Getting online this weekend was the first battle for many Guild Wars 2 gamers.
The three-day headstart hit something of a stumbling block with creaky login servers and firewall problems that look to have cropped up again today on the main launch date.
But was Guild Wars 2 worth the wait? It very much seems so.
Log-in problems, frustrating as they might be initially, never last for long. For those gamers who persevere, a brand new landscape awaits them. A new evolution for MMOs? It’s hard to say, but it’s certainly great fun.
First comes character creation. Guild Wars 2 offers an abundance of options here that should cater to all sorts of gamers, from your rush-in-and-cut-em-ups to your stand-back-and-throw-fireball types.
There are five playable races, which can in turn select any one of eight professions. You can be a tiny Asura engineer or a hulking Norn warrior or even (though it’s certainly not for me) a human ranger.
When it comes to looks, you can customise body features, head features, face details and armour colours in minute detail.
This is great – unless you're indecisive – and it's easy to spend an hour or two fiddling around with different character options before getting into the game proper.
There's a different tutorial/opening depending on the race you choose to play as, which means there's good value in replaying through or even starting off with a handful of characters and seeing how far you get with each of them.
Looking at Defending Shaemoor as an example – the starting off mission for human characters – the gameplay is immediate and startlingly involving. You start running before you even know why you're doing it. Whether you've played this style of game before or not, you are subtly guided in the right direction, and nudged to hit the right keys when appropriate to talk to characters or pick up loot.
As you might expect from an MMO, there are plenty of other players milling about at this point, and you play with and around them, without having to directly interact at this stage. It's a nice touch that means the battles aren't too tough and you still feel like you can make a difference to the story.
This is a good example of how the game serves a wide mix of gamers, from those who intend to drop in fairly casually to those who plan to make it a way of like. Players can pop in for a short while and accomplish a fair amount on their own, without feeling obligated to join guilds and engage in PVP – though those options are there for the portion of gamers that enjoy them.
It's a pay once, never subscribe game. Sure, gamers can pay for cosmetic items or convenience tools if they really want, but none of that is necessary.
Beyond the tutorials is a rich and vivid world that will be a home from home for gamers around the globe for quite some time. If the varied-but-largely-shit weather we've been having holds up, it should certainly be a hit in the UK. Why go outside when you can trek around Tyria from your PC?
Guild Wars 2 is available in the UK as of today.