Guild Wars 2 is a remarkable game, the first highly visible launch in some time of a Western MMO that genuinely progresses the genre and consistently feels like it’s offering a new experience. From its quest system to the way it respects players’ time, it doesn’t so much break the mold as it condenses it down to its best parts. In many ways it presents you with something that fits the traditional expectations, but constantly manipulates them into something better than what you’ve seen before.
The easiest thing to say about Guild Wars 2 is that it succeeds because of the little things. There are no quest hubs that you run back and forth to; quests just happen in the world dynamically. The auction house is available everywhere; just bring it up and plug in the item(s) you want to sell. Your mailbox is accessible everywhere. Once you’ve been to a waypoint anywhere on the world map, you can fast-travel there instantaneously. You can deposit crafting materials into your personal bank at any time from anywhere. Your alt characters automatically can join guilds your other characters are in, so you don’t have to get invited every time you want to try a new class. If you are too high level for the environment you are in, you are levelled down but still gain experience and rewards, meaning that a level 79 character could go to a starting zone and still get some benefit.
The better thing to say about Guild Wars 2, however, is that it succeeds because of the big things. It succeeds because it encourages an environment where exploration and adventuring are rewarded. It succeeds because it is consistently grand and meaningful as much at level 8 as level 80. It succeeds because it has no subscription fee, and it acts like it. It succeeds because it is an MMO that asks how can we make you have fun right now, not how can we keep you on the hook for another month.