Guild Wars 2 is a game that is near and dear to my heart, I’ve been playing it since the beta was released in 2012. It is one of the few games that I still play regularly, and that’s why I am writing this article. To give you a detailed comparison between Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft which is another extremely popular MMORPG.
So, is Guild Wars 2 better than WoW? For me, the answer is definitely yes. Many MMORPG veterans will agree when I say that Guild Wars 2 has a superior economy and combat system compared to World of Warcraft. It’s also completely free if you just want the core experience, unlike WoW which requires both a game purchase and monthly subscription.
With all that said, I must remind you of my inherent bias towards Guild Wars 2. However, this article is written from an objective point of view and I directly compare similar features between both games. I will try to put aside my love for Guild Wars 2 and focus on both its strengths as well as weaknesses when compared to WoW.
Is Guild Wars Like World of Warcraft?
On the surface, Guild Wars might seem similar to World of Warcraft. After all, both are MMORPG games that have been around since the early/mid-2000s. Both games have rich and highly developed lore with massive maps and tons of character classes.
And just like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars is based on traditional fantasy inspired by epics such as Lord of the Rings. However, Guild Wars doesn’t bore you with the same old combination of elves and dwarves. Instead, it has 5 unique races- Asura, Charr, Human, Norn, and Sylvari.
Clearly, some of these bear similarities to classic fantasy races. And you will sometimes see creatures like ogres or centaurs as NPCs/ part of the story. But playable races in Guild Wars 2 feel and look unique, unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Even the art style and graphics design in Guild Wars 2 is extremely different from WoW. It feels darker and gritter, with a higher emphasis on realistic body armor and character models. If you prefer a more mature fantasy world, Guild Wars 2 might be for you.
All that said, I promised to provide a fair and unbiased comparison between the two. To do that, let’s take a look at 3 main features – character creation, combat, and world design.
Character Creation- WoW vs Guild Wars 2
This one is a bit of a mixed bag. Guild Wars 2 offers you more options to customize the appearance of your character, while World of Warcraft has more playable races. In terms of classes/ professions, both games are on a level playing field.
However, Guild Wars doesn’t have race-restricted classes. In Guild Wars, you can choose to be in any profession irrespective of your race or gender. That’s not the case with WoW, where certain professions are race-specific.
Moving on to customizing your character’s physical appearance once you’ve selected a race and gender- this one is won by Guild Wars 2. It lets you change facial structure, armor dye, body type, eye shape, etc. and everything is on a slider. So you can create exactly the character you have in mind.
World of Warcraft has a comparatively simpler appearance customization scheme with fewer presets. Yeah, you can change skin tone, faces, and hairstyles, but that’s about it.
Differences Between Guild Wars 2 and WoW In Combat
A clear victory for Guild Wars 2, not even a contest. Bear in mind the fact that you can dodge like in Dark Souls and move while casting most spells. Guild Wars 2 combat just feels a lot more fluid and faster-paced compared to WoW.
And PvP is extremely rewarding since it relies entirely on player skill rather than a showdown to see who has the better gear. One more thing unique to Guild Wars 2 is the “downed” system. Basically, there are 3 life states in Guild Wars 2- alive, downed, and defeated.
Downed is the state between alive and dead. This is when you are on your last breath after taking severe damage and losing the entirety of your normal life bar. In downed mode, your character cannot move or dodge.
But you gain 3 times the base health and access to special skills called “downed skills”. If you kill your enemy while downed, you get a second chance at life and can get back up. Downed skills are profession-specific, except for Bandage which is available to all professions.
Auto attacks are also not a thing in Guild Wars 2, at least not in the normal sense. Every attack is a spell, so you can set one spell as your default “auto-attack”. Guild Wars 2 also has weapon-specific skills that are attached to your gear.
World of Warcraft also falls behind when it comes to movement. Teleportation, mounts, and rolling/ jumping are all done better in Guild Wars 2. The best part is that you don’t have to be a certain race in order to access all of the good stuff, it’s all dependent on your profession.
Which Game Has The Better World Design- Guild Wars 2 or WoW?
World of Warcraft may have a slightly bigger map and more well-developed lore. After all, it’s been around longer compared to Guild Wars 2. However, the variety in map activities and content just isn’t there.
Most of the map feels like a grind, as opposed to Guild Wars 2 which has a living open-world. There’s constant activity happening at any given time in the Guild Wars 2 world. New bosses every other hour that players from different zones team up to kill, mount races, adventures, puzzles- there’s just so much variety in content.
The best way I can describe this difference in world design between the two is depth vs width. WoW’s world is slightly wider, but not nearly as deep. Dynamic events in Guild Wars 2 take place when players interact with a certain area on the map.
Depending on the outcome, these can create a domino effect down the line which creates even more changes in the surrounding area. Interaction is not compulsory, which means you will watch the world change around you no matter what you do. This makes the map of Guild Wars 2 feel “alive” unlike anything I have experienced in WoW.
Meta events are another huge selling point for me because they tell a story on an extremely grand scale. These meta events are designed to immerse you in the lore of Guild Wars 2. Each meta event is a compilation of 5 to 20 dynamic events, and it plays out differently depending on the decisions you make.
Is Guild Wars 2 PvP Better Than WoW?
If you talk player vs player, both games have a healthy and varied distribution of game modes. However, the superior combat system of Guild Wars 2 means that you will have more fun casting and dodging spells compared to WoW. Still, this section won’t focus on game mechanics or combat-specific systems.
Instead, I want to talk about how each game implements its various PvP modes. In WoW, you have various options when it comes to fighting against other online players. You can go duel another player in a 1v1 match, which can be done anywhere except for towns and cities.
You can also participate in ranked 2v2 or 3v3 arenas in which factions don’t matter and the only goal is to destroy your opponents. This however is gated by levels, gear, class type, etc. so not many people get to experience high-level arena games in WoW. In my opinion, it’s one of the best PvP modes in any MMORPG, provided you put in the time and effort to grind all those levels and gear.
Talking of grinding, Guild Wars 2 takes a totally different approach towards its PvP. If you play Structured PvP, you get the highest level gear right from the start. And all levels are unlocked, so you can access any skill or trait for your character.
ArenaNet doesn’t want to create an environment in which players are constrained by the amount of time or money they spent. Instead, Structured PvP focuses entirely on skill. Combine this with the free-flowing professions that aren’t race-specific and you have the most balanced MMORPG PvP ever.
Both World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 have massive PvP modes in which dozens of players duke it out on giant maps with unique objectives for each side. WoW has Battlegrounds while Guild Wars 2 has World versus World. However, it cannot be disputed that World versus World is simply the most gigantic and immersive large-scale PvP battle of any MMO.
In WoW’s Battlegrounds, you have a Horde team going up against an Alliance team. There are various zones and the scale ranges from 10 v 10 to 40 v 40. You get rewarded with honor points that are used to purchase rewards, and experience that comes in handy for leveling.
Now, let’s take a look at World versus World. Imagine Battlegrounds, but with people from different regions/ zones across 3 servers fighting in 50 v 50 v 50 matches. World versus World has hundreds of players competing to capture towers, keeps, resource camps, etc. while also doing PvE quests and killing enemy players.
World versus World is much larger than WoW Battlegrounds both in terms of size and scope, with wars lasting an entire week. Rating is given to winning teams, and you also gain experience points called World Rank which is exclusive to this game mode. Character level is adjusted automatically to 80, but your equipment stats won’t be updated so you shouldn’t start World versus World at low levels.
Is Guild Wars 2 Harder Than WoW?
Not at all, a lot of things from leveling to UI design are done much better in Guild Wars 2. I feel like Guild Wars 2 is the more beginner-friendly game, especially because of the community which is much less toxic compared to WoW. That’s because of two things- the way Guild Wars 2 is designed, and the fact that it has been around for a really long time.
Shared loot means if you see someone fighting a hard enemy, you don’t have to wait for them to die before you finish the fight to steal the loot. In Guild Wars 2, you gain loot from enemies even if you team up with another guy. In fact, a copy of the same rare item can be dropped if you cooperate with another player.
This promotes cooperation with random players and fosters a more accepting community. You also gain experience by reviving downed players. If multiple people team up to revive someone (whether it be an ally or stranger), the revival channeling will go faster.
Another thing unique to Guild Wars 2 is the fact that you don’t have to stick with the holy trinity of tank, DPS, and healer. You can play as a sneaky assassin who heals people or a tanky mage- it’s entirely up to you. In WoW, you’ll often find it hard to get into raid parties unless you’re in the right class, which is not the case with Guild Wars 2.
Sure, there are strong builds and combinations in this game just like WoW. But you won’t have to pigeonhole yourself into a category as a new player. You can also build gear with any stat combination you want.
Ascended gear lets you change stats on the fly whenever you aren’t in combat. And equipment progression in Guild Wars 2 isn’t like World of Warcraft because there is no vertical progression. Content released in a previous expansion doesn’t suddenly become obsolete when a new one arrives.
Guild Wars 2 Endgame Compared To WoW
Endgame merely refers to the content you play after finishing the base storyline. It offers the best loot and toughest challenges. In World of Warcraft, the primary way to get endgame loot is through raids.
However, Guild Wars 2 endgame loot is as ambiguous as the endgame itself. You can get all the best gear before hitting the endgame. And the challenge is mostly related to things like inventory expansion, unique consumables, elite specializations, etc.
There are also multiple ways to get endgame loot in Guild Wars 2. You can do raids, conquest, fractals, strike missions, World vs World, etc. which all provide endgame gear. You can even get endgame loot by completing achievements and collections.
If you really want that endgame gear but aren’t interested in grinding raids, just craft the gear you want. Exploration is a huge part of Guild Wars 2 and you get rewards for completing each map. Upon completing the entire world, you’re rewarded with components that can be used to craft legendary equipment.
World of Warcraft has a better endgame if you want to grind for the ultimate gear. In comparison, Guild Wars 2 offers cosmetic changes and quality of life features in its endgame. The open-world design means you constantly have new bosses and dynamic events instead of having to grind the same old dungeons over and over to get loot.
Both games have their pros and cons, but I believe Guild Wars 2 wins the overall battle. It has superior world design, combat, character creation, and I love the PvP in this game. Conquest and World versus World are extremely enjoyable, plus you don’t have to grind for months like in WoW.
Mounts are unique and offer you different ways to traverse various terrains. There are teleporting mounts, rolling mounts, flying mounts, gliding mounts, etc. and each one has a special dismounting attack. I love the fact that the core game is free, and expansions cost very little while offering several hundred hours of unique content.
If you want a more traditional endgame and deeper lore/ storylines, World of Warcraft might be the game for you. But if you want superior gameplay and horizontal progression along with a better community, definitely check out Guild Wars 2. A Steam release has been announced for Guild Wars 2 so even more players will have a chance to try out this amazing game for free.