Fri, 05 Oct 2012 Guild Wars 2 review
Subscription-free online role-playing game makes a surprise appearance on the Mac.
- Manufacturer: NCsoft
- Pros: massively multiplayer online role-playing game with no monthly subscription
- Cons: complex game with little help for beginners, high system requirements
- Min specs: i5 processor, 4GB RAM, Intel HD3000 graphics, or discrete graphics card with 512MB video memory
- Price: £49.99
- Star rating:
The arrival of Guild Wars 2 on the Mac took us rather by surprise. The PC version was launched in August, but during its long years of development there was never any mention of a possible Mac version – until we recently received an email from the developers with a download link.
You won’t find the Mac version in the shops right now, so you’ll need to purchase the PC version and use the serial number that comes with that game in order to create a game account on the Guild Wars 2 web site. You can then use that serial number to download the Mac version as well. It’s a humungous 18GB download, so it’s probably best to just leave your Mac running overnight to download the game. The system requirements listed on the game’s web site are also fairly steep, suggesting Mac models released only since 2010. My 2009-edition iMac coped perfectly well, but it was a high-end model at the time with an i5 processor and a decent graphics card. You’ll probably need an i5 processor running at 2GHz or more in order to run the game properly.
The basic formula of Guild Wars 2 is much the same as that of rival online games such as World Of Warcraft. You can play as a warrior, wizard or rogue character and then head off to battle monsters, complete quests and hunt for all sorts of mystical loot in the fantasy world of Tyria. However, Guild Wars 2 has a unique feature that sets it apart from World Of Warcraft because it allows you to play online with hundreds of other players without having to pay a monthly subscription.
There are two main parts to Guild Wars 2. There’s a single-player game in which you follow your character’s own personal storyline – which varies depending on the decisions you make when you first create that character. There are five different races available within the game, including humans, the giant feline Charr, and the plant-like Sylvari. Once you’ve chosen a race you then pick a profession, which includes the usual fantasy stereotypes of wizards, warriors, and rogues. Each race has its own lands within the world of Tyria, so there’s plenty for you to explore as you head off to seek your destiny.
There’s also a really enjoyable competitive aspect to the game too. Player versus Player games (PvP) pit small groups of players against each other as they compete to complete a specific task, while World versus World (WvW) throws hundreds of players onto large-scale war zones where they may battle for days, or even weeks.
How the developers can keep such a huge game running without the income from monthly subscriptions is something of a mystery – and, in fact, the long queues to join some of the WvW games do suggest that there’s a shortage of servers at the moment. I’ve been able to drop into the smaller PvP games easily enough, but in the week since I downloaded the Mac version of the game I’ve been completely unable to get into any of the WvW games.
And if I have a criticism of Guild Wars 2 it’s that this is not a game for players who want a bit of instant gratification. There’s no manual supplied with the game and the info on the Guild Wars 2 web site provides little more than a summary of the game’s key points. I’ve played numerous online role-playing games in recent years, but it still took me a few evenings just to get to grips with the basics of Guild Wars 2.