Is Guild Wars 2 Worth Playing in 2021?
03 March, 2021...
I've spent around 1714 hours over the last 2-3 years on this game and I can tell you that among the "free to play" fantasy MMOs on the market, Guild Wars 2 definitely ranks among if not at the top for now.
The question for the fence sitters, the new players and perhaps the players who want to return is whether this game is worth playing 2021?
Is it going to be alive and kicking into 2022?
Let's find out.
What Guild Wars 2 is likely best known for is its heart tugging story of both joy and tragedies that happens to you the main character and his allies/friends.
It's also known for its Living World story line.
Is it as amazing as Final Fantasy 14 (i.e. Final Fantasy Online)?
Probably not on par in my opinion and based on what others have described.
It is however a good or above average story that I'd rate like I don't know 7.5 or 8 out of 10.
There are characters you'll get invested in like Rytlocke the First Revenant or Taimi the Engineer or Aurene the Dragon that you raise.
Ever since ArenaNet had its "downsizing" some years back, they've focused all their resources on the Living World story to the exclusion of all else (see "The Bad").
Now with the next expansion and End of Dragons coming out, moving towards Cantha (an Asian themed continent) from Guild Wars 1, they'll be focusing less on story while they work on the expansion.
If you're a new player you don't have to worry you'll have a lot of story to go through, of course much of the best story is locked behind the paid expansions (which you can wait to get on sale during holidays) of Path of Fire and Heart of Thorns.
Probably another big plus for this game is that it's very casual friendly when it comes to gear.
Once you get max level gear (level 80), that's it you're set.
This is similar to Elder Scrolls Online or vice versa.
You never have to worry about having to grind out that gear at a higher level ever.
Also exotic gear (orange) is all you need to enjoy the game mostly.
You only needed ascended (purple, the highest) if you run game modes like fractals.
So unlike games like Final Fantasy Online, Destiny 2 or WoW, you could literally take a break from this game for months and still come back to enjoy any new content just fine.
There's never a need to grind the latest and greatest.
Guild Wars 2 probably has the best action-tab targeting hybrid combat system in the MMO market that I know of.
Yes you can tab target however most abilities just require you to aim and it'll blast or hit the target your targeting dot is pointed at.
The combat skills and moves are fairly fluid and fast paced, with little or no clunkiness.
Is this on the level of Black Desert Online in terms of action combat flashiness?
It is however solid and I'd put it somewhere in the 7.5-8 zone.
The tab targeting is probably in the 6-7.5 zone.
The combat animations are excellent, high impact and visually impressive enough to catch my attention.
Another major strong point of Guild Wars 2 is its open world and level design.
The zones are segregated and instanced open world zones that are very large and allow for plenty of exploration.
Probably the biggest thing for players and myself are the large World Boss events that are on continuous scheduled event timers.
They happen regularly every few times a day and you can join large groups of players farming these World Bosses for gear, loot and achievements.
If you pass by these groups they usually can't be missed.
Also zone "events" happen regularly throughout the day and you'll also find players doing them to complete achievements or storyline related missions.
The ability to just drop in and join any of these things just by being nearby or hitting an enemy once without actually grouping up makes the open world more popular than Guild Wars 2 dungeons, raids or pvp from what I've experienced.
Guild Wars 2 has one of the most friendliest communities I've ever encountered, an experience that's echoed by a lot of other game reviewers, players, etc.
Sure there'll always be one or two bad apples however they are not a common thing.
In fact, most people in the game often drop what they're doing and help you out with quests and world bosses or events if asked and even when they're not asked.
Since players get XP for resurrecting/reviving downed or dead players, you'll have droves of people rushing to revive you or others anywhere in the game.
Players are also extremely helpful when it comes to answering questions too.
So in terms of new player friendliness, this game is great.
I know I've spent some time once in awhile to return the favour.
The microtransactions in Guild Wars 2 are done right.
Almost on par with Grinding Gear Games who makes Path of Exile, perhaps better.
You can literally earn nearly any paid cosmetic in the Black Lion Shop with in game currency if you're willing to spend the time to grind and do events, world bosses, strikes, etc.
You simply convert the in game currency of gold into gems.
This makes Guild Wars 2 one of the most generous games in terms of microtransaction flexibility.
Of course plenty of players still pay real world money to support ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 when it comes to utility and cosmetics.
For the new player however who's just trying the game free, this is a breath of fresh air as nothing is locked behind a pay wall.
If you grind enough gold you could even buy new Living World story chapters and expansions.
So what are some of the cons or points where Guild Wars 2 could definitely improve?
As I said before the Living World story is what Guild Wars 2 is best known for.
The downside however is that ArenaNet was slow in the past to release new story content.
This is unlike more regularly updated games like Final Fantasy Online and Path of Exile or even Elder Scrolls Online.
These MMOs often update every 3-4 months like clockwork.
So players would often wait for months, perhaps a year for new story content.
In the last year or two they've sped things up until the pandemic hit in 2020 and now the story content has slowed down as they work on the Cantha/End of Dragons expansion coming up in 2021/2022.
If you're a player who's used to dungeons in classic MMO rpgs, then you'll find that there have been few if any new dungeons added or improved in Guild Wars 2 for a long time.
Compared to the open world, dungeons are just not that popular.
It's hard to find other players to join up with to do the few that still exist in the game.
The stories in the dungeons does add to the lore however many don't consider the stories very good.
There's been no improvements in a long time and ArenaNet doesn't seem to have the will or manpower to deal with it.
Large 6-12 man raids seen in other MMOs haven't been added to Guild Wars 2 often or in a long while.
I think I only vaguely remember 1 or 2 off the top of my head.
So they're in the same shape as dungeons.
If you're seeking this kind of endgame content you'll be disappointed in this area if you're usually a hard core raider from other MMOs.
Fractals, which are a kind of very random dungeon with random "problems" or effects in them (and often little if any story) are also in the same state as dungeons.
This would be akin to the map endgame of Path of Exile or randomized dungeons or Nephalem Rifts of Diablo 3.
Again few if any have been added or improved on in a very long time.
Very few players run this game mode, which has some interesting rewards.
Guild Wars 2 went with a more older, painted look style and it shows.
They felt it was more timeless.
The graphics are definitely not top notch even when using DirectX 9 or 11.
I've used a mod like d912pxy to upgrade the game to DirectX 12 and there's only speed and performance boosts to FPS.
This isn't a deal breaker of course unless you are a player who only enjoys top notch, modern graphics in which case you will be disappointed.
The graphics, textures and meshes are even ranked lower than Elder Scrolls Online in my opinion (which was out in 2013).
The limits of the graphics engine they use has also constrained the size of their level maps and zones.
Of course Guild Wars 2 might not have the manpower or resources to upgrade their graphics engine any time soon.
Another con with the game is that they haven't introduced any new classes or class specializations (class upgrade paths) in a long time.
They kind of have 9 classes with about 2-3 elite upgrade paths so I guess that's already a lot of build options.
The thing is that the class and skill system hasn't had any major overhauls in a long time except when it comes to tweaking things for pvp.
Essentially the mechanics haven't changed.
For players who always want to try new builds and get bored with old ones, you may be in for a very long wait.
Guild Wars 2 is mostly a PVE sort of game however PVP exists in duels, 4 mans and World vs World (WvW).
Are they good?
They can be.
However there are issues with balancing and certain classes or builds being overpowered.
And this can be a let down for certain players who enjoy PVP.
World vs World
World vs World is where large groups of people can roam to take over land from others however I hear that sometimes the lag can be quite bad.
Also the problem here is that WvW only allows players on the same server to play together not the same guild, which is weird considering the name of the game.
This means that even if you have friends in the same guild, if they're on different GW2 servers you can't play with them.
ArenaNet has said that they'll change this one day, however who knows when that will be.
Overall considering that the base Guild Wars 2 game is free and that you can literally pay for any microtransaction with in game gold (eventually) means that I can easily recommend this MMO to any new player to try out without fear.
The great story (more so in the later paid expansions of Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire), the fast paced action-tab hybrid combat system, the open world popularity and the amazing community simply make GW2 the best free to play fantasy MMO on the market in my opinion (and the opinion of many others).
The major downsides are that the content is pushed out slowly and much of the existing content, classes or mechanics haven't been overhauled in a long time.
PVP is good though not great due to a lot of game imbalances and overpowered builds.
So would I recommend this game to be worth playing in 2021?
Yes if you're looking for a free/low cost MMO to invest time in.
Yes if you're a casual player.
No if you're not into outdated graphics, slow content updates or unbalanced pvp action.
I personally don't consider Guild Wars 2 my main MMO of choice however it's a great side MMO for casual players because the gear grind is minimal unlike games like WoW or Destiny 2.
Your gear never goes out of date.