With all the other MMO's that have been released in the past year or two that had been advertised as 'WoW Killers' or 'World of Warcraft Killers', Guild Wars 2 at least had enough grace not to advertise itself as one. However, unlike Star Wars: The Old Republic, Aion, or Rift; Guild Wars 2 would have had a really decent chance.
After playing through the game during the three days headstart that was given to player who purchased the game online, I've found what ultimately would have been it's flaws. That doesn't mean that I didn't have to shift through a bunch of awesome to find them though.
The character creation is a breath of fresh air in the massively multiplayer universe. You know from the get go that this game will have some replay quality. Every race has three different story options that you can play out.
The races are:
Charr, a savage race of conquerors
Norn, towering heroes from the north
Human, a noble, resilient people
Sylvari, a mysterious, noble plant beings
Asura, diminutive mystical scientists
After picking your race you are prompted to choose a class:
Each of the classes has a variety of specialties that make them an involving class to play. Once you pick your race and class you then design your character. The player has a fair amount of control on what their character will look like, though still not quite the customization that one gets from Bioware or Bethesda games
Guild Wars 2 breaks free from the general static quest system that most MMO's use. After the player finishes their races' starting zone, they are thrust into the open world. Those used to MMO games will see a vague static quest system in the Guild Wars 2 Renown Heart system. They are small gold lined hearts that appear on the map when there is a person in need of some help. However, one cannot level on hearts alone. If you merely aim to use the hearts as a static quest system you'll quickly find yourself in a high level zone where monsters will rip you apart.
So how do you fill in the extra experience you need? This is where Guild Wars fails a little bit, after it shows you where the first few hearts are, it kind of just pushes you out of the nest and never helps you again. Most experienced MMO players adapt well enough, but it seems like it would be really overwhelming for someone new to the genre.
To fill in that extra experience, you have to wonder upon dynamic events, events that pop up somewhat randomly. This is where someone will ask for your help and the help of players near to them. Helping them gives you experience as well as karma which you can use to spend on specialty items. These events are all great and easy with the game being bursting at the server seams on launch day, but I foresee it becoming very difficult to find players to group up with to help complete these as the game gets older.
If you're having problems finding these event, there's always crafting! Another thing Guild Wars 2 doesn't explain to you. I admire the fact the Guild Wars 2 expects the player to have some sort of intelligence and natural curiosity about the world they are in, but a little exposition never hurt anyone.
One last thing that is frustrating to new and old players alike is that if you are higher level then a zone, your level is then made to match the level of the zone. This means you can't just go tearing through low level content, it can be irritating if you are trying to gather resources for crafting but it keeps the game challenging.
If you are familiar with Diablo 3's combat system, then you'll be familar with with system, aside from it being third person in comparison to Diablo 3's overhead style. Unlike Diablo 3, your character starts off with one weapon with one skill, as you use the weapon it "levels" and unlocks most skills once you've maxed them all out you are golden. Until you put on another weapon of a different variety, then you have to do the same with that weapon. For example, if you start with a sword and max out those skills, you know them forever. However, if you switch to an axe you have a whole new set to learn. This opens up some varieties for your play style.
As you level you can learn utility and healing skills that will help you in combat. Guild Wars 2 has no set healing class, so it's important to utilize your survival abilities when you need them.
If your running around with your maxed out skill set and happen to take a dive underwater, you'll notice that you have a completely new weapon to use in the depths. It really puts some realism into the game having to use a spear instead of swinging your huge hammer underwater.
If you should happen to die, which you will...a lot, Guild Wars 2 uses a second chance system of sorts. You can throw stuff at your enemies in an attempt to kill them before they kill you, which you bring you back from near death. If you are feeling particularly pissed off at an enemy, you can use the vengeance skill to get you back up to kill the enemy, but once it expires you die. If you just happen to be super unlucky and get downed in the monsters last swipe, you can use the bandage ability to slowly heal yourself.
If you do happen to die for real, other players walking by can revive you. Let's face it though, people aren't that nice. Most likely you will have to pay a small fee to transport yourself to the nearest waypoint. So don't leave waypoints undiscovered!
The graphics are great. So great they make my graphics tear on the screen, but that's just my cards. The world is beautiful, the races are beautiful, even the ugliest monsters are beautiful on high settings. If you have the rig to play the game at high settings, do it. If not, I'm sorry, still pretty though. The world is so large and detailed it really makes you feel...insignificant.
Not much else to say. It's definitely one of the best world designs in a game.
Guild Wars is a PVP oriented series so it's not surprising that Guild Wars 2 is too. It's not like you can fight other characters walking by, but Guild Wars 2 introduces a World V.World V. World system. This system is where your server or "world" fights two others for supremacy. You don't need to be max level to participate either. If you queue for PVP, you are automatically bumped to max level so everyone can fight on fair ground.
In conclusion, Guild Wars 2 is a fantastic game, it's not quite a World of Warcraft killer, but thankfully was never advertised as one. Leveling takes quite some time and gameplay is kept at a challenging level. There are lots of character stories to do to keep players interested and definitely lots of things to do. If you haven't caught on yet, Guild Wars 2 is best played with a group, thus the name. It's okay playing solo but it's fun playing with friends.
The one major gripe that has not to be mentioned yet is the lack of end game content to keep things interesting. Thus why I got put off. There i was leveling away when I realized, "what am I working towards?" In PVP, I'm already max level and that's all there really is end game. I gear up my character and I PVP, that's all. This will entertain some, but sadly, not me.