For all the love I've got for traditional RPGs, I've never really been that into MMOs. I've tried one previously (Rift), but never really stuck with it. Partly because of the ongoing commitment hanging over my head in the form of a $15 a month subscription. I don't like feeling obligated to play a game just because I've got a debit to my bank account weighing me down. But I've also had a problem with the second "M" ("multiplayer", for those who aren't really familiar with what the acronym stands for). I don't like playing games with other people. It's just my cross to bear as an introvert.

So, one would think that Guild Wars 2 wouldn't really be a game I was too excited about. However, NCSoft and ArenaNet (the game's two publishers) have eliminated both of those concerns with Guild Wars 2. Actually, they've eliminated the subscription fees and made the multiplayer component a huge and vibrant part of the game that a player like myself can totally ignore if they so choose.

The game itself does have a better, more cohesive story than do most MMOs (or, so I've been told). Each person's origin story is dependent on their race and class, as well as a few other questions you answer during character creation. As you progress through the game, all the various threads converge toward the end so that everyone, regardless of class or race, end up playing through the same end game and saving the world from the same threats. The fact that there is so much choice and so many variables that go into creating a character allows for a lot of replayability, as does the fact that each race has its own unique areas to quest through until the endgame. However, there are plenty of folks who play the game as a traditional MMO and grind through levels with no thought to the story. There are tons of things for them to do, as well.

Guild Wars 2 allows those folks whose real-life wanderlust isn't fully satisfied by their day-to-day lives to really get it out in game. The worlds are huge, open, and gorgeously designed. As you travel throughout the world, you'll enter different regions on the maps that a marker designates as an "undiscovered point of interest" (a hollow square) or a quest (a hollow heart). The great thing about the set up is you don't need to go locate the actual quest giver (although there is one, who'll give you some background on the issue you're helping them solve). As long as you enter the area where the quest is located, it'll show up in your list of things to do and you can complete it (or not) without having to go talk to someone in-game at all. It's a grinder's paradise. Once you locate all the undiscovered areas within a map region, as well as completing all the quests for that area, the game drops a ton of loot and some money on you, so it's definitely worth a player's time to do that.

As I mentioned previously, the game still has all the features that put the second "M" in MMO. You can create or join guilds, take on dungeons, and do PvP and WvW (player vs. player, world vs. world). I've spent some very limited time in these areas and can confirm that, while they're still not my cup of tea, they're enjoyable. Those who have a built in group of friends in the game will no doubt get a lot of playtime out of these areas, as well as those who easily join up with new folks in game.

All in all, this was a really great game with no glaring faults to a player like me. The combat system was fun and very customizable (and holds tightly to MMO conventions, according to friends who play these games more frequently). A player doesn't ever have to worry about kill-stealing, because the game grants anyone who does damage to a monster experience points once that monster is defeated (rather than only to the player who lands the killing blow). This encourages collaboration among players who might not even know each other in game. Guild Wars 2 really has ironed out many of the problems that people had with the genre of MMOs.

I can't really recommend this game more highly. If you're looking for an easy way to break in to the MMO genre, this is your game. If you're looking for something new and enjoyable since WoW has run its course for you, this is also your game.

Guild Wars 2 is rated T for Teen by the ESRB. This rating only applies to the single-player portion of the game; all interactions with living, breathing humans aren't covered. I noted the following things that may be of concern to some of our readers:

Language: Coarse, but not blasphemous.

Sexuality: Typical fantasy genre-style outfits for women in-game show lots of skin.

Violence: Quite a bit. This is a game about killing monsters, some of which look pretty gross or could be frightening.

*This Article First Published 10/23/2012