Choice is incredibly important in all facets of life. Ranging from simple choices, like what to eat for lunch, to complex and life-changing decisions, like getting a new job or buying a house, our lives are dominated by choice. Many computer games (notably recent RPGs such as the Mass Effect series or The Witcher series) give players important choices to make, each of which can affect the outcome of the game. I am a big fan of having choice in games. The power to choose where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you go about doing it. Freedom of choice, I believe, is vital for a game to thrive, especially an MMORPG. Luckily, Guild Wars 2 has choices in abundance. Follow along after the break for a brief breakdown of choice in Guild Wars 2.
Before you even enter the game, you are given a wealth of choices to make, all of which will impact your story and gameplay.
- First up, which race do you play? The ingenious asura? The merciless charr? The embattled humans? The mighty norn? The noble sylvari? Your overarching personal story throughout the game will depend upon this single choice.
- Next up, we have a choice of male or female character. This is purely for aesthetics, but is nonetheless an important consideration (after all, you’ll be spending many an hour with your character, so you’ll want them to look good!).
- Now we come onto the choice of professions. This will impact your gameplay, as each profession has a unique style and flair to them. Do you go for a heavily armoured, in your face warrior, or a spiritual, defensive guardian? Perhaps you’re more of a sneaky thief, inventive engineer, or adventuring ranger? Does the power of the mind entice you, whether through the illusions of a mesmer, the dark arts of the necromancer, or the elemental ferocity of the elementalist?
- After choosing a race, gender, and profession, you get to choose the physical appearance of your new hero. A massive, fat norn? That’s possible! A tiny, evil looking asura? Sure thing! How about a luminescent, alien-looking sylvari? Why not! The extent of customisation is huge, and well worth spending time with to get your character looking ‘just right’.
- Now we have our character’s appearance sorted, it’s time to choose their background. Each choice made in this biography section will impact your personal story in one form or another, drastically changing how it will play out. If you were to create two identical characters, with a single change during the biography (being a commoner as opposed to a member of the nobility in the human personal story, for instance), then your story will be radically different, with different choices and events occurring.
- Finally, we have the choice of a name. What’s in a name? A lot, as it turns out.
All these choices before we’ve even entered the game! But now we’re here, in game, ready to rid Tyria of the Elder Dragons. How do we go about doing that? The choice is yours! The beauty of Guild Wars 2 is that you can decide how you want to play it. Do you focus on fighting? Feel free to bash those foes to a pulp, whether in PvE or WvW! Fancy yourself an explorer? Wander off the beaten track and discover new sights, fall off jumping puzzles, and experience new cultures! Prefer the safety of the cities? Craft your way to power! Laugh and dance atop a broken pipe with Divinity’s Reach soaring majestically in the background? It’s all possible! You are given so many options whilst playing as to how you want to proceed, that you will never be short of something to do.
One of the risks of all this choice is that it can often be overwhelming. Sometimes having too much choice can result in less being achieved and reduced happiness. Have you ever been stood in a supermarket, staring at the bazillion types of breakfast cereals on offer, and being unable to decide which one to buy? Or wondering which type of red wine to buy for a dinner party, and wishing your choice was simpler? Often, less choice can be a good thing. Does this apply to Guild Wars 2? Well, yes and no.
Arenanet have done an amazing thing by allowing you to play the game the way you want to play it. All their professions are unique and interesting, each race is beautifully crafted, and each biography choice impacts your personal story. This makes it exceptionally hard for players (like me) to decide which race and profession combination to go for! With only five character slots available at launch (most likely), you can create one character of each race, but you’ll have to cut out three professions. This is an incredibly tough choice to make (on par with choosing a house, I reckon), as Arenanet have made all the professions so amazing. A recent poll by Massively shows exactly what I mean, with an even split for all the professions (although the poor necromancer is lagging behind ever so slightly!).
Choice plays a vital role in Guild Wars 2, and I, for one, am glad to have these choices, even if I bemoan the fact that I can’t decide on my main character for launch! It’s a good problem to have though, and just shows how wonderfully crafted this game is.
Guild Wars 2 provides plenty of choice – after all, as they say, it’s your story. Now, what to have for lunch…
What do you think of choice in games? Have you chosen your main character(s) already? Does Guild Wars 2 offer too much choice? Do YOU know what you’ll have for lunch today?
About the author: Wedge is an avid Guild Wars 1 fan (with far too many hours sunk into it), & has been eagerly awaiting Guild Wars 2 since it was first announced. His heart lies in the dark ways of the necromancer, although the raw power of the elementalist is doing a great job of luring him away! Having recently completed a DPhil in Immunology, this new Dr keeps a blog over at www.richerramblings.wordpress.com.