One of my favorite cases for why ArenaNet has created the perfect MMO for adult players is Structured PvP. Other MMOs may have PvP battlegrounds or warzones that you can compete in without being max level, but even that comes down to who has the best gear and who is the highest level. If you have better stats or more abilities at your disposal than your opponent, then you’re going to win. In many MMOs, the “real” game doesn’t even begin until you’re max level. Any PvP done before then won’t reward you with the best gear, nor does it offer the same complexity since you won’t have your full complement of abilities at your disposal.
These other MMOs also have specialized PvP stats on their gear, like resilience or expertise. These stats are completely arbitrary in nature, and are placed on gear to increase your damage done and reduce the damage done to you in a PvP setting. The only reason stats like this exist is so you can’t bring the gear you’ve acquired elsewhere in the game into a PvP setting and be competitive. This means you have to sit through another gear grind if you want to level the playing field. More time spent getting gear is more time spent on your subscription.
Guild Wars 2 unshackles players from this kind of nonsense. In Guild Wars 2 you can enter the Mists very shortly after character creation. This zone is a PvP lobby where you can access your max level character for organized PvP play. In sPvP, you have full access to all of your weapons, armor, skills and traits. You can participate in Hot Join matches, jumping in and out at your leisure without restrictions, or get together with friends for more organized Tournament play. The great thing about sPvP is that it can be as casual or hardcore of an experience as you want it to be. Spend 15 minutes or spend an entire afternoon, it’s up to you. The only determining factors of who wins are communication and skill. Even the most hardcore player will only be rewarded with cosmetic upgrades in gear. His stats will be the same as yours. There’s no grind to concern yourself with. If all you want to do is hop in and run some matches, this is a perfectly viable way to enjoy doing so without needing to spend days or weeks leveling first.
It may sound like I dislike the subscription model a great deal, and it’s absolutely true. I consider it a bit of a trap. The payment model of any game greatly influences game design decisions which support that model. Raiding is certainly a byproduct of subscription MMOs, and one which we’ve already covered.
Flight paths and travel time between zones is another. The first time you hop on a mount and it takes 5-10 minutes to get to your destination, it may seem like a grand way to get a sense of the larger world. The 10th time you do it, it’s a convenient way to work in a bathroom break. The 100th time you do it, it’s just a frustrating waste of your time. If you want to instantly port from one area to another, you can, but it’s normally on a fairly long timer to make sure it isn’t too convenient. The goal is to stretch your playing time.
If you sit down to do crafting in another MMO, the time it takes to smelt a single copper bar is exactly the same amount of time it takes to smelt the 500th. If part of your crafting sessions in other MMOs has ever involved turning on a TV show or surfing the web while your progress bar slowly ticked by, then you know what I’m talking about. You aren’t even playing the game at that point. It’s playing you.
Things like this are just not found in Guild Wars 2. Once you discover a waypoint, you can fast travel between them at will for a small fee. When you sit down to craft, not only will your progress bar tick by exponentially faster for each of the same item you make, but you’ll gain experience towards leveling up just from doing it. ArenaNet wants you to spend your time playing their game, and rewards you for doing so at whatever pace and in whatever way you choose.
If you have kids who want to play with you, it’s as easy as purchasing another copy of the game. You’re not forced into paying another monthly fee for something your child may only pick up and play a handful of times per month.
If you want to play with friends who are new to the game, you can take your existing character and be scaled down in level so you can enjoy the game right beside them at a moment’s notice. You don’t even have to both be on the same server, thanks to Guild Wars 2′s guesting system.
ArenaNet can provide you with all of this convenience because, unlike a subscription MMO developer, they don’t need Guild Wars 2 to be the only game you ever play. Once you’ve purchased the copy, you’re done. It’s all about getting your initial investment’s worth of entertainment. If you stop playing for a couple of weeks to try out another title, or to take a family vacation, or to handle a business trip, it doesn’t matter. Guild Wars 2 will still be waiting for you when you get back without costing you an extra penny. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t need to get you to play out of guilt. You’ll never have to think to yourself “Well, I’m paying $15 a month for it, so I’d better log in.” Just like any other non-subscription game you have loaded on your PC or console game that is sitting on your shelf, the only thing making you play Guild Wars 2 is your own enjoyment. Play it because you want to, and not because you have to.
Guild Wars 2 is an expansive, dynamic game with numerous fun and rewarding ways to experience it. Play as much or as little as you want, whenever you can. You are completely free to explore and experience the game at your own pace, without penalty. It’s the perfect MMO, regardless of how busy your life outside of gaming is.