Blog Post

Games for the Weekend: Guild Wars 2

Here’s how excited I was that Guild Wars 2 ($59) introduced a beta client for OS X: I momentarily stopped hitting refresh on my iPhone 5(s AAPL) shipping status to make a note to download it when I got home. While OS X satisfies almost all of my computing needs, sadly, when it comes to gaming I’m forced to use Boot Camp more often than not. So, when I find out a recently released Windows(s MSFT) game has an OS X client available already, you had me at hello.

I also don’t believe in coincidences. Blizzard will have a Mac client available for their new World of Warcraft expansion available at launch on Sept. 25. It’s a Cider port; not what we’d consider to be a “native” client. At this point, I don’t care — if it doesn’t require an emulator or Boot Camp to run, I’m willing to call it native.

While the Mac client is listed as a beta, you will still need to purchase the game. You can either purchase the physical box of the Windows client and use the serial number to activate your account, or you can buy it from the Guild Wars 2 site. Guild Wars 2 is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO). Due to time constraints, I’m not going to give the game a full review — others have gone to exhausting length on this — so this is more of a first impressions post.

The system specs are a little steep (you’ll need a Mac made in the last two years). On my mid-2011 MacBook Pro with 8 GB of RAM it ran OK at “optimized for best appearance.” If I wasn’t interested in pushing the limits of the client, backing off a few settings would still result in a fantastic-looking game that ran great. The game is beautiful. The original Guild Wars was also fantastic, and the sequel has really stepped it up.

One of the things I really like about the game is how choices you make during character creation as well as choices you make during the game affect the overall storyline you experience. I’m not expecting a totally dynamic story, but rather something along of a “choose your own adventure” book. One nice touch is that most quests have voice acting and cinematic cut scenes. This makes the game seem more like a single-player game. During the cut scene you can choose how your character is going to react.

Another nice convention is that the map is scattered with waypoints you can teleport to. This eliminates time-wasting conventions like running, mounts, and lengthly griffon rides to get to your destination. Instead, you click on where you want to go, pay a pittance, and boom, you’re there. Guild Wars 2 also eschews one of the other MMO conventions: subscription fees. While there is a shop you can spend real money on, it’s limited to cosmetic items, some XP boosts and the like.

In addition to fighting monsters, you can also participate in World vs. World combat (i.e., fight against other players). Traveling to the WvW regions is as easy as clicking on a button in the game menu. Once you’ve arrived, you will fight against other player in the Mists. The WvW events involve hundreds of players, so it’s a good way to for people not used to PvP to get acclimated. There is also PvP where small teams compete.

In my fews days testing the client I’ve been very happy with its stability. It has run fine with no crashes, complaints or glitches. The gigantic time sinks that are MMOs are my preferred poison, and I’m looking forward to playing this one a lot more.

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