#646 Guild Wars

Posted: 2nd October 2011 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

89th game played so far

Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: ArenaNet
Publisher: NCSoft

And here we go, the first game in a genre of nine. The MMORPG are generally associated with its own type of players, with grinding to the beyond and players that are not always at nice… although at the same time the games encourage the type of cooperation we always say games are great at creating.

I’ll be honest and say that, based purely on what I read, this would be the MMORPG I’d be most likely to play. I’ve heard about how addicting these games can be and, with their monthly subscription fees, playing them can seem problematic at times – certainly more expensive than others. Guild Wars, however, avoids this – if you pay the inital fee by buying the game, the game is free to play after that. Sure, they try to sell you clothes and extra characters to make more money, but nothing else is mandatory. And that makes it more likely for me that I’d play it. Weird, but money-savingly true.

Our Thoughts

I hate this blog, we need to stop it now. Too much Zelda for your tastes? No… it’s made me enjoy an MMORPG and I shall forever hate this blog for what it has done to my limited amount of street cred.

Have you ever played an MMORPG before? No, but South Park and general pop culture has lead me to play that socially inept people play this in their parents’ basement in cardboard armour. But… here is an MMORPG I can get on board because it plays just like a well executed RPG which happens to have the odd sprite running around with cat ears. Considering how many of my family players who play too much World of Warcraft you’ve met, I thought you’d have felt differently by now. In a way, however, that’s what these games are – RPGs with some more people walking around who can help. A multiplayer RPG over the internet, but with Guild Wars even the multiplayer aspect can be ignored for at least the lower levels we played, as AI characters are there for you. 

I think what helped is that the only places there are other players are certain hub locations, otherwise the sweeping landscapes resplendent with tigers, monsters and the odd windmill are run independently. Makes it feel far more personal and relaxed instead of having every orc and elf competing with you for EXP. Even so, if you want to work together, just make sure you join each other’s teams and you’ll be ready to go ahead and do it together. Because of the time when we played and the time we had, we mostly played this as an expanded single player game, but that worked – even so, jumping into the multiplayer sections might be more fun at some point.

We each played as a different character of different occupations in order to test things out. Whilst I chose a ranged character with a bow and magical abilities Jeroen went for a bulky warrior type who charges in headlong and then learns some rituals to summon spirits to cause PAIN. I figured the brute tank is usually the best way to start to learn the game, as it tends to be easier than characters where you need to learn lots of different spells to be effective. Still, that didn’t cause too much of an issue, as the game is quite intuitive and forgiving, and gives everyone plenty of powers to use as you need them. It’s also a good thing you get four characters by default, so you can actually try different options also a pet tiger if, like myself, you chose the ranger class (as some people prefer). 

The game’s payment model, or general lack thereof, is interesting as well. You pay for the games, and can pay for extra stuff, but don’t pay membership fees. This makes the game cheaper and easier to jump into – why not try it; it won’t cost anything more later. Especially since Gamestation offer it for under six pounds. As any gamer would know this is incredible value for money for an MMORPG.

It’s even more impressive when you find out how immersive the gameplay is. There is the initial hurdle of the tutorial where it plays out in a slow and rigid manner, not helped by there being three NPCs which find it hard to talk to each other unless you are standing over their shoulder. Stopping your progress until they finish their ‘joking’ too. After this initial piece of handholding they basically leave you to play missions as you see fit, including leaving you free to leave most of the follow-up tutorials and character setup missions to the side and focusing on other missions and options instead. 

Beyond that, your options are wide and open, as you’ll want in a game like this. You can collect lots of items to get better items, or follow other people’s missions, or just focus on the story and go through that. Luckily, the game requires very little grinding, and in fact discourages it, leaving you free to focus on actual gameplay. The lack of grinding is a godsend in this game, in fact it’s pretty hard to grind since you are unable to gain experience points if your enemy is four levels below you. Very boring, but a godsend to prevent you have to kill lots of the annoying critters just to be able to do your next quest, which is great because it allows you to explore the worlds at your own pace, so you can stop and marvel at the beauty of your surroundings.

And beautiful they are. From the large buildings that dominate the land to seeing the grass sway in the wind and, the bit that impressed us most, your characters actually leaving footprints in the sand that seem to stay there until you leave the area. For me the awe inspiring moment was wondering through a field of sunflowers with the sakura trees gently swaying in the distance. Considering the age of the game (five, six years) by now, it’s quite impressive how real and good it looks, and how seamless loading is (after the first half hour of loading during which we wrote up part of the Tempest 2000 article).

I also would like to commend Guild Wars for making this a human only affair. It is very refreshing to play an RPG containing spellcasters that focuses solely on getting the human playable characters looking spot-on rather than having anything that could inspire yiffing. The characters themselves appear graceful yet powerful and are beautifully rendered making it a joy to create character without worrying about the differences between regular elves and dark elves. Even so, there are plenty of options in customization that they don’t even all look the same.

All in all, however, this is very much a more casual MMORPG, especially compared to the grindfest deep games like World of Warcraft seem to be. And this time it works out, making the game thoroughly enjoyable, easy to get into, and something that’ll continue to be addictive for some time. Since I have a few weeks until my PGCE I will be most definitely be skewering a few more Kappa and I’ll be taking care of some when you’re working on your PGCE.

Final Thoughts

What more can we add to that? This is a brilliant MMORPG and I was happy we could make this the first to try it out. Track it down if you have a chance – even better, download the trial client and see what you think! You might enjoy it. We certainly did, and enjoyed it more than we expected. Considering how I was already considering this earlier, I’m happier to find this out. It’s a beautiful and addictive game, and it’s that sort of thing we tried to avoid with avoiding these games… at least it’s cheap.

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