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Guild Wars 2 review
Exceptional
by NafaryusDestiny

When Guild Wars 2 released back in 2012, the MMO landscape was dominated by World of Warcraft. WoW set the status quo for MMO's: grind (and grind some more) for levels and better gear score, subscribe for $10 a month, play an unremarkable story, get loads of questionably useful skills and talents, ruin your character by applying skillpoints incorrectly, and pay for yearly expacs. Power creep was rampant in the genre, and everything seemed to develop into "lifestyle games" that you couldn't take a break from without falling behind the rest of the players who had more time to play than you. 

Guild Wars 2 defied (and still does defy) these seemingly set in stone genre conventions. It had a "pay once" model without any subscription fees (it is now free-to-play). It had an involved, fully voiced story tailored to your character. It had a continuing story told in seasons of Living World content. It had a focused, directed skill and trait system that left you with 10 skills and three specializations. It had an intelligent scaled leveling system that reduced your level depending on the zone, allowing you to play with lower level players. It had content that was worth doing at any level. It had massive 100+ person world bosses. It had balanced PvP that put all players on an even playing field by giving them access to all the same skills and equipment. It had a marginal (5%) gap between easily acquired Exotic Gear and more difficult to acquire Ascended Gear (which is STILL the best gear in the game 8 years later). You could fully change your character's build at any time. It had massive hundred person World vs World Vs World battles. 

Guild War 2 was a better game for lowering the gap between casual players and hardcore "lifestyle" players. It was a better game because it was fun first, and grindy second. You played because it was fun, not because you were constantly trying to keep up with your competition.

And the game only got better. Heart of Thorns added in new Elite Specializations that gave each class access to a new weapon type and dramatically changed its playstyle. Guardians got bows, Necromancers got greatswords, and more. They also added raids, which, if it weren't for some pretentious groups in the community, would be very fun to drop into. The new maps they added were hit or miss, but they required a level of coordination between as many as 150 players that is still a sight to behold to this day.

Path of Fire added what may be the best implementation of mounts ever seen in an MMO. You transition from walking to mounts seamlessly, and each mount has a specific mechanical purpose used for traversing the world in a new way. Group content only got tighter and more enjoyable, however it required significantly less coordination than Heart of Thorns maps. 

I don't expect GW2 to be genre defining, but I wish it were. It's not perfect by any means, but it's still a positive direction for MMO's. It takes what made the genre great and embraces it, while minimizing the impact of what makes the genre inaccessible and tedious. 

Other reviews2

Guild wars 2 eliminates most of the things that make MMOs frustrating and chore-ish to play.
«Underrated»