Guild Wars 2
The base game was released on August 28th, 2012. ArenaNet offered three pre-purchase editions of the game at the time: the Digital Edition, Digital Deluxe Edition, and Collector's Edition. Anyone who pre-purchased the game was given a 3 Day Headstart, which started on August 25th, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. PDT (GMT-7).
Various other major events transpired:
- The Charr conquered Ascalon (except Ebonhawke).
- Kryta is the final Human kingdom in Tyria, which is now under siege by centaurs and torn by political unrest.
- The Norn and Asura were pushed from their homelands, they have found new homes in the Shiverpeak Mountains and Tarnished Coast (respectively).
- The Charr have overthrown the Flame Legion and denounced all worship of gods as they built a new city over the ruins of Rin.
- A new race has appeared in the form of the Sylvari, birthed from the Pale Tree which was tended to by Ventari and Ronan until their deaths.
- Cantha was united by Emperor Usoku, but turned into a xenophobic nation only for humans.
- Elona was invaded by Palawa Joko 60 years after Nightfall; the Order of the Sunspears were destroyed and the Elon was diverted, causing a famine that forced Kourna and Vabbi into submission.
- The northern borders of Elona are under constant siege by Elder Dragon forces.
- The Order of Whispers still actively travels to and from Elona.
Changes from Guild Wars
- Hardware requirements
- Guild Wars 2 has drastically increased hardware requirements compared to Guild Wars.
- Game mechanics
- Mouse movement has been removed from the game; however, target locking will still function.
- Control of combat is more active; including blocking skills that are "held down", ground-targeting for spells and attacks, and hit detection that allows one player to block area-based damage from reaching other players.
- Characters can jump over obstacles, as well as swim and dive underwater.
- Players can activate skills while running or jumping for smoother combat immersion, and are not always restricted to being stationary while executing skills.
- Any player can join multiple guilds and a guild chat is available per guild.
- Game engine
- Guild Wars 2 uses a heavily modified Guild Wars game engine which includes support for true 3D environments, more detailed environments and models, better lighting and shadows, new animation and effects systems, plus new audio and cinematic engines.
- The game supports DirectX 10, but it is not required to play.
- Guild Wars 2 utilises the Havok physics engine to provide ragdoll animation and destructible environments, as well as occlusion culling technology licensed from Umbra Software to optimise 3D object rendering. 
- Guild Wars 2 largely features an open world, instead of a large collection of instanced areas.
- Explorable areas are dynamic and contents change depending on the players' input, though they are not dependent on them.
- A day/night cycle and weather effects are present in the game. Some events and monster appearances and even some items and crafting results will depend or change as a result of in-game time.
- Races and professions
Guild Wars 2 introduces several new playable races. The five playable races are:
Eight professions are available, though there is no secondary profession:
- Different professions have access to different weapons, skills (excluding race-specific skills), and traits. Armor is scaled between profession types; scholar professions (Elementalist, Mesmer, and Necromancer) use light armor, adventurer professions (Engineer, Ranger, and Thief) use medium armor, and soldier professions (Guardian, Warrior) use heavy armor.
- There is no dedicated healing profession.
The level cap in Guild Wars 2 is 80. Characters will have their power scaled down in areas designed for lower level players, to keep content somewhat challenging.
- All characters are scaled up to maximum level while participating in PvP.
- Structured PvP in Guild Wars 2 is similar to a PvP-only character in Guild Wars, without the need for a separate character slot. Any character can participate and has PvP-only armor to customize as they please.
- World versus World battles pit 3 servers against each other into 4 map areas, containing up to 2,000 participants. Victory in World PvP confers benefits to your world/server.
- Prequel bonuses
- As a courtesy, character names from Guild Wars accounts were reserved for potential use on linked Guild Wars 2 accounts when the game was newly released.
- The Hall of Monuments allows players from both games to gain some cosmetic-only bonuses in Guild Wars 2. However, players will not be able to migrate any items or titles they obtained in Guild Wars
- One exception is the God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals title, which available account-wide in Guild Wars 2 if at least one character of a linked Guild Wars account has attained it.
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns expansion pack
Changes from Guild Wars 2
- Game mechanics
- New currencies were added.
- A mastery system allows for account-wide bonuses for characters of level 80.
- Raids were introduced. Raids are instances for up to 10 players.
- Guild chat was enhanced to allow cross-guilds interaction more easily.
- Guild halls were introduced to the game. To obtain a hall, the expansion is required.
- Access afterwards is also available to accounts with only the base game.
- Gliding is possible to combat falling damage, as well as a means of transportation.
- An action camera mode for more vivid screenshots was added.
- The Revenant profession is exclusively available to accounts with Hearts of Thorns or Path of Fire activated. It is the third soldier profession.
- Specializations were added. All professions can specialize at level 80 to unlock further abilities and skills.
- World map
- The heart of the Maguuma Jungle is added as a playable area.
- Player versus Player
- Guild versus Guild as seen in Guild Wars makes a return in the form of Stronghold. A guild is not required to participate.
- Aspects of Guild Wars's Fort Aspenwood resource collecting are also present.
- One new map was added to World versus World.
Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire expansion pack
Changes from Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
- Game mechanics
- Mounts were added, along with a mastery line for each mount.
- Bounties were introduced to challenge level 80 characters.
- Nine new specializations were added, a second one per profession.
- World map
- To help tie the events of Guild Wars with Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet released three books: Ghosts of Ascalon, Edge of Destiny, and Sea of Sorrows.
- Guild Wars Beyond's story also focuses on connecting the story of the two games.
- Jeremy Soule composed the original music for Guild Wars 2.
- Maclaine Diemer composes new music for Guild Wars 2 since 2013, when Soule's contract with the company ended.
- Some lore found in Guild Wars 2 is retroactive continuity (retcon) material from Guild Wars.
|The Guild Wars 2 Wiki also has an article on Guild Wars 2.|