One Of the biggest complaints non-MMORPG players have of our beloved genre is that the games don't have the same kind of instantgratification, action-oriented gameplay offered by first-person shooters and their ilk. It's all hit auto-attack and sit back for ten minutes while the game fights itself'.
Guild Wars, however, is a very different kind of beast, and developer ArenaNet talks about it in a very different way. Forget the I33t speak jargon and the image of obsessed level-grinders spending 17 hours at a time in front of their screens killing rats. Guild Wars is taking a far more action-packed route, one that barely lets you stop for breath.
The point of Guild Wars is that it's fun. Instant, accessible fun, that nevertheless provides you with enough depth to keep you coming back for more. Everything about the game has been designed to streamline the experience, making it less nerdy but equally as compelling.
Do It With Style
One of the main reasons for the visual and gameplay style is that if you're not into the level-grinding mindset, then what you're looking for is the minute-by-minute experience to be fun," explains Jeff Strain, the game's producer and ArenaNet's founder. We have a mantra: What am I doing right now?' It's not about what am I working for?' or what will I be doing when I finally get to level X?' Whatever the answer is, it should be fun."
Part of this is down to the fast nature of the game's combat system. Don't expect to find any drawn-out automated fighting here (as seen in other MMOGs). We've designed it to be very fast and quick, explains Jeff, and we wanted to strike a balance between twitch games or 3D fighting games and MMO games where you set a target, click a few buttons and see how it comes out. We wanted combat to be something you managed -something you felt like you were doing."
The outcome, as comprehensively tested by the recent three-day free-for-all public beta testing event, has resulted in a system that oozes so much playability that even resident MMO cynic Steve Hill was caught up in the fun.
When you watch a skilful Guild Wars player, their hands are never still, enthuses Jeff. They're continuously managing their health and magic, as well as engaging in the act of combat. And that skill doesn't just come from sitting in front of your PC and level-grinding for hundreds of hours - in Guild Wars, we've limited the effect of levelling up so players have to rely on their ability, not how much free time they have. It works: we've found that the speed and accessibility of the action and the animation really adds to the adrenaline and excitement.
So, how does it work? We wanted to ensure it was accessible to casual players and not just designed for the hardcore. If you click the mouse, something should happen. Every character has what we call a grunt attack', so if battle begins and you're not sure what to do you can just select a target, click the mouse and your character will attack. You always have that satisfaction of something starting.
As your skills increase, you have the added management of the eight skills you can choose before a mission, or a player-versus-player contest. As you progress, you develop skills that you open with, ones that you sustain with, ones you use in a pinch, ones you use when you're trying to escape, and ones where all your team-mates are dying and you've got to pull out a big nuke. Managing the energy cost is something that's constantly ongoing.
Hands Across The World
Guild Wars' combat isn't restricted to beating the crap out of the game world, though. As the title suggests, this is about in-game guilds taking on each other to prove their might. PvP is integral to the experience, but as Jeff insists, it's all strictly regimented. When you create your character, you place it within a certain world that corresponds to the real world. What this means is that you can decide to play with other Europeans or Americans, and so on.
When you go to social areas and on missions in your world, you'll find yourself with people from the same world. You can challenge other guilds from within your world.
Jeff goes on: The coolest thing is that we'll be running an International Guild Tournament between guilds from the different worlds. If you have a team, and that guild fights its way to the top of the intra-world tournament, then your specific world will receive benefits like exclusive missions, items and special features that can be unlocked. That's why we call it the International Tournament, because you're always pulling for the team from your world to be in the top spot. So get out there. Sign up and do it for your country. Your mother would be proud.
Download Guild Wars
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
This is the best metaphor I can think of for Guild Wars. In a market full of overly candied soda, Guild Wars is a nice refreshing glass of orange juice, freshly squeezed. It's got a little pulp, but it's sweet, and its simplicity is classic. Be warned though, Guild Wars is missing a lot of the 'massive' that makes up MMORPG, and makes some new assumptions that old school players might not enjoy.
First and foremost, Guild Wars has no monthly fee. Buy the game and that's it. This is because the developers have designed a system whereby they'll occasionally release expansion packs, not requiring a monthly fee to keep the game up and running. All of the game characters are in the same server, but the overall feeling of the game is sparely populated, because each outdoor area is instanced to include just a few players. In addition, the normal party size is four people. The gameplay is unusual in that unlike other MMORPGs, loot is not a primary focus of the game, but rather represents a small part of your advantage. Guild Wars was designed from the ground up to facilitate skillful play, both in PvE and PvP environments, and for the most part, I think they've succeeded, as it's not about how long you've played your character, but how you play your character.
There are six different professions to choose from, of which you can have one as a primary class and one as a secondary, which determine your look, what sort of armor you can wear, and what skills you can use, with 75 skills per profession meaning that a normal character can have up to 150 skills. However, you can't use those all at once, as you can only take 8 skills with you into the field, meaning that your choice of skills is important. Since you can only change skills at a town or outpost, you need to choose carefully to suit your play style. This means that in addition to the 30 different class combinations, there's nearly limitless combinations you can make from the skills in your possession, which range from special strikes that knock the opponent down to healing enchantments that cause you to regenerate health in the middle of combat. The maximum level is 20, and any character created expressly for PvP starts at level 20, so that should give you some clue as to where the game is balanced. It's fun though, and that's what counts.
Last, for audio, I must applaud ArenaNet's choice of composers. The soundtrack for Guild Wars is composed by Jeremy Soule, famous for producing lush, extravagant film style scores. Plus, Guild Wars is extremely pretty, with some amazing art design, an excellent graphics engine, and a unique glow system. I give Guild Wars two thumbs up, and definitely recommend it to anyone that's looking for an MMORPG that requires skill and doesn't necessarily want to invest hours and hours into a game to get something rich and rewarding out of it.