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All eyes on Guild Wars 2

Great gameplay, vast lands and stirring music make this upcoming MMORPG the one to watch.
The Straits Times - August 15, 2012
By: Michael Khoo
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All eyes on Guild Wars 2 - PHOTO: NCSOFT

Guild Wars 2 (GW2) launches later this month and it looks set to be the next big thing for the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) genre. Having played the game in all three beta weekend trials, here are 10reasons - in descending order of importance - why it rocks.

1 Good production quality

I have played tons of MMORPGs and most have not measured up to the mighty World Of Warcraft. Many have tried to live up to its standards, attempted to push it off its throne, but have failed.

Why has this always been the case? World Of Warcraft has a slick interface, responsive controls and everything feels just right when you play it. Guild Wars 2 has that quality. When you get into the game, you will be able to feel that this is the MMORPG of the year.

2 Music by Jeremy Soule

A good soundtrack is needed to immerse a player into a virtual world and there is no better composer than Jeremy Soule.

This is the maestro responsible for the soundtrack of Icewind Dale, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. He is the John Williams of the video games industry and he also did the music for the original Guild Wars.

3 Content scaling

If you are an advanced player and want a challenge, you may choose to experience the game set at a higher difficulty level with better rewards at the end.

For a new player or anyone who wants something easier, you may experience the same content at a lower difficulty level. This is what content scaling is about.

Also, you can choose to fight an enemy that is at a much higher level than you are. As long as you are able to avoid its attacks and figure out a strategy to tackle it, you will be victorious. You can always count on joining forces with other online players to help finish an encounter. This creates opportunities to make new friends and build the community.

4 Dynamic quests

Quests in GW2 behave differently from other MMORPGs. There is no linear path through a zone. Explore the world any way you want and quests actually come to you instead.

A non-player character (NPC) might randomly come running to you for help when Centaurs raid the town you are chilling out in. Fail in your defence and the town will be taken over by them.

Succeed and the town will cheer for you, or even build a statue in your honour. That is the kind of experience you will find in GW2. Dynamic events will be fun simply because you do not know what to expect. This is important in games these days because it will feel like an adventure only when you are unable to tell what is coming.

5 Dynamic combat

Combat in this game consists of dodging, blocking, using skills and proper positioning. If you see an enemy forming up for a huge attack, you can avoid it completely by moving away.

If a player has a shield ability, you can get behind him to receive protection. The use of player skills does not just stop there. If you are an Elementalist, cast a wall of flames on the ground.

Rangers can shoot their arrows through the flames so they become deadly flaming weapons.

Clearly, combat in this game is awesome.

6 No monthly fee

There will be no monthly subscription and you only have to buy the game itself. Additional charges will come in the form of new expansions. Micro-transactions will be available in the form of gems. These gems are used to exchange for cosmetic items and can be attained via real money or in-game gold. It is possible to play the game without spending a single cent more after you make the first initial purchase.

7 Vast worlds

Towns in GW2 are huge. Walk into the Lion's Arch, the main capital of the Human race, and you can get lost in it.

The land of Tyria is massive and its larger cities will leave you speechless with their sizes and interesting concepts. Can you imagine a city made up of ships and only ships? There is one such place in GW2.

8 Massive inter-server battles

GW2's biggest feature is its World versus World versus World battlegrounds. This pits three different servers against one another in one huge map. Should one server conquer the most area in the map, it gets rewarded with special bonuses like extra experience points. To earn these bonuses, players from each server will have to pull together, cooperate and defeat opposing servers.

9 Be your dream hero

Skills available to you in GW2 change dynamically. On your hotbar, skills from 1 to 5 are your weapon skills and they change according to the weapons you hold in your main-hand and off-hand.

Hold a sword in your main-hand and you will have a particular set of skills. Add a ranged weapon like a pistol to your off-hand and additional skills will appear, or replace some existing ones to allow for range and melee capabilities.

If you decide to carry melee weapons in both hands, you will open a new range of skills that are pure melee.

You can mix and match weapons to unlock skills that define how you want to play your class. I have seen some warriors going pure ranged, and spell-casters becoming hammer-wielding battle-mages.

10 Goodbye to the blame game

In the world of MMORPGs, players are usually compartmentalised into one of three main roles - tank, healer and damage dealer. This limitation will be removed in GW2 as you can play all three roles with the same character.

It is your job to heal yourself and your job to hit the enemy hard. No one will be denied raiding a dungeon just because there are not enough healers or tanks. If you die, it is not the healer's fault, it is yours for not avoiding certain attacks or not using your skills to keep yourself alive.

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