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After I saw Arenanet's Manifesto, I was encouraged, but certainly I doubted it was anything much more than a sales gimmick to lure in all those players (like me) that had basically stopped playing MMOGs after getting burned out on WoW.
OMG, I couldn't have been any more wrong. This game is exactly what I - and, apparently, millions of other players - have been waiting for. I'm still basically in shock. After so many years of disappointment and having my casual playstyle treated like a scrub cash cow, finally - finally - a major, AAA developer has completely changed the MMOG structure in so fundamental a way that it's just hard to believe it.
At the end of my WoW career, I hated logging in, because there was just so little I could do as a casual player. It was really nothing but an exercise in disappointment and frustration, trying to recapture the enjoyment I felt first logging in to EQ vanilla or WoW vanilla. The majority of the content of modern MMOGs is really nothing more than a set-up for end-game gear grinding,which I just don't t have the time to do. I can't commit my attention to even 1 hour of continuous gameplay, much less 2-3 or more to grind even 5-man dungeons, much less several-hour raids. I have to be able to continuously stop, get up, do something, come back, stop, talk to someone, answer the phone, etc.
I can't even begin to describe how fun playing GW2 is. The art is simply the best I've ever seen in a game, period. I've never seen a game so full of high-quality artistic layouts, panoramas, mood lighting and detail. It's like running around inside the best 3D disney or Pixar movie ever. The production values are astounding, from the voice acting to the lighting to the music to the nuanced gestures and motions. It's a audio-visual treat. I suppose one might not care for the game's particular artistic style, but IMO it's breathtakingly beautiful.
Then, there's the diversity. I've played 4 characters so far, 4 different races, 4 different classes, and I must say they're all a lot of fun. Figuring out how to succeed with a character is both challenging and interesting. I love logging in with any of them. I love the crafting and figuring out new recipes. I love gathering. I love being able to jump in and help whomever is around and not feeling like I"m taking anything away from them. I love the jumping puzzles. I love how I can go anywhere and get experience and level-appropriate drops. In other games, you stop getting experience in areas or for doing certain activities, but in GW2 you can do just about anything (other than exploration and crafting lower-level stuff) for experience anywhere - even in zones well below your level. Trying to find level-appropriate areas and things to do is a thing of the past in GW2.
All of this combines for a sense of freedom and a lack of frustration; if I want to collect some raw materials for a crafting alt, I can take my higher-level character into a lower-level zone and still get lots of experience in that zone, just doing what I went there to do and doing any side stuff that pops up. I don't get frustrated by other players - I'm always glad to see them. I don't get frustrated by not getting any experience, nor are the fights that pop up boring because I'm never over-powered.
I never feel like I'm wasting time in this game, nor do I ever feel like there's nothing to do. I don't feel pressure to have to go someplace else, or do something else. If I find a zone I like, I can stay there as long as I like. The difference between GW2 and any other MMOG I've played is like night and day.
I LOVE THIS GAME!!!