Friday, August 29, 2014

Game Review: Guild Wars 2

By Grease Coakes

Most gamers are familiar with WOW, aka World Of Warcraft, as the best selling online roleplaying game, rich with lore and many things to do and quests to accomplish. Guild Wars 2, available to buy online for a fair price of $50, follows the same vein. The world of Tyria is rich in adventure with incredible realistic graphics and easy to get into playability. For example in WOW if you wanted to go from one place to another for a low cost in gold you hired a wyvern or a griffin to fly you there on a fixed flying route which took some time. In GW2 you merely press M for map and click on a waypoint or WP for short. For a small cost in silver or copper you see a load screen appears for a brief time and you're where you want to go.

As you create your character you can pick from four races: the Asura a goblin race which is small but extremely intelligent, Humans, a larger human-like race called the Norn, and a furry race called the Charr which is a cat/lion furry. Including the sex of your character, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. Options include skin and hair, color, height and physical physique of your character. Last names are accepted for your character. For example my Charr warrior is Dusty Coakes. You can also pick colors for your armor or clothes. Don't worry the colors you pick aren't permanent. One of the many options is dyes so you can always change the colors of the clothes or armor you wear.

In addition to those options you also have a set of questions. Like when your character was growing up who was your trainer and were you born from a noble family or was your father a traitor? Another question when I made my elementlist was what element do you feel most connected to? Arena Net, the game company behind Guild Wars 2, put a lot of time and thought into this game. There's also eight classes or what the game calls professions to pick from as your character. There's also a story mode you can play through with rewards and sometimes you earn a Black Lion Key. You use these keys to open Black Lion chests which has treasures you can only earn from these chests.

Warriors are the tough guys along with guardians. Both of them can wear heavy armor as the guardian is like the paladin from WOW. An engineer creates guns and turrets to attack and heal. The ranger is akin to the hunter from WOW. The thief is sneaky and has lots of tricks to play keep away and do heavy damage. The Engineer Thief and Ranger can wear medium armor hence leather armors.

Necromancers use spooky and death related spells to hurt and drain health from baddies. Mesmers create duplicates of him or herself to confuse foes and slowly wear down and kill whomever. Elementlists use the four elements of fire water earth and air to attack or heal. These three professions let your character wear cloth armor.

Not only does the game have fabulous graphics you also hear superb voice acting. You'll hear voice emotes like “Go ahead hit me!” or “I can outrun a centaur!” My Elemtlist says things like “Air!” or “My power will drown you!” when I switch him to water. Cut scenes in dungeons or in story mode also have excellent voice acting and excellent graphics.

WOW to get to the maximum level took a while. As you went from area to area getting herbs or metals you finished quests to speed up your leveling. GW2 is in the same way but different. As you travel around you'll see an empty heart pop up on your screen. There's a text read out explaining what the NPCs want you to do in the area. When the heart fills up you receive experience karma and a low gold reward. Filling hearts in an area helps you level quicker. In fact just completing hearts in areas will level your character at a very fast pace. Or if you PVP you earn tomes of knowledge. Each tome of knowledge gives you a level.

Like in WOW you gather materials for your crafts like tailoring, cooking, amrorsmithing, weaponsmithing, etc. However to gather materials like wood metals or carrots you don't have to use a trade slot to gather those materials or mats for short to create items or sell. So long as you have mining picks sickles and axes equipped you can always gain these items from various nodes in the game. So instead of mining and armorsmithing like in WOW you can have cooking and weaponsmithing as your trade skills instead. And you can still gather other materials to sell off.

Akin to WOW you can sell your goods and shop around on the Black Lion Trading Company. However let's say your bags filled up and you're in no mood to go back to town to unload your goodies to sell. And GW2 isn't stingy with gear dropping you'll see gear drop now and again as you kill baddies in your way.

You could right click over an item you want to sell and the item is taken from your bags to be sold on the BL Trading company. Taking a few minutes to right click everything up for sale takes a lot less time then going back to town and going to a BL Trading company NPC to sell in person.

In each area there are vistas, points of interest, waypoints, hearts, and skill points. Vistas give you a wonderful scrolling view of an area but aren't always easy to reach or find. Skill points you have to earn either by your character absorbing the skill point or fighting an NPC for it. Skill points purchase traits and abilities for your character. Every time you level up you also receive a skill point. Points of interest you just find and it pops up as completed.

There's a downscaling system as you explore Tryia. For example if your character is level 50 and you're in a level 35 area you'll be downscaled down to a level 35. However your gear will still give you high stats. You should have an easier time killing mobs but don't get lazy you can still die if you're not careful.

When you complete an area for example when you start a Charr your first area is Ashford Plains so you might complete that first. You receive a blue chest which has goodies for your character. The higher level the area the better loot you receive. GW2's motto is treasure as the game rewards you in various ways.

One thing you can do with random loot you find is use a salvage kit to break apart items to get ore pieces of leather and essences of luck. Essences of luck will boost your magic find and you use the materials salvaged from items to sell or for crafting.

After a while you may try your hand at PvP or player vs player. However your level doesn't make any difference as your character is given a PvP necklace and runes that makes it possible for any level 1 character to be able to fight a level 80 character on equal ground.

There's various games that pop up and in fact you don't have to wait very long for a PvP game to join. Click the PvP icon and you're taken to a Player versus Player waiting area. Talk to the Norn and you're good to go. There's a capture the flag game similar to WOW's Warsong Gulch and other games where controlling points is the key to victory. If possible like the buddy system in swimming swim with a buddy for safety reasons.

The buddy system in PvP is a good idea. With at least two people taking a point it's much easier to defend instead by all your lonesome. The other team may zerg around and knock the stuffing out of you quickly. Each team is up to 5 people is a color blue or red and you can take your pick. The main goal isn't just to chase down and kill the other team but to get 500 points through controlling points.

Fair warning though PvP is not for the faint of heart. It goes at a very fast pace and once in a while some players might say mean things. However playing in PvP can be worth your time and effort if you put the hard work into it and take your bad games with your good games.

For example my Elementlist wanted a whole dungeon set before he hit level 80. So when I did story mode in a dungeon called “Honor of the waves.” It unlocked a PvP track for me permanently. Usually PvP tracks might be locked until a certain time when it's unlocked again.

So all I did for a while was just PvPing and ever so slowly I earned Kodan tokens and weapon boxes along the way and treasure boxes. Not only that I can earn scrolls and tomes of knowledge to level up my character and skill points. When I got what I wanted out of PvP my character hit 80 (which is the max level). So with that character he already had a full armor and weapons set for a lot of blood sweat and tears. After that I stopped PvP and went to dungeons instead. However with PvP you can only do so much PvP before you hit a PvP limit and you stop receiving points on your PvP track. When you see a red ! Stop playing in PvP and find something else to do and try PvP again later. Over time the red! Will go away and you can start again. GW2 must of put that there so you don't earn treasure from PvP too fast.

As you level up you also earn traits to make your character better. For example my elementlist is traited fire and water. And two points in arcane. There's 5 choices for each profession or class whichever noun you wish to use. When you hit max level at 80 you have 14 trait points to spend. Each choice or trait line is a maximum of six. So I have six points in fire and water and 2 in arcana. Traits also give you bonuses to your stats. Water grants me vitality and healing power. Fire gives me power.

Each weapon gives you options as well. There's weapon choices for each character. For example 3 on my warrior depending if he has an axe or mace equipped has two different attacks. If a thief is attacking me in pvp and I’m smart enough to have a one handed mace equipped I can click counterblow by clicking 3 which is very handy. If the thief attacks me his attack is blocked and I thwack him with my mace for very high damage. The 4 and 5 keys are my shield. Where I can block attacks for a short time or rush a short distance and stun a bad guy.

Or if I have an axe equipped and someone I want kill in PvP is running away from me I can mouse click 3 and throw an axe at whoever. It adds what's called a condition (something bad on your character.) the condition is a cripple which cuts down the character's speed in half The opposite is called a boon which is something good for your character like a speed or might boon.

As your character levels up there's also abilities and or spells you can buy with skill points and the traits you also have to purchase with skill points. But don't worry the game isn't stingy with skill points as you earn them in areas or through PvP.

As you progress through the game there are also skins for armor and weapons that you earn from the game. My elementlist walks around in a full kodan armor set and also kodan weapons and my warrior Dusty is in a flame legion armor set. With transmutation points you can change your character's clothing or armor appearance from other skins you have unlocked. As an example I didn't like how my necromancer's hat was covering her face. So I used transmutation point to change her hat into a different skin. Transmutation points are earned through pvp or through daily rewards. My necromancer as a joke is colored pink as her name is Freehugsofdeath. She always offers free hugs but oddly no one wants a free hug. Amazingly I do very well with in PvP with her and she seems to give out lots of free hugs

Like WOW there's also guilds to join. Chit chat with guildies and also find a group to go defeat a dungeon. And GW2's dungeons aren't time eaters. A dungeon like sorrow's embrace could be knocked out in a short time like 20-30 mins.

There's also a world vs world option which is PvP on a grander scale. I haven't played much of that nor have I done much with crafting items. However what I was told is with weapon smithing you could create your own end game weapons.

With excellent graphics and easy to get into game play GW2 is an excellent game to buy for a mere $50. Oh, and the best part of all there is NO MONTHLY FEE. Once the $50 is ponied up. That's it the game is yours. Keep playing until the cows come home or until you fall asleep. You could purchase gems with real money or gold in game for skins or boosters but to play the game it's not required to use or purchase gems.

If you're looking for something to play and you enjoy playing with others go use up a birthday present or buy it yourself and have a great time burning or bashing bad guys in pvp or in a dungeon. Guild Wars 2 is the Porsche of online role playing games.

Grease Coakes

Monday, August 25, 2014

Next "World of Warcraft" Expansion to be Released November 13

By Bixyl Shuftan

Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of the top MMO "World of Warcraft" recently announced the date that the latest expansion, "Warlords of Draenor," will be available: November 13. The new expansion is somewhat lighter in some ways than previous expansions: there are no new races or character classes. But the maximum level for player characters has been raised to Level 100, you get a chance to raise a starting character from Level 1 to Level 90 instantly, there are new dungeons and a new Player vs Player battlefield, a new continent: Draenor, and something new: player-controlled garrisons. One feature, updated looks for the various races, has already been in progress over the past several months.

In both terms of the plot and the gameplay, the game is a look back at its orgins. Garrosh Hellscream, the bad guy from "Mists of Pandaria" whom was about to be put on trial for his crimes, but escapes with the help of a time-traveler whom takes him back in time to Draenor, the homeworld of both the Orcs and Draenei. There, he stops the Orcs from being corrupted by drinking demonic blood. Instead, he offers them technology from the future and sets about creating an "Iron Horde" and building a portal back to Azeroth to invade it. It's up to the players to go back to this alternate past and try to stop him.

Players whom played the original Warcraft games will encounter characters such as Durotan, Ogrim Doomhammer, Kilrogg, and others. In some ways, the game resembles those "Orcs vs humans" games, "The age of the whimsical panda is over," one designer commented, "Warcraft of old is back."

But one thing that won't be back are the numbers of over 12 million players the game once had. Although the expansions have helped raise numbers back up for a time, "World of Warcraft" has seen a slow decline over the years to 6.8 million as of August 2014. One designer commented, "We really don't know if it will grow again. It's possible, but I wouldn't say it's something we expect." Still, while Blizard's Multiplayer Online Game may no longer have the numbers it once had, it's still the champion of MMOs after a decade. While some players might be a little disappointed over no new races or player classes, the makers of the game "are still sitting at the top of the mountain, and they've got no reason to shake the foundations."

"World of Warcraft" has made news in other ways recently. Earlier this year, Blizzard sponsored a short spinnoff of "American Chopper" - "Azeroth Choppers." Two teams built real life prototypes of motorcycles in the style of both the Alliance and the Horde, with an audience voting on which would be made available in-game. The Horde chopper won, and was made available to it's faction's players for free when the next expansion launches, provided they logged in before September 30. The Alliance bike was made available for it's players anyway, though they would have to pay extra for it.

Also, Robin Williams, whom passed away recently, had been an avid "World of Warcraft" player. A petition that he should be honored in the game with an NPC was soon answered by Blizzard that they were working on one. Shortly afterwards, the Wowhead fansite announced the discovery of an NPC "Robin the Entertainer" as part of the code for the upcoming "Warlords of Draenor" expansion. The image attatched was that of a blue djinn, a connection to "Genie" from "Aladdin" which Williams did the voice for.

Sources: BBC News,, PC Gamer

Bixyl Shuftan