A couple months after World of Warcraft made MMORPGs a mainstream genre, along came Guild Wars, the underdog that tried something completely different, something more niche but still trying to appeal to a wider audience, and they did it without any monthly subscription like its competitors. Now the game has three different standalone storylines and one expansion in need of one of the main stories. This review of Guild Wars will show you why it deserves its spot in the MMO sunlight, even if ArenaNet are calling in a CORPG (Competitive Online Role-Playing Game), despite the flaws that come with it.
Now, the game has three different standalone storylines and one expansion in need of one of the main stories. This updated Guild Wars review will show you why it deserves its spot in the MMO sunlight, despite the flaws that come with it.
The World of Tyria
Guild Wars takes place in the world of Tyria, which is divided into three continents, one for each of the standalone campaigns with the big star of the three being the mainland, which also goes by Tyria. In contrast, the other two continents Elona and Cantha are much smaller and more like big islands. All continents have their own story and all are about topping some big menace in the end, even if the road there is very different for each one.
In the first Guild Wars, known as Prophecies, the setting is a very classic fantasy one with beautiful calm landscapes, snowy mountains, dense forests, volcanoes and a mysterious desert. In The Factions campaign, which followed a year later, you are brought to the continent of Cantha, which bears a strong Asian theme. Nightfall came half a year later and focused on the continent of Elona, taking a new design turn heavily inspired by different African cultures. While I think all three have a great story, the Prophecies campaign shines the brightest and the other two have a real hard time following it, even if they do bring interesting new aspects to a fantasy story.
The latest addition to Guild Wars was a regular expansion called Eye of the North that took place in new areas on the continent of Tyria, set a few years after the events in Prophecies. It was also the first to introduce a couple of new friendly species and acted as a bridge to the sequel. This expansion was much more streamlined and in line with other MMORPGs out there, focusing more on dungeons and removing the cooperative missions that were a huge pillar stone for the first three campaigns. This really took down the game a couple of notches for me, making that expansion very bleak in comparison.
Don’t Jump In the Beautiful Fields
Guild Wars is a great looking game with amazing scenery, undoubtedly one of the best looking games of 2005. It even manages to remain on par with new releases with Eye of the North. The UI and how you play Guild Wars is
The UI and how you play Guild Wars is very unique compared to its competitors at the time, with a hotbar with just enough room for eight different skills which could only be changed in towns or other safe zones. This opened up for a more tactical way of thinking than we had seen before, where every skill had to work together and it required a lot of planning and testing to find the right builds. This is one of the aspects which really caught my eye initially and made me a lot more interested in Guild Wars than any other similar game on the market.
One thing that has received many complaints right from the start of Guild Wars is the lack of jumping. You cannot jump in the game, at all. While I have never seen the need to jump and personally think excluding it was a good design decision since it makes getting stuck and using exploits easier, and makes people focus on the skills instead of quake jumping. But I can understand that players get frustrated with it given how accustomed they might have gotten to it in other games.
Technically, Guild Wars is not really an MMORPG, even if it may look like one at face value and at times feels like one. According to ArenaNet, it is in fact a Competitive Online Role Playing Game but I would argue that you could switch competitive for cooperative. Guild Wars is an instanced game, meaning that every mission or exploration zone is an instance where you can move around in together with up to eight players, while the towns, cities, and outposts are open for a lot more players and feel more like your ordinary MMO zones.
The adventure zones are split up in missions and exploration zones that either have small quests of their own or are used as passages between missions. While you can acquire new skills, vanquish all foes for achievements, and find other interesting stuff here, it is the missions that I found greatest joy in. These range from 4-8 player co-op missions and are highly varied in what you do and how they play. They also bring the story forward in a great way together with other players or semi-good AI. The AI come in two ways with all expansions, you have both premade characters called henchmen in all outposts, and some characters who you can fully customize yourselves. While the missions are only half as fun with henchmen as they are with players, it is a good solution to low population servers.
What made Guild Wars stand out the most in the beginning was its structured PvP. Given that all players play as humans and everyone is on the same side through all of the stories, there is no open PvP.
You can jump right into PvP by creating a PvP character which gets bumped up to the max level of 20 directly and gives you a small number of starter skills, the rest can then be earned through playing matches, so no PvE needed at all. ArenaNet focused on a structured PvP where teams clash against each other in a constant ongoing tournament, with the addition of Guild vs Guild tournaments that even lead to world championships. They are small arena based battles where the skills and timing you take with you mean ever more, making PvP battles the most tactical I have ever seen in any other of its competitors. I really like the focus here, making every PvP battle count for something more than levels or armor, where skill and tactics are all that matter.
With the release of Factions, Guild Wars made a small shift in PvP, or rather a pretty big crack. ArenaNet took note from other games on the market and made a new PvP mode, or scenario, where you align with one of two factions and fight the other in large scale battles, and the points you get for winning these raises you in rank with that faction. The introduction of this new way to PvP scattered the community somehow, and while it mostly drew causal people from the more structured PvP, it also made it really hard for a casual player to find groups for PvP unless it was this faction-based PvP.
Still One of the Best Out There
Guild Wars aimed to do a great many things, but mainly they aimed for a strong narrative, more linear and in line with a single player experience, but still offering incentives for exploration and rewarding exploration in these instanced zones. But they also aimed for the best structured PvP experience out there. Despite not being able to jump and having the feeling that you are playing a co-op game rather than a massively multiplayer game, I would say that they succeeded in both cases. The PvP in Guild Wars has become much more sprawling with the standalone expansions, dividing PvP players into different camps, but it still manages to keep intact a great structured PvP that even worked in the eSport scene for a while. And while PvE has moved towards more dungeon-type gameplay, they have still kept the core strong story via missions intact and made one of the best MMORPG stories to follow. Guild Wars was and will continue to be of the great MMORPG stars out there.
+ Co-op Missions
– Missing that big online feeling
– Faction PvP
Related: ArenaNet, Guild Wars, MMORPG, Review