Review: Guild Wars 2 arrives for the Mac
The arrival of Guild Wars 2 for the Mac took us rather by surprise. The PC version 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 a shop. You need to purchase the PC version and then use the serial number that you receive to create a game account on the Guild Wars 2 website. You then use the serial number to download the Mac version. It’s a humungous 18GB download, so it’s probably best to leave your Mac running overnight to download the game.
The system requirements are fairly steep, suggesting Mac models released only since 2010—NCSoft recommends a Mac with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a nVidia GeForce 320M, ATI Radeon HD 6630M, or Intel HD 3000 or better graphics processor. My 2009-edition iMac coped perfectly well, but it was a high-end model at the time with an Core i5 processor and a decent graphics card. You’ll probably need an 2GHz Core i5 processor or faster 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 and then head off to battle monsters, complete quests and hunt for all sorts of mystical loot in the fantasy world of Tyria. What sets Guild Wars 2 apart from World of Warcraft is that 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 where you follow your character’s own personal storyline, which varies depending on the decisions you make when you first create your 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 to explore as you head off to seek your destiny.
Guild Wars 2 also has a really enjoyable competitive aspect to the game. 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—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.
Guild Wars 2 is not a game for players who want instant gratification. There’s no manual and the info on the Guild Wars 2 website 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.
Due to its complexity, Guild Wars 2 is probably not the best choice for casual gamers looking for a quick fix of gaming action. However, dedicated role-playing fans who have the time and patience will find Guild Wars 2 a hugely enjoyable alternative to World of Warcraft and other subcription-based MMORPGs.