2012's year of gaming is coming to a close and that means Neoseeker is deep in deliberation over its "Game of the Year" award. In the month of December and early January each of Neoseeker's 10 nominees for Game of the Year will be profiled. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade us which game deserves such an honorable award.
Our ninth nominee for 2012's Game of the Year is an MMO, of all things. Yet Guild Wars 2 takes the second-to-final spot on our list, thanks in large part to developer ArenaNet's willingness to think outside the proverbial box. The result is a surprisingly refreshing entry in a burgeoning genre that is always rapidly changing.
Plenty of factors that contribute to making Guild Wars 2 such a successful online game, but there's one mistake that so many others make, one that ArenaNet has avoided since the first Guild Wars. Know what that is? Right, don't try to replicate World of Warcraft. True, Guild Wars 2 is much more like a conventional MMO than its predecessor, doing away with the instance-based system in favor of an actual open world (among other interesting changes), but ArenaNet really isn't afraid of trying new things. Their fans love them for it, and they know and respect this.
Why Guild Wars 2 is great:
- No subscription - This has to be the game's biggest selling point, at least at face value. If your buddy has no clue what Guild Wars 2 is about, the easiest way to get them remotedly interested is by saying, "It's free." Okay, so you have to buy the actual game first, but after that, it's free-to-play, which is pretty rare these days for big budget MMOs; others tend to only adopt a free version down the road, and usually with a level cap or some other awful restrictions. Not that ArenaNet isn't making any money, because as most successful F2P models have shown us, people will flock to free games only to pour money into cosmetic goods, boosters, and other superfluous things. At the end of the day, you're still getting tons of content -- dungeons, exploration, PvP -- with no monthly fee, and that's pretty rare. There's plenty more on the way, too.
- No grind - Okay, so some folks out there do enjoy level grinding. Heck, it's such a huge part of the classic RPG formula, but MMOs are notorious for dragging this out... way out. One reason is that you're paying to play, so it's really in the game creators' best interests to keep you paying any way they can. Well, not only does Guild Wars 2 drop the subscription fee, but it also removes those months of grinding. There's still some of that in the game, but it's disguised very well, because ArenaNet gives players plenty of freedom when it comes to hitting 80. For many, the quest system is a little confusing, but the unconventional quest layouts, crafting, and exploration all provide means of getting reaching the level cap. Ultimately, the grind feels less like grinding and more like you're actually playing the game.
- No queues - So this is an interesting innovation ArenaNet deserves credit for, their Overflow system. Unlike a typical online game where crowded servers are met with queues, ArenaNet implemented overflow servers, basically cross-realm servers that players get shuffled into when the main server is full, and you're automatically dumped in a queue for the main server. Thing is, you're able to play while you wait, and despite a rough start, the system has more or less ironed itself out by now. If you're in a party that's been separated to different overflows, everyone can select one member of the group to join. What ArenaNet has essentially done is eliminated the wait time attached to MMOs.
- So beautiful your eyes will bleed - Guild Wars was a gorgeous game, at least in 2005. In 2012, Guild Wars 2 carries on this legacy... of looking absolutely awesome. The details in the game continue to surprise, coming together to form a world that you know the developers really care about. The visual design, too, of everything from races to environments are a sight to behold. The uniqueness of each race is superbly captured in how they look, how their cities look, setting each apart from the other both in appearance and feel. No one race is alike in style or attitude, which lore fanatics ought to really appreciate.
So there you have it, reasons to love Guild Wars 2 in a nutshell. Granted, it's not nearly as detailed as our actual full review, which might make a more compelling argument than a series of bullet points, but in the end, it's a great game, one that really shines in its current genre. That's why Guild Wars 2 squeezes its way onto our list of 2012 Game of the Year nominees.
Neoseeker Game of the Year nominees:
- The Walking Dead
- Hotline Miami
- Darksiders II
- Assassin's Creed III
- Far Cry 3
- Halo 4
- Guild Wars 2
- Dota 2
Also, check out and vote in our community Game of the Year poll, where the current leader is Borderlands 2.