The Propriety of Guild Wars 2

Those of you that know me know that I love MMOs. Despite being repetitive (regardless of whether it’s TERA or World of Warcraft you’re talking about), something about the social and explorative nature of this genre always peaks my interest.

I got 99 problems, and plague-bearing dragons are all of them.

I got 99 problems, and plague-bearing dragons are all of them.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that I’ve gotten into Guild Wars 2. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of the original; twenty levels was just too short for me, and I felt like the game was projected more as a single player with a multiplayer option (raids) than a true MMO. Apparently, other fans had the same sentiment. Guild Wars 2 is an almost complete departure from its predecessor, with a dynamic, social aspect that is crucial to the player’s experience rather than an add-on. For the first time since RIFT, players are actively rewarded for helping each other, but ArenaNet has taken this concept past TRION Worlds and developed it much further. Whereas RIFT rewarded players for competing actively with an open group, Guild Wars 2 grants extra bonuses to those that not only do high DPS on bosses, but also help the most in quests and stay with the events the longest. It’s a refreshing experience, to say in the least.

After having played TERA for the past few months, I was also pleasantly surprised by how well-clothed most of the females are in Guild Wars 2. Now, there certainly exist exceptions; female norns are, bewilderingly considering their environment, significantly less clothed than their male counterparts. Female elementalists have also retained their awkward and out-of-place schoolgirl attire. But as for the rest of the world, the clothing is in surprisingly good taste.

Sailor Moon? What are you doing in Tyria?

Sailor Moon? What are you doing in Tyria?

I was also relieved to find that, upon rolling my main, a female charr, the “animal” people of the game did not have humanoid breasts (really now, if you’re going to give an anthropomorphic animal breasts, chances are they’d have six and not two). The charr women are smaller in stature and slighter in frame than their men, but it’s great to be spared from hairy, heaving breasts for a change. Worgen, I’m looking at you.

Behold my true form and despair.

Behold my true form and despair.

Even so, not all of the norn women are scantily-clad. Take a look at the NPC below, a woman you’ll meet during your later travels in Tyria (level 55+). Her armor is remarkably decent for a busty war-maiden in an MMO, and her fashion is a common trend in the game.

What, no shank-me chic?

What, no shank-me chic?

As you can guess by the propensity of female cast members, women also take on a fairly important role in terms of politics and war in Guild Wars 2.  This, however, is not so much a rarity in MMOs, especially as of late. Chris Metzen has contributed much to the realm of powerful fantasy gals, although at times it would appear he’s a little too interested in the corruption of their prowess.

The game holds much intrigue beyond feminine concerns, though. ArenaNet also ensured that curiosity is well-rewarded: exploration provides a significant amount of experience and, to my delight, also often yields puzzles that aren’t labeled on the map. There are two types of puzzles in the game: one that is unique to each zone, and many others that are commonly referred to as “jumping” puzzles by the players. While the goal of the zone-based puzzles differs from one area to the next, the jumping puzzles are myriad and often do take a lot of time and patience to complete.

As for the mechanics themselves, the game has its ups and downs. Classes are delightfully customizable, thanks both to a traits/skills system and the way weapons work. Each class has access to different weapons and weapon combinations; equipping each weapon/combination will result in different unlockable skills on your skill bar. You can really tweak your spec in this game, something that has been lacking as of late. Rest-assured, there will eventually be cookie-cutter specs, but I don’t see any huge disadvantage to taking your own road at this point.

For an example, let’s take a look at the ranger. Ranger is a really versatile class in Guild Wars 2 due primarily to its weapon skills. You can take a more well-trodden path in the form of a marksman by equipping yourself with a bow and shortbow, thus relying entirely on ranged tactics to defeat your foes (another neat feature in combat – you can alternate weapons and, consequently, skills with the click of a button). That sounds pretty standard, right? Well, the customization goes deeper than that. If you want to be ranged, you can take things several different routes even from there. You can focus on traps, kiting, the power of your pet, or a combination of all three – it all depends on what your playstyle is. You can also forego the concept of a, ahem, ranged ranger altogether and instead equip yourself with an axe and a greatsword, if you so please. Warhorns are also available, allowing you to focus more on buffs than active DPS. Keep in mind, this is all in one class, and I’m not even getting into the specifics – every single class in the game is like this in its own way.

However, Guild Wars 2 is not without its bugs. The Black Lion Trading Company, an equivalent to the typical auction house, has been down since release. This has resulted in a crashed economy across all servers – definitely not a good thing during release week. Additionally, the size of your character can affect your ability to complete jumping puzzles. I found that, when I play my diminutive asura, I have a much easier time getting around those tricky jumps than I do on my charr, whose broad frame takes up the entirety of the screen in tight corners and makes it nearly impossible to figure out where to jump. I could easily see this discrepancy affecting PVP in negative ways. Events can also bug on occasion, leading many players to sit around and wait to see if they’ll ever get a chance to complete their quests.

Want an easier time exploring? Roll an asura.

Want an easier time exploring? Roll an asura.

That said, the game has been nothing short of a delight thusfar. If you enjoy a truly interactive MMO, then Guild Wars 2 is for you. If you prefer a pure action combat MMO, however, I’d recommend trying out TERA; Guild Wars 2 is a hybrid system of the traditional point-and-click and new age combat mechanics, very similar to that of Star Wars: The Old  Republic. Just be sure to keep in mind that ArenaNet’s latest baby is a game focused on exploration and teamwork – you can solo if you want, but as is the case in most things, the true fun comes from your company.

Overall, I give Guild Wars 2 a 7.5/10. Check it out yourself at the game’s official site and, if you decide to give it a try, be sure to join the Fort Aspenwood realm and keep an eye out for Maximum Catte the charr.

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Comments

  1. “Worgen, I’m looking at you.” Seconded.

    “Now, there certainly exist exceptions; female norns are, bewilderingly considering their environment, significantly less clothed than their male counterparts. Female elementalists have also retained their awkward and out-of-place schoolgirl attire.” This is an interesting concept that I haven’t explored before: high fantasy (the world of elves, dwarves, spells, etc) and sexual fantasy (schoolgirls in particular). I never thought to ever consider the intersection of these genres, and suddenly I am looking at video games in a whole new light (and I consider myself to be a feminist.

    “I got 99 problems, and plague-bearing dragons are all of them.” Pure gold.

    “Chris Metzen has contributed much to the realm of powerful fantasy gals, although at times it would appear he’s a little too interested in the corruption of their prowess.” Also seconded: looking at Kerrigan, Leah and, most recently, Jaina Proudmoore. BF and I were talking about this recently and decided that Blizzard only really excels at those stories that tell the fall of a hero very well: Diablo II’s Dark Wanderer, the hero of the first Diablo; Starcraft’s Kerrigan; and World of Warcraft’s Arthas Menethil, the paladin who became the Lich King.

    “Maximum Catte the charr.” You *would* name your character that.

    • Thank you for commenting, Thomas!

      Elementalists are one of the few classes that bug me in Guild Wars 2. Their attire does get better later on – female norn elementalists, for example, develop a shamanistic look that’s really quite cool once they get into the higher tiers. However, the schoolgirl outfit exists on all races except for asura (thank goodness), and it’s pretty sketchy.

      Also, Catte is the best and you know it! 😉 Goon.

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