Just a quick note before you start reading, there is no TL;DR, since this is a complete review, although I'll try to make it as shortened yet detailed as possible.
Okay so, starting in the first levels, the game is kind of slow-paced, you run around low level areas helping people for karma(in-game currency) and exp/rewards, it honestly felt a bit boring at first, since you can't really own yet.
A lot of events are always active in the areas, and even if you have trouble, there are always high-level players running around who you can ask for help!
After getting a few levels here and there (10-15-ish) I noticed something peculiar on the map, something called an area's completion rate, THIS, this is just... genius.
You run around looking for undiscovered areas, checkpoints, hero points which are either challenges(fights) or items you can consume/use, and lastly there's the maps you have to find which are usually in high places, they allow you to view the area vastly from a far angle.
So reaching levels 30-40 you start realizing where you want to go with your starting build, what early stats you want to focus on getting and all that.
Then when you go past 40, into 50 and 60 that's where things got extremely fun for me.
areas have hidden treasures, secret paths, and many surprises which aren't mentioned in the map at all, I mean, when I was wandering in a cave, took a wrong turn then entered a room through a wall (literally walked through a wall), and found some kind of hidden room inside, I got so hyped I felt like I was back in my old RPG days!
The maps that you collect for area completion also get quite complicated and difficult to locate, you can see it, but you have no idea how to reach it. I would spend 20+ minutes in a hostile area just looking for that one way to reach it! And the feeling when you are finally able to get it, Bliss.
Then going into 70-80 I was used to the mobs' patterns, to the way of dealing with them, you just get used to the world, to your character and to your surroundings.
Events vary from boss battles against powerful mobs, to escorting missions, defending missions, slaughtering missions, all-out wars etc.
and the best part is, you don't have to participate in any of them, you can just walk past them.
I once walked into an area that had around 150+ players who were all standing there for a while, I had no idea what they were waiting for but I had a hunch that it was some kind of epic-scale event, I decided to wait. yes I didn't ask I'mquite silent when it comes to these things, besides, I'd rather get surprised.
And what the event turned out to be was a battle against a huge dragon, which is a bit cliche but it still felt epic, and very rewarding.
I also really loved the fact (mentioned this in an earlier review, I think?) that I can change my equipment's color without having to pay some special currency or something, although a lot of colors are locked, I can make-do with the ones I have.
The story is awesome, it allows you to select decisions on how you want to do your missions, who you want to join etc. and most of the time, those decisions come with consequences, (I'm a huge decision/consequence game genre fan) I mean, heck, you can even flirt with NPCs.
The maps are glorious, the nature is captivating, and doesn't require that much graphical power, almost never has fps drops.
Each class has a healing skill, and only 5-9(I think?) skills, I dislike having too many skills in an MMORPG but that's just me.
Exploring. is. fun is pretty much what I can say about the PvE.
I have only played 1 match of PvP so far, just because of how much fun I'm having with the PvE. never tried crafting either, and never did a daily quest, plus I didn't spend a penny on this game, which I'm honestly starting to feel guilty about.
You can swim underwater, fight underwater, enter whole cities that reside underwater and discover all kinds of treasures and ruins, although I personally dislike underwater combat.
There's also gliding, but I'm not sure if I can do that with a free account, need to check! It's honestly tons of fun.
Dungeons are unique, but seeing as I only played one dungeon, which was different from any others I've played previously, I'm not going to count this. I've just been so immersed into PvE that I did not even consider going into dungeons.
Oh and fuck the dredge.
This game is lighthearted in terms of what it forces you to do, while also being a bit challenging with its' fights and dungeons.
I have not tried WvW or a raid yet, but I have completed each and every map I entered.
I reached level 80 and my total map completion is only at a 52%, which just made me extremely happy when I saw it!
Oh and, PvP equalizes everyone's gear, so no bullshit.
I also never actually joined any guilds, even though it's called guild wars \o/ but I honestly don't see a problem with that.
And finally, fashion is really gorgeous, the races (especially Sylvari) look really cool and honestly their design is creative (not sure if they took their design from something else).
Give Guild Wars 2 a chance, it's really great.