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Were We Misled? A Critical Review of "Guild Wars 2"

I play games, enjoy the outdoors, explore culinary experiences, and have very eclectic tastes.

"Guild Wars 2" Logo

"Guild Wars 2" Logo

Lets be honest, MMOs are a dime a dozen. Of course, that is the figurative phrasing for 'they are everywhere', as they are usually quite overpriced. This means Guild Wars 2 needed to sell itself with things that other MMOs do not have—and they tried. However, GW2's interviews and statements about game play could be considered a bit misleading. Every advertisement and video wanted to pound through the fact that GW2 was radically different from any other MMO that you have ever seen.

My Experience With the Game

So, lets start off with my experience: 7+ years of playing MMOs of all kinds. Before writing this, I played GW2 for at least 140 hours or more (made a mistake in my comments and underestimated without actually looking). Since then, I had a week off because I was hacked, and I've had my account back since with continued playing.

I still have all the same views.

Lets look at some of these claims and see if they hold up to actual game play, along with other random problems and good points about the game.

The Good Things

There are a lot of problems with this game. However, I first want to go over some of the good things.

  • Instanced personal storylines. It is amazing to be able to do things alone for a change. Rather than be herded around by a group of people, you can finally go at your own pace and be happy.
  • Experience for crafting. It takes a long time to craft in any game, but in this game it takes a lot longer than most (not a good thing). You do get experience for leveling a craft, which makes it feel a bit better.
  • Beautiful scenery. It is nice to have a game that looks this great.
  • Amusing characters. I have to say, I like a lot of these characters.
The game looks great, and the scenery is beautiful.

The game looks great, and the scenery is beautiful.

The Replayability Factor

"Guild Wars 2 has the most replayability of any MMORPG hands down, doesn't even come close."

GW2 staff makes this claim based on a few elements of the game:

  1. Dynamic Events
  2. Personal Storylines
  3. The Size of the Game

There are some good things to be said on most of these subjects, but it is hard to measure them up to the standards professed by game creators. Let's take a look at this.

Replay: Dynamic Events

Dynamic events in Guild Wars 2 are a nice flavor for questing. Pretty much what a dynamic event contains are chains of random events put together.

  • For instance, in one zone you get a robot taking a message to someone. Event (Quest) 1: Escort robot to destination.
  • Then, when it reaches her you have to escort both of them to an enemy base, so the robot can shut down consoles. Event (Quest) 2: Escort pair to consoles and protect them while it shuts down.
  • Then, Angry Boss comes out wondering what happened to the base and attacks. Event (Quest) 3: Fight boss.

At any point in these, you can fail and get a prize, but sometimes means that you cannot go onto the next one—however, it usually works out easily.

Gold, silver, and bronze medals go out once an event is completed or failed depending on what it judges your participation was in the event. However, this can be less than the effort you actually did put into it at times. As an example, I spent 10 minutes with a group fighting a boss. When it went down, I got a bronze medal because my damage was low—I was healing a lot.

Replay: Personal Storyline

Lets be honest here. Almost all games that have a "personal story" that doesn't turn out like anyone else's ending is usually a fantasy. Mass Effect made that claim and it has been the most hot topic issue going around gaming for quite a while.

However, Guild Wars 2's personal storyline is transparently linear even though you have the illusion of choice. The end of the story will be the same no matter what, and the journey will barely change for you if you play the same race again.

Through the story, you have options to pick a path. However, after you pick this path, you get redirected back to the same story everyone else will have; you just had a different enemy for 5 minutes. Can you call adding a drop of food coloring to a sugar cookie a completely different cookie? I think not—this would be misleading, as I think the claim of "personal storylines" in video games are.

Some elements of the game also seem to suffer from it. Voice overs and preset text are always "your chosen order" "the choice you made" "whatever rank you are now" etc. It feels like ugly black stitching on a completely white shirt.

Replay: The Size of the Game

GW2 is a large game, which is a good thing. You can wander for hours. In fact, that is kind of a problem. It can literally take hours to walk from one side of the world to the other—and that is what you have to do. There are no mounts, but there are speed buffs that last a few seconds for most characters. This means that some people have to walk at regular speed for quite a ways. The travel system is waypoints, which you can teleport to for a fee. This fee can become rather expensive over time, especially if you want to go to a lot of places.

Though there are a lot of arguments against mounts—such as they can lead to bypassing content and a few other complaints—I believe the time and money saved would be much preferable than a fee every time I wanted to go somewhere or resurrect. You transfer to a waypoint on death so adding this to armor repair fees costs double if you die a lot.

Concerning replayability—sure, you might get to see some things you didn't notice the first time through, but the thought of going to get all the waypoints again is not only daunting, I can't seem to care enough to do it.

A castle in "GW2."

A castle in "GW2."


It is impossible to even find where to start on this subject, so I will make a short list of problems I have had.

  • Getting Stuck. Bad building has lead to me getting stuck in items easily. I have had to restart personal story instances 4-5 times because I was pushed into an object, or fell wrong, or ran into the door wrong. Not only was this annoying, it cost up to 30 minutes of my gameplay each time.
  • Graphical Glitches. Whenever I jump onto something with my asura, my camera goes into my back and makes the camera blacken for a second. Considering there are jumping quests and platforming, this is unacceptable as it is disorienting and at times nauseating. Textures can clip easily, randomly fade, you can see through sides of objects, and at times you can see messy texture work. This isn't common, but if you play a lot you will see it too much.
  • Trading Post. This is unacceptable, too. The Trading Post, or Auction House, or method of character trade has been down for most people for a week now, meaning a huge amount of people haven't been able to sell or trade with other players, essentially killing the profits from a start-up economy. Furthermore, a lot of crafting requires the trading post because of the rarity of materials.
  • Dynamic Events. Some of them don't start. Some of them don't end. Some of them get halfway though and hold for a day or two. I've been watching the same group "gather themselves" and ask for you to wait with them in the middle of a plain for two days now.

Questing: The Same But "Different"

GW2 states that they do not have questing. Questing is the same in any MMO if we get down to the basics and cut through any interface changes. In WoW you have set points you go to, pick up quests, and have set goals. However in GW2 you have hearts around areas which signify the quest giver, and things they would like done.

Sure you don't get quests exactly but you are killing x amount of things, collecting x amount of items, and pushing x amount of buttons to get experience and a completed heart. So, we are doing the same thing over and over again, but it just looks different and it is harder to track.

More scenery from the game.

More scenery from the game.

Other Complaints

Impossible Trading

Trading is done by mail. You have to mail someone an object and await payment. How is this a good way to trade with thousands (millions?) playing this game? There is no accountability for actions, and no ability to trust people like that. Every game has that trading window.


The class I was playing was continually one shot against creatures of the same level. This was not only expensive, but made me want to toss my computer out the window. There is only so much dodging a character can do, and I most certainly understand the class, so I fear for other people playing it.

Glitches Galore

Above stated glitches are just unacceptable and make me not want to play at times.

Chaos, Chaos, Chaos

  • Chaos: There are no tanks and healers. This means people are running all over trying not to die.
  • Chaos: Inconsistent questing via dynamic events can make a zone feel empty. An event doesn't start? An event is glitched? Tough luck, empty zone for you.
  • Chaos: Dynamic events—you can be overrun by other characters and not get any credit even if you try hard at the event.
A tranquil forest scene from the game.

A tranquil forest scene from the game.


Though there are many misleading statements in the videos that are put out, such as "action of a shooter game" or "there is no auto-attacking" are completely false. There may be a little merit to replayability, but all MMOs have about the same replayability based on starter zones and races. Lets be honest here, GW2 tries too hard to be "unlike any other MMO" and it only hurts them in the way of no conventional trading, and non conventional—chaotic—parties in instances.

Guild Wars 2 does have the good points of being beautiful, having a great storyline, and having some pretty epic and surprising moments in it. I do like the game, but I think I would feel a lot better if it had not tried to sell itself as being completely different from any other MMO—because lets face it, at the end of the day you are doing exactly the same as any other MMO. It just looks different.


moirraine on April 23, 2017:

The game is suffering from bad management.

GW2Player on September 20, 2016:


I have been playing gw2 for 700+ hours and I honestly do not get any of the problems you have been having.

I encountered glitches only once or twice.

The people waiting in the fields got their events, i think you didnt wait for the event boss to spawn.

Who wants to trade with people they dont know anyways. You get everything on BL. You can see people in your guild if you want to trade via mail. But then, you know; that big number of kids who play the game and think they are mmo experts, its makes it risky.

I never had any hacking issue but i know a lot of ppl who had issues when they tried to buy legendary weapons with ppl ingame or when they entered their login info on third party accounts for promises of free Gems etc.

Anyways, I think you review is not critical.

Maybe you need more practice... in writing reviews ofc.

Trolly yours,


Daniel Johnston (author) from Portland, Oregon on September 17, 2012:

After reviewing the days I played before writing this, and actually calculating time played: I spent at least 140 hours to get to that level. I had not calculated and made a flippant underestimate. Time played now is over 200 hours, and I still hold the same views I started with. This is with conferring with people I know to make sure I am not just keeping the views I wrote at first.

Daniel Johnston (author) from Portland, Oregon on September 06, 2012:

It is entitled a "Critical Review". Critical: "Inclined to find fault or to judge with severity." This is also taking into account that MMOs have been around for so long - since 1997 was the first MMORPG that was 15 years ago now - of course there should be vast improvements in such an old field.

I do realize there are a lot of good points to the game, or I would not be playing it as much. It is enjoyable, but the point of this is to explore what needs improvement or where I and a few friends feel there were misleading statements in advertising.

That being said, this morning I was hacked and with research found that a huge list of names and passwords were taken from their database - not exactly creating the best inspiration to also do a "bright side" review of the game but I will be looking at writing a more neutral or positive review in a week or two when I get another profession up to 80 and the Trading Post along with WvWvW stabilize.

André Encarnação on September 06, 2012:

Do you have any idea of how some other MMOs have started and how brilliant GW2 is in the light of those? Not only is it an evolution from past MMOs which of course will bring some bugs here and there until everything is fixed up, as it stands away from them to have a launch that only fails for the Auction House, which everyone knows that is being fixed. With this I'm not saying your review was entirely bad, but you focused on the wrong side of it. The goods outcome the bads in so many ways...

Daniel Johnston (author) from Portland, Oregon on September 05, 2012:

There is a lot that I did not mention because I felt that it would be way too long. I could write pages on the subject. There are good things, as well as bad things that I did not cover. For instance, right now it is impossible to party - you can't see them on the map, you can't get into instances sometimes, and people are separated due to internal server coding mistakes.

The point was a criticism of the game as an MMO and comparing it with MMOs as it is not an Elder Scrolls game or Fallout. Furthermore it is also comparing it with the image the game creators were presenting to sell the game, which simply does not live up to the hype.

They do a wonderful job at taking out a lot of the problems of WoW, which are difficulty in fighting over harvesting nodes and players tagging creatures.

However, the Mystic Forge is a good idea in theory, but in practice it has wasted a lot of my materials. I have put in about 400 items and gotten out 100, 90 of which I felt were sub standard. Sure, end game it will be nice to craft those Exotic weapons and it is good to have something to do with items you can't sell to a vendor.

Furthermore, level scaling has its issues. It is possible to level in lower level zones, but it is with a huge decrease in experience. I wandered around doing a few starter zones on the same character as I was trying to get the vast amount of materials I needed for insane crafting requirements (that is, in the absence of a trading post they are).

I pre-purchaced, and have played about 12 hours a day or more since the three day head start. I do not see how that could possibly be rushing to 80 with the large amount of exploring and zone completion I did. I'm somewhere around 83% complete for the world on that character, and that is with PvP, crafting, and WvWvW playtime.

There is a vast difference between the opinions of someone who has played an MMO before and someone who has never played an MMO before - even someone who has played an MMO before and someone who has played MMOs for 8 years. We are bound to have different viewpoints.

I give GW2 a B for now as it has issues that will surely be worked out if they work on them. Right now there are too many glitches, and I really dislike the fact that you can not make any money on the Trading Post even though it is up now because there are thousands of listings driving the prices down to coppers each.

Keith Engel from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 05, 2012:

So you did rush to 80 , rush doesn't mean to reach max level in 3 days, but to reach it quicker than average.

In some cases your review is okay, but a little to one sided and to much focus on just certain aspects. For instance, you don't even bring up the subject how every zone is viable for your character to explore and play in due to level scaling. I have only reached level 36, have only done a little bit of my story quest, and have only been to four zones. I only left the human starting zone at level 20 because I was busy exploring around and just working on getting crafting materials and after this I went to the Norn Starting zone.

You don't bring up the fact that fully exploring the zone and filling in all the hearts, viewpoints, waypoint, and points of interest rewards you with a chest. You approached the game like an MMO, where instead if you approach it more like an Elder Scrolls Game or Fall Out 3, you would probably have a much better experience overall. I haven't concerned myself once with leveling nor do I feel rushed to level in this game because it is the first MMO that I have played that feels like I am actually truly playing an RPG game, not something that tries to say it is an RPG but forces you into playing the game a certain way.

You don't bring up the fact that there is no mob tagging that you actually feel like you are helping other players and that you aren't competing with other players over anything. That there is no frustration when you see another player approaching a mining node, or begins to kill a quest mob and that you can join the fight with this other person or you can still get the mining node due to the systems they have in place.

The other point you bring up about questing is one of the biggest misnomers as well, in any video game, you are going to be either killing people, collecting stuff, escorting somebody, or rescuing somebody or doing something of this nature that for a quest. Yet, the simple fact that events and heart quests don't require you to run up to a person, talk to the person, then run off to a completely different area of the map to complete the quest and generally those quests might be a combination of the above. There is none of that, except with the story quests and a few other exceptions, and you just run to where an event is taking place or where the heart is and the ability to complete the quest is right there.

Furthermore, Arena Net due to the way the event system is done, is able to add new events to any zone at will. This is what they did during Beta Weekends and other things as final events to celebrate the end of weekend. One of them was actually a take on the Hunger Games called the Hunger Royale. So as far as re playability is concerned, since zones aren't static like in other MMOs they have the ability to actually add new stuff to previous zones.

As far as the story is concerned, since story is based not only race, but also on the choices you make at the start of the game, the ability to see different matters in the story is actually quit a lot. For instance, I know in Beta I chose about losing my sister, but in this I chose about not seeing my parents or something, and it was a completely different set of circumstances and quests that I did between the two characters, all being human and both being a ranger.

You didn't mention the mystic Forge where you can actually possibly create new more powerful items from preexisting items. Do you even know what the mystic forge is?

Anyway, I agree with you about the Trading Post being down, but it looks like they have gotten that matter fixed. I thought they should have done a week long open beta instead of the mini stress tests they were doing the week or so before the game launched. As far as not being able to trade and having to rely on mail. If there is no COD system in place, then I get your point. Yet, in the ability to trade face to face even then there is a bit of trust issues anyway. I never traded like that in any MMO unless it was with a friend or trusted guild mate, or I would mail somebody something. Any trading I did was through the AH, and as I said earlier the AH being down has caused some issues of course. I also agree about the graphical glitches that can pop up from time to time.

Anyway, is the game absolutely perfect, no, yet, your "critical" review is just to far one sided on the ugly and not really fair towards the good. I will most likely be doing a very in depth review of my own here in the next week and taking down my beta impressions one since the game has now released.

Daniel Johnston (author) from Portland, Oregon on September 05, 2012:

Nope. Reached it yesterday. Currently no job, played a few characters - total time played so far has been about 50-60 hours. Wandered around visiting everywhere, trying out a couple classes, and went to 80 on one. Been doing PvP and crafting. I am still playing, as its not bad unless something major breaks.

Keith Engel from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 04, 2012:

One simple question, did you rush to 80?