Koltrane's World Preview Diary
Day 4 - October 31, 2004
Today's the last day of the Guild Wars World Preview Event. It's bittersweet for sure. I've loved every minute of it, but the short time frame (and my responsibility to all of you) has compelled me to play as much as I can, making it a marathon weekend of GW. Frankly, I need a break!
I decided to explore a bit at first. I thought it would just be a quick thing, but once I got into the explorable areas I was hooked! Although greatly underpopulated (likely a result of the test status of the game) the explorable areas are intriguing and a lot of fun. I spoke to quite a few people who had no idea where I was when I said I was in Ettin's Back or Dry Top. The missions are the natural areas of progression, so much so that I think a lot of players weren't really aware of these areas, with the exception of the areas outside Lion's Arch.
I started in Silverwood, which was accessible from Bloodstone Fen (a.k.a. mission 4). It was a forested zone with rolling hills and winding gulleys. I ran into some opponents here that were easily dispatched with my team of henchmen. Then I can to Ettin's Back, a desolate, foreboding wasteland. Here I encountered a good number of Maguuma Centaurs. I stumbled upon their town and about 8 of them jumped my team. Needless to say, we didn't last too long.
I'll take this opportunity to mention the control, or lack thereof, of the henchmen. For example, when I found the Maguuma settlement, I wanted to use my bow to pull a couple from the pack. But when I attacked one with my ranged weapon, my warrior henchman charged into the fray with his sword, drawing most all the Maguuma on top of us. There needs to be a way to control the actions (at least the default actions) of the henchmen. There have been times when my monk has been attacking when she should be healing and rezzing. I've seen my elementalist get right up on an opponent to cast a flare, which is a ranged spell. Don't get me wrong, I think the henchmen are a great idea, but they need to be developed a bit further. And while we're at it, let's see necromancer and mesmer henchmen in the future!
I regrouped and retraced my steps. I bypassed the Maguuma town and found the zone of Dry Top. This place sported some very nice looking buildings which were, of course, just for show. The bit I mentioned last night about the teasing aspect of the graphically beautiful setting came home in these explorable areas. I found dozens of houses, windmills, caves, etc. that were nothing more than window dressing. I hope that when the game is more fully populated we'll see some friendly settlements in these places or even some hostile inhabitants. These places are too interesting to be nothing more than scenery!
After blazing a trail all the way from Bloodstone Fen to Denravi (a long arduous journey for those of you unfamiliar with the Guild Wars map), I had to log off for a bit. I joined the Forgotten Knights guild, led by Durik Lakmor, a reader here at MMORPG.com. When I got back from my 2 hour break, I joined several of the knights for a guild battle, or I guess we could call it a Guild War.
Guild battles are much like arena battles in one sense, but only guilds can participate and winning is much harder. Your guild is placed in a fortress with a Guild Hero and a Guild Thief among other NPCs. In the center of the landscape separating the two forts is a flag stand. The team that takes their flag to the center and claims the flag stand gets regular morale boosts as long as they hold the flag stand. The object is to kill the opposing guild's Hero, which is no small task. The fortress is heavily fortified with NPCs who are better than the henchmen. The Guild Hero stands between two clerics who constantly keep him healed. If you attack a cleric, the Hero attacks you with his bow that deals a good amount of damage. There are also other archers about, so you must be systematic to kill the Hero. Also, the Priest in the fortress will rez his fallen players after about a minute (I think), so you only have limited time until the opponents you vanquished come back fully healed.
Getting into the fort is no small feat, either. You can wait for the other team to open their gate to exit and fight your way in, or you can bring your Guild Thief to crack open the gate. If neither team has a full group, it can easily become a stalemate. My guild had 3 members and three henchmen and we were fighting 2 PCs and 3 henchmen. Although we held the center flag stand the most and we definitely had the upper hand, we never killed the Hero. The battle went on for an hour (yes, one hour) before we all just quit, resigned to the fact that no one was going to win.
The guild battles could easily be the biggest draw to this game as guilds hone their teamwork and test their mettle against other guilds, but there needs to be a time limit option or something. Pride kept us from bailing out until it became ridiculous and neither team was enjoying the contest any longer. Still, this is yet another PvP area that really makes this game fun. I missed the keep take PvP area that was available during E3. I hope they'll bring it back for the full release. Guild Wars has some of the most fun instances of PvP of any MMORPG hands down.
I wound up my Guild Wars event revisiting some of the areas and getting some screenshots. I want to shout out to Kay Zircon, Ice Dragon, Tymora Evenwood, Psii The First, Roza Kertwell, Durik Lakmor, Ladro Scuro, Peq Edillo (the footsteps are indeed a nice touch!), Vantos Fale (sorry I didn't make the hunt!), Pepso Previewgamer, I Am Snapple, and Fonzie Guy, all of whom gave me tells during the event and mentioned this diary. I hope it was as enjoyable for you all reading it as it was for me writing it. I look forward to seeing you all when Guild Wars goes live.
In my estimation, the Guild Wars World Preview Event was a huge success. The game is much farther along than it was during E3 and is more polished and complete in this state than some games are when they are released. Arena is doing a bang up job here. Sure there are criticisms and things I'd like to see done differently (button bar customization...hint hint), but Guild Wars is shaping up to be a fantastic title. I think most of those who participated in the weekend's Event will agree.
Reed "Koltrane" Hubbard, MMORPG.com Staff