Good Morning citizens of Azeroth. If you’re here, it’s likely because you are deciding if you should give Guild Wars 2 a try. Good for you, you’re asking the right questions. Let’s start with some of the broad basics that GW2 differs from WoW, then work our way down to the finer points.
Firstly, to get it out of the way, let’s discuss price. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is $40, plus the monthly subscription of $15 – making it $55 for the month you buy the expansion, or $220 over the course of a year. With Guild Wars 2 you pay for the box and you’re done, no subscription fees at all. This means for $60, you get a full game. That’s only $5 more than you’d be spending that first month on Mists. In fact, if you buy the digital download from GameFly and use the code 1GFT82012 you get 20% off; Making it cheaper. So why not?
Now that the elephant is out of the room, let’s take a look at the structure of the game and see what it does to make the player more involved.
Realms/Worlds: Unlike WoW, you choose a realm/world and that’s where all your playing will be. Regardless of which world you choose, but you only get to play on one at a time. The reason for this is because of World VS World (WvW) which we’ll discuss later. You can change, but it comes with a fee.
Factions & Races/Classes: WoW is all about what faction you play, and limits certain classes to races. In GW2, there are no factions. You represent your World, and your Guild. Any race can play any of the professions (classes). This is a welcome change. Now you can play the type of character you want, looking however you want.
All professions also have a self-heal. Players can now mitigate their own damage a little better in GW2. Though there are professions that might heal a team better, everybody can heal themselves at least a bit.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s jump into the gameplay itself.
Personal Story: Guild Wars 2 has one, and you actually want to do them. This also helps give players a general guide line to what area they should be in. Warcraft does not have a personal story, and instead uses billboards in main cities to send players to new zones.
Questing & Leveling: The days of picking up a quest, doing it, and having to run back are gone. They’ve done this by separating quests into Heart Quests, and Dynamic Quests. Heart quests are marked on your map as (you guessed it) a heart. Instead of picking up quests at these locations, the NPC just wants you to help them in the area. This could be killing a ton of stuff, or collecting items and bringing them back; or a combination of both. The choice is completely up to you. As you help the NPC out, they’ll see it and the heart XP bar will fill up. Once the bar is filled, you can move on.
The second type of quest are dynamic quests – This is an area where Guild Wars 2 shines. Dynamic quests do not have a set target or time, and are started throughout the map by life simply happening. You’ll know one is near because it will pop up on your screen, and circle the event area in orange. Maybe those centaurs that you’ve been killing have had enough and decide to attack the nearby town. Let’s even say they win and take the town. This could result in you needing to take the town back from them. On the other hand, if you drive back the invading force this could cause the lieutenant to come defend his army. There are some dynamic quests that are singular, but most of them are chain quests, and reward the player along the way. In addition, these quests scale as more people join in on the fun.
Grouping & Looting: Just being near somebody is the equivalent of being in a group. This means that somebody hitting a monster first is the same as hitting it second – help is actually encouraged! Don’t worry about looting anymore, everybody gets their own loot table if they attacked the enemy. Same goes for gathering nodes.
Disciplines: In GW2, jobs are called disciplines. Instead of having to grind out on worthless recipes, you can use materials to discover recipes and get a bunch of experience. This cuts down on a ton of time and materials versus other methods such as WoW. In addition, you can learn all disciplines – but only two at a time. When you choose to drop a profession to pick up another, your discipline level will be saved and you can return to it later at a cost.
PVP: Entering a PVP battle, you get bumped up to max level and your stats scale. This means it’s less a gear race, and wins are based more on skills. The primary PVP ‘area’ is World VS World (WvW). This type of match puts entire realms/worlds against each other in a constant battle with up to 500 people on each side. This is also a three-way battle – World VS World VS World. The closest WoW comparison to WvW is the old AV Battleground, when you used to have to actually take mines and summon to win.
End-Game: The end-game of GW2 isn’t going to be for everybody. As far as raiding goes, a hardcore raider isn’t likely to make the switch over. They should try it out for sure, but they’re not likely to find that high-end PVE competition. GW2 focuses more on the journey of leveling more than being the end of the game. There is end-game content, but it’s not the be-all-end-all of the game.
Environment: The last thing that is a big difference between WoW and GW2 that we’re going to look at today is the world itself. GW2 is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the alchemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to GW2. This could be because there are no mounts, though travel points make traveling quick. Everything is also ‘alive’. The citizens talk and have conversations, and adapt to changes as if everything was a player. This fascinates me, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time just listening to characters arguing with each other or kids playing dragons. It’s interactive and most importantly entertaining.
That’s it for the major differences without going into too much detail. I highly recommend trying the game out, I guarantee that it is worth your time and money. Check back later this week as I go into more details about some of the basics of the game, and how to get started in this brave new world.