Does Guild Wars 2 have any serious issues? Well, the biggest at the current time is the way the game copes with crowding. Rather than have popular areas bogged down by huge player populations the game uses a system of overflows, where players start or are moved to a replica of the zone on their server until there’s room on the real deal.
You can end up in an overflow when you start a game, teleport out of the local area or move in and out of an instanced mission, and while this isn’t an issue if you’re playing on your own, it is a problem if you’re trying to play as a group. Actually getting everyone together in the same area on the same server at the same time can be a bit of a challenge, and keeping everyone together even more so. We expect this to change with time, as more players leave the starter areas and move out further into the game world.
The other issue isn’t so much a problem as a question of what you’re looking for. In the early stages at least, Guild Wars 2 can feel like a solo RPG with multiplayer elements, and the personal storyline missions are clearly weighted that way. We suspect many players prefer this stance, and will appreciate not being penalised for taking the lone wolf approach. For some, however, this will mean that Guild Wars 2 won’t feel like a proper MMORPG, where the focus is on social gaming and party dynamics.
Finally, there are some questions over the difficulty level. Sometimes Guild Wars 2 feels too easy, while at other times it’s ridiculously hard. The game dynamically adjusts your level so that higher-level characters aren’t overpowered in lower-level areas, allowing more experienced players to play with less experienced friends, and this is entirely a good thing. However, the same happens in the personal storyline missions, meaning that if you’re hitting a brick wall in one key confrontation, then you might not have the option to come back tougher and give yourself an edge.
Playing as a Sylvari Thief, more than one quest has only been completed with a combination of persistence and pure jammy luck, causing gears to grind in what is otherwise a smooth-running game.
Still, this doesn’t crop up much, and when it does some smart juggling of skills and inventory can usually help you get through by the skin of your teeth. Then you’re back out there, wandering through stunning landscapes on the road to your next adventure, or hurling yourself into another joyous ruckus with a mob of other would-be heroes.
Best of all, Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have the cloud hanging over it that has affected so many other blockbuster MMORPGs. Having paid for the game, there’s no recurring monthly subscription, and you’re free to enjoy it as long as you like. With eight chapters of personal storyline content and vast swathes of the world we’ve yet to explore, that could be months, and potentially even years.
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Those looking for a game to radically reinvent the MMORPG might feel underwhelmed by Guild Wars 2. Anyone else will either understand how dozens of changes and improvements have made this the most playable and entertaining MMORPG yet, or just be too lost in the sweep of the action to care. This is a superbly crafted and polished world of adventure, with convincing single-player storylines and plenty of mob-handed action. Most of all, it’s an unadulterated joy to play.