from a downed state which, yes, also has its own class-specific set of abilities to help stave off imminent death while you try to finish off what's about to finish you off, or give a noble soul a chance to come help get you back on your feet.

For all of this variety, however, combat is very simple while remaining action-packed.


7. World Bosses and Dynamic Events are Epic in Size, Scope.

Guild Wars 2, gameplay, Kralkatorrik

A lieutenant of the elder dragon Kralkatorrik, The Shatterer descends from the sky for the Kralkatorrik's Legacy event.

Dynamic events are ones that show up to ruin your day and eat grumble cakse. And guess what? They're all out of grumble cakes. You can save the village and everything goes back to normal, or you can fail and the consequences are palpable. The difficulty of the event scales with the number of players in the area, making for some truly chaotic, harrowing encounters.

Meanwhile, drawing in mass numbers of players to fight them for glory and loot, world bosses tend to have their fun and get pushed back. However, when they do triumph, they can do any number of nasty things, like leave an excess of goons behind to be goonish (Frozen Maw, Jungle Wurm), make some places impassable or out of friendly NPC control until they return and are finally beaten down (Megadestroyer, Ulgoth), or wipe out an entire raid or zone of people upon their terrible victory against the heroes (Tequatl, Vinewrath).


8. It's Like Going to the Movies.

An example of one of the many cinematics in the actual game with your character starring in it.

Your personal story quests and main living story arc quests are bursting at the seams with theatrical clips – not just of the NPCs you're leading through the story, but of your own character as well, giving orders and making tough decisions. While adding immersion, these cinematics help to punctuate moments of intrigue, action, betrayal, grief, and triumph.


9. It's Large and Visually Stunning.

Guild Wars 2, GW2, gameplay

Monuments to the four main Spirits of the Wild watch over the valley below.

Puzzle your way through an unexpected mini-dungeon or up ruined towers and treacherous mountainsides to reach impossible vistas and be rewarded with a sweeping, panoramic clip set against a backdrop of thematic music (and experience!).

Find your own favorite spots, or run up under an angry dragon and marvel at its majestic hugeness for about two seconds before you die horribly. There are countless places within Tyria where a character can feel truly tiny. Or squashed. Either way – worth it.


10. For All of Its Destruction and Sometimes Heavy-With-Feels Story, It's Cheeky.

Trailer for the release of a game within the game in high def 8bit glory, the Super Adventure Box.

This past April 1st, players logged in to find their screens washed in an old-timey filter, their characters wearing aviator caps, their arms stuck out from their sides and making airplane noises with their mouthes when they'd run. This was supposedly inspired by a bug in game that froze characters' arms out from their sides. The year before: bobbleheadded everything. There are no words to describe the terror that is a bobble-headed charr sprinting around. Before that: the announcement of the Super Adventure Box (as seen in the video above), which became an actual thing.

There are at least two vanity pets available who sport monocles, bowties, and bowler hats. And do you want a bow that shoots out rainbows and unicorns? Like unicorns, it's legendary but it does exist. (What do you mean unicorns don't exist??) How about a hidden, hard to reach alcove full of cats training for war while a child swings from a tree branch? Why does this even exist? Why not. The game is lighthearted in its fun and easter eggs.


Though the Heart of Thorns expansion is bringing with it a mountain of game-changing content - including new abilities, a new class, and raids at long last - Guild Wars 2 has at its core a depth in its story, grace in its combat, variety in its challenges and gameplay options, and a sense of humor about itself while its precious Tyria seems to be playing along, fighting the bad guys and leveling up with you, making it a game worth coming back to time and again.

More on this topic:

Just another girl on the internet.
Gamer Since: 2000
Currently Playing: PlanetSide 2, Killing Floor 2, Payday 2, Guild Wars 2, and Warframe?
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Origins, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect 2

More Top Stories