After six years, three expansions, and a long-awaited successor, the Guild Wars Trilogy has become one of the most prominent MMO games in the market, taking an unusual spin on some familiar, critical concepts. The game has attracted millions of gamers globally due to one of its features: no monthly fee. Trust me, I’m well aware of the fact there are countless Korean F2P MMORPGs out there, but where is the content? So, if you haven’t really ever taken the time to delve into Guild Wars because you figured there’s no way a solid MMORPG can exist without a monthly fee, you have met your match.
Aesthetics – 9/10
You would expect mediocre graphics from an older game, right? Not in this case. Guild Wars has always been one of the most visually attractive MMOs you can come across. If you’re going to be spending hours doing anything, it might as well look good. Armor and weapons look great; it is pretty easy to notice the detailing and small touches that really make each and every character stand out from the next. Guild Wars offers such a unique setting everywhere you go in the game, ranging from mountain peaks to deserts. All of the major towns have a distinct feel to them, complementing the scenario and setting of every expansion. With compelling sound and stunning visuals, Guild Wars does an impressive job transporting the player into the game. While the UI of the game is pretty simple and plain – and could use a bit more fleshing out – I think everyone at ArenaNet deserves quite a bit of praise for what they managed to accomplish, given the context of its release.
Gameplay – 8/10
Guild Wars is simple, yet innovative. To start things off, it should be noted that Guild Wars is technically not an MMORPG, rather a CORPG. The reason for this is solely due to a basic concept that ArenaNet decided to sway away from: a single and shared environment by all players. One of the major differences of Guild Wars is that many of the zones in the world are “instanced,” meaning they are specified only for the party entering the zone. Was this a smart move? Well, yes and no. Sometimes, if you’re not able to get a group going, you are forced to have NPCs, known as henchman and heroes, which I’ll elaborate more on later. If you’re just now starting to play the game, it may be difficult to find many players eager to start one of the campaigns with you. On the flip side, the “instanced” zones allow for less loot stealing and make for the game to add a unique feel specified for just you and the rest of your party.
Next, the level cap in Guild Wars is set at 20. The best thing about the leveling experience in Guild Wars is that because it’s very short, you don’t feel like you’re grinding relentlessly to finally finish. The campaign experience in Guild Wars is very enjoyable and shifting the focus away from a level number to the actual content was a fairly smart move. The campaigns in Guild Wars are really engaging with a fairly interesting storyline to go along with it; you don’t feel left out. Each campaign offers a whole new setting and environment to go along with everything so players don’t dread the next zone. On the other hand, you’ll find that sometimes the problems you encounter can be a bit repetitive.
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Players are given eight skill slots within Guild Wars, making players truly have to utilize every single one. As a result, the combination within the community becomes known as a “build”. As you progress within the game, you’ll notice that on top of your primary profession, you may get to choose a secondary one, i.e. Assassin/Monk. If at any point you decide you do not like your secondary profession, you have the option of changing it. The concept of the second profession creates quite a bit of variety within the focus of each individual character, because every player can become specialized as a certain role, utilizing different builds. So when it comes down to it, Guild Wars acts as a good example to show that you don’t need to have an overwhelming amount of skills to add depth to the game.
Finally, the game is one of the few that is able to perfect a pretty decent balance of PvE and PvP. There are numerous styles of PvP, each being unique in their own way and providing a challenge for all players to regularly compete globally. During character creation, you can actually choose to either create or Roleplaying Character or PvP-Only Character. By doing so, the game kind of does indirectly draw a really big red line between those who are interested in PvP or PvE. However, because the PvP system in Guild Wars is so well-developed and suited to the way it relates to the game, it does not become an issue.
Innovation – 9/10
ArenaNet took a gamble on some aspects of the game to provide players a unique experience every time they played the game, and it paid off. Familiar concepts such as PvP and competing factions were approached with a different outlook, providing players a new way to engage them. Guild Wars really makes the competing factions, the Kurzick and Luxon stand out by allowing Guilds to “own” large towns, with respect to the amount of reputation they have earned in allegiance to their faction.
PvP becomes a whole new story. The name of the game is essentially the highlight of it all, Guild versus Guild (GvG). In short, every guild is able to compete in competitive, rated matches against other guilds in order to gain high global rankings and potentially compete in sponsored tournaments. Guild Wars also has an “Observer Mode” option for anyone to watch recent top-rated PvP matches between guilds and groups. This is really interesting because it allows for players to actually witness and learn how the best in the game compete.
Guild Wars also implemented the “Hero” NPCs during the Nightfall campaign and can be accessed at most times within the game. Heroes are customizable NPCs that a player can set and control to uniquely function in the way a player would like. Each hero can be set with different weapons, armor, and even skills to help aid players through campaigns and other portions of the game. Heroes really provide a refreshing touch to the “instanced” aspect of the game, so players do not have to necessarily rely on minimally controlled NPCs. With so many games that have followed the same trend, it is nice to see the folks at ArenaNet envisioned a completely different approach to tie it all together.
Polish – 8/10
For a game that has been on the market for over six years, it is only natural to expect a pretty stable game without many hitches. Guild Wars is definitely one of the more well-developed games and even with the release of Guild Wars 2 looming on the horizon. ArenaNet is still covering the little bugs here and there that are natural for any game as it implements patches and updates. The major problem still comes with the issue of how ArenaNet has left the game since the announcement and development of Guild Wars 2. The game has been suffering a macro-ing problem without much attention to actually rectify the issue. The concern simply revolves around the fact that the game is losing its overall stature as time goes on, but ArenaNet still seems to be doing a bit of what is needed to at least make things solid. However, at times there are still some server problems have occurred for a few years now, but still nothing largely noticeable that would heavily affect your gameplay. On another note, NCSoft customer support is still pretty reliable. There is no customer support hotline for in-game issues, but you can expect most of your problems to be resolved timely. Overall, Guild Wars and NCSoft have a pretty good relationship with one another to provide a smooth in-game experience.